aloha aina foundation
The basic concept is to create a refuge for anyone in need of it. A place where you can be safe and feel at home. You can be whomever you feel you need to be to heal. It is a place that separates us physically from our everyday lives. Geographical distance is one factor that gives our thoughts at least the impression that the cause of the distress, which in most cases is related to a perpetrator or agent, cannot reach us here. One of the many unique aspects of Hawaii is that many organisms discarded their defense mechanisms in the absence of physical enemies. This quality of remoteness is an important ingredient.
I know from experience that no single place on earth is far enough away to escape one’s nightmares. However, distance is a pacifier that helps calm the part of the soul that needs healing.
Observing my past objectively, a pattern of finding “better” places carries through. This form of escapism helped me to understand what I was running from and why. In these situations of mental pressure, I followed the impulse to get away from where I was living at the time.
Many places helped me transform and grow so I could return “home” and integrate what I had experienced. Hawaii represents the very beginning of these transformational processes. Initially, I was curious to see where Jack Johnson grew up because I was, and still am, a fan of the films and music he creates. Hawaii turned out to be the “Happy Place” I sought in my mind whenever I needed to surround myself with the most positive vibration I could muster.
Having had the chance to reinvent myself through the help of distant safe havens, I felt this could be something from which other people would benefit. For most of my life, I have been a DIY kind of guy and taught myself the skills I wanted to gain. Because other people are looking for help in one form or another, I felt that this was precious because it could incorporate both (1) space for personal growth and healing autonomously and (2) guidance and support for people who ask for it. No path is better than another and I have constantly been on one or the other depending on the phase of my life.
My first notes containing information about my vision of a refuge and coffee farm are from an exercise conducted during a workshop in 2014. The task was to write about short-, middle- and long-term dreams we had. Back then I felt materializing this dream would either involve a lifetime commitment or otherwise be classified as “impossible”. Since my notes aren’t comprehensive, I am taking some time to outline the rough vision I had back then. In a way it is still the same, though it gained more texture and vividness when I visited the islands of O’ahu, Moloka’i, Maui and Hawai’i during the spring of 2018.
When I booked my trip to Hawai’i in 2017, I did it specifically to achieve two things. The first was to reconnect with the energy, or mana, of the islands and see whether I had imagined and exaggerated, in retrospect, how amazing it felt to be in Hawai’i, when I had arrived on the North Shore of O’ahu for the first time in 2008.
The second item on my list was to keep my eyes open for coffee farms so I could see and feel if this form of agricultural enterprise was what I was seeking in a refuge.
I still remember telling my friends, some years ago, that I had a vision of a sanctuary and coffee farm in Hawai’i. It felt ridiculous to me. I didn’t even know they grew coffee in those parts of the world. Back then, I had no clue that a place like Kona existed and that the region produced a unique and well-known type of coffee. My friends didn’t laugh at me openly, but I had the feeling that it amused them.
To be fair, I thought it was delusional, and I had no clue where that strong desire came from. Even my friends who bought high grade coffees asked me if it was necessary to grow coffee. Good coffee was available without having to work so hard for it.
So I went to Hawai’i to investigate the nature of this vision. I sought to discover whether it was some need or emptiness that I wanted to fill by imagining a place several thousand miles away where the sun (almost) always shines and where I could “finally” be happy.
I was very aware of the fact that Hawai’i is almost as far away as one can get from where I am born. Therefore, I was doubtful that my dream had anything to do with the Islands themselves. Instead, I believed that it had everything to do with yet another escape. I had used this method so successfully as a short-term remedy in the past, that I carefully observed what would happen once I was there.
The bottom line is that I can imagine no other place for this project because everything is connected. The healing energy I experienced during my stay was so intense that I wanted to leave a few days after I had arrived. This was not what I had been looking forward to. Contrarily, did I experience a loving and caring support to an extent I didn’t believe was possible. To me the islands are the right place for deep transformational processes. Though I had experienced healing in many forms in various parts of the world, I had experienced nothing like I did in Hawaii.
Does it have to be coffee, then?
A logical conclusion could look like this:
“I love coffee. I love plants.
Raising plants that produce what I like to consume makes me happy.”
Additionally, a project like this needs steady and diversified sources of income. My vision has always been that visitors and guests can stay for free.
In the beginning, the foundation might not sustain itself through donations alone. The coffee is an additional income generator that can help stabilize the project.
Everything I’ve done in my life has succeeded in the sense that the products I produced made people happy. I am convinced that coffee grown by human beings who carry a deep love for themselves, for the planet and, therefore, for all of creation will transport the consumer to a different state of mind, even if only for a short period.
I have experienced this repeatedly with music festivals, food stands, plant-based medicine, etc. I could go on and on. Things produced or cared for with love return that love during the consumption process. To me, this is the warrant for a successful product and a basic law of the universe.
The last thing I’d like to say is that this vision is so dear to me, I want it to be self-sustaining and free from personal profit.
I am starting a foundation that will be the owner of the refuge. I am donating 10 percent of Light Trails’ net profit to this project. Every time I am in Hawai’i I am meeting people with great ideas and hope to build a strong community of non-governmental (NGO) and non-profit (NPO) organizations which support each other. All profits the foundation generates will be reinvested and/or passed along to similar projects.
One of the most important things I learned from the earth is that every-thing on it is sacred and precious, and that we have to do our best to care for it. To always give more than we take. Hawaii itself is a refuge for thousands of species found nowhwere else on the planet. Simply being in the presence of these unique life forms is healing.