PUNA, Hawaii: After a success at the state legislature, the efforts to create a Native Hawaiian pu’uhonua at Kulani move forward with the ‘Ohana Ho’opakele’s Ho’olaulea on May 26th.

Jim Albertini of the Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action passed along this information on the event, to be held at Makuu Farmers Market:

Please purchase a $10 ticket to ‘Ohana Ho’opakele’s Ho’olaulea on Saturday, May 26th from 10AM – 5PM at Maku’u Farmers Market. This is a benefit for ‘Ohana Ho’opakele, a non-profit organization, to build a model Pu’uhonua as an alternative to prison. A ticket includes food and great entertainment. There will be meat and vegetarian stew and rice. Music includes Keli’i “Skippy” Ioane, Kaliko Guys, Diana Aki, Ben Kaili & Friends, George and Keoki Kahumoku, Damon Williams, Terri Napeahi with Howard Pe`a, and more.

The Hawaii State Legislature just passed a bill for a Pu’uhonua/Wellness Center which is now before the Governor for signing. We’ll be explaining more about the Pu’uhonua at the Ho’olaulea and we hope you will help in this important effort. I’ll be glad to mail tickets to you. Send a check (made out to Ohana Ho’opakele) …. Or you can purchase tickets at Papa Mu Gallery at the Prince Kuhio Plaza. I’ll also have them at our Friday Peace Vigil 3:30-5PM at Hilo’s downtown Post Office.

A limited amount of tickets will be available at the gate but we want to sell advanced tickets to get a good estimate for food preparations.

You can also call me at 966-7622, or call Uncle Sam at 937-7193 or Ron at 345-9688, and Papa Mu Gallery 959-1101 for tickets.

Please help pass the word about this event and help sell tickets. We can also use help distributing flyers.

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House Bill 2848 seemed like a long shot, and required a lot of work, but by the end of the session, the house and senate agreed on a version. We covered the story in February (right), when the bill was first re-introduced, and again in March, when the legislation appeared to be gaining traction.

The bill requires the Department of Public Safety to “plan for a model wellness center that employs native Hawaiian cultural practices on state land and to submit a report to the legislature prior to the 2013 legislative session. Creates a work release pilot program on the Big Island to allow certain incarcerated individuals to work on projects that benefit the local community and the State. Repeals pilot program on June 30, 2015.”

The bill specifically mentions Kulani, the former correctional facility at the remote terminus of Stainback Highway that was abruptly closed in 2009 and is now being utilized by the Hawaii National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Academy. It says:

The legislature further finds that the site formerly used as the Kulani correctional facility in East Hawaii would be an ideal site for such a wellness center. It is a place of deep spirituality for the Hawaiian people and, pragmatically, it has the infrastructure and historical precedent for use in sustainable living.

The legislature also finds that incarcerated individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety should be allowed to work in the community on community projects that accommodate their level of skill. For example, the island of Hawaii has hundreds of acres of invasive plant species such as Miconia calvescens, a species of tree from South America which, according to the Smithsonian Institution, is the one plant that could destroy the Hawaiian forest, Other areas of the State are infested with albizia and banana poka, which also choke and kill native plants. The eradication of invasive species such as Miconia calvescens has largely been the work of volunteers. Given the need for invasive species control and other work in local communities and the overcrowding of the State’s correctional facilities, the legislature finds that allowing incarcerated persons who do not pose a public safety threat to work in the community would provide valuable services while creating opportunities for those persons to learn new skills and apply them in ways that benefit the State.