By Tommy Noyes

Get Fit Kaua‘i’s Director Bev Brody and GFK Built Environment Task Force members Tommy Noyes and Larry Feinstein hold up a total of 19 fingers, the number of historical and cultural points of interest that will make up the Lihu‘e Loop self-guided audio tour. The Kress Building, now being rehabilitated, and the collaboratively created street mural are subjects in the soon-to-be-released audio tour. Contributed photo by Pat L. Griffin

Author Te-Ping Chen recently shared on the PBS News Hour, “History is precious. It doesn’t survive unless you choose to embrace it.”

Bev Brody, Director of Get Fit Kaua‘i, is heading up a team tasked with creating a free audio tour of Lihu‘e’s historic core. The one-mile Lihu‘e Loop walking route will follow Hardy, ‘Eiwa, and Rice streets. GFK’s Lihu‘e Loops Community Action Group selected 19 sites connected by the town’s pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

Sharing the stories that shaped our built environment embraces and sustains our cultural, historical and political heritage. This soon-to-be-released, publicly accessible, self-guided audio tour will breathe fresh vigor into the history of Lihu‘e’s town core.

“For over 20 years, GFK has been making fitness fun by ‘gamifying’ activities to increase routine physical activity and improve nutrition,” Brody said. “We know that people-oriented streets and sidewalks advance active lifestyles.

“So many people and institutions have helped GFK realize this vision,” Brody continued. “The Department of Health, Department of Transportation, and Kaiser Permanente have provided funds to make projects like this Lihu‘e Loop audio tour and so many others possible. We are fortunate that the County of Kaua‘i supports improving the places where we live and work so people can walk, run, ride bicycles, and engage with our neighbors in safe and attractive settings. Mahalo nui loa to all the individuals who’ve dedicated their time and energy to promoting this vision through GFK’s Built Environment Task Force.”

Hawai‘i DOE educators Kevin Matsunaga and Lea Awohi recognized the Lihu‘e Loop project as a unique opportunity for their students to hone academic skills by participating in a collaborative endeavor designed to cultivate community pride and promote wellness.

Matsunaga, a Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher, instructs the Video Production class. Their sophisticated storytelling videos have won national recognition, and are often featured on the Hiki No television program. Chiefess Video Production class students will research single points of interest, such as the street art mural fronting the historic Kress Building now being rehabilitated, and then interview a subject matter expert. The class will compile the complete series of downloadable audio files.

Aiwohi teaches science, technology, engineering, and math at Kaua‘i High School. Her students will take on the challenge of fabricating durable QR code medallions to be posted at strategic locations along the one-mile loop.

Project manager Taylor Young of Jaxon Communications, a local digital marketing, web and creative agency will be keeping the various collaborators on schedule. Jaxon Communications offers to build, brand and execute effective digital marketing strategies that help businesses to grow. Young will also supervise creating the online content so that the self-guided audio tour can be easily accessed by pedestrians using their mobile phones.

“Once completed, this walking tour will be a fun opportunity for health, exercise, and culture to shake hands,” said historian and Lihu‘e Business Association President Pat L. Griffin. The Kaua‘i Historical Society published Griffin’s Lihu‘e: Root and Branch of a Hawai‘i Town, which Chiefess Kamakahelei Video Production class students may use for in-depth research.

  • Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.