By: Vanessa Distajo
The Manoa Branch of The Outdoor Circle is currently collaborating on a community service project with City Council member, Ann Kobayashi, the Department of Parks & Recreation, Malama Manoa, OASES, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Mid Pacific Institute, and various community church preschools to update the playground at Kamanele Park.
This charming park on University Avenue was granted to the City & County of Honolulu by the College Hills developers of Punahou School, and dedicated with Queen Lili'uokalani and Mayor Lane present in 1915. Its serene, natural beauty welcomes residents into Manoa Valley with the outstretched arms of the exceptional ear pod tree in the center. The perimeter of the park features massive rocks, with significance in Hawaiian culture, which have been hidden from view, under excessive amounts of overgrown invasive plant species. Sadly neglected, Kamanele Park also has dilapidated playground equipment that is not in compliance with ADA and Federal safety standards.
We were compelled to do something to help. Under the leadership of our Manoa Branch Vice President, Mike McFarlane, who serves as the Project Chair, the design team has already developed a vision of the new playground inspired by the Hawaiian Legends of Manoa Valley. The design is amazingly innovative and will incorporate the latest technology.
The estimated budget for this project is considerably large, so fundraising has commenced. The fundraising launch party was held at Bakery&Table on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Guests paid $100 per ticket for a lovely evening of dinner, wine, and swanky jazz music performed by Patrick von Weigandt, Dana Land and Pierre Grille. Corporate donors included Alexander & Baldwin and Palace Realty.
For more information please visit our website:
It has been just over one full year since the Kailua Citizen Forester program began to teach a group of eager Kailua residents how to become certified Citizen Foresters. The initial two-month long training program saw a wide variety of concepts presented, including tree identification, environmental and monetary benefits of trees, how to gather tree metrics and finally, the ability to input all of this information into a Geographic Information System (GIS) while out in the field. With the assistance of certified arborists and mapping specialists, these concepts were adopted quickly by the Citizen Foresters who set out collecting data for every street and park tree throughout Kailua.
Now, as a result of the weekly dedication of these individuals, every one of these public trees in Kailua (Makai of the canals) have been collected and the information gathered can be accessed by the public in order to see just how beneficial these trees are to the Kailua community. With the completion of the initial Kailua pilot project area, the Citizen Foresters have moved onto nearby areas including Maunawili and Olomana and as of October 2, have mapped and collected data for 3,565 trees!
As a result of the overwhelmingly positive and successful experience of this first ever Citizen Forester program in Hawaii, new locations around Oahu will also begin to have Citizen Forester programs. Due to TOC’s involvement in this collaborative program, the next areas will also take place in locations that have a branch presence albeit with a distinctively urban feel and environment, Waikiki and Manoa. “We are excited to work together with Kaulunani and Smart Trees Pacific to build a coalition of partner organizations in order to raise awareness for trees in Waikiki and in doing so, protect the ones we currently have, while identifying new planting locations which will increase our urban forest”- says Brian Bagnall, President of the Greater Waikiki Outdoor Circle Branch.
Should you wish to view the map of these trees, learn more about the Oahu Citizen Forester program, or become a Citizen Forester yourself, please visit http://www.smarttreespacific.org/projects/citizenforester.
Finally, a big mahalo to the program’s other partners: Kaulunani, Smart Trees Pacific, City and County of Honolulu and the University of Hawaii.
Last year a new coalition of conservation activists, government agencies and private corporations came together to create “Trees for Honolulu’s Future” (THF) which is now its own certified non-profit organization. The entire coalition began when The Outdoor Circle’s own Brian Bagnall (Waikiki Branch President) approached Tom Dinell (UH Urban Planning Professor) about an article Dinell had written in the StarAdvertiser calling for a need to plant one million trees on Oahu in order to reduce the local impacts of climate change. Bagnall felt that such a large task should begin immediately but only if many of the “key players” from the island were involved. As a result, the “Trees for Honolulu’s Future” was formed and is now a think tank and source of support for programs ranging from tree plantings to environmental education curriculums in schools.
Since the formation of THF, there have been monthly board and committee meetings in order to ensure the successful implementation of this ambitious but vital task of widespread shade tree plantings across Oahu. With the help of TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie (Research Committee Chair and Board Member) and Executive Director, Winston Welch (Board Member), TOC has played a crucial role in not only the formation of this new non-profit, but are actively working with others such as the City and County of Honolulu, Aloha Arborists Association, Smart Trees Pacific and the University of Hawaii in order to soon begin the process of reforesting Oahu and educating the public of the environmental, monetary, psychological and cultural benefits that trees provide.
Should you be interested in learning more, or joining one of the committees such as research, development, outreach or education, please contact Myles Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in February, TOC was approached by Google in order to partner with them on their “Trekker” program which allows virtual tours to be placed on Google Maps. This same process can already be seen with Google’s “Street View” application on Google Maps and is accomplished by carrying a 50-pound backpack with 15 cameras on top that take a 360-degree panoramic image every 2.5 seconds.
The Outdoor Circle was contacted by Google for this program due to our historical prominence throughout the state and for our recent innovative mapping programs. As a result, undertaking this project and forming this partnership with Google was a natural progression from TOC’s “Exceptional Tree Map” and “Citizen Forester” programs.
Since that initial contact, TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, and various interns have used the Trekker on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island in order to highlight some of Hawaii’s most iconic and unique environmental locations in addition to those of historical and cultural significance. The types of locations range from lava flows, the first two miles of the Napali Coast Trail, National Tropical Botanical Gardens and the Waimea Branch’s Ulu La’au Nature Park. However, it is important to note that the Trekker was not used at “secret” areas in order to preserve their current conditions. Instead, well known areas have been featured with permission from various County, State and Federal agencies in addition to private property owners.
While the Trekker was first used in Hawaii a few years ago by the DLNR, TOC’s Trekker program will feature the most Trekker locations ever attempted. With the first round of Trekking complete on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island, TOC will continue in the fall with locations on Maui in order to highlight all of the accessible Hawaiian Islands.
It is important to note that this program was made possible due to a grant from HECO who fully supports TOC’s mission and this program of allowing individuals to virtually visit these incredible areas regardless of financial, physical or other potential limiting factors. This has been, and will continue to be, one of the most innovative programs TOC has ever worked on and will literally put TOC and many Hawaiian locations on the map for a global audience to experience and enjoy.
The imagery should begin to appear on Google Maps by the end of 2017 or early 2018, and as it does, announcements will be made on The Outdoor Circles Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts along with the TOC website (www.outdoorcircle.org) so please be sure to check back frequently in the coming weeks.
The Outdoor Circle and University of Hawaii have teamed up to work on a new project called the “Carbon Neutrality Challenge”. With the help of Professor Camilo Mora of the UHM Geography Department, this program will see several important components presented in order to make a truly unique and comprehensive program.
In order for the program to work, there are three distinctly different components that need to be seen. The first involves going into schools and working with students from the 5th grade through university in order to teach a uniquely tailored curriculum on climate change and its numerous impacts. After spending a few sessions with each class, they will then begin the second phase of the program, calculating their carbon footprint. In order to do this, the students (and their families) will use a website designed specifically for the Carbon Neutrality Challenge to calculate this footprint by inputting various metrics. Once calculated, the website will let these students know how many trees of a certain species they will need to plant in order to become carbon neutral for that year. The last component involves having the students come out as a class or with their family in order to plant these trees and truly become carbon neutral for the year. This will be achieved at Camp Palehua where reforestation efforts are required to reduce erosion and in doing so, also help reduce the effects of climate change.
In order to help with the motivation of these students and their families, the Carbon Neutrality Challenge website also provides a race feature that will rank students against one another in terms of who is the closest to being carbon neutral or who has been able to create a carbon sequestration surplus and have a negative carbon footprint for the year. This premise is the same as what is known as a psychological “hook” and is commonly used in apps in order to bring the user back to the website/program, even after multiple visits. This has been demonstrated recently through the “Pokemon GO” craze that swept not just the United States, but the entire world.
Finally, on top of having a library data base that helps these individuals learn how to maintain their trees, it also has a calendar feature that will allow users to schedule when they would like to take care of the trees planted by the class. As a result, if there are 52 students in a class, each family only needs to go and take care of the grove of trees once over the course of the year in order to ensure that the trees survive. This will help avoid a drop off in volunteers who may not be able to go multiple times a year due to other commitments, or who would otherwise show up at the same time as others and have little or nothing to do.
The Carbon Neutrality Challenge is a truly unique program that will encourage students to not only learn more about the effects of climate change, but also have a direct impact on reducing their carbon footprint through the planting of new trees and forests across Oahu. The Outdoor Circle is thrilled to be a part of such innovation and encourage you to join or spread the word about this program so that as many students as possible will be able to participate.
Should you be interested or have any questions, please email TOC Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, at email@example.com.
This October 19, 2017, two Outdoor Circle members, Alex Ress and Clare Connors, will celebrate the 15th Anniversary of "the day we met." Their story personifies the legacy and strength of the Outdoor Circle, through family and commitment.
On that day, 15 years ago, TOC held its annual gala fundraiser at the Moana Hotel. The theme of the event that year was "Hunks for Trunks," and the attendees were able to bid on several young men with varying backgrounds and skill sets.
Clare, whose mother is Betsy Connors, long-time Outdoor Circle member, and past TOC president, had recently returned to Hawaii after law school, and was clerking for Federal Judge David Ezra.
Alex, whose mother is Paula Ress, also a long-time Outdoor Circle member, and TOC Board member, was a pilot in Hawaii.
Neither Clare nor Alex knew each other, but each of them, responded to their mothers' request to participate, and agreed to attend. As one of the 'hunks', Alex offered flying lessons, and as the bids increased, so did the number of times he said he would circle the winner's house.
After some intense bidding, Clare won the bid for $425.00. She not only won the flying lesson and the house "buzzings", but she also won the pilot's heart.
They went on to be married, and today, are both very active members of LKOC, as are their children, Fiona and Connor.
The Connors-Ress "partnership", now spanning multiple generations, exemplifies the spirit of TOC.
This October 19th will find them together again at the Moana Hotel, in celebration of that first meeting, just as it has each year since 2002.
Message from the Executive Director
As we enter some of the hottest months of the year, the cooling effects of shade trees makes being outdoors pleasant or some days even possible. Many of the large trees you enjoy today, especially in public spaces, were planted by The Outdoor Circle. As we look towards the future, we can see a massive need to plant more trees for all the many benefits they bring in addition to shade, and we are actively working on plans towards that goal.
As a continuation of TOC’s Exceptional Trees mapping project (see more on our website: www.outdoorcircle.org), we have been working with our friends at the Kaulunani Urban & Community Forestry Program on a pilot program to map trees in Kailua using newly trained ‘Citizen Foresters.’ We are working to expand this map on a larger scale so it can become a comprehensive tool to determine exact locations where the need for new trees is the greatest. Please read the Greenleaf article by Myles Richie which gives more details.
We have also developed an app that, among other things, shows walking tours of Kapi’olani Park and Fort DeRussy Beach Park, with Waimea Nature Park and other locations coming soon.
TOC also stays vigilant, on a daily basis, regarding illegal signage and visual blight, whether through individual calls to the office or challenges to legislators who put our visual landscape and view planes at risk via banners, ads, sponsorships for city and county properties, and so on. Newer challenges also include areas of light pollution and the destruction of beauty caused by excessively bright lighting (see the Greenleaf article on The Death of the Night).
We have a wonderful retrospective written by Teresa Trueman-Madriaga on the two decades she has spent at the Kauluanani Council, and the many projects she was able to help fund for various TOC branches and the TOC state headquarters.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will hold its first meeting in the U.S. here in Hawai‘i from September 1-10, 2016. This is the largest gathering of its kind, and happens once only every four years. The Outdoor Circle is honored to be presenting a panel on “A Century of Advocacy for Hawai‘i’s Environment and Preserving Its Beauty: The Outdoor Circle’s Past, Present and Future.” The exhibit hall will be free and open to the public, and we also invite you to join us at our presentation on Sunday, September 4th at 11:00 a.m., Pavilion B.
We had a terrific Sunset in the Forest fundraiser in May at the historic Nutridge Estate on Tantalus with delicious food, fabulous music from local artists, and the warm welcome of volunteers in this amazing setting. Many thanks to all who helped make this event a huge success.
Many thanks to our hardworking board members, committee members and volunteers on projects locally and statewide. We thank our outgoing board members, Mike McFarlane, Yuklin Aluli, Jeremy Lam, and Brian Bagnall for their dedication and service, as we welcome new members of the board to be approved at the Full Circle/Annual Meeting scheduled on August 27th. You are welcome to join us at the Full Circle Meeting, the Annual Membership meeting, and the no-host luncheon. Details can be found on our website: www.theoutdoorcircle.org.
To continue to donate to The Outdoor Circle while you shop, TOC will again be participating in Foodland’s “Give Aloha” program. When shopping at any Foodland or Sack N Save store during the month of September you can donate to TOC during the check-out process. Just use your Maika‘i card and mention to the cashier that you would like to make a donation, up to $249, to The Outdoor Circle (I.D. #77116). Foodland will match your donation on a percentage basis. Also, when you shop at Foodland stores in Kailua, Beretania, Market City or Aina Haina, you can now purchase organically grown hydroponic lettuce from the women in the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle Learning to Grow Program at WCCC.
TOC has also joined the amazon.com “Smiles” program, where Amazon donates a certain percentage from each purchase when you designate TOC as your choice of charity. Simply bookmark the link on our website, and TOC will be automatically be designated as your charity of choice each time you shop.
We also ask if you value the work that The Outdoor Circle has done and will continue to do, that you include TOC in your planned giving arrangements. To include TOC in your estate plans to ensure your legacy gift helps continue this vital organization, please contact your estate planner, attorney, or our office for more information on how to easily set this up.
We are saddened to note the recent passing of long-time TOC friend and past Executive Director David Cheever. Past President Alexandra Avery has written a tribute to him in this edition of the Greenleaf.
Finally, I would be remiss in not thanking our terrific staff: Jackie Wah, our Operations Director, and Myles Ritchie, our Programs Director. The organization is fortunate to have such dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to further the mission of TOC.
Thank you for your continued support of The Outdoor Circle. We appreciate your contributions, participation when a call to action is made, becoming active with your local branch, and for renewing your membership, which allows us to speak with a louder collective voice to keep our islands clean, green and beautiful.
Have a safe and happy summer!
Winston Welch, Executive Director
From its initial inception in February of this year to its completion on July 20th, the Kailua Street Tree Pilot Inventory Project has proven to be a huge success. The training of Citizen Foresters to map the street trees of Kailua will increase awareness about the benefits of these trees and their importance in our ever-changing world. Organized by the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, with assistance from the City and County’s Urban Forestry Department and The Outdoor Circle, this program was designed to invite volunteers from around the Kailua community to engage in a two-month course that taught them how to identify trees, learn about their various properties, how to gather physical information about these specimens and finally, input all of this into a mapping program that gathers data while out in the field.
The mood amongst the group was a positive one, with all members working diligently to provide excellent data that was accurate and will allow numerous groups to have a greater understanding not only of how many trees exist in Kailua, but also the various environmental and economic benefits they provide for the community. From this data, new planting sites will also be determined to help increase the urban forest in Kailua, making this already beautiful location that much greener.
Upon the completion of the course on July 20th, these volunteers were officially recognized as Citizen Foresters and received their “Level One” certification. Moving forward, it is hoped that these Citizen Foresters will inspire members of their community to better appreciate the benefits of their urban forest and instill a desire in others to become Citizen Foresters themselves.
As a result of such a successful pilot program, it appears as if this program will continue not only in Kailua, but around the island of O’ahu and hopefully on the other Hawaiian Islands as well. If you would like to be considered for future Citizen Forester programs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you TOC for Your Many Years of Partnering with Kaulunani - $1.2 Million Worth of Projects – Now that is Something to Write About
It has been my great pleasure to have worked with The Outdoor Circle and the branches on Kaulunani grants over the last 20+ years. The Outdoor Circle took on many challenging and innovative projects adding to the wealth of trees in Hawai‘i’s urban forest. The Kaulunani Council was always impressed with the size of the projects that the Circles took on. From planting trees along median strips, main thoroughfares, bike ways, parks, and schools. It gave Kaulunani a standard to which all other proposals could be evaluated.
In addition to tree planting projects there were educational activities including support of Kaulunani conferences, the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA) conferences, the International Society of Arboriculture Conference in Honolulu in 2007, a coloring book, a Shower Tree Festival, a Master Plan for the City and County of Honolulu Division of Urban Forestry, training of municipal workers, training school maintenance workers, and working with the Girl Scouts on an exceptional tree tour brochure.
Mary Steiner and I were quite the team; I vowed not to take on any conferences or workshops without her help. Mary joined the Council in 1997 when Gary Moll from American Forests presented Citygreen at a “Keep Kool Hawai`i” Conference.
This event was followed by many other collaborations including these local conferences: Getting to the Roots; a Tree Hazard Evaluation Workshop; Innovative Approaches to Tree Care; Plant Appraisal Workshop; Creating Green Environments; Getting to the Roots II – Root Pruning, Rubber Sidewalks and Underground Critters and Creating Green Environments; and Design, Construction and Maintenance with Trees in Mind: A More Livable Hawai`i. You could say we educated an industry.
There was a time that I lovingly refer to as the “Glory Years” of Kaulunani. There were somewhere in the area of 20+ projects each and every year. Many were Outdoor Circle projects. All of them were large scale projects, and here’s a bit of a walk down memory lane….
I remember the very first Kaulunani project that was completed – it was by the North Shore Outdoor Circle. The dedication was remarkable and anyone who was any one in
this town was there, standing under the tent listening and learning about the power of trees. I met Mary there. The grant was to plant trees along the entrance for a temporary homeless shelter. The branch went on to plant other large Kaulunani funded projects – the bike path along the North Shore, (I realize there were other funding sources), and the triangle project at the entrance to Haleiwa. These are signature projects which Kaulunani was very happy to be involved with. I still think of these three projects every time I drive up to the North Shore. Powerful reminders of the vitality of the North Shore Outdoor Circle members to make a difference.
I remember when the Maui Outdoor Circle planted the median strip from Kahului to Wailuku – what an undertaking. I remember one particular area where the arborist told me he forgot to look up. There was a utility line right over one of the trees. Just goes to show you that in the excitement of planting trees we are all human.
Then there is Kaz Shigezawa, formerly of the Kona Outdoor Circle. I enticed him into joining the Council after meeting him at a Kaulunani event at Norm Bezona’s house in Kona. There was actually a time where we went island to island promoting the program. This was one of those events. He went on to spearhead numerous Kaulunani funded projects in Kona, to a tune of $1M+. He worked with many organizations, or I should say they sought him out. I asked his secret to developing these projects and he said, “There is a great need here.” You can’t argue with that.
The Waikoloa Outdoor Circle hosted a Kaulunani meeting one year. They had submitted a grant to plant the median strip. I think we fell in love with them that day. It was one of the best lunches ever and they were the most exciting group of women – oh my goodness, they could conquer the world.
After Hurricane Iniki, the Kaua’i Outdoor Circle was able to secure critical dollars for replanting Kaua’i. They also received a grant from Kaulunani to replant Poipu Beach. What a mess that beach was after the hurricane. No one would recognize that beach right after Iniki came through, and I can only say what an extraordinary job the Circle did in replanting. We used the pre- and post-photos for years as an example of what is possible.
I thought you might find the chart below interesting. It lists the branches, number of projects, grant awards and the matching cash or in-kind. Be proud of all that you have done and let’s continue working and striving to keep Hawai`i clean, green and beautiful.
Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator
The WCISA Conference Mary Steiner and Chris Snyder helping out.
TOC members celebrating after a successful Kaulunani Project
Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator
The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle Learning to Grow Program at WCCC in Kailua, has embarked on a new project! They are now selling their home grown hydroponic lettuce at Foodland stores in Kailua, Beretania, Market City and Aina Haina. We hope you will consider purchasing this organically grown lettuce the next time you shop at Foodland. All proceeds go to strengthen the program, which since 1999 has been enriching the lives of women at the facility. The program also gives certified horticultural training to the women there, and a percentage of profits to a women's shelter in Kailua. This is another example of TOC's continuing community outreach and commitment!
The 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.