Fellow Outdoor Circle Members,
I am honored and humbled to serve as President of an organization with 107-year history of environmental activism. I would first like to thank our staff, outgoing President Steve Mechler, and outgoing and current Board members for their energy and commitment. As we hear more about climate change and the threat it poses to our environment and way of life, our mission to “keep Hawaii clean, green and beautiful” takes on even greater importance.
2019 was a pivotal year in that our elected officials recognized the UH/Sea Grant report that projects, “we will see 3 feet or more of sea level rise by [2100, with] 6 feet or more… plausible.” By the end of the century, hundreds of low-lying coastal properties will be flooded at least partially or permanently and these neighborhoods will be transformed by a process of “managed retreat” to higher ground. The effects of climate change appear inevitable, but our programs can not only help slow their pace but also enhance our quality of life. Just as the individuals who founded the organization in 1912 vowed to improve their environment, we have to renew our vow to improve ours. We can do that by going “back to our roots” and planting trees.
Trees have always been central to The Outdoor Circle but now is the time to focus and redouble our efforts. We are pleased to have a new tenant in our central office, Trees for Honolulu’s Future, a non-profit dedicated to significantly increasing the tree canopy on our island. We couldn’t imagine a more compatible office partner, and we hope the synergy of our efforts along with those of other “tree organizations,” will lead to many thousands of shade trees going into the ground in the coming year. If you haven’t already, please have a look at the new Public Policies on our website. The first two policies deal with trees and contain many inspiring Supporting Statements from TOC’s long history.
TOC is not just about protecting landmark trees and controlling signs. It is also about mitigating climate change and improving urban livability. I urge you to work with your local branch to plant more trees wherever you can and to continue to advocate on issues central to our mission. Together we can make TOC a part of public discussion and awareness of the need for and value of trees (especially shade trees). This will be my priority for the coming year, and I welcome any and all suggestions for everyone to help us reach these goals.
Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.