Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Wonderful Week

From Monday to Thursday of this past week, we were fortunate enough to have Mike O'Neal, the Director of BG-Base, Inc., here at Kona Kai.  He helped us tailor the BG-Base database (which will hold all the records relating to the plants in our collections) to our Gardens and also went over everything we wanted to know about the program and how we can use it both today and looking towards the future.  I learned a great deal and it was fantastic to finally be able to meet and hang out with Mike, who is a great guy, extremely knowledgeable, a lot of fun to be around, and an excellent table tennis player.

In other news, Joe, Ronnie, Veronika, Tracey, and I went up to The Kampong yesterday for an ethnobotanical symposium focusing on Rumphius' Ambonese Herbal (17th century) and its recently-completed translation by the late Dr. Monty Beekman.  Rumphius' Herbal is an incredible 6-volume work, a good part of which he had to re-do because of a fire that occurred while he was doing his research on Ambon Island.  Now, I think it's the end of the world if I lose work that has taken me even only a day to do; I cannot imagine losing years and years of work in a single day, then having the perseverance to re-do it all.  Did I mention he was blind when he lost his work to the fire?  Wow, talk about dedication.  Even despite his blindness, he completed his Herbal in the end, and we have it with us today as an incredible ethnobotanical resource.

To relate my experience at the conference to a current event, I felt much like a big-time NFL fan would feel if he/she was given the opportunity to be down on the sidelines during the Super Bowl.  I was able to shake hands and talk with individuals in the fields of Ethnobotany, Horticulture, Botany, and Anthropology whose work, knowledge, and accomplishments I greatly respect and admire, such as Peter Raven, Paul Cox, Patrick Griffith, Paul Groff, David Jones, Brad Bennett, and Michael Dove...and these were only the people I was able to meet.  There were many other reputable individuals there whom I would have loved to have interacted with, but unfortunately, there just wasn't enough time.  Oh well, we might just have to look into organizing a few ethnobotanical "Super Bowls" at Kona Kai so I can do just that.

Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

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