The Illumi-Nation Project Histrory:
The Early Years:
The Blueberry Patch:
The Bailsteins met in 2008 in Gulfport, FL at the Blueberry Patch, one of Florida’s oldest living artist retreats and a local art and music venue, founded by Dallas Bohrer in '77. They lived on the property for 3 years with four others helping to maintain the property, including a an event space, a community garden, composting and chickens for eggs. The couple also helped operate four nightly music events each month. They created art, played, connected many beautiful people, and practiced Sharevival, the act of sharing to thrive. When Dallas' health worsened Hal and Liza with the help of few key Patch Pals, formed the 501c3 non profit that successfully operates The Blueberry Patch to this day, keeping Dallas Bohner's dream alive.
The Gulfport Labyrinth:
Next door to The Blueberry Patch, Hal and Liza moved into The Gulfport Labyrinth. While still on the board and keeping close ties with The Blueberry Patch, they established and managed a community art hub, with a large house, art studio, garden space and a full size labyrinth. For two and half years, they provided affordable studio and living space to local artists and traveling craftsmens and operated a successful weekly "Community Clay Play Class" and art studio. They practice healthy eating, regular yoga, and bicycles where the preferred choice of transportation. Here they also made their first attempt at community fruit collection by knocking on doors and offering to collect and share fruit from other local unmaintained fruit trees. They were having so much fun and experiencing both the difficulties and the success of community living.
In 2011, Hal was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer. The couple was taked blindsided, and took a complete break from community building in order to focus on Hal’s health. For the next three years, the two struggled with Hal's invasive medical treatments and recovery. With a lot of love and support, a new mental outlook, a healthy diet rich in organic vegetables, beans and juicing he was able to make a near full recovery.
Forming The Illumi-Nation Project:
With Hal's new lease on life and Liza being freshly graduated from Eckerd College, the couple was ready to make their dreams come true. They had a vision of a community focused on holistic care and sustainability.
They had been learning about places called, “eco-villages” which are intentional communities whose goal is to provide their own social and physical needs through sustainable, communal practices. There are many sustainable techniques involving farming, water, electricity, housing, and sanitation practices that are very important to consider and see firsthand.
Their goal was to go on a research trip to see for themselves and experience sustainable community living before they attempted to form their own sustainable community. So they came up with a plan.
The SuperJam Love Fest
To afford this research trip and to make a public commitment of love and support for their community members, they threw The Illumi-Nation SuperJam LoveFest with the help of a wonderful and large volunteer crew. This community collaborative event was held at The Blueberry Patch. With over 700 guests, the event featured a community love and commitment ceremony and an all day never-before-seen collaborative musical performance with well known Tampa Bay Area bands: CopE, Come Back Alice, Green Sunshine, Holey Miss Moley, Ajeva, Funky D & The New Diggz, The Greenes, Legacy, Dylan Cowles, and Savii Hilton.
Funds generated from this event and from other donors, purchased materials to build a teardrop trailer for research travel, as well as covered costs of filming equipment and travel expenses.
In about a month’s time, part of the plan, Hal built their research / teardrop trailer from his own design. This trailer enabled them to camp freely as they traveled, as well as the ability to sleep and cook their own food at the eco-villages without having to disturb the lives of the villagers. It also granted them the ability to manage, edit and post video on the road.
The Research Trip:
On Aug. 23, armed with two pages of research questions, a GoPro, iPhone cameras and a computer, the couple left for their 10 week cross-country research trip studying eco-villages.
They were blessed with honor of staying with and learning from the Hummingbird Community in Mora, NM, Emerald Village in Vista, CA, Emerald Earth in Boonville, CA, Kailash Eco-Village in Portland, OR, Tryon Farms, Portland, OR, Circle of Children in Blachly, OR
They researched and video documented, organic farming techniques, water catchment and other sustainable water practices, composting and other sustainable waste management, natural buildings and other eco-conscious architecture, social dynamics, community enrichment and resource management. They learned so much on this trip about all elements of sustainability.
More than anything, they learned about the sustainability of relationships and how vital it is to focus on strengthening and solidifying positive relationships with all community members. The more playful and innovative the community is, the more successful and happy the people are.
Returning to St. Petersburg:
By the last leg of their trip, Hal and Liza were already envisioning a location in St. Petersburg where they could share all the amazing lessons they were learning and space to practice what they learned before developing the therapeutic eco-village.
The Bailsteins returned to St. Petersburg in early Nov. ‘14 feeling incredibly inspired and ready to share their research. In the last year and half, they’ve presented 12 workshops at their community outreach program, Rising Light, on various elements of sustainability. Had an overview presentation on their research at Eckerd College.
They became official non-profit in Sept. and have since established a fantastic board with Kelli Harper, Scott Bitterli, Jasmina Janjic, and Karen Caycho.
Holistic care takes in account the physical, mental, social, and spiritual factors in the lives of individuals.
Sustainability refers to the ability to continually provide for ones needs without harming the environment or the future generations' ability to meet those needs. There are social, economical, and environmental benefits to sustainable practices. A community that can provide for their own needs, have their needs met with little to no financial burdens and no one in the community having to go without. This means less overall stress, less conflict, more peace. Also the land itself is not burdened and we can continue to live in harmony with it.