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ECONOMY STREAM

Advancing economic diversity through community engagement and workforce development

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The Issue

Many residents, business, and entrepreneurs are unaware that the CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy) is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development and a conduit for resources that provides entrance to federal funding and technical assistance from agencies like the Economic Development Administration and the Public Works & Economic Adjustment Assistance Program.

The Strategy

Throughout 2021, the Economy Stream engaged over 300 community members to amplify community awareness of the CEDS. Following a series of panel discussions highlighting sectors and industry experts, multi-sector Core Teams convened to identify strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and restraints of each priority sector and to further identify objectives, strategies, and tactics that residents can take on their own, in partnership, and through legislative advocacy to elevate critical action to a more diversified and resilient economic portfolio for Hawaiʻi Island.

Click here to read more

Click any industry below to view its Economic Development Strategy

The Vibrant Hawaiʻi  Art Fellowship

Vibrant Hawaiʻi is partnering with, One Nation/One Project, to participate in the nationwide Arts for EveryBody project. Local artists from 18 cities and towns across America will celebrate culture and community through the prompt "No place like home." This year long initiative is an opportunity to demonstrate to the community how arts can help achieve community healing and well-being.

Led by Aliza Gebin, the 2023 Art Fellows are: Abbie Rabinowitz (Puna Mauka), Angaea Cuna (South Kona), Avalon Paradea (Waikoloa), Erin Chung (North Hilo), Jaymeson Lōkela Sanchez (Puna Mauka), Jeramy Madrid (Waimea), Kerry Green (Kaʻū), Marata Tamaira (Puna Mauka), Nicole Gomes (North Kohala), Ninamarie Bell (North Kona), and Sara Stover (North Kona)

Click any picture to view an artist's bio

Erin Healani Chung

North Hilo

Actor and Theatremaker

Erin Healani Chung, a native of Hawaiʻi Island, is an actor and theatre-maker residing in the moku of Hilo, proud to call home Honomū. She believes in the power of rich storytelling to bring communities together and change lives for the better. As a child, Erin climbed trees and read books, inserting herself into worlds where she could slay dragons and solve mysteries. These childhood pastimes took her by the hand and marched her to the theatre, where she fell in love with the art of acting. In 2011, after receiving her BA in Theatre from the University of Hawai’i - Mānoa, Erin moved to New York City and embedded herself in the cityʻs independent theatre scene, collaborating on new works at The Tank, HERE Arts Center, Pipeline Theatre Company among others. She continued to hone her craft, participating in workshops at The Flea, on-going classes at Off-Broadway theatre Primary Stages and conservatory training at Atlantic Acting School. In 2017, after being selected to appear in the coveted Atlantic Alumni Showcase for industry professionals, she secured talent management and began auditioning for TV and Film, landing co-starring roles on The Sinner (USA Network), Tom Clancyʻs Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime) and Katy Keene (CW). Since moving home to Hilo in 2020, Erin has re-focused her commitment to her community. In 2023, she will have stage-managed Hilo Education Art Repertory Theaterʻs production of The Prom, performed as Hero in Hilo Community Playersʻ summer Shakespear in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as stage-managed the 21st annual Fall Musical at the Hilo Palace Theater - Once On This Island, produced by Mālama Arts Productions. Erin was selected to be a 2023 Vibrant Hawaii Art Fellow and, with support from the One Nation/One Project initiative “Art For EveryBody,” will devise a community-centered production inspired by the theme “No Place Like Home” that will showcase in Hilo in July 2024.
Marata Tamaira

Puna Mauka

Creative Writing

Marata Ketekiri Tamaira hails from Aotearoa New Zealand and has genealogical ties with the central North Island tribe of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. She received an MA in Pacific Islands studies at the University of Hawai‘i in 2009 and completed a PhD in gender, media, and cultural studies at the Australian National University in 2015. Tamaira’s intellectual interests are wide-ranging, covering indigenous politics and art, settler colonialism, and museum studies. Her scholarship has featured in numerous academic journals, books, and magazines, and in 2009 she edited "The Space Between: Negotiating Culture, Place, and Identity in the Pacific." Her writing repertoire also encompasses poetry. In 2016 her poem “Night Ceremony” was published in "Biography." She is a seasoned teacher and has taught Pacific studies and visual culture at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as well as at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tamaira has also undertaken numerous speaking engagements, including in 2016 when she was invited to be a guest speaker at Harvard University as part of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. In 2022 Tamaira left full-time employment to pursue creative writing. In 2023 she completed her first children’s picture book manuscript, which is currently under peer-review, and she is working on her first novel. Much of Tamaira’s creative work focuses on her Māori heritage and traces the links between ancestral connections, the power of place and memory, and the transformative quest for identity and belonging. States Tamaira, “As indigenous people, we need to be the lightbearers of our own stories.” Tamaira lives with her husband and daughter on Hawai‘i Island, Hawai‘i.
Nicole "Keola" Gomes

North Kohala

Wood

Nicole “Keola” Gomes is a wood artist specializing in fine furniture and custom cabinetry. She was born and raised in Hāwī, North Kohala, where she still lives and works today. As a child, she spent countless hours in her father’s woodshop watching and helping him build finely crafted guitars and ukuleles. She saw the reverence he had for the beauty of wood and the passion he had for his craft, which after 50 years of guitar making, never got old for him. After graduating from Kohala High School in 2002, Nicole went on to San Diego State University. While there, she serendipitously discovered there was a reputable woodworking/ furniture design program within the university’s expansive art department. She immersed herself in the hands-on learning of traditional joinery techniques and furniture design, striving to unite form and function. Being in a creative environment with artists of all disciplines was profoundly influential, and the time spent there was pivotal to Nicole’s artistic journey. Since returning to Hawaii in 2008, Nicole has dedicated herself to the life-long pursuit of knowledge and expertise in the art of woodworking. Continuing her hands-on experience, she worked with a local furniture maker for two years and then on her own while she raised her two boys, seeking mentors along the way. After starting a custom cabinetry business with a friend, she decided to take a step back and reevaluate the direction of her career, realizing she is more of an artist than a craftsman. Though art and craft are nearly inseparable in woodworking, she recognizes each piece she creates has its own individual spirit and thrives on bringing them to life through deep listening and exploration. She now works out of her home shop, alongside her father. When not working on commissions, Nicole enjoys showing her work at the annual Hawaii Wood Guild’s show at the Isaac’s Art Center in Waimea and the Hawaii Forest Industry Association’s annual wood show on Oahu.
Angaea Cuna

South Kona

Multi-Media Focusing on Fiber Arts, Bookbinding, and Immersive Installation

Angaea Cuna is a multi-media artist and Filipino immigrant focusing on fiber arts, bookbinding, and immersive installation. By practicing a bio-centric process and the use of natural materials, Angaea resurfaces her ancestry’s connection to nature, producing work layered with personal narrative and historical research. Angaea’s works aim to unearth the extensive culture of her Filipino ancestry that has been lost throughout foreign colonization and religious inquisition, as well as ignite conversations about the Pacific Island Diaspora and undocumented individuals in the United States. Within the refuge of her art, Angaea hopes to find a sense of belonging free from the prejudices of her undocumented status. In 2019, Angaea founded GaeaBound Studios to focus on her art practice as a fine art bookbinder and fiber artist. Angaea has been featured in a solo exhibition at the Wailoa Art Center, Hilo; group exhibition with scientists at the Alliance of Women in Media Arts and Technology in Santa Barabara, California; and many occasions at the Donkey Mill Art Center, Holualoa. In 2022, Angaea exhibited internationally for the first time in Germany. She virtually collaborated on a project from Hawaii with artists James Jack in Japan and Quitong Zhai in Germany, to participate in the Composting Knowledge Network that was exhibited in Documenta:Fifteen in Kassel, Germany. In tandem, she works at the Donkey Mill Art Center as the Fiber Apprentice developing Hawaii-based handmade paper and teaching workshops on bookbinding and papermaking. In mentorship with artist Gerald Lucena and funded by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Angaea is also a Youth Teaching Artist at the Donkey Mill Art Center, collaborating with classroom teachers in the public schools to provide art classes about the robust culture and abundance of Hawai`i’s ahupa`a.
Aliza Gebin

South Kona

Cut, Layered, and Dyed Paper, Ephemera, Fabric, Plant-Based and Recycled Materials

Abbie Rabinowitz

Puna Mauka

Painting

Abbie was born the third out of six children and raised in a creative household where her parents (both artists) taught children’s art classes out of their large, rambling, stone house they built in rural Bethany, Connecticut. Painting and making art was a wonted activity in her life. Visitors who came to her family home were amazed to discover that she and her siblings were allowed to draw all over the walls. It seemed only natural that Abbie chose to become an artist.
 After graduating art school with a BFA from SUNY at Purchase, Abbie began painting seriously and moved to San Francisco. During her 30 years in California, Abbie lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, joined a commune in the Haight Ashbury, collaborated on art for Burningman, and became a resident at a live/work arts community in Santa Cruz. She attended San Francisco State University where she studied computer graphics and conceptual design.
 Travel has played an important role in her development and expanded her vision. Her travels have taken her to over 30 countries. She lived for two years in Europe where she painted landscapes and people, and funded herself by drawing caricatures in the south of France. One can trace her adventures from the many watercolors and sketches of places she has traveled. Abbie paints in a loose, expressive style, inspired by the natural world around her. Observing directly from nature, she paints pleinair landscapes as well as her painterly abstractions. In 2012, she returned to her Connecticut roots to be close to her family and in 2015 received her MFA degree from Western Connecticut State University, where she completed an emotionally evocative series of her elderly parents for her thesis work.
 Abbie moved to the Big Island of Hawaii in 2017 where she has established herself as an island artist. She paints and teaches art workshops and has taught as a visiting teacher at the Hui No’ Eau in Maui. She leads and facilitates Abstract Painting Retreats near her home on the Big Island of Hawaii.
 In 2023, Abbie was awarded a Vibrant Hawaii Artist Fellowship which she is using to offer art classes to benefit her local community, including art students as well as other artists.
Jaymeson Lōkela Sanchez

Puna Mauka

Native Indigenous Cultural Artist Creating Hawaiian No'eau in the 21st Century

Lōkela, a native indigenous cultural, draws inspiration from ancient cultural traditions to immerse himself in the values and introspection of the Kānaka maoli, creating Hawaiian no'eau (skillful crafts) in the 21st century. He recognizes the profound connection between spirituality and culture in the eyes of his ancestors, an unbreakable bond that extends into the metaphysical realm. Hawaiian no'eau, with its functional and aesthetic qualities, along with its hidden interpretations, embodies the essence of his ancestors. Lōkela believes that separating culture from spirituality reduces it to mere tourist trinkets produced by those disconnected from the culture, benefiting from the stolen heritage of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Born and raised on Moku 'o Keawe, Lōkela's legacy began with his parents as his guiding lights, instilling in him a passion for traditional Hawaiian hana no'eau. His motto, "Ma Ka Hana Ka 'Ike," underscores the importance of learning through hands-on experience. His ultimate goal is to manifest the "uhane" (soul) of his creations, transcending the physical medium to preserve its essence in this realm, embodying the saying, "E lawe i ke a'ole a mālama, a e 'oi mai ka na'auao" - applying teachings to expand knowledge. Coming from a lineage of wood craftsmen and with genealogical ties to various art forms, including Ulana 'ie, hulumanu, 'Umeke, martial arts, 'Oihana limalima, and mālama 'āina, Lōkela integrates these expressions into his daily life as a Kānaka. He believes in the significance of nowledge, emphasizing, "E kuhikuhi pono I na au iki a me na au nui o ka 'ike" - instructing well in the small and large currents of knowledge. Lōkela creates powerful pieces of hana no'eau to inspire his community and fellow Kānaka maoli, attributing his talents to a metaphysical channel connecting him with his kupuna 'Iwi, his ancestors. In his mission to showcase the strength and unity of the Kānaka maoli into the 21st century, Lōkela believes that Ho'oilina, their birthright and kuleana, shall be their lasting legacy. He sums it up with, "'O wau kekahi me ka malama mana nui, aia ka malama mana nui me wau" - "I am with great power, great power is with me."

Design Labs

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In partnership with Council Members Sue Lee Loy and Jennifer Kagiwada, Vibrant Hawaiʻi hosted three Design Labs (October 16 and November 16, 2023) at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, focusing on the growth and revitalization of the Waiākea Peninsula.

 

The primary objective of the Design Labs were to leverage the collective expertise and diverse perspectives of stakeholders with strong ties to the Waiākea Peninsula. Participants ranged from local community members to officials and experts across various sectors, all united by their commitment to the peninsula's future. The primary task was to develop a guiding document based on Asset Based Community Development principles, aimed at steering the peninsula's restoration and revitalization in a way that aligns with community goals.

 

With the goal of creating a prototype mural design, Vibrant Hawaiʻi invited their Art Fellows to document each of the Design Labs through painting and song. 

Micro-Investment Awardees

In 2022, Vibrant Hawaiʻi provided financial capital to pilot ideas or scale up concepts identified for each sector in the Vibrant Hawai‘i Economic Development Strategy. The initiative was designed to support quick action to demonstrate feasibility of solutions.  In reciprocity for the investment, awardees committed to supporting each other and sharing their learning journey via Unrulr, an online collaboration tool. The Micro Investment opportunity was open to all Hawai’i Island residents, businesses, nonprofits, associations, and civic groups. 

Becca's Farm

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FLOWN

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Hawaiʻi Forrest Farms

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Hawaiʻi's Volcano Circus

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Kanalu

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Kohala Unupa'a Mauka to Makai Summer Camp

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No Poho

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Panaewa Farmers Market

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Puna Rising

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Startup Hawaiʻi

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The Honeybee Education Program

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WaiʻUli: We Count

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ʻŌahi Entertainment LLC

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Dragon Heart Farms

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Hale Hoʻōla Hāmākua

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Hawaiʻi Island School Garden Network

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Hilo Education Arts Repertory Summer Musical

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Kohala Food Hub

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North Kohala Archery

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Plant Pono

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Root & Rise

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Sugar Hill Farmstead LLC

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Tri-S

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Youngs Family Farm

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ʻŌpio Film School

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Ena Media Hawaiʻi

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Hawaiiverse

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Hawaiʻi Island Women's Leadership Forum

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Kalamapiʻi Play School

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Kohala Kupaʻa Online Marketplace

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Māmaki Ola Cirriculum Development and Implementation

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Northstar Farms

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Project Hale Kohala

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Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Kohala

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The Future Work in Higher Education on Hawaiʻi Island

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ʻĀina University of Puna

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