Praise for the Voyage: Environmentalist, Entrepreneur & Author Paul Hawken

Hōkūle‘a, en route to Maui —

Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. His work includes starting ecological businesses, writing about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with heads of state and CEOs on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy.

The worldwide voyage of Hōkūleʻa has many meanings; its impacts are multiple and diverse. On the face of it, a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe with a twelve- person crew will traverse a 46,000 mile path around the world, an astounding feat in itself. The canoe is simple. It is lashed together without steel rigging, screws, bolts, or metal fasteners. It sails without a cabin, galley, or head, powered by two crab claw sails. It has no engine, no compass, no GPS, no sextant. Its mission is to visit indigenous peoples around the world and share the story of how a traditional culture, in this case Hawaiian, is bringing to life its knowledge, intelligence, science, language and cultural integrity by restoring the practices that allowed it to endure.

Paul Hawken and Nainoa Thompson sailing on Hōkūleʻa to Maui

Paul Hawken and Nainoa Thompson sailing on Hōkūleʻa to Maui. Photo credit: Jenna Ishii

If this were being done to honor the past and preserve traditions for the future, it would be worthy. But its meaning goes beyond that. Traditional Polynesian cultures were acutely attuned to their environment. Their food, language, narratives, agriculture, mores and spiritual practices were intimately intertwined to the rhythms and constraints of the land they lived upon and the waters that held them. They created vibrant cultures of healthy women and men who left a legacy of elegant mastery, both rational and intuitive, that was almost obliterated by modernity. In this, Hawaiians mirror the experience of indigenous people everywhere.

Hokuleʻa sailing to Maui. Photo credit: Jenna Ishii

Hokuleʻa sailing to Maui. Photo credit: Jenna Ishii

The voyage of Hōkūleʻa will connect wisdom traditions around the world. Indigenous science and understandings are not artifacts from the past, but guides to the future, markers and pointers that can instruct and root an industrial culture that is based on an illusion of no limits. The art of the voyage, its simplicity, the absence of anything except that which is truly necessary carries an important teaching. The voyage depends on a proficiency and awareness that can only be found in human consciousness. The frugality of means that accompanies each step of the voyage celebrates the ingenuity of humanity in ways that we have forgotten, do not appreciate, or do not know. Each leg of the voyage is a test of that knowledge, a refinement of awareness. Wayfinding has always held deeper meanings in Polynesian cultures, but with the voyage of Hōkūleʻa, wayfnding becomes a metaphor for the world, a way of seeing. The earth is a canoe, sailing through space, a craft packed with people who may have too little or too much, and who must discover how to share and collaborate in rhythm with the gifts of the earth in order to move forward into the future.

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