Do You Know How to Practice Aloha?

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Maui celebrity chef Mark Ellman knows the phrase, Practice Aloha, is much more than his company's motto. He has developed a multimedia website where anyone can share their personal stories and thoughts about living life more fully—Hawaiian Style—for an upcoming book.

Practice Aloha Sticker

The Practice Aloha sticker that is showing up all around the world.

The stories and images on the Practice Aloha website come from all kinds of people—celebrities, authors, entertainers, vacationers and local folks.

How do you ‘Practice Aloha’? A new interactive website is furiously collecting submissions from people who want to share their personal stories, a poem or song, or even an evocative image for possible inclusion in an upcoming book—Practice Aloha. Submissions can be submitted directly to the website at http://www.PracticeAloha.org.

Stories and videos already on the Practice Aloha website feature Hawaii Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, actress/filmmaker Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey and Ambassador of Aloha Danny Kaleikini. They share personal stories and validate the benefits of living life with the island attitude. Also on the site is an original music video, Practicing Aloha, a song written by Maui radio personality Cindy Paulos and performed by Keli’i Kanealii (best known as ½ of the duo, Hapa). The video includes images of Hawaii and a chant performed by Clifford Naeole.

The stories and images on the website come from all kinds of people—celebrities, authors, vacationers and local folks. Stories by Dr. Wayne Dyer; Congressman Neil Abercrombie; chefs Bev Gannon, DK Kodama, Peter Merriman, and Sam Choy; entertainers Willie K, Henry Kapono, Jake Shimabukuro, Tom Moffatt ; artist Andrea Smith; and writer Shirley Fong Torres are now on the site to read and enjoy. To submit a story, go to: http://practicealoha.org/index.php?content=story

The book concept came to Mark Ellman, a well-known Maui chef and restaurateur, on the day Barrack Obama was sworn in as President. That’s when a trend Ellman noticed in his restaurants finally made perfect sense.

Ellman’s employees wear Practice Aloha t-shirts. “‘Practice Aloha’ is my business motto. It reminds us to slow down…to appreciate our customers, the food we are serving, and especially each other.” The Practice Aloha t-shirts and bumper stickers are also available as souvenirs at his MALA restaurants, and in late 2008 they became hugely popular. As tourists took them home, the message began spreading like wildfire and Practice Aloha bumper sticker sightings from California to New York began showing up on the Internet.

Ellman believes people are ready to embrace the ‘Practice Aloha’ lifestyle for a couple of reasons. First it now has a very high profile role model. “Unless you are from the islands or vacation here, it was hard to understand what ‘aloha’ truly means. The President grew up in Hawaii and the concept of ‘Practice Aloha’ is part of his persona.” Now add to the mix the current economy that has people rethinking what is really important in life. “Lots of folks are looking for a thoughtful lifestyle that makes sense. ‘Practice Aloha’ can fill that need.”

“In Hawaii, it is easy to spot the people who ‘Practice Aloha’. They offer whatever they can—help, appreciation, expertise, or time—with no expectations. They do it as effortlessly as breathing and they keep doing it because it just feels so good to do the right thing,” says Practice Aloha co-author Barbara Santos.

Practicing Aloha is as simple as stopping to ‘talk story’ during a busy day—with a friend or someone you just met. Taking time to watch, and then applaud, a spectacular sunset or a hula performed with flawless skill. A simple definition of ‘Practice Aloha’ is essentially living by the Golden Rule—behaving with love and respect for other people. But it also means having a heartfelt appreciation for differing cultures and feeling a deep responsibility for the environment. Folks who Practice Aloha delight in sharing with others. They savor the beauty in their surroundings. In short, they enjoy life. But any definition leaves plenty of room for personal interpretation.        

When you experience ‘aloha’ in any of its many forms, you understand. The Practice Aloha project shares the stories of perfect moments when it was understood what it means to ‘Practice Aloha’. Ellman invites everyone to share a story or image at http://www.PracticeAloha.org. A submitted story or image earns a mahalo (thank you) gift of a Practice Aloha sticker!

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Mark Ellman

Barbara Santos

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