Unplugged: Waimea Valley Audubon Center

Beginning Monday, April 21st, and running through Sunday April 27th, it’s National “Turn Off Week” in the U.S. and Canada. Sponsored by the Center for Screen-time Awareness, in conjunction with many education and health & fitness organizations, the event is meant to highlight our growing reliance on all things electronic. It began in the 1990s as a one-day event in which people were encouraged to turn off their TVs for 24-hours. But as our dependence on other electronic media has grown, so has the scope and duration of the event: now participants are encouraged to unplug from their blackberries, cell phones(!), iPhones, PCs, laptops, Wiis, xBoxes, etc. for one full week.

Can you do it? We’re going to give it a shot. We’re only allowing ourselves the radio since it’s largely a non-interactive medium, and camera because we don’t have a non-digital camera. I was going to start a series about our experience with acupuncture this week, but we’ll pick up with that when we return.

Today we spent the afternoon at the Honolulu Academy of Art to visit their special collection, “The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan,” which is on view until May 23d. If you haven’t seen this extraordinary collection, which is based on the Honolulu Academy’s own expeditions to Bhutan over the last 5 years. The collection is composed largely of religious, namely Buddhist, artwork borrowed from active and working monasteries; it is supplemented with twice-weekly altar rituals performed by Bhutanese monks; videos taken by the Academy’s staff of religious dances — some which have never been seen outside the country; and a truly innovative multi-media installation by Herbert Mingood, dance photographer for the Joffrey Ballet.

The exhibit is scheduled to tour five other museums, the next being the Rubin Museum in New York in September. If you have the opportunity to see this rare collection, I hope you will avail yourself of the gift. Read more about the exhibit on the Academy’s website, or read the New York Times article by Susan Emmerling.

Bhutan is considered one of the most isolated countries in the world, and has the distinction of being the only country to have a Gross National Happiness index (how cool is that?). It seemed fitting to include mention of this exhibition here since there were no TVs in Bhutan before 1999!

We can’t show you anything from the Bhutan collection, so to get National Turn Off Week to a proper start, we’ll leave you with another one our favorite ways to get Unplugged: Waimea Valley Audubon Center on Oahu’s North Shore.

Waimea Valley’s official greeter


A peahen plays coy with this ardent suitor

A more demure denizen of the gardens

The Valley has a collection rare and unusual hibiscuses . . .


The Falls has a swimhole and rest spot at the end of the
Waimea Falls, Oahu
A sausage tree, named for its pungent fruit
Sausage tree