Juggling Fire in the Jungle
Journey with us in this memoir of the first thirty years of Bellyacres: an unintentional community of bohemian jugglers who homestead a remote jungle oasis on the Big Island of Hawaii. (View entire list of communities in Hawaii)
Authored by the founder of Bellyacres, Graham Ellis, he is also the founder of the Village Green Society, Hawaii’s Volcano Circus and the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance. He directed a renowned youth circus program that morphed into a uniquely crafted community center, hosting a school, a farmers market, performance arts workshops and shows, neighborhood events and even a church. At its peak, over forty adults and children resided at Bellyacres and with its energy, food, economic, and organizational structure, it was described as one of the most sustainable ecovillages in the world.
Graham Ellis has been acknowledged by Hawai’i’s Governor plus state and county officials, as well as the people of Puna, for being an innovative community builder, circus ringleader, and champion of sustainabiity.
In this age of alarming climate change, cutting-edge social experiments like this — whether ‘artistic ecovillage’ or ‘anarchistic egovillage’ — offer lessons about how to survive — and even thrive — collectively. Readers who study and improve upon community developments like Bellyacres will be better prepared to create changes we all wish to see in the world.
Available in digital pdf format only.
“When our original twelve members committed to start Bellyacres, the mainstream was thriving in a world motivated by materialism and individualism without any worry of conservation and self-sufficiency. However, with my previous experience living on an Israeli kibbutz and co-founding a workers’ collective in Canada, I saw the opportunity to manifest an innovative ecovillage; one based on principles such as living cooperatively through a convivial and fair way of life, with minimal ecological impact, while striving to become more socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable. I made the huge assumption—some say ‘huge mistake’—that my busker friends shared this as our vision.
Fun permeated our whole world. At an early potluck dinner in our kitchen, a young hippy girl introduced herself to one of our members saying “Hi, I’m Rainbow Starchild and this is my sister, Dolphin Crystal. Who are you?” He didn’t miss a beat and replied, “I’m Chain Saw. Good meeting you.” “Isn’t that a bit of a violent name?” asked Rainbow Starchild. “Oh no,” he responded, “we all have hippy names here at Bellyacres. That’s Vice Grip, he’s Monkey Wrench, and over there are Weed Whacker and Bulldozer.”
~ excerpt from Juggling Fire in the Jungle, Chapter 1: In the Beginning