Big Business Creates the Best Stories!

WalMart store signIt always comes as such a surprise and I am  always quite moved when a corporation takes steps to assist the community where it does business, and/or takes steps to educate itself about that community.  Respect, preservation, and education is not always something taken on by corporate America’s larger brand names.

In the most unlikely of places, we found a little bit of cultural respect from Wal-Mart.  I’m not one to give a lot of credit to Wal-Mart since most of what we hear about them is anything but good news, but I’ll give them this one.

In Hawai’i, the finding of iwi (bones) is probably one of our most sensitive and touchy subjects.  Honolulu probably suffers from the largest number of incidents because it is constantly growing and there is always something being built.

The discovery of iwi during the construction of the Wal-Mart store on Ke’eaumoku Street was a finding taken very seriously.  The last I heard when this came to light was that there were 64 set of iwi that were about 150 years old.  While things were kept relatively low key, it was not an all-happy or non-confrontational event!  Findings such as these occur much more frequently than we would like them to and the parties involved had no problem sharing their views.

Memorial at Honolulu Wal-Mart

After reading through some of the articles, it seems to me that some of the “experts” hired to do a job were perhaps not the best choice to handle a matter so delicate and/or to handle the treasured bones themselves.  I know we have talked before about the importance of the iwi in Hawaiian culture.  These are not dinosaur bones from an archaeological dig!  They are family members!

Wal-Mart, and any other business for that matter, cannot always control the behavior of the people they hire to perform a service.  It is difficult to be at the mercy of those performing work that is outside one’s own line of business.  That’s why they hire specialists.  All of that aside, I think the completed memorial is actually very attractive and whoever was in charge of that, did a fine and respectful job!

Corner of Makaloa and Sheridan Streets

There are, as you can see, “Keep Out” and “Don’t Walk on Grass” signs all around this little monument.  It looks quite a bit like a heiau and it is surrounded by newly-planted indigenous plants, the kind often found in such places.  They originally said it would be landscaped and open to the public so perhaps they’re waiting for the plants to take root.  In case residents haven’t found it yet, the photo above shows you exactly where it is — on the corner of Makaloa and Sheridan Streets on the property shared by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

Cultural preservation is on the upswing in Hawai’i and it’s not all being left only up to us.

Getting ready for work and listening with one ear to the news the other morning, I was stopped in my tracks and had to run to the TV and press rewind on the remote (thanks to Oceanic Time Warner Cable, we can do that!).  As I fumbled for the right button I muttered, “They’re doing what?!?  No way!”

I love this story and I’m sending a shout out to the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel for being a part of the community where they do business and for proactively reinforcing its culture!  KHON2 News did a nice little segment about a family whose son wanted a big tree on their property to be made into a canoe.  I hesitate because links like that one often become dead when the story gets moved so I’ll include the gist of it here just in case.

Their son passed away six years ago but his dream may still become a reality.  The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel asked the family to donate that same tree for them to turn into a canoe!  Based on a quote from the KHON2 News article, the father responded:

“The only thing we like out of this is to have the canoe named after my son cuz for a while he had already seen this being one canoe”

The hotel agreed, and named the canoe “Kaililaau.”

The canoe is being built as part of the hotel’s Pookela program which allows employees to learn aspects of the Hawaiian culture.

Building a canoe is certainly no easy task and for the hotel to have done this with the goal of perpetuating a piece of Hawaiian culture is nothing less than commendable!

Mahalo to KHON2 and kudos to the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel!

See how great it is when big business does the right thing?  🙂

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