By Rich Figel
Program Alert: The new April episode of Career Changers TV will premiere around 6 PM Sat. night, April 6, instead of its regular 8:30 PM time slot because of OIA baseball. Time is approximate since my show will be sandwiched between two games. However, you can DVR it at the regularly scheduled week day times, which are listed at www.CareerChangers.TV.
The photo above is what prompted me to do a two part feature on Pacific Biodiesel, our lead story in the April show. During the big APEC event in November 2011, I was visiting the scientific/technology expo at the Convention Center and saw PB's display. In addition to the sunflowers photo, there were samples of oil seed crops and used cooking oil that had been converted to biofuel. I got to talking with Beth Mathias, their director of marketing and sales, who told me how they started in Maui and were now growing test crops on Oahu and building new plants on the mainland, Japan and the Big Island.
My first thought was, wow, I'd love to film those sunflowers in bloom for widescreen high definition television! The biodiesel plant on Sand Island sounded like it could provide good visuals too. One of the challenges of producing a low budget local TV show about business and career stuff is that many of the stories are predominantly composed of talking heads in office settings. So I try to find interesting locations where we can shoot our introductions, and if possible, get a story out of that place. We did our April intros at Waimea Valley, and that turned into three separate pieces, which are included in the new show. (You can see the small screen low res versions on the CCTV YouTube Channel by clicking here -- looks way better on real TV though!)
Pacific Biodiesel was growing camelina when we filmed, in part, because there was a problem with sunflowers: birds love to eat the seeds. And it's the seeds that are crushed for their oil. What's interesting about the project is the connection to the military. They provided funding because biofuel could be used in an emergency if our oil supplies were cut off. PB can plant, harvest and convert biodiesel within a hundred to 120 days. Besides that benefit, the seed cake byproduct is high in protein and can be good feed for livestock, so it has added profit potential for local farmers.
Speaking of the power of images to get the public's interest, here's a shot of a celeb who needs no introduction. PB started out recycling cooking oil waste next to a Maui landfill... and now famous entertainers like Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson and Woody Harrelson have endorsed their community-based model.
They also recently went online with their Big Island Biodiesel plant, which cost about $15 million to build. This is homegrown, sustainable business at its best.
Next post: more about Waimea Valley and how they have turned around the business end by focusing on Native Hawaiian culture. It's a great example of sustainable tourism -- and in the process, they're bringing back more local residents to this island treasure.