Archive for the ‘Community’ category

Three ways to celebrate books, music, Star Wars, and comics

April 30, 2019

This Saturday, May 4, fans of books, music, Star Wars, and comic books can indulge in a trio of celebrations.

May 4th (and 5th) is the Hawaii Book and Music Festival. This free celebration of books and music is fun for people of all ages, backgrounds and tastes. In addition to author talks, book swaps, keiki entertainment, storytimes, and musical performances, there are presentations and panel discussions about Hawaiian culture, Humanities/Breaking News, and Wellness.

May 4th is also Star Wars Day, “May the Fourth Be With You”. “May the 4th be with you.” What started as pun shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away. Have a fan-tastic day by dressing up as your favorite Star Wars character, indulging in “Yoda Soda” with “Wookie Cookies,” and watching your favorite episode or reading your favorite Star Wars book.

And May 4th is Free Comic Book Day, the biggest celebration of comic books and a great time to discover new types of comics! It’s the perfect time to read new comics, get kids involved in reading, and have fun as a community. This year, there are 51 comics to choose from, including titles from Minecraft & Disney’s The Incredibles, Little Lulu, Bob’s Burgers, The Amazing Spider-Man, My Hero Academia, Star Wars Adventures, and more. Tag your photos #FCBD19 to help get Free Comic Book Day trending.

Here’s a list of participating public libraries:

  • Oahu – Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Nanakuli, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Wahiawa, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, and Waipahu. At select Oahu libraries, costumed characters from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii, and Costumers Guild of Hawaii will be appearing. Check your local library for appearance times.
  • Hawaii Island – Hilo, Kailua-Kona, and Thelma Parker. At the Hilo Public Library, 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, kids can make their own comic book and playing card.
  • Kauai – Hanapepe and Princeville.
  • Lanai – Visit the Lanai Public & School Library’s booth at the Saturday Market (front of Cafe 565) from 8-11 a.m.
  • Maui – KahuluiKiheiLahaina, and Makawao. At the Kihei Public Library, 10 am to 12:30 pm, meet comic book artist and author of Draw-a-Saurus James Silvani.

I plan to pick up a free comic book and volunteer at the Book and Music Festival (first time!), so maybe I’ll see you this weekend. Which celebrations will you choose?

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Celebrating Earth Month 2019

April 23, 2019

On April 22 we celebrated Earth Day 2019, a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

This year, the focus is on “Protect our Species.” Earth Day Network reminds us: “A vast number of animals and plants have gone extinct in recent centuries due to human activity, especially since the industrial revolution. Many others are in serious decline and threatened with extinction, which affects genetic variation and biodiversity, among other issues.”

We only have one earth. Especially here in Hawaii, we understand how precious and fragile the earth can be.

There is still time to get involved, help out, or give back to the earth. Here are a few events throughout the rest of Earth Month 2019 in Hawaii:

* April 23: UH Manoa Earth Day Festival, 10 am to 5 pm, UH Manoa Campus Center Courtyard and iLab,  Oahu. “He Aloha Ka Mauli Ola O Ka ʻĀina: Aloha is the lifeforce of the land” features over 40 campus and community organizations, live music, repurposed art, sustainable business, activities, speaker series, and more. Free and open to the public.

* April 23: Earth Day in the Park, 4 pm to 6 pm, Riseley Field on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Oahu.

* April 25, Hanauma Talks Seminar, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm, Hanauma Bay, Oahu. This free seminar is about “Caring for O‘ahuʻs manu-o-kū: it takes a hui!” with Rich Downs, Hawai‘i Audubon Society.

* April 26: UH Hilo Earth Day Fair, 8:30 am to 1:30 pm, UH Hilo Campus Center Plaza and Library Lanai, Hawaii Island. The Earth Day celebration will include educational videos, informational exhibits and science demonstrations, guest speakers, a food sustainability panel, environmental science skill-building workshops, dances, hula, storytellers, face painting, campus garden tours, an environmental career fair, unmanned aerial vehicle flight simulators and more.

* April 27: Going Green, 9 am to 12 pm, Nuuanu Congregational Church, Oahu. This is a free collection event of unlimited e-waste, including computers, monitors, printers, recyclables, gently-used items, canned goods, and more.

April 27: Aloha Aina, 9 am to 12 pm, Kalihi Waena Elementary School, Oahu. This is a free recycling drive hosted by the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, accepting all types of scrap metal, electronics and computers, used cooking oil, gently-used household items, and more.

* April 27, Pūpūkea Paumalū Community Work Day, 9 am to 11 am, Sunset Beach Elementary School, Oahu. Join North Shore Community Land Trust  to help maintain the trail. Meet at the hiking trail entrance at the Sunset Beach Elementary School lower parking lot. Wear closed toe shoes, bring a reusable water bottle, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. All tools, gloves, snacks and water refills will be provided. Contact tim@northshoreland.org to RSVP.

* April 27: Earth Day Manoa Stream Cleanup with the Surfrider Foundation, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, 2645 Dole Street, Oahu.

* April 28: Kōlea Farm Volunteer Workday and Dinner Potluck, 1 pm to 6 pm, Kōlea Farm, Oahu. Come prepared with working pants, long sleeves, a hat for sunny days, garden gloves, bug spray, and your happy soul. Potluck Dinner is open after the work time; bring a side dish or pupus to share. RSVP online at Kolea-Farm.com.

And here’s one more way you can help:

* Volunteer for the Marine Debris Solutions Project. B.E.A.C.H. sorts macro and micro plastic marine debris in order to find solutions to the problem of marine debris. Volunteers are needed from now until August, Monday to Friday, 9am – 12noon or 2pm -5pm and some Saturdays and Sundays. No experience is needed. Volunteers are welcome on any day in Kaneohe. To register, call 808-393- 2168 or email beach_org@yahoo.com with the date/s you would like to help, at least 2 days before.  This hands-on activity is suitable for ages 15 years and older.  Service learning and internships are also available.

How do you celebrate Earth Day? What small changes can you make today to reduce, re-use, recycle, re-plant, and re-purpose?

Hope, help, and healing to prevent suicide

April 16, 2019

Anyone can be at risk for suicide. We all have sources of strength. And it’s strong to get help.

These messages of hope, help, and healing are what I took away from the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Statewide Conference last week, April 11-12, 2019.

Organized by the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Taskforce (PSHTF), the Conference was sponsored by organizations such as EMS and Injury Prevention System Branch of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, the Department of Psychiatry under the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Hawai‘i Chapter.

I work for a local mental health nonprofit, and I was fortunate to be a resource table volunteer. During the Conference, I spoke with passionate advocates, educators, and service providers. I learned about the resources that are available for people in crisis. And I was inspired by West Oahu and neighbor island youth who are committed to prevent suicide in their schools and communities.

The Conference opened with a keynote by Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Moutier emphasized that the stigma of mental distress is going down and talk saves lives – for those at risk and for survivors of suicide loss. “Everyone struggles,” she stated. “It’s strong to get help.”

There were five breakout sessions and five different “tracks,” covering Hope (primary prevention), Help (intervention and treatment), Healing (postvention and survivor supports), Special Topics and Populations (Micronesian, Military, Filipino, and LGBTQ populations), and Culture (Hawaii and Pacific Islands).

For me, the most moving point came at the Fight For Each Other (F4EO) break-out session. Speakers for the F4EO Project share how suicide affects the lives of military members, their friends, family, and co-workers. Col. Robert Swanson shared his personal story of healing and recovery. “It always gets better – but only if you stick around,” he asserted.

The most impressive part of the Conference was the Youth Leadership Council. These motivated youth shared some of the results of their training, including identifying sources of strengths – such as family support, positive friends, and healthy activities. Youth facilitator Deborah Goebert, DrPH summed it up when she said, “Go out and inspire each other.”

The Conference closed with an address by Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green, who shared his personal story as a survivor of suicide loss. “It took us years to realize we shouldn’t blame ourselves for missing the signs,” he revealed. Dr. Green concluded with words of encouragement: “We have an incredible capacity to help each other.”

Suicide Prevention Resources:

  • ANYONE in crisis can call the 24-hour National the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Veterans, call 800-273-TALK (8255) and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line or text to 838255.
  • Teens in Hawaii can text ALOHA to 741741or call 832-3100 for 24-hour crisis support.

Climate change, home, and mental health

March 12, 2019

I’ve been thinking about home recently. The land I grew up on is still there, but the home is gone, replaced by a house that overwhelms the land. Though I didn’t live there anymore, it still makes me feel a sense of loss whenever I’m in the neighborhood.

And how much stronger would that sense of loss be if the land were gone?

The 2018 “Sea Level Rise and Climate Change” Final White Paper, prepared by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, is an alarming summary of the effects of climate change on Hawaii’s environment, communities, and overall well-being.

There are environmental impacts, like more frequent heat waves, worsening air and water quality, rising sea levels, changes in rainfall patterns, changing ecosystems, and more frequent weather effects.

There are corresponding health impacts, like increased respiratory illness, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and kidney disease. And climate change impacts us as neighborhoods and communities, like our ability to travel within and without the islands and our access to food and freshwater.

Beyond the environment and our physical survival, climate change affects our mental health.

How can we thrive with the threat of displacement, the threat of losing our homes and our connection to the ‘aina? How can we address mental health concerns in our disaster planning and community resilience efforts?

In 2018, 700 homes on Hawaii Island were destroyed during the Kilauea eruption, and over 2,000 people had registered to receive aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to Pacific Business News (7/9/18).

Also in 2018, more than 100 people lost their lives, and over 17,000 homes were destroyed by California wildfires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, reported The Weather Channel (3/11/19).

As small Pacific island nations become inhabitable due to sea level rise, lack of fresh water, or other factors, an increasing number of climate change migrants may come to Hawaii because it is similar to the home they left behind. How can we help them thrive in Hawaii? What can we learn from their experiences with the loss of place and loss of their connection to the past?

I’m feeling a little nostalgic about my childhood home. What are your thoughts about maintaining or regaining mental well-being in the face of losing a home?

How connected do you feel to your home? Do you live in a flood or tsunami zone? Are you prepared for a sudden disaster or a slow rise in sea level?

Kindness starts with one

February 12, 2019

I’ve been immersing myself in happiness over the past few months, learning from the Greater Good Science Center, and figuring out how to make happiness practices part of everyday life.

We can become happier in many different ways, from encouraging empathy and nurturing friendships to fostering gratitude and cultivating a sense of awe. But one of the simplest ways to become happier and spread happiness is to be kind.

Being kind makes us happy, and being happy makes us kind.

Kindness is easy, and it starts with ONE. One person. One cup of coffee, one compliment, one “I love you,” one note-to-self.

On February 17, 2019, we’re celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day, and it starts with YOU. You can be the one to write a positive note at school or work, thank someone who isn’t usually acknowledged, or volunteer to do a five-minute favor. No one else has to know about it. But you’ll know.

Kindness starts with one, but let’s aim for five. Studies have shown that doing five acts of kindness in one day can make you happier than doing single acts of kindness spread out over time.

Being kind can have a lasting impact, too. You can get a happiness boost by remembering a time when you were kind or helpful or generous… or by remembering a time when someone was kind to you.

I tried a happiness practice called “Three Good Things,” in which you write down three good things that happen to you each day. The goal is to focus on positive thoughts and feelings. I found that it really helped to put my day in perspective, and lessen any worry or stress I felt.

I’m starting to take it a step further and pay attention to whether good things happen to me (like receiving a compliment) or because of me (like giving a compliment).

What will you do on Random Acts of Kindness Day? How will you spread kindness?

Suburbs, sustainability, and selfishness

November 27, 2018

Is an urban lifestyle better, or more environmentally sustainable, than the suburban lifestyle? Are people who live in the suburbs selfish?

We have a stereotype of the suburban lifestyle: more single-family homes, larger living spaces, more green spaces, and larger shopping malls surrounded by parking lots. And in exchange for living with more, further away from the urban center, there is a heavy reliance on automobiles, more traffic, and fewer transportation options.

It’s a sharp contract with the urban lifestyle: more people, more high-rises, smaller living spaces, shared green spaces, smaller retail stories, and more transportation options.

In “Enduring Features of the North American Suburb: Built Form, Automobile Orientation, Suburban Culture and Political Motivation” (2018), Pierre Filion of the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo makes two broad claims about sustainability and political expression that made me think about urban planning in a different way.

The article is based on two Toronto, Ontario, Canada metropolitan region case studies involving attempts at creating more urban growth centers (“recentralization”) and a 2010 mayoral election campaign. It’s especially interesting in light of Hawaii’s efforts at creating a “second city” and the challenges we face with population growth and limited resources.

Sustainable communities? Filion writes that modern planning “promotes suburban transformations intended to enhance environmental sustainability, largely by reducing suburban land consumption and reliance on the automobile.” However, suburban lifestyle and culture “impede planning attempts to transform suburbs in ways that make them more environmentally sustainable.” In other words, he assumes that the urban lifestyle and “collective forms of consumption” are more environmentally sustainable than the suburban lifestyle. I don’t know if this is true, and Filion does not explain how he arrives at this conclusion.

In Hawaii, the line between urban and suburban is blurred, and the distance between communities is relatively small. In a sense, “suburban” can encompass most communities outside of urban Honolulu or rural communities (including agricultural, preservation, conservation, and resort lands). I can agree that suburban communities consume more electricity for lighting along roadways, more electricity to power larger homes, and more gas for transportation than comparable-sized urban communities. How much of this environmental impact is balanced by more parks and land devoted to recreation and greenery, less concentrated air pollution, and fewer overhead highways?

As a society, how do urban and suburban lifestyles impact the environment, as well as our physical and mental health?

Selfish communities? Filion concludes that the suburban culture influences the way that residents view environmental sustainability and the way that residents vote in elections. He mentions “mobilizations to preserve features of suburbs perceived to be under threat,” such as “NIMBY movements” and densification initiatives. In effect, he suggests that suburban communities are selfish for wanting to consume more land and resources, and then take political action by voting to protect the lifestyle. Note: he doesn’t actually use the word “selfish,” but it’s implied.

In Hawaii and in every community, political activism is not limited to suburban communities. Filion could as easily state that the urban lifestyle “can transmute into political expression.” More interesting to me is the idea of “the conservatism of the suburbs,” the suggestion that suburban communities tend to become more conservative in voting patterns. I wish that Filion would clarify what he means by “conservatism” – whether it is a commitment to traditional values and lifestyle, an opposition to change, land conservation, or a political ideology (and how this differs in Canada and the United States).

Does living in suburban communities make us more selfish by encouraging consumption of land and resources? Does urban living make us less selfish?

This is a big topic for a short post, and I don’t have any answers – only more questions. But it made me think about where we live and how we plan our communities, and I hope it gives you something to think about too.

Do you live in an urban, suburban, or rural community? What factors influenced your decision to live there? How are your voting habits influenced by where you live?

Making kindness your new normal

November 13, 2018

She seemed a little tired, so I reached out and gave her a “kindness card.” I can’t remember what I wrote on it, but I remember the big smile on her face after she read it.

It was the best moment of my day.

It happened because I accepted the Greater Good Science Center’s kindness practice challenge. Instead of doing random acts of kindness, I would do five acts of kindness in one day. The idea was to promote kindness and boost my own happiness too.

Researchers believe that random acts of kindness make you feel happier because it makes you think more highly of yourself and become more aware of positive social interactions.

I did small acts of kindness, everyday kindness, like letting cars merge into the lane, opening a door for a senior, and volunteering extra hours at my workplace.

I also made a plan to share kindness in a deliberate way, not just random acts. I decided to create “kindness cards” that my organization could give out at a local expo. I would write a kindness card for them or give them a kindness card to give to others.

I wrote things thinks like, “You are beautiful, inside and out” and “You are stronger than you know” and “You are thoughtful and kind – keep smiling!”

That day of five kindnesses really brightened my whole week.

Today, November 13, is World Kindness Day. Let’s make kindness a normal part of our day, every day.

Here are seven ways to start making kindness the norm in your daily life, from the Kind Blog on RandomActsofKindness.org:

  1. Send an uplifting text to a friend or family member.
  2. Let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile.
  3. Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine.
  4. Go slightly out of our comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile.
  5. Share a compliment with a co-worker or friend.
  6. Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  7. Treat someone to a cup of coffee (a friend, a stranger, or even yourself).

What acts of kindness do you treasure? How can you be kind today? How can you foster kindness in children?