Where We Live – in a Grass Hut
“Honey, I want to go out dancing tonight.” “What about the kids?” “We can drop them off at my sisters place and they can sleep over.” “Fantastic. What are you going to wear?” “You know, the usual and my black beads.”
Sound familiar? Typical young family anywhere, anytime. Family conversation has not changed much in a thousand years. Family consumption is what has changed – a million fold. Going out dancing now requires a vast amount of supplies and an evening can cost thousands of dollars. First are the children’s pajamas, stuffed animals, story book, overnight bag, pillows, extra blanket, toothbrush and clean underwear for the morning. There are the separate but similar child safety car seats and the mini-van or sedan (value ?) and fuel (value ?) to drive the children a 1/2 mile to the sisters place. Then there are the shoes, make-up, outfit, jewelry and spending cash needed for a night on the town. Total cost is $10,000 – $20,000 – $30,000?
How did food, shelter and clothing become so expensive? There are now 7 billion people in the world. Most will not be going out on the town tonight or tomorrow or the night after. People everywhere have been living on borrowed money and extended credit for quite a number of years. Now that the cost of goods and services has increased and available money has decreased people are being forced to make difficult changes in lifestyle. The necessities swallow the meager allowance and social events are eliminated with the budget. Communities decline without the interaction. How did we get into this mess? Sustainability dictates the needs of the social, economic and environment be in balance. A sustainable community should also have dancing ( to balance social energy). Our current economic model is distorting the social fabric and requires change to regain sustainability. Thinking local, using renewable resources, employing barter and co-ops are all ways to help your community be sustainable. (The United Nations has designated 2012 the year of the co-op).
Honokohau (Ho-No-Ko-Ha-u) means ‘bay drawing dew’. This portion of the Kona Coast is covered in broad rugged lava fields and some flat open areas of scattered grasses. It is a harsh dry barren land unsuitable for habitation. Kaloko Bay is the exception.
Kaloko Bay is a large protected inlet and would have been an ideal choice when settlement on the Kona Coast of Hawaii first began about 900 A.D. The calm sea, shallow canoe landing, abundant marine resources, plants and flowers for food and medicine, and the materials to make fish nets and thatch for shelters at Honokohau where advantages that lead to permanent settlement by 1400. There is little fertile soil at Honokohau so agricultural methods were adapted to grow sweet potatoes and gourds on the inland lava fields. Most food came from the ocean and the most important subsistence features developed at this settlement were two man-made ponds and a fish trap. The fish ponds where the largest on the coast and provided a steady supply of food and revenue from economic barter. These attractive resources led to the residence of a high chief from 1490 – 1610. With the presence of royal Ali’i the community grew and supported about 200 people. The labor was now organized, resources managed, there were ceremonial activities and recreational opportunities in the settlement. There were resources for food, shelter, clothing and a sustainable balance of society, economy and the environment.
Beginning in the Historic Period (1800-1900) and due to western influence the Kaloko/Honokohau community went into decline. The population was reduced by disease. The ruling chiefs relocated to the island of Oahu resulting in the lack of demand and production from the fish ponds.The demise of the whaling trade and the re-provisioning of ships brought change to the agricultural system. Depopulation continued as the growing port towns of Kona and Kealakakua drew people away to lively urban centers. By the 1830s the coast was being deserted. Resettlement was in the upland areas where people could grow crops and transition to the new cash based economy. Only a few homes remained by 1880 and by 1920 all was abandoned. Only the caretaker of the fish pond remained, relying on the ocean and simple agriculture for subsistence.
Where We Live – in a Grass Hut …..to be continued – pg 2.