What's in a Name: Reflections on 'OHANA

Ohana Kuleana

Have you stumbled over the name of our garden?
Most of us have. The foreign sounds of the Hawaiian words coming out uneasily, uncertainly off our tongues and into the dry air of Southwest Colorado.


What do these sounds mean anyways?
Pronounced "Oh-Ha-Nah Coo-Lee-Ah-Nah", the name comes from Hawaiian terms:

"'Ohana" meaning family, in an all-inclusive, beyond blood relations way.
"Kuleana" meaning community responsibility

hawaii_islands.gifToday I want to explore the meaning of 'Ohana. This winter I had the privilege to live in Hawai'i where I got to learn on a more personal level about the meaning of 'Ohana. I lived for three months on the Big Island of Hawai'i at Kalani Oceanside Retreat. Kalani's "vibrant community is comprised of guests, staff, and volunteers from all corners of the world...who value interdependence, mutual respect, integrity, and responsibility while living together on 120-acres of preserved land ." I got to work as a volunteer in the kitchen and formed tight bonds with many of the 100+ volunteers at Kalani who support each other as we all grow and learn.

Mia working in the Kalani Kitchen

In just three short month I feel like I was given a crash course on what community and ohana can be. There I witnessed and experienced first hand, deep connection and support in a way I would not have thought possible in such a short time. 

Here are some thoughts on 'ohana from people I noticed as living and fostering ohana in the community.

Richard Koob, Kalani's founder, shared with me the roots of the Hawaiian word. At its core 'ohana means "breathing in a circle, sharing the breath of life."


Take a breathe.
Think of the people who nurture you and who you nurture. 
Take a breathe. 
Imagine those people standing in a circle with you, living your lives together- sharing the breathe of life. 
Take a breathe. 
Your community, your 'ohana.

I came to understand "sharing the breathe of life" as being here in this place and time living together, sharing this experience. Richard went on to describe 'ohana as "nurturing one another," which usually happens over food he said, "that is where we make plans to nurture one another."

This year, here at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden we will be having a potluck after our monthly workdays. All are welcome to come for either or both the garden workday and potluck (Schedule HERE). 

An inspiring couple, Rolf and Ilse, who have been coming to Kalani for over 20 years gave me a beautiful image to describe the "deep connection and support" we get from our 'ohana. Ilse said, "when we meet someone and make a deep connection we are connected to them by a thread of light so even when we part we form a network of light which we can call upon."

I know I feel more capable in the face of struggles when I imagine a bright network of light illuminating all the connections upon connections with people who I can ask for help.

Our garden 'ohana in 2015!

Imagine your circle, imagine your shining network. Maybe I am a part of it, maybe we can connect.

This year at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden we will be growing relationships while we are growing carrots and kale. Join us!

Come to a workshop, workday, and/or potluck!

Tell us about your 'ohana!
What does 'ohana mean to you?
What does 'ohana look like?
How do YOU give as 'ohana?
How do YOU receive as 'ohana?
Do you have a story to share about your 'ohana?
Comment Below!

Me in Hawai'i!

NOTE: Gardening space at the Ohana Kuleana COmmunity Garden is FULL for the season. You can sign up for the waitlist HERE.

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