The 21st annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference started on Tuesday and continues today at the Hawai‘i Convention Center with another full day of forums, sessions and an afternoon symposium on feral cats. Field trips take place on Friday.
Yesterday, the conference hosted the "Community Connections" event, which was open to the public. I often wonder, with issues of conservation, how you reach out to people to make them care or how you reach people who aren't already actively involved in academic research or conservation work.
I think the answer is — with food. With good grinds, that is.
And there were long lines for good conservation grinds using local meats and produce by a stellar lineup of chefs who support the "eat local" movement including Ed Kenney of Town, Mark Noguchi of Pili Group, John Memering of Cactus Bistro, and others.
They used beef from Kualoa Ranch and Molokai, fish from VJ's Butcher Block and vegetables from various farms across Hawaii.
Peter Foster of Memoirs Hawai‘i made a melt-in-your-mouth, salted chocolate crunch bar from Waialua Chocolate grown on Oahu's North Shore sprinkled with "Goat Island Salt."
Daniel Anthony of Hui Aloha ‘Aina Momoma served up fresh pa‘i‘ai.
Not long after the food was served up, the conference offered a free screening of "Seeds of Hope," telling the story of Hawaii's return to local and traditional methods of growing food.
It's all connected — food, land, culture and conservation of Hawaii's natural resources through the choices we make every day.
As people mingled in the marketplace, plates of prosciutto-wrapped papaya, golden and red beets, savory mushroom tarts, and rosemary spears of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were served.
The conservation conference is a good time for people to reconnect, exchange ideas and reconfirm their commitment to conservation.
Conversations revolved around topics like Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Laysan albatross with bellies full of plastic and preserving farmlands.
It was neat to see that this is a crowd that brings their own bags and their own bottles to fill up at water stations.
It was a time to shop for native plants from Hui Ku Maoli Ola, the latest fashions by Kealopiko and artwork of Hawaii's beautiful landscapes and birds. The Hawaiian artisans of Aupuni Place were demonstrating everything from kapa pounding to lau hala weaving.
The title index shows a broad range of topics covered from a proposed protocol for surveying the Hawaiian hoary bat to sediment management techniques from Vanuatu which could have potential applications for Hawaiian coral reef protection.
This caught my eye: "A Tale of Two Invaders and Two Islands: Fountain Grass and Ivy Gourd on Maui and Lanai." Or how about "Cleaning Up with Kalo" and "The Ecology of the Pupukea tide pools and their value within a Marine Life Conservation District"?
By the way, July is Hawaii Conservation Month. So let the momentum can continue...