Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Commune

Last Friday I took a 5am flight to the Big Island to help and observe Glenn, the owner of Olomana Gardens, as he consulted on farm that was installing an aquaponics system. After getting up at 3:!5am, and landing around 6am on Hawaii, we were picked up by Keika, the 45 year old woman who helped run Dragonfly Farm. On the 2 hour drive out to the farm, I began to learn a bit of how ...interesting...this adventure might become.
Keika (once know as Debbie) ranted about how public education is soon to be owned by Big Corporation (particularly those co. owned by the Cheney's and Bush's). So she believes in an 'alternate' form of education known as the Sudbury method. Let the kids decided how and what they want to learn. If the kid doesn't want to learn to read, no biggie. Then she told us how her kids have rickets, but she refuses to take them to conventional doctors to have it diagnosed and treated. Rickets?! Seriously? On the way to the farm, we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some beer (2 cases of Sierra Nevada even though we were only going to be there less than 2 days), coffee, sugary cereal, and dark chocolate Dove bars (concentrated caffeine according to Glenn). Then we started driving through some barren black lava fields, when we turned off road and down the red dirt backwood trail. This is my first view of the Hangout:

Basically it's a huge structure with no walls. There is a 100,000 gallon water supply on the ground floor with the top floor built over the water tank. Around the edges are the kitchen and other work areas. On the top floor is the 'living' area. Here's a vid of the top floor inside of the Hangout: So basically, this is the remnants of, for lack of a better definition, a hippy love commune. Described by the eldest male, Maayag (formerly known as Peter I think), it is a place of 'no mine'. Meaning no personal possessions. When it started 15 years ago, those who joined put all their cash, all their possessions, and all their children in one pot. Obviously, those with more money put in more, and those with less money scored. While their philosophy was to create an environment to raise kids communally like the Aborigines, sharing partners and love was also a bonus. So Keika has 4 kids, each with a different daddy. About 4 years ago the commune disintegrated when Keika decided she didn't like the fact that one of her past lover hooked up with someone else in the community. Er?! Yeah, whatever. The current inhabitants are Keika, Maayag (her current man), Diga (one of her Ex's, formerly known as Jeff), and 3 or 4 kids, mostly Keika's I think. One of the kids, a 4 year old girl named Eelie or something, rarely wore any clothes. Maayag and Diga are the fathers of a couple of the kids, too. A woman who used to be part of the commune (and now drives a nice Porshe) came onto the farm to give the kids horse riding lessons. She lives next door, but it going to sell her farm and land soon. She bought the land from the commune when it went teets-up for $20K (bc she was family) and is now selling it for about $300K. So that's how it works. Another example of the dodgeyness of the who situation is the fact that when everyone put everything in the pot, the woman who was designated the treasurer put everything under her name. When things went south, she absconded with a lot of the cash. They went to a neighborhood abitration, but she said she'd just take them to 'real' court. Not sure how it turned out. Weird weird. So as you can see from the video, there is crap everywhere. Kay pointed out that they probably don't have too much time to keep things clean when they're running a farm, a school, and a household. Regardless, it was a sty. And the flies! I ate lunch in a swam of gnats and got mercilessly relieved of my blood by an army of skeeters. Needless to say, I was very very uncomfortable. I had to try to get Zen and see beyond the bugs. I failed. It sucked. Now I know why Glenn brought so much beer. That hot sticky night I slept on a futon, lulled to sleep by the dripping of the water tank and the bleeting koki frogs. They milked their own cows, so we had fresh raw milk for the coffee, and they milled their own logs. They are also off the grid, so they get all their power from a $50K solar panel system. So they hope that the food they grow using aquaponics will help pay for the solar system and their CSA shareholders. Here's a pic of

Maayag and the mill

and Diga in the milking hut.

While a fascinating adventure, I was glad to leave and even gladder that Jess and Evangelyn stayed back at Olomana Gardens.

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