Guest Author - Annie Billups
There's no better way to ring in Earth Day than by attending the sixth annual 2010 Kokua Festival on Friday, April 23rd and Saturday, April 24th. Starring Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Taj Mahal, and local artists Anuhea and Jake Shimabukuro, the festival is the primary fundraiser for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation. Kokua is Hawaiian for "help." The expression "Please, kokua" is commonly seen on signs and heard in buses to mean, "Please, help out and don't litter."
Local residents Jack Johnson and his wife Kim founded Kokua Hawaii Foundation in 2003 to promote environmental education and healthy food choices in schools and communities. Kokua volunteers teach public school students the importance of eating locally grown, healthy foods, as well as that of reducing our impact on the planet.
Hawaii imports most of its food from the mainland and other countries, which means it is often overpriced and low in quality. There aren't any legal cattle slaughterhouses in Hawaii, either, so ranches must export cattle to the mainland to be slaughtered and then sent back to Hawaii to eat. That's a lot of carbon for cows and low-quality produce. Locals have long been aware of high food prices due to high oil and transportation costs, and are embracing local foods ever-more fervently. Thanks to Jack Johnson's popularity coupled with "green" fever in the rest of the country, buying from farmers' markets has become a trendy habit and hobby.
Kokua Fest will be held at the Waikiki Shell amphitheater in Kapi'olani Park. It's a family affair with picnickers spread out across blankets and fans singing along to favorite songs. The festival draws crowds from outer islands and the mainland, paradoxically detracting from its message to reduce the carbon footprint.
Attendees can roam the Kokua Village to shop, eat, and learn how to help the environment. Each booth featured represents the spirit of kokua and aloha with its eco-minded values. Big corporations with a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility like Patagonia, Kashi, and Stonyfield Farms will be there. Local Hawaiian businesses will set up shop, as well, selling organic t-shirts, canvas bags, and water bottles sporting the Kokua Fest logo. Nonprofits such as Kanu Hawaii, Hawai'i Farmers Union, and the Surfrider Foundation will educate and recruit interested volunteers. Foodies can try local foods from Big Wave Tomatoes, Down to Earth, and other such vendors. The waste-weary can unload recyclables to one of the many volunteer booths, and fill up reusable water bottles at the Menehune water station. Bike valets will even valet park bikes for free, and a shuttle will service two routes: one from Haleiwa and one from Laie.
Born and bred on Oahu, Jack Johnson loves the islands and endeavors to preserve them. His international fame has allowed his eco-conscience to transcend Hawaii and touch tour destinations across the globe. During his 2008 world tour, he powered his busses and generators with biodiesel fuel to offset carbon dioxide emissions. His concerts unfailingly seek to promote sustainability, and from this tour alone, $900,000 was donated to 184 environmental nonprofits around the world. Furthermore, his record label Brushfire Fairytales uses solar energy to record albums and 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper for packaging. The list goes on. Jack Johnson appears to practice what he preaches.
Tickets for the 2010 Kokua Fest are hard to get at this point, but not impossible. Since the Waikiki Shell is located in Kap'iolani Park, fans can set up tents and blankets in the grass and hear the music loud and clear. A lot of locals choose this cheap and easy route rather than purchase tickets for shows at the Shell. But please, kokua.
For more information, see the links below.