I started Hawaii Tracker back in 2014 as a resource to help the community stay informed and connected as the lava was moving down the mountain towards Pahoa. I was quickly blown away that not only was it helping people locally, but friends, family and people all over the world started joining to stay connected with what was happening on the Big Island.
When this latest eruption happened at the beginning of May, Hawaii Tracker exploded and grew from 4k people to over 41k people in just over two months. It went from a hobby, to me to spending up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week pouring over information, researching, writing, vetting posts and moderating the group. Something had to change quickly and fortunately, helpers that now make up the core team at Hawaii Tracker rose to the surface.
Over the past two and a half months, the Hawaii Tracker team has worked tirelessly to provide accurate and timely information so residents and visitors can make informed decisions. It’s also allowed friends, family and supporters all over the world to not only stay in touch, but to support and encourage each other through this devastating season. We have our hands full most days even during minor changes in the lava activity, as we research evolving scenarios, compile visual reports and maintain the community we have in this group. Hawaii Tracker takes a heavy chunk of time for its core contributors.
The model we have currently is not sustainable over the long run. The Hawaii Tracker full-timers have had little to no source of income since the eruption began on May 3rd. Members of the team have even lost family homes and left their primary residence inside the mandatory evacuation area in Leilani. This is taking a toll on us and reality is catching up fast. Complicating things, we have been very hesitant to ask for help amidst the enormous losses of all those around us. How do we ask for support when those all around us have lost so much? But in the past few weeks, we have realized that we cannot continue things as they are without support. We believe very deeply in the good that is coming about from this group and the Hawaii Tracker community, and we want to make every effort to keep it going.
So, if we have been helpful and added value to you on a consistent basis over these past months and years, we humbly ask that you would consider possibly supporting our team financially if you’re in a position to do so. If you have enjoyed the community of Hawaii Tracker, please know that it takes an enormous amount of time and effort in reading, researching posts, wrestling over if content is going to be helpful and reading and moderating almost every comment on every post. Some updates take hours to research and produce. We really aren’t trying to toot our own horns, but trying to communicate the reality of all the behind the scenes work that goes into Hawaii Tracker.
As many people in Puna are hurting we are not going to ask anything from the local community. We would really like to petition those outside the area.
In addition, we have short-listed a couple of projects that we’d like to fund if possible for the benefit of our online & local communities:
– Creation of more online resources, email/text updates, audio/video content etc
– Purchase and deploy helpful webcams around Puna in strategic locations
– Putting together and promoting more local meetups and events to promote local businesses, foster community and answer questions. Even host local experts to share their experiences tracking the current eruption. There are many businesses in Volcano and Pahoa that are hurting due to decreased tourism brought on by the lava flows. We want to set up events that could help provide a needed bump to coffee shops, restaurants, and more.
To start off with, we are seeking to raise support for myself, Dane duPont and Philip Ong. But we would very much like to be able to support even more of our contributing team if we can raise enough monthly support.
We’ll continue to work hard and find ways to keep delivering our content, inspired by the response of our local community and this group to help however we can, and it’s in that spirit that we humbly ask for help from those of you in a position to do so.
Appreciate you all and Mahalo for your support!
Founder of Hawaii Tracker in 2014