Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Yorker Magazine Talk of the Town - A Paddle with New York Outrigger and the Polynesian Voyaging Society (with a plug for NYO's Liberty Challenge on Satruday!

And I was lucky enough to get to go!

Back in the middle of May, Nainoa Thompson and some of his colleagues from the Polynesian Voyaging Society visited us here in New York as part of the preparations for 
Hokule'a's visit here in June 2016. They spent the weekend here with 3 different official events. I went to all 3 and it was great - there was an educators workshop, where I was amazed the range of ways teachers in Hawaii are incorporating Hokule'a and her voyage into their lesson plans (social studies, geography, ecology, biology, art, music, history, all of those and more can and do incorporate lessons from the wa'a - I was almost jealous of the kids in Hawai'i these days getting to learn so much this way, but mostly I just think it's rather wonderful), then there was a fundraising cocktail reception at the Harvard Club where Dr. Sylvia Earle welcomed Nainoa, who then gave us a marvelous talk about the history and the voyage. I think my favorite moment was when Nainoa decided to give Dr. Earle the beautiful maile lei which had been presented to him at the beginning of the evening, and as he took his lei off an draped it around her neck she took her own orchid lei and gave it to him in a lovely moment of warm mutual respect - but then Nainoa's stories were wonderful too. 

The next day there was a planning meeting at NYY that was pretty exciting to be part of. As we wrapped things up at the end of the day I thought I would be heading for home, but then I was talking to Lehua from the PVS and she said something about needing to get Nainoa and everyone else up to Pier 66 for a paddle with NYO. I jokingly said "Oh, I wish I'd brought my paddling clothes, I would invite myself along!" - totally totally totally TOTALLY kidding, but then
, gesturing at her jeans and t-shirt, Lehua said "Well this is what I'm wearing. You should come."

WOW. There was a split second when I was for some reason sure I couldn't do it, I don't always deal perfectly with abrupt changes of course and my immediate response is sometimes to try to stick with my original plan even if there's no reason to, but then it sank in that I'd just been invited by a member of the current generation of Polynesian navigators to go paddling with her and another of her compatriots and Nainoa Thompson himself and...heck, I went, and it was wonderful, and you can read an absolutely wonderful article about it in New Yorker Magazine's Talk of the Town this month (click here). 

And speaking of the nice folks at New York Outrigger - their big Liberty Challenge race is this Saturday! Festivities kick off tonight with a screening of a Hokule'a documentary by 'Oiwi TV (see yesterday's post for full details), and then the races run over the day on Saturday, starting and finishing at Pier 26 on the Hudson River, where the East Coast's largest festival of Pacific Island culture will also be going on all day. The canoes will be all over the upper harbor, the northern reaches of the race are 23rd street on the Hudson and the Brooklyn Bridge on the East River while the southern portion goes south of Governor's Island and over to the Statue of Liberty. It's a terrific day - I'll be up at the Clearwater Festival talking story about the Hokule'a but if I could be 2 places at once, Pier 26 would be the 2nd place I would be!

Wrapping up with a few pictures from that paddle with the PVS. I didn't have my waterproof camera along because I never in a million years expected to end up on the water, but here are a few pictures from pre-launch on shore. 2nd picture is Nick Paumgarten, the author of the Talk of the Town piece, interviewing Nainoa. What a great evening that was. 

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