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What does it mean to practice aloha? New book offers global message

By Staff | Oct 7, 2010

“Practice Aloha, Secrets to Living Life Hawaiian Style” features more than 100 contributors.

A lucky-me contributor, I recently received my premier, four-color, first copy autographed edition of “Practice Aloha, Secrets to Living Life Hawaiian Style,” a collection of stories, recipes and lyrics compiled by editors Mark Ellman and Barbara Santos.

As I page-surfed through the colorful anthology, backward and forward, in no particular order, I was swept away by a wave of aloha from one story to the other.

The authors are as diverse as their narratives, including artists of all different persuasions — songwriters, chefs, comedians, dancers, community leaders, photographers, actors, writers, musicians, painters, journalists, cultural practitioners and surfers — all with their very own, special interpretation of what it means to Practice Aloha.

“It is wonderful to have so many different people contributing to the book — over 100! The contributors with the well-known names — Dr. Wayne Dyer, Sam Choy, Mick Fleetwood, Maui Mayor Tavares, Willie K, Henry Kapono — get people to pick up the book,” Santos said.

“But it’s the West Side standouts,” she added, “like Al Nip, George Kahumoku, Liko Rogers, Kimo Falconer and Harold Kaniho, to name just a few, that spice up the text with a dose of local flavor.”

“Practice Aloha” is the brainchild of Ellman, renowned award-winning celebrity chef, author, restaurateur and philanthropist.

His goal is global — to offer a model of behavior based on aloha.

“It is a positive message; a message that I know is important,” he said.

In a recent announcement, Ellman wrote, “after many months of what has been a true labor of love, the book will now be on store bookshelves throughout Hawaii.”

Ellman attributed the success of his achievement first to the host culture — “the Kanaka Maoli of Hawaii, for without them, aloha would not exist” — and next to his wife and partner of over 30 years, Judy Ellman. “Without her I would not exist,” he added.

Judy described the publication as a “travel guide through the human spirit.”

“It was a project Mark was so dedicated to seeing it through. (It was) a very long two years with ups and downs, not really knowing if it would ever get published. But the commitment was so strong, Mark made it happen,” she said.

Santos, marketing and public relations professional, was recognized by Mark as the project pilot: “She took my idea and wrote the preamble, bios and character of the book.”

Award-winning photographer Tony Novak-Clifford joined the ranks of major donors.

“Tony Novak-Clifford did an amazing job of turning almost all the images that were submitted into beautiful images… even when I was sure the originals were not usable,” Santos said.

According to Mark, shots from his private library appear throughout the book.

“I’m always happy to climb onboard anything Mark sets his mind to, as whatever he does seems to sparkle, turns golden and is always top quality,” Novak-Clifford remarked.

“I was blown away with the book,” he continued. “At first, I didn’t really have a clue as to how it would all come together. Towards the final weeks of preproduction, just before the book was sent to the printers, Mark began sending me galley pages for my input on design options. It wasn’t until then that I had any idea of what an amazing thing this was going to be.

“When I finally saw a first copy of the printed book, I was ecstatic that Mark’s early vision had borne such wonderful fruit and extremely grateful that he had asked and trusted me to contribute to this amazing project in my small way.

Tehani Kahaialii-Taulava is rightfully acknowledged by everyone.

Mark refers to her as his “ace in the hole… a Maui girl who was the endurance, the communicator and the organizer. She also was the cheerleader who kept me informed and excited about the project.

Santos agreed that Kahaialii-Taulava worked tirelessly and cheerfully to coordinate all the pieces of the preproduction of the book.

To Kahaialii-Taulava, her participation was an exercise and a reminder.

“This project and book has taught me to not only recognize aloha but to show aloha. It is because of people like Mark and Barbara that makes it so easy to show aloha. When you feel it, you want to share it. It also helped me to remember what I was taught growing up about love and respect towards others, and I’ve opened my eyes and heart more to my surroundings and the people in it,” she confided.

“We are surrounded by aloha,” the project coordinator continued, “and we can learn from each other. ‘Practice Aloha’ will show you that!

“Practice Aloha,” $15.95 a copy, is currently on sale at the Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina; and, by Oct. 10, should be available at Barnes and Noble, Borders Books and Music-Maui and Costco.

Booking signing events are scheduled across the island, and specifically on the West Side at the Baldwin Home in Lahaina on Friday night, Nov. 19, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and at Barnes and Noble on Sunday, Dec. 12, from 2 to 4 p.m.

“We want to tell everyone to come out and spread the aloha,” Santos said.

As Roland and Robert Cazimero shared with their mana’o: “In our travels as the Brothers Caz, we have found pockets of aloha worldwide. Knowing that, imagine how wonderful it would be to string these pockets into a global lei of aloha!”