I never really knew if my small actions were making that much of a dent in the big picture of our planet. But the experience of laulima, many hands working together, showed me the power of our collective action … We were thousands of feet up leeward Haleakala on Maui, about 30 of us volunteers and the talented team from Maui Restoration Group, the stewards of Auwahi — a restored area of mountainside teeming with indigenous trees, plants, and birds. As we climbed, we passed a section of native trees that had been planted by a previous group of volunteers. They were already head high, and thriving. All day we dug holes and tucked in tiny plants, up and down the steep terrain. By early afternoon, 30 of us had planted nearly 1,300 trees — a small forest! It was a testament to me of how one person can truly make a difference when we work together …
By: Kirsten Whatley on December 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm
Mahalo to Kirsten Whatley for inspiring me to share this story of volunteerism on behalf of the students of Leadership Kaua’i … This community project group planned a re-forestation work-day in which they successfully planted 60 koa i’a in the Ahupua’a of Waipa, Hanalei back in October, despite the pouring rain. Hopefully, you’ll be able to view the vide/slideshow I uploaded: http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d5449334d5451324e7a52384d544d784d446b304d44633d0d0a&sb=1. Mahalo also to Stacy Sproat of the Waipa Foundation for being the true Leader in living the life of stewardship for a very special place.
Early on a Saturday morning a Medieval village of tents began to grow on the shore of North Ka’anapali. Slowly the tents were erected one by one by a small clan of Menehunue (disguised as Makai Watch) so that government and NGO folks could set up their exhibits. The posters were hung, the colorful pamphlets were laid out on the tables, and the freshly prepared foods were arranged in a tempting spread. And the pilgrims arrived from far and wide with flippers and snorkels and BCDS and wetsuits and heavy cans of air. And they brought their children – the future scientists and leaders. They came for many reasons: some to enjoy the sun and surf; others to count fish; and all came to celebrate the second anniversary of a marine protected area called the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area.
Armed only with underwater slates and cameras, a dozen snorkelers slipped into the ocean further up the beach, allowing the constant wind to help them drift South and back to the village of tents. Then smaller groups of divers turned on the valves of their air tanks and kicked slowly offshore before drifting down to the reef below. All were greeted by hungry schools of fish – herbivores – parrotfish and surgeonfish chomping away and keeping the coral reef from being overwhelmed by the algae. In a soundless exchange of solidarity, a dozen divers waved and gave the “okay” sign to a dozen snorkelers patrolling from the surface. They had come to see the abundance of marine life and they found biodiversity. Scattered across the bottom of the reef were the experiments of scientists in big metal cages (under permit, of course) studying the role of urchins in the health of the coral reef ecosystem.
Back on shore, with gear cleaned up and packed away, they feasted and posed for photographs. Of course there was a Kahekili birthday cake. And, of course there was the traditional group photo with everyone wearing funny little birthday hats. Sylvia Earle has a dream of “hope spots” – places that are critical to the health of the ocean. Kahekili is a “hope spot” in the main Hawaiian Islands because it was doomed to become another reef collapse. But, thanks to the work of scientists, government, community and volunteers, there is hope.