• Speakout_July 2019

Community Engagement

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Community Voices | Talk Action, Take Action 

Since November 2018, the Community Engagement team for Kīlauea Recovery has been meeting with members of the community and working together to build relationships, provide space for conversation, and move towards actionable steps that help to build on the vision and goals established by the community.

community input graphic

Phase 1  | Talk Story – November 2018 to May 2019

The initial round of community engagement was mainly a temperature check. People within the community were voicing their need to be heard and their need for the healing process to begin. This was done through Talk Story Sessions during which the Kīlauea eruption recovery team held meetings and encouraged members to hold events within their home. These conversations were intentionally unstructured, allowing for all voices and points to be raised. In total, more than 500 people were heard from, including keiki from seven schools and groups. 

From this first phase, the recovery goals were identified.

Phase 2 | Objectives – May to August 2019 

Following the first phase, the focus shifted to formulating action. The team cross-referenced the General Plan and all of the Community Development Plans for the island with the Goals established in Phase 1. From this, a draft of objectives were established. 

The engagement team developed these objectives into one of three surveys presented to the community. These surveys focused on Community, Business, and Household impact since the eruption. In total, we received 1,203 survey responses.

View the reports for each of the surveys below: 

Community Survey

Nearly 400 residents participated in our Community Impact & Opportunity Assessment. Of those, 69% currently reside in Puna. Results showed strong agreement with recovery objectives. 

Business Survey

Prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Development, the Business Impact Assessment Survey sought input on economic recovery following the Kīlauea eruption and Hurricane Lane. More than 200 surveys were completed. 

Household Survey

More than 600 residents participated in our Household Impact Assessment. Of those surveyed, 40% said their living condition had worsened after the eruption, while 45% said it stayed the same. Another 15% said their living situation improved. 

Along with these surveys, the engagement team hosted the first Recovery SpeakOut on July 27 at Keaau High School. This event was to share information on the recovery goals and objectives. More than 150 community members attended and provided their thoughts and feedback.  

July 27 speakout

Finally, the engagement team participated in the General Plan SpeakOuts in Hilo, Kona, Waimea and Na'alehu. These SpeakOuts were hosted by the Planning Department and were held to introduce the draft General Plan and discuss with community about the policies which will guide all future development for the Island. More than 300 community members attended. 

Phase 3  | Recovery Strategies 

The third phase of recovery is about moving into action and developing strategies that help implement the goals and objectives. This phase is still ongoing, but thus far has contained a number of events to help identify such things as: 

  • Natural and cultural resources, assets, and opportunities;
  • Our shared values and kuleana;
  • And the trade-offs the community is willing to make and what help is needed in making that happen.  

The first events of this phase consisted of two more SpeakOuts and a student art contest.  

Youth Response Report

The future starts with our youth. Click here to find out what they had to say. Results reflect a compilation of engagement activities, including written responses, talk-story sessions and group conversations at Puna schools. 

 Students story


Youth Speakout | Oct. 4 at Pāhoa High School Cafeteria 

The Youth SpeakOut kicked off with a panel of high school students – Travis Chai-Andrade from Kamehameha Schools, Katina Gronowski from Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science, and Nino Pelton from Kua O Ka Lā. Questions were asked by Mayor Harry Kim, Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz and Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy. Pāhoa High School graduate and University of Hawaii at Hilo student Keinan Agonias moderated.  

Community SpeakOut | Oct. 5 at Pāhoa High School Cafeteria 

The Community SpeakOut followed with interactive activities, panel discussions with County leaders, a General Plan mini-SpeakOut, and mapping stations for cultural assets and individual priorities related to types of capital – including built, social, natural, political and financial.

More than 150 community members attended both SpeakOuts.  

Speakout Story photo

Art Contest 

The Art Contest was launched in late September and open to all students attending a high school in Puna. The contest asked students to illustrate what it means to be Puna and Hawai‘i Island strong.” This contest was meant to highlight resilience and get students thinking about the assets and characteristics that make Puna and Hawai‘i island so unique.  

Each student is awarded an individual development account (IDA) with Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) in amounts of $250 for honorable mentions, $500 for third place, $750 for second place and $1,000 for first place. The top three winners and their families also receive a one-night stay at the Grand Naniloa Hotel courtesy of the hotel. 

An IDA is a restricted matched savings account often used for university expenses, career training, or entrepreneurial opportunities. The contest IDAs are sponsored by Tetra Tech, SSFM International, Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development, and HCA. 

The County will use this contest to explore an expanded pilot program to build financial resilience across Puna through financial education and savings opportunities for students and their ‘ohana.