Read and critique our project proposal!

Below is our project proposal as posted on RocketHub‘s SciFund site. Advice, comments and critiques are more than welcome!!! The project can be found here:

– Jeremy and Karyn


Wild and Free Project

Wild and Free Project: Exploring the future of energy with Big Island communities in Hawai’i

What you need to know

Rising gas prices and dependence on imported goods/food/oil creates a volatile economy on the Hawai’ian islands. Oil supplies 90% of the energy for the island chain, but many other sources are available. Hawai’i cannot sustain itself on oil forever, but the fossil fuel is not going away over night. The transition will be easier and quicker if island communities can work together to solve their problem.

  • From the Los Angeles Times, 2010:

    This tropical paradise is an energy beggar that depends almost solely on [imported] oil to fuel its vehicles [and planes] and stoke its power plants. That’s left the state, which doesn’t produce a drop of crude oil, vulnerable to spills, price swings and geopolitics. Hawaii residents already pay the highest pump prices and electricity rates in the country.

    “We really are the canary in the coal mine,” said Jeff Kissel, chief executive of the Gas Co. of Hawaii. “What’s happening to us with oil is going to happen to the rest of the country as…supplies diminish.”

    The goal is to transform the nation’s most energy-dependent state into its cleanest and most sustainable.

  • Comments from locals:

    One thing is certain: We can’t continue burning oil to make electricity.”

    We have solar, wind, and possibly tides for energy. But I don’t imagine that any of it will ever be big enough to support a large population.. it won’t be for the faint of heart to exist this way on a rock in the middle of the Pacific.”

    “In the short-term the prospects for Hawaii would seem to be worse than for much of the mainland, but [eventually] that may reverse precisely because of this early onset of troubles.”

    “Hui Mauli Ola is an exsisting group of Hawaiian healers that lives and teaches traditional Hawaiian knowledge as a guide for daily activities. They are the future and a real solution.”

Where will the transition begin?

Ultimately, the residents of Hawai’i will determine their future. If given the responsibility to direct local energy investments and social change; what would they want to see? What would they support and help move forward?

To find out we will conduct interviews and focus group discussions with local citizens all around the island and, hopefully, beyond (travel is dependent on funding). Residents within and outside the energy industry will be contacted.


Research question: How do residents on the Big Island of Hawai’i imagine the future of energy in their state?


  • Problem: How can local communities be engaged in a conversation about energy technology?
  • Solution: Reframe local conversations in a way that is tailored to the needs of the audience.
  • How? Ask the community!!


Who will be heard?

Everyone wiling to talk with us, share their story or opinion. We will record conversations and visits to energy sites around the state, starting with a wind farm on the south side of the Big Island.


What is the purpose of this investigation?

Our first goal is (1) public awareness and support. Our second is to build a foundation for (2) collaborative social engagement between individuals, organizations, public and private sectors.

Everyone with a stake in the well-being of the island community benefits from understanding how different Hawai’ian social groups access the issue of energy.

We will attempt to publish our findings in an academic journal and will share our results with Hawai’ian businesses and government agencies.


What can your donation do?

First and foremost, you will be helping to elevate the voices, concerns and stories of communities facing a global challenge. You will help produce the films and content that spreads their message.

Contributers like you will help us purchase durable video equipment to document the project. Funds raised above our goal will support travel required to reach interview subjects around the island (hopefully, via biodiesel).

We estimate a total need between $3,000-$9,000 over the course of 12 months.


Hawaiian energy: What options will be explored?

Volcanic geothermal energy will be a focus (read about what Iceland is doing here). Some residents think this may be the greatest solution available to the island, but traditional culture demands caution. Pele – the Hawai’ian goddess of fire, wind, lightning and volcanoes – is considered to be especially hostile to the theft of her energy.

We will visit the various sites in which energy potential has been noted. Geothermal, solar, wind, wave, hydro and biomass energy are all available on the Big Island. Only a few are present sources of power. There is a potential for 70% of the island’s energy to come from renewable sources and efficiency efforts are major part of that change. Right now, Oil supplies 90% of all energy for the Hawai’ian Islands as a whole.


Follow the Wild & Free Project as it grows





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