President's Message Spring 2014
Our Leaf touches ground this week with lots of news about branch engagement and statewide public affairs. I am very happy to report that the Exceptional Tree Initiative is being championed by Susan Spangler, appointed representative to the Mayor’s Arborist Advisory Council.
Things have been busy for our volunteers this first half of the legislative session. With “cross-over” completed earlier this month, we now know which bills have a good chance of making it to “conference committee” at the end of the legislative session. It is exciting to see some of the Senators and Representatives championing the environment with such knowledge and inspiration. This is a challenging time as we all reckon with the cost of development to our ecosystem. It is extremely hopeful to hear these leaders talking about carrying capacity on our islands, particularly on O’ahu.
We have a strong leader in our Honolulu City Council, who sees the danger in proliferation of advertising on our roadways. Moving ads on busses is proven to be a distraction to drivers, not to mention to the visual plane. It can’t be said too often: “Our beauty is the hand that feeds us.” A beautiful, calming viewscape is an intrinsic part of the much revered aloha spirit.
We hope that all of our Mayors will follow Mayor Caldwell in making our county parks a priority over the next few years. This is news The Outdoor Circle likes to move with!
We ask you to join us in being an active steward for The Outdoor Circle. Here's what you can ask of your friends and neighbors: Become a member (click here), volunteer some time (click here), and regularly visit our website and facebook page to catch up on our activities.
The beloved International Marketplace is undergoing a major renovation. Thankfully, the owners, Queen Emma Land Company, recognize the value of the amazing trees on their property and are making heroic efforts to preserve and enhance the trees there. The Exceptional Banyan Tree closer to Kalakaua Avenue is being preserved -- and the human experience of this tree will actually be enhanced by a design that puts the pedestrian and dining area on the 3rd floor, around the canopy of this epic tree. In addition, several other trees are being protected-in-place or relocated on the property.
Unfortunately, however, two large trees will be lost. One of the other banyan trees on the property has fallen victim to the ferocious stem gall wasp. Despite every effort to protect certain banyan trees from this infection, nothing has been able to save infected trees from dying. In consultation with expert arborists, the developers have decided to remove this tree and repurpose it to the extent possible. This tree will be replaced with a mature monkeypod from on-site that was previously slated for removal.
In addition, the large monkeypod on the Kuhio Avenue side of the International Marketplace will be removed and repurposed. Though the developers had originally planned to relocate this tree, realities of the tree’s root system and underground utilities have rendered that option impossible. The loss of this large canopy tree on Kuhio Avenue will be very noticeable. After consulting with The Outdoor Circle and others, the developers are investigating possibilities for compensating for the loss of shade and overall character that will come with the loss of this tree. Stay tuned for more updates to the developer’s plans for the new International Marketplace as they become available.
You can learn more about this project by visiting their website: http://shopinternationalmarketplace.com
Rail: Now What?
The 9th Circuit ruled on February 18, 2014 that the EIS for the Honolulu Rail Project is not incomplete, despite the lack of equally in-depth analysis of alternatives to the elevated train, including Bus Rapid Transit. Judge Tashima, at the lower federal court, also determined that the City and the Federal Transit Authority properly analyzed the alternative routes for the rail system, including whether to locate a tunnel under Beretania Street.
In light of the courts’ decisions, we are assessing the next best steps. We need to continue to engage with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) to ensure that all of the mitigations promised in the EIS are actually implemented -- that trees affected by the rail project are relocated or re-purposed and replaced, that transit stations are well-designed and landscaped to integrate into their surrounding communities.
If you are interested in helping to minimize the negative impacts of rail, please drop us a line to volunteer.
Learn more about this issue, here is a link to the Star-Advertiser news article.
(Image: From the Star Advertiser, Gordon Pang)
TOC is the "Name in the News"
The executive director of The Outdoor Circle is determined to protect Hawaii’s scenic environment
By Christine Donnelly
Marti Townsend walks to work most days, a 30-minute trip from Makiki to her office on King Street that not only serves as good exercise but also keeps her connected to Honolulu’s cityscape at the street level. That’s important to her job as executive director of The Outdoor Circle, leading several thousand members who all are devoted to keeping Hawaii clean, green and beautiful.
Founded in 1912, the group is well known for planting and maintaining exceptional trees throughout the state and for ridding Hawaii of billboards in 1926 — a victory
over visual blight the group is working hard to preserve in light of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal to sell advertising on the exterior of city buses. Townsend notes that she also is an avid bus rider, like many OC members.
“Some people try to create the perception that you have to be either for Hawaii’s scenic environment or for TheBus, but that’s a false choice,” she said. “We definitely support both.”
Townsend, who grew up in Aiea and graduated from Moanalua High School in 1995, earned a bachelor’s degree in political philosophy from Boston University and later worked for two sessions as a budget analyst for the House Finance Committee in Hawaii’s Legislature. She also volunteered at The Outdoor Circle after college, which inspired her to become a lawyer; she focused on environmental law at the University of Hawaii.
Married and the mother of two young children, Townsend took the lead position at The Outdoor Circle in May 2012, after serving as the acting executive director of KAHEA-The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance. Heading any nonprofit means juggling many tasks. It’s no different at The Outdoor Circle, where Townsend oversees operations for 10 branches of the grass-roots group throughout the islands and takes the lead on statewide policy initiatives, fundraising and programs.
“Engaging people in the public process is a big part of what I do,” she said. “We all appreciate Hawaii’s natural beauty and the public green spaces that add so much to our quality of life. It does take a community effort to preserve and enhance that.”
Click here to read the article from the Honolulu Star Advertiser
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.