Housed in a vintage Airstream trailer, MANA MELE's solar-powered mobile audio and video production studio, with full battery backup can handle all your live and studio recording needs
The idea for a "community co-op" studio and radio station began in the year 2000, when Mana Maoli was in the planning phases of starting Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School. As brainstorming, planning and fundraising over the years continued, somewhere along the way came the notion to have the studio be mobile. This way, through audio and video recordings, live events, and live radio broadcasts, we can invite youth, artists, and kupuna to "tell YOUR story, from YOUR place". We believe that when one is more comfortable, in their element, at their home, school, mountain or beach, the quality and the energy of the product will be better.
It took many years of fundraising to secure the ʻmatching fundsʻ required for a federal grant with ANA (Administration for Native Americans). Over 600 collective hours was spent pulling conducting the community input, creating the business/marketing plan, and writing the proposal required for this application. Mana Maoli, the MELE program, and 8 partner charter schools were fortunate to be awarded this grant in the Fall of 2013. Along with additional support from the Jack and Kim Johnsonʻs Ohana Charitable Foundation for some of the solar and video components of the mobile studio, we were able to proceed the design and buildout of the studio.
Lead Engineer/Instructor Kelli Heath Cruz and others discussed various options to house the studio - a refrigerator truck, a bus, an ambulance. In the end, Kelli decided an Airstream would be best. She eventually found one in Chico, CA for $4,700 (just over half the cost of shipping the trailer back home). She flew to Sacremento, caught a ride to Chico, hired a tow driver to hitch and tow the trailer and teach her how to do so in the process, and bring the trailer to Oakland, where it was shipped to Honolulu.
Students, staff, artists, and community volunteers helped with demolition and buildout. An amazing Advisory Council Team helped with the design on the front end, and evaluation to assure industry standard upon its completion. Many challenges arose along the way, from hurricane threats and undisclosed damage and repair needs under the Airstream floor, to hundreds of hours spent on the solar aspect of the studio and permitting confusion and challenges, with all government offices uncertain as to how to classify our vehicle.
Two years later, the design, buildout, and permitting of our mobile studio is complete, and as of September 2015, we are 3 months into our testing and trouble shooting phase. During this phase, we are focusing on school hour use of the mobile studio. In November, after our launch event, we will be available to businesses, organizations, individuals, and schools for an array of event services and studio products.