ABOUT ISLANDERS ALL
Islanders All is a timely and disquieting yet hopeful cautionary tale — told in a mercifully whimsical, lighthearted way — of a greedy and reckless mainland ‘dominance culture’ and an extractive, unsustainable linear take-make-waste economic system that is tragically sleepwalking towards societal and ecological collapse.
In the story, Chef Lua, a wise elderly islander, makes the strong case for re-discovering ‘eco-conscious’ lives of meaning, purpose, wonder, discovery, simplicity, connection, and personal growth. She argues for the holistic transcendent values of what remains of many of the world’s island cultures: balance, beauty, love, wisdom, simplicity, self-sufficiency, resilience, resourcefulness, mindfulness, music, humor, gratitude, generosity, community — and reverence for the wonder, regenerative capacity, and healing power of the natural world.
Unlike most mainlanders, she asserts, islanders ‘get’ the necessity of living ecologically intelligent lives and of balancing personal growth and ‘pursuit of happiness’ with being engaged citizens of a community and good stewards of the environment. They base their lean, local, resilient, community-focused economic systems on long-term sustainable well-being and real wealth (personal, social, and ecological health) for all, rather than on short-term profits and runaway virtual wealth (money) for a very few.
But we manic mainlanders — envious, impatient, insatiable hyper-consumers — are slowly (and grudgingly) coming around. For our numbers are now very large. Our technologies are now very powerful. And our negative impacts on the interconnected, interdependent natural world — of which we are a part, embedded in, connected to — are now very damaging. So we are compelled to chart a different course, as our wasteful consumerist culture, delusional 'human supremacy' worldview, and obsolete infinite economic growth story must soon come to an end on a full, finite, and ecologically ravaged planet. Indeed, we must soberly acknowledge the inconvenient truth that clear environmental limits have been breached.
With a massive dirty ecological footprint from over two centuries of unfettered fossil-fueled economic hyper-growth and expansion, we have collectively reached the water's edge. And we find, friends and fellow mainlanders, that we are now, suddenly — ISLANDERS ALL.
THE STORY IN A (COCO)NUTSHELL
During a week of filming a ludicrous second-chance romance reality show aboard Kalea, an exquisite hand-built island-hopping Polynesian sailing catamaran in the South Pacific; a humble, laughter-loving, ukulele-playing boat chef from the islands named ‘Lua’ surprisingly imparts much good advice on maintaining good health and well-being on a warming, crowded, and ecologically stressed planet.
In this sea-sprayed musical tale of mainland madness, island wisdom, and second chances; writer, musician, and first mate Rico reveals Chef Lua’s mindful way of living and joyful spirit of giving. While traveling westward on the tireless trade winds, she charmingly conveys the good sense and instincts of her fellow islanders who — unlike most mainlanders — recognize and respect natural limits to growth, their embeddedness in Nature, and their sacred connection to a beauty-full and wonder-full natural world.
But wise and worldly Lua does not conceal her deep concern over looming threats to human civilizational well-being. "We must expand our spheres of care," she counsels, "and stop acting just for ourselves and the few people we know and love and begin acting in the interest of the entire ecosystem in which human activity takes place. We are all connected to, embedded in, and supported by that living system; and it is collapsing all around us at an accelerating pace. Make no mistake: what happens to it, happens to us."
"Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone." ~ Joni Mitchell
"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." ~ Kenneth Boulding
"Hell is other people." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre
"Humans plan; the gods laugh." ~ (Unknown)
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ~ Albert Einstein
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
"Society, you’re a crazy breed, I hope you’re not lonely, without me." ~ Eddie Vedder
"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." ~ French philosopher Voltaire
"Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star." ~ H.D. Thoreau
"We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep." ~ William James
"Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring." ~ Desmond Tutu
"The sea, once it casts its spell, can hold one in its net of wonder forever." ~ Jacques Cousteau
"What the head makes cloudy, the heart makes very clear." ~ Don Henley
"Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances." ~ Maya Angelou
"Without music, life would be a mistake." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." ~ R. Buckminster Fuller
Islanders All was informed and inspired by many smart, caring, and sensible scientists, artists, teachers, writers, journalists, philosophers, and all-purpose ‘solutionaries’ that help us experience and navigate our lives and communities with greater awareness, beauty, humility, compassion, reason, reverence, resilience, wisdom, and possibility:
Harry Belafonte, Lester Brown, Susan Cain, Joseph Campbell, Robert Costanza, Anna Cummins, Herman Daly, Sylvia Earle, Marcus Eriksen, David Fleming, Paul Gilding, Robert Godwin, Jane Goodall, Al Gore, Nate Hagens, James Hansen, Sam Harris, Paul Hawken, Richard Heinberg, Arianna Huffington, Hope Jahren, Jack Johnson, Peter Kalmus, Scott Barry Kaufman, Naomi Klein, David Korten, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Richard Louv, Amory Lovins, David Loy, Ellen MacArthur, Bob Marley, Yann Martel, Chris Martenson, Bill McKibben, Edgar Mitchell, Jose Mujica, David Orr, Robert Pirsig, Kate Raworth, Sir Ken Robinson, Jeffrey Sachs, Otto Scharmer, Vandana Shiva, Adam Taggart, Eddie Vedder, Judy Wicks, Malala Yousafzai, and many other mindful, ‘heartful’ global citizens.
CAPTAIN BOB: An amiable and resourceful fellow with a big-bear physique that tended to severely intimidate those who didn’t know the man. Captain Bob had built Kalea, a 65-foot island hopping Polynesian sailing catamaran, with friends in Tahiti. He had been hit hard by the double-whammy financial and subprime mortgage crises in 2008 and never recovered from those twin body blows to his business as a general contractor on the mainland. His most cherished relationship was destroyed from the stress and disruption of the economic implosion as his marriage tanked along with the economy.
CHEF LUA: A small, slim, quiet, elderly, good-natured, and somewhat mysterious South Pacific islander that would stop by from time to time to watch Captain Bob build his impressive boat in Tahiti. Somewhat introverted, she listened far more than she talked, but would get quite animated when discussing new recipes with fellow chefs, or ‘culinary artists,’ as she liked to say. She was particularly fond of Asian cuisine. Lua was an accomplished ukulele player who loved to make up her own songs. On land or on the water, her feet were rarely burdened with footwear of any kind, yet they were always strikingly clean.
FIRST MATE RICO: Bob and Rico had been weekend sailing buddies in their young adult years. As a singer-songwriter, former fellow beach-cat sailor, and nautical jack-of-all-trades, Rico gets recruited by Captain Bob to serve as first mate and provide some light entertainment for cast and crew along the way. Islanders All is his recollection of the reality-show adventure aboard Kalea in the South Pacific and of Lua’s wise advice on maintaining good health and well-being on our warming, crowded, and ecologically stressed planet.
CLARA: A very attractive but embarrassingly overconfident local politician who engaged in shameless self-promotion at any opportunity, including participating in this new reality-TV show. She never went out in public without multiple layers of makeup, unnecessary as she had lovely natural features. Clara had divorced her husband after she got bored with his too-predictable, risk-averse ways — or maybe it was his respect for science. She was an Evangelical Christian and had her own special way of processing world trends and historical events — let’s just say she never gave much thought to deep time — in either direction.
JACK: A scientist. His interest in marine biology began early in life when he would spend his summer days picking up clumps of seaweed that washed up on the beach and examine all the tiny crabs and other small, squirmy sea dwellers that clung to that miniature world. Jack lived with his girlfriend for twelve years during and after college before she left him for a rich, world traveling, smooth-talking day-trader. In the end, she didn’t have the patience and psychological self-reliance to be a loyal companion to an often distracted, passionate student of Nature. Jack was brilliant and witty. With his rugged good looks and great variety of interests, including playing bongos with a local Latin-jazz band, one would think he’d be a real catch. But he had the unfortunate habit of socially ‘checking out’ whenever he was onto something big; and he was often onto something big.
JAN: A corporate lawyer for an oil company. A tall, striking woman with long straight blonde hair, large green eyes; and she was wicked smart. Jan was a passionate Republican with an unpleasant mean streak and loved provoking people unnecessarily. She was always fishing for a good verbal tussle, trying all manner of bait to hook unwary prey. Jan never revealed why her marriage fell apart, though one could imagine that her husband had had enough of her unrelenting combativeness and probably swapped her out for some mild-mannered librarian to compensate for too many years of verbal abuse.
JULIE: A successful self-made restaurateur, having built her business steadily over two decades. She was proud of being an early adopter of organic produce and local sourcing. Julie was easygoing and cheerful and loved dogs. Politically, she considered herself a Democratic Socialist and was a very effective and passionate community organizer. Julie had agreed to participate in the silly reality show as a break from her busy professional and social work and would be content to find a warm companion, more so than a hot new romance. Her architect husband had passed away from pancreatic cancer three years earlier.
PAUL: A former Wall Street commodities trader and hedge fund manager. Whip-smart and driven, his early successes on The Street helped him build a personal fortune and drew him into the unhinged world of potent recreational drugs that eventually resulted in a ferocious heroin addiction. The love affair with uncharted states of consciousness shipwrecked his career and sank his marriage — the heroin proving to be more desirable than his relationship with his wife. On his path to redemption, he joined a congregation of Unitarian Universalists and sought to regain balance and joy in this life. He re-established a healthy friendship with his ex-wife, though she’d already moved on to a new relationship with a slick but far more stable insurance agent who drove an exquisite custom metallic-tungsten Tesla.
TUCKER: A rich, ambitious Internet software developer who had quickly risen to the role of CEO. His company made most of their money from ads on their many tacky websites. He was an atheist and a staunch Republican and was known to be a cold, cunning, ruthless business man. In conversation, he rarely blinked and would stare through you with an unsettling half-grin. He was blessed with ferocious Hollywood good looks, which included a head of thick wavy dark hair and big brown puppy-dog eyes, and was uninterested in anything unrelated to money. Tucker signed on to the show hoping to boost his public profile and further inflate his ego and his wealth. His wife of ten years had left him after it was discovered that he had had an affair with one, or two, or … er … possibly ten of his young, attractive female employees.