UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Meeting Notes - October 30, 2020

Importance of Place Committee Meeting: Friday, October 30 at 1:00pm

Present: Bruce Torres Fischer, Heather Kaluna, Michele Ebersole, Ulu Ching, Janice Ikeda, Kathleen Baumgardner

Meeting purpose: Moving projects forward. The discussion was focused on the committee’s identified projects.

Ka Leo o Ka Uluau Podcast

Bruce updated the team on the podcast, starting with the name - Ka Leo o ka Uluau, The Voice of the Uluau Wind. All agreed that the name was a great fit.

He gave an overview: The purpose of Ka Leo o ka Uluau is to hoʻokamaʻāina listeners to the island of Hawaiʻi, starting in Hilo and making our way clockwise around the island. (Going clockwise is an intentional choice, as it represents the retention of knowledge.) The podcast will consist of four episodes from each of the six moku of Hawaiʻi for a total of 24 episodes, published bi-monthly to podcast distribution platforms. Storytellers from the community will visit to share moʻolelo from select places. The podcast will start in January/February 2021 to be released bi-monthly, finishing December 2021. The episodes will acquaint the listener with key places, histories, people, traditions, and lessons from each. The order of appearance will be as follows: Hilo, Puna, Kaʻū, Kona, Kohala, and Hāmākua.

Bruce shared several planning documents that included the overview above; information about roles in the production of the podcast; a chart to capture the moku (Districts), wahi (podcast settings), mea kipa (guest storytellers), and moʻolelo (stories); budget projections, and a podcast master script template. For the first episode, there will likely be more time spent on the purpose of the podcast. The group had many ideas for storytellers and places/stories to feature. The planning documents will be placed in the project folder, so committee members can add their thoughts.

We discussed the importance of widely sharing this podcast, so it is useful for many audiences beyond our campus. The content could be quite relevant in classrooms well beyond UH Hilo and offer value to many varied audiences.

A website could be established to support the podcast with photos, video, maps, bios of each storyteller, and other supporting resources for each wahi pana.

The budget identified is quite small and may be covered through grant funding or other avenues of support. Honoraria for the storytellers could be cash or gift cards. We discussed support for those who will be devoting their time and talent to produce the podcast, making sure that we value their time.

Action items for the Ka Leo o Ka Uluau Podcast:

  • All committee members should review Bruce’s documents that are in the shared project folder and provide input.
  • A meeting has already been set with Hualani, Bruce and Kathleen for next week in order to better understand who fills all the roles required to create the podcast.
  • Bruce will begin working on a podcast production schedule.
  • Create a website for the podcast. Kathleen has sent a message to Brennan and will report back.
  • Podcast art - we need to identify an artist and have them create podcast cover art that could be used on distribution platforms and the web.
  • Determine funding sources as soon as possible. Janice mentioned opportunities through Vibrant Hawaiʻi. We will also explore funding through the Kīpuka grant. Hualani spoke with Aunty Gail and the project lines up with the intent of the grant, but there is a question of whether it is possible for the money to flow outside of Kīpuka.
  • The deadline for content for a Ka Nūpepa article is December 16 (January 11 distribution date), so we will need a basic website in place and the date of first episode release along with some information about that episode. We could either commit to promoting a finished episode or promote an upcoming release.

Garden or On-campus Improvement Project/Event

The idea: There are multiple garden efforts across campus. Students participating in an on-campus improvement/garden project or event might learn about native plants, history, and the host culture, while getting their hands in the dirt and finding new ways to spend time in nature. These experiences will help students connect to our campus and the Hilo community in meaningful and authentic ways, and provide healthy outlets to keep them grounded. Garden efforts could work during this time when distancing is important and even more so after restrictions eases.

Updates on current efforts: Lito and three students are working consistently, TCBES is active, and Kīpuka has completed their second Māla Day. Hualani reported that Māla Day students had to be reminded to keep socially distant, and peer mentors helped. They had four students per event, plus mentors, with 6-8 students total. They used the regular UH liability forms.

Heather created and distributed a UH Hilo Campus Garden Days Survey, and there were 55 respondents.

Respondent Demographics:

  • Class standing: 34.5% freshmen, 25.5% junior, 20% senior, 16.4% sophomore, 3.6% grad students
  • Student home: 47.3% Hawaiʻi Island, 30.9% from another state, 18.2% off island but within Hawaiʻi, 3.6% another country
  • Living on- or off-campus: 63.6% Off-campus, on Hawaiʻi island, 29.1% On-campus, 7.3% off-campus and off-island

60% of students were aware that UH Hilo has a variety of gardens across campus, while 36.4% were unaware, while the remaining respondents were not sure where gardens are located or were only aware of the botanical gardens. A majority of students (54.5%) thought that participating in campus beautification would help them to connect to campus and the community and be beneficial. 92.7% of all respondents thought it would be beneficial or might be beneficial. Most indicate that they have little or an average amount of experience gardening. Interest in garden work days is mixed, but leaning toward yes.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the most popular days for students to engage in a work day. The least popular day is Thursday. Afternoons are most attractive.

Most respondents are interested in learning how to identify native Hawaiian plants and invasive species (50.9% responded 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale). Even more students are interested in learning about the stories related to our native Hawaiian plants and traditional Hawaiian planting cycles (67.3% responded 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale)

Thoughts or ideas that respondents shared in an open-ended question:

  • Community vegetable garden
  • I love this idea! As a transfer student, I am always looking for ways to connect more with the campus community and meet other students.
  • We did a survey about existing tree species within the campus in 2018 and found out there are very few number of native trees remaining within the lower campus area such as Ohia and Hala trees. And there were more than 1200 invasive trees recorded by that time within the same study area.
  • So if we could introduce more native or non-invasive/ indigenous trees into the campus that would add a cultural value to the university grounds while preserving the native trees within the landscape. And it will give students (who are out of the state and other countries) a good experience to closely live with the native trees on this island.
  • TCBES has already started looking into caring for the yard space and planters within the Life Science building. We met with faculty to discuss next steps and feel that it would be a valuable service to undergraduate students currently meeting face-to-face AND a way to mālama our campus. Additionally, several of our Biology Department faculty have planted native species in this area furthering the need for more attention.
  • The invasive species on campus should be removed and replaced with Native Hawaiian plants. Students should also benefit from these plants (picking fruits, flowers, etc.)
  • I would suggest to not make it required if that is what the committee was thinking but have classes offer extra credit points and heavily advertise around campus about the gardens and projects. I only learned about the gardens around campus through an agriculture course that I took but other than that, I wouldn't have known. If this initiative takes off, allow individuals that show up to two or more projects to take home produce.
  • A community garden would be so awesome! And maybe a native tree propagation group that could sell baby native trees/plants to students and the community to plant at their homes to support the costs of the project while giving love to the ‘aina. Mahalo for considering more gardening options and learning opportunities!
  • I think a beautification project is a great idea, as our campus is a reflection of ourselves.

After reviewing the survey results, there was discussion that included many threads:

  • Exchange students may benefit from this opportunity.
  • The idea of extra credit points in classes is interesting.
  • A composting project may work well, perhaps working with CAFNRM.
  • Signage/Artwork that ties all the garden spaces together with a QR code that links to garden volunteer sign up.
  • A distinction on the UH Hilo diploma - kuaʻāina
  • Widen the volunteer pool so that it includes people in the community, prospective students and their families.
  • There are many members of the community and community organizations focused on gardening, place-based ancestral knowledge, and resilience that may partner with us and provide stories and knowledge that students are interested in learning more about (As noted before, students are interested in learning about the stories related to our native Hawaiian plants and traditional Hawaiian planting cycles with 67.3% responding 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale). Organizations mentioned include but are not limited to Pōhāhā I Ka Lani, Honeybee Education Program, and Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili (huiMAU).

Action items for the Garden or On-campus Improvement Project/Event:

  • Michele and Heather will reach out to the contacts for the garden efforts on campus to begin identifying a few days for garden events this spring.
  • We will begin looking at setting up a garden volunteer calendar (beyond one-off events) - with solid descriptions of the various options available to students.

UNIV 101/102 Class

The idea: The UNIV 101/102 class could help ground students in a sense of place and introduce them to skills and resources needed to thrive at a UH Hilo. These introductory courses could use place-based, community-engaged learning.

There was a meeting early in the week to discuss UNIV 101 with VCAA Kris Roney, Michele and Hualani (from this committee), Julie Mowrer (Relationships Doing Committee and Center for Community Engagement), and Professor Kerri Inglis who wrote the proposal for a class called Kuleana and Community. Kathleen gave an overview of that meeting:

As a group, we decided that it is possible to weave the core success pieces currently taught in the 1-credit course into a 3-credit course like the one that Kerri has envisioned. We feel that this project is a great fit with UH Hilo's focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative work, community engagement, and student success. It also creates opportunities for both faculty and students to connect with place while building relationships in our community, impacting retention across our campus.

The group discussed several steps to take in order to move forward with a new class:

  • Widen the discussion to include people who have been engaged in UNIV 101 - Steve Lundblad (Geology, Engaged Scholar, on sabbatical now), Helen Tien (Business, Engaged Scholar), Alicia Takaoka (English, Engaged Scholar), and Stan Nakanishi (Bio).
  • Spend time developing a full course proposal.
  • Identify a time frame (FA21 or FA 22) for a pilot course with 5-6 sections, knowing that the successful pilot will need to scale up.
  • Determine how to prepare people to teach this course and identify those who could teach it with minimal training until we build capacity.
  • Establish an appropriate home for the course with the resources to provide coordination.
  • Explore funding opportunities that may provide budget relief for this effort.

While the group is optimistic, they are cautious about sinking time and hope into a project that may not be possible in the next year or two. The group asked that I follow up with VCAA Roney to ask a critical question: How realistic is it to expect resources (course release, dollars, coordination) to make this project possible given the current budget situation? Might this be a priority?

Doing Committee discussion included the idea of co-teaching (acad affairs / student affairs, faculty / community members, etc.). We also talked about what budget monies would be needed and how we might think outside the box. At this point, we have the budget estimates in Kerri’s proposal. Might we engage graduates of UH Hilo to come back as guest speakers? Might we identify current students as teaching assistants in the course who could return to participate after they graduate? We should not be afraid to move forward and begin the project with little or no money. You can make things happen, especially if the project is important.

Action items for the UNIV 101/102 Class:

  • Kathleen will let the group know what response is received from VCAA Roney so we can decide how to move forward.

At this point in the discussion, the 90 minute meeting time had expired. Great meeting!