Do you remember Gary Gill — the former Honolulu City Council chair, mayoral candidate, deputy director of health for the environment and overall green guy?
Well, he’s still at it.
Since August 2004, Gill has been the Active Living by Design coordinator for Kokua Kalihi Valley, a non-profit group that is determined to get people off their couches and into a healthy lifestyle through biking and other outdoor activities.
“We have a 20-year lease on 100 acres in the back of Kalihi Valley,” he says. “We are currently restoring the caretaker’s house, and then we’ll be restoring archeological sites and putting in gardens. There is something in there for everybody.”
Other future plans for the area are to return native crops to the gardens, establish hiking and biking trails, construct a scout camp with bunk house and tent camping, and reforest the site with native trees.
One thing that has changed for Gill and his wife, Susan Essoyan, in the 15 years since he appeared on MidWeek’s cover in June 1990, is that they have two new additions to the family. Daughter Lorin was born in 1992, and son Darian six years later. That would have to be the biggest change. The rest is pretty much the same as it ever was.
He spent time with the Sierra Club, helped write the legislation for the bottle bill that he feels will only get better as more retailers get involved in the redemption business, and says he still bikes to work when he doesn’t have to “fill up my 15-year-old Honda Civic with tools.”
Pushing the pedals may also be considered part of Kokua Kalihi Valley’s advertising campaign for its other project.
The groups’ bike program is simple. If you have a bike you don’t want, they’ll take it. If you want a bike, they have one for you. At a price, of course. For what they call a class “C” bike — the cheapest they have — you’ll have to donate two hours to the organization. Mostly just fixing up the very bike chosen. For the more “expensive” bikes, the hours increase, but the jobs are pretty much the same.
“We’ve had everyone in here from a 7-year-old to a high school teacher,” he said of the new bikers who need not come from from the area. “A family from Kahuku was one of the very first clients. They got three bikes for the mother and two kids.”
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