Who We Are
Our current core group of intrepid souls on staff at Polestar includes a combined 144 years experience in intentional spiritual community!
We have expertise in community management, finance, construction, organic gardening, permaculture, cooking, farm-to-table, restauranteering, education, land stewardship, engineering, earth moving, astronomy, mountain climbing and guiding, yoga, music, astrology, sailing, real estate, accounting, graphic design, web design, recording and videography.
Our expanded Polestar "Ohana" (extended family) includes a network of educators, spiritual teachers and guides, musicians, and many new found friends here on the Big Island.
Thirteen years in the making, our dream of community has been blessed by the help of many volunteers, donors, and supporters whose contributions have made Polestar an inspirational success.
Our Current Polestar Gardens Resident Staff
Michael Gornik co-founded and currently co-directs Polestar Gardens along with his wife, Ann. Michael and Ann bring with them over 36 years of experience in intentional community, sustainable living, education, raja yoga, meditation, music and more.
A devoted student of Paramhansa Yogananda for almost 40 years, Michael has a rich history as a leader, successful businessman, community planner, builder, educator, athletic coach and musician. He has worked directly throughout the years with public, private and charter schools in creating workshops, apprenticeships and mentoring programs.
Michael inspires Polestar with his cheerful even-mindedness and indomitable joie de vivre! When he is in the room something fun, inspiring and serviceful is sure to happen. He has a deep and sincere respect for people of all ages and from all walks of life and has personally mentored hundreds of students in ‘skills for living’. Through this and along with many inspirational events, service projects, wilderness trips, sports and performance art programs, he has provided students of all ages with opportunities for life-long educational expansion and personal growth.
Ann left her college studies in Lexington, KY. in 1978 to travel west with Michael and explore the possibilities of life in California!
They soon landed at Ananda Village, a spiritual community of several hundred souls dedicated to a life of meditation and service, and spent more than 20 years there, raising a family, building their own home and co-founding a large construction firm. Ann provides a calm, steady presence to every undertaking she is part of, and has been the main force in guiding all of the financial and organizational aspects of Polestar since its inception fourteen years ago.
She has mentored hundreds of students, sharing her love of horseback riding, astronomy, volleyball, astrology, photography and vegetarian cooking and provides the ‘glue’ for countless community events and undertakings. Under her care, Polestar’s annual ‘Family Campout’ has become a celebrated tradition; running successfully every summer for the past 38 years. A co-founder, dedicated board member and major IT player, Ann continues to quietly inspire and guide Polestar’s growth and development.
Bernadette Sabath is an actress, performance artist, stand-up comedian, producer, director and professional clown who has performed throughout Europe, the United States and Australia since her training at Dell'Arte International: Theatre Performance Training & Research on California's Northern Coast in the late 70s.
She has performed in over 12 productions with the Dell 'Arte Players Company and was also cast in the movies "Roxanne" and "Clan of the Cave Bear". Her own one woman show ("There's a Chick on the Field!") was performed and well received at theatre festivals, universities and theatres across California and in Sydney, Australia.
Bernadette deeply enjoys working directly with and mentoring young people. She taught acting for young adults and movement for actors in Sydney for 3 years and is currently Polestar's main contact with potential apprentices and guests; working with and supporting all visitors and resident members of Polestar.
A serious meditator since the age of 16, she found the path of Kriya Yoga in 2004. Bernadette is a meditation instructor at Polestar, has mastered the riding mower, and frequently keeps all of us in ‘in stitches’ with her clowning antics.
Rich is the personification of the aloha spirit. You may very well catch him walking barefoot in Hawaii, carrying his ukulele and entrancing visitors to the island with stories and upbeat favorites sing-alongs.
Born and raised in Millville, Pennsylvania, Rich grew up helping his father build and operate a saw mill. He went on to develop his interests in community building and organic farming and managed a chicken farm with over 800 chickens. Rich is a fine craftsman, builder, mechanic, folk dancer and musician, and has built and maintained his own musical instruments. His ukulele classes are well attended and much appreciated by Polestar guests and visitors, many of whom have gone on to a sustained interest in music.
A highly skilled tradesman, Rich is in charge of Polestar's critical infrastructure—off-grid water catchment and purification and solar power systems. He also runs and maintains the backhoe, tractors, movers and other important farm equipment---all the while overseeing Polestar's orchards.
Rich loves to meet people, works with students, guests and apprentices daily, and generally spread his aloha wherever he can.
Christy Thompson loves people and they love her!
Christy pictured (center) with friends Alissa and Bodhi in the Polestar kitchen
Director of Polestar's Apprentice Program, Christy works daily at Polestar with the young-at-heart from around the globe. Raised in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in a family of traditional musicians (aunts, brother, grandparents, sisters); she plays autoharp and enjoys singing folk, modern, traditional and sacred music.
Christy enjoys many sports and the great outdoors: she was co-captain of her college basketball team, completed a ½ Iron Man in with her father in 2010, and is a sought after teammate in Polestar’s Friday afternoon volleyball tournaments.
She graduated with degree in psychology from Connecticut College, and was awarded her Master's Degree in Social Work from Boston College Graduate School of Social Work in 2003. Christy loves hatha yoga, having received her RYS 200-hour yoga teacher certification from Jennifer Bonadio, in Maui in 2008, and has also received first level training in Reiki healing techniques. Christy’s depth of sincerity, infectious, smile and beautiful singing voice are a delight to all Polestar residents and guests!
Well, he could be hunting hard-to-find mushrooms that only grow on the shady under side of fallen Albezia trees here in Puna, Hawaii for a fabulous gourmet organic vegetarian soup. Or, just as likely, on a dauntless all-day, half-the-night non-stop mountain bike ride around Mauna Kea. Or joining his two teenage daughters (also Polestar residents) for late afternoon surfing over by the boat ramp in waves locals call “Pohoiki”. Or sitting with a group of fascinated Polestar apprentices and guests teaching traditional Hawaiian weaving with palm and lau hala leaves.
Matt inspires and organizes the community kitchen here at Polestar, and for good reason. In recent past lives he sharpened his knives and deepened his culinary skills at two James Beard Foundation Award winning restaurants (the “Oscar” awards for chefs and restaurants): the American, in Kansas City, Missouri and Janos, at the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona.
Notorious for his endless lists of foods, tasks, and creative activities; Matt loves “farm-to-table”--getting his hands dirty every week in the Polestar gardens; learning more about the power of organic foods and permaculture; and about how to integrate available wild natural foods into daily diets.
Matt enjoys working directly with people, and no educational workshop happens at Polestar without him joyfully training groups of young and old in the ways of Polestar cuisine and kitchen etiquette. He may in future most be known for his “cocokraut”, an ingenious “kimchi” like fermented side dish made from fresh, organic coconuts often served here.
Dorian graduated with honors earning both a B.A. in Music Education from the University of Washington and a Master’s in Adult Education from Seattle University.
She has presented at Johns Hopkins University, Omega Institute in New York and Open Door in San Francisco. She has opened healing conferences in Italy and Scottsdale Arizona. Dorian's musical skills range from personal performance, to composition, to ensemble, to choir, to opera, to musicals, to indigenous sacred, to healing music therapy. Her talents have taken her to Africa, Europe, India, South America, Israel, Mexico, Canada, to the east and west coasts of US, Hawaii and the Bermuda Triangle!
Dorian has lived a rich life as a co-creator in several intentional communities, and enjoys the deep and nourishing relationships they engender.