Honolulu’s New Office of Climate Change

Every ten years the Honolulu Charter Commission proposes changes on the City’s Charter, or Honolulu’s constitution. Twenty proposed changes made it to the November 2016 ballot such as Question 6: a City Charter Amendment that would create an “Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency”. The O‘ahu Group was ecstatic when majority of residents voted yes on this Charter Amendment because we are already seeing the impacts of climate change, yet policies to combat these effects have not been a focus at the city level. Passage of this amendment shows community support to prioritize sustainability and resiliency in a transparent matter.

Here are some of the things the O‘ahu Group suggests the city considers when creating this office:

  • Holistic: this office should create and implement a comprehensive climate change plan and resiliency strategy tailored for Honolulu; incorporating all major climate change impacts, potential catastrophic events, and other social, economic, and environmental stressors into this strategy.
  • Action Planned: this office should prioritize sustainability projects consistent with the resiliency strategy to help adapt to sea level rise and plan development accordingly, end our dependence on fossil fuels, protect our natural resources and open space, and increase our food self-sufficiency.
  • Inclusive: this office should effectively convene city departments, policy makers, scientists, and community members. The staff should work on a variety of tasks: from implementing the resiliency strategy through policy and projects, to educating the public about climate change and promoting a vision of a resilient future, and engaging stakeholders to support a plan of action, including future revenues for major infrastructure work.

We believe that the formation of this office will help facilitate discussion about the impacts of climate change, promote environmental stewardship, and initiate sustainability projects on O‘ahu. Seven positions are proposed for this office in the Mayor’s 2018 budget with funding for 5 requested, including: a Chief Resiliency Officer/Executive Director, a Deputy Director, Secretary, Coastal Project Manager, and Energy Coordinator. The Chief Resiliency Officer position will be funded by a two year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, but the other positions will need to be approved by the City Council during budget hearings from April to June. Eventually, we hope the office will be expanded to include a few more key positions, such as a grants manager, a communications coordinator, a food policy coordinator, and a water conservation coordinator. We’ll be lobbying Councilmembers to support this office, so stay tuned on how you can get involved. This is an exciting time for Honolulu, mahalo for your support!

 

O‘ahu Group Annual Meeting

Aloha all!

Mahalo nui for attending our Sierra Club O‘ahu Group brunch meeting last weekend at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens. This was a long-overdue gathering of our members and supporters and it was great to see over 50 familiar and new faces in attendance to enjoy a sustainable vegetarian brunch provided by Juicy Brew and World Centric.

As you heard at the meeting, we are joining the fight for a $15 minimum wage; we will be launching a campaign to switch the city bus fleet to electric buses; we will be fighting the Dillingham Ranch subdivision and proposing new rules to curtail “gentlemen” farms; we’ll be working with the city to shape the work of the new Office of Climate Change; we will be pressing the city to convert all its facilities to net-zero energy buildings, to close the plastic bag loophole, to promote local food farming, to increase re-use of “waste” water; we’ll be working to improve trail access, and so much more. And we’ll be hosting a series of social events. So there will be plenty of opportunities to engage and volunteer.

In the meantime I’d like to follow-up on one issue raised by our Chair, Anthony Aalto: sustaining memberships. As Anthony explained, most of the money from your yearly membership is retained by the national Sierra Club to finance our headquarters operation in San Francisco and the vital work they do in Washington DC. We only get about $1 per member for our work in Hawai‘i.

So we rely on local volunteers to become Sustaining Members. These are people who commit to regularly donating a small amount – typically between $10 and $25 every month. 100% of those donations stays in Hawai‘i on the sort of issues listed above.

To become a sustaining member of the O‘ahu Group, please visit www.sierracluboahu.org/donate and fill out the secure donation form, checking the box for “Make this contribution monthly”. There is also an “Additional Information” box at the bottom where you can further specify how you would like your money to be used (for example in a specific campaign, for outings, events, lobbying, advocacy, etc.). After submitting, you will receive a confirmation email as receipt of your donation.

We are one of the few non-profit organizations who are allowed to lobby at the City Council and State level. Monthly donations enable us to plan ahead and ensure the longevity of our organization, so that we can continue to protect what we all love about these islands.

I’ve been on the Sierra Club team for just two months and I’m only beginning to see how much work we have to do – We would love to be able to count on your ongoing support as we head into 2017.
Mahalo again and Happy Holidays!

Jodi

Randy Ching, Volunteer of the Year 2016

Randy Ching is one of the Sierra Club’s most devoted, generous, and lovable volunteers. He has been a member of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i since the 1980’s and has been an amazing environmental leader for the O‘ahu Group as an active Outings Leader and member of our Executive Committee. Along with committing his time, Randy has been an invaluable financial supporter to the Sierra Club and other non-profit organizations, helping numerous groups fulfill their missions to promote good government and protect Hawai‘i’s environment and people.

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This year, the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i decided to start a new tradition and host a party to celebrate incredible volunteers like Randy. The “Randy Ching Award” will commemorate the volunteer of the year…and of course Randy Ching is the first recipient!

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We celebrated the Randy Ching Award with over 60 friends and fans, where Randy was adorned in lei and received a volunteer of the year plaque gifted by Jen Homcy at Foundwoodworking. State Representative Matt LoPresti organized an legislative commemoration, while fellow outings leader Stan Oka and Hawai‘i Chapter Treasurer Nara Takakawa presented the gift of a wiliwili tree planting and city park bench at Kokohead Botanical Garden.

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Guests were able to share a favorite Randy story, with many speaking about his generous nature, enjoyment of food, quirky snoring habits, and love for taking naps on the office couch.

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Randy, on behalf of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, we love you and thank you for everything. We are grateful to have you a part of our ‘ohana are honored to create the Volunteer of the Year award in your name.

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