From Pesticide-Laden Plastic to Authentic Artworkings: Weaving Environmental Justice in Hawaiian Lauhala
Environmental justice education is only genuine if it includes indigenous and women’s rights perspectives.
The Hawaiian cultural practice of weaving is imbued with cultural significance. In the traditional art form of Lauhala, Hawaiian women weave together leaf (lau) from the hala tree into mats, clothing, and other textiles. My research shares personal artworkings and those from environmental justice research, particularly Lauhala created by participants who wove pieces of agricultural plastic while discussing the weaving of perspectives. My research addresses climate change, water scarcity, and plastic waste in a primarily agricultural and immigrant community. The rich weavings from a multi-day environmental justice Monterey Bay walk imbricated these multivocal perspectives, including shifting women’s roles, naming stories, the naming of places, and the erasure of indigenous names by waves of settler-colonizers. Creating the weavings enabled re-envisioning what the original Ohlone landscape looked like and countered values enforced by patriarchy that lacked respect for weaving, otherwise seen as minimized “women’s work.” The work also heightened a desire for care for the land, malama ‘aina.
A. Rachel Kippen is a coastal environmental quality advocate and artist with a background in environmental program development and ocean conservation nonprofit management in Santa Cruz, CA. She is a Masters student in Environmental Studies at the Prescott College and holds a Bachelors in Environmental Studies and a Certificate in Strategic Leadership and Nonprofit Management. She researches environmental justice education through place and arts-based curriculum development in agricultural and immigrant communities, and coordinates environmental initiatives for the City of Watsonville.
Rachel’s presentation is featured on the panel, THE REGENERATIVE EARTH: GODDESSES, PRIESTESSES, ORACLES, FUTURES, with Marna Hauk, Mandisa Amber Wood, and Mandy Leetch