Sustainability Champion: Chris Hobbs
Cover Image: Beach Cleanup- Chris helping out at Surfrider Oahu park cleanup at Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu.
Image: Chris rock climbing.
Who are you, what do you do at Bishop Museum, and how did you get here?
My name is Christopher Hobbs and I’m the Curator of Sustainability at Bishop Museum. I’m originally from southeast London, UK, and completed my BSc and PhD in conservation genetics at Canterbury Christ Church University. I came to Bishop Museum in 2019 as a postdoctoral researcher in the Pacific Center for Molecular Biodiversity, researching endangered Hawaiian land snails and their genetics. After getting involved in our amazing Sustainability Hui at the end of 2020, I was promoted to Curator of Sustainability in July, 2021.
Why is sustainability important to you at Bishop Museum, in Hawaiʻi, and globally?
For me, sustainability is one of the most important things in our society right now, especially in Hawaiʻi. As an island community, weʻre going to be one of the first to feel the effects of climate change, with rising temperatures and sea levels, so we need to take it seriously.
Sustainability in Hawaiʻi is so unique as this concept is so deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture, with shared values of mālama (care) and kuleana (responsibility) being key. I’m particularly fond of the Hawaiian proverb “He aliʻi ka ʻāina; he kauā ke kanaka—The land is chief; man is its servant.” I like to interpret this as “the land doesn’t need us, but we sure as heck need the land, so let’s take care of it!”
Being able to bring our community together, align all of the work we do with sustainability at Bishop Museum with local and global frameworks, such as the Aloha+ Challenge and the UN Sustainability Development Goals so we can move forward as a unified force, is central to our sustainability efforts at the museum.
Image: Chris Hobbs and Donnette Tuisano, recipients of the National Informal STEM Education Network Sustainability Fellowship 2021/2022.
What sustainability projects have you been working on at Bishop Museum?
As Curator of Sustainability, I manage and coordinate all sustainability initiatives at Bishop Museum. Two of my key projects have been managing the work done under our recent Frankenthaler Climate Initiative implementation grant, and our National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network Sustainability Fellowship.
In September 2021 we were awarded a $100,000 implementation grant by the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative to replace louver windows next to collection space in our Pauahi building. These windows will help us be much more energy efficient in this building by keeping air-conditioned air in, while also keeping pests out! We’re looking to complete this project in early 2022.
For our NISE Fellowship, I’ve been working with one of our amazing museum educators, Donnette Tuisano, to develop an educational program around the food trees we have on campus, with focus on ʻulu (breadfruit) and manakō (mango). This program will explore the cultural importance and history of these trees, their biological information, and ways to prepare and cook them. Keep an eye on our webpages about this next year, we’ll be looking to get as many recipes put together from our community to share with guests!
Image: Sustainability Hui- Chris and the rest of the Bishop Museum Sustainability Hui at a virtual meeting.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
When I’m not at work I can be found out in the waves for a dawn patrol surf, hanging upside down in the rock-climbing gym, or helping out in the community. I learned to surf here in Hawaiʻi shortly after arriving on Oʻahu, and am often found at Tonggs surf break with the rest of the Bishop Museum Surf Crew. I love to boulder and rock climb; I find it to be like an incredibly physical puzzle, trying to find a way up the wall. I also like to help out on various clean-ups around Oʻahu where I can, working with many of our sustainability partners, such as Surfrider Oahu and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. I find it incredibly rewarding and a great opportunity to give back to the island that’s taken me in and care for our environment alongside so many other awesome people.