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.
For the past four years, I have had the honor of serving in my role as Executive Director, privileged to work with amazing people dedicated to The Outdoor Circle’s continuing legacy—to keep Hawaii clean, green, beautiful, livable and sustainable. It has been a pleasure to serve under our dedicated Board of Directors and the leaders and volunteers from our statewide branches who give so much of their time and energy to projects and initiatives in their communities. As a supporter of The Outdoor Circle, you play the most fundamental role of all, and we sincerely thank you for that continuing commitment.
The challenges we face in our state are increasing, but we are more than up to the task to face them. Our reputation is part of our legacy and our resolve is to uphold and advance what we value. We accomplish this through the community projects of our many branches, The Outdoor Circle’s positions of advocacy, and the private sector and governmental agencies which consistently seek our input and advice on matters of concern to us.
At our Full Circle Meeting earlier this year, a meeting between the Board of Directors, TOC staff, and representatives from the branches, we reaffirmed our Policy Positions for the organization, and heard from our branches on their initiatives and their wonderful accomplishments across the state. It is up to all of us, collectively and individually, to carry on the promise and vision of TOC’s early founders.
The Outdoor Circle is blessed to have Jackie Wah, our Operations Director, and Myles Ritchie, our Programs Director, as part-time staff to support all the good work that The Outdoor Circle and its branches do. Those of you who know Jackie and Myles understand the professional devotion to the organization and excellence that they exemplify. They each share their intelligence, intuition, charm, and wit freely, and I have been grateful to be able to work alongside both of them.
While we have a small staff, The Outdoor Circle’s strength comes from its volunteers, through the branch-based organization of our members. That said, we do rely on your generous gifts to keep the doors open and our organization thriving. Along with your annual gifts to TOC, please join many other thoughtful members by placing us in your planned giving arrangements. This allows for part of your legacy to be a gift of beauty and will enable TOC’s legacy to continue. Please see the “Give Beyond Your Years” page in this newsletter for more information.
To help further our mission, we also ask that you give generously to our year-end appeal. You may make your donation now or any time by clicking on this link: www.outdoorcircle.org. To give a gift in someone’s honor or memory, please indicate this so that we may acknowledge your contribution.
Please enjoy this edition of the Greenleaf, and be sure to "like us" on Facebook and share with a friend. For much more information, please visit our website at www.outdoorcircle.org where you will also find links to visit our branches around Hawaii.
We wish you a happy holiday season and a 2020 filled with good cheer.
Warm aloha and mahalo,
Winston Welch, Executive Director
On a rainy day of Saturday of December 14, 2019, over 80 volunteers attended a tree planting event at Windward Community College that saw 31 trees (mostly 25-gallon) added to the southern end of the Great Lawn. The specimens consisted of 28 native trees and two ficus trees and marked the first stage of a replanting program for the campus. Over the past several years, many of the campus’ iconic ficus trees have had to be removed due to deteriorating health conditions resulting from age and the gall wasp killing of the trees. This situation has turned a campus once full of trees with magnificent canopies into an increasingly grass-dominated landscape. However, through the planting of these new trees, students and members of the community will be able to experience several new species to the campus that will not only provide environmental benefits, but also allow students in courses ranging from botany to Hawaiian studies the opportunity to have ideal native species on campus that can be incorporated into their curriculums. This event was made possible due to a grant from Enterprise Car Rental and the Arbor Day Foundation, and was a collaboration between the Outdoor Circle, University of Hawaii at Manoa/Windward campuses, Arbor Day Foundation and Enterprise. With this event, we are looking forward to additional plantings at the Windward campus in the years to come, allowing us to continue building off of the momentum from this event and leading to a tree-filled campus once again.
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.