Night Marchers

For Halloween – a spooky Hawaiian legend.

The Night Marchers

Night Marchers

Imagine being alone on a moonless night in a remote area of Hawaii near an ancient trail or temple. In the distance you hear the sound of a conch shell being blown, drums, chants, and marching feet. You see a flickering line of torches in the distance, growing brighter as they near you. The wind is blowing fiercely, there is lightning and thunder in a clear sky and a foul odor. You are being approached by the Huskai’po – the Night Marchers – one of the most persistent and spookiest of the Hawaiian legends.


Huskai’po are ancient warriors, usually seen near ancient trails, heiau (temples), pu’uhonua (places of refuge), and ancient battlefields. They usually come out on specific nights sacred to the Hawaiian gods or sometimes, even in the daylight, to accompany the departing soul of a relative who is dying. They are dressed in traditional Hawaiian garb such as feathered cloaks, and wear helmets or head dresses, and carry spears and clubs lined with sharks’ teeth.


The marchers will not deviate from their path, marching through any buildings that may have been built across the ancient pathways that they follow and to disrupt their march is to bring tremendous harm to anyone who attempts it – bad luck, even death. To call their attention to you in any way can result in them seizing you and making you join their eternal marches.


The best thing is to leave the area before the marchers arrive, but, if you should encounter the Huakai’po, you should lie flat on the ground, not look at them directly, and most especially not make eye contact. If you have a relative in their ranks you can be saved by him (or her – there are also females among the marchers, some even say that the ranks alternate men and women) and the marcher will claim you saying “Na’u!” which means “mine” and then they will leave you alone.


There are many places the Huakai’po are said to frequent – on the Big Island they are particularly prone to the Waipio Valley, the village of Kawaihae near the heiau at Pu’ukohola, and the Saddle Road between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The Pali on Oahu, near the site of an ancient battle is another spot where the Night Marchers are often reported as are Moanalua on Oahu 
Kahakuloa on Maui
Kekaa on Maui 
Hanapepe on Kauai
 and Hokunui on Lanai.

Pele comes to Pahoa

And so do the national media and now the National Guard.  The latest video:

Lava in Pahoa

Earlier comments from Native Hawaiian residents of Pahoa about diverting lava flow:

Community comments about lava diversion and Pele

And the latest news bulletin:

PAHOA Hawaii – A contingent of National Guard troops was dispatched to a Hawaii town on Thursday to provide security to the Big Island community threatened by a river of molten lava that is slowly creeping toward the town’s main road, an emergency official said.

The lava flow from the Kilauea volcano has been slithering toward the village of Pahoa for weeks and at last watch was advancing at less than five yards (meters) an hour, said Darryl Oliveira, director of Hawaii County Civil Defense.

On Thursday morning, a contingent of 83 National Guard troops was traveling in a road convoy and expected to arrive later in the day in the community, where some residents have expressed concern about potential looters targeting evacuated homes.

“These are local troops, people from the community. They’ll be here working to take care of their family and friends,” Oliveira told a news conference.

The lava threatens to destroy homes and cut off a road and a highway through Pahoa, but officials have not offered any predictions on when exactly it could bisect the town of about 800 residents at the site of an old sugar plantation.

No homes have been destroyed so far, and a finger of lava that threatens one house on the edge of town has not advanced closer to the evacuated structure since Wednesday night, Oliveira said. The lava remained about 100 feet (30 meters) from the home, he said.

Meanwhile, the glowing leading edge of the lava flow is now about 160 yards from Pahoa Village Road, the main street through the town, officials said in a statement.

Residents of about 50 dwellings in what civil defense officials called a “corridor of risk” have been asked to be ready to leave, and many have been slowly emptying their homes of furniture and treasured possessions.

Kilauea has erupted continuously from its Pu’u O’o vent since 1983, with its latest lava flow beginning on June 27. The last home destroyed by lava on the Big Island was at the Royal Gardens subdivision in Kalapana in 2012.

(Reporting by Karin Stanton; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)



Kohala Center

Years and years ago, back when we first moved over here from California, I started doing volunteer work for an organization called Five Mountains – the mission was generally geared towards community health initiatives and it was funded mostly by Earl Bakken, the inventor of the insertable pacemaker.  One of the many projects of the organization was an annual community meeting to get input from all the different interests about what would improve the health of the community overall.

Out of one of those meetings came the idea for a non-profit agency to foster educational opportunities for Hawaii Island, and to promote Hawaii Island as a resource and research asset.  That agency became the Kohala Center, and I was the first ‘staffer’ to the brilliant founding director, Dr. Matt Hamabata – a Kauai native and gifted academic administrator.  I worked with Matt in developing the Kohala Center for the first several years of its existence and then moved on to go to work in the visitor industry once the Kohala Center had gotten firmly established.

Today, this came in their electronic newsletter – I had the opportunity to catch up with Matt and tour the property before it was all ‘official’ but was so pleased and proud for Matt and all the crew for the wonderful work they have done over the last nearly 15 years and so proud to have been a part of the founding of such a worthwhile organization – and best of all – they’re now neighbors – the ranch is only a few miles from my house!

The Kohala Center was founded in the year 2000 in response to the expressed needs and aspirations of Hawai‘i Island residents and community leaders. In this issue of The Leaflet, we share how our work is inspired by the dedication of seed savers, the determination of educators, the compassion and creativity of community advocates, and the generosity of our supporters.

A landmark gift, a convergence of vision

Early this summer, Hawai‘i Island resident James Posner presented us with an extraordinary and unexpected gift: a spectacular 60-acre ranch on Kohala Mountain. Through his generosity, he joins The Kohala Center’s founding benefactor, Dr. Earl Bakken, and more than 700 volunteers, 300 donors, and board members and staff in working toward a more abundant, sustainable, creative, and compassionate future—for Hawai‘i and the world.

The 60-acre campus features a reservoir, water purification and photovoltaic systems, and stunning views of the Kohala Coast.
The 60-acre campus features a reservoir, water purification and photovoltaic systems, and stunning views of the Kohala Coast.
“The spirit of this gift represents a convergence of vision from the ancient and recent past onward into the future, outward to the world at large, and beyond what we imagine today,” Posner said. “Over the last fifteen years they have demonstrated excellence in accomplishment, integrity, and creativity in service to Hawai‘i’s communities in an inclusive manner.”The 60-acre ranch is being given to us in two separate parcels: the first 40-acre parcel was transferred in mid-June; the second 20-acre parcel will be transferred by next summer. We hope to begin moving our research, educational, and conservation programs to the campus in the second half of 2015.Posner has spent his eight-year tenure at the ranch building on the work of previous owners Wally and Wendy Campbell, preserving and enhancing its natural beauty and creating a self-sufficient, mixed-use facility. “I wanted the land to be a productive and welcoming place for the purposes of conservation, propagation, education, expression, and communion,” he said. “The Kohala Center is ideally suited to steward the ranch to the next level.”Our future campus will enable us to strengthen our programs, which respectfully engage the island of Hawai‘i as a model of and for the world through efforts in the fields of energy self-reliance, food self-reliance, and ecosystem health.The land itself is breathtaking and serves as a fitting reminder of why we engage in the mission-driven work that we do. When it rains at the ranch, streams flow, ponds fill, and waterfalls spill over gorges, as native plants flourish and birds fly among thousands of trees. On crisp mountain days, Maui and Kaho‘olawe appear across the deep blue ‘Alenuihāhā Channel as clouds spiral toward the heavens. We aspire for the new campus to be a serene, yet energized, gathering place for public, private, and independent sector leaders, scientists, community organizers, humanists, performing artists, fine artists, and peacemakers—all imagining and inspiring thoughtful and creative ways to enhance Hawai‘i’s and the world’s well-being.

Donor Jim Posner (bottom left) and his faithful dog and ranch guardian, Miss Piggy, welcomed our staff on a recent visit to the new campus.
Donor Jim Posner (bottom left) and his faithful dog and ranch guardian, Miss Piggy, welcomed our staff on a recent visit to the new campus.
“The property’s awe-inspiring beauty and serene setting, high elevation, and spectacular views of the Kohala coastline and Haleakalā physically manifest the soaring aspirations of Hawai‘i’s communities,” says Roberta F. Chu, senior vice president and manager at Bank of Hawaii and chair of our board of directors. “This gift has already invigorated The Center’s staff to continue to push hard for excellence in service of those aspirations.”One of our board members, the Reverend Puanani Burgess, a noted poet, peacemaker, and community organizer, believes that “a gift of this magnitude and with such good intent will have ripple effects across our entire island planet.”We look forward to sharing more news about our new campus, and photos of our progress, in future issues of The Leaflet. Mahalo nui loa for your continued support of our research, our programs, and our dedication to improve the well-being of Hawai‘i’s communities.

New Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows address critical contemporary issues

Now in its seventh year, the Mellon-Hawaiʻi Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program welcomes four new fellows to today’s generation ofKānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) intellectual leaders. Through their dissertations and manuscripts, this year’s cohort is focused on some of the most important issues facing island communities today.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Kohala Center, with the support of Kamehameha Schools, established the Mellon-Hawaiʻi Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in 2008. Administered by The Kohala Center, the program recognizes and supports the work of Native Hawaiian academics early in their careers, and others who are committed to the advancement of knowledge about the Hawaiian natural and cultural environment, Hawaiian history, politics, and society.

The seventh cohort of Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows convened with a sunrise ceremony at Halema‘uma‘u Crater on July 18, 2014. As the fellows and their mentors gathered for this photo, a flock of endangered nēnē (Hawaiian geese) soared overhead. From left to right, Matthews Hamabata, Ph.D., Liza Keānuenueokalani Williams, Noelani Puniwai, Craig Severance, Ph.D., Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, Ph.D., Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D., Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez, Ph.D., Rebecca ‘Ilima Luning, Ph.D., Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Ph.D.
The seventh cohort of Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows convened with a sunrise ceremony at Halema‘uma‘u Crater on July 18, 2014. As the fellows and their mentors gathered for this photo, a flock of endangered nēnē (Hawaiian geese) soared overhead. From left to right, Matthews Hamabata, Ph.D., Liza Keānuenueokalani Williams, Noelani Puniwai, Craig Severance, Ph.D., Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, Ph.D., Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D., Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez, Ph.D., Rebecca ‘Ilima Luning, Ph.D., Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Ph.D.
The program provides a stipend and mentoring to enable doctoral fellows to complete their dissertations before accepting their first academic posts, and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to publish original research early in their academic careers. Of the 24 scholars who have completed the program as of June 30, 2014, seven are tenured and an additional seven are in tenure-track positions in the University of Hawai‘i system, and one has an appointment as a research fellow at Oxford University in England.The 2014-2015 cohort includes doctoral fellow Noelani Puniwai, Ph.D. candidate in the Natural Resources and Environmental Management program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; doctoral fellow Liza Keānuenueokalani Williams, Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies department at New York University; postdoctoral fellow Dr. Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, who obtained his Ph.D. in interdisciplinary environmental research from Stanford University in 2013; and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Rebecca ‘Ilima Luning, who earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2013.“Over the years we have been impressed by the thoughtfulness and relevance of the topics that the Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows have chosen to engage in their advanced studies and academic publishing,” said Dr. Matthews M. Hamabata, president and chief executive office of The Kohala Center. “The seventh cohort is certainly no exception. In covering issues such as contemporary Hawaiian pedagogy, land and natural resource management, and the commodification of Native Hawaiian culture, land, and people, this year’s fellows are addressing some of the most critical topics in Hawai‘i today. They, and the fellows before them, are Hawai‘i’s emerging intellectual leaders who will help chart a course for our islands’ future.”
(l-r) Mellon-Hawai’i doctoral fellow Noelani Puniwai, mentor Craig Severance, Ph.D.
(l-r) Mellon-Hawai’i doctoral fellow Noelani Puniwai, mentor Craig Severance, Ph.D.
In her dissertation, Puniwai will evaluate how and why different ocean user groups socially construct and delineate marine space much in the way that coastal areas are ecologically delineated through definitions of functional space. “We must view the sea as a cultural space, otherwise we risk returning to the past, to a time when the biological resources of the sea seemed endless and an open resource,” she said. “We must ‘own’ our responsibility to the future of the ocean or we will have only ourselves to blame for its demise. I believe the only true course of action to protect and sustain our oceans is through people: by acknowledging their knowledge and their actions in order to benefit our collective future. I hope my work will benefit the community by engaging ocean users in natural resource management and sustaining our relationship with the ocean for generations.” Puniwai is being mentored by Dr. Craig Severance, professor emeritus in anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.
(l-r) Mellon-Hawai‘i doctoral fellow Liza Keānuenueokalani Williams, mentor Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez, Ph.D.
(l-r) Mellon-Hawai‘i doctoral fellow Liza Keānuenueokalani Williams, mentor Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Williams’ interdisciplinary research focuses on the historical and contemporary trajectories of colonialism in Hawaiʻi and its shifting relationship with the United States through the commodification of Native Hawaiian culture, land, and people. Working with mentor Dr. Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez in the Department of American Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Williams’ research uses ethnography, textual analysis, and archival methods to focus specifically on the capitalist-colonial histories of Hawaiʻi and their impacts on contemporary cultural politics for Native Hawaiians through three major industries: tourism, the military, and the prison industrial complex. “Having few resources at home while growing up, yet having access to more than adequate resources as a student at Kamehameha Schools, helped me see and understand how our community is often divided by social constructs that have ties to our colonial histories, and how those constructs and histories significantly influence us,” Williams said. “I chose to study these three industries because each of them has touched my life, touched my family, and touched the lives of many Native Hawaiians in very powerful ways. I feel that these three industries all have profound impacts on Maoli past and present, and implications for our future. They shape our daily experiences and provide both limitation and opportunity for many of our people. Exploring and making sense of these tensions is the crux of my work, as well as a desire to understand how we may carve a path for ourselves toward the future.”
(l-r) Mentor Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D., Mellon-Hawai‘i postdoctoral fellow Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Ph.D.
(l-r) Mentor Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D., Mellon-Hawai‘i postdoctoral fellow Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Ph.D.
Lincoln’s postdoctoral research examines combining traditional and modern land management knowledge to evaluate corporate and policy decisions from a basis of social utility rather than an economic one. Focusing on the highly ecologically diverse landscape of Kona on Hawai‘i Island, his work brings together multiple disciplines as well as traditional and scientific knowledge to understand the productive capacity of Hawaiian agriculture. “I’ve catalogued and examined the vast array of farming styles and systems that were operated in Kona, and begun to document their productivity and sustainability,” Lincoln said. “Hawai‘i Island supported more people in traditional times than it does today, and without food and fertilizer inputs into the system. While it’s unlikely we could replicate this today, either technologically or socially, examining the highly efficient and productive methods of the past can certainly guide our future.” The work being supported by his postdoctoral fellowship will support the completion of his second book on Hawaiian ethnobotany and inform future articles on how Hawaiian farming techniques were uniquely adapted. Lincoln is being mentored by Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, assistant professor in the Hui ‘Āina Momona program with a joint appointment between the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; Beamer himself was a Mellon-Hawai‘i postdoctoral fellow in the program’s inaugural cohort.
(l-r) Mellon-Hawai‘i postdoctoral fellow Rebecca ‘Ilima Luning, Ph.D., mentor Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, Ph.D.
(l-r) Mellon-Hawai‘i postdoctoral fellow Rebecca ‘Ilima Luning, Ph.D., mentor Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, Ph.D.
As a cultural and educational specialist in the department of educational psychology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the project coordinator of the Mōhala Nā Pua program at the University’s Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence, Luning is interested in furthering the understanding of a Hawaiian ethnotheory of learning. “The focus of my researchis to examine the cultural goals, values, and purposes of learning in a modern Hawaiian context,” she said. “The articles I intend to publish will focus on the similarities and differences between various Hawaiian cultural practitioners’ and classroom educators’ teaching strategies and philosophies, their purposes and goals for teaching in and through the Hawaiian culture, their emphasis on developing a Hawaiian consciousness and cultural worldview in their students, and their definitions of success for their haumāna(students). My hope is that my research will also assist educational leaders in creating policy to support the use of culture and traditional teaching strategies in the classroom, be of value in influencing Hawai‘i’s educational system, and ultimately empower our youth and contribute in some small way to raising Hawaiian consciousness.” Luning is working with mentor Dr. Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, director of the Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.Each cohort is selected and convened annually by a distinguished panel of senior scholars and kūpuna (esteemed elders):

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015-2016 Mellon-Hawai‘i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Application materials and more information about the program are available online at MellonHawaii.orgor by calling The Kohala Center at 808-887-6411. The deadline to apply is February 27, 2015.

Planting the seeds of success

In 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsreported that the world lost an estimated 75% of its crop diversity during the 20th century. With the increasing effects of climate change, the anticipated continued decline in biodiversity will pose a serious threat to global seed availability and food systems. In an effort to reverse this trend and improve local food security, the Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative is working with scientists, educators, farmers, and consumers across the state to promote seed freedom by empowering island networks, hosting community seed exchanges, and increasing local support for biodiversity.

Spearheaded by Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network director Nancy Redfeather and coordinated by Lyn Howe, the Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative was launched in 2010 after Hawai‘i seed savers identified the need for a concerted effort to develop reliable sources of locally grown and adapted seed. In its first eighteen months, the Initiative hosted basic seed-saving workshops on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, and O‘ahu with the support of University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources extension agents Glenn Teves (Moloka‘i), Russell Nagata (Hawai‘i Island), and Hector Valenzuela (O‘ahu).

“We were excited to have educated more than 180 people on five islands about seed production and saving, and to have opened doors to numerous resources available to them,” Howe said. “These workshops helped to organize and raise awareness of the importance of growing seed that is locally adapted to our many microclimates, as well as the work ahead for the seed movement in Hawai‘i”

Participants in the second annual statewide Seed Network Gathering reflect after a day of farm visits and seed demonstrations in Waimea, Hawai‘i Island.
Participants in the second annual statewide Seed Network Gathering reflect after a day of farm visits and seed demonstrations in Waimea, Hawai‘i Island.
The workshops also helped to identify committed seed leaders from each island, who were then invited to the Initiative’s first Statewide Network Gathering in 2013. After a weekend of training, strategizing, and team-building, participants agreed that offering mini-grants to network members to pursue specific seed projects would benefit their respective islands and communities, and the statewide movement as a whole. Fast forward to this past August when a second Statewide Network Gathering was convened in Waimea on Hawai‘i Island, during which last year’s attendees shared the results from their individual seed projects, gave updates about progress on their respective islands, and gathered more support and momentum from the Initiative and each other.The mini-grant-funded projects included seed variety trials, community seed exchanges, educational workshops, and seed-lending libraries, resulting in increased seed awareness and outreach statewide. According to Howe, “We welcomed new individuals with strong seed knowledge into the Network, and shared and learned a lot from each other. There is more excitement around this growing movement as people begin to see how and why they can and should become more involved in it. I feel as though we made a quantum leap forward on many levels.”The 2014 Network Gathering also featured an inter-island seed exchange and inspirational tours of South Kohala farms such as Milk and Honey Farm,Squash and Awe, and Robb Farms. Cultivating new relationships and sharing experiences also proved to be valuable parts of the weekend. “Sharing stories and seeds is vital for a strong, sustainable community,” said Donna Mitts, Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network coordinator, who is also a farmer and active seed saver. “When committed and passionate folks come together to share sustainable food production knowledge, we all need to focus our energies on listening to and learning from each other.”The Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative also works to advance biodiversity in the state through community seed exchanges, at which community members share seeds they’ve harvested, learn proper seed exchange protocols, and are reminded of the importance of checking for invasive species such as coqui frogs and little fire ants when transporting and receiving plant materials. Howe has coordinated several “Seedy Saturdays” on Hawai‘i Island, with the most recent one held in Honoka‘a on August 31 in partnership with theHonoka‘a High School Agricultural Program. More than 60 community members came out to exchange seeds, enjoy a community potluck, and share knowledge and experiences, as well as attend an informative presentation by Dr. Russell Nagata on how to maintain varietal purity, select for desired traits, and design and run variety trials.
Dr. Russell Nagata, extension agent with the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, delivers a presentation about seed variety trials during the Honoka‘a Seed Exchange held on August 30, 2014.
Dr. Russell Nagata, extension agent with the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, delivers a presentation about seed variety trials during the Honoka‘a Seed Exchange held on August 30, 2014.
“Seed trials are valuable because they help farmers, and even backyard gardeners, determine what varieties work best on their land,” Nagata said. “Formal trials involve keeping track of much more than what grows well and what doesn’t: you also want to record when you planted, when you harvested, what plot or field you grew it in, the seasons in which they performed best. Your data will not only help you plan better for the future, but will help fellow growers producing in your same climate zones under similar conditions.”The Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative is in the final stages of developing an online “Seed Variety Selection Tool for the Hawaiian Islands” in collaboration with The Kohala Center’s communications team and mini-grant recipient Ilana Stout. This interactive tool, scheduled to launch by the end of the year, will allow users to search data submitted by experienced Hawai‘i growers to determine which varieties of common crops, such as tomatoes, lettuce, taro, eggplant, beans, and squash, perform best in their specific climate zones.Zoe Kosmas, farm production assistant with The Kohala Center’s Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program, assisted Howe in organizing the Honoka‘a Seed Exchange along with other Hāmākua-area farmers. “If we want to have reliable plant varieties that perform well in Hawai‘i, our farmers and gardeners need to feel empowered to save their own seeds from healthy, vigorous plants native or adapted to our diverse environments,” Kosmas said. “With natural and industrial factors impacting crop performance worldwide, depending on seeds that are shipped from around the world is risky. These seed exchanges and educational programs not only further Hawai‘i’s potential to be more food self-reliant, they can help foster a stronger sense of pride, community, and determination.”
A variety of seeds on display at the Honoka‘a Seed Exchange.
A variety of seeds on display at the Honoka‘a Seed Exchange.
“There’s never been a more crucial time to increase awareness around seeds and seed saving,” agreed Marielle Hampton, a farmer with theHāmākua Agricultural Cooperative and Seed Network member who also helped to organize the event “Not just locally, but worldwide.”Seed exchanges also contribute a more personal, human element to food production.Anna Peach, owner of Squash and Awe Farm in Waimea, noted that when she plants seeds given to her by other growers, she doesn’t just think about what will grow from them. “When I push those seeds into the soil, I see the faces of the people who took the time and care to harvest, clean, package, and pass them on to me,” she said. “The writing on the packets, the notations made for care, the experiences shared and best wishes for success all contribute to the growing experience, the sense of community, and hope for the future.”The Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative’s next Seedy Saturday will be held on Saturday, November 8 from 2–6 p.m. at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The event, billed as “SUPER Seedy Saturday,” will also include an exclusive advance screening of the feature film Open Sesame—The Story of Seedsand an interactive panel discussion. For more information, visit or

The Food Basket launches fresh local food program for low-income island residents

The Food Basket, Hawai‘i Island’s food bank, received assistance from The Kohala Center to help launch a project aimed at providing low-income island residents with greater access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food. The project uses a community supported agricultural (CSA) model to deliver produce boxes to qualifying individuals, families, and seniors, with a goal of serving 2,000 customers by March 2015.

Staff members of The Food Basket load up a delivery truck. The agency delivers CSA boxes and ingredients to food pantries, soup kitchens, and customers in 17 communities around Hawai‘i Island.
Staff members of The Food Basket load up a delivery truck. The agency delivers CSA boxes and ingredients to food pantries, soup kitchens, and customers in 17 communities around Hawai‘i Island.
The Kohala Center’s Rural and Cooperative Business Development Services (formerly the Laulima Center) team provided grant writing assistance to help The Food Basket secure more than $220,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wallace Center at Winrock International to create and administer the Ho‘olaha ka hua (“Propagating fruit”) Food Hub program. Expanding on The Food Basket’s existing Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides CSA produce boxes to more than 1,500 individuals, Ho‘olaha ka hua will provide Hawai‘i Island residents who receive federal Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with an affordable option to incorporate healthy, locally produced foods into their diets. The program also seeks to increase the health literacy of all of its CSA customers, provide local farmers with additional opportunities to sell their produce, and develop a self-sustaining food hub for the island.

WATCH: Ho‘olaha ka hua videos
» Healthy, Local Food for You!
» Attention All Farmers!

The produce boxes for low-income customers, which cost $10 each, are subsidized in part by a retail-level CSA program which offers produce boxes for $15-17 each to island residents who don’t receive SNAP benefits. Despite the lower cost for SNAP-eligible customers, participants in both programs receive identical offerings in their produce boxes. “We believe in offering all of our customers, be they low-income or otherwise, the same varieties of fresh, high-quality local food,” said En Young, executive director of The Food Basket. “There aren’t different ‘thems’ here. SNAP customers don’t receive boxes full of lesser-quality produce just because they pay less. We as a society need to blur the lines and start remembering who ‘other’ people are: they’re people.”

The Food Basket's Hilo pantry. The agency serves more than 7,000 customers on Hawai‘i Island every month from warehouses in Hilo and Kailua-Kona with the help of more than 70 partner agencies.
The Food Basket’s Hilo pantry. The agency serves more than 7,000 customers on Hawai‘i Island every month from warehouses in Hilo and Kailua-Kona with the help of more than 70 partner agencies.
The Food Basket’s mission is to feed Hawai‘i Island’s hungry while also addressing the root causes of the critical social problem of hunger. Founded in 1989 under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese and spun off as an independent nonprofit organization in 2007, The Food Basket has consistently emphasized how feeding those who are food insecure can empower them to meet life’s challenges with strength and dignity. The Food Basket currently serves 7,000 individuals per month from warehouses in Hilo and Kailua-Kona, distributing food over a 4,028-square-mile area with the assistance of more than 70 local partner agencies. In 2013 alone the organization helped to feed 175,000 individuals with two million pounds of donated and purchased frozen, fresh, and dry food. The organization receives nearly 80% of its revenue from private donations from island residents.Through Ho‘olaha ka hua, The Food Basket intends to go deeper than just feeding the hungry: the development of a self-sustaining food hub could have positive impacts on the island’s poverty rate, incidences of diet-related illnesses, and agricultural economy. Creating access to healthy food while also expanding market opportunities for local farmers holds great potential to improve health and prosperity throughout the island. It also provides a unique opportunity for smaller farms that can’t traditionally produce the volume that other distributors require: by creating a food hub processing center, The Food Basket assumes responsibility for and aggregates produce, re-distributing it as a unified product and thus not requiring farms to label and brand all their produce individually.Ho‘olaha ka hua represents a partnership between The Food Basket and The Kohala Center; the Agribusiness Incubator Program at the University of Hawai‘i, which will assist with the development of a business and marketing plan; the County of Hawai‘i, which works closely with The Food Basket to implement programs for the island’s low-income populations as well as provide physical infrastructure, volunteer labor, and business development assistance; the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, which through its “Live Better Together Collaborative” promotes consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables to SNAP recipients; and HOPE Services Hawai‘i, which will help to identify and assist eligible individuals through the SNAP application process.
The Food Basket's Marshall Akamu (left), operations manager for North and West Hawai‘i, and executive director En Young at the organization’s warehouse in Kailua-Kona. (Photo courtesy The Food Basket)
The Food Basket’s Marshall Akamu (left), operations manager for North and West Hawai‘i, and executive director En Young at the organization’s warehouse in Kailua-Kona. (Photo courtesy The Food Basket)
In addition to providing grant writing assistance, the Kohala Center is also helping to funnel young farmers and food producers into the program, as well as facilitating evaluation of the program. The Center’s chief operating officer, Dr. Elizabeth Cole, will serve as the lead evaluator, working with The Food Basket’s project director, Claudia Wilcox, to develop evaluation tools and processes to gauge the program’s effectiveness, impacts, and outcomes. “The Kohala Center will bring an objective voice to our work, as well as validated evaluation tools based on sound methods and experience,” Young said. “By evaluating us from the outside, they’ll help keep us accountable in that we won’t be evaluating ourselves. All of our partners will bring different areas of competence and expertise to Ho‘olaha ka hua, meaning that we at The Food Basket can focus on what we do best—program delivery—and do it even better.”Community members interested in becoming subscribers in the Ho‘olaha ka hua community-supported agriculture program, as well as farmers interested in selling or donating produce to the program, are encouraged to contact The Food Basket at 808-933-6030. “Like” The Food Basket on Facebook for news and ‘ono recipes using ingredients found in weekly Ho‘olaha ka hua produce boxes.

Hawai‘i Farm to School Conference propagates ideas and action

In celebration of National Farm to School Month, a diverse audience of 175 food systems stakeholders from across the islands, including educators, farmers, and policymakers, gathered in Honolulu for the Hawai‘i Farm to School Conference on October 3, 2014 at Kamehameha Schools. Under the theme “Re-Growing Community Food Systems,” the conference was organized by the Hawai‘i Farm to School and School Garden Hui, a statewide program coordinated through The Kohala Center.

Three panel discussions focused on the topics of
Three panel discussions focused on the topics of “Farm,” “To,” and “School.”
The goal of the conference was to promote the knowledge and best practices needed to develop and sustain a statewide farm to school program to re-grow Hawai‘i’s agricultural economy, future farmers, and healthy schools and communities. The one-day conference featured three panels, each addressing key facets of food justice for all of Hawai‘i’s students: “Farm,” which examined agricultural challenges and opportunities for Hawai‘i’s farmers in their ability to expand local food production while restoring the environment and raising the next generation of farmers; “To,” which addressed connectivity between farms and schools for the sourcing of locally grown foods via processing, distribution, and procurement; and “School,” which featured educators and administrators from public, charter, and independent schools who have successfully incorporated garden-based education into their curricula and increased the consumption of fresh locally grown foods by their students.Lydi Morgan Bernal, Hawai‘i Farm to School and School Garden Hui coordinator, opened the conference by emphasizing the importance of garden-based education and the spiritual and psychological impacts that nature has on children. Bernal outlined the Hui’s role in the state’s farm to school movement, articulated her vision for state-level support of garden-based and nutrition education programs, and stressed the need to make the availability of healthy, locally sourced food in school cafeterias a priority. She also proposed that the Hawai‘i Departments of Agriculture and Education create farm to school coordinator positions to advance these goals and facilitate the re-growing of community food systems statewide.
Kacie O’Brien, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Western regional lead, delivered the conference’s keynote address.
Kacie O’Brien, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Western regional lead, delivered the conference’s keynote address.
The conference’s keynote speaker,U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to SchoolWestern regional lead Kacie O’Brien, spoke of USDA’s support of farm to school programs and clarified federal procurement and food safety regulations. “Farm to School is possible, feasible, and encouraged,” O’Brien said. “In order to make it work, you need to think through the practical aspects, define your goals, and be prepared to move slowly. There is a lot you can do on your own in your school and community. Identify what can you work on right now, as well as the steps that will require more time and effort. Work on them both, and don’t get discouraged.” She invited attendees to take advantage of USDA’s Farm to School Toolkit to help schools and communities plan, build, and sustain such programs. O’Brien emphasized that regulations regarding farm safety and liability primarily exist on the state level, and encouraged attendees to work with local authorities to implement policy changes to increase the inflow of locally grown produce into schools.The “Farm” panel addressed the importance of agriculture education and a return to ancestral abundance through community interconnectedness and agroecology. Speakers emphasized key concepts such as strength in interdependence, increasing consumer support for locally produced food, and community food hubs as a means to support local farm production. Panelist Ken Kakesako, deputy chairperson of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, shared welcomed news that the department is ready and willing to host a farm to school program and coordinator position. He informed listeners that new food safety rules from the FDA will take effect next year, and expressed an overall willingness of the department to work in partnership with practitioners. Other panelists expressed a sense of urgency to improve public policy and farming methods to remedy Hawai‘i’s unsustainable dependencies on food imports and industrial agriculture. Glenn Teves, a Moloka‘i-based county extension agent for the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, believes that farm to school programs can be powerful tools in connecting Hawai‘i’s schoolchildren back to traditional, ‘āina (land)-based values. “We need to teach our keiki (children) that agriculture should be part of their lifestyle,” he said. “It needs to be something they think about and engage with every day…[long-term food security] can only happen through cognitive influence on our youth. We can’t let bureaucracy stop us: if we don’t change and adapt now, we may not have a chance later.”The next panel, “To,” focused on the needs and next steps for sourcing more locally grown food in schools, and the actions necessary to foster connections between farmers, distributors, and schools. State procurement administrator Sarah Allen pledged her support and encouraged farmers to organize in order to increase their capacity to maintain contracts with the state. Representatives from the Hawai‘i Department of Education’s School Food Services Branch, director Glenna Owens and supervisor Dexter Kishida, emphasized the need for collaboration and continuity, and noted that strict oversight is required to ensure food safety, protect students from potential illnesses, and the state from legal consequences. The development of community food hubs that take on food safety liability, support farmers through education and product transportation, and serve as processing centers, was again raised as a key step toward achieving a statewide farm to school program and re-growing our community food systems.
Dr. Koh Ming Wei created posters of the presentations in real-time, allowing attendees to visualize and contemplate the day's key takeaways.
Dr. Koh Ming Wei created posters of the presentations in real-time, allowing attendees to visualize and contemplate the day’s key takeaways.
Rounding out the discussions was the “School” panel, which featured representatives from public, charter, and independent schools who shared the impact that using school gardens as hands-on learning laboratories has had on student development, engagement with coursework, and academic performance. Hawai‘i Child Nutrition Programs representative Jennifer Dang emphasized the Hawai‘i Department of Education’s Wellness Policyas an important avenue for improving student health. Hawai‘i Department of Education complex area superintendent Ruth Silberstein demonstrated how a focus on sustainability, global citizenship, and project-based learning transformed student enthusiasm, confidence, and test scores at Pālolo Elementary School. Panelist Usha Kotner from Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua highlighted her school’s implementation of aUniversal School Breakfast program for all of its students, as well as its participation in the daily National School Lunch reimbursable program and the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Kotner noted that “by working with local distributor Adaptations on Hawai‘i Island, we’re sourcing as much local and organic produce for snacks and meals as we can.”Ecoliteracy educator Dr. Koh Ming Wei from Pacific Resources for Education and Learning provided a graphic “visualization” of the conference, sketching out the conversations as they unfolded onto large sheets of paper alongside the panels. The posters were then hung along a wall, allowing attendees to contemplate the ideas and concepts as they emerged throughout the day. Dr. Koh’s drawings helped to clarify and bring to life the key themes, players, and desired outcomes that will become part of the Hawai‘i Farm to School and School Garden Hui’s conference report and roadmap.
Conference attendees enjoyed a
Conference attendees enjoyed a “model school lunch” made with fresh, local ingredients that could be served in Hawai‘i’s public schools.
Conference attendees were treated to an “‘ono and pono” breakfast, provided by Slow Food of Hawai‘i and many O‘ahu’s farmers and chefs, as well as a “model school lunch” prepared byHale Kealoha ‘Ai Pono as a real-world example of how well-balanced and delicious a locally sourced, USDA-reimbursable school lunch can be. The conference also succeeded in being a zero-waste event with compostable paper lunch trays, food waste collection, and recycling stations.Conference participant Andrea Snow, Hawai‘i’s FoodCorps Fellow, shared that “this was the most thoroughly engaging, inspiring conference I have been to. It was big enough that the national scope of our school lunch program could be understood, but small enough that each person felt connected to the whole and could see their part in it.” The critical discussions facilitated by this year’s Hawai‘i Farm to School Conference will help inform a comprehensive roadmap for the Hui and stakeholders throughout the state to achieve meaningful reforms and results. According to Bernal, “this important event has provided our statewide community with a clearer vision, renewed inspiration, and strengthened ability to individually and collectively work toward and achieve true food security and self-sufficiency for Hawai‘i through a focus on farm to school.”To review the Hawai‘i Farm to School Conference program, speaker bios, and presentations, visit



Since Pele has been very active lately – marching down on Pahoa in the Puna district and seeming to be set to deal with it as she did Kalapana and Royal Gardens, it seemed appropriate to spend a little time talking about who she is and where she came from.

Pele is the ruler of the volcanoes and has many names – Pele-honua-mea – Pele of the sacred land, Pele-ai-honua – Pele the eater of the land, and Ka-‘ula-o-ke-ahi – her spiritual name meaning the redness of the fire.  She is said to be the daughter of Haumea – the earth mother and Kane – the Creator god.  She had many brothers and sisters – some she had a good relationship with, others, not so much.  She is tempestuous by nature, fiery, jealous, and sometimes violent and vengeful, but she can also be nurturing and protective.

When she walks among the humans, she can be seen as a tall, beautiful young woman with red highlights in her long black hair, or as an old woman, wrinkled and bent, usually accompanied by a small white dog. Many stories are told in the islands of people who offered kindness to apparitions of Pele – giving her a ride, offering her a cigarette, giving her food – whose homes and lands were subsequently spared during one of her frequent eruptions – or contrary-wise – were destroyed because they scorned or neglected her.

Tradition holds that Pele came, as did her people, in a voyaging canoe from the ancient homeland of Tahiti – some say she just wanted to travel, others that she was driven out by her older sister, Na-maka-o-Kaha’i who was outraged by Pele’s seduction of her husband.

Pele set out, in any case, for Hawai’i, guided by the great shark god Ka-moho-ali’i, her elder brother, with others of her brothers and sisters, determined to make a new home. She needed a deep pit for her sacred fires, and she moved down the island chain, from Nihoa, to Ni’ihau, to Kaua’i, always digging a pit for her fires. However, she had been pursued by Na-maka-o-Kaha’i, a goddess of the sea and water, who vengefully flooded Pele’s fire pits. Finally on Maui, near Hana, there was an epic battle between the two sisters, and Pele was torn apart. A hill stands at the site of the battle, and is believed to be the mortal remains of Pele. It is called Ka-iwi-o-Pele – the bones of Pele. After this, her spirit was released and elevated to godly status, and her spirit took flight for Hawaii Island.

At long last, Pele found a home that Na-maka-o-kaha’i could not immerse under her floods in Mauna Loa, and her brother Lono-makua started the fires of Mauna Loa and Kilauea for her. Fire starting, even for Pele, was forbidden, as it was an activity reserved for males.  Eventually, her fires moved to Halemau’mau crater on Kilauea, where they burn to this day.


Pele, due to her mortal death and deification in Hawai’i became the first of the truly Hawai’i goddesses. On her long journey, she carried with her, in the shape of an egg, her little sister Hi’iaka, who was born in Hawai’i. Hi’iaka is also revered as a Hawaiian deity with many chants and hula dedicated to her.  Together with their sister Laka, Pele, and Hi’iaka are the patron goddesses of the dance.

There are many stories both old and new about Pele’s exploits and her appearances to warn or threaten, and, of all the Hawaiian deities, she is the one with the largest number of contemporary believers. Even in the new coverage of the current lava flow in Pahoa, local residents do not refer to the flow in any scientific way, but rather as the actions of Pele and most seem resigned to the idea that it is, after all, her territory and she’s just taking it back.

It is certainly easy to understand, when watching the awe-inspiring power of a volcanic eruption, how Madame Pele maintains her hold on the collective imaginations of so many of us who live here and witness her actions.  Many residents refer to her as Tutu Pele – Grandmother Pele.  An often quoted resident of Kalapana, whose home was destroyed early in the now three decades long eruption said, when evacuating: “I love my home; live here all my life, and my family for generations. But if Tutu like take it, it’s her land.” Similar statements have been made from Pahoa residents in recent days, and more are sure to come.


This free, with for purchase enhancements, app is made by and downloadable from ITunes.  I chose Kuala Lumpur, which we will be visiting in March, to have a look at.  There is a city map, with pins for places of interest, differentiated by green pins for general interest and red pins for “must see” attractions.  There are standard tours outlined – in the case of Kuala Lumpur, nine – highlighting various interests.  The ones for KL are Museums and Gardens, Architecture, Religious, Nightlife, Shopping, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Daily Life, and Antique Hunting.   Each category has a listing of points of interest, and, when opened, a description and picture of the point of interest.

However, if you want a map of a specific tour, or you want to create a tour of your own and have it mapped, you need to purchase the upgraded version for $4.99, per city.  This upgrade will provide a higher resolution map, tour route maps, turn by turn walking directions, radar showing directions to specific points of interest, and nearby attractions, and is also without advertising.  For a city that you plan to tour on your own, particularly if you are spending a few days or longer, it is probably a good investment.

There are over 450 cities available from TripSuite, and there is capacity to submit and share photos and to link to various social media.  There is a trip planning function, but it is primitive compared to the specialized apps like TripIt and WorldMate.  Given that there are a large number of cities collected in one common format, this is an app to consider, but there are also many city and region specific completely free apps that are available from the tourism bureaus that will work as well or better, with only a little more time required to find them.

TripIt travel organizing app

Similar in function to WorldMate, TripIt also has free and paid versions, with several enhanced functions in the paid version, including the capacity to track all your travel points in one place, receive alerts to price decreases and better seats for flights, alternate flights, and real-time alerts to cancellations, gate changes, and delays.  Like WorldMate, you can share the details of your trip with friends or colleagues, or keep the itinerary private, and TripIt composes your itinerary from forwarded email confirmations.  However, unlike WorldMate, TripIt is a little more friendly to the leisure traveler and cruiser, allowing you to insert a cruise into the itinerary from a confirmation.  It even outlines all the port stops, at least for ocean cruises.  I’m having a little difficulty getting it to recognize my travel agent’s confirmation of our Viking river cruise, and it may require that I enter those ports manually, but I’m still working with it.

On balance, it is a little easier to understand and intuit  than WorldMate, although I had a little trouble figuring out how to merge two trips that it had created out of my one itinerary.  The help function isn’t all that great and the search function didn’t turn up an immediate answer, as I didn’t use the term ‘merge’ initially.  I did find the answer, but it took a little longer than one would like.  I think with practice it will be a good tool for keeping track of all the details of a trip in one place and accessible on either smart phone or tablet, and may cut down on the amount of paper that I normally carry around with me to prove to the hotel desk that I’ve booked what I say I’ve booked.  More importantly, it will help to highlight any mistakes that might be made in booking dates as it is very clear on gaps or overlaps in scheduled events.  Where plans are incomplete, it prompts you by asking if there are things you want to add.

Of these two, I will definitely be keeping TripIt on my devices, and removing WorldMate, since, for me as a leisure traveler, TripIt has greater functionality.  I may even consider upgrading to the paid version but will save my 30 day free trial of the pro version until I’m actually traveling next spring.

WorldMate travel organizing app

There are two versions of this – a free one and a paid ‘gold’ edition. The comments here reference only the free version.

This is a good tool for the business traveler, or for those doing land based travel in hotels. It is relatively easy to use, with the most helpful function that of creating a trip plan by forwarding the confirmation emails to the application, where it then creates the elements of the trip.

WorldMate makes its money when you use the app to book hotels, flights, or other transportation, and activities. It will suggest that you search for hotels near your arrival airport, for example, using the app’s search function, then booking through them.  Conversely, if you have your hotel and not your flights, it will prompt you to search for flights from your registered home airport to the location of the hotel.  Each booking ‘earns’ you 3 months free at the Gold level.  The company is a subsidiary of Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

WorldMate helps you plan, book and manage your trips. You’ll be notified of delays and cancellations, you get a currency converter, a tip calculator, weather reports and info on local restaurants, businesses and more.  There are functions that allow you ‘share’ the trip with your colleagues and to find any contacts through Linked In who may be in the same area as you.

For the leisure traveler, however, there are some distinct limitations – it does not recognize or add to a trip any booking such as cruises – river or ocean – and forces you to enter those details manually, as ‘transportation’ and should you want to include activities such as shore excursions, I think it would be difficult to impossible.  On balance, if I were traveling principally on land making my own hotel and transportation arrangements, this might be a useful tool, as it tracks delays and cancellations and allows you to check in online through the app.  However, for a leisure traveler, particularly for a cruiser, this app is probably more trouble than it is worth.


Wonderful World of Apps

I’m just now getting into the mobile device world – I know I haven’t even begun to tap the potential of my IPad and IPhone since I mostly have used the former to read books and the latter to make phone calls. Both of them can do so much more, though, and I’m in the process of learning about their capabilities, although I am still holding out for actual conversations or at least e-mail over texting and tweeting, and I’m still struggling with the idea of the camera function – I can take the pictures, but then I can’t seem to get them to go anywhere to be edited.  I’m sure there’s an app or a U-Tube video to show me how, though!

I did discover the utility of travel apps, however, on our last trip when I downloaded the official tourism bureau Rotterdam app and it was very handy with all sorts of maps, information on things to do and see, restaurant reviews and so on. So, last night I started looking around for apps for our upcoming trip to Southeast Asia and was amazed at the depth and breadth of what is out there – mostly for free or not very much. Even Myanmar, which is decidedly not well-developed for tourism has a number of useful apps, including maps, specific guides to Yangon, and translation and language learning guides. Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore are even more extensively covered by free and low-cost apps with all sorts of specializations as well as good general guides, off-line maps, currency exchange apps, translation and travelers phrase guides. The beauty of all this, of course, is no more lugging around printouts or heavy guide books. It is all stored and available at a touch on your phone or tablet.

I’ve downloaded a bunch and will now start looking them over and seeing which ones I want to keep available for our trip. I’ll be putting up reviews of the more (and less) useful of them here soon!

Our weird weather

Snow on Mauna Kea – October 2014

I’m not sure what is happening with our weather here, lately.  We’ve had the wettest year, overall, that I can remember since we moved here in 1998 – with the mouse population explosion that we experienced earlier in the year. And now we’ve had snow – I don’t recall having snow before Halloween.

And on top of that, we’ve already had the first ‘near’ hurricane hit in over 20 years, and now there’s another on lined up to hit us over the weekend!

Tropical Storm Ana

When I first visited Hawaii, there wasn’t even  regular weather forecast person on the evening news – just a recording, basically saying that the weather was going to be in the 70s or 80s with trade winds at 15 to 20 MPH, and morning and afternoon mauka and windward trade showers.  Every day.  Of course, that was a LONG time ago, and since then the whole science (and theater) of weather forecasting has changed, but what we have been experiencing lately sure is a departure from ‘the good ole days’!  Hard to imagine that we are going to have snow and tropical storms in the same week!