Our Islands, Our Future
Reimagining Resilience

Reimagining Resilience

In a world where extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency, prioritizing energy resilience for homes, businesses, and communities is the only path forward to maintain a reliable and accessible supply of energy. Done properly, resilient energy systems can also improve health, comfort, and affordability.

The 11th Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC) on May 22 and 23 will explore cutting-edge solutions to improve resilience in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Hear from experts on topics such as whether biofuels can really support resilience while lowering carbon emissions and how resilience planning can prioritize historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities. The HEC will also provide an update from the Legislature and a discussion of the pros and cons of undergrounding and insulating electrical lines.

Distributed energy resources (DERs), including photovoltaic coupled with batteries, are critical tools for strengthening energy resilience in this volatile operating environment, and the HEC will highlight several flexible and wide-ranging applications for DERs already deployed to support housing on Maui since the August 2023 fires. The HEC brings together experts and thought leaders to connect and explore the latest advancements shaping the energy landscape world-wide. Join us at the MACC as we talk story about risk management, grid stability, and adaptive solutions that ensure a reliable and resilient energy supply.

Common Ground Collective

Common Ground Collective

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Common Ground Collective (CGC) strives to transform Maui into a bountiful and productive island that benefits both the environment and the people who live here, in extraordinary ways. Their administrative staff is a passionate group of individuals with experience in sustainable sciences, business management, research, agriculture, politics, law and the hospitality industry. They employ mobile farmers with skills such as regenerative farming practices, to transform unproductive land into blossoming farms throughout the community. CGC promotes food security, economic opportunities, educational opportunities including student internships, and sustainability through hands-on assistance and incentives. Recently, they have also turned their attention to relief efforts to those affected by the Maui fires.

“The wildfires have taken a great toll on our community and the community food security needs immediately surged,” said CGC Founding Executive Director, Jennifer Karaca.  “On August 9th, after the Salvation Army’s (the state-contracted food provider during times of emergency) kitchen had burned down, CGC was contacted by Maui United Way to step in. We immediately acquired the kitchen at University of Hawaii Maui College (UHMC), coordinated the UHMC staff, various government agencies, the Chef Hui, and the World Central Kitchen (WCK) in order to begin providing meals for those in shelters, at various community hubs, and in the residence facilities not offering food. We have been working to incorporate products from local producers as much as possible to help offset the economic fallout of this disaster.”

While coordinating 8,000-10,000 meals a day for those in need, the CGC maintains its existing programs to promote food security island-wide. Karaca explained, “We will continue to procure local produce, proteins, and other added-value products needed for both UHMC and WCK, in addition to bulk food items for the community distribution hubs who are wanting to cook for themselves. Our organization strives to teach community members, volunteers, and students how to grow food, and provides essential knowledge and hands-on training for the efficient management of properties, while creating and nurturing connections with our many partners within the community. Bottom line, it’s about working together and helping each other.”

As we promote food security, education and economic opportunities on Maui, we also hope to set up a framework to bring this model of service to other areas in Hawaii and abroad. Jennifer Karaca, CGC Founding Executive Director

Maui Relief and Volunteer Center

The County of Maui Volunteer Center joins with over 100 nonprofits to mobilize volunteers for those affected by the Maui wildfires. Many people are searching for ways to assist the community right now. Below is a short list of some of the current opportunities within the Center’s partner agencies. Volunteer opportunities will continue to arise over the coming months as help, recovery and healing are all needed. 

  • Maui Strong Fund: Administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation, the fund  provides financial resources to support the immediate and long-term recovery needs for residents affected by the wildfires. See for information on how to donate or volunteer to assist. For additional information, call 808-270-7285.
  • Maui United Way: MUW plans to continue providing monetary grants to each resident with a home or business in the burn zones. Those who want to donate should go to or call 808-244-8787 to volunteer.
  • Maui Food Bank: The sign-up form is on the website: Scroll down and click ‘Emergency Volunteer Sign-Up’. Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off daily from 6:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. to the Maui Food Bank Store at 90 Amala Place, Kahului.
  • Hawaii Red Cross: Register online as a Hawaii Red Cross Volunteer or streamline the application by visiting their office at 95 Mahalani Street, Conference Room # 3, Building 5, Wailuku.
  • Na Hoaloha: Volunteers provide escorted transportation for seniors who need to go to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and more.  To volunteer, call 808-249-2545.
  • Our Kupuna: Join them in making a difference in the Our Kupuna Volunteer Program. For more information, go to .
  • Maui Humane Society: To volunteer or donate, go to or call 808-877-3680.
  • Maui Rescue Mission: Offering a mobile resource center for those struggling with homelessness. Recently, donors and volunteers delivered 100 fire relief bags to those displaced by the fire. Contact them at or call 808-727-9008

MEDB’s ‘ohana continues to hold all those affected by the Maui fires in our thoughts and prayers as we work collectively to serve our community’s recovery and renewal. Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President & CEO

4-H @ Maui AgFest

4-H @ Maui AgFest

Providing everything the community has come to expect from it, the popular Maui County Farm Bureau Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair was held in June 2023. The event, to raise awareness about Maui agriculture, brought together ag industry and supporters to share what each group does for the collective good of ag in the County. Agriculture’s vital role in the economy and lifestyle of Maui was showcased by the Legacy Breakfast honoring longtime farmers, the fresh produce and vendors, food trucks, live local entertainment, a keiki zone, cooking classes, an educational tent, farmers market, the Grand Taste, and last but certainly not least, the Maui 4-H Livestock Show and Auction.

“The 4-H’ers were keen to talk about their program while showcasing their animals,” said Nancy Ooki, Assistant Extension Agent 4-H Youth Development, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii. “They’re proud to exhibit their healthy and groomed livestock animals including cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, and more. Managing and raising livestock is a must-have opportunity for our keiki.” 

Maui 4-H Livestock offers two types of projects: Market and Breeding. Market projects in beef cattle, sheep, and swine entails the 4-H member raising, feeding and finishing an animal to proper market weight for harvest. Breeding projects allow the 4-H member to raise cattle and goats as breeding stock. At the final show, an expert judge evaluates the livestock for their potential as either breeding or market animals, provides a critique for each animal in the class, and compares the form of the animal with the purpose it is intended to serve.

Landon Lung, Carden Academy 7th grader, shared, “My brother and I enjoy raising animals and being members of 4-H. We attend 4-H meetings and our whole family is involved. We learn about agriculture, how to take care of the animals, and how animals can help us care for our land and environment. Our 4-H Pledge is ‘My HEAD to clearer thinking; My HEART to greater loyalty; My HANDS to larger service; and My HEALTH to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.’”

Healthy living, science, and citizenship are incorporated into projects other than livestock throughout the year. 4-H special-interest programs focus on specific topic areas that teach experientially. Nancy Ooki Assistant Extension Agent 4-H Youth Development, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii

Hawaiian Electric & Hawaii Gas Talk Story

Hawaiian Electric & Hawaii Gas Talk Story

In a featured talk, “Sharing Our Visions, Opportunities and Challenges in the Energy Industry”, at the 2023 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), Shelee Kimura, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, and Alicia Moy, President and CEO of Hawaii Gas, discussed Hawaii’s energy future from the perspective of their companies. Moderated by Jacqui Hoover, Chair, Conference Program Committee; Executive Director and COO, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board; and President, Hawaii Leeward Planning, the conversation was both informative and encouraging.

Hoover asked, “What message do you both want to send to the energy sector and to our communities?  What goals can be filled and how do your two companies complement each other?”

Kimura said, “Hawaiian Electric’s economy-wide decarbonization plan includes every sector. We hope to adopt the 2030 aspirational goal to reduce our carbon emission by 50% in the state’s economy and then by 70% in the electricity sector. Hawaii Gas just filed their long-term plan which is intended to help Hawaii reach our 100% renewable energy goals by 2045. Our individual paths are very unique, but when we frame them together, which we must now, we can get things done. We are both working to get clean energy projects permitted, interconnected, and operational in a reasonable amount of time. Hawaii Gas is an important part of that. They are exploring carbon-free fuel for the long-term. Our challenge is to act and execute while we continue to innovate. We need to make these things happen at the same time. It is not easy.”

Moy added, “Shelee and I have bonded over Hawaii’s energy solutions, especially for the future of our next generation. I feel that there has been a shift. Once there was that competition,  but now we know our future depends on working together. Hawaii Gas is focused on how Hawaii will meet its climate goals and the role we will play. If the state needs a recovery from any crisis, Hawaii Gas will be part of the solution. By increasing the amount of hydrogen blending in the pipeline plus other new technologies and innovations, there are new opportunities opening for all of us.”

It is achievable to reduce carbon emissions by more than two-thirds over this decade if everyone pitches in. Both of our companies want to create a cost-effective, sustainable, and resilient energy system for future generations. Shelee Kimura, President & CEO, Hawaiian Electric, Alicia Moy, President & CEO, Hawaii Gas

HEC Points To Hawaii’s Future

HEC Points To Hawaii’s Future

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the 2023 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), recently held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, was presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) with the support of the County of Maui Office of Economic Development. Experts and stakeholders from Hawaii, Canada, the continental U.S., Asia-Pacific and elsewhere exchanged ideas on how to better serve our communities in today’s rapidly-changing, energy-conscious environment. Including a diverse range of speakers and topics, attendees gained new insights about what it will take for Hawaii to reach its mandate of producing 100% clean energy by 2045.

“Each panel and invited talk was designed to give attendees the tools, knowledge, and connections they need to make meaningful changes,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “We have to commit, incentivize innovation, and work together to reach our sustainability goals for a brighter future for Hawaii.”

According to Hawaiian Electric, 32% of electricity generated on Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui County was from renewable resources last year. Hawaii Island generated 48%, Maui County generated 36%, and Oahu generated 28%. Kauai County led the state, achieving more than 60% last year through its own cooperative that also has a planned pumped storage hydroelectric project in West Kauai. Brad Rockwell, COO, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, explained, “One hundred percent of Kauai’s daytime demand for electricity is met by renewables. Long-term storage will be the water reservoir, which runs a 4MW hydroelectric generator and a 20MW. This long-term storage can bring Kauai to 100% renewable.”

Additionally, hydrogen proposals and on-going projects on how to make, store, and use it in Hawaii were discussed. Mitch Ewan, Hydrogen Systems Program Manager at HNEI, shared, “On the Big Island, hydrogen-fueled vehicles are already operating. HNEI buses and trucks have an infrastructure for public transportation, they fuel rapidly and provide long-endurance energy storage. Hydrogen offers energy security for Hawaii.” 

Keynote speaker Daphne Frias, a youth climate justice activist from New York, emphasized, “We need to include more youth and those with disabilities in the climate conversation. At the end of the day, we all live on this one planet.”

The community can be involved in the Hawaii Legislature, not only by testifying, but also by engaging specific legislators who stalled bills on issues of concern. We need to solve problems together. Senator Lynn DeCoite, Chair; Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism; State of Hawaii

Hawaii Energy Conference returns to the MACC

Hawaii Energy Conference returns to the MACC

The annual Hawaii Energy Conference returns to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, May 24 – 25. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the conference is presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and will feature a mix of keynote speakers, panel discussions, case studies and an exhibit venue.

Panels will explore:

  • Is getting to 100% Renewables still desirable, still doable, still worth the price?
  • How can we get clean energy projects permitted, interconnected, and operational in a reasonable period of time?
  • What is the next step in our efforts toward decarbonized energy, and what role does hydrogen play?
  • What are the energy related priorities of the Hawai’i Legislature and the Governor?
  • What is Energy Equity and how do we achieve it in the pursuit of state energy goals such as 100% renewables and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
  • ….and more

Please visit for more information.

There is so much to talk about at the Hawaii Energy Conference, both the formal panel discussions and all the informal ‘talk story’ conversations that occur away from the stage and during the breaks. Doug McLeod, DKK Energy Services, member HEC Program Committee

Celebrating Sissy Lake-Farm

Celebrating Sissy Lake-Farm

Women’s History Month, a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society, has been observed annually in March in the United States since 1987. The 2023 theme, ‘Celebrating Women Who Tell Stories’, recognizes women, past and present, who have used, and are using their voice and creativity to educate and inspire.

“Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) celebrates the talents and achievements of all the women in our community and nation,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “By doing so, we uplift, honor, and embrace progress towards true equity.”

Every woman has a story to tell and gifts to share. This year, MEDB recognizes Maui resident Sissy (Kahakuhaupiokamakani) Lake-Farm, Executive Director of the Maui Historical Society/Hale Hō’ike’ike (House of Display), whose inspiring creative work in the museum and the community knows no end, and whose smile is contagious.

Lake-Farm, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner and Kumu Hula (master hula teacher), inherited her love for sharing Maui’s past, present, and future from her dad, John Keola Lake, a renowned Hawaiian historian, a Kumu Hula, and perpetuator of ‘ōlelo Hawaii. “My job at the museum is the honor of a lifetime,” she said. “I feel a deep kuleana (responsibility) and connection to the history of the land. Plus, in addition to its cultural and historical treasures, I am delighted the museum has become a gathering place for people of all ages to take part in educational workshops, presentations, concerts and other community events.”

Over five years ago, Lake-Farm was approached to join an innovative collaboration, Small Town*Big Art, to develop an arts district that celebrates the distinctive sense of place, history and culture of Wailuku Town. She reflected, “As the recipient of many gifts from my Hawaiian upbringing, I felt called to this new creative endeavor.”

Recently, Lake-Farm was chosen by the Hawaii Visitor’s Convention Bureau as an Aloha Ambassador from Maui, to share stories about her beloved island on the mainland. “I am glad to be in a position to give back to the community,” she added. “As a Hawaiian woman on Maui, to be part of the preservation of our history and culture is priceless!”

Women’s History Month is a time to honor our role in preserving the cultural roots and history that will define our community for future generations. It’s my passion! Sissy Lake-Farm, Maui Historical Society, Director

Restoring Sandalwood Mountain

Restoring Sandalwood Mountain

Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Maui and the Kwock Hing Society in Kula, the annual effort to re-establish the fragrant sandalwood trees in Kula has become an earnest community project for this team. Their tree-planting project was a huge success this year. During the early 1800s, the royal sandalwood ‘ilahi’ became a valuable trade commodity and was quickly over-harvested. In later years, the trade in sandalwood had collapsed and the forests were exhausted. Thanks to conservation efforts over time, the remarkable sandalwood trees have made a comeback. 

“It is important to honor our ancestors by gathering the community to re-plant the sandalwood, teach its history, and educate the younger generation about its importance,” said Sarah Shim, president of the Kwock Hing Society and board member of the Maui Chinese Club. “One of our goals at Kwock Hing is to restore Sandalwood Mountain. We are thankful that the Rotary Club of Maui offered to help. They are the primary people that started this project with us. They have been a joy to us and also helped us make needed repairs in our very old building. Built in 1907 in Keokea, the Kwock Hing Temple has been a place for traditional celebrations and community educational programs. The building was placed on the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places in 1982, and the National Register of Historic Places later that year.”

Rev. Heather Mueller, president of the Rotary Club of Maui, noted, “We had approximately 60 people helping to plant trees at the temple cemetery and in the surrounding Kula area. Unjust demands in the 1800s caused so much hardship that the Hawaiian sandalwood trade had come to a halt. Therefore, we feel the need to restore our mountain again with sandalwood trees. Besides beautifying our island, trees absorb carbon and release oxygen, reducing the effects of climate change. They also bind the soil, which will help if we have extreme upcountry weather events. To see so many volunteers come out to plant, and be part of something to help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, is wonderful!”

Our purpose is to create and maintain a balanced environment, preserving the natural wealth of our ‘āina. Rev. Heather Mueller, President, Rotary Club of Maui