July 12, 2021 | Source: Hawaii Business Magazine

Nā Makamaka o Kou | G70 Culture Committee

As part of an initiative to educate staff on the diversity and inclusivity of social values, perspectives, and beliefs held within Hawaiʻi’s culture, G70 formed an intra-office culture committee, Nā Makamaka o Kou (poetically translated as the friends of Kou, which is the traditional Hawaiian place name of the area now known as Honolulu but also speaks to a commitment towards relationship building fostered through education).

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Photo courtesy of G70 Culture Committee

The committee’s members come from diverse backgrounds across all disciplines of G70: architecture, planning, engineering, interior design, and construction administration.  The committee’s goals are to:

  • Create a safe space for conversations revolving around culture and identity.
  • Provide resources and experiences to develop an understanding of Hawaiian concepts and basic proficiency with the Hawaiian language.
  • Uphold the value of cultural research as a foundation in the planning and design process.

Members of the committee are dedicated to learning more about the Hawaiian language and culture and have participated in and attended workshops such as the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation’s Papakū Makawalu and Hālau ‘Ōhi‘a stewardship training. Many members are also involved in their communities as Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, artists, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), and nonprofit work centered on cultural preservation.

The committee creates internal programs to provide educational experiences on Hawaiian culture and values. One example is the Ka Mana‘o, Ka I‘ini a me Ka Mākia (the Thought, the Desire, and the Purpose) speaker series which invites leaders and practitioners from the Native Hawaiian and local community to talk about their passion and purpose. The program aims to expand and deepen one’s relationship to place and encourage the further exploration of these connections in their work and in their everyday actions.

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Photo courtesy of G70 Culture Committee

Past guests have spoken on a range of topics including the importance of mele to the understanding of place, native birds and their role in our forest ecosystems, and a process designed to apply indigenous knowledge systems in a western-centric planning framework.

Another program is ‘Inamona in which committee members contribute short posts to provoke thought and stimulate a dialogue about the assumptions we hold of our kuleana to our island home and culture. A companion series called Mixed Plate features unique cultural backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

The committee will continue to launch initiatives that seek to shift a state of cultural appreciation to one of cultural competency.

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