Celebrating Planning Month Hawaiian Style

In celebration of National Community Planning Month (and in addition to the our traditional community meetings) emerging planners in Honolulu joined with young professionals from other industries and related fields for "Cocktails with Creatives," an event that brought multiple disciplines together in an informal atmosphere.

The group was composed of individuals ranging from architects and engineers to planners and social service providers. Also joining in were landscape architects, interior designers, and other young professionals in the design field.

At the event emerging professionals from these various fields met to "talk-story" about the work they do, projects with which they're currently involved, and how the sister industries might be able to work more closely together. Through these conversations, the awareness for local approach and community input was continually highlighted.

Many of the recent projects in Honolulu have endeavored to balance the aspirations of communities with the specific knowledge of design professionals to help translate the details of the projects. As discussed at the "Cocktails with Creatives" event, strong multidisciplinary teams and ongoing input from the community create a dialogue in which design professionals learn from the community and help share knowledge that informs the community with facts to guide more comprehensive concepts.

Perhaps it's the history, geography, and culture of the islands, but there is a strong awareness here of the importance of building upon the goals of the communities.

It seems that in Hawaii, more so than many other places, the most successful projects rely upon community input and participation.Increasingly so, interdisciplinary teams are formed at inception for state and city and county projects. Further, with ongoing community meeting efforts it has come to light that the most important members of such interdisciplinary teams are the community members themselves.

Community meetings are held not only by public agencies for public projects, but by private developers that want to have meaningful conversations on how they can make better decisions that will also serve people in the areas surrounding projects in addition to those that may live, work, or play in or around it. Further, the efforts of individual project initiatives that are happening simultaneously within regions have also been increasingly coordinated to improve the civic engagement approach. Such coordination has the promise of amplifying the impact of individual projects in ways that maximize the resulting outcomes to the community.

Overall, the ongoing civic engagement initiatives in Hawaii will hopefully continue to encourage communities to take an active role in building their futures. By allowing their voices to be heard and, along with guidance, can impact the end results by ensuring the buildings, development, or renovations happen smartly.

Top image: Surfers from Waikiki Beach in Honolulu at the intersection of Kalakaua and Lewers Avenue. Kalakaua Avenue was designated an APA Great Place in America in 2013. Photo courtesy Paul Luersen.

About the Author

Nathalie Razo

At PBR HAWAII, Nathalie Razo is involved in many types of planning projects with an emphasis on site planning. Her responsibilities include program and spatial analysis, as well as preparing documents necessary for filing of environmental assessments. She has contributed to several projects including initial site analysis for Weinberg Kīhei, Kalihi Pālama Health Center Draft Environmental Analysis, Programming for the KS Nānākuli Village Center, and development of surveys and performing community outreach for the TOD Airport Area Businesses and Lā‘ie agricultural plan.

October 31, 2016

By Nathalie Razo