- Listed: July 11, 2011 9:12 pm
My name is Chris Jaeb
Hi. My name is Chris Jaeb, and I am very grateful to be part of this wonderful Ohana of Kaua’i. I was inspired to come here around five years ago because I felt I could realize my dream of being in a dynamic and co-creative relationship with nature.
At a young age, I questioned everything. What is it that I want from my life? what is a good life? what is spirituality about? I wanted answers and, fortunately, my mother gave me enough love and safety to consider these thoughts in depth. I realized that all things were possible in life, and I was destined to embrace the fullness of my potential.
Early on, I directed my energy towards entrepreneurial pursuits, probably because of the influence of my father, a banker whose German heritage led to a very disciplinarian attitude towards life. He influenced me in terms of the value of money and I have since endeavored to utilize money in a way that supported the culture in which I lived.
While in my philosophy class in High School, I wrote an essay called “The Perfect Corporation”; the perfect corporation was designed to create happiness for everybody in the company, thus embracing the customers, and the shareholders. My professor thought I was crazy to come up with such a “ridiculous idea,”, but it made perfect sense to me.
I believe that we can decide to be happy; we have the power to make choices and as a result of those choices, we can live our lives from a place of happiness and well-being. This win/win entrepreneurial spirit spilled over into my young adult life and continues to enlighten my life today.
Early Entrepreneurial Experiences
During my twenties and thirties, I started a number of businesses, and had a number of failures which left me deeply in debt; I was in a quandary as to how to repay all of my obligations. But one of the great benefits of youth is resiliency. The money “burdens,” rather than deterring me, added fuel to my clear intent for financial freedom. Rather than shrinking from the challenge, I dreamed even bigger dreams. During my musings, I came up with a vision of broadcasting sports globally in real time, using the internet and satellite network; during this time, the technology was not even available to ground this vision into reality.
But a “perfect storm” was gathering; with more technology becoming available and with the Internet blasting off into a meteoric rise to the stratosphere, I found myself in the right place at the right time. I believe it may have been the disciplinarian principles of my father that gave me the skills to ride the Internet wave into an extraordinary success story. I figured out a way to acquire broadcast rights from professional sports teams that had real value. I then rode the profits into a lifestyle that I had only dimly dreamed of a couple years before. I was at the center of a confluence of energies of technology, the Internet, sports, global broadcasting, and my own desire. All I had to do was to stay centered and guide this abundance “ship” along the swift currents of ever increasing wealth that enabled me to engage with life from a place of cause, rather than effect. Life had expanded into a panorama infused with exhilaration and possibility.
I could not say why, but I can only attribute what happened next to Grace. I was at the crest of the wave; I knew that I could make a lot more money, but I decided to let go while I could. I sold most of my investment, and steered my life into one of community service.
I sold out before the Internet bubble burst, moved to Santa Barbara, California and totally changed my lifestyle. I began thinking in earnest about my life, what is this life about, and who am I, really? How can I make sense of what is left of my life, and, how can I serve?
While contemplating these questions, I moved from Santa Barbarato Kaua’i to be more connected in nature. It was during this period, around 2006, that I connected with Keoni Kealoha, and, together, we started Malama Kaua’i, a nonprofit organization that could help move the island toward economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Then, separately, in 2007, I purchased what used to be Guava Kai from Kilauea ergonomics and John Ferry. We turned Guava Kai (an area of around 46 acres comprising a processing plant, gift shop, and snack bar) into a resource center that would provide green jobs and a model of sustainable living. This became Common Ground and now provides the physical location for Malama Kaua’i.
Moving to Kaua’i
We set aside an area of land, called “the fields”, which is actually a garden where we grow organic vegetables, fruits and raise chickens; our aim was to create an esthetically beautiful showcase of good, healthy food, and intelligent use of ecology. We also opened an open-air restaurant that uses organic fresh food grown just 100 feet from the cooking area.
Our ongoing vision at Common Ground involves creating an events schedule to provide a base for speakers, videos, movies, and workshops that share information and creative ideas to enhance people’s lives. We are also planning an eco-friendly store, where people can see environmental products demonstrated before purchasing them online. Along with this retail environment, we are simultaneously creating a media center that would provide an interactive milieu that enables people to utilize online technology for constructive projects.
As we elaborate on our website, http://cgkauai.net/cocreate/:
“The intentions behind Common Ground Kauai’s special use permit application are to bring people together on the issues that are fundamental to the health of the community and to use the process as a way to chart direction on these and other issues that will strengthen the community at large. We want to see who stands up for what they believe in and build structure around these desires to inspire others.
This process will bring together an ecosystem of supporters around each of the initiatives and better design the programs and facilities needed to make it happen. So by the time we have the public hearings needed for approval we will have more specific plans and the operational teams needed for the plans to flourish.”
In summary, our goal is to build a strong, viable community that can align with the general plan of Kaua’i and theKilaueaTownplan by getting leaders within the community to identify with those plans, thus creating a consensus from which everyone can all move forward.
I believe that our model of community could be used elsewhere as well; if we do a great job of just building the nucleus of how things could actually work harmoniously, we could then utilize what we have learned and apply it to other communities. Our natural world has been set upside down from the male going to the extreme; we need to live from a place of balance of the masculine and the feminine; I believe this is the only way to become healthy as individuals and a species.
We have a great opportunity right here at Common Ground and I am excited to build upon what we have already created to engage in a future that can heal the damage and eliminate the pain that we have inflicted on the planet and on each other for so long.
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