Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Optimisim of Grad School?

10/16/12 instagram@kteabam:
Hope ur grams r inspiring this morn...applying them will need more work, but can do.
(instagram photogrid created from [top left clockwise]: @communityhi, @_nalaniiii, @samkapoi, @famoussayingss)
Fall 2012 has been a real eye opener and test to if I really want to be in academia...and the answer is yes I do.  I have been reading of all things, how to succeed in graduate school, how to do successful scientific writing and also checking out books like craziness from the library in preparation for proposals and exams in the upcoming months.

Things that keep me going are my instagram. As in a previous post graduate school is pretty isolated. A routine is atypical and revolves around an unsteady schedule of lab meetings, meetings, seminars, group meetings and in between those times organizing personal and peripheral research.  This is just how it is and I like it. Everyday is new and exciting and I get to learn or pick a book from the 1800s once in a while, even check it out of the library (!).  In between these times I check my 'grams' and one morning people felt more inspiring than others, just in time for me to get to writing and get some papers done.

All in all this semester is just as trying as a semester with classes. The best part is the continued zest for learning, reading and exchanging ideas with colleagues, mentors, friends and people at the bus stop.  Just keeping it positive and more work is sure to come.  Whether in school, in the field, in a 9-5 or fishing/farming we are all adapting to a life style of survival we feel most comfortable in or it's just the situation we have to deal with for now. We'll get through it and hopefully with some laughter and a beer with friends.

10/17/12 instagram@kteabam
At Pint+Jigger after a successful advisor and community meeting downtown with kiawe (Prosopis pallida) smoked glass with black marlin porter and good company...the best beer ever, one glass pau.
(photo by: @hcasurf)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The opposite of Ohana: Grad School

Community engagement and kokua....

Being in graduate school is the opposite of what I advocate for within my own work, support of the ohana and nuclear family system.

Although excited, proud and 'have been waiting for this moment' for a long time I live in a studio isolated from distractions and passings that can take me away from my studies (ie my ohana).  I believe that it is the goal of academia, and graduate school, to take people away from their family, what they are familair with and disconnect them from connections longstanding through encouraging international work (another form of colonization).

As pessimistic as my tone may sound there are always positives to these items, but it just depends on what agenda you are working towards and if you are partial to traveling.

Food is a vital part of everyday life. Although I prefer to eat with people it is a privledge when this occurence happens as I have trained my schedule to isolate and focus on being committed to deadlines set by departments, agencies, institutions and individuals who will fund my interest in the future.  It is ironic, sacrificing the present (which is a present) for the future (unknown, still present at the time).

I have read some pretty inspiring quotes on instagram ( not #1 source for inspiration, but in these situations let's do it)'s one of them...

"When you want something you've never had, you ahve to do something  you've never done"

And I am applying this to my doctoral pursuit because that it exactly what it is, super akward but that's where I'm at.  It is interesting to have the feeling of being uncomfortable in order to advocate for others to gain acceptance in main stream society.  But that is how the system has been calculated and bred. wasn't working so guess it is

me.freeblogging...and just trying to get her done.

Mahalo for your time and attention. It is greatly appreciated.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Re-affirming Relationships: In person or Social Media?

Sidewalk art in Victoria, British Columbia.  Taken during an Indigenous Governance (Twitter: @IGOV_UVic) exchange with the University of Victoria and University of Hawaii Indigenous Politics Program.  The abroad opportunity was found via professional feed on Facebook.  I participated in a two-week exchange in 2011 (Victoria, British Colombia) and that carried over in to a 2012 (Honolulu, Oahu & Hakioawa, Kahoolawe) exchange as well. What is more important is that Professors of these programs have been building personal/professional relationships for the past six years, a cross of social media and in person affirmations.

So...I have a BUNCH of online social media connections or sites to help maintain:

Facebook;     Katie Kamelamela, University of Hawaii at Manoa Ethnobotany
Twitter;          Kamelamelabam,
Blogger;         OneFathom, HuliKanaka,
Tumblr;          Ethnodietology
instagram;       kamelamelabam,
Google+;        KatieKamelamela,
Pinterest;        Katie Kamelamela,
Linkedin;        Katie Kamelamela,
Esty;               nohowale
Freeblogging;  nohowale [spoke about in previous blog]

and probably a few more I have forgotten about...

Just because I have all these sites does not mean I am on them on constantly, but I have been using them to experiment with different formats and ways of storytelling [pictures, posts, tweets, storyboards, blogs, etc].  In addition I have also built and or helped to maintain websites such as:

Teaching Assistant at University of Hawaii at Manoa
BOT105: Introduction to Ethnobotany     (2008-2011)
BOT444: Ethnoecology & Conservation  (2008)
Conservation Ethnobiology Field School  (2009-2010)
BOT446: Hawaiian Ethnobotany             (2011)

Na Hua Maoli A Na Hua Malihini           (2007), under construction
Plant checklist of Kaho'olawe Island        (2010-2011)
Imuonui; UHM Botany Masters               (2011)
With the draw of the smartphone and a small little computer I got at the beginning of 2010 to  help me do work while in the air, on ground or while on the water I have enveloped myself in social media (especially in the past few months).  It seems that social media is taking over (the world) and even real life relationships. But how did I (we) get here? and how is it affecting our professional, familial and friend networks?

My sister is nice enough to email me pics of my nephew via smartphone.  I in turn instagram'd it, he's sooo cute! Technology in this way has helped me to keep in touch with my family when school & work are bustling.  Since my sister and I have signed up for instagram we are able to share pics automatically, along with our other friends :)
In working with community members there are a range of relationships that I engage in: from family, to long time (5 years or more) to acquaintances.  Each encounter is different and a learning experience about peoples comfort level with social interaction (digital or in person), the subject matter we are engaging in (mostly contemporary practices) and the type of trust I have with people I am talking story or interviewing.

As an ethnoecologist, who works with mostly rural Native Hawaiians, it is impossible to establish a relationship via email, text msg or even on the telephone at points in time.  Sometimes (most times) it just takes an old fashion check in with the telephone to establish a time and place to meet, a visit at a comfortable spot and some food (*a must when talking story with anyone).

 Picking up pa'i'ai from Mana Ai at the Windward Mall Farmers Market, available every Wednesday 4-7PM on Oahu.  This was a special pick up trip for interviews with a 95 and 84 year old kupuna (elders).  Keeping in mind that many older people may have a hard time chewing this pounded taro in a puolo (bundle) is also a treat for those who lived in the days when people made their own poi at home. In addition buying food made from community members also reinforces and maintains existing relationships, strengthening social resilience on the ground.  

The most effective way to firm these relationships is with an occasional check in at a: community event, family celebration, school gathering, casual drop by or anytime that isn't inconvenient for the community members I'm wanting to build relationships with.  So far in my work this method is most effective with the makua/kupuna (parents/grandparent) generation (40-60 yrs).  When visiting I try and keep in mind the age of the person, where they are from, maybe even ask a close friend or relative prior to visiting what their favorite pupu (snack or small bit to eat) is, all to make the situation as comfortable as possible for everyone.

"Science: Becoming the Messenger" workshop by
the National Science Foundation
Earlier this year, as a scientist, I attended a National Science Foundation (NSF) meeting in Honolulu about "Becoming the Messenger".  The largest message they had was UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA, including twitter, facebook, blogging, anything to make science more visible to the general population.  When the room heard this, and were encouraged to tweet insitu, a calm silence went over the room.  Throughout the day NSF representatives taught us how to package our message to public audiences, we did exercises in blogging and also were given the task to create a 3 minute video about our research.  Needless to say this was extremely challenging and made me feel like the community members I was interviewing.

Since this workshop I have been experimenting with social media.  I mostly use facebook to follow things I am interested in such as: ethnobotany, homegardening, traditional foods, cultural challenges/issues/triumphs, art and other various hobbies.  As a result of utilizing facebook in a more "professionally" focused manner I have been able to take advantage of education opportunities, indigenous exchanges and participate in community events that I would not have known about other wise.

Image shared by Doug Ray of Social Media Explained  a la @ThreeShipsMedia on Facebook via instagram

In all there is a time and a place for all of these social medium (online/in person).  Younger generations 0-50yrs old are all on things such as Facebook or Twitter minimally, and it has been easiest to share my research, professional and familial life with others through these mediums (especially if I need feedback on ideas).  I have found pictures to be the best way of communication for me between others and myself, keeping track of everyday and special occasions.

In the end the most important thing is Re-affirming Relationships either In person or with Social Media or both if mechanisms are available.  Next move: kick it back with a good old post card and stamp :)

Please check out or follow any of my other sites: it might give me incentive to engage with them more, maybe :)

Aloha and thanks for stopping by for a little bit of Hawaii, ethnoecology ethics and social media ranting (on and advertised by social media).

A hui hou (Until we meet again).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Freeblogging: (One way a Native Hawaiian deals with writing in Academia)

Freeblogging is something I tripped over while looking to see how and what to write freely.  We have all heard of free writing but freeblogging? What an applicable idea in our technological age.  Earlier today, as I was filling my day with things to do and once again avoid my writing works, I thought about how I couldn't remember the last time I wrote a paper by hand, with a pen, on a piece of paper...

I am always having a hard time coming to the computer and finding something to write but in freeblogging there just isn't an option you have to write...or your work is published. And the neat part is, well I think so, is that only you can view it. There are no links to facebook, twitter, instagram, foursquare, coconutwireless available on's just for you.


1. Type (timed or untimed)
2. Published online

In much of my work (talking story, observing, experiencing, photography...) there are so many other things that happen which enhance the event going on.  Freeblogging is way I have found to flush out these ideas and a timestamp is applied.

I have been using freeblogging as a form of recording:

- daily observations
- mental notes during talk story sessions
- things I want to do later, improve
- data collection for research
- notes on photos taken in the day
- recipes completed
- plants planted, watered, transfered,
- project goals and accomplishments
- whatever you want

I'm hoping it'll help out with my dissertation chapter writing in the next few months.
Hopefully it will be helpful to other writers out there too.

And back to writing...