This August will mark the third anniversary of our acquisition of 34 magnificent acres of agricultural land on the Big Island of Hawaii. This breakthrough was made possible in 2017 thanks to a philanthropic loan in recognition of all Gentle World has done, over the past 50 years, to contribute to the‚ÄĒnow snowballing‚ÄĒrise of veganism around the world.¬†
As many of you know, the years that have since passed have not been entirely kind to us. It was the end of that same year when our co-founder Sun began to notice the first symptoms of her illness, and by the time we returned from our New Zealand center in the spring of 2018, our entire focus became trying to help her to get well. As we emerge from the period of recovery after her passing, the COVID-19 situation has caused us to put our entire visitor program on hold, while also stopping us from receiving anything in the way of additional volunteer assistance.¬†
But every time we struggle with the question of whether we can manage the stretch VeganLand will require of us, we are struck by the certainty that no other outcome would be acceptable. It remains an extraordinary piece of land, and we feel strongly that the opportunity it represents should not be lost, as it is ideal for plant-based food production and a model of environmental responsibility, in a world whose need for both becomes greater all the time.
And so, we are determined to persevere.
Some of you may have become aware of the story recently circulating that claimed a rare astronomical phenomenon¬†would occur on May 16th, bringing the crescent Moon into alignment with¬†Venus and Jupiter, to become the elements of a smiling face in the night sky.
Unfortunately, the story turned out to be fabricated.
But we in Gentle World¬†have been fortunate enough, over the years, to observe every May 16th as a day worthy of celebration regardless of the state of the stars, as it has always been, to us, the birthday of our beloved Sun.
In observance of what would have been her 79th, we are elated to be able to pledge to our co-founder the fulfillment of one of her primary dreams for VeganLand, a project we are convinced she continues to champion from her new home among the stars.¬†On May 16th, we will be launching a fundraiser to invite support for VeganLand’s First Phase, as we¬†dedicate a portion of our 34 acres toward a partnership with Magical Creatures of Hamakua as extra grazing land for their rescues. This arrangement will provide us with some much-needed relief from maintaining the grass on the upper section of our acreage, while still leaving plenty of prime land for growing veganic plant-foods.
Magical Creatures is a labor of love born from the beautiful mind and heart of Helena Lundblad. When Helena decided to put into action her long-held dream of founding a sanctuary, she thought she would be able to expand at her own pace, and welcome new nonhuman residents as her time, energy and resources allowed.
But in the wake of ¬†unexpected events, Magical Creatures has been pushed in recent years to grow at a rate that has challenged Helena‚Äôs ability to keep up.¬†
In 2018, Alessandra Rupar-Weber, another formidable Big Island vegan, found herself called to spearhead a remarkable initiative to rescue some of humanity‚Äôs forgotten: those facing either relocation or slaughter after a Big Island dairy closed in response to the complaints of locals about the pollution it was spilling into nearby waterways.
With the help of a tiny crew and nothing but the financial support she generated by working around the clock, Alessandra and the Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network (HLFARN) managed to save the lives of 401 cows and calves who were allowed to stay together in the new homes she tirelessly worked to find for them, on an island where sanctuary space is limited.
As a result of the efforts of HLFARN and more than 60 families who opened their hearts and homes, these dairy refugees will now be allowed to live out their lives in peace, without being used as anything other than a reminder of how much good we can do if we are but willing to see others as they really are, and treat them accordingly.
When we visited Magical Creatures in 2018, it was partly with the hope that there would be some therapeutic advantage for Sun in absorbing all the goodness of the environment Helena has so lovingly created. While there, we met seven goats who had arrived as a result of the efforts of Alessandra and HLFARN during the 2018 lava evacuation. As human residents abandoned backyards all over Leilani Estates, the friendly and funny individuals now nibbling on our sleeves had been left behind to face the perils of the approaching lava, like countless others who had not been so fortunate as to have been found by Alessandra and her crew.¬†
We stood among them observing their dramatically different personalities as Helena explained how the lava rescue had challenged her resolve to allow the sanctuary to grow at a pace with which she would be comfortable.
Along with the¬†seven goats, four sheep and seven pigs from the Kilauea evacuation, Helena also welcomed her first two cows, animals whose large size and need for copious grass further pushed the limits of her small sanctuary‚Äôs ability to respond. But a few months later, when Alessandra rescued from the closing dairy five more individuals than she had homes for, Helena welcomed them into hers.¬†Along with the seven cows rescued by HLFARN, Helena’s land now supports¬†23 goats, 16 pigs,¬†seven chickens, six sheep,¬†three cats and one dog. Two of her 63 nonhuman residents are in wheelchairs. One is blind, one visually impaired, and one wears prosthetic legs.
During Sun‚Äôs final months, when joy was hard to find, one of the few things that caused her to light up was when she received word of the successes Alessandra was achieving with her dairy rescue. She delighted in every photo we saw of cows being welcomed into loving homes with the calves who would have been stolen from them by their sides. It was a great disappointment to her that the stalling of VeganLand‚Äôs progress prohibited us from sharing our enchanted landscape with those she felt she had a duty to assist, after years of being an enthusiastic consumer of dairy products during her pre-vegan days.¬†
And so, we will be launching our fundraiser as a birthday gift to Sun, and the funds raised will go toward the expenses associated with providing what is needed for¬†VeganLand’s¬†first residents. A breakdown of the specific costs can be found on our GoFundMe page:
As always, we are beyond grateful for the support provided by our friends and readers. We look forward to sharing photos and updates, as we welcome these beautiful beings onto a piece of land dedicated to the vision of a world where every one of their kind will be treated with the dignity and respect they so clearly deserve.
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In memory of those sacrificed to the bottom line of Big Island¬†Dairy,
and the nonhuman residents of backyard farms in Leilani Estates
whose safety was disregarded during evacuation proceedings.
We impatiently anticipate a world
in which your lives are valued
as¬†they ought to be.