Aloha in Waikiki

FOND Group had the honor of helping to produce the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival celebrating Hawaiian Surf and Cultural Heritage which took place in Waikiki this past fall. Alison Berman caught up with visionary pro surfer Rochelle Ballard to learn more about the memorable day and the inspiration behind the event.

All Photos by Kai Markell
In Hawaii, surfing is more than an activity or a pass time. It is more than a sport. Surfing goes deep into the heritage of Hawaii; it is embedded in the roots of Hawaiian culture. And, nodding to that deep significance was the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival, a one-day Hawaiian cultural surfing event that debuted in Kūhio Beach Park in Waikīkī on September 6th, 2014. The dawn-to-dusk festival was a celebration of traditional Hawaiian surfing and also so much more. It was an effort to bring together and nurture the many at-risk and homeless youth of Waikīkī and reconnect them with their Hawaiian heritage through surf sessions, workshops on Hawaiian traditional practices, and also educating youth on resources available within the community. “It was a really amazing shared day of Aloha, and that’s what Aha Kai Aloha is, it’s bringing earth into the ocean or valley into the sea using all of the elements for sustainability, bringing together the wisdom of perpetuating the land and sea through the love of surfing-Aha Kai Aloha. In Hawaiian culture it is called Ahupua’a -from the valley into the sea of Hawaiian cultural sustainability,” said Rochelle Ballard, professional world-class surfer, who first had the vision for the festival.

Pro surfer Rochelle Ballard (center) leads the opening ceremonies with 'Uncle' Bruce Keaulani of the Living Life Source Foundation.

Pro surfer Rochelle Ballard (center) leads the opening ceremonies with ‘Uncle’ Bruce Keaulani of the Living Life Source Foundation.

Rochelle moved to Kauai, Hawaii as a child, which is where she later took her first leap onto a surfboard. She is an accomplished professional female surfer and veteran of the Association of Surfing Professional’s (ASP) World Championship Tour, and also starred in the original Blue Crush film. After an inspiring professional career, Rochelle continues to cultivate her love for surfing, one way being through her deep involvement with Living Life Source Foundation (LLSF), the organization behind Aha Kai Aloha Festival. LLSF is a charitable non-profit located in Hawaii’s Manoa Valley and has a beautiful mission, “To restore a system of living by embracing all faiths and modern science; teach concepts vital to creating a life of greater meaning, purpose, and freedom; and, educate the people of Hawaii to become self-sustainable and to perpetuate the life-force spirit of Aloha.” Professor Bruce Keaulani, locally known as Uncle Bruce, is the founder of Living Life Source Foundation and asked Rochelle to create an event that would bring together the organization’s efforts with local youth and the healing aspect of what LLSF stands for. And from this sparked the inspiration for Aha Kai Aloha Festival.

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FOND Founder, Nicole Delma, honored to share a moment with legendary shaper Pohauku Stone.

The festival opened with a prayer chant, Oli. Rochelle recounts the moment, “A shower came through, and everyone was facing the ocean, listening to the water and the waves, as to bless the day with safety and the Aloha spirit.” The festival offered a mix of workshops that taught youth about Hawaiian traditions such as pounding Poi, which is the process of pounding taro root into a dough like consistency. A large focus of the day was also to show youth the connection between surfing and Hawaii’s ecology. Local Tom “Pohaku” Stone brought this to life through a hands-on workshop on papa he’e nalu, showing the kids how traditional Hawaiian wooden surfboards are carved. Through teaching these traditional methods it also continues that important aspect of Hawaiian culture, Rochelle explains, “When you stop doing these practices then the culture dies, and people are no longer fulfilling the Aloha, the spirit of where they came from.”

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Aiding at-risk and homeless youth can be a delicate undertaking. On the streets of Waikīkī, it isn’t always easy to identify which kids are homeless, even more so, each child has their own unique story and circumstances. Knowing this, the festival was designed to be as inviting as possible, acknowledging that whether teaching a surf lesson or introducing to a local charitable resource, a critical first step is to earn trust.

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Local groms prepare for the female longboard competition.

Youth Outreach (YO!), which provides medical and social services to homeless youth through YO! drop-in centers in partnership with Waikiki Health and Hale Kipa, Inc., was one of the resources available to the children, as well as Surfrider Spirit Sessions (SSS), a Hawaiian non-profit that serves at risk youth through ocean-based experiential education and mentoring programs.

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Commentator Kaipo Guerrero (left) lent his voice and surf expertise to the day’s events. Guerrero is a well-known announcer in the sport of surfing and a fan favorite.

Surf lessons and an eight-division surf competition open to the public also took place during the day. Competition entry fee was waved for canned food donations and divisions were bracketed by age, not gender, encouraging participating for the love of the sport, rather than for fierce competition.

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Local youth take turns experiencing outrigger canoe rides through the Waikiki surf.

With over 600 arriving for the festival, 100 participating in the surf competition, and 400 healthy breakfast and lunch meals shared, the impact of the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival was inspiring. The festival is committed to continuing to partner with existing organizations to enhance and support their efforts to aid local at-risk youth, both for next year’s event, and also with the possibility of building workshops throughout the year.

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Volunteers teach local youth how to make traditional Poi from locally grown Taro root.

Surfing holds a unique significance within Hawaiian culture, which Aha Kai Aloha Festival gracefully demonstrated by connecting at-risk youth with their heritage, its traditions, and community recourses, all through the shared love of surfing and Aloha.

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Special Thanks to Alison E. Berman for this recap of an amazing event and to the Elkes Foundation for helping to make it possible.

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Alison is a storyteller, marketer, and the founder of digital storytelling platform Anchor & Leap. She has a complex understanding of multi-channel storytelling and gained her roots working at prominent media companies Meredith Corporation as a Marketing Manager and previously at Rodale, Inc.’s in-house content marketing agency. While at Rodale, Alison also facilitated a company-wide social media think tank that was formed by CEO Maria Rodale.

As a consultant, Alison helps companies define and share their own stories through rich content marketing and strategy—all with a focus on aligning messaging with the core values of the organization. Some past clients include Nissan, Applegate, Norton by Symantec, Kraft Foods, and Energizer Holdings.

Alison is passionate about creative cultures, design thinking, and social enterprise. You can follow her on Twitter @DigitAlison

Killing Fast Fashion

A panel of insiders debate solutions to ensure a brave new future for fashion.

Killing fashion is an ambitious endeavor, not for the faint of heart. It is fitting, then, that the people leading the charge are those who immerse themselves in that cutthroat world of brands and big personalities, public relations and creative complications. Tomorrow night, Refashioner founder Kate Sekules has gathered a panel of insiders to discuss the future of fashion. No one wants fashion to die, but perhaps it should cease to exist in its current form.

Sekules, a champion of sustainable fashion, will also moderate the panel, making sure to keep the discussion lively and “nonboring.” “It’s essential that we get solutions rather than just complaints,” she says. Sekules will limit each panelist’s contribution to a certain amount of time and, she says, “As soon as someone says something really predictable, I’m going to encourage the next thought.”

 

With the right encouragement, this group of panelists may just end up saving fashion instead of slaying it. Alexandra Jacobs, fashion critic at The New York Times, will contribute a maintstream media perspective, while Elisa Goodkind brings tidings from new media as the co-founder of StyleLikeU, a video-centric online platform representing authentic personal style. Sekules describes Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion at Parsons, as “someone with great gravitas in academia—as well as deep experience on the coal face of fashion.” His expertise extends to the global fashion industry and sustainability in fashion. Finally, Julie Gilhart will provide perspective from her extensive experience as a top level fashion consultant and as the former fashion director of Barneys New York.

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Sekules will first ask panelists to define fashion. Then, they’ll address fast fashion—the constant cycling of trends to push masses of disposable clothes. “I want to get their opinions on what use it has, and whether and how it should survive and change,” Sekules says. Brands like H&M and Zara have paid lip service to conscious consumerism, but does that really mean anything?

Sekules believes much of the responsibility lies in the hands of the consumer. Audience members at the panel will get more advice on how to personally kill fashion, but Sekules offers everyone a starting point: “I think we can all be braver. We can all mix up old and new and we can all definitely invest in better quality, whether it’s pre-owned or not. We can make it last and value what we own.”

An audience of consultants, designers and stylists will gather at NeueHouse on Tuesday at 6:30 to incite the fashion revolution alongside the panel’s experts. Ensure your place by emailing rsvp@neuehouse.com. In addition to conversation and creatives, the after-party will include cocktails.

Gathered’s Elizabeth Kairys Allspaw

Gathered brings personality to buying art online.

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Elizabeth Kairys Allspaw

Even as art becomes more accessible online, the gap grows between people who can afford to buy and those who pin feverishly to their “Someday” Pinterest board. To help bridge the two, Elizabeth Kairys Allspaw founded Gathered.com, a site that aims to connect artists with art lovers at an affordable price. Elizabeth curates the entire site, choosing artists who sell one-of-a-kind works, not prints. Prices range from $60 to $5400 (for a 40 by 60” watercolor), though most works fall under $1000. The Gathered shop currently hosts eleven artists whose talents range from illustration to watercolor, collage to predetermined systems. Dave Eggers’ selection includes a naked man in a lake (ink on paper), part of a series: “Lost Panels From a Weekly Cartoon Never Seriously Attempted.” Many of Svetlana Rabey’s watercolors resemble giant dripping ice cream scoops, while Helen Booth’s snowy paintings are inspired by the winter light in Wales. Elizabeth trusts her instincts when it comes to selecting the right artists for Gathered. “If I want this piece for myself, I’ll put it on the site,” she says. “It’s that simple.” Basing the site on her own tastes results in a smaller selection. Elizabeth recognizes that might mean a narrower audience, but she thinks that’s the draw of Gathered. “I’m really trying to stick to the advantages of a highly curated experience,” she says. “I think that goes hand in hand with having a small group.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 6.04.46 PM Gathered features a small selection of artists, but their work spans a variety of genres.

Elizabeth sees the site as an extension of herself both artistically and charitably. When Elizabeth left her world of art directing and design in order to pursue entrepreneurship, she thought hard about the ideal direction for her new company. Curating art was front and center, but “it felt kind of empty and soulless in a way to just be selling art online and making a profit,” Elizabeth says. “Something was missing, and I really wanted it to feel more meaningful.” She created the charitable component of Gathered to include an element of generosity in her business. A percentage of each Gathered sale goes to an arts-related non-profit organization, depending on the collector’s preference. In addition to doing her own research, Elizabeth asks Gathered artists if they feel passionate about a particular non-profit. Materials for the Arts, CUE Art Foundation and Chashama all came recommended by artists.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 6.05.13 PM An artist profile on Gathered.

Besides benefitting the larger creative community, buying art becomes more than a transaction when artists and collectors feel connected. Elizabeth facilitates camaraderie by asking each artist to include a note to the collector when they send off a piece. When Elizabeth was posting new work by Helen Booth, she couldn’t resist buying one of the paintings for herself. The art arrived with a letter, pictures of Helen’s studio, and a photo of Helen holding the package on the beach in Wales. It’s that kind of tender personality that Elizabeth wants to instill throughout Gathered. “That’s what really gets me excited,” she says. “This piece is one-of-a-kind. The passion and personal experience which the artist puts into each piece gets transferred to the collector, who gets to live with it and love it forever.” Gathered’s blog also features studio tours and notes on Elizabeth’s inspiration so collectors can learn more about each artists’ process online. Her business may rely on technology, but the quality Elizabeth hopes to convey is an authentic humanness. Gathered isn’t just art online, it’s a place where artists and collectors find home.  

by Ella Riley-Adams

KITCHEN CAM FOR A CAUSE

An intimate look at the culinary creativity of the world’s most famous chefs. 

This week the FOND Group unveiled the JBF Kitchen Cam, a real-time video feed streaming the fast-paced culinary action from the James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The project aims to capture creative cuisine in progress, introducing an intimate, unscripted look at gastronomic excellence.

Stepping into this historic culinary enclave means entering the home of the man who can be regarded as the original Celebrity Chef. James Beard may be the original Celebrity Chef, paving the confit-laden path to cooking-show stardom for accomplished cooks whose careers may have stagnated in restaurant kitchens without his trailblazing appetite. Whether you’re a food freak or just someone who likes to eat well, it’s easy to appreciate the amount of edible history steeped into the walls of the Beard House.

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The menu for the evening.

Until now, an inside look at this illustrious kitchen was reserved for James Beard Foundation members or those lucky enough to grab a sought-after seat at a special dinner. With the launch of the JBF Kitchen Cam, the entire world can view the preparation of over 200 dinners a year, crafted by a rotating cast of innovative chefs.

On Monday night, I attended a cocktail party to celebrate the unveiling of the JBF Kitchen Cam. Daniel Boulud helmed the kitchen as the Cam streamed the sights and sounds across the Internet.

Walking into the House, I was hit with an immediate wave of enticing lemony herb-infused aroma and the clamor of the kitchen clanging through the small lobby area. Conducting his focused team like a maestro, the cool and collected Boulud talked to observers while laying down greens that would nest a Citrus-Cured Fluke with Shiso Bavarois and Ponzu Gelée. Pots of thick stock simmered like liquid gold and uniformly chopped herbs and vegetables stood neatly piled, waiting for plates.

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Boulud at work.

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Boulud shows the Kitchen Cam a recipe from his new book.

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The team poses for a celebratory selfie.

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It was truly impressive to see such controlled chaos in the cramped confines of the historically seasoned kitchen. A dozen of Boulud’s sous chefs toiled feverishly – press and general food fanatics filled the tight space while diners ambled through on their way to the cocktail area to enjoy appetizers and sip champagne.

Servers made rounds with trays of Duck Pâté en Croûte, Wild Mushroom Tarte Flambée and Watercress Velouté with Louisiana Crayfish, all drawn from Boulud’s new book DANIEL: My French Cuisine. The dishes both sparked appetites and fueled conversation about the inaugural night of the JBF Kitchen Cam; Boulud perfectly curated the start of this innovative culinary experience.

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As the cocktail hour wound down and guests were seated, Boulud took the floor. He spoke about the inspiration for his latest book and his deep appreciation for the James Beard Foundation. Then he noticed a diner watching the first-course plating via the JBF Kitchen Cam on her phone; he chuckled with delight. The evening lives on, online.  

 

The James Beard House Kitchen Cam Live with Daniel Boulud

By John Figlesthaler

Since 1986, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) in New York City has been the premier institution at the peak of the gourmet high ground. A culinary sanctuary for chefs pushing gastronomic boundaries, reinterpreting tradition and simply cooking the best food out there, there is no place like the James Beard House.

Starting Monday, March 31, 2014, the FOND Group is bringing the world a candid look into this eater’s paradise through the JBF Kitchen Cam. Live streaming from three intimate camera angles, the JBF Kitchen Cam will share true culinary artistry, in real time, capturing the painstaking preparation, calculated intensity and the ensuing splendor.

We invite you behind the closed doors of one of the most celebrated kitchens in the world with the launch of the JBF Kitchen Cam. Offering a rare look into this culinary epicenter, we are honored to be joined by none other than Daniel Boulud for the unveiling of the JBF Kitchen Cam with the sold-out “Dinner with Daniel.”  Boulud will draw inspiration from his latest cookbook and memoir, DANIEL: My French Cuisine.

Photo by Daniel Krieger

Photo by Daniel Krieger

Whether an aspiring chef, die-hard gourmand, or someone who simply enjoys fine food, the JBF Kitchen Cam offers an inspiring glimpse into the world of James Beard. On over 200 nights a year, the world will now be able follow the feed to watch celebrated chefs from far and wide as they create unforgettable meals in this illustrious kitchen.

The JBF Kitchen Cam is the brainchild of the FOND Group’s own Josh Elkes and his father, Steven Elkes, who have also created The Elkes Family Culinary Scholarship, supporting aspiring chefs who are pioneering the future of the way we eat.

Get to know past scholarship winners here.

In addition, chef Boulud will be participating on a live Twitter chat on Thursday, March 27th at 11:00 a.m. EST. If you’d like to join in the conversation, use the hashtag #ChefChat and follow @BeardFoundation  @DanielBoulud @fondgroup

See Full Press Release on the JBF Kitchen Cam Launch .

A Guinness Record at Google HQ for Electric Vehicles

An interview with the one-of-a-kind Susan Jones, the inspiration behind the record-breaking Ride The Future Tour.

FOND recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Susan Jones, founder and mastermind of Ride The Future Tour (RTFT). We sat down to chat with Susan in NYC just after she completed her trek across the nation on nothing but electric vehicles to set a Guinness World Record at Google’s HQ in Palo Alto.

From managing her four daughters’ professional music careers while jet setting around the globe to authoring books to healing clients through acupuncture, this woman has a passion for life that is downright contagious. FOND is proud to count Susan as a friend, a client (when we can keep up with her) and a mentor when it comes to living fearlessly and laughing in the face of adversity. In fact, she might have had a little something to do with the motivation behind the founding of FOND last year 😉

Check out the amazing video of their trek and read our QA and with Susan –  a very special woman hellbent on improving the planet.

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INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN JONES

FOND: Could you give us some background on how you came up with this idea to do an electric vehicle tour across the US and what the goals were?

Susan Jones (SJ):My personal goal is to stop gas emissions and help clean up the Earth for our future generations. I started my own electric vehicles company called Xenon Motor Company. Once I saw that Americans were not all jumping at the chance to leave their gas cars in the driveway and get on an electric scooter no matter how much sense it made, I switched gears and started Nashville Scooter Tours. We take tourists on a fully guided 2 hour tour of the city. It was an instant hit. So then I asked myself what else can I do? I thought that if I rode my scooter across the US, it would be a good way to make a statement for EVs. I really wasn’t sure if I could make it, but I wanted to at least give it a try. The whole tour grew out of this idea for me to ride my scooter alone.

FOND: How did you determine who was going to be the riders/driver in the tour?

SJ: The 11 other members who joined the tour just sort of came to me. Duane – who drove the car – I met in a park in Nashville while I was hiking one day. Rachel McCarthy, Ben Hopkins, and Stuart Scott I met while in Bangkok. Jonathan Becker – our filmmaker- I met when I went for a test drive of the Nissan Leaf when they first launched it about 4 yrs ago. Nissan hired him to document the tour across America.  Jonathan hired George Wymenga and Evan Scott to make up our 3 man film and sound crew. One member was my 26 year old daughter, Dominique Arciero. We put her in charge of the music entertainment at our nightly town parties since she’s a professional musician. Our boy wonder, Sean Scott, from Hawaii, was brought on by his dad Stuart. And lastly, I found Ben Rich who rode the electric motorcycle on Facebook.

FOND: How did you determine the route for the tour?

SJ: Our route across America was pretty much laid out for us. I knew I wanted to start in Charleston, SC because it would be beautiful for the documentary.  Then we mapped straight across the US as much as possible with little detouring. Then we made our cities about 100 miles apart because of the range of the electric car. These parameters dictated our trek for the most part.

FOND: What kind of electric vehicles were in the tour?

SJ: On the tour we had the electric car, electric motorcycle, electric scooter, and electric bicycle.

FOND: What was the most memorable experience from the tour?

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       Click to see more amazing footage of the teams ride.

SJ: The most memorable experience of the tour was riding my scooter down the mountain as we left Big Bear Lake,CA. I’ve seen a lot of beauty in a lot of countries but these views were spectacular like I have never seen before. And the ride down that mountain is an experience I will never forget. Scary but spectacular.

The Xexon All Electric Scooter. Click to learn more about Xenon.

The Xexon All Electric Scooter. Click to learn more about Xenon.

FOND: Who was the most memorable person you met along the way?

SJ: Angel. 90 something yrs old. The man known for keeping Route 66 alive with his store and barbershop. He is a virtual warehouse of wisdom and I was so fortunate to have met him. I can’t wait for the world to meet this special human in our documentary.

FOND: What was the craziest thing that happened?

SJ: The craziest thing that happened to me on the tour was the day we left Las Vegas, NV. I was supposed to wait for the film crew van and ride along with them as my support because it was a very dangerous ride and I was going to ride alone that day. We would be in the desert with extremely high temperatures and would not be able to rely on stores and shade and other people. It turned out that the film crew needed to change our plan and I would head out alone.  I headed out but I couldn’t find the small streets that Duane sent out in our nightly email for the next day’s trek. I got frustrated and jumped on the freeway thinking at least I can’t get lost and won’t be alone. 30 seconds later a cop pulled me over and insisted I get off and take an off highway route.  So my 89 mi trek became a 139 mi trek in 110 degree heat through the desert all by myself. I was armed with extra batteries and a charger so I eventually, just as the sun set and it got dark, rolled into the hotel in our next city. What began as my scariest moment on the tour became the most memorable. The vast openness, dead silence, not a soul in sight, and facing my fears made the ride that day unforgettable for as long as l live. It was the most beautiful day of all 44.

FOND: Did you have a lot of interest from people you met on the road and at presentations?

SJ: We didn’t have large numbers of people flocking to our town parties but the groups that did come out were so great. They loved what we were doing and were so eager to hear more about our journey and electric vehicles. It was nice to be able to sit and chat with people from all walks of life and get a snapshot into their life – and them into mine.

FOND: How was the finale at Google Headquarters?  Was there a lot of interest from Google employees?

SJ: I had no idea Google would turn out to be such a fantastic finish line. I simply wanted to thank them for everything they create for us. As it turned out the Google campus was teaming with people riding the Google bikes, strolling around, hanging out enjoying the gorgeous day. It was a built in crowd for our final scene of our movie. Our people all turned out but it was even more perfect with the buzz of the Google HQ folks. It couldn’t have been better !!

This was Ben Hopkins first time to the US and he road his A2B Alva
3,700+ miles and set a Guinness Book of World Record for the journey.

FOND: That is an impressive way to see the US for the first time!  How is Ben doing after that monumental ride?

SJ: As it turned out the mileage was more like 4400 miles. I haven’t even spoken to Ben once since he’s been back to Bangkok. I’m good friends with his wife and she has been sending me reports. He’s telling her stories non stop. She just sits and listens for hours soaking it all up.

FOND: You had a professional film crew recording a lot of the action on the road and when you gave presentations in local towns and cities.  When can we expect to see the documentary film about RTFT and where will we be able to see it?

SJ: We hope the editing of our documentary will be completed by November of this year. We would like to submit it for the film festivals as well as make the DVD available. At some point we will also make a 10 episode version showing all the entertaining people we interviewed along the way, more of the 12 tour members’ daily experiences, and lots more footage of America.

FOND: Now that the dust has settled a little, do you feel that the tour was as successful as you wanted it to be?  Is there anything you would
change if you were to do it over again?

SJ: I feel like the tour was a complete success because we finished the entire trek on our EVs on time and made a documentary to commemorate the event. If we were able to positively influence others to trust EVs the way we do, then all the better.
The one thing I would change next time is how I handle a group of 12 adults. I was real big on giving everyone a say and letting everyone express themselves. That just doesn’t work in every situation. Sometimes it’s a recipe for disaster. So next time I ll just have to be more comfortable with telling people exactly how it’s going to be. Not my style!  But things will run a lot smoother.

FOND: Do you have plans to do this tour again?  Or maybe a different tour?

SJ: I am contemplating making another Ride The Future Tour in 2014 through SE Asia. We would start up in Hanoi, Vietnam and end in Singapore. This would be a beautiful ride and an amazing documentary. I would love for the world to see Vietnam the way I’ve seen it. Cambodia and Laos are fascinating. Thailand is full of beautiful untouched countryside with the sweeting people. The longer distance version would include Burma. Google HQ in Singapore would be the grand Finish Line. If all the necessary components come together then this will be my next adventure and documentary.

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Thank You!

A huge thanks to Susan and congratulations to the entire Ride the Future Team! We are thoroughly impressed.

Contact: To reach the Ride The Future Team, Click Here.

SOUVENIRS from dominique arciero on Vimeo.

FOND Founder Keynotes Ecommerce Brazil

FOND Group’s Founder, Nicole Delma, was recently honored to Keynote the Ecommerce Brazil Forum held in sunny Sao Paulo on August 12th. This gathering of over 1000 of Brazil’s top digital marketers and technology leaders was an exciting event for a nation experiencing one the the largest surges of digital growth in the world.

Nicole Delma has previously led email programs for companies including Conde Nast, Getty Images, J.Crew, RCRD LBL and consulted for many major brands and publishers including The Huffington Post, Harper Collins and Barnes and Noble.

Watch the video below of Delma’s presentation as she walks through how and when to move to more advanced email marketing tactics and when to get back to basics. Topics covered include dynamic content, mobile optimization, advanced segmentation and analytics.

Photos of the event are available at Flickr and Facebook as well.

A special thanks to Ecommerce Brazil and Rina Noronha for this amazing opportunity and for their incredible hospitality.

BOOKINGS:
To book Nicole Delma or FOND Group for speaking or consultative engagements, please contact info@fondgroup.com.

Kauai Proper – living the life of a local Pro Surfer…well, almost

While I don’t like to pick favorites, there is no secret that I feel incredibly lucky to have Surf Pro Rochelle Ballard and her company: Surf Into Yoga (SIY) as one of my clients. Surf, nature, sweet gear, massage, amazing natural foods, Hawaii…what more could you need? From the moment she told me she was moving from Oahu’s North Shore to reestablish SIY Wellness Adventures from her native Kauai, my bags were pretty much packed while I waited for the green light.

That green light to come and check out the new digs in Kauai came in July when I anxiously boarded a plane to spend 16 days in Kauai working, brainstorming and ‘testing’ (wink, wink) all the experiences SIY Kauai Wellness had to offer.

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Napali Coast view from the North

Aside from the obvious perks of this arrangement, add in a refreshingly humble world-class athlete who generously offers tips on the Hawaiian approach to health, nutrition and local wave knowledge and you pretty much have the perfect Hawaiian experience. Couple that with the the fact that she is who she is, a surfing legend who truly helped pioneer the sport for women, and you can imagine that the experience of jaunting around her favorite local haunts, surf breaks, camping spots and excursions is that much better.

BETTER WITH A LOCAL LEGEND: CASE AND POINT, SURF LESSON WITH ROCHELLE
On the first day Rochelle took me out to surf the very break she learned on, I was shown so much Aloha from the locals paying their respect that you might have thought I was in Blue Crush and not her. Not one dirty look, not one negative word – it was all positive and powerful energy of encouragement as I paddled into waves twice the size of my comfort zone. I know Hawaiians are super friendly but, I’m not naive. I’m aware that much of this welcome reception had to do with who I was paddling out there with and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Not only did I get countless smiles and thumbs up from perfect strangers who made me feel completely welcome as I struggled just to stay put in the line up on her Joel Tudor single fin (about 3 feet shorter than any board I’d ever actually stood up on) but they lovingly launched into a joint hoot of booming cheers and whistles when I finally caught my first ever short board ride allllll the way into shore (albeit on my belly-foot-knee-belly-butt). It was an unbelievable experience I will never forget. In between receiving tips from Rochelle on how to position myself, how to breathe, where to put my toes, how to open my stance, I sat in awe as she paddled outside to the larger sets and gracefully demonstrated why she is a champion of the sport.

The itty bitty Joel Tudor single fin I rode/tried to ride my first day out on a short board.

The itty bitty Joel Tudor single fin I rode/tried to ride my first day out on a short board.

Day two of surfing went a little smoother once I got back on the comfort of a long floaty board.

Day two of surfing went a little smoother once I got back on the comfort of a long floaty board.

What is so cool about what Rochelle is doing on Kauai is that she is aiming to share that priceless insiders-only experience with visitors right there on the very beaches that she grew up learning to surf at. The experience is about understanding what it really means to enjoy the Hawaiian lifestyle, to value nature and family and to live with a strong sense of community, health and service to others. Surf Into Yoga has now successfully relocated from Oahu to Kauai and has expanded into an outfit offering lessons, day packages and full multi-day wellness retreats to include anything and everything from Surf, SUP paddles up the Waimea River, Napali Coast Boat Excursions with Snorkeling to Private Yoga and Massage or Ayurvedic Wellness Consultation. Like any good researcher would do, I had to try all of these things myself before I could sign on and approve. The verdict: AMAZING.

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Rainbows abound daily on Kauai. This is, in fact, a double rainbow!!

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Breathtaking views of the Napali Coast cliffs from the boat during our excursion – this view is an actual Windows Screensaver, for obvious reasons. And yes, those are dolphins!

The experience one can have on Kauai surfing and exploring the far less touristy west coast is unparalleled and the waves, well, no complaints here. Yes, the North Shore of Kauai is spectacular and beautiful but the west is magical in its own special way and for so many reasons. Most notably, its proximity to some of the most amazing sights and adventures on the island of Kauai. Nestled right at the base of the Waimea Canyon and 30 minutes below the majestic hiking territory of Kokee State Park, the west coast also offers direct access to Napali Coast Boat Adventures where you can cruise the sights of the pristine northwest cliffs and beachfront inaccessible by road.

An experience on the west side guided by Surf Into Yoga allows you to explore the island as something more than just another tourist and to get a sense of what is truly the Hawaiian way of life sans the overcrowded and overpriced restaurants, souvenir shops and marked up coconuts you will find in the more resort-focused areas. The accommodation options, ranging from converted plantation style cottages to private beach bungalows, are nestled among beachfront communities where you are more likely to stumble on family potlucks than bars and very likely to be greeted as though you are a neighbor rather than a foreign mainlander.

During my stay, we surfed, camped and hiked up at Kokee, paddled at sunset up the Waimea River, boated up the Napali Coast, snorkeled, bodysurfed, practiced surf-specific yoga, did an outdoor massage, talked a bit of Blue Crush history, ate gobs of fresh lilikoi, avocado, mango and payapya right from the trees, sucked down buckets of Mate (a miracle green tea), ran, planted some trees, did some work in the garden, caught every sunset and almost every sunrise, did a little off roading, ate some killer fish tacos, had a campfire, experienced a run in with local bulls and pretty much wore our faces out smiling.

My experience was so epic that the final days of my trip consisted of me looking at potential rentals for a more permanent stay along this lesser traveled coast in what is arguably one of the most magical places I have ever visited.

I returned home nourished, tanned, toned and so excited to start sharing my experience with friends so they too could see what a special thing she has going there on Kauai’s west side with Surf Into Yoga.

Contact: Visit SurfIntoYoga.com for info or email info@surfintoyoga.com or call 808.343.0616 for custom package or booking options. Be sure to mention FOND for special rates and preferential treatment 😉

Mahalo to Rochelle for hosting me, to Aura and her other friends and family for amazing food and hospitality, to Nukumoi Surf Shop, Hanapepe Naturals, Brennecke’s Deli, Napali Coast Adventures, Michaelle of Manayoga.com.

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Sunset overlooking the valley on my final day on Kauai.

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Early morning view from my tent atop Kokee State Park where we spent the day hiking along rivers and waterfalls.

The original SIY sign finds a new home in Kauai.

The original SIY sign finds a new home in Kauai.

Overlooking Waimea Canyon on the way up to Kokee.

Overlooking Waimea Canyon on the way up to Kokee.

I think we saw dolphins everytime we were in or near the ocean - so beautiful.

I think we saw dolphins everytime we were in or near the ocean – so beautiful.

My makeshift massage table where I was treated to bodywork by Rochelle, a Licensed Massage Therapist for over 20 years.

My makeshift massage table where I was treated to bodywork by Rochelle, a Licensed Massage Therapist for over 20 years.

More stunning views from the Napali Coast Adventure.

More stunning views from the Napali Coast Adventure.

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Closing out the day with a perfect sunset moments before the 'bull incident'.

Closing out the day with a perfect sunset surf moments before the ‘bull incident’.

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Quick swim in the river after a nice hot hike in Kokee.

Quick swim in the river after a nice hot hike in Kokee.

Surf Into Yoga NY Crossing – About

ABOUT: SURF INTO YOGA NEW YORK CROSSING

WHAT IT IS:  SURF INTO YOGA NEW YORK CROSSING IS A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH ROCHELLE BALLARD DOCUMENTED THROUGH BLOG WRITING, PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO.  THE CROSSING WILL FEATURE A SERIES OF INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS INVOLVING ROCHELLE BALLARD AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES WITH THE GOAL OF SHARING ITS MISSION.

MISSION:  SURF INTO YOGA IS DEDICATED TO THE PURSUIT OF WELLNESS AND INSPIRATION THROUGH YOGA, SURFING, MASSAGE AND NUTRITION. THE CROSSING MISSION IS TO PERFORM OUTREACH TO LESS FORTUNATE, DISTRESSED YOUTH, SHARING YOGALIGN THROUGH WORKSHOPS, SURF, AND SUP LESSONS DONATED BY ROCHELLE BALLARD AND VOLUNTEERS FROM LOCAL SURF AND YOGA ORGANIZATIONS IN THE COMMUNITY.

INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS  WHILE TRAVERSING NYC AND ITS SURROUNDING BEACHES, THE CROSSING AIMS TO CAPTIVATE AND ENGAGE INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES THROUGH A VARIETY OF SURF AND YOGA THEMED EVENTS TO INCLUDE:

  1. SURF, SUP AND YOGA ACTIVITIES AND WORKSHOPS
  2. WELLNESS EVENTS FOCUSED ON HEALTHY LIFESTYLE (NUTRITION, MASSAGE, MEDITATION, MUSIC),
  3. INTERACTIVE TALKS HOSTED BY ROCHELLE BALLARD TO SHARE PERSONAL STORIES, PHOTOS, AND VIDEOS OF HER JOURNEY
  4. ONE-ON-ONE TREATMENTS AND LESSONS VIA PRIVATE BOOKING WITH BALLARD FOR YOGA, MASSAGE, SURF AND SUP, FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS.

HOW WE WILL DO IT: TRUE TO ITS MISSION, THE CROSSING AIMS TO INSPIRE AND UNITE COMMUNITY THROUGH SURF, YOGA AND THE SPIRIT OF GIVING BACK.  THIS IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS, SPONSORSHIPS AND THE SUPPORT OF LOCAL INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES.

SURF INTO YOGA TO PROVIDE:

  1. FACILITATION OF SURF AND YOGA DAY CAMP TO BE HOSTED BY ROCHELLE BALLARD (STUDENTS AGE 8-18, CAPACITY: ALL WHO CAN COME)
  2. SURF INTO YOGA FORMAL WORKSHOPS FOR ADULTS HOSTED AT LOCAL FACILITIES (SMALL DONATION REQUESTED)
  3. ROCHELLE BALLARD TO HOST TALKS FEATURING STORIES, PHOTOS AND VIDEOS FROM HER PERSONAL JOURNEY
  4. SIY PRODUCT SUPPORT AND SPONSORSHIP, AS NEEDED
  5. ONE ON ONE APPOINTMENT AVAILABILITY (FOR A FEE) WITH ROCHELLE BALLARD
  6. DIGITAL MEDIA AND SUPPORT PROVIDED BY FOND GROUP TO INCLUDE EMAIL, SOCIAL, MEDIA OUTREACH, PRESS RELEASE, PHOTO, VIDEO

SUPPORT NEEDED:

  1. PARTNERSHIPS WITH LOCAL SURF, YOGA, WELLNESS FACILITIES AND PROFESSIONALS
  2. SPONSORSHIP AND DONATION OF SURF AND YOGA EQUIPMENT, APPAREL, FOOD AND BEVERAGE, SUNSCREEN,  ETC.
  3. PROFESSIONAL SERVICE DONATION – PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEOGRAPHY,  GRAPHIC DESIGN, ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD PREPARATION, EMERGENCY, EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS ETC. VOLUNTEERS
  4. MEDIA, COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND YOUR HELP SPREADING THE WORD!

WHERE:
NEW YORK – FINAL DESTINATIONS TBD. TENTATIVE STOPS INCLUDE NYC, LONG BEACH, ROCKAWAY, MONTAUK, MECOX BAY.

WHEN:
SEPTEMBER 2013, DATES TBD

WHO:

1. SURF INTO YOGA CAMP BOYS AND GIRLS AGES 8-18

2.  WORKSHOPS AND PRIVATES OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FIRST COME FIRST SERVE SIGN UP

MEDIA: 

SOCIAL MEDIA, PRE, DURING AND POST WITH BLOGGING, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, SURFLINE, LOCAL NEWS AND SURF COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Rochelle Ballard

In Rochelle’s Words:

Community
Community is a place of coming together in a local society, politics, and economics. But it is also people with a common interest. Some are fortunate enough to travel the world see and experience things that open our eyes make us really appreciate all of the abundance and beauty of nature and life as well as famine, growth, and waist in this world. It’s the yin and the yang of life. We find ourselves being drawn back to certain communities enjoying friends, good times, sharing culture differences and similarities. Around the world there are people with the common interest of passion for conscious living and life with purpose. It is sharing our own local community and culture with each other no matter where you are or where you come from. Surfing is a unique and inspiring way to share with people and culture around the world. Some people think we are dancing in on the ocean. We are.

Island Living
From time to time, whether we are in the ocean or the mountains we will share with you experiences in our own community as well as traveling abroad, people we meet, culture, food, and little insights of healthy living, with yummy recipes, good things for your body, and good things to give back to the earth. For now i share with you a little peace of the islands the ocean is a big part of the culture and island living, weather you are fishing, diving, paddling, surfing, or just enjoying the beach with family and friends.

Aloha, Rochelle

GET INVOLVED!

Fresher Farm to Table

GETTING THE ROOT OF FRESH AND HOW TO GET IT IN THE CITY

Living in NYC, it is surprisingly hard to find impeccably fresh produce. I’d insert the word ‘local’ here too but recent schooling has taught me that ‘local’ is rapidly becoming the new ‘organic’ when it comes to overuse and lack of meaning in terms of describing the quality of our food. You see, we can call anything ‘local’ but how far does that mean…this block, zipcode, state? To be determined.

When it comes to organic, it can be even trickier. In a recent conversation with Long Island microgreens grower, Brendan Davison,  I was educated on the some of the misnomers surrounding organic and natural food labeling. Davison shocked me when he told me that one of my very favorite ‘organic’ producers actually only operated one single acre of truly chemical-free farmland and for the rest of its thousand or so acres, it was full-fledged pesticide-laden business as usual. And yet, they were legally able to maintain their USDA Certified Organic classification on their packaging. News to me.

So, for now, I’ll settle on ‘fresh’ as the key quality I am looking for in my food and with that, I mean I want it to be picked within the last 10 hours and to have come into contact with as few chemicals as possible in the course of its life. This food not only tastes the best but it offers the highest amount of nutrients and critical enzymes our body needs to nourish itself. I treat my body like a science experiment and I can vouch for the difference I feel in energy, mood, sleep quality with the right supply of fresh wholesome foods.

In my search for fresh in the city, I tried out so many different options in the last year and was painfully disappointed with many of them. The major at-home grocery delivery chain brings its organic bananas wrapped in bubble wrap and then styrofoam and then packaged in an industrial sized cardboard box (carrying cockroaches if you are lucky).  The semi-prepped food services are slow to disclose the source of their food suppliers and fail to provide a good value. Farmers markets do provide good options but are not exactly convenient for someone like me who juices daily and moves through 20lbs of produce in a week (though be sure to still ask questions about the food they are selling because it doesn’t all come from where you think).

After much digging and wishing for a ‘local’ and ‘organic’ (bear with me) service that would bring me products from places that I could go and visit without an airplane that had been cut from the vine only hours before, I finally landed at RusticRootsDelivery.com through the introduction of a friend/grower. What killed me is that I didn’t find them in all my google searching. There must be other people who want this type of service. A few conversations with the delightful couple (Emer and Jeff) who run the operation and  I was committed to helping them get the word out digitally…which is how you now see them listed under the FOND umbrella. The work Emer and Jeff do to get all of this fresh food into the city isn’t easy – a complex  distribution chain with  over 40 local growers and farmers is not something anyone can come in and master. One taste though and you will see why it is well worth the effort.

Mark my words though – THIS IS THE BEST VALUE I have found in healthful, real food anywhere in the city.  The fact that a real live farmer shows up at your door to drop the goods off is just the icing on the cake.  I wasn’t home for my delivery today at the beach and they put the items away in the fridge for me and then sent me a note to tell me where everything was. Items arrive in neat coolers that are reusable, not cardboard boxes. They follow-up with recipes via emails to help those of us along who don’t have a clue what to do with swiss chard or rhubarb. In one month, I’ve made rhubarb preserves, brocolli rabe, wild ramps for god’s sake! These are not items I would have ever bought or considered adding to my diet but I’m so glad I did.

In addition to fruit and juice baskets (my dermatologist asked what I was using on my skin today because its glowing BTW), they offer local farm fresh eggs, milk in the bottle, goats milk, yogurt, micgrogreens, meat, cheese, honeys and syrups and are adding more each day. Minimum order is $50, delivery $10, no subscription and pick and choose what you want and when you want it. For more, see their FAQ’s.

No one paid me to write this. I simply love these guys and think they are doing a good thing and it is improving the quality of life for a lot of people. Check it out and let me know what you think at nicole@fondgroup.com.

Use code FOND and they’ll knock 10% off your first two orders. Delivering to Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
(And thank your farmer when they drop your food off – farmers rock.)

RusticRootsDelivery.com

To your health-

Nicole

Here are some of the highlights from my last several months in farm fresh heaven:

Breakfast Salad - a runners secret weapon. pumped up with extra nutritious kale Microgreens from @goodwaterfarms and toast with fresh avo and homemade rhubarb preserves

Breakfast Salad – a runners secret weapon. pumped up with extra nutritious kale Microgreens from @goodwaterfarms and toast with fresh avo and homemade rhubarb preserves.

Fresh bottled milk from Ronnybrook farms. You forget how good real milk tastes.

Fresh bottled milk from Ronnybrook farms. You forget how good real milk tastes.

Juicing every morning is easy with RRD's juicing basket.

Juicing every morning is easy with RRD’s juicing basket. Skin, hair, joints, (my brain!) have never been better.

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