The start of a new community art project, HighWaterLine, had its first of three workshops held at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies on Thursday, Dec. 12.

The start of a new community art project, HighWaterLine, had its first of three workshops held at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies on Thursday, Dec. 12.

The project is co-hosted by Christina Gerhardt, author and associate professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and Adele Balderston, geographer and founder of 88 Blocks Walls, a series of walking tours in the Kaka'ako neighborhood.

At the first workshop, a number of panelists explored the potential impacts of climate change and sea level rise in Honolulu through a talk-story style discussion. 

Assistant professor Noelani Puniwai from the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa shared her studies on climate change from a kanaka perspective, saying that we should not be afraid of change, but instead learn to adapt.

“How do we take all these stories, moʻolelos, and actually integrate them into these changes we see and feel,” Puniwai said. “If you’re connected to those places and you’re changing with them then it doesn’t have to be something scary.”

She said that if people in Hawaiʻi love this land and are here for the long term, then “they’re here to accept it and embrace the change.”

Panelist Bradley Romine, coastal management specialist for the UH Sea Grant College Program and Hawai'i State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands explained that Hawaiʻi is experiencing “sea level rise now in the form of particularly coastal erosion.”

After looking at aerial footage to observe how beaches have changed, he found that “about 70% of beaches around Kauaʻi, O‘ahu and Maui have this chronic long term erosion problem.” 

“The beaches and shoreline have actually steadily retreated back of course into our development, homes, roads, condos,” Romine said. “And we’re facing a situation that’s only going to get worse.”

Along with a series of free to the public workshops to devise local climate change resiliency, participants have the opportunity to “walk the future shoreline forecast due to sea level rise” using a chalk liner.

The project will use data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and follow a model known as the “Sea Level Rise Inundation: 6-ft Scenario” to plan out the walks.

Two walks will be held for the Kaka‘ako neighborhood which will offer opportunity to learn the historical flow of water in Kaka‘ako, once a wetlands area, and to discuss current and future flooding.

Originally initiated by New York based environmental artist Eve Mosher in 2007, several cities including Miami, FL and Bristol, U.K. have also started their own HighWaterLine projects.

The HighWaterLine website explains that the public art intervention allows “communities to visualize the future impacts of climate change before they hit as well as inspire conversations about this urgent issue.”

The project aims to use creativity as a tool to empower communities living on the front lines of climate change while also bringing awareness to environmental issues.

The next workshop, “Translating the science,” will be held Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 1601 East-West Road, from 1:30-4 p.m.

The keiki walk will be held Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 9-11 a.m. starting at KĪPUKA by Nā Mea Hawaiʻi  in Ward Village.

The community walk will be held Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 9-11 a.m. starting at KĪPUKA by Nā Mea Hawaiʻi in Ward Village.

RSVP to the community walk at this eventbrite link.

News Editor

Geneva Diaz is a senior majoring in Journalism with a minor in Theatre at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her goals are to work in radio journalism as an environmental journalist.