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
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