Kalepa Babayan on Wayfinding

Pwo navigator Chad Kalepa Babayan distinguishes wayfinding from navigation – the technical art of finding land without the use of instruments or charts. He will tell you that wayfinding is “a way of organizing the world.” He has also said that it’s “a way of leading,””of finding a vision,””a set of values,””how to take care of the Earth,” and, in general, “a model for living life.”

Babayan goes on to say, “To be a wayfinder, you need certain skills—-a strong background in ocean sciences, oceanography, meteorology, environmental sciences—-so that you have a strong grounding in how the environment works. When you voyage, you become much more attuned to nature. You begin to see the canoe as nothing more than a tiny island surrounded by the sea. We have everything aboard the canoe that we need to survive as long we marshal those resources well. We have learned to do that. Now we have to look at our islands, and eventually the planet, in the same way. We need to learn to be good stewards.”

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