THE WAYFINDER

THE WAYFINDER is the story of a Kamai, a real-life “Moana.” A vibrant 14-year-old Hawaiian, Kamai dreams of sailing in the wake of her ancestors. Ever since stepping on board a sailing canoe as a young child, Kamai has been drawn to the sea. We follow her journey as she learns the ancient art of wayfinding and discovers that ancient knowledge about guiding canoes provides tools she can use to guide the future of her islands – and navigate the voyage of her lie.

Wayfinding, the art of celestial navigation, is based on the Hawaiian philosophy of sustainability –the idea that life choices made in the limited space of a canoe apply to life on an island and life in the global community. Learning these core values and traditions deepens Kamai’s commitment to fight climate change and take care of the ocean that is so essential to survival in Hawai’i and on our shared island, Earth.

Find out more out the whole project, including the related interactive curriculum, at World Wise.

 

“The notion that there is a normal we should all aspire to is a tyrannical idea. It is a fiction deeply embedded in our institutions that causes a lot of harm in the world.”

Jonathan MooneyAuthor & Learning Advocate

 

The future of normal

a production in collaboration with The Kindling Group

Launched by a revolution and founded on rugged individualism, America has a proud history of embracing diversity. And yet we have spent the past 150 years building school, work and social institutions that measure everything against average—or normal—making people who are different feel like they don’t belong.

The Future of Normal is a wake up call.

A broad-reaching documentary film and national engagement campaign, The Future of Normal examines the tension between our country’s long-standing fixation with conformity and the need to understand, accommodate and embrace individual difference.

The Old Paradigm

For millions of neurodivergent children and adults—including individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, other learning disabilities and high-functioning autism—life can be overwhelmingly difficult. 

In the past, people who learned differently were, at best, trained to mold themselves to fit the norm. At worst, they were ostracized, over-medicated or institutionalized. Even today, most schools require students to sit still, complete linear tasks and take standardized tests. The workplace is often similar: desk sitting, linear tasks, and a strict hierarchy of authority, where neurodivergent behaviors are often judged as stupid, lazy or unprofessional. 

Many competent and creative people, who don’t—or can’t—conform to these rigid environments, fail to reach their full potential, depriving our country of enormous reservoirs of talent. When provisions are made that improve their performance, they are often labeled with a diagnosis that sets them apart from their peers—a double-edged sword. 

Launched by a revolution and founded on rugged individualism, America has a proud history of embracing diversity. And yet we have spent the past 150 years building school, work and social institutions that measure everything against average—or normal—making people who are different feel like they don’t belong.

The Future of Normal is a wake up call.

A broad-reaching documentary film and national engagement campaign, The Future of Normal examines the tension between our country’s long-standing fixation with conformity and the need to understand, accommodate and embrace individual difference.

The Old Paradigm

For millions of neurodivergent children and adults—including individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, other learning disabilities and high-functioning autism—life can be overwhelmingly difficult. 

In the past, people who learned differently were, at best, trained to mold themselves to fit the norm. At worst, they were ostracized, over-medicated or institutionalized. Even today, most schools require students to sit still, complete linear tasks and take standardized tests. The workplace is often similar: desk sitting, linear tasks, and a strict hierarchy of authority, where neurodivergent behaviors are often judged as stupid, lazy or unprofessional. 

Many competent and creative people, who don’t—or can’t—conform to these rigid environments, fail to reach their full potential, depriving our country of enormous reservoirs of talent. When provisions are made that improve their performance, they are often labeled with a diagnosis that sets them apart from their peers—a double-edged sword. 

What all of our efforts in neuroscience are demonstrating is that you have many peculiar ways of arranging a human brain and there are all sorts of varieties of creative, successful human beings ... ADHD, dyslexia and autism, are not deficits or disorders, but facets on the broad spectrum of neurodiversity.”

Dr. Antonio Damasio
Professor of Neuroscience
University of Southern California

The Future

The good news is that the concept of “normal” is being revisited in many spheres of American life, whether it pertains to race, ability, gender or sexuality. And we are seeing
increased support for diversity in the most fundamental thing that makes us human: how we think

A new focus on “neurodiversity,” where difference is valued, is gaining momentum in the fields of neuroscience, education, psychology, genetics and business. Across the country schools, workplaces and communities are accommodating—and welcoming—the unique gifts of those who have been marginalized. And many successful entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, educators and artists publicly acknowledge their neurodivergent qualities as
positive, even game-changing, assets. 

THE DIFFERENTS: STORIES FROM THE FUTURE OF NORMAL

At the heart of The Future of Normal is a racially, geographically, economically and neurologically diverse cast of engaging individuals, who face the challenges of school, workplace and social situations that demand “normal” at every turn. Some have found ways to make the most of their distinctive ways of thinking and knowing. Others are caught in the crosscurrents of change and struggling to stay afloat in a system rigged against them. Still others, who might thrive with the right conditions, are barely surviving. 

The Future of Normal will interweave intimate personal stories with explorations of larger forces at work: new science about how different brains function; historical, social and psychological forces that perpetuate conformity; and neuroscientists, employers and educators, whose innovations are maximizing people’s unique strengths and creating schools, workplaces, tools, and social structures that redefine what it means to be normal.

BUILDING A CAMPAIGN

20% of Americans are affected by learning differences.
That’s more than 30 million people —a community big enough
to create a powerful movement that can engender powerful change.

The film will be the backbone of a cross-platform engagement campaign that combines the authenticity of a documentary with cutting-edge digital amplification and live events. The campaign rests on proven principles for expanding reach and deepening impact: Establish a clearly defined mission and ethos; understand audiences and reach them where they already “live”; build productive partnerships; move audiences to realistic action; and test and iterate content and approach. 

Our goal is to raise awareness of human diversity at a time when we need multiple perspectives to solve the complex problems of our time. We will accomplish that by igniting conversations about something already on many people’s minds: how to re-think “normal” in a world of difference.

Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey

Visit  Wayfinders  at PBS.org

Visit Wayfinders at PBS.org

This award-winning PBS documentary sweeps viewers into a seafaring adventure with a community of Polynesians, as they build traditional sailing canoes, learn how to follow the stars across the open ocean, and embark upon a 2,000-mile voyage in the wake of their ancestors. 

Wayfinders focuses on the revival of wayfinding — the art of guiding a canoe across long distances using only natural signs: the sun, the moon, the stars and the ocean swells. Nainoa Thompson is the first Hawaiian in hundreds of years to master celestial navigation. By passing on these ancient skills to a new generation of wayfinders, Nainoa begins the process of recovering connections with the past and preparing for the challenges of the future.

Written, Produced and Directed by Gail K. Evenari Edited by Yasha Aginsky & Nathaniel Dorsky Musical Score by Mark Adler Captain Cook portrayed by Patrick Stewart Narrated by Napualani Cassidy

Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey was made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by Pacific Islanders in Communications through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. With special appreciation to the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Click here to purchase the Wayfinders DVD.

Grant life to our canoe,May it live till it is aged, worn out,
And the algae cling to its sides.
Grant prosperity to our canoe, Till it is aged and worn out.
May this be the life gift from you, Amama, the prayer is freed to wing on its way.

from a Hawaiian canoe launching prayer

Timeless Craft: Building Mauloa

TIMELESS CRAFT documents three generations of Pacific Islanders — from Micronesia, Hawai’i and the Marquesas — as they construct a coastal outrigger sailing canoe using traditional tools, methods and materials. The film weaves an atmosphere of quiet beauty and reverence. No visible trappings of the modern world appear in the unfolding scenes that evoke pre-contact Polynesia, a time when master carvers sharpened their rudimentary tools on whetstones and crafted vessels that carried them to neighboring islands and to the far corners of the Pacific.

The building of Mauloa was filmed in semi-slow motion. The altered speed and golden images that unfold on the screen create a unique sense of timelessness. Nothing of the modern world exists in the footage - no power tools, t-shirts or sunglasses. All of the scenes evoke pre-contact Polynesia; from sharpening the stone adzes on a whetstone, to staining the koa hull with kukui nut oil. This method of filming carries viewers back to the time when the ancestors of today's Polynesians crafted their canoes with grace and artistry, while respecting solemn ritual and ancient tradition.

Purchase Timeless Craft

"Animals and birds are like people, too,
though they do not talk the same or do the same things.
Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.”

Island of the Blue Dolphins

A gift for abuelo

Life, Death and Buried Treasure in Oaxaca, Mexico

A Gift for Abuelo is a film about family, culture and conservation. This poignant and beautiful tale follows a young boy, as he transforms from potential predator to fierce protector of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles that nest on the beach near his home.

A Gift for Abuelo celebrates differences, draws attention to the things all children have in common, teaches understanding, respect and tolerance and promotes environmental accountability. This story is special, not only because it teaches the value of coexistence and protecting the natural world, but it also immerses viewers in the traditions and lifestyle of another culture — creating a unique form of rich, engaging education that can be shared with children and adults around the world.

As we discover the interdependent, parallel existence of people, places and animals around the world, we begin to recognize the strong and enduring elements that connect us all.

Spirit of the Land

The Spirit of the Land series promotes understanding of Native American cultures. For many centuries the native peoples of North America have had an intimate relationship with their natural environment, deriving from it spiritual fulfillment, as well as the resources necessary for survival. This special closeness between Native Americans and their world is the focus of the Spirit of the Land film series.The first two films explore the lives of Native Hawaiians and Yupíik Eskimos of Western Alaska. Individuals share their beliefs and experiences from the past and describe their hopes and concerns for the future. In the third film, In the Wake of Our Ancestors, the two cultures come together, when the Tlingit and Haida Indians of Southeast Alaska help the Hawaiians in their efforts to build a voyaging canoe out of natural materials. All of the films reveal how Native Americans in vastly different physical environments meet the common challenge of maintaining ancient traditions while keeping in step with the modern world.

By exposure to the lifestyle and value systems of people from different backgrounds, viewers begin to perceive the environmental, geographical, cultural and historical forces that influence human development.