Kalani Honua Blog - hawaii

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kenny Drotar & Ali Slous

Kalani’s dining lanai and kitchen have long been described as the “heart” of Kalani. As many as two hundred-fifty hungry guests, local residents, staff and volunteers file in line each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mealtime is announced by the sound of three distinct tones on the conch shell that can be heard across the campus. This daily tradition reminds us of the rich cultural heritage we preserve on the mystical Hawaiian land where Kalani now resides.

The hardworking, fun-loving kitchen crew meticulously and conscientiously prepares and serves three fresh, wholesome meals each day, and approximately 150,000 meals each year, all while chatting, chopping, and dancing to music of choice. Each meal is prepared with the freshest, most organic ingredients possible, along with aloha and love for our ‘ohana or extended family.

Day in and day out, Kalani’s kitchen crew members, affectionately nicknamed “hoozies,” handcraft delicious dishes, all while catering to a diverse population of eaters including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and omnivores alike. Because the kitchen crew is composed mostly of volunteers on two and three month stints, Kalani has assembled a dream team of chefs and managers to keep this operation, Kalani’s largest, running smoothly.

Sami Ross, the Excel-erator
Sami Ross can be found pitching in anytime help is needed in the bustling Kalani kitchen, whether on the dishwashing station (AKA Auntie Hobart), front of house, Hale Aloha, or even the campground, searching for errant hoozies. With her tenacity and determination, she has played a key role in adding to Hale Aloha’s baking and overall expansion. Sami also has the well-honed ability to put any and all information into a spreadsheet, making her a wizard of organization and logistics. She manages and leads team meetings with a smile, keeps track of a multitude of schedules and requests, and ensures that her kitchen team is happy and healthy.

Dana Butler, the Organic Oracle
No longer satisfied by a life driven by ambition, material success, and outside expectation, Dana Butler made the unlikely decision to become the kitchen manager at Kalani. She credits this decision as one of the best she’s ever made in her life, asserting that the benefits within this space of community, non-judgment, and self-acceptance are worth more than all the money and prestige in the world. Dana takes pride in shepherding Kalani’s movement toward purchasing more locally grown produce and grass-fed beef and supporting local farmers and products. Dana also feels rewarded when she hears that the environment in the kitchen is nurturing, supportive, and fun.

Kenny Drotar, the Meal Manifestor
Kenny Drotar has been cooking his heart out for over twelve years in cities including Detroit, New Orleans, and New York. In contrast with the traditional kitchens he has experienced in the past, Kenny keeps the Kalani kitchen atmosphere light and fun with his love of pop music, high-energy, and humorous outlook. He is passionate about sourcing local, sustainable ingredients, and contributing to expanding the gardens at Kalani. Kenny keeps it fresh by learning to prepare new cuisines while transforming the most unlikely combination of ingredients into something tasty and surprising.

Charles Woods the Salad Ninja
A volunteer turned Kalani resident for over eighteen years, Charles keeps the kitchen running smoothly, while balancing hundreds of van runs for Kalani. He can be found quietly and carefully preparing daily staple items such as salads, dips, and dressings that compliment the bounty of fresh ingredients and produce. Charles is always willing to try something new and accommodate the team’s changing menus and flavor profiles. His presence in the kitchen has become a steady constant on the ever-changing crew.

Lilly Dietz the Yum Yum Yogi
Hailing from a big Italian family in New York, Lilly Dietz knows what it takes to cook for large groups of people - all with a hearty serving of aloha. Often overheard saying “this is going to be the best day ever!,” Lilly is known for her signature positive outlook, smile, and friendly energy. Having completed her training on-the-job, Lilly has grown to become one of Kalani’s most skilled shift leaders. A globetrotting yogini, Lilly has taken cooking classes in both India and Thailand, blessing all of her food with the sacred sound of “Om.”

Mark Ceranski the Dessert Dominator
Another Kalani jetsetter, Mark Ceranski spent many years as a chef cooking for high-end clients along with volunteer organizations both domestic and abroad. Now, Mark loves being at Kalani as our resident baker and dessert-maker extraordinaire, spoiling Kalani diners with his famous sourdough, rosemary focaccia, lillikoi cheesecake, fresh berry tart, and anything with chocolate ganache (to name a few). Mark is currently working on his first book, Pot Boiler in the Kitchen, a firsthand account of his adventures with royalty, dictators, and despots.

Ryan Turner the Expediter of Aloha
Prior to arriving at Kalani, Ryan Turner was the restaurant front-of-house manager at a Forbes’ top-ten rated fly-fishing lodge. In nearly two years at Kalani, Ryan has formulated many of our addictive cookie recipes, including the popular vegan varieties such as chocolate chip, Mexican chocolate, peanut butter, and Kona coffee, along with other products carried at Hale Aloha. Ryan also contributed a year of service arranging flowers for the property. A man of many talents, Ryan has become a skilled aerialist and ecstatic dancer and boasts a great letter of recommendation from Henry Winkler aka “The Fonz.”

Mitch Boehlinger the Banjo Griddler
Another man of many talents, Mitch Bohlinger is a former glass-blower from Wisconsin. He can not only cook a mean “almond joy” pancake or perfectly sear a filet of the fresh catch, but can also pick up any string instrument and play a song. Passionate about learning anything new, Mitch has an uncanny ability to try something once and remember each, step-by-step detail about how it is done. Mitch is abundantly generous, sharing his special, cinnamon flavored cold-press coffee with any takers. Mitch is passionate about cooking and loves the idea that people he taught to play instruments and cook are out there in the world making music and food.

Mariana Bergtold the Vegan Pirate Queen
Having healed herself from Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma through macrobiotics, Mariana Bergtold is a living example of the healing and restorative power of healthy, seasonal, locally sourced food. The former owner of not one, but two successful vegan, kosher, organic, sugar-free restaurants, Mariana treats plant and meat-eaters alike to her rich, I-can’t-believe-it’s-dairy-free dishes like wild mushroom and root vegetable phyllo tartes and creamy, delectable soups. Mariana continuously challenges herself by learning new cuisines and inspiring everyone to elevate the quality of plant-based dishes for our discerning Kalani diners.

Ted Leake the Barbecue Chef Bayou
Ted Leake’s signature Southern accent, friendly demeanor, and soulful, retro music selections permeate the kitchen whenever he cooks. A loving father of three, Ted makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated in the kitchen, often giving a hoozie or two the opportunity to create a dish with their moniker attached. He is known for his rich, French culinary trained palette of soups, sauces, and perfectly cooked meats, layered with tons of flavors that have diners returning for seconds. With limited resources but a lot of talent, Ted traveled to fifty countries and survived twenty-five years as a business owner in the competitive catering industry before coming to Kalani.

Sarah Cole the Earth Mama
If you hear the sweet sounds of reggae music echoing through the dining lanai, it is likely that Sarah Cole is on the chef’s line. Another of our well-traveled leaders, Sarah loves cooking holistic, sustainable, non-GMO, organic ingredients while sending good vibrations to the food and to all who consume it. Kalani regulars rave about her flavorful Indian specialties, including divinely seasoned basmati rice and lentil dal, along with spicy onion relish and yogurt raita. Sarah is devoted to homeopathic healing through diet and spiritual connection to the earth.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beki Sibiga

Editor's Note: This blog post is a moving offering from a departing volunteer, read at our community meeting. We share it as it captures the transformative impact of the volunteer program at Kalani. 

I’m not sure that I’ve ever been in love before…until now
I’ve always had the love to give, but to receive, I just didn’t know how…until now

Falling in love with my Ohana, with each of you
Has led me closer to realizing what is true

What is true is love, being authentic and deep connection
In ways I never thought possible with human interaction…until now

Relationships so fulfilling and sacred and so fricking real
My energetic dances with all of you have helped me to heal

I know you all on levels I’ve never experienced in lives past
The colors of each of your eyes, the sounds of your unique laughs,
Have shown me what falling in love is like at last

Our talking, our giggling and our joyful endless dance
Has given me strength to move forward, hopeful and excited to give love a chance

For the love I have felt in my heart here with you
Has been overwhelming, sometimes painful that I haven’t known what to do

Yet I am reminded by this missing you pain in the center of my being
That this is a sign of how deeply I have loved and now I am finally seeing

Seeing and experiencing what true love is and what lies before me
Countless opportunities to love deeply and to just be

Seeing what is real past this veil of illusion
My loving journey with you has eased my confusion

And although I still have no clue what to do
I know that’s ok, for I’m being guided by you

YOU, the reflection of the me that I have found
A deep connection with myself, that’s not only received on the mound

I have ridden the waves and processed to much
With my Ohana standing strong so that I didn’t lose touch

And if I woke up, feeling blue and didn’t know why
I was confident that all I had to do was walk to the lanai

For I knew that some magic would greet me on this special path
And the right one of you would embrace me, say the perfect words or make me laugh

From day one you have nourished and challenged me as any lover could do
And I want to thank you beautiful people for being so perfectly you

YOU ARE AWESOME And as I stand here attempting to inspire yet shaking and not quite knowing what to do
One thing is so very clear my dear dear friends…that the true inspiration in YOU

I have seen the universe in your eyes, heard it in your words and felt it with your tough
I have witnessed it, experienced it and leardt from the reflection you have held up to me and for that god, I love you so much

What a gift it is to have fallen in love for the first time
So much so, I’m even making rhyme

And so with this precious gift, I prepare to go
To share it with the world, I love you, a hui hou

Keep letting the love in beautiful people
I miss you xxxxx

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cameron S.

The number one piece of advice for the budding Kalani volunteer in the first weeks is to put yourself out there.  Yes, you will find love and support, yes you will find fun and adventure and yes you will connect with many, but none of it will happen if no one knows you are here.  Kalani is in a period of growth and at time of writing there are one hundred and twenty five volunteers in the community.  Everyone does their very best to welcome new arrivals to the family and it’s important that you do your bit too and be proactive in introducing yourself and initiating conversations.

If you are camping, I would immediately go all out to make yourself as comfortable as possible.  Don’t hold back!  Mattresses, tents, lanterns, even bits of furniture do the rounds among the volunteers and particularly if you are in for a three month stint, you’ll be glad you made the effort early on.  I have enjoyed making my hale (Hawaiian word for house or home) as creative and comfortable as possible.  It’s all part of the Kalani experience.  You can scour the jungle for rocks and wood to get creative with (although check with the locals and do not remove anything from sacred spaces), you can design artwork and soft furnishings in the art shed, (a wonderful Kalani resource for creative play) and if all else fails you can search for supplies in Hilo and brave the consumer-madness of Walmart!   Yes, even in Hawaii…

One theory is ‘say yes to everything on offer’ to help find yourself in the community.  By saying ‘yes’, you maximize your opportunities to connect with others, you experience the range of classes on offer, and you will find yourself on adventures outside the retreat bubble.   A few words of caution; there are so many activities to choose from, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.   Listen to what your body and your heart tell you.   If you are tired, rest.  If you feel overwhelmed, retreat.  And if you feel strong waves of emotion arise, take yourself to ‘The Point’, a beautiful ocean vista just opposite the main gate. Sit down on a bench, breathe deeply and drink in the view.   This is the best dose of Kalani medicine.   

There are so many ways to live here, so keep in mind why you came.  I wanted to experience community living and the abundant nature on The Big Island.  If you find yourself staying up late and sleeping in, shake things up and watch the sunrise at 6am.  If you have never tried a certain type of yoga, challenge yourself to take that class.   And if you do nothing else, shake it all out at Ecstatic Dance on a Sunday morning.  It took me a whole month to make it there, and I have no idea why I waited so long!

Talk to the staff or long term volunteers if you have a problem, or if there is something that you do not like.  They would much rather know sooner or later so that they can do something to help.   With the exception of our founder who was here from the beginning, everyone else here has gone through the same adapting process, to carve their own unique space in this vibrant community. Come and check it out for yourself! 

 

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kalani

Have you heard about Anusara Yoga and Anusara-Inspired Yoga?

It's a relatively new yoga practice, based in Hatha, which focuses on connecting yogis to the heart, divine energy, and universal oneness with each asana.

If you're interested in learning more, Omkar and Kelley Linn, the two Kalani Yogis behind Yoga Hawaii Time, have launched their own online video series which explains the beauty and techniques of Anusara Yoga.

Watch the two videos below to learn more about the practice, and subscribe to the Yoga Hawaii Time YouTube channel for future videos and online classes in Anusara-Inspired Yoga.

Omkar and Kelley Linn will be teaching a range of Anasura-Inspired Yoga classes in their upcoming Hawaii Yoga Escape retreats running December 3-8, 2011, and April 2-7 2012.

Click here to view the Hawaii Yoga Escape retreat page.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cameron McCool

Kehena Beach - One of the World's Top 10 Secluded Beaches (Islands Magazine)

Local beach 'Kehena' has been voted as one of the world's "Top 10 Secluded Beaches" alongside beaches in Curacao, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica in the July/August issue of Islands Magazine.

Kehena beach is known for its picturesque location, black sand, and sunday drumming circle. Dolphins and whales are also frequently spotted close to shore.

Many of Kalani's guests, who come to attend a wellness or yoga retreat in Hawaii, soon discover the magic of Kehena. The beach is a short walk from Kalani grounds and is a favorite of residents within the local Puna community.

Have you visited Kehena Beach? What are your fondest memories of this special place? Tell us on the Kalani Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Here's what Jon Whittle, a photographer for Islands Magazine, had to say about his first visit to Kehena... 


***

THE BIG ISLAND'S KEHENA BEACH
- Jon Whittle, Photographer, Islands Magazine


My No. 1 tip from 10 years of travel photography? Follow rumors. There are no billboards for secret beaches. Having heard of a special spot below the cliffs of Puna, I drove through a tunnel of monkeypod trees on the Red Road, asking myself 'What do you wear to a nude beach?'

Passing a row of parked cars adorned with peace symbols, I stomped on the brakes. This must e the place. I strapped on my camera bag, pushed through the foliage and followed rough black "steps" made of a'a lava toward the sound of a big Pacific break.

I rounded a bend to see a sheer cliff rising from a sheltered cove. The sound of drums echoed intermittently above he crashing waves, and I caught a whiff of the distinctive aroma of 1967. Scattered pines grew from the soft ebony sand, providing shade for the unclothed bodies lying underneath.

Resisting the urge to stare, I found an opening under a nearby pine and unrolled a towel onto a perfect spot to spend the afternoon. The longhaired man beside me etended a hand in greeting. He looked like Iggy Pop, at least from the neck down.

"Welcome to Kehena," he said. This place is like a community. Stay a while and you'll meet painters, musicians, BI fugitives and people who just couldn't take the mainland anymore." He chuckled loudly, pointed down at the oversize camera sitting beside me and said, "You might want to put that away though."


***

This content is re-printed courtesy of Islands Magazine from the article "Top 10 Secluded Beaches" in the July/August 2011 issue. Islands magazine offers readers stunning photos and compelling stories that inspire island travel. Visit the official website to order a free trial issue of this exquisite pubilcation and like Islands Magazine on Facebook to receive daily updates on Island life in your news feed.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

by Thomas Tunsch

Thomas TunschWhen I drove down the highway towards Kalapana on September 6th, it was not the first time that I looked forward to spending a vacation in Kalani. But this time was different, and that became clear as soon as I spotted the plume of Puhio-o-kalaikini where Pele is fighting with her sister Nāmaka. Never before, since my first visit to Puna in 1993, was the ocean entry of a lava flow so close to Kalapana, and it made me wonder what surprises I could expect during the next month.

While entering the Red Road I felt like I was coming home. At the same time I saw the differences: there were only a few Lehua blossoms to spot. Well, my last visit in 2006 was during the Merry Monarch Festival, and I had been told already that the islands had been suffering from a serious drought for a long time. But soon I reached Kehena where the dark green tunnel over the road covered the signs of water shortage. Then I was surprised, because Hale Aloha right at the ocean front of Kalani wasn't there 4 years ago. How would the larger Kalani be different from the smaller community that I had experienced during several visits as a guest since 1998?

Soon I would know, because this time I would be a “Sabbatical Volunteer” – volunteering for two days every week and enjoying all the guests’ amenities for the remaining days. But even as a guest I would have the privileges like a regular volunteer with free classes and the choice to spend my time with other guests or in the ʻohana. Checking in at the “Guest Services” brought me back into the relaxed atmosphere of the place again – the friendly welcome, familiar faces and voices, and I'd live at “Ocean Vista” in the house which I knew from my last stay in 2006 already.

The following days were filled with friendly “welcome back” memories, introducing myself to new volunteers and the soothing rhythm of life between sunrise and sunset. My idea to work on Wednesdays and Thursdays was accepted by Barcus, the manager of the agriculture department, and so the next Wednesday I started my volunteer work. After breakfast I joined my soon-to-be coworkers on the truck to the nursery where we started with a short meeting. I introduced myself to the others, and was welcomed by the small crew of the day. I learned that my choice of working Wednesdays and Thursdays would be perfect, because these days are reserved for projects mostly.

During the four weeks I stayed in Kalani we worked on a new path for guests and staff along the road. For me this project evolved into a very satisfying experience. Combined with the botanical tour given by Barcus, I learned a lot about the plants on the property and their traditional use by Hawaiians. Joining the Lauhala weaving classes with Lynda Tuʻa and the Hula classes with Jonathan Kaleikaukeha Lopez every Tuesday completed my adventures in Hawaiian culture and nature in a beautiful way.

Thomas and agriculture crewAll these wonderful classes and the work in the agriculture department were also connected by the inspiring teachers as well as the tradition in Kalani to start every activity with the “E ho mai” chant written by Edith Kanakaʻole. When I look back on the year 2010 now, these four weeks as a sabbatical volunteer in Kalani were not only a cultural and educational experience, but nurturing for body and soul at the same time.

I'm very grateful for the time that I could spend with the wonderful people in Kalani and for their affection. And therefore stronger then during my earlier visits I felt the prophetic meaning of the Hawaiian farewell “a hui hou” – until we meet again.

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