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.

 

The Cancer:

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.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the Next Step for The Illumi-Nation Project?

Our first step to accomplishing our goal is to first develop a replicable sustainable living community in St. Pete, FL.
 
This will be living and studio space for 6-12 consciously peaceful artists and educators, but also we want the property to be a true, functioning community center.
 
It’s intended to be a space for the local St. Pete community to rise up together and reach our highest potentials while improving our economic, social, natural environment for the next generations.
 
We will have an interactive sustainability exhibit for children and adults to see and take part in organic and permaculture farming techniques, renewable energy, composting toilets etc.
 
There will also be workshops and classes focused on sustainability, healthy, delicious cooking classes, yoga, art, music, communication and relationship skill building and more, weekly potluck jams, and monthly music and art shows.
 
With the help of our kind and cooperative community, we are currently creating and soon will be publishing a promotional video to help share our vision of the community center.

What is The Illumi-Nation Project's Ultimate Mission?

Our ultimate mission is to do thorough research and develop a replicable model for a Sustainable Co-Parenting Therapeutic Eco-Village. Our primary goal is to provide a home, permanent family and therapeutic atmosphere for abused and neglected foster children.

 

 

What is The Illumi-Nation Project's Vision?

  • We want to create a cohesive community that heals and revitalizes bodies, minds, and souls with the use of sustainable organic farming, nature appreciation, music, art and positive, conscious communication.​

 

  • We want all community members to have the opportunity to have a home, sense of purpose, and family for the rest of their lives. 

 

  • Each member will have their own personal space as well as share communal spaces.​​

 

  • The community will care as best and as long as possible for all members as we age and our bodies change. ​

 

  • We will embrace technology, innovation and we will not attempt to seclude ourselves from the outside world. In fact, in the future we plan to sell excess produce, art, and host concerts, festivals and therapeutic seminars for the general public. 

 

  • We want to design this as a replicable model so it has the potential for a network of villages to sprout up across the country and even world. This will give residents the ability to travel and move. It will also give traveling musicians and artists places to tour and to visit on their journeys.

 

 

What is the History and Inspiration for The Illumi-Nation Project?

The Illumi-Nation Project was co-founded by Hal and Liza Bailstein. The couple has always had an interest in healthy, creative, community living. 

 

In order to develop the best possible community, the couple first needed more experiential research. With help of dozens of volunteers, on July 12, 2014, they threw a music event fundraiser and community love commitment ceremony at The Blueberry Patch in Gulfport, FL. Over 600 people attended this event. With funds from the fundraiser and his own brains and hands, Hal designed and built a teardrop travel trailer for their first research trip. 

 

The couple went on a two-half month research trip visiting six different functioning sustainable eco-villages on the US west coast. They video recorded, photographed, interviewed residents and kept thorough written notes about all the locations they visited.

 

Inspired by all they saw, the Bailstein’s decided they needed a location to practice what they’ve learned and a space to teach it to others. In the last year, they led over a dozen talks and workshops all over Florida focused on various aspects of sustainability and relationship-building in their findings.

 

The Illumi-Nation family has blossomed with the addition of Karen Caycho, an environmental studies major at Eckerd College and sustainability major at the Universidad de Murcia in Spain, Scott Bitterli, Building Design & Construction Consultant at Ivy Group Consultants and VP of The St. Pete Sustainability Counsel, Jasmina Janjic, a full-time nurse at St. Anthony’s with interests in naturopathy, and Kelli Harper a full-time garden instructor and manager for The Edible Peace Patch also with interests in with naturopathy
 

Who are Co-founders, The Bailstein's?

Hal is a jack-of-all-trades. He is an artist, inventor, carpenter, electrician, project manager, much more and a recent stage-4 cancer survivor. He’s always had an interest in creating community space that is sustainable and environmentally-conscious that would allow himself and others to come and create art, heal physically and mentally, and eat healthy food.

 

Liza has a degree in Human Development from Eckerd College with a focus in Expressive Arts Therapy. She has dedicated her life to working with children, especially with those with emotional and social delays. She uses various forms of artistic expression, physical movement, nature immersion, and healthy eating to help improve mental health, social skills, emotion-regulation in children and adults. She’s also has the desire to create community for herself and others to practice sustainable, healthy living, therapy, and to eventually give permanent homes and family to children in need. 

What is an eco-village?

Eco-villages are intentional communities whose goal is to meet their own social and physical needs through sustainable, communal practices.

What is sustainability and why does it matter?

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 sustainable farming, water, electricity, housing, and sanitation practices that we plan to use in our Eco-village design. 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.

Why organic farming?

Organic farming refers both to the use of non-genetically modified seeds and growing fruits and vegetables without the use of unnatural pesticides and poisons. There are numerous studies showing the health benefits of organic food vs GMO fruits and vegetables. Pesticides are also toxic to the environment and the creatures that live in it, including us!

What is a therapeutic community and why?

Our goal is to raise children that were formally abused and neglected and likely suffer from combinations of anxiety, depression, and/or Post Traumaric Stress Disorder.
 
Art, music, drama, writing, and nature therapy have all been shown to reduce symptoms of all of these disorders and to facilitate emotional expression and emotional growth and healing in ways the traditional talk therapies and pharmaceuticals have not.

What is co-parenting and why?

The responsibility of guidance and wellbeing of the children will be the concern of the entire village. There will need to be specific
"illuminators"/guidance providers; but each adult member will be considered to be a parent/guardian for every child.
 
To ensure that all of the children receive the attention they desperately need, there will be two adults for every child living in the village.

Why do we have to travel for research?

We want to experience different cultures, climates and terrain related to sustainable farming, water, and building structures. We also want to get the feeling of the social dynamics that can only be understood by experience. All of the experience and knowledge we gain will be directly applied to our designs and benefit the future of all involved in The Illumi-Nation Project.

Where will the money and donations go?

100% of all the donations will go directly to the funding our research and development of the eco-village. It is our goal to be completely transparent in all of our financial affairs.
Please contact us for any specific questions. We will be happy to provide with all the information you need! 

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