Category Archives: communities

Super #TyphoonSoudelor creates havoc in Saipan

Saipan_typhoon_church Super Typhoon Soudelor made land fall on the island of Saipan, CNMI this past weekend, Aug 2 and 3, 2015. There is widespread debris, downed trees and island wide power outages. There were approximately 350 people displaced into shelters. Articles about the storm and its effect on the island are coming in from Huffington Post, Guam Pacific Daily News, New Zealand Herald and Surprisingly, Typhoon Soudelor got very little coverage in the Hawaii media. News directly from Saipan is very limited as well. Most tweets with #typhoonsoudelor seem to be from friends and relatives outside of Saipan sending their prayers and well wishes: This might be due to the fragile state of the island's Internet service. While I was there teaching a course on Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery, back in June 2015, Internet access was spotty at best in the classrooms where we conducted the training. Eventually the Commonwealth Utility Corporation will restore power and the Internet brought back online for Saipan. In the meantime, if you have any information or support services for the people of Saipan feel free to share it on this Facebook group called Saipan, CNMI Recovery Assistance. We found this tool was very useful when Hurricane Iselle impacted Hawaii Island. It is the least we can do to leverage the technology and hopefully help to quicken the recovery process.

SB1278 – Creating #Makerspaces in Public Libraries

Hearing of SB1278 with Senate Education Committee
Excited about the prospect of creating makerspaces in some of our public libraries, I submitted the following testimony and attended the SB1278 hearing by the Senate Education Committee.
I strongly support SB1278, Relating to Libraries. There is growing environment in Hawaii for entrepreneurship, startup formation and tech innovation, and makerspaces are fertile ground for idea sharing, capacity building and peer support. In an effort to build an innovation ecosystem, there needs to be places where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build. Makerspaces fill a void for people who have a great idea but need the support structure to help see that idea become a reality. A makerspace functions as a physical space where technological experimentation, hardware development, and idea prototyping can take place. You often find makerspace in academic environments. Local high schools like Kalani and Iolani have makerspaces for students to build projects. But once a student leaves school facilities like these are rare. Oahu has two notable makerspace, Oahu Makerspace in Kakaako and HiCapacity in Manoa. The libraries offer an opportunity to spread this capability to areas not currently served by existing commercial makerspaces. It also serves as a place where subject matter expertise from the community can participate in mentoring budding entrepreneurs and makers. Libraries seem a perfect place for makerspaces since they are already places for self-directed learning and knowledge sharing.
The committee passed the bill unamended:
The committee(s) on EDU recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes in EDU were as follows: 8 Aye(s): Senator(s) Kidani, Harimoto, Chun Oakland, Keith-Agaran, Kouchi, Nishihara, L. Thielen, Slom; Aye(s) with reservations: none ; 0 No(es): none; and 1 Excused: Senator(s) Dela Cruz.
Both Stacie Kanno, Interim State Librarian and I testified in person. The Senators were intrigued with the idea and asked questions like: Would librarians need to learn new skills to support a makerspace? What are some proposed models for the future of libraries? Will there be a day when libraries don't carry books? Do the libraries envision building dedicated wings for makerspaces? What libraries could be possible sites? Stacie did a great job expressing interest in the libraries embracing this idea which went over well with the Senators. I was there to speak for the support the libraries could tap for the makerspaces, in the form of mentors and subject matter experts. I emphasized the need for the libraries and the community to discuss how to best take advantage of this opportunity. Also as a pilot program how would this be evaluated and measured in the hopes that it could expand to more libraries. This might be a good topic for the upcoming Unconferenz 2015. I concluded my testimony by suggesting that libraries already have gigabit Internet access and this added benefit for the participants in the makerspace might yield interesting content projects. Also, if established they have a media friend in Bytemarks Cafe. The next step for SB1278 is to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee, date TBD.  Stay tuned for updates.

Hawaii Innovation Alliance: A voice for tech in Hawaii?

Hawaii Innovation Alliance Back in the 2012 legislative session, several poorly crafted Internet bills galvanized the local tech community to discuss how to respond. What resulted was a townhall meeting and a the formation of Facebook group for the Hawaii Innovation Alliance (HIA). It had all the good intentions to formally organize and provide a voice for Hawaii's technology community. Previous organizations like the Hawaii Technology Trade Association and the Hawaii Science and Technology Council had already come and gone, leaving a huge void for this nascent economic sector. (Note, these links for HTTA and HiSciTech are only stubs as their original website have been long discontinued.) Three years later, the HIA continues to survive primarily as a Facebook group, with online discussions motivated by key individuals like Jared Kuroiwa, Peter Kay, Derek Gabriel, Ryan Hew and others. Interestingly, the group has not met face-to-face to discuss plans to organize, although many of the individuals know each other -- until now.
Jared Kuroiwa, Jason Axelson, Sen. Glenn Wakai, Spencer Toyama, Burt Lum (l-r)
The question whether there is a voice for tech in Hawaii still remains. It came up repeatedly during a Hawaii Venture Capital Association lunch in January 2015. It was also a topic of conversation at the f2f gathering of the HIA. Jared Kuroiwa along with Robbie Melton, help moderated the discussion and summarized the following conclusions in the Facebook Group:
  1. Investigate having a "technology group" within the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii (or other organization).
  2. Look at if there are enough people wanting to form our own organization/501cX (pledge vote coming up).
  3. HIA will still track bills and will have a site set up to make it easier for people to find things.
  4. HIA will continue to work with other tech organizations to form a unified position. If you are a leader (or member) of other tech groups, please feel free to share.
Derek Gabriel made a strong case for #1. Consulting with Len Higashi (HTDC) and with strong support from Sen. Glenn Wakai, the idea of joining an existing business association like the Chamber made a lot of sense. The organizational structure already exists and credibility established. The Chamber already has an Economic Development and Innovation Committee. Companies and individuals only need to spend the money, somewhere between $150 - $300 to join. With case #2, Ryan Hew continues to be willing to provide the services, gratis I might add, to form a 501cX organization for the HIA. He has graciously offered this from day one and continues to do so. The challenge here, and probably the main reason it has not happened since that first meeting in Feb 2012 is that once the organization has filed the paperwork, the hard and laborious work begins. Maintaining a 501cX requires a dedication to administrative work that very few have the time or resource to commit to. So as much as an independent HIA as a 501cX is appealing, until someone steps up to work the day to day details, HIA will most likely continue as a Facebook group. With item #3, Jason Axelson volunteered to set up a wiki for the group. One complaint expressed was that information about the original charter for HIA was hard to find. It is scattered between the Facebook group and the website One good thing over the years is the Charter has remained consistent:
The Hawaii Innovation Alliance (HIA) aims to create a more unified voice representing the islands' innovation community (technology, startups, entrepreneurs, new and social media, etc.) to foster innovation, educate lawmakers, and advocate appropriate policy.
Finally, it may not be a bad thing to have HIA continue as loose gathering of individuals, dialoging on Facebook. The tech/innovation community speaks through many organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, High Tech Development Corp., Hawaii Venture Capital Association, Hawaii Business Roundtable and Enterprise Honolulu. Having one more formal organization may not be the most productive. What is productive is building an informed community well versed in the issues. HIA may not 100% of the time agree on which bills to support, but its individual participants can still submit testimony and that voice according to Sen Wakai is still a very valuable one.

Getting Ready!

disasterprepare Since September is National Preparedness Month, there seems to be an assortment of training opportunities to build your personal preparedness and community resilience. Over the course of last weekend there were three classes offered by different organizations. The first was from the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, for which I teach an occasional social media class. The class I took is a newly certified FEMA class called Natural Disaster Awareness for Community Leaders. The key is to plan ahead of time, assess the available resources in your community and the different vulnerability factors that exist within those communities. It's important to organize before the event of an emergency. The second class was Skywarn offered by the local NOAA office. This is an introductory class for anyone interested in being a weather spotter for the National Weather Service. The program won't qualify you to be a meteorologist but it will give you the basics in identifying thunderstorms and the associated cloud formations. By taking the class you get a Skywarn number and the fundamentals of reporting local weather phenomenon like hail, flooding and storm conditions. The third workshop is an essential for anyone who considers their pet a part of their family. The Red Cross offers this pet first aid class that gives you the basics to help your pet in distress. It is described as pet CPR. The lessons taught in this class could help you resuscitate your pet and give you the needed time to get to the vet. Good information to know in the event of an emergency and your pet will love you for it.

Rotary Global Peace Forum – Aung San Suu Kyi

Catching up on some belated posts, I especially wanted to bring attention to this event brought to us by the Rotary International. The keynote speech was by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Among many other awards, she also won the highest civilian honor in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is an amazing woman and I was fortunate to have the chance to hear her speech. The keynote was finally put online and it is well worth watching. There are many quotable moments but one that stood out for me was the following:
Compromise requires courage because compromise means letting go of your vanity. A lot of people do not compromise because they think it is a sign of weakness.  Compromise is a sign of strength… Compassion allows you to recognize that other people’s needs are as valid as your own.
We all need to find ways to work towards peace and compassion is a great place to start. The challenge is taking the words and turning them into action. We each need to find our own way. Ryan Ozawa and I had the honor and opportunity to share our thoughts on technology and peace at the Peace Forum earlier that day. I decided to share a meditation practice of mine in the hopes that others could find a way to discovery their own form of practice. It's finding out what resonates with you and turning that into action. You can find my presentation here. As an added bonus, here is Aung San Suu Kyi's speech and QnA with students brought together by the Hawaii Community Foundation and Pillars of Peace. In it she explains quite simply:
You have to learn to be at peace with yourself. To be at peace with yourself you have to face your weaknesses and you have to have enough compassion for yourself not to condemn yourself for these weaknesses. You have the courage to work at your weaknesses, to try to change yourself. Peace requires change and change requires a lot of hard work. And hard work requires commitment and courage.

Code for America Summit 2012

This video is of Jen Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America delivering the keynote address at the CfA Summit. It brings to light the movement we are a part of to help create a smarter government through civic engagement. I've talked before about the confluence of events that brought me to this point and to witness the intersection of all the people at the Summit is quite amazing. Personally, I will be sorting through all the information presented at the conference for some time to come. There were the personal contacts, civic accelerators, CfA Brigade members, videos to watch, links to explore and the myriad of ideas swirling around in my head. This CfA Summit experience is an incredible view into a movement that is happen across the country. In the video Jen talks about living in the intersection, on the boundaries of one environment to the next. This civic movement is the intersection between the monolithic, bureaucratic government and the lean, agile, civic hacker community. Technologies that brought us smartphones, the Internet and app development are scratching the surface of government, and assuming willing participants within government, we are seeing news ways of engaging and collaborating. Watch Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's speech as a mayor who gets it.  And as David Eaves, MC for the CfA Summit would say:
Code for America is not really about hacking code—it’s about hacking culture.
I'm not sure how much Honolulu appreciates this but with the help of CfA and the dynamic duo of Gordon Bruce and Forest Frizzell, we did a lot to hack the culture of the City & County of Honolulu. We did CityCamp Honolulu, Civic Hackathon, Geeks on DaBus, Honolulu Answers and now Hon*Celerator. We also brought design thinking into City government. Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going, regardless of who the next Mayor is. Have a great October and before we get into the frenzy of elections, enjoy the videos, photos and links from the CfA Summit.  

2012 New Year Calendar

New Year 2012 Historically, I usually get my new year calendar out at the beginning of the year. This year I had enough people nudge me by asking when my calendar was going to be ready. So in lieu of Xmas cards, here is my 2012 New Year calendar. I usually hand printed copies out personally since I find the face to face meaningful but in the off chance that I don't see you in the coming weeks, you are welcome to download a copy and print up as many as you wish. You might recognize some of the photos. The top photo is a sunrise shot of Diamond Head taken from the Kewalo end of Ala Moana Beach. It's usually when I finish my morning run that the sun just peaks over the horizon. The photo on the bottom left is a zen brush painting of a stylized character for dragon. 2012 is the year of the dragon so you can expect 2012 to be a dynamic year. In the middle is our daughter Mochi, sometimes referred to as Princess Mochi. She is half pug, half Tibetan spaniel. She welcomes me with all her heart when I come home. On the right is a ceramic piece my wife  Rochelle did of the Hindu deity Ganesh. He grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity. He also places and removes obstacles to keep us in check. I hope you enjoy this year's calendar. For my next blog post I am thinking about the top 10 things that made 2011 memorable. What made it on your list?