Message from the Executive Director
Dear Outdoor Circle Family,
We are delighted to present this issue of The Greenleaf to catch you up on some of the activities of our organization and its branches.
The Outdoor Circle was pleased to hold its annual meeting and optional luncheon at the Hale Koa Hotel on August 26th, 2017. There was a special informative tour of some of the plants and trees provided before the luncheon by the dedicated groundskeepers at the Hale Koa Hotel, which makes up a significant percentage of green space in Hawaii. This tour had a second component after the annual meeting where Dr Brian Bagnall, president of the Greater Waikiki Outdoor Circle led a walking tour of the heritages on the wider property of Ft DeRussy. During the annual meeting, members were provided with updates on the year of what The Outdoor Circle has been working on, including updates on legislation which could seriously weaken our existing signage laws, and members also heard of various successes that the organization and its branches had over the year. Dr Bagnall was also a guest speaker who eloquently spoke of the serious and continued need for The Outdoor Circle due to continued threats even after a century, and that there is simply no other organization which commands the respect and has the moral authority of The Outdoor Circle in protecting Hawaii’s scenic and natural beauty. Dr Bagnall spoke other topics relevant to the organization, mong these was the need to address visual light pollution and the dangers this presents to not only the beauty of the islands, but our health. Dr Bagnall’s talk also included a perfect introduction about some of the newer and exciting projects the organization is involved in and handed over the podium to Myles Ritchie, The Outdoor Circle’s Programs Director.
Myles led members through a fast-paced and informative presentation on some of the various programs that TOC has been working on, including the Carbon Neutrality Project, the Exceptional Tree Initiative Map update and the Kailua Citizen Foresters Project and its proposed expansion. One particular program of interest is the Google Trekker Program, where Myles updated the members on how TOC was selected at the first nonprofit in Hawaii by Google to work on this prestigious program to map scenic areas of interest that are off-road and inaccessible by car. When completed the project will cover a wide range of sites on most of the Hawaiian Islands, from parks to trails to gardens and much more. This work was supported by a grant from HECO, which we sincerely appreciated receiving and with whom we have been fostering a positive and productive relationship. You’ll read more about these projects in this and future issues of The Greenleaf.
Also at the annual meeting, we were delighted to present some awards to those whose work deserved some special recognition of contributions and unwavering support for The Outdoor Circle. We were delighted to honor with a President’s Meritorious Award to Kathy Whitmire, Chair of the Public Affairs Committee for her dedication to following a myriad of issues, especially those on the legislative front and keeping us informed and on track. It is only through our devoted volunteers that our organization remains vibrant and vigilant, and Kathy exemplifies the best in those traits. Our sincere thanks goes to all members of each committee and to the board of directors who work so hard on The Outdoor Circle’s behalf both statewide and at the branch level. As TOC only has part time staff members, we rely greatly on the help of members of our board and volunteers from the membership at large. This year, each staff member wanted to acknowledge the special contributions from one person with a Staff Meritorious Award, the one person without whom our work would have been virtually impossible to complete. Jackie Wah, our Operations Director, recognized Diane Harding for her positive can-do spirit and efforts on a wide variety of fronts in the operational affairs of the organization. Diane also exemplifies the best of our organization with her dedication and energy she devotes to TOC’s mission. Myles Ritchie, our Programs Director recognized Dr Brian Bagnall, who has worked with Myles on a many projects, from developing an excellent website template for branches to neighborhood board presentations, to assisting and attending a number of events representing The Outdoor Circle. Brian’s tenacious spirit and enthusiastic nature compelling the organization forward is vital for not only Myles, but for the organization at large. Finally, Winston Welch, TOC Executive Director recognized TOC Treasurer Kathleen Bryan for her great contribution of time and energy to ensuring that the organization’s finances and general health are sound and advancing positively and offers wise counsel throughout the year. TOC also awarded its Corporate Partnership Award to Hawaiian Electric Company for its support of the Google Trekker program and inclusion of TOC in a number of venues and events where TOC could display information and increase awareness of the organization, its mission and its programs. An award for new beautification landscaping for the Park Lane project was presented the McNaughton Group, which contributed significant funds to the city to offset tree loss during its development to benefit Ala Moana park across the street where many larger trees have been recently transplanted for general community enjoyment. Finally, our sincere thanks to our Community Partnership Award to Kaulunani, a longtime partner of The Outdoor Circle and supporter of its mission, vision and projects. Specifically, The Outdoor Circle has been working with Kaulunani on the Kailua Tree Street Mapping Project, with over 4000 street trees mapped, their benefits provided and other important information, all collected by Citizen Foresters of the area.
Many thanks to you for your continued support of The Outdoor Circle and its mission over the past year.
Good news is scarce these days so it is a pleasure to read that Honolulu’s official bird, the Manu-o-Ku or White Tern (Gigis alba) is thriving in, of all places, urban Honolulu and Waikiki. Why they would choose the most industrialized part of Oahu to live, fish and raise their young remains a mystery. Some think that it is the proximity to fishing areas and some think that our oft-pruned trees have nice branch scars and nooks on which to lay their eggs without any nests. Certainly the many large trees in the area, many planted or planned by The Outdoor Circle over many decades, provide the perfect environment for these beautiful birds.
Civil Beat recently published an upbeat article on September 21st entitled “How The Manu-o-Ku Became Honolulu’s Top Bird” by Keith Rollman. He remarked that these graceful white birds are the only ones that actually seem to enjoy flying. On any day they can seen alone or in pairs performing their stunning aerial acrobatics, circling high overhead and swooping low to reach their nesting trees. Their swept-back wings are aerodynamically designed for speed and enabling them to fly up to one hundred miles out to sea in the day and return home at night.
Fortunately there is now a huge amount on information about these birds online.
Start at www.whiteterns.org for the most comprehensive sources including nesting and tree maps, key publications and gorgeous photos and videos, thanks to the many lovers of these unique birds that do so much to stimulate interest in them.
Below you will find some key facts found online to help you get started.
Judge Potter meets with representatives from Richardson School of Law, The Outdoor Circle and Keep Hawaiian Islands Beautiful
By: Alexandra Avery
The University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law, in cooperation with Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful conducted a workshop on the Hawai‘i Environmental Court, with a special focus on “O‘ahu Litter, Illegal Dumping and Community Environment Enforcement”. The Special Guest Speaker was Judge Larry Potter, Shelby County Tennessee Environmental Court Longest Serving U.S. Environmental Jurist. Judge Potter is respectfully referred to as the father of U.S. Environmental Courts. His encouraging lecture offered tips and strategies for building environmental cases. He leads by example in his inspiring words on advocacy and stewardship.
Cecile Carson, Senior Vice President of Litter and Affiliate Relations, Keep America Beautiful, addressed the question of Why does litter (e.g. marine debris), illegal dumping, and community appearance matter, from a national viewpoint. She shared many talking points on the importance of enforcement, behavior change and litter’s environmental, economic and social Impacts. Chris Woolaway and Jordan Muratsuchi of Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful reported on the work they have achieved with the City and County, which was commented on by Michael O”Keefe, City and County of Honolulu Enforcement Officer. Cecile stressed the importance of clarifying and updating Refuse Ordinances along with their proper enforcement through further collaboration.
Another topic looked at is the growing concern with wildfire impact. Hawai‘i wildfire management was addressed by Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator, Hawai’i Wildfire Management Organization. Statewide, there are an average of 200 wildfires daily. Although not all of these are started with illegal dumping and camp-fires, the increase in arson related fires is alarming.
The Hawai’i Environmental Court recognizes that changing offending behavior can be achieved through alternative sentencing involving education classes and community service. Community service groups can become a part of this solution by providing service projects. Assigned to the Environmental Court are twenty two Hawaii Judges. The Court’s purpose is to ensure the fair, consistent, and effective resolution of cases involving the environment. The Court has a broad jurisdiction covering land, air and water, including terrestrial and marine life. The state motto recognizes that the lives of people depends on how the environment is treated.
The Outdoor Circle representative and Friend of The Hawai’i Environmental Court, past president Alexandra Avery also attended the first Annual Environmental Court Review. Hosted at the Supreme Court, a panel of distinguished speakers included Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Michael Wilson, Environmental Court Judges Jeannette Castagnetti and Lono J. Lee, and William S. Richardson School of Law Associate Dean Denise Antolini in an overview and discussion of key developments regarding Hawaii’s Environmental Court since its inception. The first case involved sugar cane burning on Maui, which challenged an individuals right to clean air. The cane burning led to increasing concerns about health hazards from smoke and ash. The case was settled and cane burning ceased in December 2016.The most common infraction during the first year was fishing violations to our overfished waters. From July 2015 to may 2016, more than 1,600 cases have been filed in the state’s Environmental Court. State park, boating and ocean recreation violations, along with aquatic resources and those relating to forestry and wildlife.
Alexandra recently shared her insights on our Environmental Court and her experience at India’s National GreenTribunal at the Annual Laulima Leadership Conference, hosted by TOC partner Keep Hawaiian Islands Beautiful. She joins the Friends of Hawaii Environmental Court in working to promote understanding of the E-Court function. Look for a downloadable brochure soon be available on the website below.
Environmental Court Website:
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:
By: Myles Ritchie
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.
By: Myles Ritchie
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.
By: Myles Ritchie
Update: In February 2017, 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 the Big Island, Kauai, Oahu and Maui 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 Waimea Outdoor Circle's Ulu La’au Nature Park, to name a few. 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.
It is important to note that this program was made possible due to a grant from HECO which has supported TOC’s mission and this program of allowing individuals to virtually visit these incredible areas regardless of financial, physical or other potential limiting factors. We would also like to thank the Hilo Reeds Bay Hotel for partnering with us for the Big Island portion of the data collection. 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 well known Hawaiian locations on the map for a global audience to experience and enjoy.
Below are the links to the various locations which are now live on Google Maps. Maui will be uploaded sometime in April or May so please check back for additional updates in the months to come.
We hope you will enjoy this incredible set of imagery and the virtual journeys they will take you on.
Mahalo for supporting TOC and its mission of "keeping Hawaii clean, green and beautiful."
We would like to extend a big mahalo to our interns Ben Ritchie, Ireland Derby and Richard Jansen for all of their help with this project!
By: Myles Ritchie
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.
By: Diane Harding
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.
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.