Archive for August, 2012

Minds in the water

August 24th, 2012
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September is just around the corner — meaning dolphin slaughter season starts up again in Taiji, Japan.

If you love the ocean and the creatures in it, then "Minds In The Water," a feature-length documentary following the quest of professional surfer Dave "Rasta" Rastovich, is for you.

The film screens at 7 p.m. Monday (Aug. 27) at TheVenue, BambuTwo, 1146 Bethel St., sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation, Oahu Chapter.

Watch firsthand how one surfer's quest to protect dolphins and whales blossomed into a movement of like minds.

Rastovich goes on an international journey to help protect dolphins, whales and their ocean environment. His five-year journey takes him from Australia to the Galapagos Islands to Tonga, Alaska and Japan.

While unsure at first, Rastovich quickly found his activist sea legs and helped build a core team of filmmakers, journalists, musicians, eco-pirates, celebrity surfers and a professional mermaid to help spread the message. Others who make an appearance in the film include Hanna Fraser, Isabel Lucas, Jack Johnson and Kelly Slater.

The film, produced by the Saltwater Collective, captures a key moment in Rastovich's life — when apathy is no longer an option.

Stay after the screening for a post-film discussion with Surfrider Foundation members.

You can check out the preview at mindsinthewater.com/media.php. Sign the visual petition.

Cost is $10 ($5 for student) at the door. Call 436-4326 for more information.

Gore Climate Reality training for 11-year old

August 24th, 2012
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Blue Planet Foundation director Jeff Mikulina with UH Lab School student Chris Pascua, who has been selected to participate in Al Gore's climate training. Courtesy photo..

Blue Planet Foundation director Jeff Mikulina and UH Lab School student Chris Pascua point to Hawaii on a world map. Pascua was selected to participate in Al Gore's climate training this week. Blue Planet helped sponsor his trip. Courtesy photo.

UH Lab School student Chris Pascua, 11, was among the youngest attendees at this week's North American Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in San Francisco.

The program — as well as The Climate Reality Project — was developed by former U.S. vice president and Nobel Peace prize winner Al Gore. Chris was one of about 1,000 participants selected from throughout the globe to participate in the three-day training session this week.

He was nominated by the Blue Planet Foundation, which helped sponsor his trip. Blue Planet was impressed by Chris's remarkable ability to engage an audience when he spoke at a youth energy rally at the state Capitol last year.

Attendees are trained to help spread the call to action on climate change as well as help communities understand the reality of the climate crisis with the most current information.

Pascua met Gore and shared what he learned via Skype on Wednesday with Hawaii News Now.

Yao's Journey to Africa

August 17th, 2012
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Former NBA star Yao Ming inspects the corpse of a poached elephant in northern Kenya. Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid.

Former NBA star Yao Ming inspects the corpse of a poached elephant in northern Kenya. He is on a fact-finding mission with WildAid as part of a campaign to reduce the demand for ivory products in China. Photo credit: Kristian Schmidt for WildAid.

Former NBA basketball star Yao Ming — who last played for the Houston Rockets — is on a journey in Africa.

He's in Africa for the first time with international conservation group Wild Aid, where he's come face to face with some of the world's most majestic species — including the elephant and the rhino.

He and Wild Aid are on a fact-finding mission documenting the poaching crisis these creatures face as a result of growing demand for ivory and rhino horn products. It's also part of a campaign to reduce the demand for ivory product in China, the main destination for illegal ivory.

Yao Ming at Samburu National Reserve with staff from Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch. Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid from yaomingblog.com.

Yao Ming at Samburu National Reserve with staff from Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch. Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid from yaomingblog.com.

Since 2008, elephant poaching has been on the rise, according to Save the Elephants and the Kenya Wildlife Service.

After seeing the gruesome sight of the poached elephant on the ground, Yao's latest blog post details a trip to the Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu National Reserve, where he encounters the majestic elephants alive, up close and personal, including a baby elephant.

"Suddenly, I realize that between 3 medium-sized elephants is a tiny baby lying down resting, her sisters towering over her, positioned in a protective triangle," he writes in his blog. "I can already see how these animals watch out for each other and are a close-knit family...the more I learn and observe, the more I realize how much they share with humans – lifespan, adolescence, family bonds and emotions...So many of these animals have been lost to the poacher's bullet, and yet they still trust us, allowing us to be a part of their lives."

You can follow Yao's journey through Africa at yaomingblog.com.

To learn more about what you can do, visit Save the Elephants and Wild Aid.

87,500 better bulbs

August 13th, 2012
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Students from Kahului participated in Blue Planet's "Better Bulb" blitz, in which incandescent bulbs were swapped for more energy-efficient CFLs for free. Photo courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

Students from Kahului participated in Blue Planet's "Better Bulb" blitz, in which incandescent bulbs were swapped for more energy-efficient CFLs for free. Photo courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

The Blue Planet Foundation's "Better Bulb Blitzes" program has resulted in about 87,500 CFLs that have been swapped for incandescent bulbs over the past several months.

School and community groups from Maui, Hawaii island and leeward Oahu helped replace more than 85,000 incandescent light bulbs with the more energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Collectively, the use of those CFLs is expected to save residents about $13.6 million.

A CFL uses about 75 percent less electricity than a conventional bulb. On Hawaii island, that translates into a lifetime savings of about $160 per bulb (assuming the cost of electricity there is about $0.43 per kilowatt hour).

Blue Planet provides the bulbs at no cost to schools, clubs, athletic teams and other community groups as fundraisers, paying between $0.40 and $0.50 for each incandescent bulb swapped, in addition to an orientation on energy efficiency.

Groups that exchanged the most bulbs include: the Waiakea Pirates softball team on Hawaii island (7,000 bulbs), Civil Air Patrol - Kihei Squadron on Maui (4,250 blubs) and Ka Waihona o Ka Na‘auao Charter School (3,060 bulbs) in Waianae, Oahu.

Community members who brought 10 or more bulbs to swap were entered in a prize raffle — and the prizes weren't shabby. They included a high-performance Giant bicycle from McCully Bicycle and an iPad2.

Blue Planet partners Hawaii Energy, DBEDT, Island Movers, GE and McCully Bicycle helped support the CFL fundraisers.

Greening the Kaimuki Y

August 9th, 2012
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The RE Project: The Extreme Green Makeover team talks to 3rd- and 4th-graders at Kaimuki Y about energy efficiency.

The RE Project: The Extreme Green Makeover team talks to 3rd- and 4th-graders at Kaimuki Y about energy efficiency. From L to R, Punahou grads Devon Nako, Colby Sameshina, Julian Juarez, Gordon Lai and students at the Y.

Before heading off to college in a few weeks, six students who recently graduated from Punahou will have made an impact on the Kaimuki Y on Waialae Avenue and students there.

The "RE Project: The Extreme Green Makeover" was part of a project for the Student Global Leadership Institute last summer. The theme last year was energy; this year it's health.

Their initial goal was ambitious.

They were aiming to completely retrofit the Kaimuki YMCA into a model for sustainable living, complete with solar heating systems, energy efficient appliances and lighting. They bartered with companies to supply some of these items, seeking to make a trade.

The list included a solar PV system, a solar pool water heater, Energy Star fridges, LED lamps and CFLs, energy efficient stove, power strips, auto-flush toilets and other green technology.

The four parts of the project were to 1) contact people in the community 2) complete an energy audit 3) retrofit and renovate the Y and 4) promote and educate.

Darren Kimura, president of Sopogy, volunteered to complete an energy audit of the Y last fall.

Hawaii Energy stepped up to the plate and offered some of the items in exchange for every additional 1,000 likes the team brought to its Facebook page. So an e-gauge is now part of the deal.

Just last week, the students were back at the YMCA talking to third- and fourth-graders about energy efficiency. They talked about oil and where it comes from (not anywhere in Hawaii), ways to save energy at home and what an EnergyStar appliance is.

Students, donning green hats, walked around the facility to hunt for high-energy users at the Y, identified by a paper lightning bolt. They looked at air-conditioners, the refrigerator and computers. What part of the Y uses the most energy? Turns out it's the swimming pool.

To demonstrate the difference between an incandescent light bulb and CFL (compact fluorescent light), student volunteers went up to turn a hand crank. It takes a lot more cranking to get the incandescent bulb to turn on, much less effort to turn on the CFL. They learned what a smart strip was, and how it could save energy if devices are plugged into one that shuts off automatically at night. They even learned a little bit about global warming, beach erosion and sea level rise.

Kaimuki Y student colors a page with a tip on how to save energy at home.

Kaimuki Y student colors a page with a tip on how to save energy at home.

Afterwards, students colored pages with suggestions on how to save energy, like: "Turn off lights when not in use" and "Remove plugs when not in use" to laminate and take home.

Noa Hussey, the Y's branch executive, said the facility is exploring ways to become more energy efficient and cut back on energy costs. Some of that can happen with simple steps and others might take more investment and time to accomplish. The gears have started rolling, thanks to the project.

"The Y is about youth development, healthy living and social responsibility," said Hussey. "So this is actually the socially responsible thing to do."

Hawaii Energy agreed to supply an e-gauge, which helps monitor how much energy is being used in the facility - but it may take some time before it gets installed. The team is still anticipating that it will obtain a solar heater for the pool and replace the fridge and freezer in the kitchen with EnergyStar appliances.

What they certainly have accomplished is a new way of thinking and increased awareness among students and staff at the Y.

Though the students won't be passing on the project, they've jumpstarted something positive and hopefully it will continue — and they'll go on to make positive changes in the world. All are interested in sustainability for the future.

Gordon Lai heads to UC Berkeley to study business, Colby Sameshina will pursue environmental studies at Tufts University, Devon Nako studies business (with a possible focus on the green energy sector later on) at Creighton University and Julian Juarez heads to Willamette University. Whatever they do later in life, they'll make a difference.

For updates on the RE Project, visit the Extreme Green Project Facebook page.

A new garden for Keone‘ula Elementary

August 7th, 2012
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HECO volunteers and students prep the soil for native Hawaiian plants at Keone‘ula Elementary School. Photo courtesy HECO.

HECO and IBEW Local 260 volunteers prep the soil for native Hawaiian plants for the new garden at Keone‘ula Elementary School. Photo courtesy HECO.

There's a new garden at Keone‘ula Elementary School in Ewa Beach.

Every new school garden should  be celebrated.

This one features native Hawaiian plants and vegetables, comes with its own irrigation and sprinkler system, along with a walkway and  bench. School officials envision the garden as a place to foster learning about native Hawaiian plants, agricultural practices, environmental resources and sustainability.

It even has a name — Ka Uluwehi o Ka Na‘auao — which means "place where beautiful plants thrive."

Volunteers from the Hawaiian Electric Co. and members of IBEW Local 1260  last weekend helped students and teachers and members of the community create the garden. HECO provided the native Hawaiian plants from Hui Ku Maoli Ola, while the Haseko Corp. donated soil. Leeward Community College also donated native plants from its campus garden.

Hopefully, the garden will continue to flourish and grow.

Keep Magic Island barefoot friendly

August 6th, 2012
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Help Barefoot Wine and the Surfrider Foundation keep Magic Island barefoot friendly on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Help Barefoot Wine and the Surfrider Foundation keep Magic Island barefoot friendly on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Calling one, calling all beach lovers to volunteer for a cleanup at Magic Island from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 11.

It's actually going to be fun, given that it's part of the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project (in its sixth year), hosted by Barefoot Wine and the Surfrider Foundation.

The Magic Island cleanup will be one of 25 held nationwide — from Santa Barbara, Calif. to South Carolina and Miami Beach. Look for the Surfrider tent when you get there.

Afterwards, all participants 21 and over are welcome to a celebration from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Dave & Buster's at Ward Centers for wine and a chance to win surf prizes.

The event is free and open to the public. Follow @BarefootWine on Twitter or #beachrescue to join the conversation.