The Story of AWA Oasia
by founder: Nadine Casanova
In 2009 while studying environmental biology and sustainable living in college, I became very upset about how much our general education systems lack awareness in the areas of healthy lifestyles, sustainable energy systems, cultural challenges and planet sustainability. How could there be so many solutions for taking better care of ourselves, each other and the planet at large, but most don't know about them.
I knew I needed to step up and take action, so when I heard about a Native American movement called The Longest Walk, a journey across the country (from San Francisco to Washington DC) to raise awareness for environmental issues and social equality, I joined the effort. It was on this life changing adventure that I discovered several disturbing truths of what so many people face in the world and in our own beautiful state of California. I witnessed extreme poverty, lack of access to healthy food, minimal spaces for community, loss of culture, corporate greed polluting the land and people, drug/alcohol abuse, an epidemic of illness, depression and an overall lack of consciousness.
I cried many nights alone in my tent while walking across the country, feeling the weight of world issues, feeling the pain I saw in the eyes of most that crossed my path. How could so many be suffering, when solutions exist? What can I do?
Near the end of my journey, I had become very close with the leader of the movement, Dennis Banks (one of the founders of AIM). He took me in and showed me the indigenous way, taught me how to reach the people, to be strong in the face of great challenge. It was him that lead me to the chief of chiefs, an encounter that still gives me chills to this day. I sat in front of this wise elder and he shared the value of living in gratitude, honoring all life as sacred. He shared about the prophecy, a time coming when people of all colors would be unified. I poured tears in awe of the beauty of this perspective, it resonated so deeply with me, and I knew that I was stepping into my purpose.
I then ran into the desert, dropped to me knees, sunk my hands into the earth and gave her my tears. “Show me the way great spirit, use me, I am here to serve”. Later that night, I sat in a TP meeting with several elders from neighboring tribes. It was here that I realized the greatest way I could serve and received blessings for my mission to help heal the earth.
People need connection, access to tools for transformation, education and places to gather where they can build community and initiatives for peace. People need the opportunity to go from surviving to thriving. The concept of holistic community centers worldwide was born. This realization was the answer to my prayers, the fuel that has kept me inspired and moving forward with passion for over 11 years now.
In 2010 I began working with my father James on a community healing center in the Los Angeles Arts District, developing the first expression of the vision. We spent 5+ years developing wellness retail, a membership program, a practitioner program, community events, and supporting local 501c3 organizations. We were quite successful! The building we had however, was limited because of its small size and I knew it would never be able to house the grand vision. For years after we left this location, we searched for a bigger dream location. In 2018 we finally found it, a 13,800 sq/f oasis that is now being developed as AWA.
We have encountered many challenges with launching a business of this size, a vision much grander than most can comprehend. What stands out the most to me though is the miracles that have catalyzed this opportunity for humanity. I genuinely believe that we have been divinely guided to this space at this time, in the heart of the most influential place in the world, to develop a customizable global franchise model that will greatly impact the future of humanity and help to usher in a new age of awareness.
In the first 1.5 years of operation, we focused first on building the events division of the company, to build community and find our allies for the full model. Right before the pandemic, we had done 150+ events, built a team of 20 (including an incredible CEO), had 3 investors coming in (2 of which were our restaurant and med spa parters), and nearly half a million in bookings for 2020. My job for April 2020 was to make a sound healing album and produce the wellness lounge for the VIP resort at Coachella... I thought we had made it. As a community space, we took a massive hit with covid, but we at AWA believe that everything happens for a reason and we stayed focused.
We spent the year quarantined together as a team, building and solidifying our viable model stronger than ever before. We took the time to grow an incredible team of aligned visionaries who want to expand globally with us. We updated our deck, business plan and financials to reflect this and are now working diligently to raise funding to preserve our beautiful oasis and continue to build the blueprint for the heartbeat of culture and community so we can address well-being of the individual and collective from a 360 perspective.
Now, over 3 years in, I am proud to say that AWA is reaching a stage of development where we are ready to blast off! Things are opening back up, and we are opening our doors to creatives, activists, healers, entrepreneurs, visionaries and conscious businesses that are aligned with our values. We get to unify with those who share our vision of a better world. We get to build a model that addresses health and vitality from every angle and creates an opportunity for all to have access to tools for personal and collective transformation. Join our movement as we expand and bring communities together worldwide.