How following Native Hawaiian practices can improve our chances of environmental restoration.

How following Native Hawaiian practices can improve our chances of environmental restoration.

Exchange Avenue was created to unite neighbors with a shared goal of re-connecting the ancient supply lines that were once utilized by our ancestors, within systems like the Ahupua’a system. The Ahupua’a was an incredibly self-sustaining unit, and with proper direction, the needs of all could be met within its boundaries. Our mission is to restore these practices by working together & informing on a digital Ahupuaʻa that uses elements from this ancient system and re-purposes them in a modern way. 

The system that inspired us:

In the ancient Hawaiian Ahupua’a system, the neighborhoods worked together to provide for one another in a sustainable manner. This was based on their skills and on what grew best in the area they resided in. Each Ahupua’a had different goods and resources that were shared within the respective communities. It allowed for a more cohesive flow of life. Everyone contributed to give back to the community and to the ʻĀina.

How did Native Hawaiians work with the land?

Hawaiians were incredibly resourceful when it came to growing food and sustaining life within their communities. They tracked the moon phases which connected to the different fish patterns in accordance with the tides. This is how they knew when to go out and fish. They planted crops during certain moon cycles based on the movement of the sun. They knew the significance of working with nature, not against it.

Native Hawaiians have always worked with the land and the seasons, but it goes far beyond a physical partnership.  They recognize the importance of living in harmony with the flow of life and our natural world. The relationship has a profoundly cultural and spiritual connection.

Hawai’i today:

The immoral seizing of native land has continually proved problematic for the islands. After colonization in 1778, Hawai’i went from producing over half of its food to only producing about ten percent. 

As a result, the constant import of goods has created an extreme lack of food security should imports suddenly come to a halt. It also creates significant problems for the environment. Air and water pollution are two of the biggest environmental threats to these islands.

These issues create heavy unease because 95% of the fauna and flora are endemic. The biomes in Hawai’i are incredibly fragile and under ongoing threat of extinction. These are just some of the problems plaguing the Hawaiian islands. Colonization and unnecessary industrialization are pushing Native populations out of their lands.  It has been a battle here for social and environmental rights for decades.

“The land has no need for man, but men need the land and cultivated her for a livelihood of abundance.”

– Hawaiian proverb.

The sad fact is, we live in a world that is driven by over-consumption. Over time, this has disconnected us from our roots. It has disconnected us from each other. We consume with no thought regarding where these things end up, or if we ever needed them at all. We’ve allowed money to become the central focus of our world. The economic greed that runs our society has proven time and time again to be a faulty basis. 

However, there is still hope for a better future. Restructuring the way our society operates through more traditional practices can significantly improve our odds. To create a more stable foundation, we should follow the lead of movements like Aloha ʻĀina and Mālama ʻĀina.

What is Aloha ʻĀina?

In Hawaiian culture, Aloha is the force that holds together our existence. It is a word for love, devotion, harmony, empathy, and understanding. It holds a deep spiritual significance for Native Hawaiians and is an incredibly important cultural pillar here on the islands. When we exchange Aloha, we exchange life. Many people see it as just a greeting, but to live with Aloha is to live with the breath of life.

ʻĀina is the land that provides. It is the land that gives. From mountain to ocean, the land is sacred, and it too is family. This means that it must be respected equally. Connecting the values of Aloha to the ʻĀina is to coexist with the natural world. It gives you a deeper understanding of this interconnected network that links everything. It literally means to love the land. To respect the land is to live with Aloha ʻĀina.

What is Mālama ʻĀina?

It is a deep understanding of what it signifies to nurture the land; to uphold sustainable practices that ensure the preservation of the ʻĀina. To Mālama the ʻĀina is to care for the land.

It means giving it the respect it deserves. Loving the land and working with it so it can sustain future generations. Mālama ʻĀina is not just a concept, but a movement. It is a vow to protect this fruitful land.

 

 

How can we relate sustainability to these movements?

Hawai’i has been a leader in sustainable practices for generations.

Both of these movements have the same objective: to honor the land that we coexist with. There is a profound spiritual association between Native Hawaiians and the ʻĀina. If you are consciously showing up for the planet, you’re showing your dedication to a more promising future for all. A society that can work together to support life without creating detriment to the environment is powerful. 

These two movements are intrinsically connected due to the goal of protecting the ʻĀina. Making the choice to be more sustainable for the protection of the planet is essential if we want to reduce our environmental impact. Aloha ʻĀina and Mālama ʻĀina pave the way for us to live in a manner that not only sustains our community but our environment. 

So what does it mean to be sustainable?

The basis of a sustainable lifestyle is centered around environmental, economic, and social sustainability. These three are the “pillars” of eco-living. They provide the blueprint for how to reduce our carbon footprints. They work together to create a balanced relationship that supports all aspects of life.

Living a more eco-friendly lifestyle is the commitment to reduce your effects on the earth through your daily choices. 

Sustainable living is incredibly similar to movements like Aloha ʻĀina, where honoring the land is imperative because everything is interconnected. Practicing sustainability in your day-to-day life allows you the autonomy to put your efforts towards what truly matters. It allows you to be a true steward to the land. To give back, without taking more than you need. 

Indigenous practices are inherently sustainable, this is how they have managed to support life in their communities for centuries. Society has the power to protect our environment without taking away from the comforts of our daily lifestyles; we just need to show up consistently and compassionately.

If you’re curious about how to become more sustainable, here are some practical ways to begin.

  • Do most of your shopping locally. 
  • Grow your own produce and make your own goods. 
  • Join a community garden or work with your neighbors to start one.
  • Learn valuable trade skills.
  • Barter and trade with your community members.
  • Reduce the number of single-use plastics you use.
  • Educate yourself on the medicinal properties of the plants growing in your area. 

Sustainability isn’t new to Hawai’i or other Indigenous groups, and it’s time that we followed their lead to protect our planet.

Final Thoughts:

 We don’t have to depend on a flawed system to support us when we have the tools to support ourselves.  Move in a way that is in harmony with the flow of life. Connect with those around you. Create more than you consume. Take only what you need. Share abundance within your community. Listen to the wisdom of our ancestors, they embodied what it means to live in balance with the planet.

Although the future of our environment may seem grim at times, we can still improve our chances of a better world. Implementing ancestral wisdom with modern tools is the best way of protecting our planet from further harm.

Exchange Ave. merges these concepts to present a new way to build and engage communities, while honoring Hawaiian values rooted in Aloha ʻĀina. The Ahupua’a system is a terrific example of how we can provide everything a community needs while honoring the land we live on, sustainably.

Our goal is for this app to be a reliable tool in assisting individuals, groups, and indigenous communities to connect and have a safe space to offer goods and services. We are filling a gap needed for new ways to engage with your community, creating a more interconnected digital and physical network. 

Together we have the ability to revolutionize the way society is structured. The best way to do this is to unite with others who have a shared goal of decolonizing our habits and creating a more sustainable foundation for society.

Tapping back into this type of collaborative, circular economy can radically heal the detriment that has affected our planet. Following the lead of traditional systems like this significantly improves our chances of environmental restoration and conservation.

 

 

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