Category Archives: environment

Graffiti Art

Graffiti ArtGraffiti art or street art as I like to refer to these pieces, stirs feelings that range from awe to disgust in those that view it. Born out of the street punk movement dating back to the late 70's and early 80's in the subways of New York City, this was a statement by rebellious youth. Personally I don't condone the defacement of public or private property by illegal graphic expressions but on some occasions I am truly amazed at the artistry. So when I saw these pieces at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, I was quite captivated. Graffiti ArtAs timing would have it, the two artists responsible for this masterpiece (and one right around the corner) were just finishing up, Prime (on the right) and Estria (on the left). I half expected them to grab their spray cans and run as I approached but this was obviously a commissioned work. Prime holds classes at places like Palama Settlement to teach youth art technique and appreciation, mentoring and leadership development. The artist collective known as 808Urban works with kids in underserved areas like Kalihi. In addition to teaching art they work with communities to create mural art, the legitimized version of street graffiti. I've seen their work in various places like the Palama Settlement and a recent mural at Kokua Foods. Checking out Estria's Flickr site, he's got all kinds of work going on in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of it revolves around bringing graffiti artists together to showcase their work and to collectively work on murals like the Four Guardians in Oakland. It's very impressive, in-your-face, vibrant, "happy to be alive" expressions of creativity.

2009 in Review

As we welcome in the New Year 2010, I always like to look back at the previous year and celebrate the memorable moments that helped to define that year. As we transition from one year to the next I find it a good habit to acknowledge and be respectful of the past and to look with hope into the future. I usually post my Top 10 memorable moments as a blog post but this year I tried something a little different. I went out to Twitter and asked others to participate using the hashtag of #2009Top10. It was fun to see others recollect the year in review and come up with their significant moments. Mahalos go out to bitershark, Melissa808, NathanKam, PHOTOluluTV and CindyBlanknship for participating. If you are interested in reading the tweet stream just do a search on #2009Top10 or click here. If over time Twitter does not archive this tweet stream I've saved it as a Google doc. If you feel inspired to create your Top 10 memorable moments for 2009 please do. I encourage you to use the hashtag #2009Top10 and I will update the Google doc. Also as 2010 unfolds make every moment a special moment. The following is my reverse chronological thread of my Top 10 memorable moments in 2009. Wishing you all the best in 2010 - The Year of the Tiger!
  1. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks What are your Top 10 memorable moments for 2009? #2009top10 1 day ago from Tweetie
  2. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks What are your Top 10 memorable moments for 2009? Seeing the Star Trek Movie was one for me. Countdown to continue... #2009Top10 about 23 hours ago from web
  3. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks Next memorable moment following a somewhat chronological order is the 2nd Annual Unconferenz held over at JAIMS back in Feb. #2009top10 about 21 hours ago from web
  4. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks # 3 in my list of Top 10 memorable moments is when my Acura Integra died this year which lead to a new Acura TSX. It's all good. #2009Top10 about 20 hours ago from web
  5. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks Continuing the countdown # 4 is work related. It's the formation of the Innovation Team and HMSA 2.0. I consider myself superlucky #2009Top10 about 20 hours ago from web
  6. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks Going to @SXSW for the first time is # 5. I went to a great @guykawasaki party put on by @neenz and met the inspiring @sunnibrown #2009Top10 about 19 hours ago from web
  7. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks Going out on the escort boat to watch @rozsavage continue her trans Pacific solo row was my # 6 memorable moment. #2009Top10 about 18 hours ago from web
  8. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks Spending Summer Solstice on Kaua`i in a valley called Nualolo is # 7 It was a great place to spend the longest day of the year. #2009Top10 about 17 hours ago from web
  9. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks My # 8 is an aircraft carrier. How awesome was it to go out on the @USS_Nimitz? Very awesome! That was a signature moment for my #2009Top10 about 17 hours ago from TweetDeck
  10. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks The Wayfinder Series at HPR is # 9. We had Nainoa Thompson, James Koshiba and Paul Zorner on as speakers. Great storytellers. #2009top10 about 17 hours ago from Tweetie
  11. Burt120px_normal Bytemarks During our ride on the Hokule`a we were visited by A or Hawaiian Booby is my memorable moment # 10. In every moment a connection. #2009Top10 about 16 hours ago from web


HokuleaThis week of Thanksgiving is special for a number of reasons. Family and friends are always always top of mind but it is a time to take stock of the goodness that has come your way in 2009. It is also the start of the Makahiki season and a time to rejoice in rejuvenation of the land as the weather cools and the life giving rains green the islands. One of the things I felt very thankful for this week is having the opportunity to accompany the crew of the voyaging canoe Hokule`a on one of its training runs. It was a short run from Sand Island where the Hokule`a is docked out into the Pacific Ocean several miles south of Honolulu. Although the voyage was short, it gave me a sense of the strength and fortitude it took for the early Hawaiian voyagers to venture across the vast ocean. Once out on the ocean you immediately feel how small the canoe is. There is no sheltered cabin to speak of and sleeping quarters are just a small area in the hull protected by a flap of canvas. If you are not sleeping you are out on the deck in the raw elements of the ocean, winds, sun, rain and whatever nature throws your way. Extended trips on a traditional canoe like the Hokule`a are only for the most hardy. Hokule`aAs the sun set, we were blessed with a clear sky filled with stars. The crew gave a lesson in star navigation as the northeasterly trade winds kept the Hokule`a in constant motion. Hokupa`a, the North Star was precisely 21 degrees above the horizon. You can always tell what latitude you are in by charting Hokupa`a, as long as you are in the northern hemisphere. While out on the ocean you are treated to sights not common on land. We were visited by this Hawaiian Booby or `A as it stayed with us for several minutes flying back and forth wanting to land on our sails. The amazing thing is the `A normally lives in remote areas in sea cliffs. Since we were still south of Honolulu with the lights of Waikiki in constant view this Hawaiian Booby must have come a far way, perhaps living somewhere near Diamond Head or further east near Koko Head. With the moon in the background it was an amazing sight. The Hokule`a and it's crew are preparing for the World Wide Voyage starting in 2011. This practice run was one of many to train new crew members. In 2010 the Hokule`a goes into dry dock for major renovation and refitting for the upcoming long voyage. As I look back on 2009, this experience will be one I will always remember. Mahalo to Mei-Jeanne Watson and Nainoa Thompson for making this possible.

Wayfinder Series – Paul Zorner

Paul Zorner was our third speaker for the Wayfinder Lecture series held tonight at Hawaii Public Radio, Atherton studio. He spoke about how Hawaii's dependence on fuel and food from out of state sources is something we cannot sustain. At some point those external producers of both fuel and food will realize they need it to service their own people. The question is when that last barrel of oil comes to Hawaii will it be because we are self sufficient or will it be because it is needed elsewhere? How prepared will Hawaii be at that point. Most places on the US Continent have other sources of energy to tap; hydro, nuclear, solar, wind, etc. Ninety percent of Hawaii's energy needs are from external sources. Even if we had electric cars, we would still be burning oil to power our electric plants. Zorner's company Hawaii BioEnergy may have a solution. This is the third and last lecture in this Wayfinder series. It started with Nainoa Thompson in July, James Koshiba in August and finally with Paul Zorner. Many people asked me when will the next lecture be. We are looking at Summer 2010. We gotten a lot of positive response from attendees but always welcome your feedback. You may post your comments here and I can share them with the station. Finally, after three tries I got the webcast working. With Nainoa I have video of his talk which I need to compress and post. During James Koshiba's talk I lost Internet access but I do have audio which I will also post. You can watch Paul's talk in it's entirety via Stay tune as I work through my content backlog.

Native Hawaiian Snail, Not!

Update 9/19/09: The Discovery Channel website has since updated their Native Hawaiian Snail picture with an actual Achatinella photo. While researching news items for Bytemarks Cafe I came across this story on the Discovery website about rats devastating the Native Hawaiian snail population. Interesting story but I was taken aback by this photo supposedly depicting one of our native snail species. African Snail The snail in the photo is of the specie: Achatina fulica originally from East Africa, now common in Hawaii. These varieties can grow quite large and can quickly devour a home garden. The adult female carries hundreds of eggs allowing it to proliferate in Hawaii's tropical climate. During the wet winter season is when the African snail populations explode. Rats and African snails have coexisted in Hawaii for many generations and I don't detect any decrease in these snail populations due to rats. On the other hand the Native Hawaiian tree snails or Achatinella live exclusively in the native forests primarily feeding on a native fungus living on the leaves of the ohia or kopiko. This specialized diet keeps the Achatinella inexorably linked to the native forest. It takes about 7 years to reach reproductive maturity. At this point they will bear one keiki (baby) snail per year. Without any natural predators the Achatinella never adapted mechanisms against external threats as devastating as rats. I did contact the web team (via email) to point out their error. I got this message in reply from Viewer-Relations:
"We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write us and for bringing this matter to our attention.  Please know that we will take your comments under advisement."
As you can see the site has yet to be corrected. Of course I do this with the hope that accurate information about Hawaii is portrayed, especially as it pertains to our people, places and native ecosystem. Here's to hoping it gets fixed soon.

Roz Savage arrives in Tarawa

On the second leg of her trans-Pacific solo row which started in May 24, 2009, Roz Savage has landed on Tarawa in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. The 105 day voyage was initially thought to take about 70 days and land in Tuvalu. In late Aug, already low on water and food, slightly off course and dealing with uncooperative winds, Savage decided to change her target of Tuvalu and reset her sights on Tarawa. In her blog she writes:
"It seems to be my karma in this lifetime to be faced from time to time with tough decisions – and this one is up there in my Top Ten Tough Decisions Of All Time. I spent most of last night agonizing over it. The night seemed hotter than usual in my cabin, and I was – literally and metaphorically – sweating over my options."
The decision was a sound one. And although Tuvalu has received international attention about rising sea levels and loss of land, that fact is true in any of the Pacific Islands in that region, Tarawa being no different. This Pacific atolls are so fragile and the people living there are keenly aware of balance we need to maintain to keep it healthy and life sustaining. Roz will have a couple of weeks on Tarawa before regrouping and planning the final leg of her voyage to Australia. There must be a lot going through her mind now, relieved that this segment of the journey is complete, meeting the people of Tarawa, finding storage for her boat and equipment before her next voyage, attending the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in Dec. and finishing her book. This woman is a model for us all. Stay tuned as this journey isn't over.

Summer Solsitice (pt. 2)

Several days have gone by since spending the Solstice day at Nualolo on Kauai. Being back in the urban life of Honolulu it's easy to see the contrast of place. As obvious as it is, I am still processing what it all means. We live in the city but the brief moment we spend in the wilderness is full of sustainence. When going to a place like Nualolo, you will feel a connection with the land all around you, up close and personal. The photo to the right is of a fresh water spring in Nualolo. It typifies the life bestowing jewel of the valley. My friend Kelvin describes these experiences as gateways. These gateways could be physical, like swimming from one point to another, or hiking or entering a waterfall and then emerging from it. Gateways could also be spiritual, going from one level of consciousness to another. I'll give you an example. I am not a water person and don't take to the ocean as some of my friends. I have a lot of respect for the ocean and know how foreign it is to me. It could be characterized by fear but over the years I think I've dealt with it head on. Right now, it is more apprehension. There were sections of this trek that took us into some open waters. As I launched into the deep I could feel my body tensing up, my legs were getting tired and my breath became short. As I felt this fear welling up in me I realized there was nothing to be fearful of. I could see the spotters and the early morning swells were small. I let go and relaxed. My legs relaxed, my breath became steady and I enjoyed the moment. The beach landing was challenging as the waves crashed onto the boulders but I had already given into the moment and rode the waves in as best as I could. The less I fought the easier it got. The swim back was 6 hours later and after a long day of hiking. The afternoon trades were blowing and waves were bigger than in the morning. Again I could feel the apprehension welling up in me. When it was my turn to time the wave, I let go and slid out into the surf, like a monk seal as Kat would say. It was rougher in the afternoon, in all honestly the waters were very accommodating. When I landed I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had made it through another gate. The final gate was the zodiac ride from Nualolo to Port Allen. It was a solid hour on the open ocean with the zodiac going full throttle. I had one hand on the rail, one on the rope and sat on the zodiac side. It was like riding a bronco but there were times I felt like I was in 2001 - A Space Odyssey going through a votex in space. It was the wind, water and up & down ride that was so immersive. If that wasn't a gateway I don't know what is. As you can see there were many moments of transformation. An experience like this has helped me to understand myself, my connection to the land and to my fellow companions. I will be processing this for many days to come. More importantly, I will seek the linkages between the grounding I felt in Nualolo and daily life. It's all a state of mind.

Summer Solstice

June 21, 2009 marks the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is the tilt of the earth's axis that causes this long day and as soon as it happens we pass into a period of shortening days. It is the transition from one period into the next. For seven years, my friend Kelvin Ho made it a personal commitment to celebrate the solstice by taking a group of friends into a valley along the Na Pali coast of Kauai called Nualolo. Through this commitment, he and his wife Kat recognize and honor our Hawaiian ancestors who lived and drew sustanance from this land. This was the fifth year in the seven year commitment and the first opportunity for me to experience it. The trip would essentially take one day, to access Nualolo, trek into the valley, give a ho`okupu (offering) to the land and leave by night fall. It was appropriate to take full advantage of the longest day to embark on this epic journey. The day started with a 4am zodiac ride from Port Allen to Nualolo Kai State Park. By 5:30am we were dropped of in the ocean to swim about 50 yards to shore. That was the first gate. The next gate was a much longer swim across a point to access a boulder strune beach. Accessing a sandy beach with a shore break is one thing, but a shore break onto boulders is quite another. This view from the cliff above shows the boulders in the water but all sense of size is lost in the photo. Once on land we follow the stream deep into the valley. I was quite taken by the fresh water pools and waterfalls. Following the stream into the valley was like tracing a lifeline. Nualolo `aina was lush in vegetation. Much of it was non-native but was the occasional native plant, like alahe`e, naio, naupaka, and the Hawaiian poppy. I was quite amazing to see fresh water springs that tasted sweeter than any bottled water that I have ever had. We took a break at a kukui nut grove with six inches of kukui nuts on the ground. In ancient times, the kukui nut symbolized enlightenment. As I laid there I could feel a heightened level of energy even though outwardly it was very serene. We hiked all the way to the back of the valley that stopped at a sheer wall of rock. It was an awesome feeling to bare witness to the nature of the place.

Project Kaisei

Back on the Sept. 3, 2008 episode of Bytemarks Cafe, Ryan and I had a chance to talk to Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal about the Junk Kraft and their voyage into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This Pacific Gyre or Vortex is an area northeast of Hawaii where the currents swirl and collect the plastic garbage dumped into the ocean by the US and Asia. One year has passed and although we are a little more aware of the situation, not much has been done to clean it up, until now. Project Kaisei recently came onto our radar and is working toward a solution. We had Mary Crowley from Project Kaisei on Bytemarks Cafe this past week to get the update. The plan is to send a vessel into the Pacific Vortex and collect plastic garbage. The goal is to look at ways to convert the plastic into energy and fuel the disposal of the junk. According to the Project Kaisei website:

The Project Kaisei team will embark on a 70 day expedition to the “Plastic Vortex”, on a return voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii in order to

  • Study and document the mass of plastic in the ocean
  • Test catch methods for removing the plastic particles
  • Understand the needs required to undertake an eventual large scale clean-up of the waste material
  • Test technology for conversion into an economically viable by-product: diesel fuel.

If the Mission proves successful, and large volumes of plastic can be captured and processed, then a full clean-up operational plan will be initiated within 18 months.

Based on an article on Reuters this past May, the Honolulu Derelict Net Recycling Program is familiar with what it takes to dispose of recovered nets. It's a lengthy process to cut and shred the nets, remove metal and then converted to energy at the HPower plant. Their insights are helping Project Kaisei devise their strategy for the ocean waste disposal. It's quite a monumental task and one that will involve international cooperation.

Project Kaisei is aiming to raise $2M and based on their Facebook Causes page has a ways to go, at least from FB contributors. You can also join the Project Kaisei group on Facebook and follow Doug Woodring on Twitter.

Finally, an update on Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummings. They are on a Junk Ride from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico, part of the education program of Algalita Marine Reseach Foundation. And while Marcus and Anna are riding their bike down the west coast, Joel Paschal is on the reseach vessel Algalita heading, as we speak to the Pacific Gyre. I don't know if here is a rendevous in the making but obviously the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is generating a lot of needed attention.