Alnoba has been a dream and work in progress for generations, as a simple cabin in the woods grew into this sacred place where inspiration meets action. Alan’s mother’s family, the Sawyers and the Blakes, helped settle the town of Kensington, New Hampshire and their roots go back to the 1600s. In 1977, we purchased that small cabin from Alan’s great uncle, Roland D. Sawyer and began our work to put the foundations under our dreams.
Over the years, we put in a lot of time, heart and sweat to clear dump areas, build 10 miles of trails, return habitats, preserve ancient forests, dig five ponds and plant trees…hundreds of trees. We also carefully placed rustic cabins, benches, native stones, gathering circles and world class art throughout the property. Now known as Alnoba this special refuge has grown into 400 acres of woodland, fields, ponds and streams with a global reach. Since 1981, it is home to the Lewis Family Foundation—not so much a headquarters as our True North.
Our children Edward and Charlotte chose the name “Alnoba.” It is a fitting word from the Abenaki people that refers to the lifelong journey of becoming human and how we remain rooted in our birthplace.
Alnoba is where we see the convergence of four pillars of our work: developing strong leaders for stronger communities; conservation and sustainability; local food and healthful living, and the beauty of art in nature.
Developing leaders is the taproot of Alnoba for we believe strong leaders build stronger communities. Here is where we develop nonprofit and young leaders through Pinnacle Leadership and Team Development. Since 1993, Pinnacle has trained hundreds of leaders from more than 70 countries and helped more than 300 nonprofits improve results. Today it is the best place in New England for nonprofit leaders to learn, lead and build successful teams.
We hope Alnoba stands in tribute to our ancestors, who held a thrifty Yankee respect for natural resources and passed on a love of the land. Our renewable energy, recycling, and waste practices; as well as careful land management help towards becoming net zero, 100 percent renewable energy and having a more sustainable presence. In 2016, we opened Alnoba, where 19th century timber framing methods meet 21st century green architecture. It is the first Passive House Standard building of its kind in the northeast, built to reduce energy usage by 75-95 percent over similar structures. This special gathering place is an innovative blend of craftsmanship and conservation.
Throughout Alnoba, we promote the health and wellness of community. In 2008, we built Sawyer Park for the town—a 30-acre, organically managed park, which provides a clean, safe place for families to play and meet. Four years later, we turned a vacant lot at the town’s crossroads into the Farm at Eastman’s Corner—a year-round community-governed market, farm, and family destination, which donates 100 percent of its profits and 5 percent of sales to Sawyer Park.
Alnoba is also a place where art awakens the spirit and refreshes the soul. Throughout her land—sculptures, stones, and words are placed to inspire and provoke. The Alnoba Art Park is an eclectic international collection, which includes pieces by Andy Goldsworthy of Scotland, Spain’s Jaume Plensa, Pablo Atchugarry of Uruguay Ernesto Neto of Brazil and South Dakota artist, John Lopez.
Our Alnoba entities share a commitment to make a difference, encourage activism and the New Hampshire way of independent thinking. All of the proceeds from Alnoba support our work with nonprofits, youth organizations, and the Kensington community.
Alnoba is the epicenter of our work to help change people’s lives and save the earth we share. It is a place where people come together to learn, share, engage and help transform communities large and small. In such convergences and synergies, we see ourselves on that great and ancient path to “becoming human.”