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Kaua‘i Federal Credit Union announces Kalukalu at 1624

KAPA‘A — Kauaʻi Federal Credit Union today announced Kalukalu at 1624 as the name for an economic resilience center at 1624 Kuhio Highway in Kapaʻa, heralding a new era in community-based banking.

The announcement follows Kauaʻi Federal Credit Union’s purchase of the former Otsuka Furniture store in October 2022 and its conversion to an economic resilience center (ERC), mobilizing action on island priorities such as affordable housing, small business innovation, climate change mitigation, and nonprofit capacity building.

A prized native grass endemic to Hawaiʻi, Kalukalu represents excellence in caring for the ʻāina and its people. It symbolizes the credit union’s intention to return Kauaʻi to an era of abundance in harmony with nature.

Characteristically a soft, flexible grass sought for protection and comfort, Kalukalu is stronger when interwoven as a mat. Thought to be nearly extinct, its revitalization as a symbol of resilience bridges past to present and signifies an abiding love for the natural environment. Kalukalu at 1624 invites a confluence of ideas, perspectives, and resources to a pioneering cooperative space, grounding a shared intention to return to a thriving past.

Pop-up branch services in Kapaʻa will commence Feb. 15 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., or by appointment, as part of a phased opening to learn, grow with, and adapt to the community’s needs. A limited menu of financial services (outlined below) will be extended to provide immediate financial support.

The credit union is negotiating leases with four initial tenant partners as interior and exterior renovations progress.

“Our purpose is to steward a cooperative economy that honors culture, community, and climate,” says CEO Monica Belz.

The Beta Phase design is agile and considers the needs of members, partners, and policies to address climate change and a growing wealth gap that is driving Kauaʻi residents away from their homes and cultural heritage.

The project engaged cultural advisors Mason Chock (Kupu aʻe Leadership Development Kauaʻi) and Mahina Paishon Duarte (WaiWai Collective) and biomimicry expert Jamie Miller of B+H Architects to guide the Kauaʻi FCU Board and leadership team in a year of discovery, identifying challenges and opportunities for building resilience.

Belz says it is not too hard or too late. Kauaʻi FCUʻs mission as a community development credit union supports the vision of a circular economy. In Hawaiʻi, Europe, and elsewhere, the concept of a circular or “Doughnut Economy” is gaining traction as the compass for prosperity. Local examples, such as the Hanalei Initiative, Mālama Hulēʻia, Wāipa Foundation, and Kauaʻi Independent Utility Cooperative underscore its potential for success.

“We know the solutions are here,” says Belz. “We are dusting off the wisdom of the past and rethinking resilience in a new context, with new challenges. The capital we leverage, in partnership with others, will catalyze broad-based solutions that a single organization, lender, or investor cannot solve.”

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Source: The Garden Island

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