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Facetime Instead of Facebook: 36 Hours in Honolulu

The Sunday New York Times had a feature in its Travel Section today on how to spend 36 hours in Honolulu.  It singled out some of my favorite places like Kapiolani Park, Chinatown and the drive from Hanauma Bay to Waimanalo with stops at Sandy Beach and Makapuu.  With no disrespect to the author, Jocelyn Fujii, I would like to suggest my own itinerary based on recent travels and a reunion with Na Kani Pela, a choir I sang with in high school that represented Hawaii for the Bicentennial celebration.  I guarantee you will have a magical time.

Na Kani Pela choir gathers for 35th Reunion in Honolulu.

First, start by bringing in the people who made your high school years memorable.  Collect them all on Facebook then invite them and their families for a big reunion bash.  Bug them until they say yes, as showing up for a reunion 35 years later gives people considerable angst.  Get people warmed up with a small gathering at the Ground Floor on Richards Street in downtown Honolulu and listen to some Hawaiian music.  Hold a pot luck at the home of your calabash mama who looks just like she did 35 years ago.  Watch the spark of recognition in her eyes with each arrival and the tears of joy as she gives you a huge ohana hug.  Realize you are older now then she was back in 1976.  Shudder!  Celebrate as each of your high school friends walks through the door.  Sing the songs that were the soundtrack of your youth.  Take photos.  Hug alot.  Talk story.  Bring tons of food and pig out.

Stay in room 1431 of the Waikiki Beach Marriott with a view of Honolulu that will make you never want to leave.  Spend time with your sisters for the first time in three decades on your island home.  Bring your sons along as dates.  Let them roam around Waikiki like you did when you were teenagers.  Get up early every day and walk around Diamond Head.  Discover the Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College.  Have inari sushi, fried green tomatoes and shave ice for breakfast.  Talk to a homeless man named George on Kalakaua Avenue who reminds you that “just because you don’t have a roof over your head, doesn’t mean you don’t have a home.”  Visit your favorite beaches on Oahu.  Eat plate lunch at Zippy’s, L & L, Kaneke’s and Ted’s Bakery.  Have breakfast at Wailana.  Char siu omelet.  Ono!

Na Kani Pela picnic in Waimanalo

Have a picnic on the beach at Sherwood’s in Waimanalo.  Make Kukui Nut leis with your buddies and talk more story.  Watch your children play in the surf and get stung by Portuguese Man of Wars just like you did when you were a kid.  Be baffled as they stay in the water even though the pain makes them want to jump out of their shorts.  Realize that if your son was growing up in Hawaii today it would be a perfect fit just like it was for you so many years ago.  Have a banquet at the Elk’s Club and watch 4th of July fireworks in the distance.  Ooh and aah!  See all your friends in their muumuus and aloha shirts.  Realize you are all older and a few pounds heavier but you can still sing and raise the roof like you did when you were teenagers.  Watch two generations of hula dancers and tell your friends just how much they meant in your life.  Hug some more, this time holding on tighter, as you say goodbye for now.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach

There is no place like Hawaii, and to me, there is no place like Honolulu, where I grew up and still continue to call home.  The only problem is that you eventually have to leave.  36 hours go by quickly.  This time when I flew back to the mainland over the lights of Waikiki I took so much more with me.  I carried my friends from Na Kani Pela, I took a tropical sea of memories and the music that played in the background of my youth.  I came back to Colorado with a full heart and a sense of how lucky I was to be a kid who grew up in a place like that, with friends like that, surrounded by love like that.  That’s how you spend 36 hours in Honolulu.  Now we’ll have to stay in touch on Facebook.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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The Power of Words

As a writer I’m impressed by how powerful words can be.  As a producer I’m awed by the power of images to tell stories.  This little video about how words evoke compassion left me speechless and a bit teary eyed too.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.


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“A Homeless, Homeless Advocate”

Thanks to my friend, Randle Loeb, for sharing this inspiring story with me.  Randle is a tireless voice for the homeless and wanted me to see this Washington Post article about Eric Sheptock, a homeless man in Washington, D.C.,  who is advocating for those like him using social media, Facebook and Twitter. People can make a difference anywhere.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/12/AR2010121203509.html?hpid=topnews

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Enlightened Canada

I walked out of my hotel room this morning carrying a plastic bottle of water and by the time I was at the front desk it was empty.  I handed it to the concierge and asked if he could throw it out.  Before I could correct myself a hotel manager did it for me.  Recycle!  From what I can tell, Canada is an enlightened country.  There are as many recycle bins as trash cans.  Cops ride bicycles.  Gay people can marry.  Citizens care about the homeless and even accomodate them.  There is universal health care.  And most impressive, Canadians seem very proud of their diversity.  Vancouver is a city full of languages and color.  I ride the bus with a man from Mozambique.  A Sikh guards the gate.  The city is full of Asians and French speakers.  Foreign accents are everywhere.  I’ve always been impressed with the way Canadians embrace their diversity.  People intermarry.  Not a big deal.  My cousin from the Czech Republic married a black woman from the Caribbean.  Just like America, this is a nation of immigrants, but Canadians are not caught up in discussions of race.  That is so yesterday.  Canada is a true melting pot and it’s moving forward in an enlightened way. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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A Denver Death Examined

I was particularly moved by Denver Post reporter Karen Auge’s story about the death of one homeless man and the efforts to uncover his backstory.  What probably made people notice this death is the photo of a trio of maintenence workers on the 16th Street Mall who were trying to revive him.  To the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless each of these lives matter but how often do the rest of us look the other way and ignore the plight of the homeless.  At least in death, people cared to know about Rick Johnson. 

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12916115?source=bb

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Homeless Children

The plight of homeless children was the focus of two articles in the 5/18 edition of USA Today. One is about 11 year old Zach Bonner who is walking from Atlanta, Georgia to Washington, D.C. to raise money and awareness for homeless youngsters. He hopes to meet with President Obama when he arrives in July.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-05-17-wagon-boy_N.htm?csp=34

The other is by CBS anchor, Katie Couric, who draws attention to the rapidly growing “collateral damage” from the economic downturn, children, whose families have lost jobs to layoffs and homes to foreclosure as the recession has worsened.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/05/the-recessions-tiniest-victims-need-help-too.html

While working on a story about the impact of the economy on public hospitals I had a chance to see for myself the world that children, some formerly middle class, live in when they lose their homes. Besides being on the move many try to keep their shame a secret from friends. Attending school, receiving medical care, transportation, everything is difficult.  Thanks to Zach and Katie for telling the story.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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New Face of Homelessness aka Economy Sucks Journal #2 2.7.09

Darlene and Jacob.  Teddy.  Craig and Margie.  All are the new faces of poverty.  Six months ago each had jobs, homes and middle class incomes to support themselves and their families.  Now two families are homeless and the other teeters on the brink.  Their falls have been fast and hard.  Darlene has a college degree and worked in the mortgage industry until October.  Her husband Jacob was a tree trimmer.  They made over $65,000 a year and at one time lived in a five bedroom home.  Now they bounce from shelter to shelter with three children.  They have each other and hope.  That’s about it.

Teddy lost his job as a machine operator before Thanksgiving.  This single dad is living in his father’s house now and was unable to afford his medical expenses when he recently broke two ribs.  All he wants is work.  Craig used to look at homeless people and say “get a job.”  Then he lost his supervisor position at a shopping mall before Christmas.  He had just returned from a training course in California.  He got stiffed by his employer for the expense money.  Now he sleeps under the railroad tracks and his fiancee, Margie, is in a shelter.  They sell the Homeless Voice newspaper on the 16th Street Mall to survive.  People walk by them as though they are invisible.  Craig’s feet are covered with blisters from walking everywhere.  Margie worries about Craig’s safety everytime she says goodnight to him.  Now when he sees worse off homeless people he sometimes takes them leftover food or a smoke.  He doesn’t view them the same way.

They say many of us are one paycheck or one crisis away from homelessness.  As more and more people lose their jobs, their insurance and their homes, the face of homelessness is changing.  The folks at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (www.coloradocoalition.org) say its a state of emergency.  The safety net is full of holes.  For Darlene, Jacob, Teddy, Craig and Margie it just sucks.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com