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Little Arks

a proposal for Tahiti & Moorea (unrealized)

Vessels transport people, culture, and values. Today’s scientific data confirms that the sustainability of humans depends on our ability to learn about, respect, and nurture balance in our ecosystems. And our marine ecosystem is the fundamental fabric of all life on planet Earth. This project informs through local Elder story-telling, and our making and celebration processes.

In this community workshop project, we will use our hands, heads, and hearts to create Little Arks as an homage to endgangered ocean species. While local crafts people lead the creative process, we’’ll listen to Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) ancestral stories from local fishermen, their ideas about sustainability, and the part we can play in it.

I inherited this burnished and carved gourd from my mother, and it inspired the use of a natural material for the boat. Local students, residents, and tourists will visually interpret TEK stories into line-drawn symbols for inscribing our floating arks with meaning.

Guided by local craftswomen, workshop participants will applique images of endangered ocean species onto the sails of the Little Arks. The flickering light of a candle inserted into the boat’s deck, will illuminate the sails while marking their blue territories.

Ritual is an important way to sustain community identity and cohesiveness, but new traditions can also begin. As part of our project’s closing ceremony, workshop participants and the community will light candles in the arks, before sending them out-to-sea as part of an evening prayer celebration led by indegenous Elders. (Below foamcore model ark with holes for the candles and sail-pole.