Jim Channon is one of the most eclectic, colorful, creative, larger-than-life beings I know. Sometimes he can even expand a bit out there, but what he brings back from out there is pretty amazing. Many words have been used to describe him, some definitions were even coined specifically for him. Among the more usual you can hear talented, creative, visionary artist, flamboyant and Renaissance man; then the usual evolves into inventive with titles like Social Architect, Eco Warrior, Environmental Steward, Storyteller & Prankster, Strategic Visionary Artist, and even “Fastest Magic Marker in the West”, the latter reflecting his speed at capturing your vision and ideals and giving you a graphic visual on a board using colored magic markers. This Visual Language, as he calls it, is one of his signature talents that he has been invited to share with numerous clients in the corporate and military milieus.
Beyond all of that, this over-the-top, outta-da-box former Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army is also kind, generous and warm hearted, and chooses to work for Planet Earth. Thinking globally for Jim Channon is not enough; he thinks intergalactically, inter-dimensionally and multiversally. And if this last word does not exist (and autocorrect tells me it doesn’t), then I am making it up right here and now to fit this personage. In my head, I have given him a new title: Intergalactic Shaman.
Stories, articles and even a movie tell his story, or some version of it. Remember the movie with the odd title The Men Who Stare at Goats with George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor? Yes? No? The story, sourced from a book by the same title written by columnist Jon Ronson, is based on Jim Channon’s life experience, or part of it, and the First Earth Battalion. Channon’s part was played by Jeff Bridges as Bill Django, even though the script took “a rather wide artistic license, trivializing visionary concepts with humor.”
Jim Channon was also selected as one of Ode Magazine’s 25 Intelligent Optimists, nominated and endorsed by actor Jeff Bridges for his global project of mobilizing the military to clean up the Earth.
For the true story behind The Men Who Stare at Goats and more information on the First Earth Battalion, the Operations Manual Jim authored, and the New Earth Army you can check out this website.
I first met Jim Channon soon after moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i, and the event that stands out in my memory is when I was invited to attend my first Autumn Equinox event at Artesia, a grass covered open air amphitheater that Jim built on his property in Hawi where “seats, walls and stage are all terraformed, and is surrounded by fresh water ponds.” Yes, it is as magical as it sounds. And that late afternoon, all dolled up for the evening’s mini festival, Artesia was even more magical.
Add to that the fact that, unlike me, most of the guests knew that creative dressing was not only accepted, but encouraged, along with colorful props like umbrellas, blankets, cute chairs et such, and you can imagine how open mouthed I was when I first arrived.
People had brought wine and food they were willing to share (I had been tipped on that) and, as the sun set and the light softened around us, tiki torches came on here and there and lit the stage. I was still not sure what to expect, but it was not quite what followed. Before I knew it, a colorful and mythical figure in a stunning costume was calling our attention from the stage. Jim Channon does not do things by halves, he likes to go all out and give you a multi-sensory experience, the kind where music and lights are not enough, but have to be supported by colors, visuals, mythical story telling and fantastic costumes.
The North Kohala crowd is an eclectic and creative one, and several of Jim’s friends and neighbors were willing and flamboyant participants in the evening’s performances. And don’t forget, this is Hawai’i, so birds, frogs and other crickets pitch in on the evening’s entertainment.
Since that first time, I have participated in a few more of these events, as well as other gatherings at Artesia, which is also the name for Jim Channon’s home and property. Artesia has since evolved into a mini eco-village, dotted with a few exotic small buildings that Jim has designed himself and which are often occupied by members of his family of choice.
At Artesia, Jim also practices what he preaches, aiming for full sustainability and implementing “permaculture, bio-dynamic gardening, ancient land practices and social architecture to make the land not only self-sustaining but a heavenly experience.”
His latest project for Artesia has been, in his words, to mythologize the property by custom-making small temples, teepees and gardens that are flavored by stories. While you wait for me to fly out to the Big Island and take new pics of Artesia, you can take a peek at Jim’s Facebook page where he often shares images and updates. He told me he captured some aerial images rather creatively using a kite on a string with a camera hanging, though he is considering a drone.
I had flown in from O’ahu for a few days on the Big Island, and Jim set up this photo shoot with Brazilian artist and designer Chris Barreto. If there is something I have learned to count on at Jim Channon’s house is that he knows how to set the stage, making my work as a photographer even more fun than it already is. As you can tell, we had fun.
Of course, now I can’t wait to go see what he has been up to and take pics of that.
I could write for hours about Jim Channon and still not cover all his story and accomplishments. For more details about him and his work, you can check out his websites jimchannon.com and arcturus.org.
And as Jim would say: Go Planet!
Update of Sunday, September 10th 2017: a few hours ago Jim Channon left the earth plane. He was walking around his property on the Big Island with two dear friends and he had a heart attack.
Aloha oe, dearest Jim, you will be missed. Have a little rest now, then have a ball on the other side. Come say hi in dreamtime when you can.
If you enjoyed this photo story, you might also enjoy these: