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Yes, the video is long. Do yourself a favor and watch a few minutes anyway.
You’ll thank me later. The music is from Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Bruddah Iz.

Here in Hawaii we are privileged to witness Mother Earth in the ongoing
process of creating herself. Her molten core explodes spectacularly through her
thin skin in a magnificent show of sound and light, expanding our islands into
the sea and pushing her mountains ever upward. She is even now birthing our
next island deep beneath the ocean off of The Big Island. Seeing such a powerful
show of her strengths it’s easy to forget how fragile she really is. For thousands
of years it was assumed that mere mortals could do her no harm. We know
better now, but we’re paying the price for our past ignorance. Unique landscapes
have been lost, animal and plant species have disappeared and our water and air
have been fouled. Some of the wounds we’ve inflicted will leave everlasting scars, but
others can be healed, given the passage of time and a lot of help from each of
us.

We’re living green

Most of us have made some significant changes in the ways we live our daily
lives. We drive fuel-efficient cars or take public transportation, use
funny-looking light bulbs and canvas shopping bags, eat locally-grown foods that
don’t burn a few tons of fossil fuels to get to our door. I take five-minute,
tepid showers most days, have xeriscaped most of my yard and am having a
gray-water system installed to recycle laundry water to my tiny herb and
tropical plant garden. We do what we can and we’re making a difference, but we
all know it’s just not enough.

We’re making things happen

Last month Ashley blogged about Giving Back and announced that some upcoming
projects will invite the entire Izea community to work together in support of
some charitable and philanthropic efforts. This is good. Money is needed to make
these efforts grow. Our community is big enough and generous enough
to have a positive impact when we all work together. More than money is needed,
though, so I’d like to expand on that idea and challenge each individual in our
community to invest some personal time, some creativity and maybe a little sweat
into making our world a better place.

Volunteer!

You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.
Maya Angelou

One of the ways I believe we can all “do better” is through volunteerism. I
had some time to kill in downtown Honolulu a few weeks ago so I popped into the
local offices of The Nature Conservancy.  Did you know that they have projects and
offices in all fifty states and in thirty countries around the world? They
may have something going on in your own backyard and would welcome your help.
If they don’t, that’s okay. Someone does! Help the Sierra Club  plant some trees
or clean up a local stream. Find out about conservation efforts through your local
zoo or aquarium, then pitch in and help! Did you know that 2008 has been declared
the International Year of the Reef and that the loss of coral reef habitats is
disrupting the food chain throughout our oceans? I’ve participated in a local
program that is mapping our coral reefs and cleaning up our beaches to
help minimize future losses. If you’re in a coastal community there
are probably similar projects near you that you can support.

No local program? Start one!

Every good idea started with one person. If you’re too shy to take the reins
yourself, start some buzz within your PTA, your community service organization
or your kids’ youth programs. Talk about an environmental  problem you’ve
noticed and ways that a small group of volunteers can effect a change. Enlist
others! Youth organizations are always looking for community service projects.
One of our local Boy Scout troops sets up collection points for old computers,
breaks them down into their component parts and  recycles them. They do it
because someone saw the need and helped them make a plan.

Make it a family affair

Children who participate in volunteer projects with their parents establish a
lifelong habit of giving back. Find age-appropriate activities you can all
share. All children love to plant seeds and watch them grow. Is there a
reforestation project near you? Find out what trees are needed and whether you
can grow seedlings and help with planting. Ask your children what they think
the janitorial staff does with with the wastepaper from their classrooms each
evening. If it’s bundled up in plastic bags and sent to the landfill, can you
think of a better way to dispose of it? Get creative, and encourage your
children to express their own concerns and creative solutions, too. You’re
raising the generation that will take up where we leave off. Help them develop
the skills and the desire to do a better job than we did.

Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono – The life of the land is
perpetuated in righteousness

While it has specific meaning and historical context for the Hawaiian people,
I think that the Hawaii state motto  contains a powerful message for
each of us who is concerned about our environment.  Our pono – our goodness and
righteousness – serves no one if we don’t allow it to propel us into action. We
can bring some healing to the aina – the land – but it’s going to take a lot of
hard work from all of us. It begins with a personal commitment and can go forward
into future generations. We know better. Will we do better?

[tags]activism, environment, giving back,  Hawaii, volunteerism[/tags]
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