Next Saturday, Aug. 12, a dozen chefs, local beverage purveyors and entertainers will converge at the Sugar Beach oceanfront hot spot for a Maui Huliau Foundation fundraiser food and film festival. The event will have chef stations, a bar and silent auction, but it will also showcase student short films that tell the backstory behind the locally sourced dishes at the event. Guests will vote for their favorites, as well as being treated to screen a few of the other films made in the Huliau’s programs.
“These films are currently in progress,” says Program Director Malia Cahill. “This year the students wanted to team up so we are just doing three films for the competition but we will also be showing a few films from this school year. The students range from age 12-18 and all have completed at least one semester of our filmmaking program. They worked with our three newest event chefs, visiting farms, farmerʻs markets and kitchens to share their story of why cooking with local ingredients is important. The guests at our Aug. 12 event will vote on their favorite film. The films focus more on the chefʻs stories and their personal connection to local agriculture rather than the dishes themselves. The chefs involved in the films this year are chefs Tiffany Ward, Maja Liotta and Jacquelyn Torres.”
Maui Huliau Foundation started just a few years ago, but its impact and popularity keep growing. This small nonprofit takes students and teaches environmental issues through filmmaking and summer camps.
“Maui Huliau Foundation was founded in 2010 by me, but has quickly taken on a life of its own as hundreds of students and our community partners have added to our programs each year,” says Cahill. “We still only have one and a half employees. I’m full time and our Program Assistant Ashley OʻColmain is part-time, but we accomplish a lot for a very small organization and our budget is just over $100,000. This is largely due to all our community partners, volunteers and our students. We operate out of free community spaces, primarily Hawaiian Canoe Club, our original home, but also Maui Prep Academy which hosted our first west side program last semester. Partnering with other organizations and businesses is also a HUGE part of what we do including local farms, Maui Ocean Center, UH Maui College, recycling centers and many others that can assist us in teaching youth about their local environment and how we can protect it.”
The students created a number of incredible films over the last year, in a wide variety of topics. Growing Farmers partners with the Hawaii Farmers Union Farm apprentice mentoring program to explore the youngest generation of farmers on Maui in the post-sugarcane era, and what regenerative ag projects they’re tackling. In Under the Sea Debris, students collaborated with the Bahamas Plastic Movement and Space 2 Create to make an international musical film about ocean pollution (with a nod to Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea”). Westside students worked on a whiteboard drawing style animated film called Rising Tide that gives the facts about how humans are impacting the carbon cycle, with a call to action for local communities. And the parody Prescription Strength Convenience students examine the social impacts from our convenience-driven society.
“Our other film topics this year included a documentary on coral bleaching,” says Cahill. “We also did a film about our Huliau Zero Waste Events program, a film called Sea Police by our new Westside students where they arrest people for environmental infractions against the ocean, a documentary on the work of Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Project and an overview of our state’s Aloha + Challenge sustainability goals.”
The Maui Huliau Foundation has always held filmmaking and environmental education hand in hand. That is partially because of the effect it has had on engaging the students.
“The huliau environmental filmmaking club is a great program that has taught me about important environmental issues in the world and leadership skills,” says Kaʻimi Kaleleiki, a 12-year-old Lahaina Intermediate student who was part of the inaugural Westside program last spring. “The experience has helped me achieve my goals and dreams currently and for my future.”
When Cahill started the nonprofit, she thought filmmaking would be a great hook for her environmental education programs, but didn’t know much about it. Nevertheless, she dove in with a free class and donated equipment.
“Growing up on Maui I realized that a lot of crucial experiences I had as a teenager led me to want to study and work in this field on Maui and I felt that we needed more programs here for the 12-18 age group,” says Cahill. “My background was in environmental education. I honestly knew nothing about filmmaking and I never intended to start a nonprofit, as I had worked for one before and I knew the struggles. I had recently attended a community film showing and just felt like there was a lot of potential in using film to share stories about Maui’s environment and solutions to environmental problems. We started teaching a free weekly program upstairs at Hawaiian Canoe Club with $100 cameras, some donated equipment and no paid staff.”
The program grew quickly and Cahill has leveraged recent program graduates back into the fold.
“Over the past seven years the program it has evolved from there and expanded into non-film programs and leadership projects inspired by our students,” she says. “The most exciting thing about the past few years has been seeing our alumni go on to study environmental studies and filmmaking in college and then having them return and want to help inspire new students, like our alumni-founded Eco-Adventure summer program. To us this is a true sign that we are fulfilling our mission to build environmental literacy and leadership among Maui’s youth. The 2017-18 school year is going to be exciting for us as we are expanding programs with the Huliau Outdoor Leadership Council, our zero waste events and new climate change programs working closely with teachers.”
At the end of the program, the kids present their films at the Huliau Youth Environmental Film Festival and Cahill says they are also submitting their films into film festivals.
“Filmmaking is a very powerful and creative way to share stories, to get people to connect to an issue and to inspire action,” says Cahill. “Young people today are inundated with media in all its forms but our program encourages them to produce ‘media with a message’ and see media as a powerful tool to unite and inspire people, and to bring about change, rather than just as mindless entertainment.”
The Huliau Food & Film Festival will be held on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 5:30-9pm for guests 21 and over only. Tickets are $110 and include all chef stations and one complimentary drink. There will also be a cash bar and silent auction. Click here for more info.
Maui Huliau Foundation Programs:
Huliau Environmental Filmmaking Club
|Now in its 8th school year, our filmmaking club has involved hundreds of students from 16 schools on Maui in creating more than 50 short environmental films from documentaries to music videos. These films have been selected more than 60 times in festivals around the world and have won multiple awards. The program is open to students in grades 7-12 from all schools. Fall applications for our program based at Hawaiian Canoe Club are now open on our website and the program begins September 2nd. The program fee is $125 and need-based scholarship are available. We tentatively plan to do a west side program in the spring as we did last school year. http://www.mauihuliaufoundation.org/hefc|
Huliau Eco-Adventure Program
|Huliau Eco-Adventure is a 4 day hands-on introduction to environmental studies for students entering grades 7-9. Students engage in experiential learning through fun group explorations of Maui’s unique environments. Activities include hiking, swimming, restoration projects, farm activities, filmmaking, a visit to Maui Ocean Center, and more! The program is planned and led by Huliau alumni in collaboration with our staff, our high school leadership team, and experts in various environmental fields. The program is held in mid-July every year visiting at least 8 different sites.|
Huliau Outdoor Leadership Council
|We are excited to announce the formation of our newest program coming in the 2017-18 school year! The Huliau Outdoor Leadership Council will bring together all our student-led projects, service projects and additional overnight adventures into one new and improved program! This program is open to 8 students in grades 10-12 from all schools who will meet monthly to plan overnight programs, service projects and other environmental leadership projects. The overnights and service projects they coordinate will be open to other students in grades 7-12 as decided on by council members. This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in college majors and careers in the environmental field. There is no fee for this program but unlike our other programs, it is not first-come, first-served. Students will be selected based on their applications, interest and having various school represented. We are accepting applications now for inspired students wanting to make a difference in their community.|
Huliau Zero Waste Events
|Huliau Zero Waste Events is one of our newest programs launched in 2016. Our staff and students work with large events to divert over 80% of waste from the landfill by staffing zero waste stations, replacing single-use plastic, composting and recycling. In the 2017-18 school year we are expanding the program with new and improved stations and a station-lending and training programs to help other non-profits make their events zero waste. http://www.mauihuliaufoundation.org/zerowaste|
Haleakalā Backpacking trip
For the past four summers our staff have led students on a four day backpacking trip through Haleakalā crater. For many students this is their first backpacking experience and it is open to all students who have participated in any Huliau program including our alumni.
Plastic Free projects
In addition to our regular programs, Maui Huliau assists students with student-led projects regarding environmental issues that are important to them. For the past few years, our students have been particularly concerned with the many negative impacts of plastic in our oceans.
This has led them to create projects such as #Sporkitup reusable bamboo utensils and the state-wide Ocean Friendly Restaurants program in partnership with Surfrider Foundation, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation and other local non-profits. They have also been invited to attend the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions international youth summit for three years in a row to collaborate and share these projects. This school year we plan to continue this projects as part of our Huliau Outdoor Leadership Council.
Climate Change Programs to come in 2017-18 school year
In addition, a growing focus in all of our programs this school year will be climate change. Our students have already produced three films relating to climate change in the past two years and our Executive Director recently attended a Climate Reality Training with Al Gore in Seattle. We recently taught a two day program for middle school at Maui College called Rising Tides:Understanding Climate Change. We were also part of founding Maui Climate Action Network with other local organizations. This school year we plan to begin doing more classroom presentations and hands on activities in schools relating to climate change which also support the Next Generation Science standards. We had applied for funding from NOAA to serve 900 middle school students in school and on field trips integrated with their curriculum. However, since funding was not received we plan to fundraise this year to make parts of this program possible at a time when science education relating to this is issue is more crucial than ever.