By Mālielani Larish
Everything is perfect; everything is aligning, Drew Daniels thought to himself. Gazing at soft morning clouds framing a gold-dazzled ocean, he gently rocked his baby girl to the rhythm of cane grass dancing in the wind. Two years prior, he had liquidated his assets to realize a long-sought dream of moving to Hawai‘i with his soulmate. They purchased a piece of land within an intentional farming community where Drew built an off-grid cabin with the help of a close friend. Working with his farming hui (community), Drew cultivated a food forest and was just starting to enjoy the ample rewards of his labors.
The peaceful oasis where Drew spent many happy hours playing in the garden with his daughter transformed irreversibly during the summer of 2018. As Kīlauea’s Fissure Eight eruption advanced towards his backyard, days began to feel like weeks as fumes, gas explosions, and lava curtains ravaged the surrounding landscape.
The loss, distress, and resilient hopefulness experienced by his community during the eruption ignited a creative flow within Drew that has culminated in his first solo album, Fertility from Fire, which is due out in early 2020. As the former lead singer for East Coast reggae rockers Tsunami Rising, Drew Daniels is a seasoned musician whose meaningful lyrics reverberate through fusions of punk, folk, reggae, hip hop, blues, and soul.
Our New Life
To help him process the surreal drama overwhelming his senses, Drew wrote a song of hope entitled “Our New Life.” “I wrote it as therapy, really,” Drew reflects.
Many Puna residents affected by the lava found a message of inspiration and healing within Drew’s lyrics. “If we go with the flow, I know we’re going to be alright,” Drew sings in “Our New Life.”
No longer eating or sleeping, with gas masks at the ready, Drew prepared to evacuate his family. His mother graciously offered to pay for a hotel room in Kona that would accept their pets, and soon the family found themselves scrolling through social media next to a sun-dappled pool, anxiously checking for updates.
The fresh air and Kona sunshine could not lift the gloom weighing on Drew’s family. Hiding in their hotel room, the family passed the time crying together, ordering take-out, and constantly wondering, “Did our house get taken yet?”
At the time, Drew was recording a song for his cousin’s wedding with producer Michael Surprenant of Mana Music Studio. He was also helping co-write the album of fellow Puna resident Sarah Bethany. After hearing Drew perform “Our New Life,” Michael insisted on recording it. The day after Drew recorded the song, on May 31, 2018, Drew received the news: his beautiful two-story home was entombed under 30 feet of lava. The lava flow claimed one-third of the intentional community where Drew had envisioned living a sustainable and serene life.
The trauma of witnessing his community transform dramatically within just a few months engulfed Drew’s heart with anger, sadness, fear, and confusion. At one point he wondered if he should leave the island altogether. However, after checking in with his intuition and talking to an uncle about it, he realized that he still felt welcome here.
Paralleling and intertwining these exhausting feelings, Drew experienced extreme gratitude, ambition, and hope. Friends in Philadelphia and New Jersey organized fundraising events to help support Drew financially, and more than 250 people contributed to the family’s GoFundMe campaign.
*Who We Are
Ke Ola (The Life) is a locally owned, bimonthly magazine for people who love Hawai‘i Island—whether they live here full-time, part-time, or dream of being here some day soon.
It is Hawai‘i Island’s only cultural and lifestyle magazine—featuring inspiring stories about the art, the food, the land, the music, the people, the spirit, and more.
Ke Ola Magazine began with its first issue on Hawai‘i Island in December 2008 with 36 pages. In 2012, Ke Ola reached 100 pages and was named the #13 fastest growing business in the Hawaiian Islands by Pacific Business News.
Ke Ola Magazine supports resident writers, photographers, authors, and artists. They are at the heart of what we do, defining the many powerful voices hailing from both islands, telling stories that can have an impact on our sustainable future.
We support Hawai‘i Island businesses by giving them an affordable, yet a high-end marketing vehicle with long-lasting circulation for promoting their products and services.
Our readers are people who love the Hawaiian Islands and desire a deeper connection to the culture and land.
We distribute 24,000 copies on Hawai‘i Island every two months. With a growing, loyal subscriber base and availability at more than 300 island-wide locations on Hawai’i Island, plus complimentary distribution to professional offices, concierge, and community events, we offer the most proactive distribution of any other publication on the island.