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Mana Mele


Tucked away in Makiki, sits Meleana, a 1976 Airstream Camper that has been converted and refurbished to include solar energy. It’s the result of a desire by the non-profit organization Mana Maoli to “connect with, inspire, and guide Hawaiian youth” through their Mana Mele project, which aims to teach “academics, businesses, and cultures, using music and multimedia as the venue.”

With the environment being fundamental to Hawaiian culture, “Aloha aina is always a big part of everything we do,” according to Keola Nakashini, Director of Mana Maoli. Lead Engineer Kelli Cruz says there was never any question that the design would be environmentally conscious. According to Kelli, “It was not, ‘Do we go solar?;’ it was, ‘Why shouldn’t we go solar?’ The only obstacle was, “How do we make it mobile?’”

Through guidance from artists, engineers, and an advisory panel, they designed a towable trailer that houses the studio’s energy hardware. It’s composed of eight PV solar panels, six lead acid batteries, a charge controller, and two inverters. Inside, Meleana is inviting - with cozy wood-paneling and sky-blue décor. Through renewable energy and creative vision, Meleana has welcomed millions of online views, tens of thousands of students, collaborators, music technicians, and recording artists, and community and industry awards.

Mana Mele’s renewable efforts define their overall philosophy. While the project’s focus is primarily on education, the solar-powered, mobile setup also can provide studio recording or entertainment services for live events to the public, with a fee-for-service that returns the proceeds to fund the project and the school’s curriculum. The outreach extends Meleana’s influence both practically and ideologically; her own story helps others to envision a new era of clean energy possibilities.

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