You just never know what’s going to pop into your inbox. The email was from my friend Amy, and it began: “I thought you might enjoy this experience…”
She knows me well.
What followed was a flyer announcing a papa kuʻiʻai (poi board) making workshop, hosted by the Hawai’i Farmers Union O’ahu and Mauna Kahalawai chapters.
That email arrived on a Sunday. Two days later, my boyfriend and I were nearly ankle-deep in wood shavings.
Instructor Daniel Anthony traveled from O’ahu to lead the workshop, but this isn’t the first time I saw him. I first encountered Daniel during the 2014 TEDxMaui at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. In my opinion, his talk was among the most memorable during the all-day event. If you’re not already familiar with the significance of kalo (taro) and poi (made from cooked kalo, traditionally pounded on a papa kuʻiʻai) within Hawaiian culture, I encourage you to watch his presentation. It’ll put this papa kuʻiʻai workshop into perspective.
In fact, I remember one particular quote from his talk, something I quickly scribbled down the moment it left his mouth:
“I’m a cultural entrepreneur.
I don’t sell culture—
I help others value it.”
Indeed, myself and the others who participated in the workshop were all recipients of Daniel’s cultural entrepreneurship.
During his talk, Daniel mentioned that while he perpetuates the Hawaiian lifestyle and values, he is not genetically Hawaiian. I absolutely believe that being Hawaiian extends beyond one’s bloodline, and Daniel is a shining example of that. Here’s a short video showing several steps throughout the process: from choosing our board, to shaping and sanding it, to putting the final touches on what is now a family heirloom.
This piece will not only feed our souls and bodies during our lifetime, but our future family and generations after that. I truly am forever changed because of this experience, and encourage you to learn more at ManaAi.com. It might just change your life, too.