We, as Pacific Voyagers, are on a journey, sailing to an island in the future and navigating by the values of our ancestral past. Our ancestors understood that the health of the oceans reflects the health of the people. When we truly acknowledge this insight, when we are aware of extensive threats to the ocean, and when we care about the future of our children, the only logical step is to create a new vision, a sustainable sail plan based on values of interconnectedness, respect and stewardship.
Island of Hope is a vision for the future where the Pacific is the first fossil fuel-free continent on Earth. The Pacific as a continent is an image adapted from the writings of Le Clézio, where each island is only the emerging peak of a vast, interconnected, undersea continent. Our vision is driven by island communities and based on unity, positive action, and stories of success. Our goal is to protect the ocean by preventing activities that contribute to sea level rise, ocean acidification, warming oceans, over-fishing and reef destruction. We also seek to preserve tradition for children including myth and story; the values of cooperation and caring; and the old traditions of voyaging, fish farming, canoe building, craftsmanship, art and wisdom about the sea. Three projects – our family of vakas (Moana, Motu and Hapua), OFEC (Organization of Fish-Exporting Countries), and Fossil Fuel Free Islands – together make the Island of Hope.
When we voyage, we remember that as inhabitants of this planet we are all one family, and that the ocean is one single body of water circulating the Earth. This vast expanse reveals our interconnectedness, across peoples and generations, as well as from land to sea. Through voyaging, we are reminded that like the canoe, our planet Earth is an island of finite resources, floating in the vastness of space. As we sail, we deepen our relationship with the ocean and experience the majesty of life, the stars, and those silent moments at sea. Amidst this wonder, we learn about current threats to the ocean, and our hearts are touched, profoundly motivating us to create a new sail plan for Island Earth. We are storytellers, and it is through stories that we can transform understanding from the head to action by the hands, via pathways of the heart. Using celestial voyaging as a metaphor, the head, heart and hands are three stars that we will use to steer and orient us in maintaining our course towards a sustainable future for our Island Earth.
There is a story that Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson tells of his mentor, Mau Piailug. Standing at Lanai lookout, on the island of Oahu, Mau told him to point to Tahiti, and asked, “can you see the island?” Nainoa hesitated, of course one cannot physically see Tahiti that lies 2500 miles across the curvature of the Earth, but he responded with the words, “I can see the image of the island in my mind”. “Good”, Mau said, “don’t ever lose that image and you will never be lost”.
Guided by this insight, we too must keep the image of our Island of Hope in our minds as we navigate towards our goal of a fossil fuel-free Pacific; a Pacific where the food supply is not imported but rather based on locally grown and organic crops, where children learn the traditions of their ancestors, where reefs are healthy, and where the local community has full management of their fisheries and EEZ (economic exclusive zone).
Ancient legend tells the story of the demi-god Maui using his fishhook to metaphorically pull the islands from the sea. Today, it is through the merging of tradition and modern alternative energy by empowered and self-reliant communities, that we will navigate towards a sustainable future and, together, bring the Island of Hope to appear on the horizon.