What We’re Doing
Revitalizing a neglected park with elements selected by community members.
Empower frontline communities by focusing on equity.
In the 1900s, ‘A‘ala Park served as apolitical rally platform where citizens shared what meant most to them. Ethnic festivals at the park honored the many cultures surrounding the area. Community sports leagues enjoyed healthy competition at the park’s baseball field. The park was a hub of retail activity featuring shops, bakeries, laundries, and theaters. Plantation workers designated ‘A‘ala Park as the gathering place to organize Hawai‘i‘s first labor unions.
As time passed, crime and corruption took over. In the early 1990s, the city used the park as a “tent city” for the houseless. Unfortunately, this decision led to the park’s plummet and affected the surrounding area. The tent city was dismantled after well-publicized reports of crime sprees surfaced.
Trust for Public Land (TPL) aspires to restore ‘A’ala Park back to its original state of gathering community and serving citizens. TPL’s goal is for nearby residents and businesses to flip their view of ‘A’ala Park as a liability into a community asset.
By making equity a top priority, TPL aims to provide the community with a park that reconnects citizens to the outdoors. Over 18,000 people live within a ten-minute walk of the park. Fifty-three percent of those households are low-income. The area is ethnically diverse, with over fifty-five percent of residents speaking a first language other than English.
The Downtown-Chinatown area lacks close-to-home, safe, welcoming public spaces for families to reconnect with nature, cultural resources, and other community members. The site also suffers from inequitable social, economic, environmental, and health issues.
Despite these challenges, ‘A‘ala Park is a beautiful park with a storied history reflective of Hawaiʻi’s past and ethnic diversity. Community-led park improvements, programming, and usage lift community voices and empower residents to improve their health and quality of life.
“At ‘A’ala Park, we completed our yearlong grassroots community engagement report to uncover how the community wants to improve the park. We are now activating the park with classes, sporting events, cultural festivities, resource fairs, and public art to begin reshaping public perception and removing the negative stigma about the park,” shares Sultan White, TPL Hawaii Parks for People Program Manager.
“While we revitalize the park with community activations, we are simultaneously embarking on a community design process in partnership with the University of Hawaii to create a Proof-of-Concept for landscaping and infrastructural improvements.”
TPL listens to all voices: residents living within a 10-Minute Walk of ʻAʻala Park, surrounding businesses, park users, people passing through or near the park, and the community-at-large from keiki to kūpuna.
Grassroots Community Engagement Report
‘A‘ala Park Coloring Book made in partnership with students of Farrington High School