A Constellation of Activity


I woke up this morning to a text from my friend, Michael Long, who was sharing a video to a PBS Frontline story called Plastic Wars. Michael has been feeding me information for an article I'm writing for the Standup Journal about our single-use plastic problem. Michael is the director of operations at Parley for the Oceans, an activist group in New York City working to build awareness around this global issue.

I was only 15 minutes into the video when he started following up with more texts asking how the story was coming along. I had just put the finishing touches on the final edit and sent it over to him for his perspective.

In researching the story, I came across a group called 5 Gyres who is doing incredible work educating people about ocean plastic. I stumbled across their website and found their online store where they sell branded merchandise to help fund their organization. Since the conception of Hula, we vowed there would be no single-use plastic in the building... which meant we would need to plan for the use and management of alternatives. I shared the 5 Gyres link with Cassidy and within days we had designed and purchased 500 stainless steel cups to be used in Hula's common kitchens.

Soon after sending Michael the link to my story, I let him know about the collaboration we did with 5 Gyres and about the bamboo ToGo Ware utensil kit that every tenant will receive when they move into Hula. He was already pretty intrigued by our little office development project (after many persistent calls from yours truly), but now his interest was building.

You see, I met Michael years ago at a Starboard dealer meeting in San Diego. I was there to see and demo the current line of stand up paddleboards and windsurfers from one of the most prominent brands we sell at WND&WVS. Michael was there to annouce the new partnership between Starboard and Parley and their shared commitment to help solve the environmental issues surrounding single-use plastic. We got a chance to chat during the 3 days I was there and I had a sense we'd be meeting up again sometime down the road. I finally got a chance to reconnect with him when we started planning for the two seasonal events we want to produce at Hula.

I went into detail about the phone call I had last week with the events contact at Protect Our Winters (POW) regarding an event we're planning for next February. The concept is to create an immersive multi-day conference with thought leaders, activists, artists, and influencers to come to Vermont to talk about the threats, challenges, and solutions for preserving winter recreation as we know it. We want to fill the daily agendas with presentations, discussions, film screenings, lunches, and fire-side chats, before opening the back door and heading outside to ski, ride, explore, and experience the very environment we so desperately want to protect. Consider the connections we can create and the progress we can make if we're able to continue the conversations on the chair, in the woods, on a hike, or around a fire. Burlington is the kind of town that's ripe for talking about climate change in a big way and we have the people and the passion to make meaningful changes.

It didn't take long for Michael to tell me that we needed to get his group involved ASAP. He immediately started rifling off a list of athletes and ambassadors that needed to be there.

We had finally come full circle. Here's a guy I met through WND&WVS, reconnected with through the Standup Journal, planned surf trips to Villa Playa Maria, and now have an opportunity to collaborate with on an event at Hula. This was yet another amazing experience that demonstrates the connectedness of the various businesses under our umbrella. Our "food and fun" portfolio of brands may look completely disjointed on the surface, but if you look closely, you start to see the faint lines that connect them to one another. Some may think this was all a result of a well crafted ten-year plan to build out the points that make this wonderful constellation... But I'm certainly not smart enough to to pull that off - there was obviously a higher power at work.

Looking back tens years ago, I had just left Propeller Media Works to venture out on a journey to build businesses driven by passion that would compliment the lifestyle I wanted to live. Which brings us to present time, Hula is now the true culmination of the last decade. The technology sector focus, the Spot as our campus eatery, the Surf Club operated by WND&WVS, the corporate surf retreat in PR - it all seems to fit together perfectly. The universe at work, doing what it does best. We're all searching to find 'the flow'. Where the dots connect more easily. And things fall into place with less effort. And in a manner that makes it feel like everything is on auto-pilot... Pure instinct and intuition drive the mission, fueled by passion and a shared camaraderie from your partners and staff. The line between work and play have blurred to an extent that makes them indistinguishable. It may not last forever, so when you feel it, pause to recognize and respect the power of what it can do, then just sit back and let it all unfold.

Live, work, play.