With the intention of  bringing great community groups together for a common goal, Timbers Kauaʻi at Hōkūala co-hosted a volunteer event with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi on June 17th, 2023. Hōkūala is dedicated to doing everything pono by establishing best practices to allow execution at a higher level within our community to thrive. We’ve been honored to work alongside so many incredible organizations with the shared mission of keeping our coastlines clean and building a community network that leads by example.

This year, the location changed from Unalau Bay, where it has been held in the past, to Alakoko Fishpond. With our partners, we agreed that Unalau is improving after years of diligence and we decided to mālama a new site. Our partnership with Sustainable Coastlines began in 2018 when a local uncle and paddling coach from Niumalu Canoe Club reported the Bay as being cluttered with marine debris. With limited access to the area, Sustainable Coastlines stepped in and collaborated with local helicopter companies, boats, and the community to remove 40 large bags of debris from the area in 2020. In 2022, that number reduced to 12 bags, and this year, our efforts were redirected to caring for the Alakoko Fishpond.

Marine debris continues to be an issue, but putting resources where they’re needed most is pivotal. “Think upstream – gathering momentum of restoration from mauka to makai, and stopping beach debris before it ends up on the beach,” explained Sustainable Coastlines Executive Director Rafael Bergstrom. He explained that educating and involving the community through Mālama Hulēʻia has been inspiring, and has created not only a reciprocal network of volunteers but a sense of awareness that is contagious. Working with Kauaʻi-based organizations like Surfrider, Foil Fever, and B-Rad Foundation for trash removal, donations, and upcycling makes Bergstrom feel confident in the community’s dedication for a more sustainable future. “More eyes on the problem brings change to habits and advocates for change,” he said.

With an estimated 100 volunteers, many hands made for light work at Alakoko Fishpond on Saturday, June 17th. The space was opened up with an oli and volunteers had the opportunity to share who they are, where they are from, and who they wanted to bring into the space with them. As each person shared, it reminded us of the inherent value the community has in the work we do. After introductions, volunteers were split up into three groups by activity: manaʻo sharing session, pili grass seed gathering, and pōhaku gathering and sorting.

Through the manaʻo sharing session, Sara Bowen, Executive Director of Mālama Hulēʻia, and others shared about Alakoko fishpond, its history, and what it continues to be today for the community. She also shared about different ways to get involved in the work that they do. Another activity that volunteers did was pili grass seed gathering and planting. Jason shared his manaʻo on the necessity of pili grass and its purpose around Alakoko fishpond, how to gather the seeds, and how to plant the grass. All while having one of the most beautiful landscapes in the background while volunteers did this work. And the last activity was sorting pōkahu. Led by Punohu and Jimmy, volunteer groups made two staggered lines to pick, sort, and move pōkahu from one side of the road to the other.

The day ended with powerful manaʻo with the closing remarks from Sara Bowen (Mālama Hulēʻia), Joy Stedman (Hōkūala), and Rafael Bergstrom (Sustainable Coastlines), as well as ʻono loa mea ʻai from Timbers Kauaʻi.


It is an honor to have been welcomed by Alakoko and to work alongside these wonderful organizations:

Timbers Kauaʻi at Hōkūala – Our own team included Joy Stedman, Anne Sachs, David Nagao, Juan Gonzalez, Naomi Lewanski & daughters, and Lisa Silva & daughter who delivered all the food to the site!

Other local Executive Directors in attendance included Stacy Sproat of Waipā Foundation, Angie Britten of HILT HI Land Trust, Chancellor Margaret Sanchez from Kauaʻi Community College as well as Dirk Soma from KCC and 20 haumana volunteers from Canada, Hong Kong and other international areas. Council member Mason Chock joined the effort as well as Jan Tenbruggencate of Mālama Hulēʻia, Chandra Bertsch of Holoholo Charters/KVB Board, and Stacy Waikoloa – VP of Bank of Hawaiʻi.

Mālama Hulēʻia graciously welcomed us to join them this year for our annual and their monthly clean-up. Mālama Hulēʻia’s important mission is to advocate, educate, and lead community efforts to remove red mangrove trees along the Hule‘ia River, re-establishes native wetland ecosystems, and create an environmental stewardship program honoring Hawaiian values.

Waipā Foundation has developed its mission to mālama ʻāina – care for the land and natural resources. The Foundation implements programs in the context of managing the ahupuaʻa of Waipā, which encompasses 1,600 acres, mauka to makai.

National Tropical Botanical Garden – With a mission of enriching life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education, NTBG is committed to perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions.

Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT) is Hawaiʻi’s islands-wide land trust that is both a Hawaiʻi 501(c)3 nonprofit and a nationally accredited land trust. They protect lands that are integral to Hawaiʻi’s well-being and character, upholding their kuleana to the land, and the communities they are in, through thoughtful stewardship that deepens community connection to and builds reciprocal relationships with ʻāina.

Surfrider Foundation are champions of plastic reduction, ocean protection, full and fair beach access, preserving the shorelines, and protecting the health and sustainability of water. Most recently, they also deemed Hualani’s an Ocean-Friendly Restaurant, and we look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with them.

Founded in March 2020, BEHawaiʻi supports the local arts by acting as a liaison for community events in need of music and local musicians available for hire. You can experience the music they bring to the community at Hualani’s on Wednesday 6/21 for Make Music Day. In addition to the revival of arts, BEHawaiʻi also supports the revival of the lei in the form of the Lei Poinaʻole Project – an effort to cultivate lei-making flowers here in HI, as they have been outsourced in recent years due to demand.

With grateful hearts, we thank Alakoko for allowing all of us to be their guests and creating space to facilitate this beautiful consortium.