Solid action


The Kapilina Brick Garden is more than sand and mortar.

By purchasing commemorative bricks, garden supporters are not just leaving a permanent mark at the West Hawaii Civic Center. They’re also expressing gratitude, pride and unity. And they’re helping continue the work of seven local organizations that provide year-round services that help build a healthy, strong community, said Wally Lau, the county’s deputy managing director.

Laser-engraved bricks are being sold for the 17-foot by 24-foot garden, a mosaic of 1,508 brick pavers designed by project coordinator Cliff Kopp. Volunteer professional construction workers will realize the entire brick garden in the courtyard of the West Hawaii Civic Center by the end of May, Kopp said.

As many as 900 pavers are available, costing from $50 for a 4-by-8-inch brick with a student’s name, school and class to $650 for a 12-by-12 brick with a corporate logo. Noncommercial messages are allowed. There are also more than 20 clip art options from which to choose. However, project organizers retain the right to approve or reject any wording or design, Kopp said.

Seventy-five percent of the proceeds benefit Hawaii Island Growing Our Own Teachers, The Food Basket, The Island of Hawaii YMCA, FRIENDS of the Children’s Justice Center, the Hawaii Island Humane Society, West Hawaii Community Health Center or HOPE Services Hawaii. Participants choose which organization they want their donation to benefit. They can also divide the donation equally among all seven groups. The remaining 25 percent of the proceeds go toward the cost, engraving and shipping of the bricks, as well as construction, Kopp said.

Hawaii Island Growing Our Own Teachers, or HI-GOOT, and its board of directors are leading the project, with ongoing support from Kona Rotarians and the county.

The project began approximately two or three years ago as a fundraiser for HI-GOOT, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that gives financial assistance to prospective teachers in the last semester of their education. Then in spring of 2011, Mayor Billy Kenoi and Lau had the vision to move the project from just helping a single group to benefiting the other organizations, Kopp said.

The bricks will be set in two phases, this spring and fall, and the placement is at random to ensure fairness. The cost of the bricks will be slightly higher, about 20 percent, because of the added work and production costs. The entire brick garden will be laid out during the first phase. The second phase will consist of taking blank bricks out and replacing them with engraved bricks, Kopp said.

The sales end March 15 for the first phase and in September for the second phase, he added.

Dryland taro native to the area will be planted in the middle of the brick garden, an idea from Keala Ching, a Hawaiian cultural educator, composer, songwriter, spiritual adviser and Na Wai Iwi Ola co-founder.

Ching also named the brick garden: Ka pilina means “the relationship” in Hawaiian. With the laying of each brick, Ching said members of the past, present and future will be tied together; lives will be interwoven.

Ching told the legend of taro’s origins. The first child of Wakea, the sky father, and Hoohokukalani, daughter of the earth mother, died, was buried and grew into a taro plant named Haloa. Their second son took human form and was named Haloa, after his brother. He said this was the first relationship between the people, land and gods. Ching called the brick garden “an important, inspiring, symbolic gesture of how everyone and everything is connected to each other.”

To purchase a brick or for more information, call 938-0806 or visit brickprojectkona.org.