Posts Tagged ‘Andrea Neal’

A Blue Voice

Sunday, March 17th, 2013


In the moments after the Sea-Space Summit at Google ended in 2012, and some fantastic work had initiated, Charlotte Vick, who heads up the Sylvia Earle Alliance (and so much more) approached me and posed a very direct question.

“David, what exactly is it that you do?” Ever meet one of those people, who as soon as you connect, the recognition that you are of the same tribe becomes apparent in an innate manner?  That was how Charlotte struck me. What she really wanted to know however, is who I was.

Hers was a very direct question. In fact, I doubt that you could find out the real answer if you Google that, and me. (funny video eh?)

Google will not tell you everything, btw. You still must know a person. Knowing is a spirit soul and body process, and will never be digital. Knowing is important.

In the past few years I have found myself immersed in project after project where incredibly gifted, educated people come to the table, and on their own dime, explore large issues concerning the Earth and Humanity. They come for various reasons. Some of these people come due to a self interested, job related reason, some are steeped in crystal clear altruism, others just want to help: anyone. They have high skill levels, each one.

I seem to be getting asked back or otherwise am invited to join the conversation in yet another think tank type event, as soon as the work is completed from the prior one. People want to hear, what I have to say. So I go, listen a lot, and contribute a bit.

Today I am just home from a meeting of what would appear to be far lesser consequence. It was an Advisory Council Meeting for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, where Dr Andrea Neal, Blue Wolf, a Chumash Indian, proponent and advocate of Chumash Culture, and myself, went to observe, as a part of a commitment to be stewards over our local waters.



In the course of the meeting, two young ladies, high school students, got up and gave a rather lengthy presentation on Marine Protected Areas. A subject which has been in front of me in several elite Science and Engineering based groups these past few years. The information communicated was basically a regurgitation of all that these children had been taught about MPA’s and the Ocean.

When they had finished, and the busy and time pressed chair of the Council asked if we had questions for the girls, I asked a few. Here they are.

  1. In a year, what sort of things do you do in the Ocean?
  2. What is your first memory of the Ocean?
  3. How does the Ocean make you feel?

These very self motivated and well meaning young ladies, who could be doing anything that would be more fun than hanging out with the likes of us, communicated something telling.   It was not based on info regarding the MPAs. It was that they did not know the Ocean personally, or intimately. They only knew what they were led to believe, about the Sea. Big difference between those two things: Believing and Knowing.

At their age, I would not have been caught dead in a meeting with the likes of us this day, talking about Marine Protected Areas. I was out in the Ocean engaging as a native, the very waters they were talking about. They simply did not have the same upbringing, opportunity and choices I had been given. (I wish that they did.)

So their talk  saddened me a bit. It said a lot about what this culture programs into children, and how we inadvertently indoctrinate them, and in process, separate them from Nature, thereby making them proselytes rather than active members of a vital ecosystem.

This is a great tragedy.

However, the idea of the Ocean inspired the girls, and gave them a sense of scale, and of their significance in the grand scheme of things. Sadly though, they really could not nail down a specific memory of their first introduction to the Sea. That last part said a lot. It is what motivated me to write this piece- accounting.




 So, this is who I am.




My name is David Franklin Pu’u.  I am the son of David Wahinealoha Puu, a Native Hawaiian waterman, who served this country in the Military,  Defense and Aerospace industries, who was the son of Kalani Pu’u, a Hawaiian singer and entertainer.  I am Kanaka Maoli, by virtue of my genetics, and relationship with the Sea. (That video reminds me of my Grandfather, especially the voice)

The family history sort of meanders a bit at times, but most accounts trace it back to the Big Isle, where my ancestor,  Chief Kalani O Puu, who appears to have been the Uncle of future king, Kamehameha, played a pivotal role in the slaying of Captain James Cooke, at Kealakekua Bay.

When my Father got out of Engineering school at Marquette University in Milwaukee (where I was birthed)  the family pediatrician explained that due to genetics, my two brothers and I would likely never be healthy unless we were raised in a warmer climate.  So my parents moved to California

I am 53 ocean years old. I was born to the Sea, on a warm Southern California afternoon when I was four. On that day, the water had become my home.

Imagine that,  53 years in the water.

I remember the moment I met the Ocean with crystal clarity. As I stood on the sand and watched a surfer glide to shore, I knew with no doubt that this was where my life would be spent.

And at the chronological age of 57, I am here to tell you, that my life has been and still is, wedded to the water. The Sea has taught me much. But more than that, she makes me happy, and gives me peace, and a sense of well being.

For 50 years I have engaged on a daily basis, my home waters, which range from  the Malibu Coast up to Point Conception, and out to the Channel Islands, much as any Hawaiian would.


My colleague and friend, Hawaiian Historian Tom Pohaku Stone, once told me something that resonated. It did not create any bright flash of enlightenment for me. But it will help you understand who and what I am. This is what he said.

“The Sea is our home. The land is where we go to rest”

That is a key element if you really need to know what I am about or anyone is, who possesses an Ocean heritage, for that matter.

I have swum, paddled, sailed, surfed, dove, fished and worked a plethora of jobs and careers in, on, around and about the Ocean. I have traveled and experienced many seas, as was the way of my ancestors, who were explorers, and have learned a lot about Island people and the various globally scattered water tribes.



To this day I spend every possible moment in the water, and as a Film Maker and Photographer see it as routine, the 240-300 days a year I get to be engaging the Ocean globally. It is my home.

I have swum with all manner of marine life, and am currently on swim-encounter number 38 with Great White sharks. I began to keep track of them much as a WW2 flying ace would of his victories, about 18 years ago.

I swim with Dolphins and Seals a lot. Sometimes with enough frequency, that they get to know me, and we create a tenuous, yet wonderful, human-wild creature relationship.

I once spent 10 days in the Maldives, without touching land, swimming morning to dusk with a mermaid, content to rise each morning and meander with light, and  current, in a life attached only to fluid passivity, and my mermaid subject’s wonderful, illusionary embrace.

Water is  life to our planet, but I know beyond any doubt that the Ocean has been the source of  education, development and sustenance, spirit soul and body for me. God Himself touches me when I am in the Sea and through it I feel His pleasure, and have learned His ways.



The legendary Hawaiian waterman and cultural emissary from Hawaii , Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, was quoted as once saying: “Outside of the Ocean, I am nothing”.

I admire the man’s life and leadership style of aqueous precept and example.

He was a pinnacle of human endeavor and life in the Sea. It is what Hawaii is all about.

But I disagree with Duke in a manner of speaking.

Outside of the Ocean I am something greater that I could otherwise ever be, were it not for my 53 years in the Sea. Because when I disengage from my daily environment, I can share with those who will never ever be able to experience what I have. You see, the people who need to know the Ocean, are those not IN the Ocean.



When I stand up in a meeting,  before those who may not really know the Ocean intimately,  there really is no doubt in me about who or what I am, or what to say.


I am a Blue Voice.


The Wisdom of that voice can help create the brotherhood, and change which Humanity needs.

We all need to aspire to become a great, educated, connected, Blue Voice. For ourselves first, but for our children and future generation’s health, happiness and well being, after that.

Think Blue, become Blue, speak Blue and be the change.

We ought to not only learn of Nature. (That does not help so much)  We must become a part of it, and the human segment of the solution to the equations addressing our Blue Marble’s evolutionary progress.

This link is to an Ocean brother’s TedX talk at San Diego recently. His work is far more significant than many may guess. Dr Wallace J Nichols, a Blue Voice.

If, as you get to the end of this, you are more interested, or just want to otherwise question who and what I am, here is a small cross section of my stills work, cut together to the Blue Voice of Hawaiian, Justin Young.  “Walking On Our Waters”

If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, this piece is a novel, albeit a hastily thrown together one. We got to see Justin perform last week here in Santa Barbara with Anuhea. The thought of it still makes me smile. Happiness comes from the Sea and Islanders love to share that.


Aloha Oe.







Benevolent Planning

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

San Francisco Bay

   The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry- John Steinbeck

I shot the image above, from the deck of the Robert G Brownlee, which is the 90 foot Research vessel for the Marine Science Institute. The view was what we saw, as our crew wrapped water tests with some of the new technology developed under the authority and expertise of some remarkable people, who work as Scientists at NASA and are associates with one of the groups I am a member of: Blue Ocean Sciences.

It had been a fairly wonderful day. I will write more on it in the blog for the Ocean Lovers Collective, an organization which was birthed when a bunch of smart people got together in a few events and looked at a select few,  significant questions. One of those which really struck me, was posed by Astronaut and Scientist, Dr Ed Lu, at the Sea-Space Summit which was held at the Mountainview location of Google earlier this year, under the guidance of Guillermo Sondheim of Opus Novum.

I liked Ed from the first moment I listened to him. Here is the question he posed, which changed everything for me.

“How would one fund an effort to save the Commons?”

Basically, this is what the Commons are: assets commonly held by all mankind. Air, Sea, Land.

As a man of Native descent and Christian upbringing, I understand Mankind to be a steward of the Commons. Being of a different order than the rest of the beasts (Though many can be beasts) of the world, mankind has the ability to act with foresight,  strength and benevolence over a protracted period of time, and affect the Commons. Man owns nothing. We just get to play in the sphere that Buckminster Fuller termed, “Spaceship Earth”.

As I stood on the rock steady deck of our ship, along with some of the visionaries of our time, who had come at the call to examine a crises and potential vehicle to a solution, I once again asked myself what I was doing being here in SF with these great and compassionate men and women?

A lot of people seem to think I am pretty smart. In some ways, maybe I am. It is why I  find myself invited into some rather heavy conversations, which have a bearing on the survival of the planet. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the planet is not really in much danger. It is mankind which is. BIG difference. (And it is fixable. Most everything is, really. Even death, is a fix of sorts)

I happen to be convinced that we can do better than that. And to run around screaming “the sky is falling” in order to get people’s attention is not only irresponsible, but it invokes a fear based response, which is the antithesis of a Faith and Creative response, which is based on Love.

You see, fear is based on Hate. Hate, also known as darkness, is simply the absence of sufficient light. Hope is rooted in Love. Love illuminates all who hold her. Here is the irony. Love requires you to give. She is only held as a flow. Grab hold too tightly, and like a tourniquet, the flow of life ceases.

All of these people were on the boat, because they are fans of those quantifiers, not to do anything less, than to create,  to assist and facilitate.

Why was I there? What am I doing?

Pretty simple. I have no secrets really. I am just a guy who insists on doing the job set before me. But this is how I approach the diverse and radical things which I find myself in the midst of.

Here is what I believe. Man is where he is, due to not asking the right questions. There are reasons we do this.

Earlier today, Rob Caughlan, the great Environmental thinker had said this. “Pollution is just a resource out of place”. He had said it as he spoke with one of our fellows, regarding the ongoing Nuclear disaster in Japan, which BOS is deeply invested in resolving. It struck me. It should grab everyone.

I believe I am where I am, not because I ask the right questions, but because I go to my source and commune with it.

I actually learned the process while  in a Bible College many years ago. A preacher named Norville Hayes had said it in one of my courses. “Everyone always makes big plans and then goes to God and asks for Him to bless them. I have a better idea. Why not go to God first, and ask Him what the plan is? Then when you get done with the conversation, you have a plan that is already blessed?”

That is what I endeavor to do.

So I am really not so smart. I just go to the right entity, partner with it,  spend some time and ask for the plan.

None of what I come up with is me being really smart. In fact, the more of ME I remove, it seems like the better and more effective the actions generated after the conversation with God. Imagine that? We tend to be the enemy of the results which we desire.

Oh yea, some call this process praying. I call it communicating.

Communication is funny. When you are speaking, you are not receiving. So I go spend some time in reflection and submission, and reverently and personally, ask for God’s Wisdom.

He is more Faithful than me. He always delivers. I always TRY. Big difference there. I wish we all could deliver more frequently. Our Families, Friends, Community, Nation and World could use some of that from us.

So there it is, I have outted myself. Just some guy with cameras and a keyboard who is incredibly grateful and humbled by what is entrusted to him daily to work on and who really truly deeply enjoys the presence of God and experiences it everywhere he looks. Nature is a funny thing to me. She reflects God. She is NOT God. She is the mirror image of Him and illustrates a vast Wisdom and yes, Benevolence.

The following Blue Note was a shot I did before Dr Andrea Neal and I hit the road for the event in SF. I knew what I was making when I shot it. I also understood the message. I had spent some time listening to my source, and he always rewards those who diligently seek him. That is my life’s mission. To find the heart of God and carry it to a world that maybe is not in the same position as I, to see what I get to.

Why Communicators matter.

Blue Note

This is a shot which I did at the end of a series of interviews with some of the great minds of our time. It is Jean-Michel Cousteau, whose voice and heart, I deeply respect. You can find his work here at Ocean Futures.


This image  is of Wallace J Nichols. Creator of the Blue Marble movement, Blu-Mind, and a renowned Marine Biologist.

Blue Marble

J “gets” the long arc of change better than most. I like that.

This image was shot in Ventura California. A double rainbow. In my native culture this denotes the birth of something significant.  None of us chase rainbows. We live in them. It is where the conversations begin.

And finally, Johnny Cash says it well, in his version of the Trent Reznor song, Hurt.

We all are passing through. Better to ask the right questions. And then to mean it, when you act. Then you truly will have mattered.

It is what counts.

Going Deeper

Monday, April 9th, 2012

My colleague and friend, Dr Andrea Neal, of Blue Ocean Sciences, sent me this very cool piece on Tom’s Shoes (who I really admire) today.

It is very in theme for this blog series. Many of us are looking at ethics and architecture these days. It is essential if one really wants to make an accurate difference.

In surfing, being accurate is 90 percent of the battle in being competent and thriving. (I frequently relate everything back to the oceans)

To be there and successful in surfing you need to know the Architecture of the Earth and have skill. If you do that, your experience is challenging, rewarding and allows one to move forward without a serious hold down or wipe out. The best way to survive in challenging surf? Choose a wave that you know you can make. Don’t wipe out. Simple eh?

But you would be amazed at the number of people who refuse to apply these basic principles to things which they choose to support or believe in.



Here is how I see it:

Architecture, and really great design,  begins with the Philosophy of the designer.

In Nature (which was designed by God) you see this, the brilliance of great Architecture, as well as the heart of the philosophy being espoused.

Herein is contained both the problem and it’s solution.

It is not easy.

But it is simple.

God is Love.

Use Love as your benefit quantifier.

Watch what happens.

Seth Godin absolutely nails the validity of an accurate voice in his Blog today “Is Everyone Entitled to Their Opinion?”

Here is a fantastic piece on Man and Nature, by Frances Moore Lappe entitled “How to Think Like an Ecosystem”.

Drew Kampion states: “Life IS a wave”  So choose wisely. Or you may find yourself on one of these, below.

Beautiful Closeout

Beautiful Closeout

Being Present

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Present Self

Present Self

In my own creative process, little choice exists for me in my work.  In order to succeed, I must be present, in the right frame of mind, at a propitious moment. This requires that I listen, or “be present” in order to perceive that something important will occur ahead, in the time frame we call the Road of Life. I am there before my body is. That is how what I do works. I know where to be when not many others seem to see or care about that. But anyone could do it. So why don’t they? Why don’t you?

Seth Godin says it so well in this blog entitled, “I Am Here”.

If you want to matter: be present, show up, pay attention. Pretty simple. But you would be surprised how many do not get the importance of placing themselves in the middle of a meeting or event, or of simply sitting down to listen to someone who has reached out to us. There are a few things I regret not having taken the time to do. I know when I have missed it. But most of the time, well, my library and career exist, because I like being present. So I do. I bring a camera, and a receptive heart.

One of the most wonderful and entertaining experiences I have had recently, involved listening to a man who looked to be just a step off the streets, in an automotive shop in Santa Barbara. In an hour he had poured out one of the more fascinating life stories I had ever heard. Turns out that man, who obviously needed some dental work and rest, fronts a racing development company, cares for an indigent parent, and is sitting on cash assets in excess of 60 million dollars, as well as being a very involved parent. He invited me to visit him where he lives works and races, in Oregon. I may go.

My desire to be present is why I got be be there to meet and experience the men in the image below, who do great things for the Oceans.

Blue Mind

Blue Mind

Wallace J Nichols is a Marine Biologist who I met while attending a series of conference- workshops in San Francisco, at the invitation of one of the Directors of Project Kaisei, my globally thinking friend, George Orbelian. I have gotten to spend  fascinating one on one time with J. That man is PRESENT when we talk about life and the Oceans. Here is a fantastic article, written and published in Outside Magazine this month. He is also on the cover. If you want to understand what exactly needs to be done in order to be present, in building a better, cleaner more productive world, and how both you and the Oceans can benefit, read this story. A notable excerpt and an item of great common water (ground) is right here below.

“Whether it’s a 92-year-old or a two-year-old, when they come into that blue space, something happens,” Nichols says. They grow quiet and calm, but there’s more to it than that. When couples walk in, they frequently start holding hands. He says that if you ask people here what they’re feeling, they’ll struggle for words. Nichols finds this fascinating. He also believes that if we can understand what really happens to us in the presence of the ocean—which brain processes underlie our emotional reactions—it could bring about a radical shift in conservation efforts. If we learn precisely why we love the ocean, his thinking goes, we’ll have an immensely powerful new tool to protect it.” J Nichols from Outside Magazine

J Nichols, our world

J Nichols, our world


Frequently I get to sit and talk, or work along side, some remarkably bright lights. I see much commonality and brotherhood amongst them all, but one of the focal points is their understanding of the value in being present. This week I got to sit with Community activist Randall Richman here in Ventura.  When I got home, K38 Rescue chief, Shawn Alladio was sitting on my couch, having just wrapped a Rescue Boat Operator course at Vandenberg AFB. She stopped in and we spent hours together, looking through digital assets, discussing  projects, and well, just being PRESENT in each other’s lives. Her blogpieces on the recent visit for post tsunami recovery and training for K38 Rescue Japan is a fascinating look at Marine Debris. What Shawn Alladio and K38 Rescue is doing about debris is right here.

Soon after that, I had breakfast with research Scientist Dr. Andrea Neal of Blue Ocean Sciences, who is also the Science Advisor for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, as well as the Principal Investigator for Project Kaisei. She is making inclusive, being present type plans, for a large number of fellows.

Recently, Dr Ed Brenegar of the Community of Leaders, showed up at my door here in Ventura California. Ed is one of THE most present people I know, in  person, digitally, and spiritually. He knows to show up, and listens more than he speaks.

Ed Brenegar: being present

Ed Brenegar: being present

In fact, I get to meet with so many people who enjoy being present, that I am 100 percent convinced I will be afforded vast opportunity and as a result, my image library will likely prove at some point, to be of significant Historic worth. It is obvious to me.

Here is a great little message from one of the “present” people in my life. Donna Von Hoesslin, the head of Betty B, whose company is all about being Ocean inspired. The image below was shot this week in San Francisco, California. In the background is SF Bay, where a few months ago, George, Donna, J and others of us were present shipboard, hosted by ARUP and Cole Roberts, for the sole purpose of being present and examining how the future of the Oceans and our world, could look.  Get it? The manner of connection? You must do it. Or nothing happens.

So what in the heck are you going on about?  (You may be wondering ) What ARE you doing with this?

This is my life. I am surrounding myself with social architects and designers capable via connection, to design the future. I want, no, I NEED, to be a part of that. I have a bit to say and show about the world and the Oceans, and I have always loved sharing. Everything came from the sea. It connects all creation.

So why should you show up? I mean really……. Life is busy. Times are hard all around. So why do it? Why be present?

Because the world needs you,  and you are the one who will benefit in the end. The process will confer great benefit upon YOU.

Life is a gift. Give it. Offer your life. That is what being present, really means. At the end of the day, you will be so glad that you chose to do this: engage.

Open arms of presence

Open arms of presence


 Here is a fantastic call to action by the band Muse.

Here is a poignant story sent along by one of my K38 team mates, Dominik Gryzb. The story is of a Father and his son. Present. To serve. To Love.

Sent along by The Daily Good: how to wage peace.


We are the change.




© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.