Home Graphic designer Revitalizing communities with streams and sunlight

Revitalizing communities with streams and sunlight


Our city makes and shares much of its own energy. The places where we grow our food, where we teach our children and where we shop are all nearby. And at the center of it all is our feed.

By 2050, nearly half of the island had been reorganized, moving from single-use zoning to mixed-use watershed districts. Keiki who splash around in the cool waters on weekends know little of the hard work it took to connect the path of our stream from the mountain to the ocean, or the scarcity we felt when the seas rose and drinking water has dried up. They were born in a time of plenty.

Our creek feeds us, which is why we keep areas bordering riparian wetlands sacred, reserved for Indigenous parks, museums, schools, and artistic collaborations. Most of our streams flow naturally and uncovered, but solar panel bridges keep stream segments cool in built-up areas. Some local schools have even started experimenting with damless micro-hydroelectric turbines.

Neighborhoods and shops are located a short e-bike ride from the creek. As forests do with rainwater at the top of our watershed, our homes, roads and driveways absorb solar energy from the sky. None is wasted. The elders recognize a bit of each family’s personality in the solar shingles they choose for their roof. Every home, every vehicle is a decentralized node in our SmartGrid network of energy storage systems. We store our energy because the aquifer beneath us stores and filters rainwater.

The roofs of some houses house solar panels and gardens. Almost all multi-story buildings are now cooled by fruit and vegetable wreaths, leaving urban areas almost as green as the waterfront, despite being the farthest from it. Even our windows capture solar heat, with tinted glass dynamically adjusting to keep apartments cooler throughout the day and also supplying power to residents’ vehicle charging ports.

“Innovation is restoration. And by restoring the indigenous systems that existed, you gain access to thousands of years of R&D from people who have proven that regenerative thinking is possible. Framing innovation in this way allows us to tap into the deep-rooted traditions still alive in the native Hawaiian community and invite them into the design process not just as consumers, but as equals and co-leaders. We can be an example, a catalyst to empower other Indigenous peoples around the world to be leaders in co-designing the future of their communities. – Kamuela Enos, Director, UH Office of Indigenous Innovation

Kate Wadsworth
Artist who revitalizes communities with streams and sunlight

Kate Wadsworth is an illustrator, graphic designer and muralist from Kailua, Hawai’i. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. During her time on the East Coast, she strengthened her interest in figurative art and urban design. Equally inspired by the natural world, she enjoys experimenting with bold colors, exaggerated shapes, and useful linework to tell stories with subtle, deliberate symbolism. Recent clients include the Vans Triple Crown of Sur ng and the Sony Open in Hawaii.

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