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Discover Honolulu's Hippest Art District

Historically, every new idea begins in the ruins of an old one. A recipe, a building design, a piece of art, these ideas are often reimagined, given a new name and suddenly it's brand spanking new. We as humans constantly look to our past to fine-tune what worked and what didn't, and through this process we are inspired. We've all seen it: the return of high-waisted jeans, the Paleo diet (a.k.a. the caveman diet) and living "off the grid" is no longer for nomads and hippies. The trick is figuring out a way to make these ideas fresh—make them your own.

The city of Honolulu has taken notes on past ideas for decades, and now we are seeing the working draft of a new one. Dozens of high-rise condominiums are being constructed and the community of " Our Kakaako" is becoming its urban soul: a hub for artists, entrepreneurs, fashionistas and foodies alike, in the ruins of an old metal foundry and machine shop. Millions of dollars and 29 acres are going into the master plan of making Kakaako, Oahu’s “third city.” Wander through the neighborhood and you'll see blank concrete walls primed at prepped for the fifth annual Pow Wow Hawaii: a weeklong gathering of artists from around the globe, performing live art and murals projects on empty street canvasses, on top of gallery shows, lectures, and concerts. Take a break from the fumes at a great pau hana (happy hour) spot, like Honolulu Beerworks. Unpretentious and indulgent, they serve up locally brewed beer, tender pork braised sliders and Bavarian soft pretzels signifying comfort food at its best.

Opposite the street is Bevy, home to some of Honolulu’s best cocktails, including the Moscow Mule served in a traditional copper mug by famed mixologist, Christian Self. Down the street is Cocina, a modern take on the urban burrito shop, and around the corner is Hank's Haute Dogs with the best Bratwurst on the island. And then there’s monthly events like Eat the Street (the closet thing we have to a Singapore Hawker Center), and Honolulu Night Market (a shopper’s dream) that draw thousands to this reimagined industrial space.

More and more I'm hearing about people who have left their stable office job to pursue their passion projects, focusing their time and energy on happiness rather than net worth. It’s thanks to coworking spaces like Greenhouse Innovation Hub and BoxJelly that spark conversation and collaboration, planting tiny seeds in the community. The foundation is here, and a fresh facelift is in the making. But even with the demographics changing, this is still a real neighborhood. We celebrate our successes, we learn from our mistakes, we are far from perfect, but in the meantime, we eat the tasty tree-hugger tacos, and sip the bubbly while we dream of all that is to come.

Photo Credit: James C Clar