In the immediate aftermath of the wildfire that took Lahaina town, Kaipo Kekona, Rachel Kapu, Tamara Paltin, and other local Maui residents rapidly stood up one of the first community-led hubs at Nāpili Park.
It started out simply with store bought Twinkies that brightened the spirits of frightened keiki sitting in the darkness that followed the flames. Humble plates of fried akule sourced from the nearby sea. Steamed ‘ulu and ‘uala from the Lahaina farm Kekona and Kapu help to run. Tables, tents, and chairs from peoples’ garages.
Inspired by months spent at Pu’uhuluhulu in the fight to protect Maunakea, Kaipo, Rachel, Tamara and others at Nāpili Noho are building something that continues to feed and care for families, a space where the community is coming together.
In the three weeks since its inception, Nāpili Noho now includes things like medical care, job assistance, mobile learning labs, a general store, a grocery store, lomilomi, psychological and spiritual counseling, keiki and kupuna care, computers and internet connectivity, a receiving area and intake system for supply drops from organizations large and small, a notary, off grid energy systems, a command center, a space for grieving, healing, as well as visioning out what could be.
There is also an intentional focus on bringing in and distributing Maui produce from Maui farmers who are struggling economically due to the closures of restaurants and the decreased demand of their fruits and vegetables. It’s impressive to see how these brilliant Kānaka are addressing both basic needs and the larger needs of the systems that were maybe always broken.
When we were there, we saw not just the Hawaiians who were leading the hub, there was a Spanish family making tacos for the entire camp, and Filipinos, Caucasians, Samoans and Tongans lifting each other up. It’s a diverse community, a microcosm of what Lahaina was, but perhaps more importantly what Lahaina could be, when people take care of each other and work together.
It’s in humble community-led spaces like @napilinoho and the other hubs like it, where hope and a vision for the future begins to sprout from the ground up.