In August 2010, as we hit the half-way point of our house project, our friend Wade returned to visit Portland after eighteen months on the big island of Hawaii. He convinced us to take a closer look at Hawaii, extolling the ease of growing food (plant a cutting and two years later you have bananas!), the ideal climate, and the abundance of people living alternative lifestyles. I had considered Hawaii years ago, but wrote it off as too island-like: very little room to move as climate change, energy descent, and economic collapse unfold. Wade pointed out the relative ease of growing enough food quickly to feed the current inhabitants, the diversity of microclimates along two nearly 14,000 foot tall mountains, and the remaining abundance of land even after, say, a 50' rise in sea levels.
So Tulsey and I spent five weeks from early November into December on the big island, getting a feel for the current self sufficiency activity; the tropical environment; the foragable foods such as breadfruit, coconuts, mangos, and avocados; the forest reserve system (somewhat equivalent to national forests on the mainland); land for sale; hunting opportunities; and overall potential of the landbase to support its inhabitants. Plus a bit of outright sight seeing on the dry side of the island. Our friend Jasmine, potentially interested in the tribe or at least in living nearby, joined us for the last 10 days.
We have reservations about Hawaii, but overall we liked what we saw enough to move there instead of CA. The decision mostly comes down to ease of living in Hawaii vs lots of landbase to support a very small human population in CA; and even more fundamentally to prioritizing horticulture (permaculture) over hunting & gathering. Both subsistence methods can work in both regions, but horticulture is much easier in HI while in the short term CA more easily support hunting & gathering. Surprisingly, it generally costs a bit less for land in HI than in CA, especially when you consider the potential of tropical vs temperate production.
A few months ago we made a new friend; Jonathan attended a few of our classes and expressed interest when we mentioned our tribe and Hawaii plans. We've spent a lot of time getting to know each other since then, chatting about visions and goals and past experiences while continuing to plug away at the house project with Jonathan's help. He's decided to move to HI With us where we'll continue to build our relationship while exploring and looking for land to purchase. Jonathan has a lot of experience living in community, which should help a lot as we formalize our vision and procedures for people to join our tribe. And we definitely want several more people to join us soon, with a long term target of 10 to 25 folks of all ages.
We're now in the final stages of our house project, perhaps three weeks from having an open house and actively marketing it for sale. We plan on a short trip to the eastern US after the house sells to bid farewell to our families, then off to the big island. Jasmine will probably fly over with us and spend another ten days on the island to make her own decision about whether she wants to move there.
Once in Hawaii we'll exercise patience as we learn more about the microclimates and available land and our own needs, before actually purchasing a parcel. We'll spend the time until then caretaking or WWOOFing. Once we buy property of our own, we'll observe the site for a year before designing and implementing our long term structures, orchards, animal paddocks, etc. So it'll be quite some time before I've learned enough to make many meaningful Hawaii-related posts to this blog. But I have a lot of knowledge I still need to share from my experiences in Portland, so keep checking back for that!