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How can we make building pilina (relationships) with native plants fun for the whole family?

Honolulu, Hawaii
DOI: 10.18258/66729
Grant: Indigenous Futures
Raised of $10,000 Goal
Funded on 5/16/24
Successfully Funded
  • $10,050
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 5/16/24

About This Project

Our stories in Hawaiʻi tell of the strong relationships (pilina) our ancestors had with the natural world. However, today many of us are unable to recognize our plant relatives, much less differentiate native and canoe plants from non-natives and invasive plants. Therefore, how can we help people build pilina (relationships) with native plants? How can we increase community interest in plant stewardship? We are proposing ʻĀinaQuest, an educational card game, as a solution.

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What is the context of this research?

Hawaiʻi is a beautiful and unique place as the most isolated island chain in the world. Hawaiʻi is home to thousands of native and non-native plants, and 40% of the total endangered plant species in the United States. As kanaka and kamaʻāina of this land, we believe it is our duty to preserve the beauty of Hawaiʻi for future generations--and that includes our plants! In order to educate and inspire people to care about native plants, we must meet the community where they are at, and we believe our fun and educational card game will help players cultivate the knowledge needed for environmental stewardship and conservation.

What is the significance of this project?

Many of us take for granted the beautiful natural environment our ancestors cultivated and lived harmoniously with. A diminished plant relationship is not unique to Hawaiʻi, and it affects many of us in the industrial world. The phenomenon is called “plant blindness” (an inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment) and it affects about 91.9% of the population in Hawai'i residing in urban areas.

We believe the solution to plant blindness is to help people (re)develop their pilina with the natural world. Our educational card game, ʻĀinaQuest, provides a fun way to learn about native plants and share stories of plants. We hope our game will nurture the next generation of locally grown Hawaiian botanists and ecologists and provide a pathway towards ʻāina-based stewardship.

What are the goals of the project?

ʻĀinaQuest will inspire people to learn more about native plants while centering Hawaiian plant stories and knowledge. It is a tool for multigenerational storytelling and preservation of Indigenous knowledge. People will become more curious about native plants after playing, and this will create a pathway towards preserving native plants and ʻāina (land).

We have developed the basic gameplay mechanics, and our next step is to bring our characters to life. We plan to facilitate a workshop with cultural experts, ecologists, and other members of the community to get their input in the design of the artwork and stories to include. Based on the collective knowledge and feedback generated from the workshop, we will hire a Native Hawaiian artist to create the artwork and illustrations.


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We are requesting support for the design and implementation of our educational card game.

First, we plan to convene a gathering of cultural and scientific experts to offer guidance on the project and serve as an advisory board. The goal of the workshop is to refine our proof of concept for the "plant-mon" that is grounded in Native Hawaiian culture, moʻolelo (stories), and knowledge. Stipends are budgeted to honor the knowledge and time of cultural and scientific experts, and we plan to support any travel costs to bring knowledge keepers from across the islands together. Funding is needed to run the workshop and purchase materials and supplies.

Next, we want to hire a Native Hawaiian artist to draw and bring the Native Hawaiian plant-mon characters to life. Each character should be grounded in Native Hawaiian knowledge and be developed alongside the community. Funding is needed to cover the artist’s design fees.

Endorsed by

I remember when this project first started, part of a community hackathon focused on local knowledge. The excitement by the community about this project was palpable! This project will inspire love for native and canoe plants through storytelling. The interdisciplinary team has the expertise necessary to make this project incredible. I strongly endorse this project!
This project is crucial for engaging communities in plant conservation and traditional knowledge. The team is well-positioned to bring together the art, design, science, and knowledge necessary to be impactful. I am looking forward to their results.
I'm really excited about ʻĀinaQuest! This accessible and engaging game will increase interest in native and canoe plants through play. I know both Corinne and Kurt, who are stellar collaborators, artists, community members, and scientists I would gladly work with on any project. The whole team has the broad skills, distributed specialties, motivation, and connections to execute a unique and thoughtful initiative to realize the plant-mon. Looking forward to seeing ʻĀinaQuest grow!

Project Timeline

We have already created the ʻĀinaQuest gameplay mechanics and rulebook. Our next step is to bring our "plant-mon" characters to life. We believe that process will take roughly 6-8 months before we can showcase our game to the public.

Apr 02, 2024

Project Launched

Apr 08, 2024

Website and Project Launch

Apr 15, 2024

Artist search begins

May 06, 2024

Call for collaboration with cultural and science experts

May 27, 2024

Community-led design studio workshop

Meet the Team

Amy McKee
Amy McKee
PhD Student in Education


University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
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Corinne Okada Takara
Corinne Okada Takara
Artist/STEAM Eduactor


Okada Design, BioJam Camp, and Nest Makerspace
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Carolyn Rojsutivat
Carolyn Rojsutivat
UX Engineer and Product Designer


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Kurt Takara
Kurt Takara
Product Marketing

Team Bio

Our team met at the Build4Good AI Hackathon hosted by Purple Maiʻa on December 8, 2023 and we gathered together around a shared value of wanting to increase pilina with native plants. Within 48 hours we created and printed our first deck of plant-mon playing cards! We’ve been playing board games and learning about plants together ever since.

Amy McKee

Amy McKee is a Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) PhD student in Education from Kaimukī, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Amy is passionate about learning about ʻāina (land) and kai (ocean) based knowledges, and bridging the gap between ancestral and modern technologies. She also loves to play board games with her friends! Amy is a founding member of the ʻĀinaQuest team and helps to develop the gameplay mechanics and design.

Corinne Okada Takara

Corinne Okada Takara is a community art activist and STEAM educator who creates programs that elevate and empower community voices in conversations centered on identity, place, science, and technology. She is a Yonsei (4th generation) kama'aina settler who lives on Oahu. For over twenty years her passion for accessible STEAM learning anchored in cultural and community science knowledge has driven her to collaboratively develop programs with museums, libraries, and community organizations. She is a co-founder of BioJam Camp, a teen program anchored in both Salinas and the Stanford Department of Bioengineering, served as the Program Director of the community biolab Xinampa in Salinas, California, and is co-founder of the youth Art & Design Thinking Camp in East San José, California. Her frugal science tool and biomaterial design research is conducted in her garage and in her Nest Makerspace shed.

Takara has received State, National, and International recognition for her work straddling art and biology including fellowships and residencies such as the Ginkgo Bioworks Creative Residency, a Lucas Artist Residency at Montalvo Arts Center, 2020 Global Community Biosummit Fellowship, and a 2020 National Public Interest Technology Innovation Fellowship. She has led four high school teams in the International Biodesign Challenge for which she was honored with the 2019 Outstanding Instructor Award. She is a recipient of the inaugural 2023 Ka Maka ʻĪnana Think Tank Grant from Purple Mai’a.

Takara holds a BA in Design from Stanford University and is an alumni of the Hawai’i Purple Mai’a Ka Maka I’nana program.. & https://nestmakerspace.weebly....

Carolyn Rojsutivat

Carolyn is a UX Engineer and Product Designer on a mission to break barriers and make knowledge more accessible to local communities and the masses. With over ten years of experience as a UX Engineer and Product Designer, she has created meaningful experiences that improve the quality of people's lives. Her interest lies in leveraging technology to build relationship and kinship with our roots, land, and community.

She was selected as a Grace Hopper Scholar and NCWIT Change Leader Scholar in 2018 for her drive to be a change leader for diversity in tech within her community. She holds a M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at DePaul University and Culturally Responsive Teaching certificate at Leeward Community College. She specializes in UX Research, Human Factors Engineering, Product Design, UX Design, and UX Engineering.

Her goal is to make the world a better place by solving one problem at a time while still having fun, hope, and laughter. She is a founding member of 'ĀinaQuest. Check out more of her work at

Kurt Takara

Kurt Takara is a product marketing professional in the technology industry, specializing in strategic planning, new product development, business development, product management, project management, and engineering management. He has over 20 years of experience in engineering design and verification, technical marketing and engineering services and has held various roles that span international sales, product management, and project leadership. Kurt has held engineering, marketing, consulting services and project management roles in electronics and EDA companies such as 0-In Design Automation, Synopsys, Ikos Systems, Raytheon and Magnavox. He holds a BSEE from Purdue University and an MBA from Santa Clara University. Kurt was born and raised in Honolulu and is a founding member of the ʻĀinaQuest team.

Additional Information

Project Backers

  • 33Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $10,050Total Donations
  • $304.55Average Donation
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