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PUBLISHED SINCE 1982 BY OJAI VALLEY NEWS

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MAGAZINE

Literary Omnivore BARTS BOOKS’ MATT HENRIKSEN TALKS ABOUT OJAI’S ICONIC OPEN AIR BOOKSTORE PLUS: DWIER’S FIELD OF DREAMS / CAPTURED: OJAI’S POW’S / LIFE AS A BYRD / JUSTIN BALDONI PUNK YOGI / COME FOR THE KALE / FALL HIKES / MEDITATION MOUNT / OJAI’S HORSE MASTER

OJAI • VENTURA • SANTA BARBARA • WESTLAKE • MALIBU • SANTA MONICA • LA


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Best Value in the Arbolada CUYAMA ROAD • OJAI 4 Bed, 2.5 Bath, 2 850 Sq Ft Flat 1 Acre with Horse Corral Fantastic Mountain Views Close to Trails, Shopping & Schools Offered at $1,549,000

Architectural 2004 Mission Revival Home CANADA STREET • DOWNTOWN OJAI 4 Bed, 3.5 Bath Main Residence Large 1300 sqft Commercial Space with 1 Bath Zoned Village Mixed Use Heart of Downtown Location Sold at $1,825,000

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810 Foothill Road ~ Ojai A bold & refined Ojai hideaway, blending the beauty of nature with everyday living! Framed by ancient oaks & stone accents, you’re welcomed to nearly 1-acre of vibrant grounds emphasizing tranquility, wellness & wholeness. Evoking a sense of calm this gracious singlelevel property features a 3br-2ba main house, plus an attached, lovely 1bd-1ba studio, totaling 3234 sqft. Welcome home! Offered at $2,730,000

805 Del Oro Drive ~ Ojai La Dolce Vita in Ojai, California! It doesn’t get much better than that! Hip and beautiful, this inviting, delightful residence is located on gorgeous Del Oro Drive! 1.7 acres of Beauty! Offered at $2,695,000 SOLD at $2,740,0000

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This Marc Whitman design on 7+ acres with fantastic views offers upscale country living minutes from downtown Ojai. Two master suites allow you to choose one for your private retreat and one for guests. In the kitchen, cooks will love the Wolf range, warming drawer, island with breakfast bar, walk-in pantry, and butler’s pantry. Other interior features include four fireplaces, jetted soaking tub, and large closets. Outdoor areas include a pool, outdoor kitchen, patio fireplace, avocado orchard and family orchard.pool, outdoor kitchen, patio fireplace. www.1911MeinersRoad.com | 1911 Meiners Road $2,997,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

Escape to a secluded retreat in Wheeler Canyon surrounded by mountain and canyon views. Enjoy 33+ acres with multiple outdoor living areas, chicken coop, fruit trees, fenced garden, and private pond. Interior features include stone fireplace, Wolf range, Thermador double ovens, multi-room owner’s suite with walk-in closet and jetted soaking tub, built-ins, and vaulted, exposed-beam ceilings. Additional features include a two-car garage, two two-car carports, two dog runs, private well and water tanks, and separate meditation studio or writer’s retreat.

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This 16+ acre ranch offers room to spread out with four bedrooms, two offices, living room, great room, formal and casual dining, large laundry room, and multi-room master suite. The remodeled kitchen features Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances, wine refrigerator, breakfast bar, and island with produce sink. Outside, enjoy approximately 15 acres of avocados, an outdoor kitchen, an expansive deck with amazing views, lighted tennis court refinished in 2020, and approximately 3,000-square-foot shop. www.2871MaricopaHwy.com | 2871 Maricopa Highway $5,900,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

Alviria Oaks in Oaks West Estates offers three bedrooms, two baths, and an office on a large corner lot with two gated parking areas. The remodeled kitchen features granite countertops, breakfast bar, and walk-in pantry with room for a second fridge. The large owner’s suite features a walk-in closet and step-in closet. Outside features include a detached garage, workshop, covered storage, great outdoor living area with a patio kitchen, rock garden with fountain, and mountain views.

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Integrity, knowledge and experience you can trust

Nora Davis 805.207.6177 nora@ojaivalleyestates.com www.ojaivalleyestates.com 727 Ojai Avenue, Ojai CA 93023 DRE 01046067


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FALL 2021

Volume 39 No.4

EDITOR’S NOTE

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COVER STORY

Literary Omnivore - Bart’s Books - 18 CULTURE

Easing Their Pain-Dwier Brown - 26 Justin Baldoni, Man Enough for Ojai - 42 Punk Yogi - 52 Turn! Turn! Turn! - Chris Hillman - 78

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Artists & Galleries Directory - 101 HUMOR

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The Forager - 68 Spelunking - Look Back in Ojai - 126 EVENTS CALENDAR

-102

OJAI PAST

Mr Pittman, 20th Century Horseman - 86

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Captured - Ojai’s Prisoner of War Veterans - 96 FOOD AND DRINK

Come for Kale - Community Farmers’ Market - 6 Eating with the Season Chef Robin Goldstein - 76 Dining & Tasting Directory - 72 TRANSFORMATION & HEALTH

Meditation Mount - 108 Mindfulness & Healing Directory - 107 OUTDOORS

Fall Color Hikes - 36 REAL ESTATE

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EDITOR’S NOTE Your favorite regional Ojai life magazine may look familiar on the outside (I have no doubt the stories will engage, surprise, inform and touch your heart), but we’ve been busy changing under the cover. Ojai Magazine, a product of the Ojai Valley News, is now owned by Ojai Media LLC. I am thrilled to inform you that a few local folks, including yours truly, who believe deeply in the value of preserving Ojai’s local professional news source, have assumed the mantle of our community’s 130-year-old journal of record and its quarterly magazine. The Ojai Valley News is a cornerstone of our valley’s cultural connectivity, and we are honored to carry it forward. In case you are not aware, buying a small local newspaper is not a fiscally sound investment, as evidenced by their dwindling numbers. One in five newspapers in the U.S. closed in the 15 years prior to 2019, and 90 more have closed during the pandemic. I want to thank my philanthropic investors, who join me in taking this risk during uncertain times. We share great affection for our community and faith that it will continue to grow and support its award winning local newspaper. Our dedicated news and magazine teams are poised to write the next few chapters in Ojai’s rich history with truth and passion. We, dear readers, are here, sharing this moment in time and a common experience. We are a part of something together, and as an owner/publisher of Ojai Valley News and editor of Ojai Magazine, I invite you to participate in Ojai’s shared story. It’s how we build community, preserve our history, and shape the place we want to live in. In my 20 years of Ojai life, bearing and raising children, working, playing, laughing, crying; and during three years as publisher of the newspaper and editor of the magazine, my roots, investment and love for the Ojai Valley have grown deep. I stand in the place of not knowing what the future will bring but considering myself fortunate to live in interesting times with an opportunity to report on them. Come what may, the people of our valley deserve a free press, the power to know, the ability to become better connected, and to have their history preserved through well told stories for another 130 years. The mission of the Ojai Magazine is to celebrate the people and the cultural produce of Ojai. And by sharing the tales of times present and past, to grow the affectionate spirit of our community and to reflect it outward beyond the boundaries of this sacred valley. Thank you for reading this Fall issue.

Laura Rearwin Ward With affection,

M A G A Z I N E

EDITOR / PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward

ASSISTANT EDITOR Georgia Schreiner

WRITERS

Karen Lindell • Perry Van Houten Kerstin Kuhn • Bill Locey Steve Sprinkel • David LaBelle Lee Roberts • Jessica Ciencin Henriquez Robin Goldstein • Drew Mashburn

DESIGNER Paul Stanton

PRODUCTION

Tori Behar • Jodie Miller • Mimi Walker

DIRECTOR OF SALES Linda Snider

CIRCULATION Ally Mills

CONTACT US

team@ojaivalleynews.com advertising@ojaivalleynews.com Phone: 805.646.1476 206 N Signal Street, Suite, G Ojai, CA 93023 ©2021 OJAI MEDIA LLC OJAIVALLEYNEWS.COM

Fall cover photo: Matt Henriksen by Emma Larkan @emmalarkan_ photography PUBLISHED SINCE 1982 BY THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS


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BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN LAW, BUSINESS, AND THE EARTH SCIENCES BENJAMIN T. BENUMOF, PH.D., ESQ. • Water Rights / Water Adjudication • Groundwater Resource Stewardship • Assessment / Development • Land Use • Real Estate / Property Law • Hydrogeology • Geologic Hazards • Coastal • Water Supply Wells • Construction • Architectural / Engineering For a Complimentary Consultation, please call:

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Matt by KERSTIN KÜHN

T

here are few places in Ojai as iconic as Bart’s Books. After almost 60 years, the world’s selfproclaimed largest outdoor bookstore, complete with rickety shelves and signature honor box, has achieved nothing short of cult status. Thousands of book lovers make the pilgrimage to Bart’s each year to rummage through its maze of tomes in the hope of unearthing a literary treasure. Some gush about the store’s historic charm, while others complain about upgrades and prices, but to Matt Henriksen, Bart’s Books’ defiantly dispassionate general manager, it’s all the same. “Sometimes people come in and say: ‘Oh I miss the old Bart’s when it had cobwebs.’ But they’re really just feeling nostalgic about the time in their life when they came here and there were cobwebs. Nobody buys books that are covered in cobwebs.”

photo: EMMA LARKAN

Bart’s Books came to life in 1964 as the brainchild of Richard Bartinsdale (aka Bart). A veteran and avid bibliophile, he was inspired by the used bookstalls along the River Seine in Paris, France, which he had fallen in love with during World War II. He fashioned a few bookcases along the exterior of his 1930s bungalow on the corner of Matilija and Canada Streets, with coffee cans in place of a cash register allowing passersby to peruse and

Bart’s Books

OF

Literary

Omnivore


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An avowed bookworm, whose love of literature is driven by his insatiable curiosity, Matt Henriksen is the general manager of Ojai’s iconic bookstore, Barts Books. He talks about the history of the store, the rare finds he’s selling, and why collecting books doesn’t make much sense to him purchase books, paying what they felt they were worth. Bart’s Books quickly became a sanctuary for literary types and an Ojai institution that survived long after Bartinsdale himself left for his native Indiana. “The history is kind of foggy but Bart didn’t actually have the place for very long,” Henriksen explains. “By 1968 he’d moved away.” It’s unclear who ran the store for the decade following Bartinsdale’s departure, but in 1977 Ojai native Gary Schlichter bought Bart’s Books and went on to run it for 27 years. He eventually sold it in 2004 to the current owners, who as silent partners have entrusted it entirely to Henriksen. Ironically Henriksen’s first encounter with the store was as a thief in junior high. “I was a troubled kid,” he confides. “School deadened my curiosity so when I was in eighth grade, I frequently skipped class, stole books or went to the library to read. I’m a naturally curious person and read pretty much anything but mostly science fiction and a lot of books about sex and drugs.” After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a major in philosophy and a minor in art, and traveling to Europe, where he sought out a bookstore in every town he visited, Henriksen returned to Ojai in his twenties and for a number of years was “chronically unemployed.”

Then in 2008 he joined Bart’s Books as a part-time groundskeeper and three years later found himself unexpectedly promoted. “The old manager was leaving and the owners had interviewed a bunch of people but hadn’t found anyone they liked,” Henriksen recalls. “So they interviewed me and I think I exhibited a general interest in books and an understanding of the market and so I got the job.” Over the past decade, Henriksen has truly made Bart’s Books his own. His knowledge of literature is nothing short of encyclopedic as he presides over an emporium of more than 100,000 books. The store is a labyrinth of corridors made up of shelves, hidden rooms, and quiet nooks you can spend hours getting lost in. The main openair courtyard, shaded by palm trees, features rows and rows of alphabetically ordered fiction, while Bart’s old kitchen now fittingly holds the food and cookbook section, and the erstwhile garage houses books on art and design, architecture, and photography. From paperback novels priced at just 50 cents to valued tomes such as an 1817 American first edition of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey at $4,000, you’d be hard pressed not to discover something wonderful.


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The average price for a book at Bart’s Books is $6.50, but Henriksen acknowledges that with used books, cost is a very subjective thing. “We have people raving about how cheap our books are and then we have people complaining about how expensive our books are. Ultimately our books are priced according to what we can get for them,” he says. “That’s why we’re lucky to be in a tourist market. People are always prepared to spend a little more when they’re on a trip.” He insists that as a business Bart’s Books could not survive without tourists and reckons that more than half of his customers are out-of-towners. “If we had to rely on Ojai locals alone, we wouldn’t be able to employ seven people and have the quality of books that we have.”

photo: KENT KANOUSE

And the level of his inventory truly is amazing. For instance, there’s a signed first edition of Joan Didion’s Play As It Lays, including a handwritten note

on the author’s personal stationery, as well as first editions of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel Tender is the Night and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and a limited edition signed copy of Charles Bukowski’s Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit. Henriksen is particularly excited about a rare catalogue raisonné of the complete works of 20th century American artist Lee Krasner, the abstract expressionist painter and wife of Jackson Pollock. Indeed, art is close to Henriksen’s own heart. Alongside Bart’s Books, he co-owns Ojai art gallery The Basic Premise together with Ted Nava. Opened in 2017, the space was born out of the pair’s desire to showcase “the kind of art we want to see in Ojai” and, focusing on installations and residencies, it has hosted anything from paintings to collage, sculpture, and performance art.

Most recently, the gallery hosted a collaboration by Ojai couple musician, illustrator, and painter Tara Jane O’Neil and dancer, choreographer, and feltloom artist JMY James Kidd. Back at Bart’s Books, meanwhile, business is booming, with around 10,000 titles coming in and out of the store each month. Yet with so many books around him, Henriksen finds the idea of collecting them absurd. “I care way more about the content of books than collecting them because I really don’t get attached,” he says. “I’ve been to people’s storage units and homes that are filled with books and they get so emotional letting them go even though they’re covered in dust and haven’t been read in decades. It’s all about stored up emotional energy and to me it’s healthier to just keep it moving.” At Bart’s Books he’s found the place to do just that.


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

www.bartsbooksojai.com

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Dwier Brown: Dwier Brown is wearing a pinstriped flannel baseball shirt, greeting fans, signing autographs, posing for pictures and hugging everybody.

It’s a hot, mid-June day in Dyersville, Iowa. A punishing sun bakes those patiently waiting in a long line to meet the actor who played Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner’s father in the beloved movie Field of Dreams. Watching him through a telephoto lens, I am struck by how he engages every person, hour after hot hour.

easing their pain


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it’s a scene i might expect from a famous religious figure or superstar — not from an actor with a six-minute part in a movie made three decades ago. it is evident something special is happening here. I see a middle-aged man practically fall into Dwier’s arms after having his picture taken with the youthful-looking actor. Dwier embraces him, utters something, then pats him on the back. “This guy is too good to be real,” I whisper to myself. After 50 years of looking through a camera lens, I grow weary of empty hype and pretense; genuine emotion and sincere engagement from celebrities are rare. I catch up with the man Dwier hugged. Wiping his eyes, he tells me about the recent passing of his father, what Field of Dreams means to him and how healing it was to read Dwier’s book and meet him.

words and photos by DAVID LABELLE

The line continues for several more hours until Dwier runs to get dressed for a ball game on the magical field that helped make him famous. After reading Dwier’s critically acclaimed book, “IF YOU BUILD IT… A book about Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams,” published in 2014, I realized such outpourings of emotion are common wherever he travels. Dwier is a vessel, a safe conduit to transfer energy, and a healing place for people’s pain. With a gift to make each person he meets feel special, he catches their personal stories, often accompanied by wounded and tender emotions. I remember how, 30 years earlier, I sat silently, tears sliding down my bearded face while watching Dwier play catch with Costner on the big screen, unprepared for the flood of emotions the film stirred. Field of Dreams swept across the globe and into many hearts, including mine. In just 107 minutes, the story lays open deep wounds and then heals them. I still tear up every time I watch it.

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Interest in Dwier continues to grow. Thirty-two years after the movie, he is still crisscrossing the country, making appearances, getting interviewed and visiting minor league ballparks. In August, along with Costner, he was a significant figure in the festivities surrounding the first-ever major league baseball game in Iowa between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees, held at the new MLB park on the Field of Dreams movie site. In May, my wife and I visited Dwier in Dyersville. Then, in July, I met up with him and his wife, Laurie, at their home in Oak View. I ask Dwier about his wonderful, healing book. “The book, that wasn’t a plan, it just happened,” he explains above the seesawing chatter of an acorn woodpecker on a backyard oak. “I didn’t know anything about publishing and ended up publishing it myself, mostly because I was under a time crunch. The 25th anniversary was coming and that was sort of what was my deadline. I just wrote and wrote and wrote.” His book was a hit. “I followed the energy and it took me to a place I would never have imagined,” he says. “We were lucky, mostly because we didn’t know what we were doing. Laurie liked the book so much she said let’s send it to the New York Times. Then we got a review from the New York Times. It was just out of naivete and taking a chance that it got where it did.” “I believe in Dwier so much that it was easy to be very motivated to want to get the word out there about his book because the world needs more Dwiers,” Laurie says, smiling at her husband. “He’s such a genuine, beautiful person who really wants to connect with people. And that is such a rare thing.”


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The book led to speaking engagements, and “there are other things in the works that could also be really wonderful, things that I might just be a conduit for if it ends up happening,” Dwier says. His continued impact People continue to share stories about their fathers with Dwier, even those not used to showing their feelings. A North Dakota man wrote: “I remember sitting in the living room that evening for the first time I saw Field of Dreams on our old TV. When the film came to its conclusion, it brought up so many emotions in me as a child. I’ve never really spoken with anyone about it my entire life, but the movie has had such a profound meaning to me. It made me realize, even at that young age, that we’re not here forever. And that we need to treasure every day with the ones we love most. I treasured every experience I had with my dad as a child and I cherish all those memories to this day. When I watch Field of Dreams today, I can’t help but reflect on my own life and playing catch with my dad and how those moments that seemed quaint at the time have meant so much.” “People call me John all the time when I am at appearances,” Dwier says. “I never bother correcting them because I know what they

mean. They do want me to be John Kinsella. They want me to be their dad. Or they want me to be this iconic dad who can make everything all right. If I can give them that little sense of peace or grace, why not? It seems like a great way to go through life, to casually accept where they are and tell them it’s OK. That’s a pretty cool thing to do. “I am an easy cry because I am very empathetic with other people’s pain,” continues Dwier, who has kind brown eyes. In his actor training with the Meisner Method, “the question you ask is: Where’s the pain? Where is the character’s pain? Because that is sort of what we act out of as human beings, is what we are trying to heal or avoid or overcome or soothe. You can’t argue with anybody’s pain. If it seems superficial to you, it’s not to them.” The personal toll I suggest that traveling so much, receiving so many emotional stories and staying engaged must take its toll.

“It’s hard to explain to anybody, but sometimes after a baseball game — and all I am doing is sitting there and meeting people — I am exhausted. I want to go home and have a glass of wine and unwind,” he says. Laurie quickly adds: “I don’t think it is a burden for Dwier. He is exhausted after an event because he takes in everybody’s energy intentionally, but he also gets so much from it.” Dwier agrees: “I look forward to it. Who is it going to be today that’s going to make my day? Who is it that needs to say something to me? Or that I need to see? That is why I am so vigilant and watching because, frequently, the people who need to talk to you most are not the ones that come up. I see somebody hanging about the fringes and I try to draw them in. It’s been extraordinary.” That happened at a game in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Dwier saw a boy aged about 14 or 15 “just hovering around.” When Dwier called him over, the boy started crying. The boy’s teacher came up later and thanked Dwier for talking to him. “I guess this kid has had a pretty rough life ... but for some reason, the fact that he thought I was a star and that I took the time to just say hi to him and all that.

With his wife Laurie “The world needs more Dwiers”


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I still remember that kid. I was just so moved.” Through it all, Dwier insists he is not trying to ease his own pain. “When I think about it, I have had a relatively drama-free life, in a way, other than my father dying a little younger than most. I don’t have drug addiction in my family, my kids have all been healthy. I have been lucky. I don’t feel like I have a lot of pain, but I do think I have a lot of empathy for it. I guess I am not afraid of it, really. I welcome it. I think we all have to go through our pain to get to where we have to go.” He dreamed of being a star Though Dwier says he “really doesn’t think of himself as famous,” he says he dreamed of being a star. “Dwier has always believed he was going to be famous, from the time he heard the voice while climbing the pear tree in the back yard of his Ohio home,” Laurie says. “He was 10 years old and a voice came to him and said clearly that someday he was going to be famous.” Above: “Why would I want to buy a building here?” Dwier renovating the old Dyerssville dairy Below: The iconic Kinsella shirt and glove

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She starts to tell the story, then stops, looks at her husband and asks if he minds her sharing it. “No, go ahead,” he says. She continues: “So, when he was little, he had this moment that was like God or something, that said ‘you are going to be famous!’ And it was like this very clear voice that he remembered.” Dwier said he has always wanted to be in movies that make a difference, like It’s a Wonderful life. Eighteen years after hearing the voice in the pear tree, the aspiring, relatively unknown actor played the ghost father of an already famous actor named Kevin Costner, who hears a voice in a cornfield in Field of Dreams. That six minutes — on a magical field in an Iowa cornfield — changed his life and millions of other lives forever. But it took him years to recognize the impact of his role. “For most of the time since Field of Dreams has been out, I was kind of embarrassed about all the attention because it was such a small part. It was really only after I wrote the book, I thought, ‘you know what? I got this one. I did what I could do with it. Nobody else could do it exactly the same. I might as well just take credit, own it.’” Letting go of a dream In a conversation with Dwier at the Dyersville dairy he is remodeling, he is emotional talking about his acting career. After appearing in dozens of movies, plays and television shows during his 40-year career, 62-year-old Dwier shares some frustrations. “I just got tired of the auditions and the cumulative work of my life being denigrated in a way that I have to go read for a one-line part, so it is the

business of it that made me kind of frustrated,” he says. Tears welling, he continues: “I always hoped I would stop acting before I became bitter, and I think I got very close. I mean I watched so many people who I thought were just jerks have very successful careers. And I tried to be this good person, and in Hollywood I genuinely feel that diminishes your appeal to producers. And that, to me, is just frustrating. Why in this world do we reward terrible people?” he asks rhetorically. “It is certainly not the way you were told as a kid — ‘be good and you’ll win.’ It’s really not like that.” Even with those frustrations, Dwier isn’t closing the door on acting. “If a part came along that was doing good things and was perfect for me and I didn’t have to audition for it, I think I would still be happy to do it. I think there is more I could bring to my acting.” Producers have asked Dwier about hosting a reality-type show, which would be a new experience. “But what would be great,” he tells me, is “I would be doing just what you are accusing me of doing — being empathetic and talking to people. That part of it would be fun.” The abandoned dairy In the movie, Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, hears a voice he cannot ignore. Though it will mean taking huge financial risks, maybe even losing the


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farm to answer the voice and “ease his pain,” he decides to plow under his corn crop, to the disbelief of relatives, neighbors and townsfolk. Similarly, Dwier has a feeling he can’t ignore beckoning him to “build” or “at least renovate” a decaying structure. During one of more than 33 visits to Dyersville since filming the movie, an abandoned dairy caught his eye. Dwier says he keeps returning to the Field of Dreams because, “to me, a lot of the entry I have into people’s lives is from the movie. It’s those people whose hearts are most open because of the movie.” When Dwier noticed the “for sale” sign at the old dairy, it was as though the building was calling to him. “Why would I want to buy a building here?” he asked himself and his wife. She asked her husband what he planned to do with the building, reminding him, “It is going to be really hard and it is really far away.” “You kept mulling it over,” Laurie says. “It was kind of haunting you.” “Because the price there is so ridiculous, I thought, ‘could I actually buy this?” Dwier recalls. “What would I do with it?’ I sort of had this vision of a little neon sign out front that says ‘Kinsellas,’ very much like Ray, like in the movie,” he says, laughing. “We don’t look for things in our lives to complicate them. We love hanging out with each other all day. But it was like, I can’t stop thinking about the building.”

“I love what a big dreamer he is,” Laurie says. “So, I trust him completely once he decides to go for it. He couldn’t let it go. Then he said, ‘I think I just have to buy it.’ It was just more like a spiritual intuition decision, which I think is how we tend to operate in our lives in everything.”

celebrated past. He cherishes every time-worn detail and speaks with adoration and admiration for the structure and its history, as if nursing back to life a living creature. “Almost every kid I have talked to in Dyersville has a memory of coming in here when it was an ice cream parlor,” he says.

Dwier partnered with friend and development partner David Feigin of Ojai to buy and renovate the iconic Tegeler Dairy building in downtown Dyersville, just a few miles from the Field of Dreams.

Back in California in July, he grabs his phone and excitedly shows me pictures of the ongoing renovation. His dark eyes dance and an unreserved joy I have not seen spreads across his face.

Dwier gave my wife and me a tour of the building in May. Like an excited schoolchild anxious to show us a class project, he guided us through the huge, musty space while narrating the dairy’s

“We stripped off all that stucco and there’s this beautiful limestone underneath it. I mean, I think it’s just spectacularly beautiful! It had its own

Hoping to meet Dwier. “They do want me to be John Kinsella. They want me to be their dad. “


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

charm before, but now, just looking at these windows that were built when Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated just boggles my mind.” He then shows me what he has fixed or built — a bench, a broken chair, a backyard deck. “I realized years ago, because of my dad, I’m a remodeler,” he says. “I like taking something that is already there and making it nicer, different or usable again.” “That’s a metaphor for your entire life,” I observe. “Right. Right!” Dwier agrees. “This is something I do. I like rewriting better than writing. I like to take things that are not being used and make them more useful.” Even broken people, I think. Coincidence or part of a master plan? The parallels between Dwier’s personal life and the fictional lives of John and Ray Kinsella in the movie are eerily unmistakable. Like many young men, Dwier had a difficult relationship with his father made better with time. And, like fictional John Kinsella, who dies relatively young, then comes back from the

dead as a ghost, Dwier’s father died suddenly, 30 days before Dwier began filming one of the most famous fatherson scenes ever. He often shares how he went from attending his father’s funeral in Ohio to playing a ghost father in Iowa who gets the chance to heal a broken relationship with his son. He says he even felt his father’s presence while filming. And like Ray Kinsella, who hears a mysterious voice in a cornfield, Dwier hears an affirming voice as a young boy while climbing a pear tree that tells him he is going to be famous. He is reluctant to step over the line and say his life is part of a master plan, though he moves close to it. When I consider 300 actors auditioned for that part, including well-known Jim Carrey, and Dwier — then a relatively unknown actor — is chosen to be part of a cast that includes celebrities such as Costner, Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones, to name a few, Dwier’s role in the movie appears more than serendipity. “It feels more like providence,” I suggest. “And you didn’t write that script, yet it’s almost as though you ended up living it, after the fact.” I keep pushing and ask again, “Do you feel sometimes like your life is part of a master plan?” Dwier stammers, starts a sentence, stops, then starts a new one, tapping his fingers on the wooden table where he sits. Exhaling he says, “Well, I guess I’ve always felt like I have been able to step back and see a larger picture. Even at that, when I wrote my book, it became even more clear. You know, I hadn’t even

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thought about the story of that stone in our basement and how that ended up being my father’s gravestone. I mean I was crying my eyes out at 2 in the morning when I was writing that because I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so amazing.’ He returns to the question. “Yeah, I guess I think of it as being a pretty interesting journey that makes a lot of sense when I sort of realized that my dad couldn’t express his emotions, and I sort of got to finish that journey for him, in a funny way. It’s almost like a relay race, where he handed me the baton. I was not good at expressing my emotions, but sought out all the things I needed to make that happen, and in that way, kind of completed a part of his life that he couldn’t do himself. I felt really good about that. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know where my son’s life fits into that. But I think I see that because I choose to see that. In some ways, I think it’s there. I don’t think a lot of people take the time to put all that together, I guess. “I don’t know what incredible thing is going to happen next, but I am quite certain it will. And if it doesn’t and this is as good as my life gets, I would be completely ecstatic about that. I had a great run and it’s only from retiring I realize that. I always thought of my career as a failure because I didn’t get to where I wanted to. But I realized that most I have met are not very happy in the first place. I realized I thought


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I wanted to be a star, but what I wanted to do was learn how to express myself,” says Dwier, who grew up in a house “where self-expression was neither valued nor encouraged.” A long way from Iowa Dwier now lives in Oak View, a town with an almost identical population of Dyersville, both around 4,600. And though Oak View is 1,600 miles by air from Dyersville, Dwier is keeping a foot in both places. “You know, it’s kinda cool, though, I mean going back to Iowa as much as I do, it just kind of feels like home.” As good as it gets “We just keep thinking our life is better than we could have ever imagined,”Dwier says. “My gosh, my life is so incredible and I think it is because I’m grateful and I appreciate the goodness I’ve gotten. I don’t dwell on the things that maybe aren’t the way I would like them to be.” Laurie says: “Our main focus has always been on our love for each other. Everything that’s come out of this journey so far, and Dwier writing his book, it’s never been about chasing money or fame.” “You’ve brought a lot of that to my life,” Dwier tells his wife. “We still now and then say, ‘I can’t believe we ended up together, this is just too crazy,’” Dwier says. “We are a pretty good team,” Laurie adds. “We really enjoy everything along the way. We could be the happiest people who ever lived. Like really, in the history of the world, if not the happiest, the top 1%.” Dwier adds, “We are the 100th of a percent.” Dwier “might have wanted to be this really famous person, but then we would have never met,” Laurie says. “Now, here we are, and it’s hard to imagine being happier.” She adds that it’s kind of like Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers.” “Sometimes I thank God, for “Unanswered prayers,” she says. Dwier agrees. “There is nobody famous that I know that I would trade places with.” End I think comforters and healers are sent into the world, most unaware they’ve been chosen. I believe Dwier Brown is both. Though he is likely to remember a few hundred of them, he may never know how many millions of lives he has comforted, perhaps transformed, by his performance in Field of Dreams, by his redemptive book, or by “seeing” and “hearing” others who need to share.

Author’s note: He continues to ease their pain. Thirty years after watching Dwier Brown on the big screen, Dave LaBelle met him during a visit to the Field of Dreams in Iowa. Dave’s son Tucker, who works at the movie site, introduced the two after learning that Dwier lives in Oak View, the LaBelle family’s hometown. As irony would have it, the two basically traded places. Both grew up in the country, Dwier in Ohio and Dave on Creek Road. Dave, who now lives in Ohio, also lived and taught photography at Kent State University, less than 30 miles from where Dwier grew up. Dwier has two children: Lily Maxwell Brown, 28, who works in the theater and with local campaigns, and is married to Amaury Saugrain, a computer engineer from Paris; and Woody, 22, a recent graduate of UC San Diego. See www.dwierbrown.com for movies and television shows, interviews and upcoming events.

With David Labelle


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OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

Who says New England has all the fall color? Not so!

Colorful fall hikes

story and photos by PERRY VAN HOUTEN


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

H

ike the Ojai backcountry during November or December and discover a splendid show of autumn color, in the nearby Los Padres National Forest. Along Sespe Creek, one of the last wild rivers in Southern California, you’ll find 61 miles of riparian habitat and trees turning a vibrant yellow, as they prepare to drop their leaves in anticipation of winter.

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Lace up your hiking boots for any one of these adventures, and you’ll experience not just a dazzling display of color, but perhaps a distinct nip in the air. Plus, you’ll find that the summertime crowds have gone, along with a lot of the bugs!

A word of caution about hiking these trails during wet weather: creeks that appear calm can turn deadly after torrential rainfall. Pay close attention to weather reports during the rainy season and be aware of dangers from flash flooding.

Each of the trails described here provides options for loop trips or longer, multi-day treks.

And don’t forget to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Sespe River Trail (20W13)

Middle Sespe Trail (22W04)

Lion Canyon Trail (22W06)

To get to the trailhead, take Highway 33 north from Ojai for 15 miles and turn off on Rose Valley Road. Drive past the lakes and the road to Rose Valley Falls, all the way to the end of the road at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead (formerly the Lion car camp). No water is available here, but there are restrooms and picnic tables.

Drive north on Highway 33 for 17 miles to a turnout just up the highway from the former paved road to the old Beaver Camp (the road is now blocked by dirt barriers). Watch carefully for a signpost on the right side of the highway that reads “Trail Middle Sespe.” There are no facilities here and no passes required to park. Keep an eye on kids and dogs, as the parking area is very close to the highway.

The trail starts at the popular Middle Lion Campground in Rose Valley. To get there, use the same directions for the Sespe River Trail, but don’t go as far as the Piedra Blanca Trailhead. Instead, look for a turnoff approximately 1 mile from the end of the road, and descend the winding, narrow, 1-mile paved road to the camp. You’ll need to pay the park concessionaire a $10 day-use fee to park inside the campgrounds, otherwise find a spot off the side of the road, outside the gate.

You’ll need to display an Adventure Pass (or Interagency Pass) to park. A oneday Adventure Pass costs $5, while $30 will get you a pass good for an entire year. On weekdays, the pass can be purchased at U.S. Forest Service headquarters at 1190 E. Ojai Ave., and on weekends at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center at 17017 Maricopa Highway (aka Highway 33). From the east end of the parking area, the trail drops to the creek and crosses it three times before heading downstream. Cottonwoods, sycamores and white alders turn a vivid yellow and make an excellent showing of fall color along the river. The trail continues east for 17 miles, taking you to several stream-side camps and popular hot springs.

Beaver Camp was closed by the U.S. Forest Service in 1999 to protect endangered species, but the trail is open and in good shape, just a little hard to find at the outset. While crossing the creek, which usually goes dry in summer, look to the northeast and you’ll see the trail heading to the right. A bit brushed-in at times, the trail soon becomes wider and much easier to follow. As the trail heads east, it climbs an 800-foot hill before descending to Rock Creek, where you’re treated to another great showing of yellow foliage. The trail then parallels Sespe Creek for 4 miles to its junction with the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail.

The trail crosses Lion Creek before ascending into a pleasant canyon, where it splits three ways. The middle fork climbs to Nordhoff Ridge, while the west and east forks lead to trail camps and scenic waterfalls. A note of caution about another example of fall color you’re likely to find in Lion Canyon and will want to avoid: poison oak. The leaves of this toxic plant turn from bright green in the spring to pink or reddish in the summer and fall.

(Opposite page) Along the Middle Sespe Trail, cottonwoods and sycamores changing color line the creek for miles. (Left) Sometimes a bush and other times a vine, poison oak can be found just about everywhere in the forest, but prefers shady, moist habitats below 5,000 feet. (Center) A splash of autumn hues — and water — along Sespe Creek. (Right) In Lion Canyon, trees and chaparral along the trail provide a glut of fall color.


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Man enough forOjai


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

“What’s your best discovery?” asked the mole. “That I’m enough as I am,” said the boy. — the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by charlie mackesy

the “boys’ club” — whether a real place like a locker room, or the more metaphorical space where guys supposedly learn how to be masculine — can be messed up, even dangerous. so actor and director justin baldoni is suggesting a new twist on club admission: you’re already in. Because you’re man enough. And human enough. “The ‘boys’ club’ is really just the mental landscape of places where we men gather, where the cultural messages of what it means to be a boy and a man in this world are embedded, enacted, enforced, and then passed on,” Baldoni writes in his book ‘Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity’, which follows his enormously popular TED Talk in 2017, “Why I’m Done Trying to Be Man Enough.” In his TED Talk, the book, and a podcast also called ‘Man Enough’, Baldoni, who plays Rafael on Jane the Virgin, explores his own struggles with growing up male and the societal norms he’s absorbed — but is trying to change — about being brave, fit, smart, sexy, confident, and successful. He includes racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights as part of the conversation, and is working on a version of the book for boys 9 to 13. “Healthy masculinity is masculinity that’s talked about and dissected, discovered and unlearned, because there are so many things that have been taught to us over the course of our lives that are just flat out wrong,”

he said in an interview from his home in Ojai, where he moved with his family in January 2021. He’s embraced feminine qualities men are taught to avoid, in particular vulnerability. “I’ve been pretending to be a man that I’m not my entire life,” he said in his TED Talk. “I’ve been pretending to be strong when I felt weak, confident when I felt insecure, and tough when really I was hurting.” Baldoni is still exploring who he is and who he wants to be, and says the move to Ojai with his family — wife Emily, daughter Maiya (CQ), and son Maxwell — has made room for that ongoing journey. “One of the things I love about Ojai, it’s so spiritually open,” Baldoni said. “I don’t feel a lot of judgment. I feel like there’s space to be yourself, and that’s one of the big things with my work in masculinity. It’s this lifelong journey to enough-ness, to recognize that we are enough as we are. But over the course of our lives we put ourselves in boxes, and compare ourselves, and end up imprisoning ourselves.” In Ojai, he said, “there’s an element of freedom. It’s almost like a consciousness liberation.” He’s come a long way. As a 13-year-old, he jumped from a bridge into a freezing river even though he was afraid of heights so his friends wouldn’t call him the dreaded “P” word (a five-letter synonym for a cat).

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by KAREN LINDELL photos by KURT ISWARIENKO

In middle school, he loved acting, but gave up the stage in high school for sports because athletes got girls and theater kids got picked on. At age 21, after receiving his first substantial acting paycheck (for a recurring role on Everwood), he bought a ’76 Ford Bronco because it was “the sexiest truck” he could think of. What changed? Well, underneath he’d always been sensitive and emotional, raised by loving, caring parents. But he buried that part of himself because he was afraid he wouldn’t fit in. Baldoni describes Man Enough not as a “memoir,” but rather a “personal exploration” of what it means to be a man. He digs into life experiences that most of us (not just cisgender males) would probably rather keep hidden: hormone spurts, bullying and being bullied, bumbling in and out of relationships, obsessions with chiseled chests and abs, confusion about intimacy, and fears about sharing feelings. Throughout his life, Baldoni said in his TED Talk, “I’ve just been kind of putting on a show, but I’m tired of performing.” That’s a bold statement coming from an accomplished actor and filmmaker. Baldoni is probably best known for playing Rafael Solano on Jane the Virgin. He’s also had roles in The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, Charmed, CSI, and Madam Secretary, and has served as a guest host on CBS’ The Talk.


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Talented behind a camera as well, he directed the 2020 Disney+ biographical drama Clouds (about Zach Sobiech, a real-life musician who had cancer) and the 2019 drama Five Feet Apart (starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson as teens with cystic fibrosis). Or you might know him from a 27-minute charmingly elaborate video of his marriage proposal to Emily that went viral; it has more than 13 million YouTube views. Before showbiz and grand social media gestures, Baldoni grew up in Santa Monica, then moved to Medford, a small town in Oregon, when he was 10. Baldoni’s dad, a Hollywood entrepreneur, and mom, an artist and designer, were sensitive, kind and spiritual, raising him in the Bahá’í Faith. Baldoni, however, wanted his dad to be more … rugged. “I wanted a dad who was like all the other dads in that small town,” he said. One who hunted and fished, chopped down trees, drank beer on the weekends, worked with his hands, and could teach him how to fight. Instead, Baldoni learned about masculinity on the playground, including the unspoken “don’ts”: Don’t be friends with girls, don’t act like a girl, don’t act gay, don’t show any emotion, don’t talk about your feelings, and don’t EVER cry. These schoolboy “lessons” followed him into adolescence and young adulthood, with troubling results. He excelled at athletics, but at times acted like a bully or was bullied. He lacked self-confidence, felt shame, and made immature choices. He had trouble with porn and intimacy, and obsessed about body image. But after marrying Emily in 2013, and when his daughter Maiya was born in 2015, the sensitive stuff inside — all the questions and concerns he’d been carrying around about masculinity but rarely shared — sent him on a private and public journey to learn more about himself. He started therapy, then took


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

the conversation to the outside world. On social media, where he has a large following, he began talking openly about relationships, fatherhood, love, and intimacy. People took notice, and he was asked to do the TED Talk about masculinity at a TEDWomen conference. The response was immediate and affirming — but mostly from women, who gushed over his words and shared the video of his speech with the men in their lives. Men, in public responses on social media, were either silent, or trolled him with rude comments. In private, however, men sent him direct messages and emails saying how much they identified with him and felt “seen,” and shared their own fears, feelings, and vulnerabilities. Baldoni then wrote his book and started the podcast. He co-hosts the Man Enough podcast with Liz Plank, journalist and author of For The Love of Men: From Toxic to a More Mindful Masculinity, and his friend and musician-producer Jamey Heath. Guests have included Glennon Doyle, author of the bestselling book Untamed; actor Matthew McConaughey; singer Shawn Mendes, Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown; and in a particularly poignant episode, Justin’s father, Sam Baldoni. Baldoni said his book and the podcast are “absolutely NOT an attack on men or on masculinity,” and he doesn’t like the term “toxic masculinity,” because he enjoys being a man and believes men are inherently good. “People have maybe projected I’m starting or part of a movement,” he said. “I think in some ways my work could be a sibling to feminism and the equality movement. I believe men are the problem in the sense that we are the oppressors in the relationship and why women don’t have full equality. That also means we are the solution. And that’s the thing that’s left out. I believe that feminism needs men, that men need men, just like men need women. We’ve been conditioned in so

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many ways as men to act in a way that is oftentimes counter completely to how we feel inside.” Our problematic notion of masculinity, Baldoni believes, fuels more than personal strife. “There’s conflict everywhere,” he said. “Would war exist if there wasn’t an issue with masculinity? Would there be mass shootings … mass genocides? Would these things exist, if boys at an early age were taught to use their hearts, taught empathy and compassion and love and sensitivity, and not taught to compete for power?” Baldoni’s principles spill over into Wayfarer Studios, the production company he co-founded that aims to create “purpose-driven” shows and films “that elevate and speak to the human spirit,” like Clouds. The mission of Wayfarer Studios, he said, “is to create content that makes us want to be better, not content that makes us feel better about being worse. We’re a cause- driven studio.” Baldoni said that along with his family and friends, Ojai keeps him grounded and doesn’t let him get “lost or sucked into” the tropes of Hollywood vanity or shallowness. “Part of that is living in a place like this — just the reminder how unimportant all of that is,” he said. “Sometimes people need to live in a place where Mother Nature is apparent, where you can actually feel her, where you can walk out on grass and not cement, where you can just see mountains.” Baldoni and his family officially moved to Ojai in January 2021, but bought their home in May 2020. His parents and sister have moved up to Ojai, too. Emily grew up in a mountain town in Sweden, he said, so “she had been drawn to Ojai.” Emily also runs a business with Ojai resident and hatmaker Satya Twena called AmmaMMA that sells products for mothers. As the women established the company, the Baldonis, then living in Los Angeles, came up to Ojai.


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“I remember feeling like I was in a totally different world, but I didn’t pay any attention to [Ojai as] a place I would ever live, because honestly I was shooting a show at the time in L.A.,” Baldoni said. The stay-at-home pandemic order, he said, made him realize he could have the life he and his family wanted, and build his career and business at the same time. “We found what we feel is our forever home, our dream home,” he said. “We can have the kids in a small school, and be in nature, and have this kind of small-town lifestyle while also building careers. And we want to be clear: This is our home. This is not a summer house. We’re in.” Baldoni is nowhere near done delving into masculinity, he said: “I want my children to see I’m working on myself, that their daddy’s not perfect, that I’m willing to ask the hard questions of myself, and be corrected, and learn and grow and sit in the discomfort.” And he wants other men to ask these questions as well, “so they can show up in the world not just as big, strong, powerful men, but as good, kind, loving, and powerful human beings”.


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by KERSTIN KÜHN


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PunkYogi Punk Wellness might sound like an oxymoron to some people but to Jacqui Burge it’s a guiding mantra. “Punk Wellness is about radical selfcare. It’s about being an advocate for you,” she explains. “Because if you don’t find out what works for you in terms of getting healthier and achieving that balance, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

photo: SIMONE NOBLE

Burge certainly knows a thing or two about self-exploration. From ice skater to rock star, and from heroin addict to virtual wellness guru, her own life journey has been all about radical self-care. Today, as the founder and CEO of online corporate wellness platform Desk Yogi, Burge has carved out a unique niche in a crowded sector. With a large library of video and audio content aimed at offsetting the toll a busy work life has on our mental and physical wellbeing, her goal is simple: to assist people in taking short but powerful breaks to make them feel better. Ranging from yoga and guided meditation to strengthening exercises and breathwork, many of Desk Yogi’s workout sessions are just five minutes long. But Burge insists that’s enough to make a big difference. “A huge shift can happen in five minutes,” she says.

Burge and I meet outside the Move Sanctuary studio on East Matilija Street, a quiet and tranquil space that feels like a secret garden away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Ojai. And after more than a year of being used only for Zoom classes and filming, it is now finally open to the public. “I’ve loved what I’ve been able to do with Desk Yogi but I really missed working with actual bodies,” she says. Move Sanctuary offers a range of yoga and meditation classes for all ages as well as community-based sessions such as council circle, trauma-informed yoga, and a mothers’ writing group. “We plan to use both indoor and outdoor spaces and hope the property becomes a peaceful and loving space for the community,” Burge explains. Indeed, community is at the heart of the studio as Burge adds that 25% of all earnings will go to local nonprofits such as the Ojai Land Conservancy, Help of Ojai, the Ojai Raptor Center, and Secure Beginnings. “Our class offerings are about the incredible teachers and

not only what they choose to share but also how they choose to live their lives. In many ways Move Sanctuary is an extension of Punk Wellness.” Beautiful, tall, and imposing, Burge epitomizes the paradox of Punk Wellness. She’s kind and considerate, with a gentleness and soft vulnerability to her. But she’s fierce and hardcore too, physically strong and with doggedness she puts down to being a natural-born athlete. “I’d like it to be different; I’d love to be a poet or an ingénue, someone chilled and really mellow, but I’m not. I’m a highly competitive, deeply driven athlete. And whenever I try to fight against my true nature, I lose.” Born and raised in Studio City, Los Angeles, Burge, now 53, describes herself as one of the original Valley Girls. A child actress who played various incarnations of Jackie Onassis (the resemblance is uncanny) on sets including ABC dramas and the Roseanne Barr show, she became a competitive figure skater at age 12, attending a special academy for athletes.

COURTESY JACQUI BURGE

An advocate of radical self-care, Jacqui Burge is the punk rock yogi who has taken the online wellness industry by storm. Now she’s opened up a brand new studio, Move Sanctuary, right in the heart of Ojai


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“All I did was skate and compete, skate and compete. I loved it so much,” she remembers. But her skating days came to an abrupt end when, aged 15 and following her parents’ divorce, Burge’s mother moved them lock, stock and barrel to Washington, D.C. “It was very sudden and very hard,” Burge recalls. “I was devastated and felt like I hadn’t been part of the decisionmaking process at all. And that made me very angry.” Her relationship with her mother deteriorated and aged 18 Burge fled for New York City, where, after a short stint at the exclusive Sarah Lawrence College upstate, she threw herself into the punk rock scene. In 1989, Burge founded an all-girl punk rock band called STP, which saw an unexpectedly rapid rise to success, touring with Nirvana and Sonic Youth and producing an album with indie rock icon Kim Gordon. But her world was about to take yet another turn when, on the verge of signing a deal with Geffen Records, STP’s lead guitarist was given an unwelcome ultimatum. “Her boyfriend told her it was him or the band and she chose him,” Burge explains. “I guess it was one of those burn bright and burn out things. But it was a really magical time, and as much as all the partying was life-destroying, it was also lifeaffirming.” Things did get dark, though. Burge admits that a “giant drug habit” eventually caught up with her in a bad way. “I was this young, angry woman with severe self-worth issues thrown into the punk rock culture of the time, and it was just the perfect petri dish for a heroin addiction,” she confides. “I crashed and burned and destroyed everything. And I mean everything. Because when you’re addicted to drugs, nothing else matters.” A “God moment” led to her getting clean. “This internal voice I’d never heard before told me that if I didn’t stop doing drugs, I’d die.” She kicked her habit in a matter of weeks and in 1994, aged just 25, moved back to Los Angeles, where her rock n’ roll

life continued for a number of years, albeit sober. But then, one day in 2000, Burge changed everything. “I’d thrown my back out really badly and a friend told me to go see a guy who was doing this thing called rope yoga. I went there and never left.” The guy was renowned fitness and life consultant Gudni Gunnarsson, with whom Burge went on to train and apprentice. She became a yoga instructor, massage therapist, and raw food chef (completing her certificate in Ojai) and swapped her guitar for a yoga mat to fully embrace a life of health and wellness. Three years later and by then a new mother, Burge left Los Angeles and moved to Ojai. “I didn’t want my daughter to grow up in the back of a car,” she says. She continued to teach yoga locally for some years, opened a French restaurant called Iron Pan, which she admits “failed miserably,” and finally joined Ojai-based online learning platform Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), where she worked for seven years in its head office, first in Ojai and later in Carpinteria. It was there that she had the idea for Desk Yogi, after finding herself both physically and mentally exhausted by her intense corporate job. “By then I was a single mom of two [her son

Nikolai was born in 2006] and I had zero opportunity for self-care and was completely out of touch with my own body.” She started a weekly yoga class at the office but when nobody showed up for lack of time, she took it online, launching a 15-minute “wellness mash-up” combining yoga, stretching, meditation, and breathwork. The class maxed out each week with hundreds of people joining, and eventually Burge decided to focus on desk-bound wellness full-time. Desk Yogi launched in 2015 as one of the first in the field. From chair workouts focused on back, neck, and upper body strength to relief from screen-induced eye strain, guided meditation, breathwork, and even healthy meal plans, the company’s multifaceted work-based wellness program is accessible, interactive, and fun. And like many online businesses, it has flourished during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. And like any new company, there were teething troubles and growing pains, including the devastating Thomas Fire which forced two of her partners to leave the

Jacqui Burge outside the Move Sanctuary in Ojai, which opened its doors to the public on October 1.


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After 18 months of teaching virtually, Jacqui Burge is excited to return to in-person classes at the Move Sanctuary.

Yogi’s success has seen Burge become a leading voice in the expanding wellness industry. But it’s not all “pranayama” and “namaste,” and Burge has not deserted her punk rock roots entirely. She recently recorded a new album called Punk Rock Heart with her band, Squirrel Suicide, produced by Grammy-award-winning sound

designer Todd Hannigan, and with her 18- year-old daughter Ava singing backing vocals. And she’s just launched a Punk Wellness podcast, which explores various topics related to radical self-care. “Punk Wellness is about being experimental and curious about what being healthy means and not being afraid of taking risks for that greater reward,” she says. “What’s more punk than that?”

photo: SIMONE NOBLE

business after losing their homes, and the closure of Bruge’s original Move Sanctuary studio. However, more than five years in, with clients including LinkedIn, Takeda, Crown Media, Liberty Lending, and Allstate Insurance, as well as a growing number of subscribers across the globe, Desk

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Julie S. Gerard, Esquire 805-798-9165 julie@jsglawgroup.com 206 N. Signal St., Suite L Ojai, CA 93023

ACHIEVING JUSTICE AND EQUITY FOR ALL Specializing in Agricultural Law, Farmers’ Market Rules & Regulations , Personal Injury, Business & Contract Law. Call me with all your legal questions

Thank you, Ojai, for voting us Best Computer Repair for the last 11 years

Mac and Windows Specialists Network and Server Security Solutions Office365, Google Workspace, VoIP & Cloud Experts Improved Wireless Infrastructure Upgrades Providing computer support to the Ojai Valley for 24 years.

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Come for the


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

Ojai’s Thursday Market offers a welcome social hour after more than a year of quiet

Maria Sandoval rides to the market every Thursday with her daughters. They park their bikes by the Chaparral High School gate and the girls race into the courtyard to collect their $2 tokens upon entry — a little reward for customers who leave their cars at home. This incentive started as a way to minimize Thursday traffic and keep Ojai green: $2 for riding a bicycle, $3 for riding the trolley, $4 for riding the bus. They kick off their shoes and take their tokens straight to the Frecker Farms stall for a basket of sweet strawberries to share. “This is something we look forward to every week,” says Sandoval, “It’s our time to reconnect with friends, stock up on fresh food, and celebrate this community we’ve been socially distancing from for so long. These farmers aren’t strangers, they’re our neighbors.”

Above: Rob Russell of Ojai is all smiles as his six-monthold daughter, Evelyn, tries her very first strawberry Left: Amber Lee purchases her fresh flowers from Night Heron Farm, which offers organic herbal medicine as well as beautiful bouquets

kale, stay for the community

by JESSICA CIENCIN HENRIQUEZ Photos by HELENA PASQUARELLA

When the board behind the Ojai Community Farmers’ Market began envisioning this project — years before the pandemic had entered the picture — they could have never predicted the perfection of their timing. “The market brings all of these people together at a moment when we’re so hungry for familiar faces,” says Julie Gerard, OCFM board member and Ojai resident. “There are five of us on the board and while we come each from different backgrounds and our stories are not the same, we share a love for farmers, farming, good healthy foods, and community, and our goal was to create a space that combines all of these things here in Ojai.” The Community Market is a nonprofit, brought to life by grants, donations, and local generosity. During the fundraising process, Ojai local and pro-surfer Dan Malloy auctioned off a surfboard to help cover the cost of weekly musicians that perform at the market. “If that’s not Ojai, I don’t know what is,” laughs Gerard. As the Thursday market finds its footing, it has begun to build a reputation as a part midweek wind-down, part midweek stock-up. The festival-like atmosphere invites customers to grab artisanal foods like the mushroom margherita pie from Wanderers Pizza, lay out a blanket on the grass, and

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bop to live music lined up weekly by Vaughn Montgomery, the community music coordinator we can thank for the bluegrass, folk, and rock and roll that soundtracks the evening. This laid-back, weekly energetic exchange is a part of small-town life that people have missed over the past many months since the pandemic sent us all into hiding. It almost feels as if the enforced distance was imagined when you saunter and stop along a line of stalls, watching children chase one another with bare feet and summer-stained fingers while their parents linger nearby, lost in conversation. The scene isn’t crowded with regular grab-and-go customers but instead peppered with visitors, locals, friends, and neighbors alike opting to stay awhile, ask questions, and get to know the people behind the products they’re buying. “Our goal was to complement the already established Sunday market by providing a space for our local vendors to sell straight to the community they live in. It was important to make sure our small farms remained viable and that the people living in Ojai had awareness of and access to the food being grown here — why shouldn’t every community be self-sustaining?” says Gerard.

Above: Madeline Mikkelson lives and works at Mama Walnut, a 20-acre farm located in Upper Ojai, which grows citrus, olives, and walnuts

Vendors seem to be just as giddy to show up at this weekly social hour as their patrons. “The outpouring of support we’ve felt from our community has been inspiring,” says Emilee Dziuk-Barnett, co-founder of GARA Skincare, “The opening ceremony was filled with laughter and tears as we gathered under the mother tree for a blessing from


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the courtyard, you’ll see that the signage is in English as well as Spanish, a simple gesture to accommodate the growing Hispanic community here in Ojai. There are educational booths set up for children and adults alike, to encourage conversations about California-specific topics — from foraging to fire safety.

Children have the freedom to run and play while their parents listen to live music, visit with other parents, or shop for local organic produce

Chumash elder, Julie Tumamait-Stenslie. The moment she cut the garlic ribbon, something new was born. You could feel it in the air and in the weeks since, a sense of community in our often chaotic and divided world.” Emilee takes time to speak with each person passing her stall, she doesn’t rush them but instead encourages questions, allows them to sample balms and hydrosols as she details how they’re sourced. “We work directly with local cultivators for all of our sages, florals, and woods. We also source many of our ingredients for our other skincare formulations locally. We use Ojai Olive Oil as a base for all of our topical salves and balms. We also source our calendula, helichrysum, chamomile, nettle, and other ingredients from local farms such as Earthtrine Farm and Shear Rock Farms.” The hyper-local approach these farmers, makers, and bakers are taking is a Community Market requirement they are all happy to meet. “Why buy flour from a farm 200 miles away to bake your bread when your neighbor down the road has milled more than enough to go around?” Gerard asks, emphasizing the variety of products readily available right here in the valley. “A lot of these young farmers are coming in and taking over properties that have been stripped. They have been over-farmed, laden with pesticides, and they are regenerating the land with animal rotations, without pesticides, to get certified organic. This community is full of people who are desperate to

make use of what’s already here,” says Gerard. Mama Walnut Farm, a local citrus farm, is one vendor who is utilizing farming maneuvers that promote the longevity of the land. “We are using permaculture design and regenerative practices like rotational animal grazing, rainwater harvesting, and native plant restoration to repair a once conventional orchard,” says Natalie Rodrino, who along with her partner, grows citrus, olive oil, and walnuts on a 20-acre plot in Upper Ojai. Each week they showcase their harvest at the market, their excitement grows. “Before Thursdays, there was no direct contact with our customers, we simply sold through the CSA. Now we have people coming back each week sharing their recipes with us, telling us they’ve never tasted grapefruit so good. We also have a bit of a trade market here, so our neighbors will bring us a bag of onions and swap for a basket of our citrus.” The Thursday market is a direct reflection of what the people of this community value: ingenuity, creativity, and generosity. “It was important for us to make accessibility a priority here; we wanted everyone to feel welcome, to feel invited in and cared for,” says Gerard, “no matter where they come from.” There is a set of strict guidelines to ensure that they continue to be a market for the community, by the community. When you enter

One of the more critical ways the market continues to accomplish their mission to maintain inclusivity is by participating in the CalFresh-EBT and WIC Market Match program, which enables people to use their CalFresh and WIC funds while stretching how far they go. “If you’re given $30 a week for food and you come to our market, you will get $60 to spend at any stall in the market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh-cut herbs, or edible plant starts,” explains Gerard. There are over fifty vendors to choose from. Their fresh produce prices are fair and customers walk away feeling good about what they’ve spent and feeling great about supporting smaller-scale businesses. “Access to fresh, organic produce shouldn’t be a luxury, and the more we can minimize the view that this level of health is only within reach to some, the more this community stands to benefit,” says Gerard. The variety of vendors ranges from edible goods like eggs, fish, meat, cheese, honey, bread, fruits, and vegetables, to items like CBD-infused cosmetics, plant-based clothing, handmade ceramics, goat milk soap, and locally sourced wooden home goods. As vendors pack up their stalls, load up their bikes and bed trucks to head back home, it’s clear that the Ojai Community Market has accomplished exactly what it set out to do: It has created a unique, inviting space to meet the social, educational, and nutritional needs of our ever-growing community — and they’ve managed to throw in just enough Ojai magic to keep people coming back.

Left: Organic, hand crafted soaps from Violet’s Pink Thrift stand Right: Jacob Lennon, left, and Dale Cumnins prepare pizzas for the mobile woodfired pizza oven brought by Wanderers Pizza.


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Open for Breakfast & Lunch Tues - Sun 10-3 Dinner Friday & Saturday 5-7


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farmer and the cook organic vegetarian mexican cafe-market-bakerysmoothie-juice bar 339 el roblar drive ojai 805-640-9608

www.farmerandcook.com

www.AttitudeAdjustmentShop.com

805-646-1109

Best Business Service Best Liquor Store

Best Convenience Store

LIQUOR • WINE • PACKAGING & SUPPLIES • SHIPPING MAILBOX RENTAL • MONEY ORDERS • COPIES FAX SERVICES • OFFICE SUPPLIES • DOCUMENT SHREDDING • OJAI T-SHIRTS • SPECIALTY SOCKS

1129 Maricopa Hwy at the “Y”

Fax: 805-646-0927

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“We Love You Ojai” Thank you for voting us...

A FREE PEOPLE NEED A FREE PRESS

Best Breakfast

Best Customer Service

SERVING OUR COMMUNITY SINCE 1891 Open Daily for Breakfast & Lunch 7 am - 2:30 pm Closed Wednesdays Yelp & our Order System

328 East Ojai Ave. • 646-0207

Best Brunch

OJAI VALLEY NEWS

805-646-1476 CIRCULATION@OJAIVALLEYNEWS.COM

SEA FRESH SEAFOOD Seafood - Steak - Sushi

Serving Breakfast Saturday and Sunday 8AM-11AM Voted “BEST SEAFOOD” 12 YEARS IN A ROW!

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the

Forager

by STEVE SPRINKEL

So many rules to break, but I know how to break them better than anyone I know.

one rule was: no hot peppers in the box. well, the hellapainyos are in there, so keep your toddler out. sorry, it is not sufficient. hot peppers in box! Another rule is: “Never run out of Swiss chard.”

photo: KIT STOLZ

Swiss chard, even in the Panini Plains of Ojai, can be made to provide leaves year-round. And yet, we laid off the chard for half a year. Some may want to know why, and there could be a nice hard why in here somewhere. Maybe we, no, I, got so “over it” when the last beds of yummy chard got flailed in May that I didn’t want to stoop over it nor send anyone else to stoop over it. Good thing we over-planted it, because only half was usable, what with the X, Y and Z of wildlife depredation visiting the beds daily. You cover it for the birds, and the gophers havoc it under cover of night. The squirrel chaws a nasty nibble on the edge and then one day says to herself, “Why, I think I am just going to cut me out a nice burrow in here so I don’t have to travel so far for my salad.” Another nice rule is Radish, 2.0. I discovered some time ago that radish will flourish well from April through fall, and nearly year-round. But, no, Mr. Fat Bean ran out of radish seeds and failed to order. Jolly Bean ran out of a lot of seeds. He planted a lot of early pickling cucumbers that were not really a big

hit on El Roblar Drive, and then when it was time for Round Two, he planted them again because that was all he had in his moldy old seed box. He was in a hurry when he did not have to be, but he was rushing a transplant order down to Suncoast in Carpinteria and Beany said “ Screw it.” Getting new green American Slicer seed would have only set the old Frijole back ten days, but he walked away from reason. Ever done that? Just traded idiocy for deliberation like it was Rubles versus Bitcoin? I shortchanged the whole community because I failed to plan and then failed to react to my sloth, my indecision, leaning instead on my awesome capability to ignore that stark truth once learned and now oh, so easy to accept the alternative. Why is that? It’s kind of Covidee. Or Covidy, as it’s spelled on the East Coast. Covid’s skewed shit up real bad. It’s one thing for Geezy McBean to be bored with the pandemic, but just open up the chatter to Generation D, as in DENIED, and get their earful. I can wrassle hope to the ground because I did Cold War, Chernobyl and got a couple nice droughts under my expansive belt. Generation D got their driver’s license right when the Big Orange walked right out of a Marvel Comic book and started stomping democracy to death. Gen-D barely had bandwidth for the dark portent of Kremlin Krazy

when the virus dug in. Covid stole their youth and turned off the spigot on their bubbly hormones. They can’t go nowhere, kiss nobody or even share a damn beer. They were not terribly sure of how to be anyway and now there’s all kinds of oppositional truth-talkers telling them what to do. Shame if you do, shame if you don’t. They’s young enough to not even know what smallpox was. We killed it in 1980. How? Let’s see if you can answer that question with another answer. How are we going to stifle Covid so we are not afraid of each other any more? Cue: not with dewormers, zinc or masks, though masks be good. Speaking of rules, let me break another one. Stop arguing about vaccinations. One thing we have learned is that it is nearly impossible to convince anyone to get a vaccination through debate or the piling up of facts. When the Orange started spouting about alternative facts no one would have imagined that controlling an epidemic would be made so confusing through the adoption of subjective facts. When Attila come up on a fat walled city he did not want to waste time with a long siege. He catapulted a dozen smallpox victims over the wall and poured another cup of tea. www.farmerandcook.com


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Westridge Market 802 E. Ojai Ave • Open Daily 8am - 8pm • Phone 805-646-2762

Westridge Midtown Market 131 W. Ojai Ave • Open Daily 7am - 9pm • Phone 805-646-4082

westridgemarket.com


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dining Eating and tasting in Ojai is often experienced outdoors, as our little town boasts over 20 restaurants and tasting rooms with outdoor seating options. Most establishments with outdoor dining are pet friendly. So get outside, and gormandize en plein air with your pooch. You are sure to make, or see, an acquaintance while you fortify yourself.

Westridge Market

802 E. Ojai Ave. Open Daily 8am - 8pm 805-646-2762

Marché Gourmet Delicatessen

Westridge Midtown Market

Vegetarian, Vegan & Gluten-Free Options. Breakfast & Lunch 9-3 daily. Dinner Fri & Sat 5-8pm 133 E. Ojai Ave. 805-646-1133 www.marchegourmetdeli.com

Bonnie Lu’s Cafe

Papa Lennon’s Pizzeria

Farmer and the Cook

Ca’Marco Ristorante Italiano

131 W. Ojai Ave. Open Daily 7am - 9pm 805-646-4082 www.westridgemarket.com

328 E. Ojai Ave. Serving breakfast and lunch Open 7am-2:30pm Mon-Sun. Closed Weds. 805-646-0207

Market, Cafe, Bakery, Smoothies, Pizzas, Fresh Organic Farm Produce. Open 8:00am to 8:30pm 339 W El Roblar, Ojai To go orders 805-640-9608 Office 805-646-0960 farmerandcook1@gmail.com www.farmerandcook.com

Sea Fresh Seafood

Fresh fish market, sushi & oyster bar. Celebrating 30 years in Ojai. 533 E. Ojai Ave. www.seafreshseafood.com 805-646-7747

Original Italian cuisine, Best of Ojai winner, local wines & beers on tap. 515 W. El Roblar Dr. www.papalennons.com 805-640-7388

Delicious and locally inspired Italian cuisine. 1002 E Ojai Ave. www.camarcoojai.com (805) 640-1048

Mandala

Cuisine of Tibet, India & Japan. 11400. N. Ventura Ave. 11:30 to 9:30 Tues-Fri 4:00 to 9:30 Mon. www.TibetanAid.org 805-613-3048 | 805 798-2768 info@TibetanAid.org


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tasting Heavenly Honey

Ventura Spirits

Majestic Oak Vineyard

Old Creek Ranch Winery

Ojai Olive Oil Co.

Topa Mountain Winery

Tasting room. All natural pure honey. 206 E. Ojai Ave. 805-207-4847 www.heavenlyhoneycompany.com

Tasting room 321 E. Ojai Ave. (Downstairs) 805-794-0272 www.majesticoakvineyard.com

100% organic-local-sustainable Tasting Room Open Monday-Sunday 10am-4pm 1811 Ladera Road, Ojai 805-646-5964 www.ojaioliveoil.com

Our tasting room is open every Friday from 1-5pm Sat and Sun 12-5pm 3891 N. Ventura Ave. SteB2A, Ventura 805-232-4313 www.venturaspirits.com

Live Music. Food Trucks. Join our Wine Club 10024 Old Creek Ranch Road, Ventura, CA 93001 www.oldcreekranch.com 805-641-4132

Tasting room 821 W. Ojai Ave. 805-640-1190 www.topamountainwinery.com


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Wine Tasting

THURSDAY | FRIDAY | SATURDAY | SUNDAY 11 AM - 5 PM

WALK-INS WELCOME

Pet Friendly — Kids Under 2 Yrs & Over 16 Yrs Welcome

10024 Old Creek Rd, Ventura | (805) 649-4132 | www.oldcreekranch.com


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Eating with the season

Autumn PUMPKIN BUTTER Ingredients

2 15-ounce cans pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling) ½ cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar ¼ cup maple syrup (Grade A is best) ½ cup apple juice 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice ½ tsp ground cinnamon 1 pinch sea salt Add all ingredients to a large saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to combine.

Robin Goldstein, chef and author of A Taste of Ojai cookbooks, shares some savory inspirations for the autumn. For many, the September equinox marks the start of a glorious season, filled with pumpkin carving and apple picking. For others, autumn is a melancholy reminder of summer’s end — with fewer outdoor gatherings and beach outings. My grandmother would sing this autumn greeting every September when the weather started to shift, welcoming in the cooler days and chilly evenings. “Come,” said the Wind to the Leaves one day. “Come over the meadow and we will play. Put on your dresses of red and gold. For summer is gone and the days grow cold.” Pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes a predominant vegetables in many fall-themed meals. We always looked forward each year to making batches of pumpkin butter to last through the winter months. Pumpkin butter contains no dairy and this version is lightly sweetened with coconut sugar and maple syrup with fragrant spices. It’s similar to a jam made with homemade or canned pumpkin puree, a delicious addition to fall mornings on waffles and pancakes. Smear on toast and breakfast breads, or add a generous dollop to a bowl of oatmeal with some toasted walnuts. And yes, you can enjoy this straight from the fridge; eat pumpkin butter with a spoon and call it dessert. It’s like the best part of pumpkin pie in a jar without the crust. It can also be added to your classic brownie, cookie, and cake recipes. Bring to room temperature before adding to items like waffles or pancakes.

Once it begins bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer. You’re looking for a frequent bubble, so if there isn’t much going on at the surface, increase heat to medium-low. If bubbling too vigorously, reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is 20-minute pumpkin butter, but if you have more time, leaving it on the stove for another 10 minutes or so will only deepen the flavors and thicken the texture. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more coconut sugar or maple syrup for sweetness, lemon juice for acidity, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for warmth, or salt to balance the flavors. Once cooled completely, transfer to glass containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE Make your own pumpkin pie spice from the spices in your pantry to flavor your favorite fall recipes all season long. Ingredients 3 tbsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp ground ginger 2 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp ground allspice 1 tsp ground cloves In a small bowl, whisk together ground spices until well combined. Store in a small jar or container.


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We’ll get you there! From and to:

For Just $1.50!

Ojai, Meiners Oaks and Mia Monte ADA and Medicare Card Holders .75¢, Seniors 75 and over are free riders on the Trolley. Children under 45” tall FREE

The Ojai Trolley Service Continues to Run Serving the Needs of the Ojai Valley

The Ojai Trolley Service, established in 1989, is owned and operated by the City of Ojai. The Trolley provides daily fixed-route transportation to approximately 9,000 riders per month throughout Ojai, Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte. The Trolley is a well-known feature in the Ojai Valley, and in addition to the daily fixed-route services, participates in many local community events, fund raising activities, community service, and educational functions.

408 South Signal Street, Ojai, CA 93024 Phone (805) 272 3383 • E-mail: trolley@ojaitrolley.com • www.ojaitrolley.com

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Turn! Tu

...there is a season

for Chris Hillman’s memoir


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rn! Turn! by BILL LOCEY who knew that one of the first songs chris hillman ever wrote would become the perfect title for his autobiography, time between? The song is off the Byrds’ fourth album, Younger Than Yesterday from 1967 while the book has been out since Christmas. “Time Between” the tune is also a perfect example of country rock – a musical genre frequently credited to or blamed on Hillman, a founding member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and since 1987, the Desert Rose Band. He stated his melodic mission generally: “I wanted to make great music,” and then more specifically, “… to bring country music to a rock audience with a hip sensibility.” The book is an easy, enjoyable read by a guy who was there, who saw things and did stuff and, evidently, took good notes — sort of like Zelig meets Jimmy Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life. More than six decades in the music biz has enabled Hillman to name a bunch of names and make a lot of friends. The other two surviving members of the Byrds — Roger McGuinn and David Crosby — unlike too many exes, not only do not want to kill Hillman but actually wrote glowing testimonials on the book jacket, as did Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam, Stephen Stills, Marty Stuart, and other rich and famous musicians.

Lovingly described in the first quarter of the book, Hillman grew up in a small town in San Diego county, admiring Hopalong Cassidy, riding horses, and kicking it on the beach in the summer, trying to invent new adjectives when there were perfect 4-foot waves and 70-degree water. Certainly any time will someday be the good old days to someone, but 60 years ago in SoCal truly was the good old days. Imagine free parking at our own beaches, better waves, no warrior cops who imagine ‘fun’ to be a four-letter word, no hotels full of annoying strangers who will drive like idiots in front of you, no tourism bureau selling our quality of life to a bunch of corporate carpetbaggers, and no Sirius XM which was not necessary because AM radio rocked. Really. Hillman remembers. “Surfing in California in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s was pure heaven. No wetsuits — other than a ‘dive top’ which was impossible to paddle in, and all longboards had glassed-on fins. There were no crowds and absolute freedom on the beaches with fires allowed and sleeping overnight on the beach to catch the morning swell.” Along with being stoked by idyllic slacker days on the beach, Hillman became interested in music – a lot of that inspiration coming from the SoCal TV shows like The Spade Cooley Show

and Cal’s Corral, but mostly Hillman was blown away by Bill Monroe — perhaps the greatest mandolin player ever, who, in his spare time, invented bluegrass. Already getting the feel for the guitar, Hillman expanded his horizons by learning the mandolin from the janitor at his high school. After a brief career as a criminal (making a fake ID to buy beer) Hillman realized the obvious — music was a great way to meet girls, so he started playing in bands such as the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers and the Hillmen. Fast forward to 1964, when Hillman and four others — Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, Crosby, and McGuinn – came together as the Byrds. Hillman pulled the Jedi Mind Trick on his bandmates when he told them he could play bass, and he pulled it off and quickly moved on from being the shy guy lurking in the background as he began to assert himself, changing the band’s sound in the process. “It certainly offered up a challenge. I loved playing bass and even though both instruments are so radically different, I learned through interacting with Roger McGuinn’s 12-string and each passing year I continued to learn and improve, I think.” Besides being the right guys in the right place at the right time, the Byrds had several big breaks in quick succession. They had a savvy


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and having Bob Eubanks break the song on KRLA in Los Angeles. Without being a ‘garage rock band’ and having no prior experience playing rock `n’ roll, we managed to forge just the right elements into a sound that influenced just about everybody coming up behind us. We left a solid legacy and I was ever so blessed to have been a part of the process.”

manager in Jim Dickson, and securing a residency gig at Hollyweird hotspot, Ciro’s, didn’t hurt, either, but when they electrified a Bob Dylan song and invented folk rock, they were on the way to RockStar 101. Hillman recalled, “...getting a hold of ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ and getting permission from Bob Dylan to record it, having Miles Davis help secure us a contract with Columbia Records,

The Byrds played all the local TV shows such as Shindig! and The Lloyd Thaxton Show, and even hit the big time with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, but just barely. “There were so many interesting shows back in that era, but The Ed Sullivan Show was by far the strangest as we were fired right before airtime but managed to beg back onto the show

and it came off very well. You’ll have to read the book to find out why we got fired.” The Byrds had lots of hits in short order, including “Turn Turn Turn,” “Eight Miles High,” “So You Want To Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” and many more that were all over AM radio. And even to this day, their music lives long and prospers on classic rock radio, not to mention Sirius XM. The Byrds toured the world and went to England many times and became friends with the Beatles and the Stones, played Monterey Pop in 1967, placed songs in Easy Rider — all the usual rock star stuff. The Byrds lasted for about 10 years with double-digit albums to show for it — the first several each more country-flavored than the one previous — before the dreaded creative differences undid yet another band as the personnel began to change like the lunch shift at McDonald’s. In ’65, anyway. Clark was the first to go in ’65 followed by Crosby and Clarke in ‘67, so McGuinn filled the ranks with new guys, most notably Clarence White and Gram Parsons. In ’68, Hillman and Parsons left the band to do their own country rock thing — the


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Flying Burrito Brothers — a band that released 10 albums in seven years. Parsons, an acknowledged talent and innovator, had other issues and was given the boot from the Byrds and the Burritos more than once. Hillman called him, “the least professional guy I ever worked with.” The chapter in the book describing this phase of Hillman’s career is entitled “Devil in Disguise,” yet with a distinct lack of rancor. So the Byrds started as folk rock in 1965 with “Mr. Tambourine Man,” but added increasing helpings of wahoo as time passed, until 1968’s “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” left little doubt what the band was all about, y’all. The Burritos were synonymous with country rock, and the Desert Rose Band, which has lasted longer than both other bands

in 1989. There were three SoCal shows, with the last one being at the venerable Ventura Theatre. So will the three remaining Byrds fly together again? “No. Highly unlikely,” said Hillman, “but that Byrds reunion gig at the Ventura Theatre with Tom Petty sitting in — that was a great night.” Hillman has been everywhere and seen everything but chose the 805 decades ago. He lived on the beach in Ventura, then up in Ojai and now on the hillside above Ventura. The controversial issue seems to be the fact that fire seems to be stalking Hillman, albeit at a leisurely pace. One of the first rock stars to move to Laurel Canyon, his pad burned up back in the day. Fire threatened his place in Ojai and the Thomas Fire consumed part of his current pad. “We moved here 42 years ago. We were close to the ocean and close enough to L.A. to

work and to travel, but yeah, I’ve been running from the fire demons all my life, just a special affinity for a blazing house fire, I guess.” When asked if writing a song or writing a book is the same thing (except one’s longer?) Hillman said, “I almost think it was easier writing the memoir — there’s really no comparison between the two. A song has to capture a feel and a lyrical message in a short amount of time, encased in a strong melody, while a book can stretch out in thought and subtlety.” Guessing that so far, it has been a wonderful life for Hillman - a happy guy doing what he enjoys, surrounded by loved ones -Hillman replied, “I wouldn’t compare myself to the James Stewart character in It’s A Wonderful Life, but I’m pretty happy as far as happiness goes and I do have a wonderful family which far outweighs any other accomplishments.” Good read. Nice man. Great music.

Top left: 1965. The Byrds on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965 Left: 1971. The Flying Burrito Brothers Below: Chris Hillman today “I’ve had a great life ... and it’s not over”.

combined, covered the country thing. And Hillman was right in the middle of all that. Is he to blame for country rock? Probably, and he’s settled on his possible epitaph even though he’s not sick. “The Byrds managed to survive ‘Folk Rock,’ ‘Raga Rock,’ and ‘Psychedelic Rock,’ but ‘King Of Country Rock’ has always appealed to me as an inscription on my tombstone.” By the ‘80s the individual Byrds were all doing other things with other people. Both Gene Clark and Michael Clarke were touring with their own version of the band, so in an attempt to secure naming rights, McGuinn, Hillman, and Crosby did a mini tour

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When old-time Ojai natives wax nostalgic about their early lives, many describe roaming oak-riven neighborhoods, racing across fields of wild oats, splashing through creeks and barrancas, and sliding down hillsides, all on horseback by LEE ROBERTS

Mr. Pittman Ojai’s Original 20th Century Horseman

T

hey wistfully describe their mounts as noble or determined to leave the rider for dead.

Hundreds of horse trainers, breeders, traders, riding teachers, leather workers, and riders make up a cast of characters who shaped this small valley for more than a half-century, even as the automobile laid a track in the Southern California heart. One of those local horse masters, a Black man whom a few still remember, holds an unlikely and permanent place on that list. When Ojai Valley School Headmaster Wallace Burr hired Paul Pittman in 1947 to create and run the school’s horse program, the school leader seemed to care only for

excellence. President Truman still had yet to desegregate the Armed Forces, and Linda Brown of Topeka, Kansas, whose case went to the Supreme Court and changed US education, had not yet started school. Pittman was the sole Black person in Ojai for decades, and the only one many locals ever knew. Longtime OVS Headmaster Carl Cooper describes Burr’s hiring of Pittman as all but visionary. In hindsight, Cooper explains that Burr hired Pittman as a full faculty member. “We always called him, ‘Mr. Pittman,’” says Cooper. Like every person interviewed for this profile, Cooper describes Pittman as quiet with horses, competent in the backcountry, gentle, and kind.

The school’s in-town campus, serving pre-K through eighth grade children, known as the Lower Campus, honors Pittman every spring by engraving the name of the most exemplary rider graduating from eighth grade into a small nameplate under a bronze statue of Pittman, complete with a cigarette in his mouth. Pittman’s son Paul got a huge kick out of the statue when he first saw it. “Always with the Pall Mall,” he said. So revered was Pittman that his 1982 death at age 70 prompted the school to hold a memorial on campus. Ventura County notables honored him, and Santa Paula citrus rancher Alan Teague gave the tribute. No one at OVS today


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photo courtesy: MONICA FAY


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photo courtesy: OJAI VALLEY SCHOOL photo courtesy: OJAI VALLEY SCHOOL

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recalls anyone else ever honored in this way. Although more than 100 years have passed since Pittman’s 1912 Minnesota birth, students in and out of Ojai remember the horseman and still can describe how his skills and kindness echo in their lives. Pittman joined local trainers, breeders, and traders in providing a measure of independence to Ojai’s young people in the last half of the 20th century. Miles of trails outnumbered paved roads, and mountain bikes had not yet been invented. Cooper reminds us that Ojai children

rode horses. Every day. “It seems like everyone had horses,” says Cooper. From the Los Padres National Forest trails to local zoning requiring horse rights-of-way to hitching posts in front of businesses, the valley’s infrastructure supported horses. Members of another valley school devoted to horsemanship, Thacher, used its horsepower regularly. On Sundays, Cooper says, “Thacher students used to ride from the East End to the Presbyterian church. They’d show up in white shirts and ties,” their horses tied to a long rail behind the church.

Most Ojai neighborhoods maintained a right of way for horses. Any neighborhood speeding in the Arbolada was more likely to have been kids racing ponies than moguls in Ferraris. It may be that the number of well-maintained local trails for hiking, forestry, and horses peaked in the late 1960s during an expansion of the US Forest Service trail system. Although federal legislation passed in 1968 known as the National Trails Systems Act intended to maintain broad access to federal lands, the US Government Accounting Office notes that our trail system has suffered persistent backlogs and


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Left: Pittman, an unidentified hand, and an OVS student perch on an OVS corral. photo courtesy: OJAI VALLEY SCHOOL

Right: A 1954 riding class with Paul Pittman Below right: Pittman winning in a Santa Paula show ring aboard Reata’s Vindicator

“We went along the Sespe River up one of the mountainsides, made our own fires, cooked our own food. It was marvelous.” Butler continues. On the third day, still in the backcountry, the group of seven stopped to water the horses. Imitating a cowboy, Butler slung a boot around the saddle horn, hooking it with the back of his knee. Something spooked his horse. Butler landed hard in the dirt on his left arm. “It was a compound fracture,” he

underfunding. A 2012 GAO study says less than 38 percent of the mid-century trail system receives much meaningful maintenance today. Local attitudes toward horses have changed, too. For decades, we counted on regular horse sightings on the roadside edges of Ojai yards. Today, the Bridle Trail and a handful of horsebackaccessible crossing signals at Ojai Avenue traffic lights remain.

Retired doctor Henry Butler, 80, attended OVS in the early 1950s. He credits Pittman with saving his eventual career. Butler had been sent to the boarding school as a way to diminish his exposure to his parents’ divorce, still controversial in 1950s California. Dorothy Burr, the headmaster’s wife, and Mrs. Shreiber, a boys’ dorm parent, collected Butler and five other traveling children at the Santa Barbara train station, arranged the children and their bags in two woodie station wagons, and drove them over the mountains to Ojai. By the time he was in fifth grade, Butler had noticed girls, especially that most of them rode horses. Although he had never ridden, he decided to join a horse packing trip into the Sespe wilderness. “Knowing I needed a gentle horse,” says Butler, “He loaned me his own horse” for the weekend trip.

photo courtesy: MONICA FAY

Through the middle of the 1950s, Pittman and his students rode to Matilija Canyon, Soule Park, Camp Comfort, the O-Hi Frostie, the East End, the Gridley Trail, Rose Valley, and deep into the Sespe. These horse packing trips allowed Pittman to demonstrate more than his horsemanship. He had an abundance of humanity, too.

explains, “you could see bone poking through the skin.” More worryingly, “the brachial artery, the arm artery, was bent around this chip of bone.” Pittman was there instantly, says Butler. Like a paramedic trained in pediatric trauma injuries, “he very skillfully, gently wrapped gauze around my arm with two balsa wood splints stabilizing it,” says Butler, for a nine-hour journey to the hospital. Other campers helped


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fashion a travois and attached it to a horse, who then towed Butler to the nearest road and the waiting ambulance. Butler went on to have a career in surgery that he says would not have happened without Pittman’s careful intervention. “I would have had to go into psychiatry,” says Butler, sounding less than enthusiastic about that option. Pittman first came to Southern California as part of a show-horse operation relocating from near Duluth, Minnesota. As a boy he had lived close enough to the large saddlebred-centric stables that he reportedly started working there early, possibly as a child. According to his 1942 draft card, by the age of 30 he lived in Covina, California

and had joined the horse department at California Preparatory School — a quasi-military academy that struggled in the Great Depression, eventually moving to Ojai. While in Covina, according to both his son Paul and his stepdaughter Monica Fay, Mr. Pittman built his riding instructor reputation. The siblings, now in their 60s, say a young Hubert Humphrey and the children of filmmaking legend Cecil B. DeMille all learned to ride from Pittman. When Cal-Prep moved to Ojai, Pittman came too. After OVS head Burr hired Pittman in 1947, it appears the horseman stayed on Cal-Prep property, the Foothills Hotel,

in the Ventura County jurisdiction north of OVS. This seems an anomaly as, like most private schools, OVS generally offered housing to its full faculty members somewhere on its Arbolada campus. The year after OVS hired Pittman, according to the Ojai Valley News, Ojai’s 1948 fire destroyed Pittman’s Foothills Hotel home, reporting, “Pittman and a gardener … were burned out of their cottages at Cal-Prep school.” Though no one seems to know where Pittman immediately landed

Below: Pittman showing Welsh stallion Whale Rock Buddy Mine at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara

photo courtesy: MONICA FAY

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after that fire, Carl Cooper refers to racial covenants* in parts of Ojai when he confirms that Pittman, “couldn’t live on [the OVS lower] campus.” Regardless of his living arrangements, Pittman made a place for himself at the school as a horseman and teacher. Pittman started his own training stables in 1962. His reputation as a safe and dependable horseman grew. Parents could trust him to navigate the choppy waters of purchasing a first horse for the family, mine included.

him fight a horse,” says Monica. She laughs as she recalls the first time she saw people try to force a horse to load into a trailer at a horse show. “We didn’t know horses [or people] could act like that,” she says. With 30 boarded horses and plenty of Pittman’s own show horses and ponies, family activities focused almost solely on the ranch.

No fewer than 10 people from Ojai remember Pittman finding their first horse or pony for them. Pittman’s step-daughter Madeline Fay stresses that “Pappy,” as she and her seven siblings called him, “trained and sold ponies and horses.” Kathy Jenks, Ojai horsewoman and retired Ventura County animal safety official, clarifies the difference between a horse trader and one who happened to make horses his business: “He was not a horse trader, he was a gentleman” who also sold horses. In 1965, Pittman and Jean Stengel Fay, an Ojai woman with eight children, married and bought a ranch in Santa Paula suitable for Pittman’s work. One of those children, Monica Fay, retired and living on her own horse farm near the Sierras, may have been partly responsible for the match. At age 11, Monica says she had a case of horses-on-the-brain. “I think my mother worried that I was so horse crazy I was going to get myself killed if I didn’t get some lessons,” she says, so they found their way to Pittman’s Reeves Road ranch. She remembers him as kind and firm. He inspired his students to improve, and a lucky few became skilled enough to ride his saddlebred Red Feather. Both she and her sister Madeline remember Pittman’s safetyconsciousness and competence. “I never saw

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“We showed every weekend,” say the Fay daughters. Although the marriage did not last, the love and respect did. When Pittman’s health began to fail, the Fay family “swarmed back around him,” says Monica. Pittman died in June 1982, also the first year Ojai Valley School gave the Paul Pittman award. Then OVS Equestrian Director Greg Coulson, who awarded the first Paul Pittman award to Cara Best, says Pittman lived and breathed horses. “He was a horseman’s horseman,” says Coulson, who has run Peppercorn Ranch, now near the summit between Santa Paula and Ojai, since 1986. Best herself became a permanent part of Coulson’s operation, as depicted in the ranch’s horse-and-rider-jumping-a-fence logo. Current Pittman award winners become part of the Pittman legacy while contributing to Ojai’s long history as a place where horses have been central. Maybe they also — if they understand a little about the town’s history and the part it played in a legal system designed to segregate us according to our skin color — might become all the more grateful for Pittman. Both his students and his family members say he coped with realities like restrictive covenants and ignorance by being gentle, kind, consistent, and patient — a few of the traits required for the best in horsemanship.

The bronze statue of Paul Pittman, complete with cigarette in mouth, on display at Ojai Valley School

photo: LEE ROBERTS

*FOOTNOTE

Though unenforceable since a 1948 Supreme Court decision, racial covenants remain in many US property deeds in all 50 states. For information about California’s and other states’ effort to remove the covenants altogether, contact the National Conference of State Legislatures or your local elected representative.


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The story of Ojai’s WWII Prisoners of War at the entrance to the parking lot at the east end of ojai’s libbey park is an engraved bronze plaque installed by the ojai lions club. The plaque, unveiled on Memorial Day 1947, lists the names of 20 American veterans from the Ojai Valley who died in the service of their country. Two of the men honored on the plaque died while prisoners of war in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. Here are their stories and those of other POWs who called the Ojai Valley home, including some who returned from the war and became friends. Robert Pierpont Robert Pierpont was the grandson of Ernest and Josephine Pierpont, who founded the Pierpont Cottages in the area of what is now Thacher Road. Born in 1916, he was educated in Ojai and graduated from The Thacher School. After attending the California Institute of Technology for a year, he entered the military academy at West Point. Upon graduating, Pierpont was assigned to the U.S. Army Engineers in the Philippines at Bataan and Corregidor until American forces surrendered and he was taken prisoner. He survived the Bataan Death March in April 1942, where as many as 650 American fatalities were reported, and was imprisoned for more than two years in a Japanese POW camp on the island. In October 1944, Pierpont was sent to Japan on a troopship carrying 1,775 American and British prisoners of war, but the ship was sunk in submarine action in the South China Sea. The ship had no markings that it was carrying POWs. Lt. Pierpont was 28.

Lewis Hayes Another Ojai survivor of the Bataan Death March is memorialized on the plaque at Libbey Park, but whether U.S. Army Pfc. Lewis “Skeet” Hayes knew Robert Pierpont is not known. After enlisting in the Coast Artillery, Hayes fought on Bataan and Corregidor, but was captured when Bataan fell and he was forced to march more than 60 miles with very little food or water. An estimated 80,000 American and Filipino troops suffered extreme brutality during the march, including beatings, shootings, stabbings and torture.

by PERRY VAN HOUTEN

Ca

Hayes survived, but later died in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines. He is buried with more than 17,000 other American servicemen and women at the Manila American Cemetery. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 130,201 Americans were captured and interned during World War II. While 14,072 died as POWs, 116,129 returned to the U.S. military. From the U.S. Army and Air Corps, 93,941 servicemen and women were taken prisoner in the European theater, while 27,465 were POWs in the Pacific Ocean theater, the vast majority in the Philippines. John Real John Real of Ojai was another survivor of the Philippine invasion. As told to historian and author David Pressey in “Veterans’ Stories of Ventura County,” Real grew up in Ojai and graduated from Nordhoff High School in 1940. He was sent to Clark Field in the Philippines and, during the battle, went from being an aerial photographer with a squadron of B-17 bombers to an

Right: American POW Donald Betlach shortly after his capture by German forces in 1944 in the Battle of the Bulge. Prior to his being reported missing, Betlach’s mother sent him a letter where she described waking up to the sound of his voice. “My first thought was that there was something wrong,” wrote Anna Betlach Photos: Courtesy the Wall of Remembrance


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infantryman armed with a 1903 Springfield rifle. Real was captured in the Japanese invasion and survived the Bataan Death March. He became ill with dysentery and malaria and was sent to a hospital where he met Robert Pierpont. Shipped to the mainland, Real worked in the rice paddies and coal mines, unloading coal at Niigata, Japan, originally one of the prime targets for the atom bomb. He found out the war was over when the Japanese guards disappeared and American troops marched into camp. Sent home after V-J Day, Real landed in Washington state, went to Redwood City in Northern California, and hitchhiked home to Ojai. Real died on June 8, 2014, at the age of 92. René Diets René Diets lived the best years of his life in Ojai. Born in Indonesia, Diets was a sailor in the Royal Dutch Navy, stationed on the island of Java. The fleet

ptured

was destroyed in the disastrous Battle of the Java Sea and Diets was captured. He was shipped to Nagasaki, where he worked in the shipyards riveting steel plates to the hulls of Japanese ships. Transferred to the Japanese coal mines high in the mountains behind the city, Diets was on a work detail away from camp on Aug. 9, 1945, when he saw the mushroom cloud rising from the city, the second to be wiped out by atomic attack. After the war, Diets went to Holland, where he met and married his Dutch


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wife, Maria. Ten years later, he was accepted into the United States through a sponsor in New York, and was told he and Maria and their three daughters would be going to a town in California named Ojai. Before he received the telegram announcing the move to America, Diets had a prophetic dream about a valley covered in orange groves, according to eldest daughter Suza Francina, who currently serves on the Ojai City Council. The family’s first home in 1957 was in the middle of an orange orchard on Thacher Road, Francina said. Her dad, an accomplished artist and painter, worked as an accountant at The Thacher School. Diets’ eldest grandson is former Ojai representative to the California State Assembly and current Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams. In 2014, the State Assembly recognized Diets by honoring him as Veteran of the Year. Diets died in Ojai on Oct. 16, 2016. He was 93. An American POW’s chances of surviving internment were far greater when held by the Germans as opposed to the Japanese. Germany ratified the Geneva Convention — rules on how POWs should be treated — in 1934, and despite some problems, the German military generally upheld the rules when it came to American and British POWs. But the protections were largely ignored when it came to Russian and Polish prisoners, who the Nazis considered racially inferior.

Japan, like Russia, signed the 1929 Geneva Convention, REPORT JUST RE CEIVED THROUGH but never ratified it. AcTHE INTERNATIO NAL RED CROSS ST cordingly, military records ATE PR IS ON ER OF WAR OF show that 33% of American TH E GERM AN GOVERNME POWs held by the JapaNT. LETTER nese died in captivity, while just 1% of American POWs held by the Germans perished in prison camps. Donald Betlach Longtime Ojai resident Donald Betlach spent four of his eight months overseas as a POW in Stalag XIIA near Limburg, Germany.


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Born on May 12, 1924, in rural Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Betlach attained the rank of staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the officers’ mess of the 106th Infantry Division, fighting on the Western Front. Less than two months after his unit shipped off to Europe, Betlach was captured by German forces in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge and was reported missing Dec. 21, 1944.

Every Memorial Day, hundreds of posters featuring the stories and photos of Ventura County veterans are put on display at Libbey Park.

In a letter to Betlach dated Dec. 27, 1944, his mother, Anna, wondered why she hadn’t heard from him in four weeks. She also described a recent experience in which she was awakened by the sound of his voice. His sister, Dorothy, reported an identical experience. “My first thought was that there was something wrong,” Anna wrote in the letter to her son.

Hill interviewed Betlach prior to creating his poster, but said he never spoke much about his time in captivity.

Betlach was liberated in April 1945 and returned home in June. His brotherin-law, Pfc. Robert Link, was also held prisoner in a German POW camp before being liberated in April. After the war, Betlach attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Arizona, earning his degree in Engineering. While working for the Shell Oil Company, he was assigned to the oil fields on Ventura Avenue in Ventura. He met and married Mary Jane Sarzotti, and the couple spent four years in Montana before returning to Ojai. In 1981, Betlach retired as deputy director of the Ventura County Public Works Department. He served on the Ojai Planning Commission and was a member of the Ojai Valley Retired Men’s Club. Betlach passed away at his home in Ojai on Feb. 15, 2020. He was 95.

“The Wall of Remembrance” was developed by Nancy Hill, a member of the Ojai Valley Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion who undertakes nearly every major patriotic and veterans event in the valley.

“It was just something he experienced and he didn’t want to relive it,” Hill said. “You’d never know that he had this history as a prisoner of war, because he was so humble.” Larry Moraga Betlach attended services at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Ojai, where his friend Larry Moraga was also a parishioner. Raised in Ventura, Moraga joined the Army after graduating from Ventura High School. He was sent to the Western Front and served with the 84th Infantry Division before being captured by the Germans. He spent six months at a forced labor camp in Germany. After the war, Moraga met his wife, Evelyn. The two were married in 1951 and lived in Ojai for 48 years. He worked as a plumber for 40 years before retiring, and belonged to American Legion Post 482 in Ojai. In 1989, Moraga was presented with the Prisoner of War Medal by the United States Armed Forces, during a ceremony in Ventura attended by Congressman Robert Lagomarsino of Ojai.

ES TH AT YOUR SO N IS A

He was 76 years old when he died at his home in Ojai on Oct. 17, 1999.

OF INFORM ATION FOLLOWS.

Ben Livesay Both Betlach and Moraga were friends with Ben Livesay, an Ojai man people called “Bennie.”

Top photo: Third from left and center photo: Ventura native Larry Moraga survived six months in a POW camp in Germany. After the war, he moved to Ojai, where he and his wife lived for 48 years. Bottom photo: Ben Livesay of Ojai (lower photo) was shot down over France and captured during his seventh bombing run in a B-17.

Livesay grew up in Casitas Springs, then known as “Stoney Flats,” and attended Ventura High School and Ventura College. He worked as a forest ranger

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with Los Padres National Forest before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force and becoming an airplane mechanic. But flyer sounded like a more glamorous job than mechanic, so he became a waist gunner, manning a 50-caliber machine gun on a B-17 bomber for the 8th Air Force’s 94th Bomb Group. During Livesay’s seventh mission, his plane was shot down over France. He had never parachuted before, but he bailed out at 10,000 feet and tried to hide in a fisherman’s shack before he was quickly captured by German soldiers. Livesay marked his 21st birthday as a prisoner of war at Stalag XVIIB in Krems, Austria, spending three years in the camp with 4,500 other prisoners from all Allied armies, including thousands of Russians. When Russian forces closed in from the east, the Germans marched the Allied prisoners westward, past death camps where Livesay experienced the Holocaust firsthand. After the war, he went to work for Getty Oil Company and spent 43 years working in the Ventura oil fields. He was active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Ojai and the Church of Christ in Meiners Oaks. Livesay died Sept. 3, 2007, at the age of 83. Heroes with a common bond Though Betlach, Moraga and Livesay became friends, they never got together to reminisce about the war, according to Hill. “I don’t know that they discussed this stuff,” she said. “They were all just so tight-lipped about it.” All three men stayed involved in the Ojai community. They donated money at fundraisers for veterans and didn’t consider themselves heroes. “They are real heroes, these men. I imagine they were pretty scared, but they went to war,” Hill said. “But they didn’t go to war because they loved to go to war,” she added. “They went to war because they loved what they left behind. It was just an honor for me to know them.”


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artists&galleries PORCH GALLERY Open Daily. (Closed Tuesday and Wednesday) 805-620-7589 lisa@porchgalleryojai.com www.porchgalleryojaistore.com Instagram: porchgalleryojai

CANVAS AND PAPER Exhibiting paintings and drawings From the 20th century and earlier. Free admission. Thursday – Sunday, noon – 5pm 311 North Montgomery St. www.canvasandpaper.org

KAREN K. LEWIS Painter & printmaker; etchings, monoprints, figure drawings, plein-air landscapes, still lifes and large-scale oil paintings. 805-646-8877 www.karenklewisart.com

LATITUDES Fine Art Gallery Transform your space with fine art photography. 401 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93001 805-642-5257 www.lattitudesfineart.com

ROBERT LLOYD THE ART OF VENTURA COUNTY Paintings and drawings of California and beyond. Viewings available by appointment. 805-798-3172 www.artofventuracounty.com

FIRESTICK POTTERY STUDIO Gallery & Tours Workspace Classes Pottery Events Open Daily 10-6 1804 E. Ojai Ave. 805-272-8760 www.firestickpottery.com

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canvas and paper Ivon Hitchens: nudes October 14 – Dec. 12

Calendar November

Porch Gallery Before the Wilt: Works by Renée A. Fox & Mary Warner Guest Curated by China Adams Oct. 7, 2021 – Jan. 3, 2022 310 E. Matilija St. 805-620-7589 Hours: Mon., Thurs., Fri.: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sat.: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sun.: 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 pm canvas and paper Ivon Hitchens: nudes October 14 – Dec. 12 311 North Montgomery St., Ojai Open: Thurs. – Sun., Noon – 5:00 p.m. Free admission information: visit canvasandpaper.org canvas and paper is a nonprofit exhibition space showing paintings and drawings from the 20th century and earlier in thematic and single artist exhibits.

Ojai Warming: Flora and Fauna in a Time of Climate Change November 5 - March 13 Ojai Valley Museum 130 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai 805-640-1390 Open: Fri. 1:00-7:00 p.m. Sat. - Sun. 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Exhibition focusing on local rare and endangered plants and animals in the Ojai Valley.

Ojai Holiday Marketplace Nov. 13-14, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Libbey Park 210 S. Signal St. 805-646-2053 www.ojaifestival.org Raises money for the Ojai Music Festival and Bravo! music education program. Pie Making Class at Ojai Community Farmers’ Market Nov. 18, 4:00-5:00 p.m. Chaparral School Courtyard 414 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai Pre-reg. req. Fee: Sliding scale from $20

ojaicommunityfarmersmarket. com/visit. Learn how to make fruit & custard pies.

Wine Pull Drive -Thru Fundraiser Nov. 20, 11:00- a.m.-1:00 p.m. Ojai Valley Woman’s Club 441 E Ojai Ave. www.ovwc.info Come join the Fun – wear a mask, stay in your car and drive through! $10.00 donation and receive a bottle of red or white wine. (Must be 21) Amanda McBroom in Concert with Michele Brourman and Roger Kellaway Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. Ojai Art Center 113 S. Montgomery St. 805-640-8797 ojaiact.org An Autumn feast for the ears to benefit Ojai Art Center.

FALL / WINTER 2021-2022

December Spud Classic Golf Tournament Fundraiser Sat., Dec. 4 Registration begins: 6:30 a.m. Shotgun Start: 8:00 a.m. Soule Park Golf Course 1033 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai A fun day of golf that raises funds to support the Ojai Valley School Parent Club. Banquet and silent auction following the round at the course. Humane Society of Ventura County 10th Annual Purrs & Paws Holiday Boutique & Marketplace Dec. 4, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Chaparral Auditorium 414 E. Ojai Ave. 805 646-6505 x104 hsvc.org Free admission & parking Over 30 vendors selling artistic holiday creations. Chamber On The Mountain Presents Duo Apollon, a Guitar &


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Voice Duo! Dec. 5, 3:00 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts (Logan House) 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd. 805-646-3381 Tickets & Info. at chamberonthemountain.com Aaron Haas and Anastasia Malliaras of Duo Apollon perform an art & song repertoire.

888-645-5006 award-winning guitarist, songwriter and singer. “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” Jan 21-Feb 13 Ojai Art Center Theater 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai 805-640-8797 ojaiact.org

OACT 2021 “Our Home For The Holidays” Showcase Dec. 10-12; Dec. 17-19 Ojai Art Center Theater 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai 805-640-8797 ojaiact.org OACT’s final show of the 2021 season. Music, dance and comedy variety show performances of all ages.

Molly Miller, Mark Goldenberg, Adam Levy Live & Broadcast Performance Feb. 5, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Ojai Underground Exchange 611 Pearl St. 805- 340-7893 www.ojaiartsexchange.com

Ojai Valley Improv – Saturday Morning Improv Class Dec. 11, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Raymund Room at Ojai Art Center 113 S. Montgomery St. ojaiact.org Ventura Audubon Society Virtual Speaker Series Presents Condor’s Shadow – Film and Q&A w/Joseph Brandt Dec. 14, 7:00 p.m. via Zoom For event link & info. visit venturaaudubon.org canvas and paper Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso: works on paper December 23 – February 20 311 North Montgomery St. Hours: Thurs. – Sun., Noon – 5 p.m. Free admission canvasandpaper.org

January Ventura Audubon Society Virtual Speaker Series Presents Gavin Jones Jan. 11, 7:00 p.m., via Zoom For link visit venturaaudubon.org Gavin Jones is a USDA wildfire ecologist. He will discuss how wildfire affects forest biodiversity (specifically owls). Ventura Music Festival & OPAC Present Tommy Emmanuel Jan. 20, 8:00 p.m. Oxnard Performing Arts Center 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard, CA 93030 venturamusicfestival.org Tickets at Ticketmaster, or call

February

Mike Mullins Live & Broadcast Performance Feb. 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Ojai Underground Exchange 611 Pearl St. 805-340-7893 www.ojaiartsexchange.com “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” Thru - Feb 13 Ojai Art Center Theater 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai 805-640-8797 ojaiact.org

Ongoing Ojai Community Farmers’ Market Thursdays, 3:00-7:00 p.m. Chaparral School Courtyard 414 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai ojaicommunityfarmersmarket. com/visit Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market Sundays 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. 300 E. Matilija St., Ojai 805-698-5555 ojaicertifiedfarmersmarket.com First Fridays in Downtown Ojai First Friday of each month 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. 805-646-8126 ShopEatOjai.com Stroll Ojai’s downtown, eat at the restaurants, enjoy music at various locations and visit stores open after hours. Ojai Poetry Series at the Ojai Library 3rd Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. Ojai Library, 111 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai ojaipoetryseries@gmail.com

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Shop our wide selection of crystals and healing stones! Tumbled Stones - Crystal Specimens - Smudging Herbs & Incense Spiritual Decor - Books, Gifts & More The Crystal Corner 201 N. Ventura Street, Ojai, CA @thecrystalcornerojai Tuesday – Thursday 1pm-5pm Friday 1pm-6pm Saturday- Sunday 11am-6pm

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W

hen Meditation Mount celebrated its 50th birthday on April 11, 2021, board President Michael Lindfield, for an online celebration, showed viewers a new skylight in the site’s auditorium. Made by Ojai artist Lynn Hegney, the 6-by-6-foot piece of slumped glass features at its center a five-petal rose — the pattern created by the orbits of Earth and Venus as they move around the sun. The rose, Lindfield said, symbolizes the soul. Then, to emphasize the deep relationship between Earth and Venus, he explained that the astronomical sign for Earth is a circle with a cross in the middle, and the sign for Venus is a cross with a circle on top: “Venus is our older sister, who is saying, ‘Look, this is possible, you can flower, you don’t have to have your spirit imprisoned in matter forever.’” Lindfield said the rose pattern in the skylight is “a way of lifting us towards that planetary goal of the Earth becoming sacred … The Earth is still becoming illumined. At the moment, we do not emit light. We reflect light.” Meditation Mount’s goal has always been to help not just Ojai, but also the world, to absorb and send out inspiration, hope and light. After what seemed like setbacks over the past few years when the Mount had to close to visitors due to the Thomas fire in 2017, then again during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21, it’s now open to the public again, with a new sense of purpose, renewal and hope. As always, those who run Meditation Mount are guided by its mission to build “an enlightened and compassionate world” focused on six universal principles: spiritual approach, goodwill, essential divinity, right human relations, group endeavor and unanimity. SPIRITUAL APPROACH The inevitable movement of life to an ever-expanding state of wholeness and joy, through a living relationship with the Divine Presence.

Meditation Mount Earth and Venus are always dancing, and Ojai’s Meditation Mount is a portal into their cosmic whirl


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

by KAREN LINDELL

Meditation Mount started with a woman named Florence Garrigue who was 4 feet 11 inches in height but stood infinitely tall. She opened Meditation Mount in 1971 when she was in her 80s. Garrigue, born to American parents in Canada, eventually moved to the

US, where she attended UC Berkeley. In the 1930s, she was inspired by the writings of theosophist Alice Bailey and the Arcane School of esoteric studies. In 1950, Arcane School adherents gathered in Europe to establish what their literature described as “a united world group given to unanimous and simultaneous meditation on the work of preparing the world for a new order.” Group member Roberto Assagioli, an Italian psychologist, asked Garrigue to create the U.S. branch, so in New York City, she co-founded the School

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for Esoteric Studies and started the nonprofit Meditation Groups Inc. Garrigue moved to the West Coast in 1968 to find a site for the organization’s headquarters, and ended up in Ojai — it’s not clear how or why, but perhaps she knew about another spiritual center in Ojai, the Krotona Institute of Theosophy. She enlisted the aid of donors to purchase 32 acres of land in the east end of the Ojai Valley, and hired architect Zelma Wilson to design the Tibetan-style buildings, including a residence where Garrigue lived until she died in 1985. Brian Ziegler, Meditation Mount’s executive director and treasurer, first came to Ojai in 1972 as a Chicago college student. Interested in learning more about theosophy, he took six months off to study at the Krotona Institute of Theosophy. Someone suggested he visit Meditation Mount, where he became a volunteer, and later a board member.

Above: Founder of Meditation Mount, Florence Garrigue Left: Visitors gather in the Garden of Peace to experience another spectacular sunset

Ziegler, who met Garrigue in the 1970s, said she was “diminutive in stature, but a force to be reckoned with.” That might imply “an image of a warrior,” he said, “but it was really her soul connection, her mental acuity and prowess, and strong will.” Garrigue wrote in July 1974 of her vision for Meditation Mount: “The


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world … is passing from an era of ‘mind’ and ‘mind activity’ to an era of ‘love.’ This change has great potential for humanity, but humanity must become receptive to this love and develop widespread group focal points through which this new energy can be received and swept into the lives and activities of people all over the world.” In its earliest years, Meditation Mount was essentially a publishing house that mailed pamphlets on spiritual principles to those who requested them, although people also came there to meditate.

Michael Lindfield, president of Meditation Mount’s Board of Directors, has been a board member for 21 years. He said people who come to the Mount sometimes warily ask if they have to “believe in anything,” such as a religion, philosophy or spiritual movement. He responds, “Yes, you have to believe in the power of yourself. But to do it you’ve got to get in touch with yourself. Mediation Mount is a wonderful place where you can deepen your relationship with self.”

Meditation Mount is not focused on personal forms of meditation, although people are welcome to practice it there. Instead, the creative group meditation espoused at the Mount draws on multiple disciplines, and uses all the skills people employ in personal meditation: concentration, visualization, stillness, focus, breathing. But the end goal is “the betterment of humanity, and improving the whole living ecosystem of this planet,” Ziegler said. Lindfield said one type of group meditation is “to simply radiate, and intentionally send out focus group energy into the world. Everything is based on resonance. If I send a loving thought to you, you receive it. You may not consciously register it, but it will touch you.”

Left: The Mount’s Tibetan style buildings, designed by Zelma Wilson Above: The iconic Peace Portal at the entrance to the Garden of Peace

The pamphlets included two courses: a three-year introductory program on creative meditation and the six principles, and a 10-year more esoteric course. The three-year program is now available in PDF form, in English, French and Spanish, on Meditation Mount’s website.

GOODWILL

Meditation Mount expanded to offer group meditations, yoga, special events and other spiritual activities, as well as a garden where visitors could come for quiet contemplation.

Meditation Mount describes itself as a “meditation center of planetary service.” Ziegler said people generally think of meditation as a solitary practice done for individual growth, but

A powerful and abundant energy that nourishes the greatest good for all life. That profound relationship with oneself, however, needs to lead to greater harmony with the rest of the world.

Meditation teacher Diana Lang first started visiting the Mount in the ‘70s and began teaching there in the late ‘90s. She now helps lead the site’s monthly full moon meditations via Zoom, and is a board member. “There’s a great power in people meditating together; that’s the whole reason for full moon meditation,” she said. “It’s the calendar in the sky, and people synchronize to it all around the planet. It becomes this pulse when people gather for goodwill, care of


OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

the planet, and the planet’s expanding consciousness.” ESSENTIAL DIVINITY The acknowledgment and honoring of the Divine Presence in every person and in all life. When Meditation Mount opened, the site was basically dirt strewn with rocks; landscaping was installed slowly. Over the years, the physical structures have stayed the same, including a meditation room, auditorium and residences, but what has changed dramatically is the landscaping, including trails and the Mount’s International Garden of Peace. Artwork has been installed, including the portal gate at the entrance to the garden, made from recycled Douglas fir timbers.

The mountain views, Ziegler said, have always been part of the garden, incorporated into the landscape as “borrowed scenery.” Timothy Hall lived on site and served as Meditation Mount’s “land steward” for 10 years. At a sacred place like the Mount, he said, “that involves more than just gardening — you’re taking care of something you are going to pass on better than you found it. It’s critical to learn from the plants, minerals and animals — how they respond to crisis, to human care, and to abuse.” During the Thomas fire, Hall helped save the Mount from total destruction. Now living in Goleta, he still visits the Mount, and described its most unique geological feature: “You have this promontory out front with valleys on both sides. When you walk down the path, the land goes away, and you feel yourself being elevated.” When Meditation Mount’s landscaping was originally installed, he said, the goal was beauty, without much thought given to water conservation. Later, more drought-tolerant vegetation was planted. The diverse flora includes cactus; agave; a rose garden; and oak,

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Above: As the sun sets over the Ojai Valley, visitors take part in a sound meditation

orange, pepper, avocado, apricot, persimmon and eucalyptus trees. After the fire, Hall said, “it’s amazing how Mother Nature started to renew everything. I think the ash that fell was like magic dust, and helped all the plants regenerate.” RIGHT HUMAN RELATIONS The inclusive practice of loving understanding that treats all beings with respect and dignity. The Thomas fire in December 2017 was a pivotal moment for the Mount. The fire destroyed one residential building and around 70 percent of the vegetation. But Lindfield said the board members eventually realized the fire was a “blessing.” After the burned detritus had been removed, they realized they were standing in “this heart, this bowl, a natural amphitheater and gathering place.” As they regrouped, they talked about creating a community amphitheater where people could come together “for the muses gather” to sing or recite poetry. It’s still just an idea — building


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such a structure would likely cost about $600,000. Sound and music have become a more integral part of the Mount experience. “Music touches people’s hearts, and we believe the arts are like the carrier wave of the renaissance,” Lindfield said. “One of my dreams is to have a Meditation Mount choir.” Meditation Mount has started offering music and sound experiences for a fee ($25), including Sunset Sound

activities didn’t cease, however. Like the rest of the world, Meditation Mount pivoted to online programming, offering live meditations and talks via Zoom.

Some visitors are not happy about the $10 fee, but operating costs just to keep Meditation Mount open cost about $500,000 per year, Lindfield said.

To “bring even more beauty to the Mount,” staff focused on repairing, restoring and cleaning the site, indoors and out.

Before the recent long-term closure, he said, on a typical day about 100 visitors showed up “and most of them didn’t donate anything. We didn’t ask for an entrance fee, but it was rare to get more than $25.”

Before the fire, Meditation Mount’s physical site functioned more like a public park where people could visit

Fundraising is a constant struggle. “I would love a $10 million endowment for the Mount so we could get on just providing services without having to generate funds,” he said. The board has considered renting out the Mount’s facilities, but “it can be tempting to rent out to people who are not doing what is mission-centric for us,” Lindfield said. Weddings are allowed, but only a limited number each year. Traditional fundraising and charging for activities like live streaming “doesn’t feel right either,” he said. A viable business model is “a point of contention, and we’ve got to figure it out.” GROUP ENDEAVOR The group-conscious, collaborative energy that moves us to think and act purposefully together on behalf of the whole.

The Mount offers many dramatic and unforgettable vistas over the Ojai valley

Meditation by Trinity of Sound on Fridays at sunset, and Sunday Morning Sound Meditation with musical artist Suburbanoid. Meditation Mount has also been working with the Ojai Music Festival. A promotional video for the festival was filmed at the Mount, and festival events have taken place on site. The Mount hosted a post-fire grand reopening in February 2020 before it had to shut down again in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The spiritual

throughout the day. “Now we’re seeking to implement more intentionality,” Ziegler said, which means guests need to register and schedule a time to visit, and are asked to pay a $10 fee. “It’s an opportunity to have a more focused impact, to provide more structure,” Ziegler said. That doesn’t mean visitors have to follow a rigid schedule. When someone signs up for a self-guided meditation, it’s up to them how to participate — they can meditate, walk, appreciate nature or enjoy the view.

Everything Meditation Mount does, Lindfield said, needs to meet the needs of the moment while still honoring the spirit of the six principles: One of two new glass skylights, recently installed in the auditorium and meditation rooms


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“The future will be whatever is needed to be of service, to be of help. And it won’t just be us.” He hopes that means Meditation Mount will work more closely with the local community. Lindfield said such collaboration hasn’t happened in the past, perhaps because in its early days the organization was misunderstood. “When we were sending out booklets, we were not so much serving the local people,” he said. “It wasn’t intended as a place for gatherings. But as we started to have more people visit,” connections to the community have deepened.

better job of communicating we are functioning again,” Ziegler said. Meditation Mount is also open to collaborating with any local organizations or individuals who share the same vision, including artists, schools, businesses, and speakers. “The beauty of being in Ojai,” Lindfield said, “is the abundance of aware people and spiritual centers. Ojai has already declared it wants to create something that is more than the average city.” UNANIMITY The recognition of the fact of “one humanity” and the importance of each individual as a unique expression of the One Life.

Ziegler said he sees the campus as part of the Ojai Valley’s spiritual community, with principles connected to the ideas of J. Krishnamurti, Beatrice Wood, the Krotona Institute, theosophists, and others.

Lindfield said the board decided that “to be of help in the world at the moment, we could focus on two things: healing and hope, because there’s so much intolerance and separation rampant in the world, and so many people are wounded to some degree.”

He’d like to see more people from the Ojai community at Meditation Mount.

Healing, he said, means creating “a new state of wholeness, a deeper sense of belonging and meaning in life. That’s just a necessary change as old systems break down before the new ones emerge.”

“I think we need to do a much

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Meditation Mount can help foster healing, he said, by simply opening itself up as a sacred space and sanctuary. Hope is also part of the online presentations the Mount has done over the past year, by interviewing people who are doing positive things in the world and making a difference. During the 50th anniversary celebration, Lindfield opened with a meditation. He started out by saying: “We’re here in Ojai, Southern California. We’re on the same planet. And in our hearts, we’re on the same wavelength.” Watching — and someday joining — the same dance. For information about Meditation Mount, go to www.meditationmount.org.


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“Thank You Ojai We are committed to giving all of our clients the BEST service possible” Best Designer/ Draftsman

805-640-0262


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We care About the Health, Safety & Beauty of Your Trees RCA#592

Owner Mark Crane, member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, and his team of certified arborists, have been meticulously caring for trees in Ojai, Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta since 1995.

• Tree care planting & trimming • Drought services & fire safety • Emergency tree services • Tree evaluation

Thank you for voting for us!

• Hazardous tree & stump removal • Tree pruning & maintenance

MON-FRI: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM 24-Hour Emergency Service

www.markcranestree.com

(805) 646-9484 Spa-warehouse.com Coastalsoftub.com Your Exclusive PowerPool Swim Spa, Vita, American Whirlpool, Bullfrog and Softub Spas Dealer

GARDEN DESIGN PLANT SALES • CONSULTATION Australian and South African Native Plants Drought Hardy • Beautiful • Tough

Growing Grounds

Casitas Springs, Ojai Valley

By Appointment 805-649-3362

www.australianplants.com jo@australianplants.com

Made in USA 5,000 sq ft Showroom 6019 Olivas Park Dr. Ventura CA 93003 805-654-9000 Open by Appointment M-S 10-5

Voted Best Spa and Swim Spa Dealership in Ventura County


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Bryant Circle Mini Storage •Free move in truck •Moving and packing supplies •Security system with TV surveillance •On site resident managers •Competitive rates •Move-in specials

Our Services include: ‘13 ‘14 ‘15 ‘16 ‘17 ‘18 ‘19 ‘20 Call us today for our

BLUE DOOR SPECIAL

412 Bryant Circle, Ojai 805-646-2354

•Equipment Rental Sales & Repair •Propane Sales •Party Rental •Landscaping Equipment Sales & Rentals •Chain Sharpening •Concrete Products 420 N Ventura Ave, Oak View, CA 93022 (805) 649-2590 | info@gregrents.com


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Locally owned and operated • 24 years experience • Bonded and insured


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BE STILL MY HEART Home is where the heart is and this one will capture yours. Located in the most desirable Ojai location, this 2200 plus square foot home checks all the boxes for happiness. From the private entrance to the open floor plan, three spacious bedrooms, four baths, the master suite has two balconies, an outdoor sauna. Sparkling pool and separate spa, cabana with outdoor seating. Impeccable oversized garage and workshop….checks all the boxes! Asking $1,2950,000

COMING SOON!

Be the first to see this 3 bedroom Ojai Bungalow. Effortless and easy, this home is located within a 10 minute walk to downtown Ojai, the Farmers Market, restaurants and shopping. Walk to elementary school, parks, hiking and biking trails. Features include hardwood floors, cozy living and dining areas. Step outside to covered patio and hot tub. Available for Appointment Mid-December. Asking $885,000

Amanda Stanworth 805.218.8117 DRE: 01262333

astanworth@livsothebysrealty.com

A HOME FOR ALL SEASONS

A little bit of country, a little European sophistication. You’ll feel right at home! This three bedroom plus office, three bath home features an open floorplan with breakfast bar and dining room, a fireplace in the living room and sparkling solar heated pool. Lovely outdoor living space with covered patio can be accessed from the dining area as well as office or master bedroom. Available Mid-November. Schedule your appointment to see it today. Asking $890,000

Teresa Rooney 805.340.8928 DRE: 00599443

trooney@livsothebysrealty.com

© 2021 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and have not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principals of the Fair Housing Act.


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Hummingbird Haven, built in 2019, is truly a delight to the senses. Not only does the property offer the joys of a home you don't have to retrofit to your modern lifestyle, it's situated on over 1/2 acre of flowers, 37 fruit trees of many different varieties, and a forest with lovely spaces to meditate, relax, and renew. This one is special. Private tours only.

12437 Sisar Road $1,400,000 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath .67 Acres

Live The Ojai Dream. OjaiDream.com

805-766-7889

SOLD FOR $2,450,000

OJAI Each office is independently owned and operated.

Sharon MaHarry, Broker Associate BRE #01438966


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12490 MACDONALD DRIVE

Located in gated Rancho Matilija this gorgeously appointed property with 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and an office/gym is elegant and comfortable, with main house, attached 2-story full guest quarters and spacious lot complete with amazing entertainers’ yard. The primary residence, located mainly on the 1st floor features formal living & dining rooms, upgraded chef’s kitchen with eating area. The oversized family room with custom fireplace has breathtaking mountain views through panoramic windows. The primary suite has gorgeous views, fireplace, luxurious bathroom & closet. The spectacular backyard offers an upper area with pool/spa, pergola, custom dining area, BBQ, outdoor powder room, and lower area to accommodate horses with trail access, private well and room for more! Finished 3-car garage plus RV-sized garage. $3,385,000 Tracey Ackourey CalRE # 01955580 Cell (805) 551-2932

Amanda Ackourey CalRE # 01997596 Cell (310) 601-6830


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3 Seaview Drive, Montecito 2 BED | 2.5 BATH | OFFERED AT $3,995,000 Steps from the Sand; Ocean front first level unit; Spacious living room includes wet bar and fireplace with direct access to the beach, private balcony also access from the dining room to enjoy the sun sets; Open kitchen has plenty of prep space with center island; Den/ office/family room or could be 3rd bedroom; Master bedroom suite offers two walk-in closets, dual sinks, private balcony off sitting area; 2nd bedroom with ensuite bath and walk-in closet; Near elevator to underground assigned parking; Montecito Shores amenities include a security guard, pool, spa, play area, and tennis courts. Located near the Coral Casino, Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, Downtown Montecito; Approx. 15 minutes to the Santa Barbara Airport

Cathy Titus DRE 01173283 805.798.0960 ctitus@livsothebysrealty.com © 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act.


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For the Acquisition or Sale of your Home, Investment, Estate or Land, call Joan. 30+ years Ojai Valley Real Estate Experience.

SOLD FOR $1,255,000

LIV Sotheby’s International Realty

Local and Global Dominance SOLD FOR $1,250,000

Joan Roberts

805-223-1811 CalBRE# 00953244

roberts4homes@gmail.com 727 W. Ojai Avenue Ojai, California, 93023

© 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principals of the Fair Housing Act.

506 Oak Creek Lane, Ojai SOLD FOR $75,000 OVER THE $1,200,000 LIST PRICE IN ONE WEEK WITH MULTIPLE OFFERS! Ideally situated on the north side of a cul-de-sac in the sought after Crestview neighborhood centrally located to everything Ojai has to offer. This lovely turnkey 2 bedroom 2 bathroom elegantly appointed and redesigned 2,024 sf home features a 2-car finished garage on a 12,400 sf beautifully landscaped lot, and impressive mountain views to the north and south.

KIRK ELLISON 805.340.5905 kellison@livsothebysrealty.com DRE 0188430 www.ojaiproperty.com

JUDY PUGH 805.340.0494 judith.pugh@att.net DRE 0947569

©2021 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principals of the Fair Housing Act.


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and other Vignettes from Drew’s Boyhood Days

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pelunking: There once was a tunnel that ran under the street in downtown Ojai by a creek bed. When I was a young teenager in the mid-1960s, the tunnel ended behind a Pharmacy in the Arcade. What made the tunnel a bit scary was the fact that it doglegs. Why was it scary you ask? Because my buddies and I would gingerly walk through it so as not to stumble over the rocks in the dark until the mid-way point where it bends. Back in those days, the dentist whose practice was next to it didn’t dig us kids using her stairs to get down to the creek. So, we had to be sorta stealth-like. Once we got to the tunnel’s midway point (the dogleg as we called it), light began appearing from the other end. But many times, just before we began to see light, older teenage boys would be hiding in the darkness. As we approached they’d start screaming and scare the pee-waddin’ outta us! We’d take off runnin’ for the opening behind the Arcade, then scamper up the steep, weed-covered creek-bank. Back then, there wasn’t an “Arcade Plaza”. In fact, the back of the Arcade was pretty sucky-looking. We didn’t care though, because we had just survived a cheap thrills adventure. Frank Ayers’ home was on Grand Avenue close to where the lower end of Park Road joins it. I have no idea how large a spread Mr. Ayers owned, but it was quite a few acres and the west side of it was bordered by a barranca when I was a kid in the 1950s and ‘60s attending Topa Topa Elementary School — go, Gophers! (some fool changed it to the Falcons after I was outta there). The barranca ran from Grand Avenue all the way up to Mountain View Avenue, which is the street in front of Topa Topa, behind the homes on the east side of Grandview Avenue. My buddies and I would sometimes use the barranca like a path to get to and from school rather than Grandview. It was gently sloping so it presented an easy walk

and a fun place to explore, especially when it had a little water in it. It had pollywogs and little frogs in it at times, which caught our attention, of course. But, we all knew that Mr. Ayers had a HUGE ranch dog that was meaner than sin. Back in those days, there was only an open agricultural field between his home and the barranca. One time, after school, we used the barranca. When we got to the lower end of it, which was nearest Mr. Ayers home, we often sprinted to keep from getting attacked by the totally imaginary meanest dog on the face of this planet! I was running at full speed behind my dog-avoiding buds one time as they all ran across Grand Avenue and down Park Road. When I was at the end of the barranca, I forgot that there was one strand of barbed-wire that stretched across the barranca. I caught it just under my nose and above my upper lip. My feet kept going, but my head didn’t. My feet went up in the air and I crashed down on my back with a gash below my nose by one of the barbs. Sweat from my exertion went into the cut. Man, did it burn! I couldn’t even roll over. I just laid there in a heap bleeding and quite shaken in the dirt of the barranca. After about five minutes, my buddies came back and got me up. I told them what stupid mistake I had made. Looking back, I sure wish I had improved upon truth and told them Mr. Ayers’ dog had attacked me. “BEN HUR” starring Charlton Heston was a classic film. Several of us E. Matilija Street boys, including Nick Robertson, walked into town to view it at the Ojai Theater in February of 1962. I was 10 years old. The chariot races were spectacular! So spectacular that Nick (the Brain Trust of us adventure-loving lads) came up with the idea of building and racing chariots. All of us stole some of our fathers’ wood for the construction process. Basically, the chariots were just plywood decks with an axle and wooden wheels. We attached

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LOOK BACK IN OJAI with Drew Mashburn Contributed on behalf of the Ojai Valley Museum

yokes to the front of them so two dudes could pull the third that was standing on the deck holding on for dear life to a rope that was attached to the deck. Nick’s parents had a wide, grassy front yard that made a perfect coliseum for chariot racing. If I recall correctly, the starting and finish line was the concrete walk to the front door. Nick was a year older than I, so he usually teamed up with Mark McGuire and Larry Wiser who were his age. I usually teamed up with Nick’s little brothers Drew and Win. My little brother usually teamed up (only serious contestants in their own minds) with Dale Cundiff and, I think, Kit Nichols. Other neighborhood boys joined in the fun too. At first, all we did was run as fast as we could around our oval track pulling the chariots. Drivers oftentimes fell off because the chariots lacked sides. We didn’t care. It was a blast! After a few days of racing, we decided the drivers should be fighting one another as they were being wildly pulled. That’s how Charlton did it. There was all kinds of bumping, shoving, punching, and crashing going on. It really got competitive and teams got a bit under one another’s collars. I mean, this was serious business! So serious that we decided to add cutting-blades to the wheels of the chariots like in the film. All we did was drive big ol’ 16d nails through the wooden wheels. I’m surprised nobody got a foot taken off at the ankle. This was about the time that Nick’s father, Jack, shut us down for good. We protested vehemently, but it was no use. I enjoy hiking at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s “Ventura River Preserve,” but that’s about the closest I get to wandering through barrancas nowadays. My present chariot is my 1986 Suzuki Samurai that can often be seen scooting around the Ojai Valley. I wouldn’t trade to grow up any place else for any amount of money!


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OJAI MAGAZINE | FALL 2021

Real Estate Team

ZabillaGroup.com

Downtown Ojai Estate Spectacular Ojai compound with iconic views of the entire Valley! Recently remodeled with French Oak wide plank floors, open beam cathedral ceilings, walls of windows and stunning chef’s kitchen, this home was born to entertain. Serve guests in the formal dining room or take everything poolside to enjoy the perfect Pink Moment perch. After sunset, hang out around the sunken bar or gather in the wine tasting room with the City lights at your feet. With 4 ensuite bedrooms, including a sprawling Primary bedroom, a living room, family room and open loft game room, there’s plenty of space to relax and let go of the day. Fancy your own private Tequila label? In addition to mature avocados, this almost 20 acre property is newly-planted with beautiful Blue Agave, with incredible upside potential and in turnkey condition for the hobbyist. There is also a 2 bed, 2 bath guest house, a 4 car garage, a well, motor court and gated private drive, all seconds from downtown Ojai. Don’t miss this opportunity to live the life!

4 beds | 6 baths | 4,987sqft | $3,499,000 See more at 1605Daly.com

Ojai Sanctuary Nestled in the foothills of the Ojai Valley is this newly-remodeled, light- filled home, with breathtaking panoramic views! Step out of the car to serenity and into the main living space with sky-high ceilings and enormous picture windows that make you feel part of everything. The open floor plan beckons everyone to the kitchen with elegant Quartz Cambria Portrush countertops and navy tile backsplash, complemented by custom cabinets with Shaker fronts as well as brushed brass fixtures and pulls. This timeless and Contemporary look is continued upstairs with the use of Statuario V tile in the baths and new vanities. The primary Bed and Bath is especially luxurious with a bank of windows to forever and a deep soaking tub to get you there. Outside, the colorful and drought-tolerant landscaping is your backdrop for hanging out on the deck or dinner with friends on the patio. A charming walking bridge takes you to the heights of this property where you may commune with soaring hawks and contemplate what’s most important to you. Come home to this peaceful and unique property.

3 beds | 3 baths | 1,956sqft | $1,750,000 See more at 1600Foothill.com

Rosalie Zabilla 805.455.3183

Rosalie@HomesbyRosalie.com

DRE: 01493361

© Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. All rights reserved. Sotheby’s International Realty® is a registered trademark. This material is based upon information which we consider reliable but because it has been supplied by third parties, we cannot represent that it is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. This offering is subject to errors, omissions, changes including price or withdrawal without notice. If your property is listed with a real estate broker, please disregard. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other real estate brokers. We are happy to work with them and cooperate fully. Operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Real estate agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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DONNA SALLEN

12684 MACDONALD DRIVE

Surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest, Rancho Matilija offers the tranquility and privacy of a secluded, gated community in a country setting. You will be delighted with the open, spacious floor plan, vaulted ceilings, three fireplaces and chef’s dream kitchen, with views from every room! Cool off in the pool surrounded by over two acres of gardens, meandering walkways and mature trees. The gardens produce an abundance of fruits and vegetables, all watered with your own private well. Horses are welcome!

Donna Sallen, Realtor® RE / MAX Gold Coast Realtors DRE 01488460

“Stay Strong. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected”.

805-798-0516 | donna4remax@aol.com


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DONNA SALLEN

THE HISTORIC CASA DE LA LUNA

The historic Casa de La Luna, comprised of six residences on just under 4 acres, is likely the best value estate compound available anywhere in California. The 5,000 sq.ft. main house has 3 beds & 6 baths, limestone & hand scraped wood floors, magnificent wrought iron doors & huge new gourmet kitchen. Visitors stay in the 2 bed, 2 bath guesthouse, or any of the 4 other residences making this property perfect for a large family or an individual with an entourage. Massive outdoor patios & cooking areas, indoor pool with gym & recreation center, drought resistant gardens, numerous varieties of citrus, stone fruit, berries, grapes, as well as thirty-five tree macadamia nut orchard. RV & electric vehicle hookups. Private & gated, this estate must be seen to be appreciated!

www.donnasallen.com


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Patty Waltcher 25 ye a r s o f e x p e r i e n ce m a tc h i n g

p e o p l e a n d p ro p e r t y i n t h e O j a i Va l l e y

FOOTHILL FARMS

This beautiful, turn-key 1920’s Tudor Revival on the prestigious Foothill Road has been impeccably modernized, restored and expanded with close attention paid to preserving the home’s historic character. Designated an Ojai Historic Landmark, the property includes a charming guest cottage, a separate studio, a detached garage and a pool. 1104FoothillRoadOjai.com Offered at $6,450,000

I will help you discover the home that brings peace to your mind and heart (805) 340-3774 ~ pattywaltcher.com