Biko. Community has been a passion and home for Biko since the year 1998. He has lived in a variety of communities, from Shivalila – a small very communal group, to Breitenbush – a larger less communal one in Oregon. Biko has gained many relationship and communication skills from involvement in Peer counseling, non-violent communication, vipassana meditation, process psychology, men’s groups etc. He has an ease with children. He loves to juggle and is a part time teacher for the Hiccup circus which is a local circus, teaching skills to the children in the area. Biko spends much of his time in the gardens or orchards or making trails here on the land. He has a deep passion for sustainability and growing food.
Dona Willoughby spent 31 years in allopathic medicine specializing in women’s health care. She has taught high school, community college, and university students, as well as family practice residents. Her interests lie in how culture affects relationships and how to shift our current patterns to more sustainable, healthier ones. For two years she lived in and toured eco-villages around the world. Since 2005 she has lived and worked at La’akea. Now she lives here part time, and the other time in Colorado.
Tracy Matfin is an educator turned farmer, mother and permaculture instructor. Sharing the community’s living experiment through tours and internship programs brings her great pleasure. Tracy grew up in the S.F. bay area, CA. She studied environmental science at U.C. Berkeley, and went on to be a high school science teacher for a decade. Tracy is a student of non-violent communication, Vipassana meditation, group facilitation and is studying to be a Shaman of Pleasure. She loves sitting with trees, communing with the “weeds” she is removing from the garden and laughing with her daughter, Aia’ala, friends and family.
Amara Karuna is a supporting member, who lives half the year at La’akea. She has been studying alternative healing since 1978. Amara has been studying, practicing and teaching various forms of peer counseling since 1983. She developed her own approach to peer counseling, called Wholistic Peer Support, integrating many ideas from RC with spiritual meditation practices, psychic healing and body centered techniques. She was trained in psychic reading, healing and meditation for two years at the Berkeley Psychic Institute. She created, edited and published Heartsong Review, a resource guide for New Age spiritual music, for nine years. She studies and teaches Tantra work, and sexual healing. She is a minister, Sheikha (teacher) and initiator on the Sufi path, and has been studying that path, which encourages honoring of all religions, since 1983. She has created and staffed many weekend Dances of Universal Peace Workshops as well as led and participated in many rituals since 1980, being attracted to the honoring of Nature, women and the natural cycles. She has been a graphic artist and scrimshander since 1980. She currently is producing reproductions of her art as banners and prayer flags, which can be seen at www.karunaarts.com. She has published several CD’s of original music, and books, which can be seen at www.KarunaPublishing.com. Her YouTube channel offers many inspirational videos. She identifies as polyamorous (many loves). One of her primary goals is to empower as many people as possible to be effective, supportive allies for each other, and to encourage people to grow emotionally and spiritually, to be free and have fun. Being at La’akea is the fulfillment of a lifelong commitment to community.
Berni (Bernd Riechelmann) grew up on a farm in Germany, became an engineer and emigrated to the US. After years of working as an inventor, he became depressed. He felt that his life, although materially successful, was meaningless. So he began to look beyond the world as he knew it, beyond what he had been taught about the world so far. He studied at Esalen Institute, explored Eastern philosophies, researched intentional communities and alternative lifestyles. Now his focus is on living a simple life, living in harmony with himself and with the world around him, being supportive, kind, honest, loving, tolerant, nonjudgmental. His other focus is on sustainability. He is very concerned about Peak oil, global warming, and overpopulation. La’akea fortunately, with its subtropical climate, is one place that may be able to sustain itself when fossil fuels, and thereby food, become unaffordable. Berni loves to fix things, finding perfect solutions to problems of repair. Above all, Berni is grateful to be alive and healthy.
Randy Frieson comes to us from Canada, and is a passionate gardener, a nurse, and enjoys being part of the family atmosphere and nurturing the children at La’akea. He loves to help on the land, with the animals and with people, and his warm presence provides a steady shoulder to lean on. He is a skillful builder and a small cabin he built provides housing for guests and farm supporters.
Aniko (Dona’s daughter) Aniko Willoughby has lived and loved life in Hawaii since 1994. Aniko spent her teenage years in Japan enjoying that culture and acquired a love for traveling, which she has pursued with delight in her adult years. More recently she experienced the joy in having a son, named Kaiea, who was born here at La’akea in 1997. They both feel incredibly blessed to live in such an amazing family. Aniko loves nature, she is passionate for the ocean as a surfer, snorkeler and has worked with stranded sea turtles on Maui. Her connection to the plants and trees is also healing and grounding for her. Aniko is a certified yoga instructor, has studied and taught Non Violent Communication, and Peer Counseling. Continuing to grow and learn, consciously every day.
Donna Fisher- I have always loved playing with power. As a child I rode wild horses and climbed huge mountains. As a young adult, I fell in love with and was moved by how this power transformed me into a beautiful, free being. My love of power combined with my love of the Earth manifested in the most obvious way when I learned to be a solar electrician 20 years ago. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I had a goal in mind – to build Amazon Power Company into an entity that would help to preserve the Earth while supplying individual needs for power.
I apprenticed as a weaver and learned about hypnotherapy, and became a Reiki Master Healer. I weave all of these tools of power into a life that brings light in the dark, illuminates my spiritual path, and helps myself and others to find balance and see deep inside ourselves. I didn’t always see this thread of power in all the aspects of my life, but upon reflection, there is no ignoring the common fabric that they have created together. I had the great fortune to grow up embraced by nature, and never had a desire to leave the nurturing womb. There is nothing more powerful in my life than the forces of Gaia that thrive and grow all around me. Now I have the privilege of dancing with Madame Pele here in Pahoa, one more time teaching me about co-creation and the power of the earth.
I’ve been blessed to share this lifetime with a daughter and a son, and my beloved Prasad, and continue to share many lessons with them. I am devoted to my teacher, Prem Baba, who guides me on the Path of the Heart, helping to Awaken Love in me and all beings. Beauty, peace, and love have manifested as my life, and my heart is full with love and graditude!
Prasad Dittman- I am here. After many years of searching for and imagining a place where I could feel comfortably at home, I find in La’akea a community which supports and inspires me to live my dreams everyday. Open communication and sharing love form the basis for a life which is full of new opportunities to shine brightly and also to look honestly at all my relationships. I am grateful that I am here.
Tracy Matfin of La’akea Permaculture Community – Tracy graduated from U.C. Berkely with a degree in Environmental Science. She went on to use her knowledge as a high school science teacher where she excelled in making education meaningful and retain-able through her use of real life examples and hands on projects. Tracy is one of the founding members of La’akea, living and experimenting with sustainability for over seven years. She has taught many permaculture inspired classes, including “Tropical Edible Landscaping,” “Cooking Locally,” and “Connections – Using Permaculture Principles to Increase Ease and Joy.” She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and is one of the lead instructors in La’akea’s Internship Programs.
John Schinnerer is a whole systems design consultant, teacher, and facilitator focusing on cultural and ecological design, with a Master’s degree in Whole Systems Design from Antioch University, Seattle. Since 1996, he has studied, worked, taught and published in the realms of human relatings, governance and decision making systems, ecological design and appropriate technology. His easygoing style and insightful approach support an optimal learning experience. John has collaborated with Tracy and Zach in designing and leading permaculture design courses at La’akea. He has taught with Claude Genest and Peter Bane at Green Mountain Permaculture in Vermont, and been a guest instructor at courses in Hawai’i and Washington state. Currently in Ashland, OR, he also leads workshops at conferences and convergences, and public and private trainings in organizational design and governance. John is principal of Eco-Living Whole Systems Design Services and Governance by Design and a founding member of The Sociocracy Consulting Group.
Zach Mermel of OLA Design Group – born and raised on Hawaii Island, Zach’s work and education in ecological design have taken him to a wide variety of climates and ecosystems across the United States–from Mediterranean California to the temperate rain forests of Cascadia, to the desert Southwest and the cold temperate Northeast. Having a passion for life-long learning across many disciplines, Zach’s undergraduate studies blended environmental science, economics, and social psychology. He also holds a Masters Degree in Ecological Land Planning and Design from the Conway School. Zach’s working knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), AutoCAD, and other digital design software is complemented by basic and advanced trainings in Permaculture and ongoing explorations in Hawaiian biogeography.
Douglas Bullock, has, along with his brothers, designed and developed what has been described as the best example of Permaculture in North America. His family homestead is on Orcas Island (permaculture-portal.com) Douglas has extensive experience in all aspects of Permaculture design and installation, as well as an “encyclopedic” knowledge of plants from around the world.
Jude Hobbs. As a horticulturist, permaculture designer, and instructor, Jude’s focus is on environmental design solutions for urban and rural settings. Since 1982, her firm, Cascadia Landscape Design, has specialized in soil building, water harvesting, and appropriate plant selection. Jude is also an associate with Agro-Ecology Northwest, a research and consultancy group working with small-scale farmers. She has written A Guide to Multi-Functional Hedgerows for Oregon State University Extension Service. Jude has presented permaculture workshops and courses throughout the West for 12 years, developing curricula that encompass diverse learning styles. She tends a forest garden in Eugene, Oregon.
Toby Hemenway is the author of the first major book on permaculture for North America,Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (Chelsea Green, 2001; www.chelseagreen.com/Garden/GaiasGarden.htm), and associate editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Fine Gardening. He consults on many aspects of ecological design, and teaches permaculture throughout the country. A former geneticist, Toby lives with his wife in an evolving permaculture garden in southern Oregon.