Crowdfunding works for YWCA

July 22nd, 2014
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The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency.

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency. Photo courtesy YWCA of Oahu.

The Blue Planet Foundation's WEfficiency crowdfunding platform has paid off for the YWCA of Oahu's Laniakea facility at 1040 Richards St.

Through Wefficiency, the YWCA was able to obtain a combination of donations and loans for nearly $15,000 for a high efficiency lighting project. The lighting upgrade is expected to shave about $8,500 a year on the electricity bill.

"The YWCA of Oahu is so humbled by the overwhelming support of the community in funding our WEfficiency campaign," said YWCA's director of fund development Wendy Chang. "The money we save on energy will go directly into the services that help to empower women from all walks of life."

A portion of savings will be used to pay back loans, with the first repayments within six months. Loanators can shift the loan to another non-profit group's campaign, if they desire, via WEfficiency.

For instance, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio, are also campaigning for energy-efficient retrofits via WEfficiency.  Damien needs another $8,000 to reach a $12,000 goal. HPR needs another $5,000 for its $11,000 goal.

If you're a non-profit interested in participating in WEfficiency, email info@weffiency.org

Conservation commitments

July 18th, 2014
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Kai ceremony celebrating commitments to the environment by Maui Nui Makai Network. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Kai ceremony combining ocean waters celebrating commitments to the environment by Maui Nui Makai Network. Photo by Sean Marrs.

The Hokule‘a Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage received new commitments by members of the Maui Nui Makai Network on Wednesday, July 16.

In a kai ceremony at noon, six communities of the newly formed Maui Nui Makai Network pledged new commitments to members of the voyage at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. The ceremony followed an hour-long presentation by members at the 2014 annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference.

Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III combined ocean waters from each site as a symbol of shared commitments to community-based management of the six communities that make up an ahupua‘a on Maui. These commitments were recorded in a book that will be carried on board the Hokule‘a, which are to be completed by the voyage's conclusion in 2017.

Among the Network's commitments to one another:

>> Protect and restore healthy ecosystems

>> Share and learn from their diverse experiences

>> Help one another malama (care for) their areas

>> Perpetuate Hawaiian values, including kuleana

"We are a group of like-minded people who have shared aspirations to care for our marine resources," said Ekolu Lindsey of Palanui Hiu, current chair for the network. "The ocean is the foundation of our island culture and we need it to be healthy and sustainable. We are working toward sustainable reefs and fish for our future."

Members of the Network currently include: Kipahulu ‘Ohana and Na Mamo O Mu‘olea in east Maui; Wailuku Ahupua‘a Community Managed Makai Area in central Maui; Palanui Hiu in Lahaina; Hui Maalalama O Mo‘omomomi in Molokai; and Maunalei Ahupua‘a Community Managed Makai Area in Lanai.

Members of the Maui Nui Makai Network with Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Members of the Maui Nui Makai Network with Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson, fourth from left, and Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III, right. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Permaculture learning

July 17th, 2014
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Matthew Lynch. 

Interested in permaculture?

Permaculture, as defined by some of the "elders of permaculture," is "the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems." It's the "use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production." It's a "holistic approach to landscape design and human culture."

Permaculture specialists Hunter Heaivilin and Matthew Lynch are once again offering the Permaculture Design Certificate course in Waimanalo from July 27 to Aug. 10. Green Rows Farm will host the two-week, intensive course, which includes visits to beautiful permaculture farms, classroom education, hands-on application and a team design project for the local community.

Hunter Heaivilin.

Hunter Heaivilin.

Students learn how permaculture principles can be applied in various environments — from barren deserts to tropical jungles, urban hardscapes, backyards, schools, farms and public places.

The course will cover everything from site analysis to climate, plants, soil science, fertility management, waste recycling, architectural and landscape adaptations and more, using permaculture principles and ethics. Upon completion, students receive a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.

Both Heaivilin and Lynch have completed projects around the world. Heaivilin is currently coordinator of the Oahu Farm to School Network. Lynch is the founder of the Honolulu-based non-profit, Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.

Cost is $1,500 ($1,100 for kamaaina). Tuition includes course fees, onsite camping and meals. Discounts available for students, educators and those not staying on property. You can register at tinyurl.com/Nalo2014. Visit TransitionOahu.org to learn more or email donnarlay@gmail.com or call 224-2462.

Matthew Lynch, below, talking about sustainability at TEDxHonolulu.

Treasures of Oahu

July 16th, 2014
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Mokolii Cove Pano

This beautiful panorama of Mokoli‘i Cove (Chinaman's Hat) is on display at Canon Gallery as part of nature photographer Nathan Yuen's exhibit "Treasures of Oahu" until end of July. Photo by Nathan Yuen.

Nature photographer Nathan Yuen hikes for hours to get to the most remote parts of Oahu, all in the quest to capture some of the rarest species in the Hawaiian islands. We're talking about singing kahuli (an endangered Oahu tree snail), happy-face spiders and ‘ohi‘a lehua found nowhere else in the world but in Hawaii. And, more specifically, on Oahu.

Yuen's photo exhibit, "Natural Treasures of Oʻahu — From Mauka to Kahakai," is up at Canon Gallery until the end of July.

Yuen, also commissioner of the Natural Area Reserves System Hawaii, spends weekends hiking along the spine of the Koolau and Waianae mountains looking for native snails and flowers endemic to the island of Oahu. He's interested in beautiful vistas as well as the easily overlooked diminutive details one might find along a path. On a regular basis, he enjoys visiting Makapu‘u at sunrise to see the colorful transformation of the ocean and sky at dawn, or heading to Mokoli‘i (Chinaman's Hat) and its cove.

"Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see the raw beauty of Oahu's coastlines and the native plants and seabirds that live there," he said. "It is my goal to showcase the unique plants and animals that live at these special places to give you a reason to protect them for future generations."

Find spectacular vistas of Oahu, as well as closeups of some of the unique plants and animals found only on the island of Oahu, sometimes overlooked while on the trail. Yuen takes multiple, overlapping photos to compose a large, panoramic image, such as the one above. Canon Gallery is at the Canon USA office at Ward Plaza (210 Ward Ave. #200). Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Sandy Beach cleanup Saturday

July 13th, 2014
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Volunteers use a makeshift sand sifter to sift out microplastics at Sandy's Beach. The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19. Photo courtesy RevoluSun.

Volunteers use a makeshift sand sifter to sift out microplastics at Sandys. The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19. Photo courtesy RevoluSun.

RevoluSun once again invites the public to participate in what's become an annual tradition since opening its doors for business in 2009 — a beach cleanup at Sandys on Saturday, July 19. At that first cleanup in 2009, volunteers removed 900 pounds of trash from the Sandy Beach Park shoreline.

The solar company is partnering with the Surfrider Foundation's Oahu Chapter for the fifth cleanup, which takes place from 10 a.m. to noon. on Saturday. RevoluSun is offering volunteers a commemorative T-shirt and free lunch.

The mobile sand-sifter developed by local contractor Jason Tucker Hills, which is designed to separate out micro-plastics, will be back again. Last year, volunteers collected more than 400 pounds of small debris at Sandys. The tally also included more than 2,000 cigarette butts, almost 600 bottle caps and more than 300 drink cans and bottles and single-use food containers — all within 90 minutes. .

Monk seal hospital takes first patients

July 9th, 2014
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Female monk seal pupu from Pearl and Hermes atoll. Photo courtesy Jon Brack/ NOAA Fisheries.

Female monk seal pup from Pearl and Hermes atoll. Photo courtesy Jon Brack/ NOAA Fisheries.

The first monk seal patients from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands arrived at the monk seal hospital in Kona this afternoon to get a second chance at survival.

Four seals — two yearling females, a female weaned pup and male weaned pup, were all underweight for their age and thus, less likely to survive. This is especially true for the two pups, who likely would not have survived their first year of life.

NOAA Research Vessel Hi‘ialakai, which is returning  from a 26-day cruise to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, transported the seals to the hospital. The move was possible due to a new permit that allows NOAA Fisheries to rehabilitate undernourished monk seals in medical facilities and then return them to the NWHI.

The four seals were collected at Midway Atoll, Pearl and Hermes Reef, and French Frigate Shoals. They will be fed herring and cared for over the next two months before being returned to Papahanaumokuakea, or the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Previously, scientists had to leave malnourished seals behind to fend for themselves, but now have a place to take them.

Last year, The Marine Mammal Center opened the first phase of Ke Kai Ola (The Healing Sea), a brand-new, $3.2 million facility in Kona that offers two newborn rehabilitation pens and pools, quarantine pen areas and two larger pens and pools for juvenile seals. The center, a non-profit group based in Marin, Calif. plans to add a medical lab, staff office, patient food preparation kitchen and education pavilion.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for monk seal recovery," said Charles Littnan, lead scientist for the NOAA Fisheries Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program. "In the past, we would have had to leave these animals behind in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and they would have almost certainly died. Now they get a second chance to live, grow and ensure the future of their species."

NOAA Fisheries recently deployed its annual monk seal recovery camps, in which teams of researchers monitor the seal population and help disentangle seals from marine debris. Field researchers will conduct their work at the camps until September.

Caring for and rehabilitating monk seals in captivity is no easy task, according to Marine Mammal Center and NOAA veterinarian Michelle Barbieri.

"Time is of the greatest essence, and these seals have a steep road ahead if they are to survive," she said. "Care for our new patients began the moment they were brought aboard the ship, and Ke Kai Ola will provide the healing environment to help them make it through the difficult weeks ahead. We will continue working around the clock to give these animals the medical support and nutrition the need before they are returned to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands."

Hawaiian monk seals, found only in the Hawaiian islands, are critically endangered, with a population hovering at about 1,100. Fewer than one in five Hawaiian monk seal pups in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands survive their first year due to threats like entanglement in ocean trash, changes in the food chain and predation. NOAA Fisheries is making efforts to slow the species decline.

To get updates, like the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program on Facebook.

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Male monk seal pup (BF02) at Pearl and Hermes Reef. Photo by Koa Matusoka/NOAA.

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NOAA scientists help transport a female monk seal pup at Pearl and Hermes Reef. Photo by Jon Brack/NOAA.

‘Opihi discoveries

July 5th, 2014
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Scientists are mapping and monitoring the ‘opihi population in the Northwestern Hawaiian Island and believe hybridization is occurring between the yellowfoot and blackfoot ‘opihi. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Scientists are mapping and monitoring the ‘opihi population in the Northwestern Hawaiian Island and believe hybridization is occurring between the yellowfoot and blackfoot ‘opihi. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Scientists on a recent expedition to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument have discovered a mingling of the yellowfoot and blackfoot ‘opihi on Mokumanamana. The good news is that the hybridization means ‘opihi, a prized delicacy in Hawaii, may be more resilient against the effects of climate change and other disturbances.

For the sixth consecutive year, members of the intertidal monitoring expedition examined the rocky shorelines of Nihoa, Mokumanamana and French Frigate Shoals. It involved walking, crawling, swimming and clinging to rocks to count, size and record all ‘opihi around the islands.

The data collected will provide good baseline information to compare with data being collected in the more populated main Hawaiian islands, according to NOAA acting deputy superintendent Hoku Johnson, who led the expedition. It will also be turned into spatial "heat maps" depicting ‘opihi abundance, size and species on each island.

In the main Hawaiian islands, ‘opihi is is serious decline.

Scientists are trying to better understand their spawning patterns, gene flow and the rate of evolution of the three species endemic to Hawaii to better manage shorelines near populated areas.

 

Sand Sifter Challenge

July 3rd, 2014
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SandSifterChallenge

Got creative design and build talents?

Then get ready for the first Ultimate Sand Sifter Challenge by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kupu. Both organizations are challenging contestants to design the ultimate sand sifter to remove microplastics from Hawaii's beaches. Microplastics, tiny pieces of broken-down plastic that wash ashore from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, are a hazard to marine animals that consume them.

If you've ever visited any windward Oahu beach, look down and what you may think are colorful shells are actually tiny pieces of plastic.

Deadline for online submissions is due Sept. 26.

Register with your name, affiliation, email, a phone number and then, simply, a drawing and description of your sifter design. The sifter must be human-powered (using no gas or fossil fuels) and should be designed and constructed for under $300, with an emphasis on reused, recycled and sustainable materials.

"Marine debris is going to continue washing ashore until we as global citizens drastically reduce our use of unnecessary plastics," said executive director Kahi Pacarro. "Until that time, in order for our beaches to remain the nicest in the world,  the public will need to #cleanyobeach! Sand sifters make our work easier and will promote newer ideas to make our work more efficient and educational."

Last summer, RevoluSun donated a sandsifter for a beach cleanup at Sandy's Beach. Check out their design.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii will announce the designs that have been green lighted Oct. 3. Participating individuals then have until Nov. 14 to build their sand sifters. The final competition will be held Nov. 15 at Kailua Beach Park. Winner gets $2,500 plus an additional $2,500 to build their sand sifter for partner organizations that clean Oahu's coastlines.

Can you design and build a sand sifter to separate out microplastics? Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Can you design and build a sand sifter to separate out microplastics? Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

NRDC's annual beach report

June 25th, 2014
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The Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on clean water at beaches across the U.S. is out. Hawaii had two that ranked among the 35 "superstars." Photo by Nina Wu.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on clean water at beaches across the U.S. is out, www.nrdc.org/beaches. Hawaii had two that ranked among the 35 "superstars" for water quality, but water pollution continues to be a problem in Hawaii and nationwide. Photos by Nina Wu.

First, the good news.

Two Hawaii  beaches – Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island and Po‘ipu Beach Park on Kauai —  made it to the Natural Resource Defense Council's list of 35 "superstar" beaches for consistently meeting water quality safety thresholds.

Now, the bad news.

Serious water pollution continues to be a problem at many  U.S. seashores, with massive stormwater runoff and sewage overflows being the largest known sources.

Ten percent of all water quality samples collected last year from 3,500 coastal and Great Lakes beaches in the U.S. contained bacteria levels that failed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's most protective benchmark for swimmer safety. So contamination levels at the nation's beaches remain essentially unchanged from last year.

Hawaii ranked No. 8  (out of 30), with samples exceeding the benchmark by seven percent in 2013. Want to know which beaches had the highest percent exceedance rates of the Beach Action Value (BAV) of 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units per 100 ml marine water in a single sample?

Waimea recreation Pier State Park (44 percent), Hanalei Beach Park (34 percent) and Lumaha‘i Beach (33 percent) on Kauai; Analani Pond (30 percent) on the Big Island; and Kahanamoku Beach in Honolulu (36 percent).

Hey! Wasn't Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki (the one near Hilton Hawaiian Village) recently ranked No. 1 by Dr. Beach? Go figure.

Now, the seven percent exceedance rate is actually an increase, the highest level to date, in the past five years, which generally hovered between 3 and 4 percent.

We all know that sewage overspill is a major problem at some of our most beautiful windward and North Shore beaches, and continue to be a problem. When the water's brown, stay out. The state department of health is hopefully posting warnings and advisories on a regular basis.

There are also 17 repeat offenders at beaches from California to New York that exhibit chronic water pollution problems. Luckily, none of those beaches were in Hawaii.

“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick. To help keep us healthy at the beach and stem the tide of water pollution, our government leaders can finalize a critical proposal – the Clean Water Protection Rule – to restore vital protections for the streams and wetlands that help sustain clean beaches.”

The results and full report are available in the NRDC's annual "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches."

You can also find your zip code on a searchable map at www.nrdc.org/beaches.

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Put Solar On It

June 20th, 2014
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RevoluSun recently installed the second phase of a 392.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Courtesy image.

RevoluSun recently installed the second phase of a 392.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Courtesy image.

Get ready, get sun — and put solar on it.

Celebrate solar power this weekend with the rest of the U.S. as part of the "Put Solar on It" campaign on Saturday, June 21, the summer solstice (longest day of the year). Cities across the U.S. are offering solar-related events.

The campaign is led by actor Mark Ruffalo, which asks the public to commit to putting solar on a building — whether it be your home, your school, place of worship or business. In return, Mosaic, the company known for crowdfunding solar panel projects across the country, will offer you the tools to make the project happen. Ruffalo has committed to putting solar on his children's elementary school this year.

Solar just makes so much sense in Hawaii, which has set a goal of achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030 as part of our Clean Energy Initiative. Hawaii has made some recent headway towards making this goal a reality.

Renewable Funding, based in Oakland, Calif. was recently selected to develop and manage Hawaii's "Green Energy Market Securitization" (GEMS) program, with the goal of opening the door to underserved markets.

GEMS will use $150 million in low-cost bond market funds in combination with other sources of private capital to finance the upfront cost of solar PV systems for thousands of residents and businesses in Hawaii. Financing is expected to begin in late 2014.

"The GEMS approach is a game changer — it allows residents and businesses to install clean energy improvements using the same kind of financing that had previously only been available for utility-scale facilities," said Renewable Funding CEO Cisco DeVries (also the founder of PACE). "We applaud Gov. Abercrombie, the Public Utilities Commission and the State Legislature for taking this ambitious step to expand the availability of clean energy in Hawaii."

The Blue Planet Foundation also launched Wefficiency to help non-profits obtain funds needed to become more energy-efficient, through crowdfunding.

A list of Top Community Places in Hawaii listed in the Put Solar On It campaign at joinmosaic.com/solar/hawaii include St. Andrews Priory, Aiea Public Library, Waipahu Intermediate School, Soto Academy and ‘Iolani School. You can vote to support any of these places online.

Solar has so much more potential in Hawaii.

Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai recently announced the installation of a new photovoltaic (PV) system that should save it about $217,000 a year in energy costs, and $7.6 million over the life of the system.

As for me, I'll be looking up at the sun on Saturday, smiling...

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