Kokua Learning Farm Tour
On July 15th, 2021, the North Shore Outdoor Circle had its first field trip since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020. It was very exciting to be with a small, but devoted group.
Joe Wat, Kelly Perry, and Daniel, gave us a tour of their facilities, and the grounds. They told us how they are following their mission to provide students from grades K through 12 with hands-on experiences which will enhance their appreciation for and understanding of their environment.
Ke Ala Pupukea
The North Shore Outdoor Circle maintains the bike path from Three Tables to Backyards. We became aware of tour groups using the bike path, and took steps to discourage this, so the path would remain available to community members. We make sure the trees and foliage are trimmed and maintained. We monitor the population of chickens which cause damage to plantings and, by scratching, can cause erosion to the path. We also monitor and discourage the dumping of green waste along the path. We are still hoping to replace the ugly concrete barriers that line the path by the entrance to Ehukai Park with a continuation of the rock wall. We’re well on our way to raising the almost $7,000 needed for this project.
Vera Stone, President, North Shore Branch
For more information about the North Shore Outdoor Circle, please check their website at: North Shore Outdoor Circle.
Waikoloa Village Community Garden
The Waikoloa Village Outdoor Circle's Community Garden has 72 - 10' X 4' garden plots. Several gardeners have more than one plot because it's hard to stop once you start planting.
Although the gardeners try almost every known warm weather species of fruit and vegetable with varying degrees of success, several species grow best in our harsh environment. Most garden plots have windbreaks attached as the trade winds can gust up to 50 mph.
Eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, Swiss chard, kale, herbs, moringa, pigeon peas and okra are successfully grown year-round. Lettuce, peas, cilantro and other cool weather loving plants do well during the winter months.
One of our gardeners built a butterfly house, growing milkweed & crown flower to feed the Monarch caterpillars in a secure environment away from the deadly wasps.
Liberated Monarchs fly drunkenly around the garden.
Our perimeter hog-wire fence excludes the goats and pigs that frequent the area. So far, so good as long as no one leaves the gate open.
Visitors are welcome to stroll about and often do. Only rarely do fruits and vegetables 'disappear.' Our garden is a pretty happy place where everyone seems to get along in spite of our differences.
Kapiolani Park photo by Miguel Minhalma
Did you know that The Outdoor Circle was instrumental in the
creation of the City Department of Parks and Recreation?
Did you know that cruelty to trees in public parks and along City streets
is illegal thanks to The Outdoor Circle?
In the early years of the Outdoor Circle, neighborhood groups of volunteers concentrated on planting shade trees in their parks and on their streets. They soon realized they could not do all of this planting by themselves, so, in 1922, lobbied the City to form the Shade Tree Commission to help. This group eventually became the City Parks Board in 1931, and later the Honolulu City and County Department of Parks and Recreation under the new city charter. Thanks to our efforts, shade trees line our city streets and grace our public parks.
In 1914, The Outdoor Circle also hired Honolulu’s first tree trimmer, Mr. Olivera, (for 25 cents an hour) to properly maintain the trees they had planted. It also became apparent that these trees needed protection, and in 1920, at the behest of The Outdoor Circle, a City ordinance was passed making “cruelty to trees illegal.” This ordinance is still in effect today, stating “ It shall be unlawful for any person to injure or destroy street trees in any manner or by any means.” Thanks to our early efforts efforts, vandalism of trees along our streets is illegal and punishable by fines of up to $500.
Amusing anecdotes exist regarding our volunteers and their attempts to see that trees were properly maintained back in those days. In one incident, as reported in notes at the time, volunteers told of meeting resistance of men from the Harbor Commission in getting fronds removed from the coconut trees the Outdoor Circle had planted. “The man in charge refuses to take off all the leaves, saying the trees will grow better with them there… As he is armed with a gun, Mrs. Von Hamm cannot insist on carrying out her wishes.”
Incidentally, tree-trimmer Mr. Olivera went on to work at the Outdoor Circle’s plant nursery at Kapiolani Park for the next 28 years!
The nursery eventually was turned over to the City Parks Board in 1946, and remains there today as the Honolulu City Kapiolani Nursery. But that is a story for another day!
To this day, The Outdoor Circle continues to work closely with the Department of Parks and Recreation, municipal agencies, legislatures and councils to protect and plant trees in our communities and grow our urban tree canopy statewide.
If you are looking for some dramatic beauty in your garden, you might want to consider planting a rainbow shower tree. Though the blossoms are lovely and colorful, the name rainbow is not really an accurate description. Instead, imagine a Japanese brush painting of yellow with steaks of pink and orange. Add colors like cerise and coral to the palette and you’ll likely conjure an image that closely matches the beauty of these flowers.
The rainbow shower tree is actually a sterile hybrid of two shower trees in the Cassia genus. The genus includes about 30 species. Several of the shower tree varieties can be found in local landscapes as well as in parks or along streets. Trees in the Cassia genus are members of the very large Fabaceae (Bean) family, known for their leguminous seed pods. The pods produced by some shower varieties can be a litter problem in public places. This issue makes the nearly pod-less rainbow shower a popular choice. In Honolulu it became so widely cultivated that the multicolored cultivar “Wilhelmina Tenney” was declared the official tree of the City and County of Honolulu in 1965.
The tree is scientifically named Cassia x nealiae honoring Marie C. Neal. She was a well-known Hawaiian botanist and author of an early botanical reference book, “In Gardens of Hawai’i.” In her 1928 original as well as her 1965 revision, she refers to the rainbow shower as the cross Cassia javanica x C. fistula. Her propagation advice is that it is best done by cross pollinating blossoms of the pink-and-white shower tree with blossoms of the golden shower tree and using seeds from the resulting cross. These trees are each lovely landscape trees hailing from India and South America respectively but they do produce littering seed pods. The original hybrid cross was done here in Hawaii around 1916 by David Haughs. The resulting sterile rainbow shower is usually the preferred species.
Many trees available in the trade today are actually Cassia x nealiae grafted onto C. fistula rootstock. Though air layering is also a successful propagation technique for the rainbow variety, it does not produce strong roots making the resulting trees subject to toppling in heavy winds.
Four distinct color variants have resulted from the original cross, they include ones that are predominantly yellow, white or gold as well as “Wilhelmena Tenny” which produces the streaked yellow and cerise flowers described earlier. The flowers on the rainbow trees are produced on long pendulant racemes that appear on branches that bear stems of inch-long dark green leaflets. The trees tend to bloom most of the summer, losing blossoms and sometimes leaves in the fall. When in bloom the tree can appear quite full and very colorful.
Though shower trees can get as large as 50 feet tall and equally wide, they can be judiciously pruned to control their size and their naturally irregular growth habit. Careful, professional pruning is recommended to keep these trees attractive in small spaces.
Rainbow shower trees can tolerate many soil types but prefer to grow in soil that drains well. The tree is fairly drought tolerant and can make a nice addition to a xeriscape garden. It is not, however, very salt or wind tolerant so should be grown away from the ocean and in areas of low wind.
The tree attracts few pests and diseases. Those that do arrive can usually be treated with pesticides including soap and oil mixes or other organic compounds based on the identity of the pest. It is always important to positively identify the pest and match the treatment to the problem.
This tree will thrive with occasional deep watering in dry times and regular fertilization with slow-release fertilizers that include micronutrients. Follow fertilizer package instructions for amounts and frequency of applications.
Rainbow shower trees can provide a very attractive and interesting addition to a landscape. If you have lots of room, plant several. For small gardens, be prepared to train a single tree to be size appropriate. Call around to local nurseries to locate trees, choosing smaller specimens that can be trained is best for small gardens. Whatever size you choose for your property, you will certainly enjoy the annual display of colorful blossoms.
Diana Duff, Plant Adviser, Educator, and Consultant; Lives in Manoa Valley
[Editor's note: Starting in 1912, and continuing through the 1960s, TOC planted hundreds of shower trees along Honolulu's streets, including Vineyard, Piikoi, Pensacola, Makiki, and Nehoa. Our Branches statewide planted them as well. In 1995, TOC sponsored the "Shower Tree Festival" at Kapiolani Park, which grew into an annual event to heighten public awareness of Hawai‘i's trees and natural beauty.]
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.
Kauai Outdoor Circle President Maureen Murphy Receives Western Chapter of the International Society for Aboriculture President's Award at WCISA Conference in Honolulu
Adapted from Member profile: Maureen Murphy, by Kathleen Mahoney. First published in Western Arborist Spring 2019.
Maureen Murphy doesn’t quite know how to explain her introduction to arboriculture. “Accident? Fluke? Unexpected events?” She laughs. “Perhaps Divine Intervention?”
Maureen had already spent three years in college, yet she lacked direction. She loved to learn, but just couldn’t commit to a career path. Life changed abruptly with the death of her father, and Maureen inherited the caretaking duties of his numerous house plants. Not knowing a thing about plant care, she put her new houseguests in dark corners where they looked nice, not places where they would grow. She watered them on occasion (when she remembered) and didn’t have the slightest clue about pests. By all rights, these poor plants should have died and yet… somehow, they thrived! Maureen was hooked, turning a twist-of-fate into a career path. Five years later, she received two degrees from California Polytechnic State University, one in ornamental horticulture, the other in pomology. Armed with determination and her diploma in hand, Maureen moved to Hawaii to start her career.
Fast forward to today, and Maureen is the owner and operator of Horticultural Consultants International, LLC. She manages a 4-person crew working to prune trees, renovate old gardens, and detail estate gardens all over Kauai. She is a Registered Consulting Arborist and a qualified Tree Risk Assessor, allowing her to work in all sorts of interesting areas of arboriculture.
Her favorite part of the job? “That’s a hard one because I like so much about my job and the profession. I work for myself. I work outdoors in Hawaii! I work in beautiful gardens, with impressive trees, and every day is different – unique challenges, opportunities, and personal growth. I love the instant gratification of leaving a property in better shape than when I arrived, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with clients, colleagues, and others. I’m a teacher at heart.”
Maureen is also a trainer with the Kauai Landscape Industry Council – an organization dedicated to elevating the skills of local landscape professionals – and teaches prep courses for becoming a Certified Arborist. Her goal is to continue improving her arboricultural and horticultural skills and help bring the latest research and information to her colleagues in Kauai. By understanding that arboriculture is a dynamic profession, involving many interests and perspectives, Maureen strives to always find the latest, most efficient ways of doing her job. She is intent on improving the practice of arboriculture on Kauai.
As part of her education efforts, Maureen serves as the president of Kauai Outdoor Circle, working tirelessly to educate the community about proper tree care and preserving the natural beauty of Kauai. And in April 2019, at the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA) Annual Conference held at the Sheraton Waikiki, Maureen Murphy was honored as the recipient of WCISA’s President’s Award.
Maureen may still have a house full of plants, and she may still place them in those dark corners where they look nice. But now, at least, she knows enough to rotate them.
In response to the 2018 natural disasters, a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation allowed us to give over 900 trees to residents of East Hawaii this past June. This outreach drastically increased our membership (easy to do as we were only at 21 then) and as a result, we have some new members to help with projects and to chair committees.
We are working with the Hawaii County Planning Department and Parks and Recreation on potential tree plantings, with a push coming up for a park dedicated to dogs AND memorial trees.
Our vice president Jonathan Sudler has an active role in the newly restarted Hawaii County Arborists Advisory Committee to the Mayor. As our county AAC was “on hiatus” for several years and with a start up interruption from Pele last year, they are playing catch up with checking on previously designated exceptional trees, and gearing up to qualify new ones for preservation.
EHOC continues to struggle with saving our living monuments of Banyan Drive from the gall wasp infestation. We are currently waiting on results of an experimental treatment that was done to one tree in June. We have to wait until the tree starts flushing again to see if the treatment is working. If it does, that will put us into a major fundraiser mode, as there are about 47 trees affected, and it will cost approximately $600 per tree!
We are currently planning our second year of participation in the Kamahalo Craft Fair at Cooper Center, during the Volcano Art Walk on Thanksgiving weekend. This year we will be selling a variety of plants and doing community outreach. Volcano is a wonderful place at that time of the year (cooler!) and we expect to see a good turn out.
Two of our current board members are now on our TOC executive board. Jonathan Sudler is Vice President and Joan Gossett is a Director for the 2019-2020 year.
The tree giveaway was an incredible event, not only to encourage folks to plant trees for carbon sequestration, but as a strong community outreach to get The Outdoor Circle name once again in the public eye on Hawaii Island. We are really hoping to do another next year.
Plant a tree! Or several. As we like to say, there is no “Planet B" as an option!
Waimea Outdoor Circle subscribes to Just Serve to recruit volunteers for Ulu La`au Waimea Nature Park, like this family from Idaho. JustServe.org is a website where the volunteer needs of organizations may be posted and volunteers may search for places to serve in the community, providing opportunities to help those in need and enhance the quality of life in the community.
After almost a year of challenges and delays, the new greenhouse/propagation center was completed at the Nature Park. We look forward to outfitting it with potting benches, irrigation and plants for the park, the community and for our Annual Spring Plant Sale in April. Waimea Outdoor Circle is grateful for the generous donations that made this project possible.
Goats in the Garden Arrive at the Women's Community Correctional Center
The Women’s Fund of Hawai’i (WFH) has awarded the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle (LKOC) a $5,000 grant for an innovative new project, “Goats in the Garden” at Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC).
LKOC has operated a successful horticulture project at WCCC for 20 years. Over this time, more than 350 women have been involved in the Learning to Grow (LTG) program at a small nursery on the grounds of the facility. LTG includes lessons in plant propagation, growing food for the kitchen, and the flagship hydroponic lettuce system which sells lettuce to Foodland Super Markets. Certificate classes on topics such as financial and small business management, market gardening, and leadership are provided.
LKOC members had seen opportunities for expansion of the agriculture projects but were faced with acres of invasive growth. A participant mentioned she raised goats on her family property as a child, and thus the idea was born. Goats in the garden could dine on the invasive growth!
Four goats have been hand-raised specifically for this project and recently arrived from the Big Island. Staff, inmates, and volunteers have worked together to transform an old shed into a goat home. Training on goat care has been conducted, and everyone is enthusiastic and eager to be involved.
The initial team managing the goats consists of 8-12 women, many of whom are approaching release from WCCC. The team includes several women with longer sentences who will be consistent through implementation and manage the training of new participants. Over the course of 12 months, it is expected that more than 40 women will have direct exposure to working with the animals.
There is evidence of successful prison-animal programs in facilities on the mainland. Studies show significant positive therapeutic outcomes including improved physical and mental health, communication skills, socialization opportunities, and increased confidence and sense of self. These increases in human and social capital are soft skills deemed important by employers, thus the project could also deliver vocational outcomes. Opportunities for caring and nurturing are limited in an institutionalized setting, and we have seen a positive outcome already. For the first time, women will be allowed into the garden on weekends to care for the goats. The positive impact on relationships between staff and inmates is already evident.
The grant from WFH Fund will be used to cover all implementation related expenses plus three months of supplies, a veterinary contingency fund, and the employment of a Project Manager, Kate Wiechmann, for three months. Kate will be responsible for all Goats in the Garden activities. These will include training staff, inmates, and volunteers who will go on to manage the project after the initial three months, designing and implementing project evaluations, and creating a sustainable project model. Kate will work on creative funding ideas such as "Adopt a Goat" and crowdfunding such as Go Fund Me (or "Goat Fund Me").
The Women’s Fund of Hawaii has provided the means to a wonderful venture for the women at WCCC. The opportunities are boundless and the benefits to the women, staff, and the community enormous.
Historical Facts About The Outdoor Circle and its Branches
On this page, you will find interesting individual and little know historical facts about The Outdoor Circle and its Branches.
It is updated monthly to add a new noteworthy item from TOC’s past rich history.”
As the gentle wind blows through the leaves of the majestic trees, we have been doing our best to keep Mānoa “clean, green and beautiful.” Quarterly, we have continued our work to remove invasive plants from the heiau site at Kamānele Park, and we facilitated service learning projects for students. Discovering promising leaders amongst the next generation, we voted two Junior Directors onto our board, and mentored other high school seniors with their Capstone and Eagle Scout projects. One of those projects was to plant 200 new mock orange plants at the historic College Hill home of the UH President.
In addition to our efforts to beautify and educate, we devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to advocacy this year. We wrote and presented oral testimony on numerous City and State bills and resolutions affecting the environment. Meeting with DPP and City Council Members, we negotiated fervently for the new Land Use Ordinance to include a cap on impervious surfaces so builders of monster houses cannot concrete their whole properties. Maintaining a visible presence at the Mānoa Neighborhood Board’s monthly meetings, we were available to assist residents with issues that seemed daunting for the average citizen, ranging from saving the trees on the Noelani Elementary School campus to concerns about HECO removing hedges near power stations. Hearing the presentations from government agencies and businesses, we were able to submit timely comments on several Environmental Assessments. While engaged in our role as community advocates, we partnered with other nonprofit organizations, including HI Good Neighbor, Mālama Mānoa, Blue Zones Project 4M, and Protect Our Ala Wai Watersheds.
Lastly, our Mānoa Branch members enjoyed celebrating our efforts and successes with fun parties, such as our “Green Party” on Saint Patrick’s Day and a “Monster Mash” after Bill 79 passed. The community service work we do together makes a positive difference, yet the best part is the friendships we form as we fulfill our purpose with passion.
The North Shore Outdoor Circle branch is working hard to maintain the beauty and atmosphere of our little slice of country on an island which is quickly becoming more cosmopolitan and urban.
We work hard to help maintain the Haleiwa Historic District’s charm and dignity. We keep current on Bills coming up that could affect the proliferation of signs and the commercialization of our country area. The Signs Committee is hard at work, documenting the trucks and other examples of businesses that are not following the rules set by the Haleiwa Special District Standards. Our Signs Chairperson did her research and advised the NSOC to oppose Bills 46 and 47, which pertained to food trucks, and did not place controls on visual clutter, excessive signage, and improper waste disposal. We did support Bill 45 which passed. This bill required that the City of Honolulu enforce the requirements of the Haleiwa Special District.
We have been working with the State and other organizations to make sure our most iconic view - the gorgeous, expansive Waimea Bay view-plane is open and able to be enjoyed by visitors.
One of NSOC’s proud accomplishments is the creation and maintenance of the Ke Ala Pupukea Bike Path. We have applied for a matching grant to upgrade a section of concrete barriers along the beautiful Ke Ala Pupukea Bike Path. We are hoping to replace the ugly Qaddafi blocks with an attractive rock wall. The barrier is vital because occasionally people drive cars on the bike path, endangering our keiki!
Our continuing awareness of the value of native plants is demonstrated by our participation in the restoration of Sunset Beach, as well as our choice of GMM speaker Rick Barboza from Hui Ku Maoli Ola. His nursery specializes in native Hawaiian plants and restoration.
Our field trips this year have included a chance to help the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program at the top of Mt Ka’Ala, a visit to David Yearian’s extraordinary Ti Collection, and to Hui Ku Maoli Ola - Native Hawaiian Nursery.
Possibly the most delightful thing that the NSOC is involved with is the Adopt a Garden program in Waimea Valley. We go every month, pull weeds, deadhead, and beautify an already spectacular part of the valley - Ginger Alley. After two hours, we are ready for a refreshing dip in the waterfall. It is a rewarding and special day, indeed.
Good work has been done but much is still left for the North Shore Outdoor Circle (NSOC) to do.
The branch is now over four years old and has been quite active in affairs concerning matters of clean, green and beautiful in our most densely-populated area of the state, where we face some similar and some unique challenges with other branches.
As TOC’s most urban branch, some of the main issues we face, like traffic, noise pollution, light pollution, urban heat islands, and a large transient population are some of the issues we tackle and be try to be relevant in the middle of Hawaii’s economic engine of mass tourism. We named it “Greater Waikiki” to include the major parks on each side of Waikiki’s neighborhood board district boundaries to include Kapiolani Park and Ala Moana Park and the Ala Wai Canal. We have had major things to say about developments in these areas and happy to report that The Outdoor Circle name is still well-respected and the go-to resource for matters involving quality of life and preservation of beauty.
But our decision to build a robust and comprehensive branch website, www.waikikioutdoorcircle.org, has turned out to be more successful than we first expected. Thanks to Myles Ritchie’s indefatigable technical skills, the website now regularly attracts many hundreds of online visitors each month even if they don’t provide us with any feedback. Our website newsletter “Waikiki Whisperer” was intended to be rather provocative and carries the warning that the stories represent only the opinions of the authors and not those of TOC’s Board. Our series “The Death of Darkness” on new LED lighting issues introduced new language on the topic that has, surprisingly, been copied all over the island. We believe it played an important role in getting the city and county authorities to modify their initial proposals on the replacement of 50,000 island streetlights with powerful new LEDs. We hope that our stories on issues relevant to Waikiki will function as a de facto “Think-Tank” for TOC.
We are delighted that our strategy to work closer with the Waikiki Neighborhood Board has resulted in two recent Resolutions of Support for our work, encouraging development of our new Trees and Livability Committee and support for three tree planning and replacement projects as coalition partners with other organizations. Later this year we will provide them with an update on our work on Livability of Waikiki - focusing on the troublesome three issues - Street Noise, Excessive Illumination by new LED lighting/signage and Walkability allowing people to walk safely each day as their main way to stay healthy.
Finally, we have actively promoted the issue of Save The Ala Wai Promenade, the city’s most beautiful and peaceful canal side avenue of Exceptional Ficus trees. Located in the Ala Moana/Kakaako neighborhood board district, the project has now received resolutions of support from three adjacent boards and a commitment of city budget funds so far of $100,000. We are encouraged by the recent restoration of the irrigation system in Ala Moana Regional park that has transformed the health of the trees, shrubs and grass there and we have advocated to keep the park space open. We have also been strong proponents of a comprehensive EIS and community input on the proposed Ala Wai Watershed plans and were instrumental in holding an excellent public community forum in November 2019 on the issue. Stay tuned for more on this.
As time progresses, we aim to build upon these promising accomplishments to attract new members and continue TOC’s goal of keeping Hawaii clean, green and beautiful. And let's not forget sustainable and livable!
On June 29, 2019, the East Hawaii branch of the Outdoor Circle held its first ever tree giveaway event which saw over 900 trees donated to the East Hawaii community. This event, which was a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and Fed Ex, utilized a $25,000 grant to help replant trees in the East Hawaii area that was heavily impacted by the natural disasters that took place during the summer of 2018. The goal of the program was to replace trees that were lost in these events, while at the same time, choosing trees that would be desirable to property owners and would also help mitigate future impacts associated with these disasters, especially flooding.
The outcome saw all 911 trees, consisting of 43 fruit and native species, find new homes not only in the East Hawaii area, but around the entire Big Island as some individuals made the commute from Kona just to receive free trees. In addition, the giveaway event proved to be a major publicity event for the Outdoor Circle and its East Hawaii branch, helping to reach new demographics that had not heard of the organization and seeing new members of all ages join the branch.
While this event occurred due to a competitive grant to replant trees in an area affected by natural disasters, the recent success of the tree giveaway has helped to forge a strong relationship with the Arbor Day Foundation. As such, this partnership can help provide exciting opportunities for any TOC branch that might want to conduct their own tree planting/giveaway events. To learn more, please email TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie (email@example.com).
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.