Finding a sustainable community in Hawaii?
April 14, 2012 7:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in joining/starting some kind of sustainable, intentional community in Hawaii. I've done some basic googling and found some WWOOF places, but I was hoping Metafilter could give more personal feedback. I'm in Honolulu right now and have funds to put roots down elsewhere in the islands. Can anyone recommend a good sustainability course, farm, or personal contacts?
posted by eurypteris to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It feels sort of weird and internet-stalky of me to know this, but these permaculture folks are, I think, leaving Portland for Hawaii and looking to do some kind of community thing there. You might reach out to them to see if they have any thoughts?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:32 PM on April 14, 2012

I don't have personal knowledge about Hawaii, but I researched the heck out of intentional communities some years back. Almost all of the upstarts fail, and if you don't currently already have knowledge and contacts those are additional handicaps. So, you want to join an existing one, not form your own.

Apologies if you already have the link, but: you should start by very carefully going over each of those listings and see how well they match what you are looking for. Then contact the ones that seem appealing and are accepting new members. Also, unless you want to move again soon, look for ones with track records of at least a few years, and/or leaders/founders who have *significant* experience in IC's.
posted by parrot_person at 1:50 AM on April 15, 2012

La'akea is a well-established permaculture intentional community on the big island, near Pahoa and Hilo. (Actually, that whole area is just full of ICs) I've spent some time there, and I know they welcome guests and workers.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:53 AM on April 15, 2012

I spent a few weeks at a permaculture IC in Hawaii a number of years back and hated it. All I can say is be really careful about the people you throw down with, because you're going to be spending A LOT of time around them, and if you start out disliking them, you'll end up despising them.

Basically, these people will be your roommates in a very, very remote place.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:14 AM on April 15, 2012

There is a very large and diverse wwoofing scene on the Big Island, I did that for about 8 months split up on various farms (no ICs) a few years back and then spent 3 months on Molokai. I would continue researching wwoofing (though their listings are often out of date); it may provide helpful leads and contact information for farmers or communities which could use your help. I found the separate WWOOF-Hawaii to be more comprehensive than the Hawaii listings in WWOOF-US.

As people have mentioned, the Pahoa, Puno area of the Big Island is for some reason a hippie, intentional community magnet but I found it almost too much so and that it attracted a lot of stoners/freeloaders/downright creeps who didn't want to do any of the work involved in self-sufficiency, or people that were running "farms" and smoking a lot of weed in this very idealistic-save-the-world sort of way at the expense of providing a safe life for their families. That said, I'm sure there's still good stuff going on in the area. Kalani is a well-established retreat center community in the area.

South of Kona around Captain Cook, Kealakekua and Honaunau there are also many farms and, for me, a more pleasant community. When I lived there, there were many community events and classes. There used to be a community radio station called KCOF in the area that had community and events information but I can't discern if it's still broadcasting, website is down. Send me a MeMail if you'd like more details about the farms I worked on this area; they are simply small farms run by two different married couples which accept volunteers for work-trade.

Here's the South Kona farmer's market (may lead you to farms with volunteer opportunities)
And the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance
Found this googling, looks pretty awesome: One Island Sustainable Living Center.
Here's another community org. in Honaunau which sponsors various events: Society for Kona's Education and Art, or SKEA

Finally, please don't take any following preachiness personally as I direct this to ANYONE looking to visit or move to Hawaii, but strive to gain knowledge and understanding about the history and cultures of Hawaii and the Pacific, ideally before you go. Also, keep in mind Hawaii is not a magical wonderland and has many serious community problems just like other places in the U.S., not to mention a devastating meth problem. It's a privilege for many folks to be on the islands, a privilege which has come thanks to a very ambivalent history in terms of outsiders interactions with Native Hawaiian people. Locals, rightly so in my opinion, regard idealistic folks who come to Hawaii to claim their piece of paradise with a skeptical eye, or worse.
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:01 PM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Our farm/community/business is Akaka Pitstop. We are on the big island. You can find it by searching in google. Most people who come to Hawaii don't fit in here at our place, as we have to work very hard which apparently is contrary to the reason most people come to Hawaii. As indicated above, most people we have met here are apparently comfortable with getting government food, government welfare, smoking drugs, and living in a tree. A few rare gems are here part of our project.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 1:58 PM on May 12, 2012

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