When I started teaching garden, I had no idea how much bugs mate! Or that different bugs mate in different ways. And that some can just walk around - jeez, butterflies can even fly - with their mate stuck with them. Some extra flowery days in the mala are like a huge bug orgy with buzzes coming from under every leaf. I look at my bug mating picture collection these days percolating a mixture of highly volatile emotions realizing that insect biodiversity is a quarter of what it once was. I remember when I was little going on family road trips and our Volvo stationwagon would be covered in spattered bug carcasses. Not anymore. I drive for miles with not even one insect splat. On a practical level, moms need the work bugs do making flowers blossom into food and eating up our scraps into new dirt so humans can survive. The rapid decline in numbers and diversity of our bug friends is part of the slow motion disaster I am witnessing outside everyday. Women and insects have more in common than sometimes meets the eye. I wish we would pay attention.
My BI Taxes pay for 2 landfills.
* Landfill serving East Side is unlined and poses the worst kind of environmental threats. Closing a landfill is expensive so its taken three decades for BI to just now prioritize the $20 million needed to close Hilo Landfill. 30 years of monitoring is included in the landfill closure plan due to start this summer. Residents will continue to cross our fingers about chemical sludges contaminating our groundwater and methane gases warming our oceans into perpetuity.
*Just under 100 acres was dedicated for the Hilo Landfill that opened in 1969. Hawaii State Solid Waste Coordinator described Hilo landfill management as typical to all landfills "Things have gone into landfills in the past, things we have no record of, because accurate records weren’t kept. Up until the late 1980s, maybe even the early 1990s, in some of the rural landfills, whole junk cars went into landfills, including batteries, gas tanks full of gas, crank cases full of oil. Up until the late 1980s, whole drums of chemicals went into those landfills.”
*At Hilo Landfill, we finally got a fence and made it so dump employees had to monitor for illegal dumping in 1994.
*Starting this July, our West Side Pu'uanahulu Landfill will increase the 130 trucks of discards it receives per day by accepting 8 more driven over from Hilo; that's 56 mighty machine dump trucks per week; 2920 per year driving over Saddle with East side discards.
*Environmental Management Director says the space remaining in the only future operating BI Landfill as "adequate." Somewhere "...between 50 to a hundred and fifty years at our current disposal rate."
And that's the plan. No plan after that. No plan for our grandkids just our kids.
How much you want to bet its a similar story for your municipality?
If you are like most Americans, you send Away almost 5 lbs of discards every day.
There is no Away. Away piles up. Away washes up plastic debris by the ton onto super remote 4WD access-only shorelines that were pristine 50 years ago. Continuing life like Away is suddenly going to appear is already killing people and changing animal species and changing surfing the way we knew it.
But there are options. There are even options being activated right now on BI that are supposed to go into effect July 2020. Options like composting that mitigates climate change. Options like upcycling that does the research and product development we so desperately need. Options like refusing, reusing, reclaiming, resisting that would really shake things up.
What's up with your landfill? Where is the Away closest to you? What are you going to do about it? Let's transform trash and tackle waste now so our grandkids won't have to.
The n-word came into my life when I was around 10. It came from my Grandpa and was being hurled at the TV. My cousins and I were watching The Cosby Show; and Grandpa was scoffing back laughter saying "no such thing as an n-word doctor or lawyer." I didn't know what it meant but I knew it was mean.
Decades before using my words to talk about racism was a thing, I wondered to my parents what Grandpa was talking about and why Mrs Huxtable couldn't be a lawyer. I was told something along the lines of, "That's just Grandpa. We don't talk like that but Grandpa does. And we are in his house."
So Grandpa directed these mean words towards certain dark skinned people and in his house he was allowed. Grandpa was 6'4' and usually wearing full-length blue coveralls and a silver, safari shaped hard hat. I pictured him the fe-fi-fo-fum kind of jean giant. When we visited twice a year, he emerged for short times from his work room located behind the closed door at back of the house to stomp around loudly. I was scared of Grandpa anyway so I never challenged his views. My dad didn't blame "n-words" for fumbling during Monday Night Football but Grandpa did. Enough said.
What I didn't know until years later is that multiple branches of slaveownership interweave on that side of my family. Grandpa's grandfathers were made to retire from professional slave owning when they lost the Civil War just two generations before. When Grandpa used the n-word he was saying the same things his father - my great grandfather - professed and his fathers' fathers before him. Purposeful word choices to dehumanize and define actual people while enabling and excusing the terror perpetuated by my relatives. I never heard Grandma drop the n-word but she never objected.
I was raised on a different side of whiteness than Grandpa but not on a side that would confront racist words used by the other side of the family. My parents respected Grandpa; excusing his hateful words and instructed us kids to also. Even as they chose different sides.
Childhood did not equip me to battle the racism my people invented let alone fight the police brutality that doesn't happen in my neighborhood; or put an end to the pathetic public schools that my kid doesn't go to. Or some man sounding like Grandpa speaking as my country's elected President.
I never got to talk to Grandpa about my family's legacy of racism. It feels even more shitty that honestly, I am still trying to figure out how to engage with members of my extended family about white people issues today. Like this racist pussy-grabber they helped elect. How do I bring this up with my cousin I haven't seen in two decades? I have yet to bridge the gap with some of my good friends now who have no concern how their apathy to today's political climate enables racist policy.
I will not stay silent like my foremothers before me.
I declare my mission too teach, train, and testify against white supremacy. I've been using my words and deeds to co-create a new narrative for my people. My blog posts will share what I'm learning and who've I learned from. I want to share the life hacks I've learned to circumvent capitalism and promote sustainable solutions.
Let's move forward with honest cooperation.
Welcome to my blog.
*More on "Black Friends" later. I am currently exploring and researching this term and concept. Please be patient with me knowing I use this term with intention. Please feel free to leave comments.
Some call it midlife crisis. I call it Freedom of the Crone.
My son is over me. My husband is a gifted man with his own ambitions. I have been a faithful public school garden teacher providing eco-education to imbed quiet revolution via a underground, state-sanctioned opportunity to return to our egalitarian garden roots. I've schooled my kid, my friend's kids, and over a whole generation of Kona youth. Young adults come up to me at the beach and hug me and say "So good to see you Auntie Krista" and I don't even recognize them.
But my son is heading out of my house. l am wondering why I'm so weirded out right now and I finally put my finger on it.
I can officially not give a fuck.
I've been biting my tongue all these years. I've been carefully crafting my words as to not offend, as to provide essential truths with the tact of kindness so to maximize acceptance and incorporation of my radical ideals. Ideals that should not be radical because it's common indigenous sense - that all things are connected, that we should give back to nature that feeds us, that I should clean up and eliminate waste. Its crazy that these radical teachings of mine are so radical. A white, educated woman hauling trash, sorting your discards, teaching your kids how to leave places better than we found; all with a smile and clever cheers- is so crazy cool.
But I don't have to bite my tongue anymore. I haven't been trying to be crazy cool. I have been trying to shout and to abolish racism. And be an acceptable, hairy arm-pitted mom.
More than less of my friends exist in realms with zero awareness of the environmental crisis facing so many folks from Flint, Michigan to Guinea, West Africa. That police with skin like mine still beat the shit out of black people with zero consequences. People like me move to Hawai'i, or have been raised by people that moved to Hawai'i, to bail on the dramas and upside-down values of the mainland. We want to get away from the news so we move to the colonized land with the aloha.
The common bond about the people most affected by society's inequities are poor and poor is most often people of color and most often women and it goes and goes until people like me wake up and do something about it.
So that's what I've been doing. All these mothering years. I've been modeling and living and teaching growing our own food, reducing our own waste, dancing around in our own trash. With a smile and a cheer and assemblies three times a school year.
But now my son is moving on. I am not looking for a man because I got an awesome one already. I am not wanting to reproduce. Even though my son continues to be my best education, my womb is moving on.
Enter Freedom of the Crone. No. Not the old woman crone with the long white hair and the crocked staff. I am the crone I'm creating. The young crone who bodyboards Old A's and dances late 80's hip hop and traditional west African rhythms.
I can flex my white privilege in different, new and not-giving-a-shit ways.
I can be the crone who speaks with more concern about expressing myself than concern about you caring.
I always thought that after my son was grown, I would pick up where I left off. But I am realizing I don't want to do that. I want to pick up something new that blends the fierce spunk of my maiden self with the smooth delivery of my matriarch self.
I am open to your feedback. I hope you stay open to me.
My latest plant crush is Ethiopian Kale. The silvery-green foliage can easily be your plant crush too. I like it so much, I finally dug up the rest of our grass to plant a fairy forest of this ancient Brassica. I love it as an easy guest to germinate and grow in my garden. Handy in low elevation, urban, tropical setting; Ethiopian Kale is a drought-resistant, Mighty Green yielding small shrubs of nutritious leaves, seeds, and stems. I hear they do well in cooler regions also. Simple to nurture and non-demanding; Ethiopian Kale seems eager to share bounty with my family.
Ethiopian Kale has deep history. Also called Abyssinian Kale, Texsel greens, Ethiopian mustard, highland kale, and Gomen zer, I feel the presence of generations that came before me when I harvest this plant from my garden. Preparing the leaves to eat recalls exclamations of multitudes all over the world admiring the tenderness of the leaves, wondering about the succulence of their juiciness even through the roughest of droughts. I know I am one in a long tribe because it was domesticated in Ethiopia over 6000 years ago. Even my teenage son who used to projectile vomit kale as a 6 year old, grindz Ethiopian Kale when its the star of any of these raw kale salad recipes. I believe he tastes connection - to history, to our lost tribe, to our found tribe - through the satisfaction of high nutrition fresh from the soil.
High in nutrients from seed to leaf, da buggah is powerful! I seriously envision the delicious leaf bunches pumping up my biceps when I nibble them fresh from my garden, but who knew it was also part of an experiment with aviation fuel from plant sources? In 2012, the first flight of a jet aircraft powered 100% with biofuel was firing on fuel made from brassica carnata.
The roughest corner of my small garden gets neglected of the compost I regularly supply the rest of my soil. More red cinder than black gold, the space also seems to collect bits of plastic and random feathers. Yesterday I discovered a little Ethiopian Kale germinated there. Small but strong. Green and good. I want to share seeds from my plant crush with you. Let me know if you want to join the tribe - grow Ethiopian Kale!
Check out the Roots Contest
When you are surrounded by water, surfing is a right. Wherever you go on the Big Island, the ocean is your front yard. Yet not all keiki get the opportunity to explore surfing and Kona's fascinating and unique surf history gets lost as generations loose contact with nature.
14 years ago I linked up with the most hard core group of bodyboarders I had ever met. They were raw and rugged with open gashes from reef wounds and hearts of penniless gold; wanting nothing else but to perpetuate their culture of wave riding and preserve their beach that was about to be converted into a condo. With my penchant for creating zero waste educational opportunities and being the sole operator of an email account, we joined forces to create Kona's only FREE contest to honor the birthbeach of bodyboarding - Wai'aha. Lael hunted a pig, I foraged for fruit, and before we knew it, 30 guys had signed up for our contest. 14 years later, we are two generations into preserving and perpetuating the cultural practice that brought us together. Wai'aha Beach Park is now a free public park. And the surf is still firing.
Many students thought meeting a "marine" meant they would be interacting with an ocean biologist. But after greeting and hearing the introductions of the 20 or so marines that came to IPCS to help trim trees, remove weeds, hang tiles, and paint, our kids knew "marines" as an arm of our nation's military might - the soldiers that bark "U-Rah!" when they are feeling stoked. The whole school even learned how to say "U-rah" to the approval of our soldiers.
I got to direct 10 marines in duties to help our school. I took them to rough landscape I saved just for them - riddled with rocks, pokies, and a sharp decline, I can not take students to maintain this part of campus. I thought the marines would slaughter the weeds and battle the uneven ground no problem.
Then I found out that one of the cannon gunners was scared of spiders. He almost refused the work after his inquiry about spiders revealed that they do indeed exist on our campus. He stayed to work with me after I explained I could not protect him if he was with the other working group.
It was a hot and humid day. After glancing over to see our 3/4 graders taking a break, I asked if any of the marines would like to try some of our school grown fruit. Tools were immediately discarded. Students were invited to harvest items they thought our guests might enjoy. Children scurried across campus to gather guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), oranges, Buddah hand. Students even brought fennel and mint; their favorite leaves to grind fresh from the garden.
The marines were champs - they nibbled fennel leaves, munched mint, loved fresh oranges, and devoured lilikoi. I relished in watching our students select meaningful foods to share with our new marine friends. The children got glee from watching these massive men suck on fennel branches with smiles and words of amazement.
The marines ended up bailing work and joining in school play. Some went to the music room, some marines joined extreme sports to play campus-wide Capture the Flag. These big men were running around like gazelle bounding off bleachers, scaling rock walls in one leap, and running around with huge grins like oversized fourth-graders. Smiles everywhere. High fives all round. Sweaty fatigue from hardy play.
A deeper understanding that big boys masquerading as young men fight our wars. Adult baby boys fire our cannons. Man-children wage our nation's battles.
I am full of joy that our students shared love and lilikoi with our marines.
It is mid-June and I am in Waimea with a group of garden teachers mostly from the BI but also from Oahu. We are gathered to formulate HI garden education standards and align them with HI education standards. Brainstorming a format. Creating a protocol. Naming and narrowing themes -each of which could save the world.
Knowing school garden curriculum will be read by a large swath of population and will be used from everything as a document to secure funding to a quick reference to making a classroom lesson was key. We are not writing out standards for us. We are writing them for the good of the system and the universality of the programs.
Way to go Hawaii. I hope our curriculum map can help direct our educational system towards a path of sustainability.
Did you know that kids have been growing food in school gardens in Hawaii for over a hundred years? Or that the first school garden broke ground on Hawaii Island (probably in Kona!)?
Check out the article from 1910 below. One story you will find:
"The first school garden was undoubtedly started by the early missionaries on the Island of Hawaii [original missionaries arrived in Kona in 1820]. They spent much of their time in teaching the natives methods of producing garden vegetables and field crops...the demand for instruction became so great that in 1830 an urgent petition was sent to the American Board of Missions asking for a number of instructors to train the Hawaiian people in agricultural pursuits..." The petition was signed by 15 high chiefs. As schools gradually developed, school gardens were born.
Read more by linking below.
Spring is in the air. Butterflies are everywhere and children are squirley.
Perfect time to wrap the school year up with healthy garden recipes grown, made, shared, by students.
Eat from a rainbow! Fresh fancy your foods!: My mantra for the last two weeks and next two weeks. To eat from a rainbow means eating all kinds different color foods from nature. Not skittle rainbow colors. At the end of the day, we should think back and note we ate a variety of different colors.
Fancy fresh your foods mean to find ways to sneak in some fresh foods into prepared foods like spaghetti sauce, saimin, smoothies, and quesadillas. A handful of spinach in a smoothie is a great way to camp something you don't really want to eat.
Last week, we fancied up rice with a stir fry from the garden. Colors like green, red, orange, yellow appeared. Kids started cutting and tearing. Chatting with each other in an ancient dance of humans - preparing food together. Smells started temping even the biggest doubter. Shoyu sealed the deal.
We ate everything on banana leaf plates with our fingers. Mostly. Students declared delight and horfed down seconds like it was bbq or something.
Kids will eat plain sautéed fennel and go off about how awesome it was on if they grew it. Even better if they cooked it.
Ms Krista says:
My ancestors were colonizers and slave owners in South Carolina. My work in this lifetime is to use my words, body, and mind to represent and perpetuate the social changes needed to abolish white supremacy and return to indigenous knowing. I want to be a good ancestor. So, I work to displace capitalism and perpetuate earth-based living as best I can.