• November 26, 2017

    Q&A: Waipā Director Stacy Sproat-Beck

    2017 Giveback Series - Part 5


    Tell us a little bit about yourself and how life has lead you to become the executive director at Waipā. How long have you been with Waipā? I grew up in Kaua'i as part of a family that practiced subsistence and commercial fishing and farming. Graduating from Kamehameha Schools I moved to Southern California where I attended University Southern California's Marshall School of Business. After receiving my Bachelors of Science I returned home to work with my 'ohana and community where I helped found the Waipā Foundation. I have been at Waipa in either a board, volunteer, or staff position for 23 years now.

    How would you definie ‘āina? ʻĀina literally means, "that which feeds us" and it is also the word for "land and natural resources".

    Can you explain to our readers what Waipā is and does? Waipā is a 1,600 acre ahupua'a owned by the Kamehameha Schools and is managed by the Waipā Foundation, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit founded in 1994. It evolved from the community's first efforts in the early 1980's to save a space for the Hawaiian people, practices, and values on Kua'i's north shore. Waipā is a place where folks can connect with `āina, and share in our Hawaiian and local values and lifestyle through experiential learning opportunities and programs– including, reforestation efforts; stream restoration; working in the lo'i, garden or nursery; making poi and other foods; and other crafting/cooking classes.

    How many volunteers does Waipā currently have? Are they all located in Kaua’i? We have an average of 25 regular volunteers per week, with a total of over 100 per year, counting weekly and periodic or one time volunteers coming from all over.

    Are there clinics in the next coming months that volunteers can join? Check out our website for information on upcoming events.  The public is welcome to our "community workday" on the 4th saturday of every month.  It is this saturday, and there is more about it on the website.

    We know that Waipā is about educating people to eat local and live local, what are some of the places that resource their food directly from Waipā? Most of our produce is consumed on site by program participants and volunteers, and we sell and distribute additional produce directly to families and individuals within the community.  We also sell our produce at our Tuesday farmers market (onsite) and to a few commercial accounts including Akamai Juice Co., Fresh Bite Food Truck, the Westin Princeville...and a few others.

    How has Waipā influenced your way of life?  It has allowed me to live, raise my children, and work in my home community at an extremely rewarding job, where I can give back to my community while doing what I love (farming and mālama `āina), perpetuating our cultural values and practices while inspiring the next generation and taking care of the kūpuna.


    Thank you for taking this time to speak more on Waipā for us, Stacy!


  • November 24, 2017

    Honor the Heritage: Cultivate Cultural Abundance in Hawai’i

    2017 Giveback Series - Part 4


    Hui Aloha ‘Āina Momona

    Take an aerial tour of Hawai’i, and as your gaze travels inland from the ocean you can’t help but notice the endless verdant hills and vibrant landscape. Hui Aloha ‘Āina Momona is a non-profit organization we support through the Ama OluKai Foundation, and is committed to helping preserve this rich land and its agricultural traditions. Through a variety of educational and cultural activities, Hui Aloha ‘Āina Momona works tirelessly to ensure that the principles of sustainability and cultural perpetuation are continued and that aina (land) momona (abundance) is restored to the land.

    No conversation about the cultural and culinary heritage of Hawai’i is complete, however, without a mention of the kalo plant. Part of the very fabric of Hawaiian culture and history, kalo is seen as the plant from which Hawaiians were born and offers nutritional benefits from its root to its leaf. There used to be hundreds of different varieties of kalo grown in Hawai’i, but now that number is down to just a handful, and Hawaiians have fought hard against efforts to genetically modify what is still available and bring the plant back to the relevance it once had in their lives. The Hui Aloha ‘Āina Momona educates Hawaiians and visitors alike on the benefits of kalo as well as passing down the traditional methods of how the kalo plant is harvested and processed. From the cleaning, cooking and preparation of this incredible plant to the grinding of the root into poi, there is an entire wealth of knowledge to be passed down to the next generation.

    With organizations like the Hui Aloha Aina Momona keeping the connection between the Hawaiian people and their natural resources alive,  we are humbled to help support the preservation of abundant and sustainable land for generations to come.


    For more on the kalo plant, check out: Kalo: The Pacific "Superfood"

  • November 24, 2017

    Kalo: The Pacific “Superfood”

    2017 Giveback Series - Part 3


    You will often hear the word “superfood” thrown around, but rarely does it apply to a food source as nutritionally perfect as the kalo plant. The plant is a root with a stalk and heart-shaped leaves, and the root of the kalo are often made into poi -- a nutrient dense soft food derived from the kalo corn consumed in many forms across all of Hawai’i. Although it may be famous for its poi, there is actually no part of the kalo plant that goes to waste, as every bit of it can be eaten.

    Kalo is gluten free, has a low-glycemic index (meaning it leaves you fuller, longer), and is hypoallergenic, making it the ideal food for everyone from babies to the elderly. It provides a bacteriocin-producing bacteria that is a source of healthy probiotics, working its magic to aid digestion, reduce cholesterol, and lower the chance of heart disease, while its high concentration of potassium, manganese, and vitamin C, E, and B-6 support the immune system.

    As if all of that were not enough, even the kalo leaves have hidden delights. With significant levels of vitamin A and antioxidants such as beta carotene ( the thing carrots are famous for) they complete kalo’s nutritional punch. We challenge you to “out-super” this superfood!


    Look how much work goes into pounding Kalo plants into Poi!

  • November 23, 2017

    Honor the Heritage: Protect the Children

    2017 Giveback Series - Part 2


    Na Kama Kai “Children of the Sea”

    Few people understand the ocean the way a surfer does, so it’s only natural that Hawaiian pro-surfer Duane DeSoto founded a non-profit organization called Nā Kama Kai, or “Children of the Sea.” By bringing ocean-based safety and conservation programs to Hawai’i’s youth, Nā Kama Kai empowers children to become stewards of the ocean.

    The organization has a motto -- “Keiki Aloha Kai Aloha” --  meaning Beloved Child, Beloved Sea. More than just an ode to its youth and ocean, this motto is core to the work the non-profit does throughout Hawai’i, educating children on the cycle of life and how everything they do on land affects the ocean, while helping them understand the ocean’s hazards. What’s more, and as many of us have already experienced, learning about the ocean gives us a sense of self that stays with us for life. Nā Kama Kai understands this and gives the children in their programs the opportunity to recognize their special place in the world and their own personal relationship to the ocean. Through their statewide clinics “keiki”, or children, learn to become confident in the ocean through a personally guided experience, surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, and even helping shape traditional wooden boards. The goal is for each of them to leave with a sense of love and responsibility for the ocean, so they can go on to make life choices that will positively impact it.  OluKai, through Ama OluKai, is proud to support this incredible organization through our give-back program.

    At OluKai we are thrilled to be able to support this incredible organization through our give-back program. For more information and ways to get involved, please visit:

    Images by Jake Marote (@jake_of_all_trades)
  • November 21, 2017

    Ama OluKai Foundation

    2017 Giveback Series - Part 1


    Since delivering our first pair of sandals in 2006, giving back to the community has been an important part of the OluKai tradition. Now, more than a decade later, we are proud to support a more formal giveback program by way of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in the state of Hawai’i. It is a story about wayfaring people with a proud heritage, a rich island culture that is centered around community and the Aloha spirit.

    Part of the proceeds of every OluKai purchase goes to the Ama OluKai Foundation honoring those who preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage and aloha spirit of Hawai‘i. By parterning with local organizations, the Foundation helps preserve land, ocean, and Hawaiian tradition.


    Check out more in Ama OluKai's video below or visit

  • November 15, 2017

    "Aloha Detroit"

    Hosted by OluKai and Temple Children


    This year at Murals in the Market in Eastern Market, Detroit we hosted a collaboration event with our friends at Temple Children. A Big Island and Detroit based organization, Temple Children focuses on creating projects that strengthen and bridge communities through art, sustainability, food and adventure.

    We hosted a vintage Hawaiian inspired rooftop BBQ at Temple Children’s Eastern Market loft with all the artists and media attending Murals in the Market. To celebrate Murals and the local community with a Hawaiian twist, we sourced the meal and beverages from Michigan family-owned and -operated farms.


    Check it out in our Recap video!
  • November 14, 2017

    Murals in the Market

    Murals in the Market, Detroit’s only international arts festival, recently took place in the city's historic area known as Eastern Market. During this third year of the festival the organization brought together over 40 international and local artists to create live art installations around the local neighborhoods.

    The main mission of the festival is to utilize the power of public art to beautify the local area, create a sense of community, work with local businesses, and attract visitors to the city's surrounding towns. We have supported this movement with festivals like POW!WOW! Hawaii, POW!WOW! Long Beach and now Murals in the Market.

    Collaborating with our friends Temple Children, we were able to bring the Aloha Spirit through our event "Aloha Detroit". Check out Aloha Detroit in our next blog!

    To learn more about murals in the market visit

    Video Recap by Emad Rashidi



  • November 14, 2017

    Kalo: Hawai‘i’s Source of Life

    Kalo, a native Hawaiian plant, has profound importance in Hawaiian culture. Seen as the plant from which Hawaiians were born, it is a staple in their diet and is consumed in its entirety, from root to leaf.


    Kalo came to Hawai‘i on the canoes of the early Polynesian voyagers nearly 1500 years ago. It is central to the Native Hawaiian creation story and is a significant part of Hawai‘i’s cultural, historical and culinary identity.

    The plant itself is a root with a stalk and heartshaped leaves. The tubers of the kalo are often made into poi – a nutrient dense soft food that is enjoyed by people of all ages – although all parts of this incredible plant are eaten.

    The kalo fields (lo‘i) are a familiar sight on the Hawaiian landscape, and the farmers who tend the land are stewards of this tradition. With lessons learned from hundreds of years of cultivation, they understand how to work harmoniously with nature, and are typically happy to share their expertise and stories about Hawai‘i’s most important plant.

    Kamuela Yim, one such farmer, explains how the land, or “‘āina” in the Hawaiian language, is more than a sheer commodity to them.“‘ "'Aina is the thing that defines you as a Hawaiian,” Kamuela explains. “Outside of being Hawaiian, ‘āina is the thing that supports you and gives you the resources that you need.”

  • October 4, 2017

    Sunset Elementary Mural

    Artist duo Wooden Wave (Matt and Roxy Ortiz) are currently starting two murals at Sunset Beach Elementary on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The mural that is closer to the mountains will take on a mauka theme while the mural closest to the ocean will be makai themed. The mauka-themed wall will depict a sustainable treehouse farm built into a mountainside. Similarly, the makai-themed mural will be of a sustainable ocean clubhouse community.

    The native flora and fauna of the mauka mural’s foreground layer are currently being painted by the students from grades 1-3. The makai mural shows a vibrant reef ecosystem complete with corals and fish that was painted by the kindergarten and grade 4-6 students. With each student in the school participating, this means that over 400 students will be involved in this legacy project for the school. This level of school - wide participation is designed to instill in students a sense of pride and ownership for the finished murals.

    As part of the curriculum for the project, there was an in-class activity where the students drew images of what their ideal treehouse would look like. Additionally, each class submitted ideas of what kind of treehouse features they would like included in the part of the mural Wooden Wave will paint. The grade levels voted, and the winning features will be incorporated into the mural habitats. This activity is another way that the students are able to contribute to the development of the paintings.

    The student portion of the makai mural is complete and Wooden Wave is currently working with classes on the plants for the mauka mural. The artists will then spend the next month painting in the detailed sustainable communities. Not only are these collaborative murals serving as a way to bring art lessons to the school, they are also being used to address themes of environmental stewardship, Hawaiian values, and a sense of place.

    Project partners are the Friends of Sunset Beach, The Johnson ‘Ohana Foundation, and OluKai footwear.

    Article by: Wooden Wave

  • September 26, 2017

    Cliff Notes: Big Choices in Little Nicaragua

    Interview by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono)

    Whether it is the annoyance of another sibling, the comforting touch of an elder, or the simple smile from a distant relative, family can easily be taken for granted. Raised the second oldest of 5 children, I quickly assumed my role as “bruddah” from an early age. Although there were times it may have seemed like a chore, staying true to the values of ‘ohana was mandatory. As I travel to distant shores and experience different cultures, it is apparent that these values aren’t unique to Hawai‘i. On a recent trip to Central America, I met up with good friend Eric Nicholson who has recently relocated to the quiet Nicaraguan coast. We talked about the surf, community dynamics and most importantly the significance of family life.

    Great to see you again Eric. It’s been a minute. Is it weird to be so far away from home? I mean, where is home exactly?

    Southern California born and raised. I was born in LA, but moved to Ventura County when I was six. It’s cool to now be living in southern Nicaragua.

    Seems you couldn’t stray too far from the Pacific Coast. When was the first time you came to Nicaragua?

    I first visited Nica in 2009 during spring break my senior year of college. My friend Dane and his girlfriend at the time had driven down to Nicaragua from San Diego in a VW wagon. They were living in the city of Granada, which is about an hour south of Managua. I stayed with them and surfed around the San Juan Del Sur and Popoyo area for a bit.

    Ah the good old days. Has it changed much?

    It’s changed a lot but then again it hasn’t. Obviously surf and fishing tourism has grown.

    Why do you think that is?

    There’s a few reasons. Nicaragua is a fairly peaceful country these days where your dollar goes further. The southern region generally has 300+ days of offshore winds and it’s SW facing coast picks up swell pretty consistently. The offshore winds also provide upwelling along this stretch of coast that creates a lot of life for the fisheries.

    Sounds like an ocean-lover’s paradise. Seems like there are a lot of US citizens here in Nicaragua. What is the dynamic between the newly relocated residence and the local people?

    I guess it varies. like anywhere in the world, some locals hate foreigners and resent them living in their home and taking their resources. Others embrace the jobs that surf and fishing tourism has created for the local people.

    That sounds pretty similar to a lot of coastal communities. Do tensions ever arise?

    Definitely. Just last week this local cut in front of me in line at the grocery store, and when I politely asked him if he was aware of the line, he told me to go back to my country where I came from. Obviously that doesn’t mean everybody is like that, but it happens. Still, I have lots of good relationships with locals.

    That’s a tough one. Especially since because that local probably didn’t know why you live in Nicaragua now. Can you talk about why you are living here and what it was like making that choice?

    After I graduated from UCSD in 2009, it was super hard for me to find a job with the recession and all so I came down here for an extended surf trip. Nica may not have the world class waves that say Indonesia and other major surf destinations have, but it’s got incredibly consistent surf day in day out. And it’s a beautiful country with a very interesting history and culture. I ended up staying down here longer than I had imagined and got involved with a local woman. The next thing I knew I was having a son.

    Wow. That’s a pretty big life change. Especially right out of college.

    Yea, but being a father is tremendously fulfilling. I think kids have a way changing your perspective on life and bringing out the best in you. My son Dylan has undoubtedly given me a true sense of purpose. Initially, I wasn’t at all prepared to be a dad. It didn’t help that my parents weren’t supportive of me when they found out. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college with no money, and about to have a kid in a foreign country. It was tough for me. I struggled with a lot of internal conflict and self-doubt. Once I decided to really go all in and be a proud father to Dylan, I really grew. I found a sense of confidence and purpose I never thought I would have in my life.

    It must have been difficult to leave the States.

    Leaving my life in the states was actually the easiest part. So, I was here in Nicaragua when Dylan was born back in 2010 and shortly thereafter I went back to work in the states. I was a field biologist working as an environmental inspector. I made a few trips down to visit on my vacation time, but when Dylan was 2 I had a major falling out with his mom. We lost contact and I just felt like the world was against me. I gave up on trying to be a father, but eventually the stress and emotions caught up with me. Last year I went down to visit after all of those years of no communication. Once I finally reconnected with my son and saw the pain he had been going through all those years not knowing what had happened to his father. Like I said, the decision to leave my life in the states was easy.

    That’s solid. How long do you plan to stay down in Nicaragua?

    Right now, my plan is to live here and put Dylan in an English grade school for the next year or two. It’s the easiest transition for both of us and I enjoy the lifestyle down here. I never thought I’d say this, but raising Dylan in a developing nation like Nicaragua is actually a lot more stress free than being back home in the states. It just gives you perspective on how much we get caught up in the rat race.

    I know you’ve travelled and experience a lot of the Hawaiian culture. Do you see any parallels between your lifestyle you are living now and your time spent in Hawai‘i?

    Definitely. Aloha is the essential element in every ‘ohana. Loving and caring for each other is the glue that holds families together. It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the noise in today’s world, but if we make a concerted effort to come back to these values of ‘ohana, life rewards us. I try to remind myself of that and the rest takes care of itself.

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