Culture Archives | Hawaii's First Coworking Space
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Arts and Culture: Roger Bong

Aloha Got Soul is a record label based in Hawaii specializing releasing in funk, soul, jazz, and R&B music and is run by couple Roger and Lei Bong. Aloha Got Soul started as away to to pay homage to older soul/funk Hawaii musicians by re-issuing vinyl records from the 1970’s. Recently Aloha Got Soul has been focusing on releasing music from new Hawaii-based artists. Roger and Lei feel a big part of their label is forming connections with artists, both young and old, to foster a community locally in Hawaii and present it on a global scale. In addition to Aloha Got Soul, from mid-to-late 2018, the Bongs formed an online radio station called Central Pacific Time which was located at BoxJelly. Before they left we had the opportunity to sit down with Roger Bong and discuss his vision for his record label Aloha Got Soul.

 

Was there like a pivotal moment in your life where you decided to follow your passion?

 

Roger: There was a time when I was trying to work a day job while doing Aloha Got Soul at the same time. I knew that if I was going to continue doing both of them, they would both suffer. I needed to choose one or the other. It wasn’t fair to my own business if I did not dedicate 100 percent to my project. It also wasn’t fair to the company that I was working at. That’s when I decided to let go of my day job and work on Aloha Got Soul full-time. The hardest part about the decision was a leaving a job with steady paycheck. When youʻre working for yourself you have to make things happen.

 

If you were giving advice someone who want to be an entrepreneur, what advice would you give them?

 

R: Try to utilize the resources that are out there, whether it’s reading stuff or just reaching out to other independent record labels.

 

How did you start Aloha Got Soul?

 

R: I started Aloha Got Soul as a blog to document records from Hawaii in the seventies and the eighties. These records, primarily consisting of funk, soul, r&b, and jazz, are now out of print. A lot of people say that the 1970s was a period of Hawaiian music renaissance. During this time there were a lot of fusions of genres happening and a lot of underground content coming out. So, around 2010, I started a blog promoting the underground music in Hawaii during the 1970s. I became friends with a lot of artists that I featured in my blog. I noticed that people frequently were asking where they can get copies of the records on my blog. Thus, the label started out of this necessity to re-issue out of print music so that people today can hear it, own it and love it. In turn, the artists can also reap the financial benefits financially, gain new fans, and make new connections.

Leimomi is your personal and professional partner. What’s the hardest part of working as a couple?

 

R: The hardest part is just always being in an environment where our conversation might be about business. When we’re at the BoxJelly, we’re going to talk about business. At home we’re just trying to enjoy ourselves. Working as a couple is all about that balance between life and work.

 

What’s your workflow like?

 

R: Well I make a list of tasks to do and I try to organize them by priority. I organize each tasks with a letter such as A, B or C, with A being the top priority. B being secondary and then from there going in and adding numerals. For example, A-1 is very top priority. I try to do that every morning.

It’s actually from this book that was written in like the eighties. I just found it randomly at a thrift store. The guy who created the system was actually living in Hawaii. I remember picking up the book and turning to a page when he’s talking about swimming across the channel at Hanauma bay. This guy was writing about Hawaii. I thought that it has to be a sign.

 

What’s your favorite thing Aloha Got Soul has released so far?

 

R: My favorite thing is always what’s next. As of right now in (November 2018) Iʻm into an artist named Jah Gumby. He’s the bass player for a local reggae band called Glow the Mark. They’ve been around for around 20 years.

 

What inspires the vision for your label?

 

R: The difficult thing about being an entrepreneur is having that daily inspiration or motivation to keep doing what you’re doing. For me, I always think about a lot of the older musicians and as time passes, they’re getting older. Soon we won’t have the opportunity to re-release their music and preserve this piece of history. Also, Iʻm really inspired by community aspect. I get the opportunity to make connections with people around the world and locally through music.

 

Define being based in Hawaii?

 

R: Being based in Hawaii makes you very resourceful. We’re kind of isolated living on an island. We have to work with what we have. Honolulu has the vibe of a really big town.

 

Describe your experience working at BoxJelly?

 

R: The best part of our experience was that we had the opportunity to be a connected with online radio stations all around the world. We saw ourselves as part of a community with stations such as Worldwide FM in London, Red Light Radio in Amsterdam, and The Lot Radio in Brooklyn. These networks became an inspiration for us to do something similar in Honolulu. So in January of 2018, we launched an online radio station called Central Pacific Time. Around that time, we also met Rechung. He really dug what we were doing and he offered to bring us into the BoxJelly. For us, it was validation that we had a great idea. Here’s this guy who believes in us and our mission. He was willing to support us and help us foster this community. In March, we moved in. We had people coming through doing shows on the radio station. The experience has been a open and freeform place to work.

If you had to match a song to capture BoxJelly’s vibe, what would it be?

R: I couldn’t do just one song. It would have to be a whole mixtape. There are so many different things happening in BoxJelly. You have entrepreneurs and small businesses working out of the space. BoxJelly is connected to the Fishcake store and Morning Glass up front. It’s just a big mixture and it’s always thriving.

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Arts and Culture: Lauren Trangmar

Lauren Trangmar is an artist with a focus in design work. Lauren feels working in design gives her the opportunity to work in a multitude of mediums such as drawing, painting, and printmaking. She creates fine-line illustrations influenced by the line work of 17th century European cartographic illustrations. Being a designer who can work with a diverse set of mediums gives her the opportunity to display her pieces in both the fine art and commercial art worlds.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion for art? 


I’ve always wanted to be an artist. At a young age my parents supported my dream but they told me I wouldn’t make any money as an artist. When I started college I really wanted to pursue a painting major. My friends told me that I should go into graphic design because it was one path where I could make a living while making art while continuing to paint on the side. One of my design instructors told me “well you can paint in my class, you can draw in my class, you can do a film, and use it in your design.” I thought to myself that if I can do everything in this design class, then I’m going to do it.  Being able to work in different mediums felt like a super power as Iʻm able to mesh both my art and design skills together. Existing in both the design and art world also gave me the ability to market my pieces to both audiences. For the 2015 Artists of Hawaii Show, I did a series of illustrations and the Museum bought the original illustrations and put it in the archives. Then, I made print copies of my original illustrations in a big quantity and sell in different shops like Fishcake

How do you market yourself as an artist or a graphic designer?


I make most of my connections through word of mouth. I have been really lucky. People come to me for my distinct style. I’ve also gotten a lot of work from the Artists of Hawaii show. The owner of Aloha Green Apothecary saw my work at the museum and asked me to jump on their project. With Aloha Green Apothecary, I was creating various illustrations to represent different strains of cannabis. It’s really interesting because I didn’t know a lot about cannabis at all. I had to do months of research about cannabis. I went through all the crazy names of the different strands and then imagined what I could to do to visually interpret them.

I make most of my connections through word of mouth. I have been really lucky. People come to me for my distinct style. I’ve also gotten a lot of work from the Artists of Hawaii show. The owner of Aloha Green Apothecary saw my work at the museum and asked me to jump on their project. With Aloha Green Apothecary, I was creating various illustrations to represent different strains of cannabis. It’s really interesting because I didn’t know a lot about cannabis at all. I had to do months of research about cannabis. I went through all the crazy names of the different strands and then imagined what I could to do to visually interpret them.

How does the materials you work with inform your work?


I’ll often scan my drawings into the computer a work things out digitally, then I’ll print the new image and print on top of the digital illustration. It’s a back and forth process between illustration, digital work, and printmaking. I tend to do this process with a lot of my projects. 

I do this a lot when I’m illustrating for Flux magazine . I would first draw and paint with watercolor on tracing paper so I could see through it and then I would stack the layers up and I would scan each one into photoshop. In photoshop I can play around with it a bit more to  figure out how it’s going to look.

What is your work flow for doing art and how do you project manage?


When I start a freelance project I tend to intensely sketch out ideas for weeks. Once I have an idea, I go into the production phase and follow up with regular clients meetings. There are lots of up and down times depending on what stage I’m in with my projects. For example, last week I barely left my studio. However, this week I’m taking meetings and installing work. I make sure to meet my deadlines. Usually, the work I do for magazines like Flux, they want it in a week or two so I’ll Intensively work on those. While I work on projects with short deadlines, I’ll also take on a bigger project that will take months. For example, the Aloha Green Apothecary project has been ongoing for about a year now. That being said, I often like to take breaks from the longer projects to focus on shorter projects.

Do you have a favorite book, film or artist, which inspires you?


A lot of my work is influenced by 17th century cartographer Andrea Cellarius. Andrea Cellarius creates these crazy star maps filled with detailed drawings of mythical creatures and planets. I’m constantly looking at his work. I went to the library and I got to look at a massive book full of his print ads. You’ll see his influence in the work I made at the museum.

What does it mean to be an artist in Hawaii?


Wherever you are, the people and experiences you’re exposed to are going to inform your work. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with Aloha Green Apothecary or have my work in Fishcake. Also, the teachers at UH gave me the freedom the explore different mediums within my design practice.   

Have you ever doubted your art practice?


l doubt my practice all the time. I’m friends with people who are at all different levels in their careers. They all share their doubts and struggles with me and this has helped me get over my own fears.. I learned that doubt is something that never goes away no matter what stage you are in your career. You have to figure it out, keep going and learn from your mistakes.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?


Don’t give up. Just embrace the fear and do it anyway. I’m scared all the time. I have projects and I tell clients “yeah sure I’ll do it.” Then I go back to a blank piece of paper and I think to myself, “how am I gonna do that?” Sometimes when you’re working for a client, the hardest part of your job is reading their mind and bringing it out onto the page. I feel like I have to turn into a mind reader, I never know if i’m going to get it right. So I’m always a bit nervous, but I just keep working for it.

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September 18th PARK(ing) Day

parkingdayjeader

PARK(ing) Day is an annual global event where people collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into mini-parks.

This Friday September 18th, several temporary parklets will be created across Honolulu, including ones coordinated by HHF Planners, Paiko, Blue Planet Foundation, BEvolve and The Trust for Public Land (in partnership with KUPU, KUA, Mana Ai, Hui Ku Maoli Ola, Better Block Hawaii, 88 Block Walks, GreenerReader, and Interisland Terminal). Stay tuned for details!

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Josh Smith – Already There

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Supernatural FX Showreel

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Oscar Wilde Yellow Sunset

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscingREAD MORE

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Madrid’s photo marathon

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscingREAD MORE

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John Veen Famous Musician

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BoxLunch Vendor: Chef Hana

BoxLunch is a lunchtime series featuring food vendors in the BoxJelly storefront from 11am – 3pm. Click here for the list of schedules. Chef Hana will be at BoxLunch Thursday 9/19.
 
 

ChefHanaChef Hana will be our second BoxLunch vendor of the series. From Indonesia, Chef Hana has been a food service operator ever since her college days, owning first a restaurant, and a marketplace food stall. She moved to Hawaii where her first vendor experience was for Balinese Night at the Hawaii State Art Museum this past March. “I enjoyed doing it,” she says of the event, “and thought it would be a great to connect Indonesian culture with other cultures in Hawaii.” You may also have seen her at the Makiki Farmer’s Market and the Made in Hawaii Festival.

Getting ready for a popup dinner! Vegetable curry, beef rendang, and rice.

Getting ready for a popup dinner! Vegetable curry, beef rendang, and rice.

How did you come up with the concept for your business?
Well, I want to bottle our Indonesian peanut sauce. Indonesian peanut sauce is different from like a Thai peanut sauce. It is not easy to make and everyone enjoys it, so we want to bottle it and sell it here. But first, I need to get to know the local people face to face, so we can introduce the sauce. 
I want to bring variety to Hawaii. So the concept would be introducing the hidden treasure of Indonesian cuisine. It really is like a hidden treasure, and  is different on every island. Rendang is the most famous Indonesian dish. We have curry (gulai), such as the Thai and Indians do, but we use spices that are different.
Hawaii has many different food cultures here, and Indonesian food is a community food, and I want to connect it with the cultures already in the Hawaii community.

Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang

What are some of the biggest/unexpected challenges you face with your business?
The limitation of space; sometimes it is not enough space, or it is just not affordable. Also finding people who know how to cook (Indonesian food). We are still trying to become a part of the community culture here; I would love to train people in cooking Indonesian food!

Veggie-stuffed Tofu

Veggie-stuffed Tofu

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your business?
The satisfaction when they first try Indonesian food, and being able to introduce Indonesian treasure to the world. Sometimes, it’s not about making money. I would like to make money, but I’m passionate about what my culture is. I’m proud about introducing Indonesian culture to the world.

Find Chef Hana at

Chef Hana
808-944-1901
facebook-16CHEF HANA
instagram-16 ChefHana
Thurs. 9/26, 10/3, 10/10:BoxLunch 11am – 3pm 
Fri. 9/27, 10/4Taste Table 10am – 2:30pm
Events: Eat the Street, Made in Hawaii Festival

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TRIPPIN’

Louisville, KY
By Britney T-M

Louisville, KY

TRIPPIN’ is a summer blog series featuring coworking spaces, as BoxJelly intern Britney T-M travels to attend George Mason University’s Social Innovation Program. Follow the trip on Google Maps.

iHub

“Louisville is extremely strong in the manufacturing, distribution, and long-term healthcare sectors. How do we cross-pollinate and innovate around them?” – Vik Chadha (director of iHub)

iHub

iHub is a coworking space within Nucleus (a research park), located in downtown Louisville. For just $80/month, membership grants you access to the entire space (which includes mailing services, meeting rooms, and events), free coffee, and free parking.

My host, Vik (director of iHub), was inspired by the cross-pollination and networking aspects of coworking, and in six months time, turned around what used to be a storage building for Nucleus into a coworking space. For Nucleus, it’s a great way for vertical industry cross-pollination, and can act as a sort of feeder into their main facilities, which include office spaces, laboratories for research, and business management and consulting services.

Dorit Donoviel (NSBRI Industry Forum Leader) with Mayor Greg Fischer

Dorit Donoviel (NSBRI Industry Forum Leader) with Mayor Greg Fischer

They are very open to first-time users, offering free use of the space to them. Vik emphasized not having to monetize services, by having the right alignment in order to be a magnet for those who will best carry out the initiatives you are trying to implement. In the same way that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing, alignment is the most effective way for a coworking space to exist. “It’s all about identifying the needs for the ecosystem,” said Vik. “Louisville is extremely strong in the manufacturing, distribution, and long-term healthcare sectors. How do we cross-pollinate and innovate around them?” In answering this question, iHub creates a sort of ‘critical mass’, a density if you will, for creativity and innovation, that it will eventually feed into the science park and in turn, serve as a beneficial ‘Nucleus’ (puns intended!) for the entire city.

“We want to create our own future by creating ecosystems for innovation. How can we create a foundation for that?” -Vik Chadha, iHub Director

Picture 14

Vik and me on TV! (wlky.com)

The launch of XLerateHealth’s Accelerate SMARTCAP Program at iHub could not have been an anymore serendipitous example. Vik extended an invitation for me, as it was scheduled during our time to meet. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was in attendance, as well as Ted Smith, the chief of economic growth and innovation. An initiative of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), the SMARTCAP program will be an accelerator program, with awards in $20,000 to each selected participating early-stage startup companies who address healthcare barriers in space to address problems here on earth, such as access to remote areas, limited resources, and patient evaluation. (Space flight will also turn commercial within our lifetimes, so look out for that as well.) Selected start-ups will also have full access to Nucleus services, and of course, access to a network which includes NASA. They are currently accepting applications. Louisville is a prime location for this program to emerge, not only because of Nucleus, but also because of the city’s rich history in distribution and healthcare.

With all of this wonderful news, I couldn’t help but wonder how all of this benefit would include/enhance the lives of the people living in Louisville, and in Kentucky. The answer? Organic growth (of the economy), of course.

Christopher Davis

Twitter: @cdavis

“The more I explore it, the more I realize that what we don’t have is a space that’s constantly trying to benefit and grow the creative economy in Louisville. That’s what I want to do in this space.” -Christopher Davis

The next “space” that I would visit has not yet opened it’s doors, but founder of what will be Method in Louisville, Christopher Davis, was more than willing to meet with me. We met of course, at the place that parented the whole coworking concept: a coffee shop.

Quills Coffee on Baxter Ave.

Quills Coffee on Baxter Ave.

A young up-and-coming designer and entrepreneur himself, Chris is not only trying to cultivate an industry, but looking to grow the city as a whole. What started out as an initiative to open a coworking space has turned into an analysis of Louisville’s ecosystems and cultures that led Chris to innovate around what so many smaller cities (including Honolulu) experience: the dreaded brain drain. “…it’s harder to find talent here in Louisville, which is so ridiculous because I have so many friends who were, and are, moving to places like the Valley and Austin and Chicago because they can’t get jobs in Louisville. Or, they think they can’t get jobs in Louisville.”

What will be the header for the Method page (in Louisville red!)

The more he looked around, the more Chris realized that Louisville needed a physical space for a designer and developer culture to form (much like what Nucleus is doing for the entrepreneurial, science, and healthcare culture); for people to come, create, build, and ‘”organically” develop the identity of the designer and developer cultures that are not yet in place. Realizing that renting desks would not feasibly sustain a space and distracts from other financial opportunities, Chris wants to build Method with the intentions of it being a creative commons; a place to cultivate creativity in Louisville. “The more I explore it, the more I realize that what we don’t have is a space that’s constantly trying to benefit and grow the creative economy in Louisville. that’s what I want to do in this space.” His ideas build a sort of support matrix that would patch a lot of holes that many urban areas see (such as unemployment, lack of educational opportunities, and outsourcing). Workshops and events open to the public, a three-tiered educational plan, and a “Startup Weekend” type of event to act as a crowd-sourcing program to address the city’s problems.

Chris is one of those people whose emanating love for their city keeps its heart pumping. Literally, a place would only be a bunch of buildings if it weren’t for the initiative of its citizens to contribute to its life flow. As a millennial, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start as our generation ages into the professional world and leadership positions, but there are great examples of peers we can look to for that glimpse of guidance.

Next: How Hanover College is (coincidentally) creating a coworking environment.

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