It wasn’t easy, but my brother and I pulled it off. We bought some raw land, an open canvas with complete freedom to do whatever we wanted: build, grow, live. The best part about it was its location on the North Shore of O`ahu, not far from O`ahu’s east side – where we grew up – but much closer to the biggest waves in the world.
Over five years, we built our dream workshop, farm and house, all without tapping into the local power lines. Now we’re producing more fruit and veggies than I could have ever imagined, we’re completely powered by the sun and we have our own well for water. We still go out to eat and buy groceries, but if those privileges were ever taken away from us (a reality not too farfetched living on an island) we would still have a comfortable place to survive.
So many amazing experiences and opportunities have come out of this project. The knowledge I gained from building and living off the grid has redirected my path as a general contractor. I now specialize in installing solar panels on rooftops all over the Island. My team and I are currently installing solar in Kaupuni Village, the first net-zero community in the U.S. This community, funded by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, is being built for Native Hawaiians in Wai`anae. It is a unique project that has the ability to set the standard for sustainable possibilities and carry us into the future of building.
To balance out work and the farm, I surf. Surfing big waves is what keeps me grounded. I love the emotions I go through on the days building up to a 20-foot swell and how I deal with them. I love the “big day” and how YOU have to make the choice to paddle out. How you can sit on the shoulder or you can paddle to the peak and throw yourself over the ledge – your choice. Then, there is the night after the “big day” where you all get together, talk about what went down, have a couple beers with your boys and finally relax enough where your body can enjoy the release of all those built up emotions. That is the best high in the world.