A Message from The Outdoor Circle President
Due to the continuing pandemic, the past year has been full of continuing challenges, not just for The Outdoor Circle, but for all of us collectively. I am pleased to report that, even with these challenges, The Outdoor Circle was able to maintain its ability to be proactive in many areas.
The Development Committee continued its efforts toward effective financial stability for the organization and how we can best meet our needs. We recently undertook a membership survey and marketing study with the aim of better meeting member needs and expectations. We hope some of the results will be an increased public awareness of The Outdoor Circle, growth in our membership, and offer more ways for community participation and involvement in the stewardship of our islands.
Much of our work this year was, as it often is, “behind the scenes” pushing for protection or promotion of green spaces and quality of life issues. This involved testifying to ban noisy and polluting leaf blowers, working with the counties to staff and constitute their Arborist Advisory Committees, and working with the Board of Water Supply to repair damage to Diamond Head and prevent it from being marred with garish fencing. We also testified against zoning variances, opposition to encroachments on setbacks, and exceeding maximum building areas, all of which impact the character of our neighborhoods. We worked with city and state agencies to oppose and prevent unnecessary removal of trees in houseless encampments, pressing for community clean up events and reclaiming parks for public usage.
As The Outdoor Circle was instrumental in enacting the strict statewide signage laws that banned the billboard, this effort continued in revisions made to our policy positions to include murals that are increasingly becoming a part of our visual landscape. We will see more work in this area to come, as the challenges to our visual landscape are never-ending.
We remain forever dedicated to trees, not just for all the environmental benefits they provide, but for the many ways they beautify our streets, our parks, as well as our own backyards. The relationship we have nurtured with the Arbor Day Foundation enabled us to do another substantial tree planting at Camp Palehua, hold another hugely successful tree giveaway in Hilo with the East Hawai‘i Branch, and allowed us to maintain trees we planted at Windward Community College in 2019, which are now thriving.
Our branches kept up safety precautions during the pandemic while continuing their beautification projects and advocating for preservation of areas across the state as we continued to work with them to ensure that activities were safe for all those participating.
I am grateful and appreciative of the work of The Outdoor Board of Directors and our dedicated staff: Winston Welch, Executive Director; Jackie Wah, Operations Director; and Myles Ritchie, Programs Director. Together we maneuvered through a year of starts and stops, which was felt acutely as we mourned the loss of one of our trusted Board members, Jennie Peterson, who will be especially missed for her kindness and grace.
I want to thank all our members and donors who helped sustain us this past year. You are an important part of our organization and your support has helped our Circle to expand and grow.
Scott R. Wilson
President, The Outdoor Circle
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.