‘Quito Grown’ Appears On Earth Island Journal

Whoa, I barely even finished sending out rewards to my Kickstater backers for “Quito Grown,” and I’ve learn that Earth Island Journal decided to publish my article on its website today. I just submitted my draft yesterday. Now that’s what I call a quick turnaround!

The unfinished greenhouse on the rooftop of Escuela Bogota. Photo by Julia C.

Unfortunately, the editor previously forewarned me that the article would likely not make it into print. That’s one of the drawbacks of pitching to a quarterly magazine. But I’m still very excited and thankful for the article’s online appearance, and I’ll be trying to spread the link around and get as much exposure as possible. Feel free to help a sister out!

Marco waters vegetables in the garden at this school. (Photo by Julia)

I hope you enjoy my article “In Ecuador, urban farms provide an antidote to rising food prices.” Thanks, again, to everyone for all your support both emotionally and financially.

UCLA student Daniel Block works with kids on the greenhouse project in Quito. (Photo by Julia)

More good news: Alternet has also published my story. One more thing! In my article, you’ll read about a nongovernmental organization called Triple Salto. This group is critical in making urban farms happen throughout the city of Quito, and they have an ongoing need for donations and international volunteers. To connect with or donate to Triple Salto, visit www.triplesalto.org or email info@triplesalto.org.

An agricultural engineer with CONQUITO assembles a greenhouse on the rooftop of a school. (Photo by Julia)

While You Wait

I’m busy writing my article on urban farming in Quito, Ecuador, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show you all a good time while you wait (the story won’t be published until a few months from now, so make yourself comfortable). Here are some photos taken by my sister Julia and new friend (and accomplished artist and photographer) Christian Velastegui.

Overlooking Quito, a city of 2 million people nestled in the Andes. Photo by Julia.

One of many stray dogs in Quito. Photo by Julia.

A street performer in downtown Quito. Photo by Christian Velastegui.

A fellow street performer in downtown Quito. Photo by Christian Velastegui.

Off We Go!

Hola! I’ve brushed up on my Spanish, packed mosquito repellant and Pepto-Bismol, and suffered the side effects of a Typhoid vaccine. This can only mean one thing: My trip to Ecuador is almost here! I leave this Sunday for an eight-day foray in Quito. My sister is coming along to snap photographs and make sure I don’t get lost. We’ll visit the site of an urban farming project and speak with locals taking a community-based approach to addressing rising food prices and malnourishment by growing their own organic produce. Wish us luck!

Time For A Change

So far, this blog has chronicled my “Wailing Peacocks” project, which involved a Kickstarter campaign, traveling to Hawaii and writing about the revival of ancient Polynesian voyaging and its role in navigating climate change. Now, this blog will tell of my second Kickstarter venture, which involves a trip to Quito, Ecuador to write about an urban farming project. Click here to learn about “Quito Grown.” I hope you’ll follow along on my journey! But, first, here are some of my favorite photos from the Hawaii project.

Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld, left, and Kapu Na Keiki member Jason Patterson rebuild Hokule’a.

Kapu Na Keiki member Jason Patterson works on repairing the legendary canoe, Hokule’a.

Kapu Na Keiki members prepare for a short sail.

Kaina Holomalia reflects on the importance of voyaging in his life.

Article Published In Yes! Magazine

It’s official! Nearly a year after launching my Kickstarter campaign, my project is complete. My article “Rising Sea Levels: The View from a Canoe” appears in the spring 2012 issue of Yes! magazine, which hit newsstands in late February. This national publication aims “to support people’s active engagement in creating a more just, sustainable and compassionate society.” Well, that sounds good to me!

Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld, left, and Jason Patterson of Kapu Na Keiki work on refurbishing Hokule’a in August 2011.

I want to thank all of my Kickstarter contributors for making this article possible by funding my travel and lodging expenses for my trip to Honolulu, HI in August 2011 so I could conduct interviews, gather background information and snap photos (with the help of photographer Cole Allen) for the article. Mahalo!

No More Blah Blog!

Blogging is weird. I’m new to this and must admit, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. This came as a surprise to me, considering I am a journalist and write for a living. I actually looked at my blog today — which is apparently an important thing to do on a regular basis — and had a realization: If I was a first-time reader to “Wailing Peacocks,” I’d  be totally lost.

That is not OK!

I think my problem is I don’t update this blog enough. I’ll try hard to do better, I promise. Sometimes I just get distracted. I can’t help it — I recently discovered “Dexter” on DVD.

I’m sure my legions of loyal readers remember the point of this blog, but for you newbies, here’s a recap. “Wailing Peacocks” chronicles my attempts to research and write about the revival of ancient Polynesian voyaging and its role in the Hawaiian Renaissance.

I plan to visit Honolulu, HI in August to conduct interviews and hang out with Polynesian Voyaging Society crew members as they prepare to embark on a worldwide voyage. Hopefully, all of this will result in a feature article —written by me, duh — published in a national magazine.

Now, you’re up to speed! Watch for more blog posts soon. In the meantime, feel free to offer tips on how this blog can go from “blah” to “blaze -,” um, “blaph -,” let’s see … to “bl-awesome!”

Feeling The Heat

Five years ago, I spent summer in Hawaii. Here’s a look back …

I had been warned not to pack jeans. Oahu is hot and humid all the time, seriously, 24 hours a day, my friend Lisa told me over the phone. She had flown to Honolulu a month before and settled into her job at a nonprofit native Hawaiian law firm and into the studio cottage we’d share the rest of summer.

But I pack jeans anyway. My first full day in Hawaii, I pull them up my legs, zip the zipper, slip on a T-shirt and tie my hair in a ponytail. At the last second, I apply some makeup. People are attractive here.

This is a mistake. It’s so hot. I’m drenching sweat, trying to make my way to a convenience store for water. I hate Hawaii. Why do people even come here? Why do I insist on wearing such tight jeans? And why are there no convenience stores?! I’m so annoyed. The Converse All Stars would have to go, too. This is Daisy Dukes and flip-flops territory. The next day, I walk to the public library to grab maps for bus routes, with no choice but to quickly and desperately figure out the (air-conditioned) bus system. Later, I disembark outside Goodwill to purchase more shorts and tank tops.

Now, I’m ready to start.

This is Nainoa Thompson! (courtesy: PVS)

I traveled to Hawaii almost on a whim, when Lisa called to tell me about this Polynesian voyaging group she heard about from colleagues at her internship. Why don’t I write about this group for my final graduate school project, she suggested. Sure, sounds pretty good to me!

But this trip wouldn’t include pricey luaus or tanning on Waikiki beach all day — OK, maybe I engaged in little (a lot) of that.

Within a couple weeks, I’d visit the Hawaii State Art Museum, Bishop Museum and (now closed) Hawaii Maritime Center, and spend most afternoons walking around downtown Honolulu. I toured ‘Iolani Palance and St. Andrew’s Cathedral where a stained-glass window shows Jesus ascending Heaven on a surfboard. I quickly got over my hesitation of killing bugs — specifically, cockroaches and centipedes — and learned to ignore geckos squirming around the walls above my bed. I developed a fondess for Yellowman and memorized every lyric to a song about wanting to be free. It was great.

But, as time slipped away, my ultimate mission remained unfulfilled: A face-to-face meeting with Nainoa Thompson. And this had to happen.