students and attendees
Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana workshops (photo credit: Jeffrey Warner)

A walk through Kakaʻako reveals that the area’s landscape is undergoing some major changes. With several construction sites and structures going up as well as plans for even more development in the future, the pace of change in Kakaʻako has become a topic of interest for many people in the community.

student works with workshop attendees
Workshop attendees engage in interactive activities. (photo credit: Jeffrey Warner)

In late 2015, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) in the College of Social Sciences hosted a series of workshops entitled Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana, in hopes of creating a space for the community to learn about and discuss issues concerning Kakaʻako’s future.

“From what we were hearing and what we were reading in the press, there seemed to be a lot of questions about what was happening in Kakaʻako,” said Karen Umemoto, professor and chair of DURP. “Rather than taking a position on the development as a department, we saw our role as providing a forum for education, discussion and debate.”

DURP graduate students got first-hand experience in planning and facilitating the Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana workshops. Students were split into groups and each group chose a topic relevant to development in Kakaʻako.

Attendees helped create a word cloud of ideas for what a “healthy Kakaʻako” means to them. Click to enlarge

Topics covered included planning and development, infrastructure and climate change, affordable housing, small businesses, transit and civic engagement.

“The most important thing was to educate people,” said Sarah Afong, a DURP graduate student who was involved in the Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana project. “It was great to see people sharing their stories and talking about their concerns on why certain issues matter to them. I feel it really brought people together.”

Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana website

All of the materials presented at the workshops are available online through the Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana website.

“We created the website to give others an opportunity to participate virtually, because we feel that the issues that were addressed in the workshops remain relevant today and into the future,” said Umemoto.

Information available on the Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana website includes summaries of each workshop, official plans and reports for the Kakaʻako area, presentation handouts and video coverage through ʻŌlelo TV.

“Through these workshops and the materials available on the website, I hope that people realize that the information is out there and that they have a voice to express their concerns on issues that matter to them.”

For more information on the workshops, visit the Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana website.

Who is Kakaʻako? by UH student Kelsey Matsu was screened at the first Kakaʻako: Our Kuleana workshop on October 13th.

—By Kapiʻolani Ching