Puanani Burgess

Puanani Burgess is a Zen Buddhist priest, poet and community mediator from Wai‘anae, O‘ahu.

Burgess was once a committed protestor and resister. She developed her skills as a law student to become what she calls a “dragon feeder” – someone able to navigate the complex rules of a large system like government or the DOE the way one might negotiate with a stubborn dragon.

She discovered that the people who were on the other side of the issue were not monsters. So Burgess embraced a role as a mediator, creating a safe space for people to come together and speak earnestly. She asks them to “dig the lo‘i deep” with her to understand each other, as she says in her poem “He Alo Ā He Alo” (Face to Face).

Today, she likes to describe her work as the community’s aunty. “Aunty is such an important job,” she says.

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is a production of PBS Hawai‘i.
Visit the Long Story Short website at: http://pbshawaii.org/lss/

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