I’ve been noticing lately that I’m a bit jealous of Daniel’s blog. Photographers can say so much without words. So in this post I’m embracing my photographer self. We just got back from 9 days in Kauai, Hawaii. As I sorted and posted my photos into Facebook for my family, I noticed that I see amazing self-organization everywhere I go these days thanks to the groups I study. Here are some images and ideas from the trip…
Everywhere we go, we see ourselves.

White Hawaiian beach meet Lori’s even whiter Seattle feet

Here, you can’t see them, but we’re laughing as a sister traveller takes our camera away from her husband—and shoots the picture herself—because he was about to miss the waterfall entirely (the whole reason we were standing there asking him to take our picture). A lot of words weren’t needed for her to make this decision and take action, she just did it (while rolling her eyes and teasing him a bit). Self-organizing group behavior if ever I saw it.

A self-organizing couple takes our picture

This shade of green is used everywhere on Kauai—on houses, stores, and even this beautiful church. We don’t use this color much on homes and churches in Seattle. I think it’d look like black against our grey skies. What this has to do with self-organizing groups you’ll need to figure out on your own.

A shade of green you don't see in Seattle

For four days of our vacation, Daniel attended an intense photography workshop that started at 6 a.m. and ended most nights between 10 and 11 p.m.–to capture sunrise light, sunset light, and everything in between. On workshop day 3, at 11 a.m., I delivered ridiculously large java chip Frappuccinos to several workshop instructors. At roughly 11:02 a.m., Daniel received invitations to visit the east coast and the personal cell phone numbers of several of his hero photographers (seriously, he giggled like a little girl whenever he used their names). Coincidence? Nope. I think that’s just the way self-organizing groups roll. 

Frappuccinos in paradise

Speaking of the way self-organizing groups roll, in my opinion, within these groups we end up looking pretty good to ourselves and nearby others, even when we don’t know exactly what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and we have what appears to be “less-than-optimal” skills, knowledge, and technology. For example, I’m no professional photographer, but I still think that this is an outstanding portrait of Daniel—at least as good as the photo taken by another expert during his workshop and far more meaningful to me. It was taken with wind and sand hitting us in the face and on a crappy disposible camera that I was forced to buy when my digital camera died (charger left safely back home on the mainland). Still, I think it captures his true essence…

Daniel Portrait 1

And here’s a second outstanding portrait by non-professional me. Here, I experimented with the technique of whining incessantly about how long it takes him to “professionally photograph” a Hawaiian sunset, and I successfully managed to bring out another side of my subject. Hee hee! Love you honey.

Daniel Portrait 2

Here’s an image of an amazing botanical garden—one that’s been recognized as using some of the most sustainable practices found in a U.S. botanical garden. Thank you very much, ancestors and centuries old technology, and thank you equally as much today’s garden staff and board for the work you’re doing right now.

Limahuli Garden

I’ve noticed that my own self-org groups give me the time to notice patterns everywhere: in the trees, plants, and in us…

Trees growing together as one

Leaf patterns

Patterns in a lovely "tourist pineapple" tree

People have been sitting on these rocks, and telling stories about themselves, life, and the distant rocks on the hills around them, for centuries. The only thing added by modern garden inhabitants/caretakers is the small bench at the very right. This taught me volumes about how much work humans need to do when they recognize themselves in an amazing place. Not very much. I sat here and enjoyed nerdily reading about many legends in my guide book while Daniel wandered with his camera. I was particularly drawn to the god Kane—creator of life, leader of gods, and creator of sky, forest, sun, dawn, animals, and all the life they bring. I’ve since learned that no human sacrifice or laborious ritual was needed in the worship of Kane. Was he a cool god or what?! Later Daniel discouraged me from buying the Kane statue in a Hanalei shop, rightly thinking it might go to the head of this mere mortal who happens to share his name. Had he found a Gregory (his last name) god and statue, you know he’d be singing a different tune.

human reflection grounds

I sat here peacefully for a long time. At one point, I also thought to myself “Hundreds of years ago, a self-organizing group figured out this amazing, sustainable system. And yet I, as an individual, am still struggling to figure out a $#@*&!! drip irrigation system for my yard.”

cool irrigation system

Patterns in a pathway

These veloci-chickens* surrounded me and the car—vying for food, I think—when Daniel took off to photograph some waves along the side of a road. These wild chickens appear WAY smarter to me than the chickens I remember on my grandmother’s South Dakota farm. They move and work in a pack. A self-organizing chicken group, as I live and breathe.



*We dubbed Kauai’s beautiful, ever-present chickens “veloci-chickens” because they a) sound kind of like velociraptors from the movie Jurassic Park and similarly b) sneak up behind you in the jungle and wait until they’re very close before making a sound. Unlike their Jurassic Park counterparts, they’re pretty friendly. We were in no real danger of death by veloci-chicken.

veloci-chicken in his native habit