Please pardon the title... I didn't want my blog mistaken for official Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona media. I am a member of the club but not an official representative. I'm just writing about my experience. The conference is usually held in May each year, but with the COVID-19 "shut down" opening up with short notice, they decided to hold it in September. We were at a "new" venue, the Outrigger Keauhou a.k.a. "the Old Kona Surf." The conference is a gathering of kumu from throughout the State and haumana that have come from not only Hawaiʻi but the continental U.S. and Japan. It's a highlight for me as I see weaving friends that I usually only get to see once a year. Seeing everyone's different and creative styles is inspiration for the next year. That's my ukana under the banner. Aunty Harriet had told me a long time ago to get one of those wheeled baskets and I finally did for this conference. I figured I'd go easy on my back as I usually try to carry all my bags of stuff in one trip to/from the car. OMG. I should've listened to Aunty Harriet sooner. It's so convenient and my back is happy!
The conference itself is four days of weaving in respective classes. There is a pre-conference workshop on the protocol of gathering and preparing lauhala. This year they held it in Kahaluʻu off Aliʻi Drive. I did not have permission to post pictures, so will only share one pic of my foot and the hands of the haumana that was willing to work with me.
This year was the third time I taught basic pāpale. We had photography and social media protocols in place during the conference so I didn't take many pictures. However, even without the protocol, I was so busy I would've forgotten anyway. Almost all the pictures in this month's blog were taken by friends and generously shared.
This group of weavers were very gracious as I invited myself to dine with them at Manago's. Koʻi is from Maui, the rest (Sue, Susan, Sue, Jan, Makalena, and Kal) are from Oʻahu and members of Ulana Me Ka Lokomaikaʻi weaving club. Aunty Gladys Grace, with Uncle Frank Masagatani, had founded Ulana Me Ka Lokomaika'i back in 1997. They were saying how Aunty Gladys would always want to eat at Manago's and support local businesses when in Kona. Makalena took the "group selfie." Even on a weeknight it was max-capacity as usual at Manago's. One of the things I love about Manago Hotel is the handwashing basin in the lobby. It's been there forever - right outside the door to the restaurant so one can always wash their hands with soap and water before dining. IYKYK.
Andrea, me, and Kathi at the hōʻike dinner. Andrea and Kathi were my haumana this year. While they really wanted to finish their pāpale during the conference, and in the past I would've pressured them to do so, we focused on hand placement, mindfulness, and what their left thumb is doing (IYKYK).
The tech and social media protocols in place and conversations with other weavers reminded me that there was/is an emphasis on the in-person oral tradition and relationship between kumu and haumana in learning ulana lauhala. There is cultural context in weaving lauhala that is missed when one only views tutorials online. If one is respectful to the native culture there may be benefits to both. That said, I'm probably old school in that I have no desire in creating online tutorials and in the future will not consent to haumana recording me (audio or video). They need to be in moment with me, not relying on digital captures to review or post later. We all truly need to be respectful of other people's privacy and intellectual property.
Conference participants are encouraged to donate items for the silent auction. The proceeds of the auction help with conference expenses and scholarships for haumana. This pāpale is the younger sister of one I made for myself. Sibling papale. I had heard of weavers making sibling pāpale, a brother & sister somewhat matching from the same puhala. In the past I've made matching pāpale for couples. These sister pāpale are the same height, style of blocking, width of brim, 5 strand hi'ilu, and from the same pūhala. Mahalo nui to @charmiesofkona for supporting Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona, winning it in the silent auction, and sharing a picture of the pāpale in its lovely new home.
Comparing my first pāpale made at Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona 2003 and my (second to) latest pāpale finished a few weeks before this year's conference. Reflecting on 19 years of attending the weaving conferences... making pāpale, meeting amazing people both IRL and online, inspired by creative artist kumu and haumana, and making wonderful friends along the way.