We asked some local thought leaders, “How can technology practices be a part of aloha ʻāina?” and this is what they said.

Kamuela Enos is the director of social enterprise for MAO Organic Farms. He was born and raised in Waianae on the island of Oahu. He received an associate’s degree from Leeward Community College, a bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian studies and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He sits on the boards of numerous community-based nonprofits including the Hawaii Rural Development Council and Kaala Farms Inc., and was recently a commissioner on President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asians and Pacific Islanders.

For many native peoples, the word “technology” holds a very interesting place in our post-colonial world view.  Given our collective colonial history, this term has come to represent a surrogate for the force that has separated us from our “savage” ancestral practices–for our own good, of course. For me, it was always tied into the notion of “progress” and “enlightenment,” a “consolation prize” for having our lands and practices erased. It was always shiny, electric, digital, fast, clean and “civilized.”

As I got older, wiser, and more hip to the colonial game, I gathered a deeper appreciation of its true definition. Merriam- Webster defines it as:

plural technologies

    1. 1a :  the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area :  engineering 2<medical technology>b :  a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <a car’s fuel-saving technology>
    2. 2:  a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge <new technologies for information storage>
    3. 3:  the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor <educational technology>

No where in this definition does it say the word “technology” is the sole domain of any one specific culture. This epiphany opened my mind to joyful possibility of redefining all of my ancestral practices through the lens of “practical application,” a “manner of accomplishing tasks” and “the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor.” In doing so, I began to understand the “technology” of my ancestors rivaled that of any “contemporary” systems in its specific area of practical application–that of living within the means of our islands’ delicate biosystem.

This world view repurposes the question of “how can technological practices be a part of aloha ʻāina?” as “how can contemporary technology be of better service to the ancestral technology that manifested itself in the prime directive of aloha ʻāina.” This reframing represents the emergent disruptive thinking that will not only heal post-colonial wounds, but save humanity as I know it. Mark my words.


Got your own ideas to share? Email us at kokua@purplemaia.org