Archive for the ‘Community’ category

Live like Wonder Woman

July 4, 2017

I love superhero movies. I enjoy the extraordinary superpowers (I would choose telekinesis as my power), the fight for justice, and the struggle of good vs. evil. And I revel in the movie “Wonder Woman” (2017), with its blend of sword-fighting, optimism, and humor.

Diana (Wonder Woman) is a role model and inspiration for our times. chooses to be part of the world, instead of keeping separate from it in a Fortress or Tower. She takes a stand when she sees suffering and wrong-doing, instead of waiting for someone else to take action. She chooses to believe that people can be strong and capable, instead of weak and misguided.

We need more Wonder Women in the world, and we have to find her in ourselves.

Here are five ways we can all live like Wonder Woman:

1. Choose your future. We can challenge and improve ourselves in ways that don’t hurt anyone else. Though Queen Hippolyta forbids the young Diana to train as a warrior, Diana chooses to become a warrior anyway. Diana doesn’t want to be coddled or protected; she wants to belong in Amazon society and she wants to have a purpose in life.

2. Value the truth. We can make important decisions based on the most accurate information at the time, instead of relying on emotion or opinion. The Amazons use the Lasso of Truth to question Steve Trevor, instead of killing him outright. Bound by the lasso, Steve cannot tell a lie, and in fact is compelled to tell the truth. Only then do the Amazons – and Diana – decide how to act.

3. Believe that people are worth saving. We can choose to help people because that is who we are, whether they deserve it or not. In many superhero movies, humans are either villains or innocent by-standers, but we rarely see them as complex or flawed. At first, Diana believes in the innate goodness of humans. Later, when she sees that humans can choose to be evil, and wonders if they deserve to be saved, Steve reminds her that “It’s not about ‘deserve.’ It’s about what you believe.” Wonder Woman believes in us.

4. Lead from the front. We can be role models, inspiring others to challenge themselves or fight for a cause. For most superheroes, humans are only there to be rescued or to act as a support team. Diana does not prevent others from fighting for what they believe in. She trusts humans to fight beside her, acknowledging their strength and integrity, because she knows that she can’t do it alone and it is everyone’s fight.

5. Make the world better. We can take a stand when we see suffering and wrong-doing. Time and again, Diana takes action when people tell her that it is not her fight, that she doesn’t have a voice in the discussion, that she is only one person against an army. And when she is told that she needs to ignore the suffering of the people right in front of her and focus on the biggest threats, Diana proves that you can make things better for individuals and society.

How do you live like Wonder Woman?

A student design challenge for Honolulu rail

June 27, 2017

A few weeks ago, the University of Hawai‘i announced the winners of the “Make the Ala Wai Awesome” Student Design Challenge. The challenge generated ideas for improving the Ala Wai Canal in Honolulu, and engaged students in coming up with real-world solutions. Components of the project included flood mitigation, ecosystem restoration and preservation, community engagement, cultural connections, public private partnerships, and improvement of the visitor experience.

I love the idea of student design challenges. It is a bold and practical way to get students involved in the community, show them that they can make a difference, and to help them share their ideas for the future. It could also turn them into more involved citizens and voters.

I think we need a student design challenge for Honolulu Rail. With rail transit costs increasing, lawmakers unable to keep funding upwardly-revised budget estimates, voters burdened with high taxes and a high cost of living, the only ones who haven’t voiced an opinion are the students who will one day ride and pay for rail.

A “Make or Remake Honolulu Rail” Student Design Challenge would give students a choice: to build rail or stop rail contraction.

If students choose to build rail, they would need to come up with a plan to pay for it, including operations, maintenance, and repairs. Would students suggest raising taxes, adding tolls, or finding sponsors?

If students choose to stop rail construction, they would need to come up with a plan to re-purpose the existing columns and guide ways, use the land that has been purchased or condemned for rail, and Would students suggest building skyway bike paths, breezeway parks, or tiny homes?

Here’s what my 10-year old son had to say: “I think that we should finish rail. I believe this because rail is over 50% completed. If we would stop it and destroy it, the government would spend just as much money and time to stop it. If we complete it, we might be able to regain the amount of money we spent to construct it. We could also reduce the amount of fossil fuels used and greenhouse gasses.

How does he think we could pay for it? “We would pay for it by raising funds from other rail supporter organizations. Maybe the government and HART can make a deal with the citizens. I think that [we could do this] by raising the visitor taxes by 5%. 1% would go to an agreement of what the citizens want to be fixed. The 4% goes to the government and 3% of the 4% would go to help encourage organizations to be willing to help and support rail.  The extra 1% would be going toward to finishing rail.”

If the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), Hawaii lawmakers, and the City and County of Honolulu are struggling to keep rail going, do you think that students might help find more answers? After all, today’s students and their children will be paying for rail in the future.

 

Photo from Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Photo Gallery http://www.honolulutransit.org/connect/photos-videos. Clipart from http://all-free-download.com.

Comments on the draft O‘ahu General Plan

May 23, 2017

The Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) for the City and County of Honolulu is currently revising the 2002 General Plan that has been guiding O‘ahu’s long-range objectives and policies. The General Plan addresses the critical issues of growth, development, and quality of life that island residents are most concerned about, including regional population, economic health, affordable housing, and sustainability.

The O‘ahu General Plan covers 11 subject areas: Population, the Economy, Natural Environment and Resource Stewardship, Housing and Communities, Transportation and Utilities, Energy, Physical Development and Urban Design, Public Safety and Community Resilience, Health and Education, Culture and Recreation, and Government Operations and Fiscal Management. The objectives and policies are all based on the principle of sustainability in three key areas: environmental protection, economic health, and social equity.

The first public review draft was published in November 2012, after background research and community input. The second public review draft was released in February 2017.

I couldn’t make it to the public meeting on March 7, 2017 at McKinley High School. I didn’t have time to review the Oahu General Plan by the deadline to submit written testimony on May 8, 2017. I wish we had a just a little more time to submit comments, but I missed the deadline, so I thought I would share my comments here.

A removed Economy policy that we should keep:
Economy, Objective B, Deleted Policy 4: “Prohibit further growth in the permitted number of hotel and resort condominium units in Waikiki.” I believe this should remain a part of the General Plan. Waikiki is already at over-capacity, with overpowering hotels and condominiums, diminishing beaches, a lack of parking, and regular closures for parades and events. I think that further growth and expanded renovations are unsustainable.

A Housing policy that should be re-written:
Housing and Communities, Objective A, Policy 1: “Support programs, policies, and strategies which will provide decent homes for local residents at the least possible cost.” I object to “the least possible cost” stipulation because quality materials and craftsmanship are not cheap.

A Housing policy that needs a prerequisite:
Housing and Communities, Objective A, Policy 12: “Promote higher-density, mixed use development, including transit oriented-development.” RELATED – Physical Development and Urban Design, Objective A, Policy 4: “Facilitate and encourage compact, higher-density development in urban areas designated for such uses.” I think that we need to add a stipulation that infrastructure, utilities, schools, and open spaces can support higher-density developments. By open spaces, we need to think both horizontally (parks and landscaping) and vertically (open sky).

An Education policy that needs a broader definition of employment:
Health and Education, Objective B, Policy 1: “Support education programs that encourage the development of employable skills.” I think that public education has three broad goals: to get a job, to start a business, and to serve the community. To encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, this policy should be expanded to include self-employable skills and public service.

A Culture objective that is divisive:
Culture and Recreation, Objective A: “To foster the multiethnic culture of Hawai‘i and respect the host culture of the Native Hawaiian people.” and Policy 1: “Encourage the recognition of the Native Hawaiian host culture…” I think that the term “host culture” is divisive. If Native Hawaiians are hosts, then every immigrant and late-comer is a “guest,” invited or not, who may overstay their welcome.

A new Government Operations policy that we should consider:
Government Operations and Fiscal Management, Objective B, (new) Policy 4: “Provide for remedies/penalties for mismanagement and gross negligence of government programs.” While there is a nod to accountability in Objective B, Policy 3, the policy lacks power. Government officials need to be held liable for their actions  and inactions, beyond shuffling department heads or buying out contracts.

Ironically, Government Operations and Fiscal Management has the fewest number of policies (just eight, even with two new policies added).

What is your opinion of the revised O‘ahu General Plan draft? Which policies and objectives should be changed, added, or removed?

Benefits of joining a nonprofit board

May 16, 2017

There are so many ways to give back to the community, from fundraisers and clean-ups to volunteering, walking for charity, and cash donations. But few of us consider volunteering for as a board member. Maybe it seems like too much responsibility. Maybe we’re afraid to ask other people for donations. Maybe we think that we need to be wealthy or have a network of wealthy friends.

Nonprofit boards need more than just money to be successful. They need people with passion, commitment, and a vision for how the nonprofit can continue.

I’ve seen first-hand that if you can find a cause that you are passionate about and nonprofit board that is right for you, it’s a worthwhile commitment – not just for the nonprofit, but for you as well. I’ve been privileged to be part of small Hawaii nonprofit boards, as a member and as support staff, and I think that I am more confident in myself and feel more connected with the community.

Here are four benefits to joining a nonprofit board with a cause you truly believe in:

  1. Build relationships with people who share your passion. Joining a board helps you meet new people from different backgrounds who you might never have met before, and work together on a common cause. You could get to know your neighbors, meeting other community advocates, and form lasting friendships with other board members.
  2. Gain leadership experience. By participating in board meetings and committees, you can help make decisions that will affect the organization. Your “day job” may not give you many opportunities to be a leader and shape the future of an organization. The decisions you make on a board can lead to increased confidence at work and during business negotiations.
  3. Learn more about a cause or industry that you are already passionate about. As a board member, you will have opportunities to learn about running efficient meetings, creating effective programs, dealing with legal issues, and approving budgets, as well as gaining inside-information about statistics, trends, challenges, and opportunities about your chosen cause. Your expertise can make you an even stronger and more convincing advocate for your cause.
  4. Share your skills. You may have “hidden strengths” that are unrelated to your current job or may have big ideas that don’t fit with your current job position, boss, or company. By volunteering for committees and programs, you have more opportunities to share your skills or explore new talents. Board experience can make a difference to the community and your career too.

What causes are you passionate about? Have you ever volunteered as a board member? If yes, what has been your experience? If no, what would make you volunteer?

Exciting! Electrifying! days for readers

May 2, 2017

Exciting! Electrifying! Calling all Star Wars fans, book and music lovers, and comic book readers! Be prepared for an amazing week.

First, there’s… May the Fourth, aka Star Wars Day, a day to celebrate all things Star Wars. Dress up as your favorite Star Wars character. Stay up for a Star Wars movie marathon. Read your favorite Star Wars book (my 10-year old son’s recommendation: “Lost Stars” by Claudia Gray). Indulge in Vader taters, Wookie cookies, and Yoda soda. Practice your lightsaber moves.

Followed by… Free Comic Book Day. From the nostalgic (Archie and Underdog) to the futuristic (Avatar and Dr. Who), for kids (SpongeBob) and kids of all ages, there’s a comic book for everyone! On Saturday, May 6, stop by a Hawaii public library and get a free comic book. Show your HSPLS library card at a Hawaii public library in Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Hilo, Kahului, Kailua, Kailua-Kona (students, dress for the Cosplay competition!), Kapolei, Kihei, Lahaina, Lanai, Liliha, Makawao, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Princeville, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, Wahiawa, Waimea (Thelma Parker Memorial), and Waipahu. Check with specific libraries for special activities.

Wrapping up with… the Hawaii Book and Music Festival, May 6-7 in Honolulu. Immerse yourself in book readings, author signings, panel discussions, storytelling, music, hula, food demonstrations, and more. Trade your gently-used books at the Book Swap. Bring folding chairs or mats to sit on the lawn and soak up the entertainment. Let kids work off their energy in the Keiki Zone. A fun idea would be to have a round-robin storytelling, with a group of people pitching in to create an unexpected, one-of-a-kind story!

What books, comic books, or graphic novels are you reading? Which historical, futuristic, or fictional world do you wish you could live in?

Should doctors write job prescriptions?

April 25, 2017

Last month, news of Hawaii’s homeless challenge gained national attention on HBO’s Vice News (Hawaii News Now, 3/30/17). The 5-minute segment spotlights that “Hawaii legislators are debating whether to classify homelessness as an illness and housing as a treatment. (via HBO).” This Vice News report is not the kind of attention that Hawaii wants, but maybe it’s the attention that Hawaii needs.

Correspondent Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani interviewed four people to get their perspectives on the proposal to redefine homelessness as a medical condition. Gary Grinker, who is chronically homeless and has a heart condition; he visited the emergency room 241 times in 2016, costing taxpayers $1.2 million in healthcare. Senator Josh Green, who introduced a bill to redefine chronic homelessness as a disease and allow doctors to write prescriptions for housing. Representative Bob McDermott, who believes that Hawaii has “turned the safety net into a hammock.” And Dr. Daniel Cheng, an emergency room doctor at Queen’s Medical Center, which handles two-thirds of all homeless encounters in Hawaii.

I had three successive reactions to the news report.

First, doctors’ first responsibility is to take care of patients’ physical and mental health. A “prescription” for housing would probably involve time filling out forms and coordinating with social workers – time that doctors need to help patients.

Second, having a home may not make people more responsible for their health or reduce emergency room visits. It may even exacerbate health conditions, if people have health emergencies in their home and are unable or unwilling to seek help.

Third, if a solution to rising healthcare costs and chronic disease were housing, we would have more people living in shelters and healthier people at home. But in Hawaii, an alarming 82% of adults have at least one chronic disease or condition and 53% have two or more chronic diseases (heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, asthma, disability, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or obesity), according to the Department of Health’s “Chronic Disease Disparities Report 2011: Social Determinants.”

Instead of a “prescription” for housing, maybe doctors should write a “prescription” for a job.  Research shows that employment increases health status and healthy people are more likely to work, according to a Lead Center Policy Brief, “The Impact of Employment on the Health Status and Health Care Costs of Working-age People with Disabilities” (2015).

“Work is at the very core of contemporary life for most people, providing financial security, personal identity, and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to community life,” according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) factsheet, “Facts about mental illness and work” (1999).

A job gives people dignity as well as a paycheck. Doctors can assess a person’s physical and mental ability to work, and offer a referral to an employer – who could assess their skills, experience, and trustworthiness.

Do you think that we can reduce healthcare costs by prescribing housing? Could having a job help people be healthier?

Celebrate Earth Day 2017

April 18, 2017

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and year-round with events, beach clean-ups, recycling, and more. This year, Earth Day spotlights Environmental and Climate Literacy. Let’s all educate ourselves, take action, and make small changes to be better stewards of Hawaii.

Enjoy an Earth Day event in Honolulu

  • On Wednesday, April 19, attend the Earth Day Festival at University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa Campus Center, 10 am to 3 pm. On Friday, April 21, stop by Earth Fest ’17 at Kaiser High School, 1:30 pm to 8 pm. On Saturday, April 22, participate in the free Mauka to Makai Environmental Expo at the Waikīkī Aquarium, 9 am to 2 pm. On Sunday, April 23, go to the Earth Day Weekend Service and Green Fair, 9:30 am to 1 pm, at Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin.

Clean our community by getting dirty around Oahu

There are so many opportunities help clean our beaches, improve our schools, and help with planting. Remember to bring a reusable water bottle, use sun protection, wear closed toe shoes, and choose clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

  • On Saturday, April 22: Volunteer for the Pūpūkea Paumalū Community Work Day, 9 am to 11 am at Sunset Beach Elementary School, helping to restore the trail from Sunset Beach Elementary School to the pillbox. Meet in the SBES lower parking lot. Contact tim@northshoreland.org for details. Join the Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi Earth Day Event, 9 am to 2 pm at Waimānalo Bay Beach Park. Buses begin departing at 9:30 to different locations nearby. Help out at the Garden of Eden Community Workday, 9 am to 1 pm, Blanche Pope Elementary School, Waimānalo, to help spread mulch and plant trees.
  • On Sunday, April 23: Show your love of nature at the Waimea Valley Workday, 9 am to 3 pm in Waimea Valley. Volunteers are needed to help with native planting, invasive species control, and a new sediment control project on Kalaheʻe Ridge. Email Laurent to RSVP.

Learn about litter, illegal dumping, and environmental enforcement

  • On Tuesday, April, 25, attend the Hawai‘i Environmental Court Workshop, 1 pm to 5:30 pm, at the UH Mānoa Richardson School of Law. The workshop is free and open to the public and will focus on “O‘ahu Litter, Illegal Dumping and Community Environment Enforcement.” Register online.

Clean up your clutter

  • Drop off recyclables, gently used items, and more at the Going Green event on Saturday, April 22, 9 am to 1 pm, at Kapolei High School; and at the Aloha ʻĀina Recycling Drive on Saturday, April 29, 9 am to noon at Moanalua Elementary & Middle School.

Mālama the Honolulu Zoo

  • On Saturday, April 29, attend the Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and help pull weeds and plant seeds at the Children’s Discovery Forest Work Day, 9 am to 11 am at the Honolulu Zoo. Meet at the Honolulu Zoo’s Gate #6 across the Waikiki Shell parking lot at 8:30 am. Then spend the afternoon at the Zoo.

Bring your own bag (BYOB) to Foodland

  • When you shop at Foodland and bring your own bags, Foodland is offering customers a $.05 bag credit or 3 Hawaiian Miles for every bag used. During April 2017, you can choose to donate your $.05 bag credit to the Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation.

Plan your own Earth Day event

  • Host an Earth Day barbeque or picnic at the beach – any day of the year. The Earth Day Network offers a free downloadable Earth Day Action Toolkit to help you organize and coordinate Earth Day events in your community.

How will you celebrate Earth Day?