Life Sustainability Awards 生命永續獎
The Life Sustainability Awards aim to encourage and congratulate those who take action to protect and develop cultural diversity, spiritual empowerment and environmental sustainability. By reporting the stories and contributions of those awarded the Sustainable Life Awards, we hope to encourage more people from Taiwan and the wider Pacific region to come together with innovative solutions to global challenges.
「生命永續獎」（Life Sustainability Awards）的意涵，在於鼓勵並肯定以創新的精神與行動，致力於保存或發揚文化多樣性、心靈培力及維護環境永續的人士或團體。
This year saw the 4th Life Sustainability Awards ceremony take place at the 2012 International Austronesian Conference in Taipei. The awards celebrate individuals' actions and passions for nurturing and protecting cultural, spiritual and environmental sustainability. This years setting award setting was particularly fitting, as it was the first occasion that a non-Taiwanese has received the award. Papa Mape, a Tahitian and Lifok 'Oteng, an indigenous Taiwanese, both were present at the conference to receive their awards. Their presence together on stage further emphasised and reflected conference's key theme, of strengthening ties and realising connections between Taiwanese and Pacific culture.
The first awardee, and the first non-Taiwanese to receive this award, was Papa Mape, an 85 year old fisherman and village elder of Mo'orea, Tahiti, who through sharing his traditional knowledge of the ocean has opened up doors for scientists as well as his whole community. Traditional knowledge is sacred in Tahiti, only passed down to family members and done so orally. Yet with the future of the environment unknown and thus a growing need to better understand it, Mape appreciates the value of sharing his traditional knowledge with Western scientific knowledge of environmental resource management. As a key example of tradition working with science, in 2011 the National Geographic Magazine featured his inspiring story. What drives Papa Mape to share his knowledge with scientists however, is for the young and future generations of Tahitians, as in doing so cultural and environmental sustainability alike are greater maintained.
Lifok 'Oteng, is an 80 year old Amis diarist, historian and musician from the Yiwan tribe near Taidong. Suffering paralysis when he was 14, he spent many proceeding years bed-ridden, using his time to self-study as well as learn musical instruments and languages. With greater mobility from age 27, 'Oteng began putting his great ability with language and communication to use, through visiting village elders from tribes and compiling their culture and histories. His diary, which he has consistently maintained for 60 years is furthermore a documentation of his interactions with cultures and histories. 'Oteng's drive and interest in culture has also seen him working as a Japanese translator, research assistant and field researcher. He is a pioneer and leading figure in his own Amis tribes' cultural history, and through his efforts of sustaining culture through documentation, now he himself is an important part of own culture's history.
Officially recognising this year's awardees and previous recipients is but a small token of appreciation in the name of sustaining culture, spirituality and the environment. The awardees tireless work and drive throughout their lives to do so, is a reminder and reflection of the importance and value of maintaining these forms of sustainability, for their communities and all of us alike.
The five winners of the 2011 3rd Life Sustainability Awards have now been announced. The Life Sustainability Awards aim to encourage and congratulate those who take action to protect and develop cultural diversity, spiritual empowerment and environmental sustainability. By reporting the stories and contributions of those awarded the Sustainable Life Awards, we hope to encourage more people from Taiwan and the wider Pacific region to come together with innovative solutions to global challenges.
The First Life Sustainability Awards in 2008 produced 11 award winners. Then, in 2009 The Second Life Sustainability Awards produced 9 award winners. The award winners are chosen after carefully considering a host of worthy candidates with contributions to ‘Sustainable life’ and finally choosing a fair cross section with the winners espousing different qualities. In 2011 for the Third Life Sustainability Awards we narrowed down the criterion, choosing the winners based on two main requirements:
- they have contributed to the protection and development of Taiwanese aboriginal/Austronesian culture with continuous actions and an innovative spirit.
- have valiantly mobilised community resources to respond to challenges of sustainability.
Each of the award winners will be rewarded with a beautiful stone sculpture made by Wang Xiu-chi, who generously donated all the sculpture trophies for the First Life Sustainability Awards in 2007. To view more of his fabulous works, please click here.
The Award winners
Writer of a uniquely Dawu form of Ocean literature, Syaman Rapongan brings his readers to the ocean shores with him. He lives the life he writes; fishing, shipbuilding and embracing the traditions of his elders - Tao folklore will live on in his work for future generations. His contributions to the Dawu people and other aboriginal groups go beyond the literary sphere; he was also a pioneer in aborigine-related social movements in the 1980’s.
Sakuliu Pavavalung, an earthenware sculptor of the Paiwan minority, devotes himself to the renovation and documentation of the lost craft of earthenware pot making. He has long pushed his concept of a ‘community classroom’ teaching the kids about their cultural history and wisdom and spearheading the community rebuilding of his community following the devastation of Typhoon Morakot.
Dadelavan Ibau is lightning rod of inspiration for marginalised communities. A professional dancer, she also voluntarily teaches drums to prisoners and kids in remote schools. In these encounters and interactions she drums in hope and drumming out their hidden potential.
Documentary filmmaker and scholar Futuru Tsai, was adopted into the Atolan Communty where he has documented local popular culture such as ‘Amis Hip hop’. Later films and research follow Austronesian migration paths in the Pacific and explores the lost history of Taiwan’s aborigines. In his work he both learns from and enriches indigenous culture.
Bo-hua Peng has long spent her own free time visiting disadvantaged schools as a storyteller. The time with these children in eastern Taiwan alerted her to their needs and led her to establish the Wood Pecker Life Association, which trains the young people how to better spend there free time to study and provide service to the community.
The winners have been presented with their awards at the conference Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific: An Island Perception of an Oceanic Continent on February 16-17th. This conference is held by the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, Renlai Monthly & eRenlai, Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies, National Central Library and other institutes.
At that time, she met Professor Guo Jing-zi, who had just come out of the research lab of the special education department. After she consulted Professor Guo, she knew how to change the teaching method. Her “Blackboard Revolution” started. Shu-mei had changed her way of teaching and designed various teaching materials made to meet aborigine children’s needs.
The atmosphere in the classroom has changed; children have started to get more concentrated. During math class, which was the toughest before, the math formulae are not “spoken” anymore from the teacher’s mouth, instead they “grew” from a big tree on the blackboard. And all the other courses, including Chinese and English, are also taught in a different way.
Wu Lai is the only aboriginal town in Taipei County; National Wu Lai Elementary and Middle School is located on the intersection of Nan Shi brook and A Yu brook. Tayal Children (coming from the five main villages in the town— Zhong Zhi, Wu Lai, Xiao Yi, Xin Xian, and Fu Shan Village.) represent 80 percent of the students. In order to make them understand their own culture, to recognize the importance of their cultural inheritance and to participate in the development of Tayal tribes in Wu Lai, Shu-mei has also asked the adults to teach their skills of knitting. She encourages the students to participate in traditional rituals and ceremonies, and has asked the elderly to take part in native language education. She also takes her students to visit bamboo forest, to explore the sources of hot spring water, to visit the workshops of knitting, forest management spots, and hot spring hotels in Wu Lai …
One day Mhike at the Chungli Hope Center(which is next to the Catholic church where he attends Mass every Sunday) saw an overseas worker fumbling with a computer and was asked to teach him how to communicate with his wife and family in Vietnam. The problem was that his computer was not on line.
This encounter gave him the idea to help them. So he started by collecting old computers and repairing them and put them on line for the overseas workers to use. Later on he started a computer training course at the center. The number of students grew rapidly, so that today there are more applicants than can be accommodated at one time.
Now Mhike’s students not only can use the web to interact with their families and alleviate their home sickness, these torn away from home students have acquired information technology to enrich their lives and find even better jobs in the future.
Mhike received the Renlai Life Sustainability Awards in 2007, listen to his testimony below:
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