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Interviewing Treehouse Member Randy Gonce

Meet Randy Gonce! He is an active Treehouse member, a native Hawaiian plant enthusiast, and the Executive Director of Hawai’i Cannabis Industry Association (HICIA). We had the pleasure of interviewing him to get some of his personal insight about Treehouse.

1. As a small business owner you wake up everyday and hustle, even in times of adversity, you choose not to give up… you adapt over and over again, grinding, determined to push your way through to the top… we want to know the reason why: What's your grind? What are you passionate about? What fulfills you, and motivates you to continue doing what you do each day?

A: My why is this place I am so lucky enough to call home, Hawaiʻi nei and my passion for plant medicine. I am the Executive Director of the Cannabis Industry's only trade association and that is a huge honor and responsibility. In the era of the COVID-19 world health pandemic the realization that Hawaiʻi needs new industries outside of tourism and the military have been finally revealed for so many people. Residents who were previously removed from the issue now see the direct impact that these industries have had on the delicate ecosystems and economy we have on these islands. Hawaiʻi had one of the highest rates of unemployment in the nation from a single lockdown. Both Industries have been highly destructive, extractive, and give little back to our local people. Yes, these industries employ a lot of our residents but at what cost? The tourism industry as a whole offers mostly low wages compared to the cost of living in Hawaiʻi. Their massive profits are mostly taken off island to large hotel companies and investors who reside and pay taxes elsewhere. The military industrial complex has occupied massive amounts of public trust and former crown lands that were to be held in trust for the Hawaiian people all for $1 a year. There is a good case to say they haven't been good stewards of those lands they are leasing either.

All this to say, cannabis is a beacon of light in a dim economic and environmental landscape for local people. But just as any industry in its infancy stages it has the potential to be implemented in a way that it becomes part of the problem and not the solution. I am kept up at night with the fear that the cannabis industry in Hawaiʻi will be one that is owned and operated by huge investors and "corporate cannabis" players. Instead of it being a haven for local legacy farmers who have been growing some of the best outdoor cannabis in the best conditions for generations, we could see dispensaries and companies using the names like "maui wowie" or other special Hawaiian names only for marketing purposes. We could see companies appropriating the words Aloha while product profits do not uplift our communities that have struggled so long to keep their families on island instead of moving away. We want an industry that is socially equitable, environmentally regenerative, and provides opportunities across the board to local people in a current economy that is increasingly hostile to local residents born and raised here. The cannabis industry won't only be for growers and sellers. It will be for graphic designers, packaging companies, delivery companies, young scientists who want to study the plant at UH, and much much more. The potential is exponential. My why is because the people of Hawaiʻi deserve an industry that is geared towards them and their families' success on these islands. Agriculture is the future, plant medicine is the future, and Hawaiʻi is the best place in the world to pull it off.

2. .What value does Treehouse provide for your business?

A: Treehouse provides me a lot of great value. My job is remote. I have no actual brick and mortar office. This is due to a lot of the factors of life in Hawaiʻi. The extremely high cost of space in Hawaiʻi prevents me from making sense of having a dedicated downtown office for just myself. I need a bit of separation from home and work, thus coming to a place like Treehouse that is designed for you to feel comfortable and equipped to take on a work day is so valuable. I always get more work done at Treehouse than I do at home lol!

3. What is your favorite type of event hosted at treehouse and why?

A: 3rd Fridays are always a blast. Any good organization that can build community is one that has sustainability. I have yet to check out all the other events Treehouse offers but so far 3rd Fridays have been a blast.

4. Describe your typical day at treehouse. How do you feel when you're there?

A: I usually go to Treehouse in the late morning after I have some clarity in my brain. I live in Kāneʻohe so the drive to Treehouse allows me time to gain that clarity and prep for my work day. I settle into the co-working space and hit the ground running usually. It is easy to focus when you are at Treehouse which is not the case for me at home all the time. Sometimes I lose track of time and then run out to grab lunch at one of the many wonderful food establishments within walking distance. I usually wrap up around 4pm and and head home. On some occasions I have stayed at Treehouse until 11pm working on an important presentation. Treehouse is always happy to accomodate.

5. How do you enjoy spending your time aside from work? For many of us, work has been put on pause for a bit. When you take work out of the picture, what keeps you motivated and positive? What moves you? What do you look forward to?

A: Aside from work, I enjoy working with native hawaiian plants. I propagate them, teach others about them. use them in my life practice, and advocate for others to come into relation with the natural world more often. I also love to meet new people and network. This is on pause yes for in face interaction but being online has really helped continue this practice in a social distanced way.

6. How does a treehouse support you to live your best lifestyle here in Hawaii? How does Treehouse align with your personal values?

A: Treehouse gives me the flexibility that remote work requires but also the community and social aspect that in person/in office work environments provide. This is super important to me. Additionally, Treehouse also allows friendly dogs in the co-working spaces and I just hate to leave my dog at home when I am away at work. This makes my days much more enjoyable and less stressful.

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