Kalani Honua Blog - Volunteer Life

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eric Ellenwood

Editors Note: This entry is first in a special series of blogs that will chronicle the growth of permaculture at Kalani.

Aloha!

I’m Eric and I have the honor of being the very first Permaculture Design Specialist to work at Kalani.

Permaculture is a branch of ecological and environmental design and ecological engineering that creates both sustainable architecture as well as self-maintained agricultural systems – all taking cues from natural ecosystems. I know it may seem like common sense that our culture might follow nature’s cues on living and agriculture, but our current approach in modern society has strayed far from nature’s model. For example, did you know that an aquaponics system can produce as much as 5 times the output compared to traditional land agriculture? 

With this first blog, I am very excited to share the progress we have made in this endeavor. Kalani’s aquaponics system was designed and constructed by former volunteer Jacob Tuft. Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture that grows plants hydroponically – waste from farmed fish is used to supply nutrients for the plants, which in turn purify the water. Its successful output was interrupted not long after Jacob left Kalani. A power failure on the property caused significant damage to the ecosystem, and most of the living Tilapia fish (an integral part of the aquaponics system) died. This caused the ecosystem to be adversely affected, and many of the plants either died or languished.

My first project at Kalani was to work with fellow volunteer Beth Messinger to reestablish the ecosystem. I am happy to report that we successfully revamped the aquaponics system, and we share our success with you here in this blog!

This is the aquaponics graveyard- parts and pieces of reclaimed material that had been saved for future projects.  They were slowly being overtaken by the jungle.
Above: This is the trough net that keeps the baby Tilapia from entering the grow beds. The nets were torn, and the fish had found new homes in the beds and a new food source- our plant roots! PVC frames were constructed, and nets were made with existing screen material and some 50lb. of test fishing line.

Every float had to be removed,  and the grow beds were netted to remove all of the misplaced Tilapia.

Beth “Bam Bam” Messinger, a force in motion.

Below: Meet Fred.  He is our newest volunteer at Kalani.  We stocked roughly 150 fish into our seven hundred gallon tank, and painted it black because the water was too cold for Tilapia.  Since then the temp has raised to the ideal level, this fish are growing steadily.
Above:  Beth painting our 700 gallon tank to raise the temperature, so our fish will eat more food, and then grow quickly to a harvestable weight.  The tanks on the left are a hatchery system that will allow us to continually breed and manage our own stock of White Nile Tilapia.

With a freshly restocked fish tank, Tilapia out of the grow beds,  nitrogen levels on the rise, pests managed, and hungry seedlings filling the troughs, it is very noticeable how quickly the system is starting to produce again!

Recruiting extra hands…  Even our accountant breaks away for some soil production and seedling planting.

Some of our first harvested veggies.  As I mentioned, it is said that aquaponics can produce five times the amount of vegetables in the space that soil can produce, due to the immediate availability of nutrients in the water resulting in a faster growth rate, and intensive planting arrangement.
Above: Success! Beth Messinger, Aquaponics Manager and Eric Ellenwood, Peraculture Design Specialist.  Hauling in the harvest to our beloved kitchen crew.

So what is next in aquaponics?  We are still streamlining our system, but are quickly getting back to full production.  The upcoming projects will be setting up a fish hatchery system, and a whole new “ebb and flow” system using a 4,000 gallon water catchment tank.  I hope to utilize this system to grow food trees that can be grown from saved seed, such as papaya. 
 
What about permaculture?  Now that aquaponics is back up and running, classes are being taught, and there are some very big projects on the horizon!   

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monica Viera

When I first came to Kalani in summer 2012, I found the experience to be so transformational for me that I knew that right after college I would return. The lessons I learned served me well spiritually and practically in my “real life”, so in my mind, I made Kalani a symbol of personal growth. This has become my mini-university of mindfulness and well-being. Of course, the journey for me hasn’t always been easy, but the fact that I am mostly surrounded by growth-minded people who live intentionally has given me insight on the 2 following themes:

Make Connections Based on Values, Not Traits.
Back on the Mainland, one generally makes friends because of proximity, and we can get stuck associating with others who share our socioeconomic status, race, etc. This isn’t always conducive to spiritual growth, and has left me feeling stuck in a creative rut. This is part of the reason I came back to Kalani: Kalani is unique because one constantly has the opportunity to connect with people from around the world over meals, our work environment, and our living space. How cool is it to have eaten with someone from Germany, Texas, New York, and Hawaii all in one table over dinner?!

Although sometimes this has pushed me outside my comfort zone, I’ve found it very enlightening because I have been immersed in a situation where I can align myself with others because of values we share vs. traits. Despite all of our demographic differences, we can form bonds over what we REALLY have in common, whether it be our love of fine arts, our interest in activism, Eastern philosophy, etc. It really brings light to the question, “What ARE my values?” And then because we have so many diverse classes and opportunities to be creative, I’ve been able to find focus after clarity has been brought to my preferences and intentions. Because of this, I’ve been able to bring more consciousness to my values and make some of the most powerful friendships and creative connections I have ever made!

Practice Flexibility.
At Kalani, there are many opportunities to practice flexibility, whether it be mental/emotional in our relationships here or physically/spiritually through yoga. Before I came to Kalani last year, I was aware that my rigidity and fixed attitude on some things were not working for me. I found it difficult to be in friendships/relationships for too long, because once things weren’t on my terms, I felt out of control and walked away. I couldn’t do that at Kalani…and for that I am grateful. Here, I am in an environment where if I get into a disagreement with somebody, I need to address it, for my sake and the community’s. I wish I would have learned this skill at a younger age, but I was probably too self-absorbed and intimidated to try.

Naturally at Kalani, since I am living with over 100 people, sometimes things come up! With the guidance of some of the older Kalanians, I’ve been able to work on confidence and experiment with making more room for people’s differences in my relationships. I no longer feel I am losing myself when I give in; I can see things in perspective and am more willing to conture to the needs of another. Practicing this flexibility has been reinforced by the powerful yoga classes, and I believe that flexible bodies nurture flexible minds.

I have lived at Kalani for a total of 8 weeks, and feel genuinely fulfilled. I have a renewed enthusiasm about the world because of the confidence I’ve developed, the growth-minded community, and the endless learning opportunities that make my life feel enriched and colorful.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Andy Freist

Tranformation Ignites Heart Fire

Angels ground me I seek deeper love
letting go like the rain drops land all around
each light-beam lands on my skin in gratitude
I trust each day a gift I see to this day my life brings
wholeness I lust
cherish where I come from
beleiving in where I go
that star in my sky reaching for this breath
I am joy
In rest
and in my hands i sense freedom in the passing wind
starlight dreams in my whisper
enlarging my true essence
my tropical spirit flower intrigue with the red winged bird in flight
lush soothing jungle
smiles from heart surround me
bliss full dance
expression power of ocean waves
just below the surface alive moving lava of intent always
changing, manifesting, transorming, alarming, igniting
the grace of Pele appears
All is a part of me...thank you
I want to hug the ground, kiss the plants
say mahalo to Buddha for reminding me
I am peace
My Grandma's butterfly wings send me to new heights
I feel her smile, her proud tickled heart embrace
I have no doubt opportunity awaits
magic abundance is here
I trust~
Deep mahalo's to my Kalani `ohana for all you individually are and i wish you all greatness in where you fly~

Love,

Sommer Joy Albertsen

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Taylor Powell

A quote from Taylor Powell, who made this video:

"My mother always asks me, 'Taylor, what are you doing?'  This is my answer."

What are you doing? from tee pee on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Molly Rikkers

Camping at Kalani Big Island Hawaii

We've long wondered how to convey the beautiful experience that is 'Camping at Kalani'.

With lush tropical jungle surrounds to inspire you by day and a blanket of stars to cover you at night, it's hard to encapsulate what campers receive in our campgrounds experientially (physically and emotionally) in just a few simple words.

Thankfully one of our long-term volunteers, Molly Rikkers, has done it for us in the beautiful poem below.

Molly camped at Kalani for ten months (she and her tent are pictured).

Whether you're considering camping in Hawaii at Kalani or simply reading the Kalani blog for pleasure, .my jungle tent. makes for an inspiring read.

***

.my jungle tent.


my home breathes with the jungle.

the walls are transparent and billow like sails in the wind.

i have to unzip the windows to let air in, unzip the door to let myself in.

tiny droplets of water splash onto my pillow when it rains.

lilikoi vines wrap around the foundation and climb towards the sky.

if i don't weed every few days, the jungle will swallow me.

and i love it.

i'm safe on my wooden platform, under my teal-streaked tarp, behind my see-through walls.

i sleep in a sea of green.

i lie in my bed and watch shooting stars from my window.

i can rub a gecko's belly and give it mini high-fives with my fingertip as it hunts for dinner on my rooftop.

the coqui frog orchestra serenades me to sleep and the blue-eyed doves remind me that it's time to wake up.

i have everything i need in here with me, in this 13 by 9 foot space.

and it's the most perfect home i've ever lived in.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tina Eastoe

Tina during her volunteer stay at Kalani

If you are reading this you may be thinking about coming to Kalani as a volunteer.

The search for ‘something’ (maybe you're not exactly sure what yet) has brought you to this website, and now you're curious about this place called 'Kalani' on the Big Island of Hawaii.

That’s how it happened to me, anyway. As I sat reading through other blog posts six months ago, my heart beat a little faster. Why? Because each post provided a glimpse of what life was like at this special place, and what I heard resonated deep inside. I wanted what I was reading about. My soul needed it, and I'm guessing that yours might too.

For this reason I want to share a little about my own experience at Kalani in the hope that it will encourage you to have your own personal experience with, what I call, 'The Kalani Effect'.

As soon as I arrived I could tell that my time at Kalani would be life-changing.

The Big Island, with its lush jungle, volcano, powerful ocean and endless canopy of stars in the night sky couldn’t have been more different from my life in a small English town, a 'nine to five' office job, and live-for-the-weekend lifestyle.

Tina at The PointDuring my stay at Kalani I danced, laughed and laughed, ate well and tried all sorts of different classes, diving into everything that was on offer. I can't tell you how good it felt to be interested in new things again.

I swam in the pool almost every day, wove bracelets that I’ll keep forever, watched moonlight on the waves, smelled the most wonderful fragrances from flowers in the night air, helped make a community drum, sketched and painted, dressed up, had blissful massages, swam with sea turtles and colourful fish, made amazing friendships, had one of the most memorable birthdays ever in my 37 years, opened my heart, remembered what it was like to experience joy every day, and more and more and more…

Oh, I also cleaned some bathrooms and made quite a lot of beds! But even during my volunteer work hours at Kalani, there was still time to think, to reflect and to listen to myself.

One of the best bits about this place (because there are many best bits) is the people. The fellow volunteers and staff are fun, loving, supportive, mindful, interesting, entertaining, engaging and most of all being themselves. And they stay in your heart even once you’ve left.

Not a single day passed when I didn’t at some point think "I can’t believe I’m in Hawaii, I’m so lucky!"

And once I departed, my life was suddenly full of possibilities again. I was more confident that I could create the life I wanted rather than reacting to life around me. I was happier. I felt excited again.

Three months on, that same feeling of confidence and happiness - 'The Kalani Effect' - is still strong within me. My stay at Kalani has changed my life permanently.

So, if you do come to Kalani, at the very least you’ll have fun and catch some sun, and at the very best it will be a life-enhancing and life loving experience!

Kalani is a place where you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so do whatever you need to do make your visit happen. If that means saving money, arranging vacation time, or taking care of other practical details, do it. If it means facing some fears and anxieties, so be it. Once you get to Kalani you’ll realise you don't need to hang onto fear and anxiety anymore. You'll have the time and space you need to get to know yourself. You'll learn to create and live the life you've always wanted for yourself.

In the end, my own experience of living and volunteering with this community – the Kalani 'ohana (family) – was truly more than I could have hoped for.

I hope you too will take the leap and honor whatever it is that is calling you to go.

* * *

Click here to read more about Kalani's Volunteer and Sabbatical programs.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Chris Roufs

Fireworks at Kalani

Every Monday a Kalani 'Ohana member is invited to inspire those present at our weekly community meeting with a speech, poem, song, quote, meditation or anything else of their choice.

Resident volunteer and filmmaker Chris Roufs shared an inspiration and ensuing video project so spectacular that we couldn't wait to put it on the Kalani blog.

Read the speech Chris gave to us about finding his inner firework at Kalani, and scroll down to view his video at the end of this post.

***
FIREWORKS AT KALANI

You don’t have to feel like a waste of space,
You’re original, cannot be replaced.
If you only knew what the future holds,
After a hurricane, comes a rainbow.

Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed,
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it’s time you’ll know.

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine.
Just own the night like the Fourth of July.

Cause baby you’re a firework!
Come on show em what you’re worth!
Make em go, oh, oh, oh.
As you shoot across the sky-y-y!


If you haven’t already figured it out, these are lyrics from a Katy Perry song called 'Firework'.

I had heard this song many times before I came to Kalani this time (my third visit as a volunteer), but I had never really listened to the lyrics very closely.

When I arrived at Kalani again and life slowed down (as it always does when I’m here)  the song’s lyrics were pointed out to me by one of my 'Ohana. I took the time to realize that they had some deeper meaning.

That’s one thing I think is so wonderful about this place.  Being here slows things down.  Knowing that you are a part of this 'Ohana and feeling love and the beauty of nature all around you, allows you the opportunity to go a bit deeper within yourself. To discover your Firework, so to speak.

Shortly after I arrived back home this time I went to Open Mic and I saw the plethora of talents here at Kalani. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I had something to offer.”  I wanted to get up and sing a song, or play an instrument, or recite some poetry, but that didn’t really feel right.  Just thinking about it seemed forced.  It felt wrong for some reason.

It was shortly after this that I heard Katy’s song again… and I really took the time to listen to the lyrics and then (like Katy sings)… something started to ignite inside.   But I also realized that I didn’t need to DO anything to be special or be appreciated, all I needed to do was to search for that Firework in me, that Firework in all of us.

The ONLY thing any of us ever have to BE is ourselves.  To try and find that DEEPEST PUREST sense of SELF, the part of us that is PERFECT, with no EGO, no JUDGEMENT, no preconceived BELIEFS.  That part of us that is pure JOY!

So one morning while walking toward Kehena beach, with Katy’s song stuck in my head, I turned to two of my 'Ohana and said, "I think I’m gonna make a video to a Katy Perry song."  I was going to do it so that everyone could show off their firework, their joy.  And I wanted people outside of this place to see how Kalani helps to bring that joy out in each member of its 'Ohana!

I’ve always heard that when you find a project or an idea that you truly believe in, the work you do in order to complete that task feels effortless, that time means nothing while working on something that you love, and that you fall into a kind of zone.  That is what this video project was like for me.  I think I briefly tapped into my Firework, my pure joy.  And I’m ever so grateful to all of my 'Ohana (especially Janice, Stephen and Alissa) for helping me to experience that.

For those of you reading and watching this that have never been to Kalani, I hope you catch a glimpse of the JOY that you too can hopefully find here.  I hope you make the journey very soon, and I hope I get to meet you here in paradise.

Mahalo Nui Loa 'Ohana!  May this little video always make you smile and warm your heart as it does mine.

Chris Roufs

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

How do you describe Kalani?

For those that know Kalani, the non-profit educational village and yoga retreat center in the Big Island of Hawaii, they know that it is a favorite repeat destination for many people!

For people that are new, here are some ways to describe Kalani:

Kalani Retreat Center | Yoga Retreats | Non-Profit | Camp

  • Spiritual Retreat Center- Kalani is kind of like Esalen Institute but more rustic, with  "tiki" chic.

  • Yoga Retreat Center - Yoga workshops and yoga retreats create a culture of people that enjoy yoga-related activities like ecstatic dance, kirtan, trance dance, and other similar events. There are other types of fun activities too like watsu, hula dance, huna healing and a full schedule of classes.

  • Volunteer Program - To volunteer in Hawaii you can live at Kalani and enjoy cheap travel, but unlike another place to volunteer like United Way, you get to live and enjoy fun activities like movie nights, open mike nights or themed "Ohana" or family nights. You also get to take most classes for free. Some people come to Kalani as a guest, start to feel like Kalani is "their family," and then come back as a volunteer.

  • It's the Food - If you are a "foodie" or even if you are not, Kalani has legendary cuisine that stays in people's memory long after their vacation at Kalani is over. For some people the food is enough to make them wild about Kalani. A recent Italian night in Kalani's kitchen included:
    • Farfalle chi Sardi - gluten free pasta with almonds, pine nuts, fennel and raisins
    • Caprese made with fresh mozzarella from the milk of water buffalo, tomatoes and basil
    • Pesce alla Messinese (whitefish with capers and olives), Cipolle Gratinate, (onions baked with balsamic and seasoned with wild island mint).
    • Cassata Sicliana that is one of the oldest cakes in history, enjoyed by Ancient Romans. Twice cooked cheese and almonds
  • Was this food for a special occasion? Not at all! It is just a typical day of dining at Kalani Retreat.

Kalani Retreat Center | Massage and Yoga Retreat

  • Community Dining - Last but not least, Kalani is unique in how it creates community. Group dining at the dining lanai creates fun opportunities for people to start out as strangers and leave as friends. Enjoyable activities like hula dancing, huna healing circle, yoga workshops can be shared with like minded others, and there are many chances to mingle and see familiar faces--during meal hours in the dining lanai, at the clothing optional pool or hot tub, or over at one of the classes. It's not unusual to meet people at Kalani and make friends for life.

Well, Kalani isn't always easy to describe, but we're doing our best for now. Want to help us describe Kalani? Please post a comment here, or send us a blog at noelani@kalani.com. It's worth it as this place is amazing and magical, and a best kept secret that others might love to know more about!

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

Photography by Jose Martinez At Kalani, a Hawaiian yoga retreat center and educational village just 5 miles from where lava flows into the sea, Director Richard Koob playfully pronounces that "I Lava You" is the mantra this Valentine's day.

Based on the foothills of the largest volcano of the Hawaiian Islands, Kalani is near the home of the mythical goddess Pele, the Kilauea volcano. Pele, which translates to "lava", is the spirit of all things passionate and fiery, burning away illusion to find love and compassion within. Pele could be thought of as a Goddess that watches over Aloha Spirit.

Perhaps Pele could be thought of as a Valentine's Goddess of sorts, spreading the message of love and Aloha Spirit.

But what is Aloha Spirit exactly?

Stewart Blackburn, a Kalani facilitator that runs a popular class on Hawaiian Shamanism, talks about getting more Aloha Spirit in your life. He describes "Aloha Spirit" as finding your own joy. The Hawaiians believe that your power comes from feeling joy, as joy gives you the power to live, and to love others fully. Stewart talks about "Aloha Spirit" as something we can practice with a Beloved. "Being connected feels good," he explains, "things like criticism hurt connection, while love and joy help build connection." He talks about Aloha Spirit as a daily spiritual practice for sharing love and joy with others, and thus being on the right path.

Charles Muir, a well loved teacher of Tantra for 32 years and co-author of the book "Art of Conscious Loving", who has recently been featured on Oprah radio, is coming to Kalani for a couples retreat for Valentine's Day. Charles is known for getting couples to re-connect in positive ways, and connection is part of building joy and "Aloha." Charles is known for helping men creating more intention and energy around loving, like drawing a hot bath with rose petals for their lady. Women create a similar experience for men on a subsequent evening. Couples can usually be seen here smiling on Valentine's Day, after taking a workshop like a couple's retreat.

If couples here at Kalani need any help, scent from Hinano flower from a Hala tree is said to add romantic punch to a partnership. According to Maui magazine, ancient Hawaiian culture utilized the Hinano flower petals for love rituals: "A young kane [man] or wahine [woman] desiring to awaken the affections of another would seek out a fruiting male [Hala] tree. Male trees sport prominent spikes called hinano. Suggestive appearance aside, the spikes are covered in sweet-scented yellow pollen considered an aphrodisiac by Hawaiians. They used this pre-Contact Love Potion #9 to perfume their bedding and dust like talc beneath their malo, or loincloths."

Many couples have renewed their vows here at Kalani, enjoying the epic oceanfront views from lookout point nearby, also called "The Point," where you can see lava flow into the water, or see turtles or whales jump out of the sea. Couples can enjoy plush tropical scenery on land or at sea, with so many scents and sights.

Many also enjoy healthy cuisine at Kalani which is legendary, including ahi tuna, basil limeade, and watercress soup. Along with many activities and yoga workshops to take and whales to watch at nearby Kahena beach, couples can combine intimacy with group activity here at Kalani.

Couples that come to Kalani get to practice Aloha Spirit, with each other and also with the friendly staff and volunteer community.

In the spirit of Aloha, don't forget to say "I Lava You" to everyone you can.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Anyone who has had the pleasure of a Kalani open mic night will be familiar with the song Livin’ At Kalani.  This ditty was penned by our very own Ukelele Davey, in honor of our fabulous home in the jungle. 

Ukelele DaveyLivin’ At Kalani by Davey Groth

Now I moved to Hawai’i... to shed my stress and strife...
And strip my dull existence... to find a new direction in life...

Kalani Oceanside Retreat, it’s so pretty, it’s so sweet
For my mosquito bitten feet, We’re Livin’ At Kalani

Aloha flows from everyone, it’s shining brighter than the sun
You’d see it if the rain was done, Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

Yoga is just so divine, it keeps my body feeling fine
Cause hula wants a supple spine, Livin’ At Kalani

The kitchen crew, they work so hard – searin’ ono, braisin’ chard
You can hardly taste the lard, Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

Richard dancing on the lawn, everybody – dance along!
Shake your ass to a Hawai’ian song!  Livin’ At Kalani

Tiki working day and night – we love her, she’s just outta sight
Won’t someone take her home tonight!
Livin’ At Kalani – ONE MORE!

Dottie in her bright sarong, she smiles so pretty all day long
She’ll slap you if you’re right or wrong!  Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

I love my sweet Ohana crew, they’re so giving – they’re so true
But only for a month or two.....
(shout out your number of months at Kalani when prompted)
We’re Living At Kalani-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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