May 9, 2020 La’akea community update
Wow that was a sudden change!
We had a busy winter with wonderful events all of January and Feb, and La’akea was bustling with friends,farm supporters and guests. We had enough money from the events to pay our old debts mostly off, after many years, and buy fertilizer and other things we needed for the farm.
We pretty much recovered from the shock of the eruption a couple years ago that was only a few miles
away, although the volcanic rift zone is nerve wrackingly close. Only two lots away constant steam is coming from the ground, in huge warm billows. Several houses have become uninhabitable because of sitting on a stem vent. Plants and palm trees are reduced to baked nubs. It is a strange apocalyptic scene, but we managed to avoid that fate. We just smell the steam sometimes and the heavy metals in it bothers some of us.
We had some time to recover and pack away all our supplies for next year, and POW! the pandemic is in full swing, Hawaii shut down and we are in social isolation!
In February we added a new member, Janice Johnson, otherwise known as JJ (Yay! We are so excited!).
JJ has been living with us a lot over the past couple years as a trial member, and she finally decided to take the leap! We had a sweet welcoming ceremony.
And then, suddenly we are all here together, with no where to go and no one else coming through! We have our usual crew of 2 children (now 12 years old) and 8 members, as well as 3 farm supporters, Michael, Dusty and Mango. Mango has since been accepted as a new trial member!
We had long meetings about how to handle it the pandemic. Should we stay connected in our little group of 13 people, and be able to touch and be close? How close should we be to others? Should we shut down the Airbnb that one of us runs, even though we never see the guests? Should we see our lovers who live off the land? Should the kids see their friends, and if so, how many and how often? How many of us should go out and do shopping (the most dangerous activity we have to do)? How should we spend the money we have, considering that our usual source of income is from visitors and live events? How much should charge our farm supporters for being here, considering they just lost their jobs?
We decided that certainly we wanted to to all touch and hug and cuddle! That would have been really hard to stop. Plus, we all eat at the same kitchen so we see each other all the time.
At first we were really cautious, and sprayed disinfectant all over the common surfaces everyday, and required everyone to wash hands and change clothes after going out to shop. We stopped seeing all our friends or having visitors. We have an elder here in his 80s with pre-existing health challenges and we wanted to be sure he was safe. We bought enough bulk food for a few months of feeding ourselves, and we bought enough herbal treatments to help if COVID blew through our community. We had political discussions about the effects of the lockdown, and the worldwide economic repercussions and losses of civil rights.
We had some tense moments when one of our children came down with a fever and sore throat. He and his mom had to quarantine from the rest of us for a week while we brought them food, and that was not easy for any of us. We think now that he had strep throat.
After a while, it became clear that COVID is really not in our area. There have only been 75 recorded cases on our island, and one hospitalization, and no deaths, and almost all in Kona on the other side. So even though we still wear masks to go out shopping, and still wash hands well when we come back, we are relaxing our guard.
This week we have begun to allow residents to see friends at their own dwellings. We can have small gatherings in our outdoor space if we stay well apart from each other. And we can see our outside lovers.
So it feels cozy and warm and sweet to be all together. I have been really enjoying the lower traffic through the community and the chance to get to know each other better with the people who are here. We kind of have a built in party here. We have been doing hot tubs, cuddle and movie nights, work parties on the land and massage nights.
We have had creative heartshare evenings, like a recent one where we took turns having our feet pampered in warm water with a foot rub by 3 people at once!
Funny how when you can’t go out for entertainment, you look around and notice that the garden needs weeding. And maybe we could expand the garden by uncovering those beds in the corner from 4 years of cane grass growth and grow even more food. And maybe the garden fence should be repaired and cleared.
And what about getting more baby chickens, since our flock is down to 4? How about some baby sheep that Ai’ala can raise for a 4H project? What about that tomato/cucumber shed that is totally buried under years of plant growth? Now our gardens are bursting!
Michael has created a new fenced in raised bed to try to grow potatoes, and has planted corn, despite the warning that it won’t grow well here… he is going for it anyway! And that tomato shed is now uncovered, after hacking away at the vital, persistent jungle for a couple hours.
A new lilikoi trellis has been built by Michael and Ruben, and a new baby chicken cage now houses a few dozen adorable peepers!
Also Dusty and others are building a sweat lodge.
We suddenly converted to homeschooling instead of their usual Waldorf school, and they were very unhappy not to attend the school and see their friends. They have been doing their homework from home and we have Tracy who is a great teacher to support them. See below for photo of bored kids.
The children made movies about their social distancing time, learning to use video programs. Here is one from Ai’ala: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCzO_WEl0g8
Personally, I found that I really was glad for all the years of investment of time and money into this community. All the time building relationships, building trust, and building my cabins. I see many of my friends stuck in apartments by themselves, having a hard time during the pandemic.
I had been doing a lot of traveling and teaching in person classes, and creating large festivals on the mainland, and that was my primary income. Suddenly I am personally in a different reality, and my income suddenly dried up. I had to cancel everything I had planned all spring and summer.
Including a Hawaii wedding with Michael and I. We had one planned but it was just a bit too late to continue with the friends we invited. So we just did it anyway, with the folks here, who all helped us do parts of the ceremony, and it was very very sweet. We plan to do a mainland ceremony also, which we moved back to September. We hope it can happen!
However, I have been wanting to learn to do online classes for a while now, and suddenly, learning zoom and obtaining enough phone data has become highest priority. I am glad for the small stimulus check that helped me keep going and am hoping to someday see some unemployment money. And now I theorectically have time to edit some videos and write that book on Co Counseling.
I hope all of you are weathering the storm OK.
Please feel free to tell us your stories on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Laakea.Community
We look forward to seeing you face to face someday again!