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Inquiry: What is the Relationship Between Humans & our Environment?

Inquiry: What is the Relationship Between Humans & our Environment?
Arlene Holzman

Planting plants connects us intimately to our environment. Through sowing seeds and nurturing growth, we become caretakers of the land, fostering a bond with nature. This act not only deepens our understanding of ecological cycles, but also enables us to contribute to biodiversity conservation by cultivating native species. When we engage in this interdependent relationship, we benefit from a healthier environment, enriched with clean air, fresh water, and fertile soil.

In the Hawaiian tradition there is a deep reverence for the land and sea, intertwining culture with the environment. A simple yet profound practice is the cultivation of a‘alil‘i, snap peas, and ahu‘awa around a Hawaiian fish pond. This act holds immense cultural and ecological significance, especially when passed down to younger generations.

These plants serve as natural barriers, preventing erosion and filtering runoff before it reaches the pond, safeguarding water quality. Moreover, they embody the concept of ahupuaʻa, teaching children the interconnectedness of all elements in their environment.

Last week Friday, Kumu Kamele o pu‘uwai Donaldson, from Loko Ea (a fishpond in Waialua) spoke with all the 3/4 multiage classes about the importance of planting native plants.

Class by class, pots were filled with soil and seeds were sowed. Soon each child had three pots to “mālama” (to take care of) and attend to, until sprouts show.

Beyond practical benefits, the act of children planting these plants instills a sense of pride and connection to ancestral traditions, ensuring their endurance for generations. As caretakers of their heritage, they perpetuate the values of aloha ʻāina, love for the land.

The planting of a‘alil‘i, snap peas, and ahu‘awa sustains cultural identity and spiritual connection to the land and sea. Let us honor and preserve these traditions, recognizing their significance in shaping a sustainable and harmonious future.

Hopefully, by the time of your parent/teacher conferences on April 25th and 26th, all the plants will have sprouted and will be ready to go home with you. Our goal is to continue this tradition by seeing them find a place in the ground at your residence or back at the fishpond!

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