Traveling down Highway 1 in Oahu, you will likely notice a colorful mural on the side of the Highway Inn, a favorite local restaurant preparing traditional Hawaiian food since 1947.
This is not just any mural, but it has a bit of a story and a social entrepreneur behind it.
Cutbacks in school funding in this area of Oahu have resulted in the removal of art courses from the curriculum of many local schools. John “Prime” Hina, a graffiti artist, envisioned a non-profit organization that would mentor at-risk youth in making art. He mobilized youth in the Waipahu area to work on a community-based project exemplifying what was unique about their culture and community. Students designed and painted a mural depicting the well know landmarks. The mural depicts the word “Aloha” by using symbols of the past and present in the Waipahu community.
John is the founder of 808 Urban a collective of artists and volunteers who are dedicated to improving the quality of life through innovation in the arts. The mission of 808Urban is to be a cultural organization that promotes systemic social change. John’s non-profit organization has grown since it began in 2006 and has created over 50 large scale mural projects as well as hundreds of art workshops. Through his initiative, he has been able to open a store and an arts hub to support culture and art in the Hawaiian community.