Reflections on MicroFest Honolulu: National Summit & Learning Exchange

It's been over a month since MicroFest Honolulu, and yet it feels like just yesterday that over 150 of us were boarding school the rain... to go to Oahu’s eastern shore to greet the sun and honor the land.

E ala e, ka la i ka hikina                     Awaken the sun in the east
i ka moana, ka moana hohonu          from the ocean, the ocean deep
Pi'i ka lewa, ka lewa nu'u                   climbing (to) the heavens, the highest heavens
i ka hikina, aia ka la                             in the east, there is the sun
e ala e                                                    Awaken!


For all of you who joined us: thank you for taking the time and for contributing the success of the MicroFest and National Learning Exchange.  For those of you who couldn't join us: you were sorely missed.
Some memories that still linger:

The first crack of sunlight, breaking through the clouds, at our opening session;

Seeing the entire group running into the ocean, joyously playing in the warm water;

Uncle Danny's stories--and the sweet bananas and cooked taro at 'He Hawai'i Au' farm;

The students and principal of Ke Kula 'o Samuel M. Kamakau Laboratory, teaching us about the Hawai'ian language;

The chant Auntie Vicky wrote with us at the hula session (and its performance at our closing luau!);

The murals of Kaka'ako and the artists' stories and concerns for their changing neighborhood;

TeAda's performance at the Immigration track, and the young woman asking an elder for the stories of her people's past;

The stories of the land from Hawai'i, Louisiana, and New York--different places, similar stories;

The performances of Los Angeles Poverty Department’s Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere and PlayBuilders of Hawai’i’s On and Off the Streets of Honolulu;

The performance of ArtSpot Productions’ Go Ye Therefore...and the conversation about the play that followed;

Touring Honolulu’s Chinatown...and the interesting artists who live and create there;

Camp Mokule'ia: the beach, the trees, the conversations;

And many, many more--too many memories, not enough space.

But more, I carry with me the sense that the work we are doing (as a field and in our home institutions) does makes a difference.  Ensemble practices and values are bringing together seemingly disparate segments of our communities, to address pressing needs: homelessness, environment, immigration, education, neighborhood development, food security, youth development, etc.  And the needle is shifting.  We are in a moment of movement.  The time is right.  Change is happening.  The past year’s MicroFest series sought to shed light on some of this good work and these good stories; to take us out of the day-to-day realities of maintaining an ensemble and remind us that, beyond the production, the work itself matters.

At the end of this cycle, there is still much we are learning.  NET’s hope is to continue this work, this exploration of place.  We invite your thoughts and ideas as we refine the exploration to move us forward, in community with our partners and allies, to bring ensemble practice to the forefront of American culture and society.

I don't know about you, but I'm still unpacking the experience.  There was so much there, and in all of our host communities.  Thank you Honolulu.  And thank you Detroit, Appalachia (Harlan and Knoxville), and New Orleans.

Posted by: 
Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thank you Mark. I know it's now August 12th and almost two months since we were all setting off for Hawaii, but I too am still reflecting, in non-hectic moments, on what I saw and learned and took away. A beautiful island, rich in culture and stories I had no concept of before I got there. It was interesting to me that there seemed to be no state level body to lobby for the arts in a meaningful way, and how bare bones most of the performing arts enterprises seemed to be.

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