Ojai Magazine Summer 2021

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SUMMER 2 02 1






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SUMMER 2021 Volume 39 No.3 EDITOR’S NOTE

- 14


Ojai Music Festival Turns 75 - 18 ST YLE

Canyon Kids - 48 OUTDOORS

Mule Trains Reopen the Trail - 26 Ojai’s View, Beyond the Coastal Range - 34 Far-flung Summer Hikes - 44



The Art of Jeffrey Lancaster - 54 Artists & Galleries - 62 The Way of Story - 63 That MOTown Feeling - 66 Barefoot in Ojai - 105 Events Calendar - 72




Centennial City - 78 Too Late to be Busted - 142 FOOD AND DRINK

Seafresh - 87 Eating with the Season - 90 Mandala - 94 Dining & Tasting - 100 BIG ISSUES

Catching Carbon with a Goddess - 120 Soil Cyclers - 128 HEALTH AND FITNESS

Mindfulness & Healing - 110 Disc Golf - 112 The Goat Walk - 136 REAL ESTATE

- 132

34 128

136 18



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EDITOR’S NOTE There are whispers around our idyllic valley. Residents smell a post-pandemic shift in the air, and it’s not just because they are taking their masks off. Jobs have gone remote. People can live anywhere, and adorable rural communities everywhere are in demand. Home prices have skyrocketed as Ojai has caught the eye of the world outside. Who will become our new neighbors? A horde, as some people imagine, of urbanites who will erase the smalltown values we “locals” prize? Or might they be a wave of inspired seekers wishing for a simpler and more connected life? The key, according to American novelist and cultural critic Wendell Berry, is that “it all turns on affection.” When you love a place, the land, its people, your affection becomes the root of a deep connection to that place, and the basis for your motivation to participate and serve. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Wallace Stegner describes those citizens as stickers, “those who settle down and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” Small-town living is not for everyone. It’s not a matter of transplanting your city abode, placing it in the country, and “adjusting your settings.” It is different here. There is always room for those who share their talents, and adapt to Ojai life. You’re living like a local when you: don’t talk on speaker-phone when others are present; acknowledge other people when you pass them on the street or see them in the store; brake suddenly when someone approaches the crosswalk; introduce yourself to your neighbors; offer your backyard crop overages to your neighbors; (and you have truly arrived when you wave the other driver to go first even when they have the right of way). And joining a Facebook community doesn’t count; we need more than likes, hearts, and comments on social media to power our town. We Californians can be cold, but Ojai is oldschool, and to flourish, our community depends upon you to join our museum, our Chamber of Commerce, our service clubs and conservation groups, our Ojai Valley Hospital Foundation, and our local newspaper. Attend City Council meetings, planning meetings, school groups, and/ or nonprofit groups; coach, clear trails, count birds, learn about our water issues, and help those in need. We live in community with a fair amount of local accountability, (it’s not a good place to disappear). We wear multiple hats because a small town always needs all hands on deck to thrive. As perhaps with most small communities, we care more about how you treat your neighbors than what you wear, what you drive, or your party politics. It’s a small pond, so friendly counts. We stand tall together — even as acquaintances — and we catch each other when we fall. We few in Ojai love this place. It’s special, and our town’s culture is worth fighting for. To survive inevitable change, both recent and longtime residents will need to say goodbye to the modern sensibilities of personalizing your surroundings to suit yourself, and allow yourself to be changed — through your affection — to adapt to small-town Ojai life. To preserve our town’s character, Ojai locals must act as ambassadors, and extend a hand to newcomers … show them how we do things and why. Then perhaps they will teach us how to improve. What can you bring to Ojai? Affection. Be a sticker, and let your affection guide you. Wendell Berry reminds us, “We do not have to live as if we are alone.”

Laura Rearwin Ward


EDITOR / PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward


Alicia Doyle • Georgia Schreiner Grant Phillips


Karen Lindell • Perry Van Houten Austin Widger • Georgia Schreiner Alicia Doyle • Craig Walker • Mimi Walker Kit Stolz • Chuck Graham Drew Mashburn • Robin Goldstein Helena Pasquarella



Tori Behar • Jodie Miller




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Summer cover photo of Miranda Cuckson by J. Henry Fair @ jhenryfair

With affection,




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In 1947, gas cost 15 cents a gallon, harry s. truman was president, india and pakistan gained independence from great britain, chuck yeager broke the sound barrier, jackie robinson became the first black man to play major league baseball, the future queen elizabeth married philip mountbatten, and charles ives won the pulitzer prize for music. In May of that year, an event less celebrated around the world took place: the inaugural Ojai Music Festival. Perhaps the lack of attention was shortsighted. The Ojai Music Festival, celebrating its 75th year in 2021, has become renowned around the world for showcasing the most innovative music, by the most visionary performers and composers, for the most receptive audiences, in the most picturesque place. The music director in 1947 was Thor Johnson, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; he returned to Ojai nearly every year through 1953. In 1954, the festival’s first artistic director, Lawrence Morton, started two traditions: focusing on new music and appointing a different distinguished music director each year (although some have returned more than once), including Igor Stravinsky, Robert Craft, Aaron Copland, Pierre Boulez, Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Calvin Simmons, Peter Maxwell Davies, Eighth Blackbird (sextet), Dawn Upshaw, Peter Sellars and John Adams. As the festival celebrates its 75th year, it has a new artistic director, Ara Guzelimian, who also held that position from 1992-97. Guzelimian, who just stepped down as provost and dean of The Juilliard School, and also served as artistic adviser at Carnegie Hall, is familiar to festival goers for his “Ara Talks” discussions with festival participants. Guzelimian takes over from Chad Smith, who was appointed in 2018 but announced his departure in 2019 after being promoted to chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Guzelimian has great respect for his predecessors, especially Morton. “Lawrence was, in many ways, the founding spirit of the festival,” Guzelimian said. “He wasn’t the literal founder, but when he took over, he created this pattern of a very inventive festival. I knew Lawrence at the end of his life; he was a huge influence in his fierce devotion to adventurous music and exploration.” Guzelimian doesn’t plan to do a lot of reminiscing, however. For the 2021 festival, he wants to follow the lead of Lawrence and his other predecessors who have all “honored the spirit of what’s preceded them, yet expanded what was possible.” This year, that includes a new date for the festival. To allow for the most optimal health and safety conditions due to the coronavirus, the event, originally scheduled for June 10-13 (online if that had been necessary), will instead take place Sept. 16-19, in person. All the original performers agreed to the rescheduled date. Patrons can still enjoy festival activities throughout the summer, however.

“It’s making a closer connection to and acknowledging the setting of the festival within Ojai ... physically, spiritually and in the community,” — Guzelimian.



Above: 2021 music director, John Adams. Left: Ara Guzelimian returns this year as artistic director.




The festival will offer live outdoor pop-up surprise musical performances in Ojai, as well as online programs throughout the summer. Also eager to look to the future on this 75th anniversary is the 2021 music director, John Adams. “I think most people would agree he is the leading figure in American classical music — the leading composer of our time,” Guzelimian said. “In a way, he is like Copland when he came to the festival in the 1950s.” Adams, who also served as the festival’s 1993 music director, has conducted orchestras around the world. Some of his well-known compositions include Harmonium, a setting of poems by John Donne and Emily Dickinson for chorus and orchestra, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning On the Transmigration of Souls, written in memory of 9/11 victims. His opera and stage works include Doctor Atomic, about scientists who created the atomic bomb, and collaborations with Peter Sellars, including The Gospel According to the Other Mary, Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. Guzelimian said when he and Adams first spoke about the 2021 festival, the composer “adamantly didn’t want a looking-back event. He wanted to be true to the Ojai spirit, which is always looking ahead, and full of surprises and the unexpected. He also didn’t want this to be a retrospective of his music, but about an emerging generation of composers.” Adams will thus showcase the music and talents of mostly American composers in their early 20s and 30s: Samuel Carl Adams, Timo Andres, Dylan Mattingly, Gabriela Ortiz, Gabriella Smith and Carlos Simon. Adams said their works will be combined with “some classics from the 20th century — Stravinsky, Steve Reich, even a little Mozart.” Performers include the Attacca Quartet, which won a Grammy in 2020 for best chamber music/small ensemble performance; violinist

Miranda Cuckson, a member of the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), which will be the festival’s 2022 music director; pianist Víkingur Ólafsson; and the LA Phil New Music Group. Icelandic pianist Ólafsson, Guzelimian said, “has this amazing capacity to combine older and new music.” He has released albums of works by Bach and Philip Glass and paired music by composers hundreds of years apart, such as the French composers Rameau and Debussy. “He makes you sit up and listen, and hear how the centuries talk to each other,” Guzelimian said. The Attacca Quartet plays music by their peers. “With each younger generation of composers and performers, the streams that feed what constitutes classical music just grow bigger,” Guzelimian said. “World music and the European tradition aren’t separate; popular and classical aren’t separate; ritual, theatricality and concert performance aren’t separate. We’re in a generation that speaks multiple musical languages naturally, natively and fluently.” Guzelimian’s history with the festival — and Ojai — goes back much further than his previous artistic director tenure in the 1990s. As a teen, he often visited Ojai, and as a college student, performed at the festival in 1974.

as Beethoven, expands our knowledge and goes beyond the expected,” Guzelimian said. He sees the 75th festival as a bit of a homecoming, but not the high school kind with pep rallies and parades. “It’s making a closer connection to and acknowledging the setting of the festival within Ojai — physically, spiritually and in the community,” he said. Although festival organizers are keeping their eyes on the future, they also plan this year to venture way, way back in Ojai history. At a 2020 outdoor performance that was part of the festival’s BRAVO education and community program, local Chumash elder Julie TumamaitStenslie shared songs and stories of her people, who lived in the area long before anyone else. “Music was central in every single thing we did,” she said during the performance. Tumamait-Stenslie will be part of the festival lineup in September, sharing Chumash stories. Tumamait-Stenslie also shared a verse in the Chumash language that translates to “we’ve been created by the breath and taken to the other side.” What is the other side? Surely Ojai will help come up with a novel answer.

“That sounds grander than it really is,” he said, laughing. “I was a member of the UCLA chorus, which came to sing with Michael Tilson Thomas, the music director that year.” The choir performed little-known pieces by Beethoven, including “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage,” a cantata setting of two poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; “Elegiac Song” for chorus and orchestra; and incidental music for a play called “King Stephen.” So much of what is onstage at Ojai, “even if it’s by a composer as central

The Ojai Music Festival is scheduled to take place in person from Sept. 16-19 at Libbey Bowl and other venues, and other activities will take place online throughout the summer. For tickets and information, call 805-646-2053 or visit www.ojaifestival.org.


Background photo: Timo Andres (photo Michael Wilson) Right, from top: Carlos Simon, composer (photo Wikimedia). Violinist, Miranda Cuckson (photo Henry J Fair), Samuel Carl Adams and composer, Gabriela Ortiz. Below center: Music director John Adams (photo Richard Musacchio) Below top: The Attacca Quartet (photo David Goddard) Below bottom: Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson (photo Ari Magg)




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Mules & hand tools reopen the trail

Michael Morse, co-director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pack Stock Center of Excellence, leads a mule train into the Sespe Wilderness April 14. Photo by Jasonn Beckstrand


When a mule train out of Rose Valley started up the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail the morning of April 14, it was embarking on what was only the second of a nine-phase master plan to restore and reopen the entire trail.





Using a crosscut saw, Tanner Jackson (left) and Jack Carey from Boy Scout Troop 111 remove downed trees on the trail. Photo by Mark Subbotin

One of two National Recreation Trails in Los Padres National Forest, the trail runs 18 miles from the Piedra Blanca Trailhead to Reyes Creek Campground, north of Pine Mountain. “Over the last 10 years or so, the trail just hasn’t received very much attention,” said Bryan Conant, executive director for Los Padres Forest Association, the nonprofit arm of the U.S. Forest Service. “A lot of it, especially on the back side out by Beartrap, was in really bad shape.” Enter LPFA, which worked with the Forest Service on a plan to get the trail open and passable to livestock. A few years ago, LPFA applied for and received grant funding through REI and, last July, put a crew out on the Beartrap portion on the north side of Pine Mountain. It received additional money through a public fundraiser.

The crew spiked at historic Bear trap Camp, “allegedly where the last grizzly bear in Los Padres was trapped,” according to Conant. They worked for a week toward Haddock Camp, restoring roughly one mile of the trail. That was phase 1 of the much larger project. Phases 2 through 4 involved Forest Service mule teams packing in tools and supplies to California Conservation Corps crews for two weeks of work by “the C’s” and one week by volunteers, below and above Piedra Blanca Camp. “We received Washington office funding that was directed specifically at hiring youth, so the CCC was perfect for this project,” said Diane Cross, assistant recreation officer with the Ojai Ranger District. “This is a big deal and we’re really excited to make this all happen.” Since the trail is in a wilderness area, no motorized or mechanical equipment is allowed, and the work must be done

with hand tools only, such as crosscut saws and loppers. Getting all the gear, food and water to the crew miles into the wilderness requires heavy equipment of the fourlegged variety. “The only way we can pull this off is using pack stock to pack all the gear, to make the CCC’s camp in the wilderness area. If it weren’t for the Pack Stock Center of Excellence, I don’t think this would be happening on this scale,” Cross said. The Forest Service’s Michael Morse is co-director of Pack Stock Center of Excellence, out of the Inyo National Forest. Two weeks before his mules headed up the trail, he did a recon to see just what he was getting into. “I’m glad this project is happening because it’s definitely going to help give access to some beautiful country,” he said. Morse has been working with the CCC since 1983. “It’s a great opportunity



Volunteers (from left) Peter Parziale, Steve Calkins and Mark Subbotin repair a section of eroded trail the weekend of May 15-16. Photo Photo by Mary Looby

one-year commitment. “It’s an amazing program,” Herbert said. “It provides different kinds of job skills — everything from trail work, like we’re doing here, to natural resource protection and conservation work. They can go into firefighting.”

Jennefer Oropeza with the California Conservation Corps uses hand tools to remove brush and make the trail stock-passable. Photo courtesy CCC

for young adults to come out, be in the woods and do some kind of meaningful resource protection work, and almost do a self-evaluation of themselves. I can’t think of a better place to do it than here,” he said. Helping the crews get set up at Piedra Blanca Camp were the CCC’s Ben Herbert, conservation supervisor and project manager for the Los Padres District, and Zaina Nasrallah, natural resource specialist. It’s the first spike camp set-up for most of the team.

“This crew is really in for a unique experience. Everything from seeing a pack mule for the first time to setting up a backcountry camp to experiencing a wilderness area; locking the chain saws up at the shop and doing everything by hand,” Herbert said. The crew out of Santa Maria pulled two eight-day hitches on the trail, with a week off in between. To enter the CCC program, men and women ages 18 to 25 must sign up for a

For phase 5 of the project, LPFA’s Ellie Mora led a “First Saturday” volunteer trail project May 1 from the Reyes Creek side and got the first couple of miles stock-passable and in good shape, Conant said. The northern portion of the trail had gotten so overgrown, according to Conant, that LPFA was getting complaints from hikers and backpackers who got lost or turned around because the trail was impassable. To make a trail stock-passable, crews must create a trail corridor wide enough, generally 6 to 8 feet, for a mule with panniers to get through. They also create a trail canopy roughly 8 to 10 feet tall, widen the tread to 18 to 24 inches and remove downed trees and other obstacles a horse or mule can’t or won’t step over.



Phase 6 was another volunteer weekend May 8-9 clearing trees from Reyes Creek to Haddock Camp.

The trail is part of the Condor Trail, which will connect the southern and northern portions of the Los Padres.

For phase 7, Boy Scout Troop 111 from Ventura went up the weekend of May 15-16 to work from Upper Reyes to Beartrap.

Conversation has already started about hiking the entire 400-mile route. “They have every intention of hiking the Condor Trail. I hope we’re able to organize it so that we’re the first Boy Scout troop to hike the Condor Trail in its entirety,” Carey said.

Craig R. Carey is assistant scoutmaster with Troop 111. He accompanied 25 scouts and some allied scout units, supported by a handful of volunteer sawyers with the U.S. Forest Service and LPFA. “They enjoyed the trip a lot. It was another great weekend of service,” he said. A few of the younger boys had never been to that part of the forest before, according to Carey. “It was really heartening to see how seriously they took it, especially the little kids. They were very ‘gung-ho’ and very excited about it,” he said. The weather for phase 7 was warmer than normal, so Carey’s crew was thankful for the water and shade at Beartrap Camp. “Even the little kids were wise enough to marvel at what a treat that was,” he said. Meanwhile, wildlife along the trail provided a show. “We saw a gopher snake consuming a kangaroo rat, which when you’re 10, 11 or 12 is fantastic stuff,” Carey said. The troop backpacked the entire Gene Marshall a few years ago. Carey said it’s best done as a three-day, two-night trip.

During the pandemic, Troop 111 had the boys afield as much as possible, stewarding the land, getting off their screens and shaking the quarantine blues. “I love that the boys feel invested in their public lands, and they take ownership of it by keeping them open,” Carey said. “They really, really love these sawyer projects.” The saws came out again for phase 8 of the project, as LPFA spiked another trail crew for several days of work from Beartrap toward Haddock, using grant and private donation money. Beartrap was base camp again for phase 9, a 10-day LPFA “Working Vacation” that began Memorial Day weekend and ran through June 6, working toward Haddock and Three Mile camps. The work involved brushing, crosscut work to clear downed trees, tread work, including a couple of rock walls

Boy Scout Troop 111 from Ventura specializes in service projects on public lands. In May, the troop spent two days on the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail clearing brush, removing downed trees and repairing tread. Photo by T111

that needed to be built, and giving the trail camps some attention. At that point, approximately 75% of the trail was in good shape, with the remaining work to be done this fall or early in 2022, Conant said. To qualify as a National Recreation Trail, a trail must have special cultural, historic or scenic value. The Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca Trail is one of the true jewels of the Los Padres, according to Conant. “It’s got a little bit of everything — pine trees, high elevation, south-facing chaparral, water in a lot of different sections, and some really neat history,” he said. During a LPFA Working Vacation, the organization provides all the food and tools, carried by pack stock, and helps coordinate all aspects of the project. Volunteers simply hike in with their personal belongings — tent, sleeping bag, clothes and other gear — while a designated cook prepares breakfast and dinner. Individuals put in anywhere from four to 10 hours per day over the course of three to 10 days. “It’s just great fun,” Conant said. “Everyone has a good time; it’s a great way to meet new people and stay involved with the forest and trail community. A lot of good friendships are created working on the trail.” After the project is completed early next year, the trail should be in good shape for the next five years, Conant said. For more information and to volunteer for LPFA trail projects, email volunteer@LPForest.org.






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‘13 ‘14 ‘15 ’16 ‘17 ’18 ’19






Ojai’s View

beyond the coastal range


story and photos by CHUCK GRAHAM


rom atop the highway the volcanic island appears as an appendage of the rugged coastal range, and there is no denying its tallest summit – Diablo Peak at 2,450 feet. As the raven flies it is seemingly a stone’s throw away. However, from that view there is no hint of the Santa Barbara Channel or the littoral mainland separating the coastal, chaparral-choked eminence and the largest, most biodiverse isle off the California Coast. All that is visible from Highway 33 are the steep, rugged canyons draining toward the mountainous islet. Yet, they are thwarted by a teeming, unpredictable Santa Barbara Channel, the idyllic archipelago staggering westward, its flora and fauna rich in biodiversity found nowhere else on Mother Earth. The allure has always been there for me where I have spent almost two decades guiding kayak trips, but also vanishing during my own island excursions, always with a deep appreciation for pelagic wilds meshed with mainland backcountry bliss.

The scenic drive up and over Highway 33 brims with stunning coastal mountainscapes as the two-lane road serpentines above the turnoff to Rose Valley Road. The winding route reaches a brief plateau affording a lofty gaze southwest toward Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park.

The windswept archipelago is also known as “the Galapagos Islands of the North” and “the Farallon Islands of the South.” There has always been an abundance of natural wonders swarming the remote archipelago. It mostly feels


far in terms of natural history stirred into a brew of island lore, but faraway it is not, only 60 miles east lies the Los Angeles megalopolis. Nevertheless, that fleeting stretch of Highway 33 in Ojai allows for a brief moment to reflect on my most recent island sojourn before continuing my drive northeast, swallowed up by a maze of fragrant, impenetrable chaparral. Island Fox Chronicles I gave it a chance, but I knew my camera pack wasn’t budging. A diminutive island fox pup of the Channel Islands National Park, North America’s smallest fox species was feeling courageous, attempting to drag my pack to who knows where. The 2-pound isle fox, the largest land predator of the Channel Islands and one of the rarest canids in the world, was acquainting itself with 30 pounds of glass and camera gear, but I was happy to see it. After all, at least it wasn’t peeing on my pack, which they are known to do. Left: Purple, fragrant lupine frames Anacapa Island and the Anacapa Passage on the southeast fringe of the Northern Channel Islands. Below: A lone hiker gazes across the Santa Barbara Channel with the Topa Topa Mountains looming to the east.



Twenty years ago, the island fox was in the throes of captive breeding on three of the five islets on the craggy chain, and at the time it was unknown if their populations would rebound to carrying capacity on each island. One hundred fifty years of ranching on the islands and non-native wildlife had wielded a heavy blow to the fragile island biome and island fox numbers had plummeted to critical lows. By 2002, only 50 foxes remained on Santa Cruz Island. On neighboring Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands, only 15 foxes each remained. There, biologists did a masterful job of mixing and matching pairs to avoid inbreeding. Fortunately, biologists staved off extinction, saving the pint-sized canids from going the way of the dodo. Removing stressors such as 5,000 feral pigs went a long way to returning the archipelago back to a natural balance.

Trapping non-native golden eagles on the islands and returning them to northeastern California and restoring bald eagles after a 50-year absence due to DDT pesticides also played a massive part in restoring the unique island ecosystem. In many ways the islands healed on their own, especially with island flora that has continued to rebound across the chain. In 2016, the island fox was removed from the endangered species list. It was the swiftest recovery of a species in the history of the Endangered Species Act. What wildlife biologists are astounded by is the actual carrying capacity on each island. For example, for decades it was thought that 1,200 to 1,500 foxes existed on Santa Cruz Island, but that was during the ranching era, which took place from 1820 to 1997. Following that era and the removal of

all stressors off the islands, the mountainous islet now houses in the neighborhood of 2,000 animals – island foxes running amok, bounding freely, and swiping my trail running shoes and socks, and attempting to unzip my weather-beaten tent in the process. I allowed that island fox pup a few more tugs on my camera pack before it gave up, leaving tiny teeth marks visible on a strap. There was a time when I didn’t see island foxes at all, and the islands as a whole didn’t feel alive. Today I expect to see them on the beaches, scaling trees and craggy rock outcroppings, but they’re not taken for granted – the isolation of the islands allowing them to thrive unencumbered with threats diverted. Point Bennett It did not hit me until a couple days after finishing my day trip kayaking


around Point Bennett, arguably the most exposed region of the Channel Islands National Park, located on the west end of San Miguel Island. After skimming through my photos from that trip, I determined that most, if not all, of the seal and sea lion pups from that memorable day had never witnessed a kayaker before. I cannot say I have spent a lot of time paddling around Point Bennett. It was only my third time doing so since I started kayaking the islands back in the mid-1990s. It’s a region of the chain that does not allow many chances to paddle its craggy, wave-battered coast. However, when opportunities arise, it is best to pounce. It’s all about the wind, swell and fog out there, so everything has to line up accordingly, which is fleeting. During the fall of 2020 I had the opportunity to do a little volunteer ranger work on San Miguel Island. The second stint – a nine-day run in October – had super calm conditions with little or no wind for the entire stretch. There were also several friends camping on the windswept isle and one of them was there for the entire run. He expressed

interest in paddling around the 27 miles of rugged coastline. That was all I needed to hear; so on October 15, Danny Trudeau, a long-time adventure racing friend from Ojai’s outback high country, and I launched at dawn from Cuyler Harbor, first heading north around Hare Rock, Nifty Rock and then Harris Point. Beyond Harris Point, the long stretch of beach known as Simonton Cove extends westward out toward Castle Rock. The waters surrounding the prominent rock outcropping are known as “shark park,” a place that has a spooky feel with a reputation that can leave some uncomfortable for lots of reasons. Needless to say, there are some big fish that enjoy being the apex predator of the Channel Islands. As calm as it was at dawn launching off the beach at Cuyler Harbor, a 5-foot north swell slammed into Harris Point and waves roared all the way out to Point Bennett. Trudeau and I paddled closer to Castle Rock than we did the rocky shoreline, and by the time we reached that jutting spire, waves were capping off Richardson Rock and out about a half mile beyond Point Bennett to the west.


Once at Point Bennett, the seas became very unorganized. Waves from the southwest collided with uneven swell from the north. Winds were out of the southwest and a dark wall of fog loomed in that direction as well. Waves capped all around us as we negotiated and weaved a path in between slabs of rocky, teeming reefs. An ever-present, uneven chorus of barks, bellows, yelps, snorts, and sheep-like yawps wafted above swirling currents and frothy whitewater, a pinniped serenade choreographed throughout the largest seal and sea lion rookery in North America, and the world. It’s where a long-fingered beach surrounded in giant bladder kelp, thriving reefs, and weather-beaten bluffs offered a safe haven for thousands upon thousands of seals and sea lions, one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. It offsets the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” where throngs of ships between 1869 and 1967 met their demise, ran aground, and sank in those same turbulent, unpredictable seas. And yet, this windblown, wave-battered sanctuary houses four species of seals and sea lions that breed and pup there, those being California sea lions, harbor seals, northern fur seals and northern elephant seals. Occasionally, Point Bennett is visited by raucous Guadalupe fur seals and beefy stellar sea lions. There’s year-round drama on that long, crooked finger of gritty sand. Males fight over females and turf. Pups from all the species call out to their moms across the entire rookery, begging to nurse while their parents feed sometimes for hours offshore. Young sea lions haul out on the broad backs of northern elephant seals as if they have a deal in place with the second largest seal on the planet.

Left page: A curious Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis) is the largest land predator across the Channel Islands National Park. Left: The beach at Adams Cove on San Miguel Island is full of sights, sounds and smells, where thousands of seals and sea lions congregate.



It’s All About the Ears Their ears stand out like no other pinniped. It’s those Yoda-like ears, stubby muzzles, sheep-like yelps and cantankerous personalities that make the northern fur seal my favorite, and the pups in particular. Their crowded nurseries consisting of months-old pups frolicked in shallow tide pools and secluded pocket beaches, and their nips and tugs at each other was constant comic relief. Some bodysurfed with utter aplomb. Others opted for all out body whomping as they were swept up and over a steep, sturdy berm. Playful euphoria was evident as they waddled out for more, fore-flippering their way back into the pounding shore break. From our kayaks it was once again the fur seal pups that offered the most entertainment. We anchored atop a canopy of dense giant bladder kelp and their curiosity was just too much for them to resist. With precision, they porpoised over to us, the brown algae holding us in place as several dozen fur seal pups congregated nearby. Bobbing with exuberance, many popped up, and inched closer only an arm’s length away, while playfully splashing around our kayaks. While in the water their dense fur was matted down allowing their bugged

out, almond-shaped eyes to stand out amongst their pugged profiles. Their ever-present, external earflaps poked straight out from their heads, revealing that Yoda-like pose. While they strained their necks mightily for decent looks at two salt-encrusted kayakers, we reveled in our rare, opportunistic circumnavigation of one of the most rugged regions of the West Coast. It certainly didn’t match the unbridled, kid-like exuberance exhibited by the northern fur seal pups. After all, they were arguably laying eyes on weary paddlers for the first time in their short lived, zoetic existence – those exposed reefs and isolated weather-beaten bluffs and beaches of Point Bennett allowing them to thrive unencumbered with their fore-flippered counterparts. Wandering the Pilgrim My early morning trail run up to Montanon Ridge on the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island was at a pace I wasn’t proud of. Cold, wet fog swirled over the volcanic isle. My joints ached but loosened with each stride above Potato Harbor, then Coche Point, and finally ascending above Chinese Harbor. Stunning seascapes diverted any discomfort as my pace quickened on the lonely single track

leading to one of the best views across the entire Channel Islands National Park. It’s rare to see anyone on this 10-mile loop. The route was recently added as the Montanon Ridge Loop Trail to the park service map. For decades, the trail was considered only as a social trail, or an old sheep trail during the island ranching era, but finally turned game trail for endemic island foxes and island spotted skunks alike. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see a soul at first light on the most biodiverse isle in the national park. However, once I topped out on the narrow, nameless ridge that leads to Montanon Ridge, I was greeted by a binocular toting, pack-laden biologist. “Have you seen any peregrine falcons while on your run this morning?” asked the smiling, yet keen, blonde-haired scientist. “I have not,” I replied. “Not so far.” We traded peregrine stories, the raptors that frequent nearby Scorpion Rock that feast on western gulls and their fuzzy chicks; and the peregrines that hover above the sheer, wave-battered cliffs of Potato Harbor. And then there’s the pair on East Anacapa Island that have become one of the webcam stars found on the website of the Channel Islands National Park. “I left the Navy site at dawn,” she continued. “I’m doing a survey to determine their territories and recovery.” I was easily intrigued. Peregrines had always been a favorite raptor of mine. They are found on all continents except Antarctica, and they are without question the fastest flying bird in the world, diving at speeds that exceed 200 mph. Their recovery on the Channel Islands from DDT pesticides was yet another successful example of natural balance returning to the northern chain. Left: Blooming giant coreopsis overlooking Scorpion Anchorage on the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island. Right: A harbor seal plays in a forest of bladderack. Photo: Creative Commons





“I’ll certainly keep an eye out,” I said. “But I usually hear them before I see one.” She smiled and then continued her way toward breathtaking Potato Harbor, where I have seen peregrines in the past on foot but also from my kayak. As for me, I continued suffering my way toward Montanon Ridge. They Rule the Skies Kayaking toward Cavern Point between Scorpion Anchorage and Potato Harbor, the drama came without warning. A belted kingfisher was in serious distress. Not 25 feet off my bow, the lone kingfisher species in North America had just been clipped midair by a peregrine falcon and landed awkwardly in the ocean. However, this was the kingfisher’s lucky day. A bird that size hit by a peregrine wouldn’t usually survive. At the very least the bird would be too injured to fly on, yet this resilient kingfisher not only shook off the saltwater, but also the assault. It launched out of the water and flew into a massive sea grotto with the peregrine in hot pursuit. Once safely inside the sea cave, the peregrine gave up. On another kayaking trip in early June out and around Scorpion Rock, two peregrines tag-teamed a western gull colony. The gull chicks were just days old and ripe for the taking. The first peregrine dove in and snatched one of

the chicks, but was instantly harassed by at least 10 western gull parents. It forced the peregrine to drop its prize as the chick tumbled down a cliff facing the island and the gull parents chased the peregrine away.

Northern Elephant Seal pups, also known as weaners, are on their own just two months after birth. These two weaners were sunning just outside my tent.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the gulls, another peregrine lurked nearby on a lichen-cloaked cliff adjacent to Scorpion Rock. It pounced on the opportunity and swooped in to gather the bedraggled chick, carrying it off to one of the many weather-beaten caves honeycombed throughout the sheer cliffs on the northside of the isle. Turnabout is Fair Play The Channel Islands National Park has several webcams for visitors to watch active wildlife from the comfort of their homes. There is the underwater cam in the landing cove on East Anacapa Island, and the bald eagle cams out on the remote west end of Santa Cruz Island. Also frequented is the peregrine cam above Cathedral Cove on East Anacapa Island. During May 2018, that peregrine nest produced three fuzzy white peregrine chicks. Their parents have had this nest for awhile now, strategically tucked away from the weather: wind, rain, and fog. On one occasion, during that late spring, I was fortunate enough to accompany Institute for Wildlife Studies biologists Peter Sharpe and Nathan


Above: A solitary sea kayaker paddles beneath the iconic 40-foot-tall volcanic archway on East Anacapa Island. Above right: A pair of fuzzy, cotton ball peregrine falcon chicks hunker inside their ledge nest on Anacapa Island.

Melling to East Anacapa. They were on a routine inspection of the nest (eyrie) to give check-ups to the peregrine chicks and wipe down moisture that had built up on the lens of the webcam. When we arrived at the eyrie, we discovered only two chicks. Their dutiful parents watched us with keen eyes, and then like good parents should, they protected their fuzzy chicks. The peregrines repeatedly dive-bombed us, several times coming within a wisp of clipping my head, shoulder, and neck. It surely felt like 200 mph. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to hunker down – the nest rises a couple hundred feet above Cathedral Cove, and with Sharpe and Melling sitting around the chicks, all I could do was stand hunched over, photograph the checkup and dodge the pissed off parents. Sharpe and Melling attached tracking devices and drew a little blood from each chick. Within 20 minutes all was

calm again around the eyrie. The parents watched us leave as we continued searching for more peregrines while hiking through throngs of nesting western gulls. The rest of the afternoon was spent looking for other peregrines. We spotted another breeding pair on the southside of the island, as they swooped back and forth just west of the lighthouse. From the top of the marine terrace, none of us could spot an active nest, but there had to be one concealed in the sheer, pockmarked cliffs. Sure enough, back on the Vanguard, we motored around the iconic 40-foot-tall archway to the southside of East Anacapa. Melling was standing on the bow, scanning with his binoculars. “There it is,” he pointed three quarters of the way up the cliff. “There’s a peregrine chick sitting on the edge of its nest.” Standing out like nothing else could, an older, bigger, fuzzier, white peregrine chick stood alone, teetering on the edge of its eyrie; its parents could still be seen riding the thermal updrafts that continually swirled around the narrowest islet in the chain.


Epilogue But whatever became of that third chick from the nest above Cathedral Cove? Sharpe and Melling returned to their office, put on their detective hats, and rewound the webcam tape. A brazen, adult western gull was the culprit. It had seized an opportunity like no other. At the time of the perpetration, it was obvious the peregrine parents were not around doting over their young. The tape showed the gull landing in the eyrie and quickly snatching one of the three chicks. A very bold move by a gull, and turnabout being fair play.

Anacapa Island webcam www.nps.gov/chis/learn/ photosmultimedia/anacapa-landingcove-webcam.htm Live Ocean webcam wwwww.nps.gov/chis/learn/ photosmultimedia/ocean-webcam.htm Live Perigrine Falcon webcam www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/peregrine-webcam.htm







Far-flung Summer Hikes

story and photos by PERRY VAN HOUTEN

REYES PEAK TRAIL The nearly 6-mile-long Reyes Peak Trail (23W04) takes you along the north slope of Pine Mountain, through a forest of Jeffrey and sugar pine, white fir and incense cedar. An obscure path to the south of the main trail climbs to Reyes Peak, the third highest mountain peak in Ventura County at just over 7,500 feet, and the former site of a fire lookout tower. Following the main trail, hike 4 miles to Haddock Peak. The trail then drops steeply to Haddock Camp and the junction with the Gene MarshallPiedra Blanca National Recreation Trail. Water is usually available at the camp, but the creek can be just a trickle or even dry in summer. To get to the trailhead from Ojai, drive 31 miles north on Highway 33 to the turnoff for Reyes Peak (aka Pine Mountain) Road. Drive another 7 miles to the start of the Reyes Peak Trail. There are restrooms at the trailhead but no water is available.

Recreational areas in Los Padres National Forest made inaccessible during winter and early spring by annual road closures have reopened for the summer hiking season. That’s good news for local outdoor enthusiasts anxious to visit some of the more remote areas of the Ojai backcountry. Here are a few of my favorite far-flung hikes, which I would rate as moderately to very strenuous.



FISHBOWLS-CEDAR CREEK LOOP Here’s a 14-mile loop that’s easy hiking along Piru Creek until you reach Fishbowls Camp and the series of swimming holes for which the camp is named. Out of camp, the trail climbs steeply to a ridge with great views in all directions. At the 7-mile mark, the Pine Mountain Lodge Trail appears, but you’ll want to head downhill now toward Cedar Creek Camp. Under the towering pines and cedars of the camp, take a break and linger awhile beside the creek. Then it’s time to complete the loop, another 5 miles of level walking back to your starting point at the Fishbowls Trailhead. To reach the Fishbowls Trail (21W05), take Highway 33 north for 37 miles to Lockwood Valley Road and continue to Grade Valley Road. The paved road soon turns to dirt and takes you about 6 miles to the trailhead.

Remember to always check weather and trail conditions when planning your excursion. Here are some online resources to help you plan a safe and pleasant trip: www.weather.gov/lox | www.fs.usda.gov | www.hikelospadres.com

THORN POINT TRAIL Only about 3 miles long (though it can feel more like 30), the Thorn Point Trail (21W07) starts at Thorn Meadows Campground and climbs almost 2,000 feet to the old Thorn Point fire lookout. From there, vistas include the northeast flank of Pine Mountain, the Sespe watershed and out to the Pacific Ocean. To get to the trailhead, follow the same directions as the drive to the Fishbowls Trailhead, but go a few more miles toward the campground. When I last visited Thorn Meadows in June of 2020, the road was washed out and impassable just north of the campground. If that’s still the case, park off the road and enjoy a little extra hiking.

A high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended; 4WD even better, since crossing Piru Creek can be a bit daunting, even in summer.



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Canyon Perhaps it’s the T-shirt printed with “Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls;” or the cotton muslin crib sheet printed with oranges; or the olive green beanie with a “Wild & Free”watch.




ut really, what makes Kids of the Canyon so very Ojai is … the shoes. Among the shop’s best-selling footwear for kids are the Freedom Moses colorful slides for sunny activities, and the Blundstone Chelsea boots for sturdy adventures.

“They are a necessity for Ojai, fashionable but functional,” said Kate Ciepluch, owner of Kids of the Canyon, a children’s clothing store in downtown Ojai. Kids of the Canyon, which opened in 2020 on Thanksgiving weekend, is the younger sibling of the Canyon Supply apparel and gift store across the street, also owned by Ciepluch. The kids’ store offers clothing, accessories, books, and home goods for younger clientele, ages zero to 10. Even if you don’t recognize Ciepluch’s name, if you’re into fashion, you’ve likely heard of the wildly popular online clothing site Shopbop, where Ciepluch used to be the fashion director. She left the company in 2011, moved to Los Angeles in 2014, and then moved to Ojai in 2017. “I feel so fortunate to have two stores in Ojai; it’s pretty much a dream life,” Ciepluch said. Ciepluch, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, has never had any formal design training. She majored in political science at the University of Wisconsin, but her style roots go way back. She was a picky preschool dresser, and started rifling through Vogue magazines at a young age. “It wasn’t about designers or luxury,” she said. “I was always drawn


more to the editorial shot of a stylized beautiful image.” Her only fashion school experience was a job at Bop’s small boutique store in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, which sold items from other contemporary designers. “Within a year of being there, the online store exploded,” Ciepluch said. “This was pre-online anything. People told my boss, ‘You’re never going to sell anything online.’” Ciepluch’s prescient boss moved her to New York City, where she started out as a buyer and then became fashion director. “It was not at all like the New York crazy fashion world you see in The Devil Wears Prada,” said Ciepluch, who loved her job and its small-town, family-run feel and vibe, even in New York City. Amazon acquired Shopbop in 2006. After that, Ciepluch said many of the original people she worked with left, and she eventually left as well to start her own clothing business. She created a brand called Laveer that sold high-end women’s blazers. “Laveer” is a sailing term that means “to beat against the wind,” a term she found in a nautical glossary. “I was totally obsessed with nautical fashion that evokes the feeling of being on the sea, with some bohemian and quirkier elements,” she said. Ciepluch moved to Los Angeles when a friend suggested she could make her apparel for much less money in downtown Los Angeles than in New York. Ciepluch made the move while simultaneously starting another line called Banner Day, which offers luxurious but comfy linen T-shirts.



She’s working on creating Banner Day items for children. “Embroidered little cherries are even cuter on kids’ clothes,” she said. When Ciepluch arrived in Los Angeles, she settled into the city’s Echo Park neighborhood. Living there was a “culture shock,” she said. “I thought I could walk to work downtown.” But L.A. is not New York, and she had to get used to driving again. When she became pregnant again just 17 months after her first child, she sought a different lifestyle. On a weekend getaway up the coast, she attended a yoga retreat in Ojai and found her new home. “Ojai felt like a walking community, and we went to the Deer Lodge, which reminded me of my hometown dive bar,” she said. “I thought, ‘This place is chill, and so down-to-earth.’” Ciepluch worked from home at first, but eventually realized, especially with her two young daughters, Dylan and Poppy, that she needed “workspace separation,” and decided to open her own store. With retail space in front, and an office in the back, Canyon Supply opened in April of 2019 at 307 E. Ojai Ave. Kids of the Canyon came along about 18 months later. Ciepluch describes the items at the store as “small-batch, not found on Amazon, organic, ethically made, and lots of California brands.” Brands at the store include Pink Chicken, Tiny

Just as she did at Shopbop, she understands and caters to her target customers’ likes. Young kids who show a preference for clothing — as anyone with a toddler who wears only one color or outfit will understand — “love soft fabrics, tie-dye, crochet, smiley faces, rainbows, and unicorns,” she said. Sweet and cheerful stripes, plaids, florals and bows will satisfy oohing and aahing adults. Ciepluch also thinks the tween market — around ages 9 to 12 — is “underserved,” so she’s considering clothes for that age group as well.

Whales, Nature Supply Co., Go Gently Nation, Orcas Lucille, Jan & Jul, Bear Camp, and Ride or Dye. The store aims to sell “necessities at not crazy prices,” Ciepluch said. She didn’t want to step on nearby Serendipity Toys’ toes, so she has a limited selection of toys for sale along with blankets, home goods, and artwork. A back alcove in the store offers a space for kids to play, and Ciepluch said she has plans for a refurbished multipurpose room at the back of the store: a membership-based program featuring story hours, yoga, and art classes for kids.

Although Kids of the Canyon is not trying to be another Shopbop, the store does sell items online, and Ciepluch said she receives orders from all over the country. The online part of the business “is crucial in a town with a slow season,” she said. Still, “I love being offline — touching the product, talking with customers, lighting candles in the store.” Fashionable, functional and friendly. Very Ojai. Kids of the Canyon is located at 212 E. Ojai Ave. For more information visit www.kidsofthecanyon.com








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Jeff Lancaster’s surfing paintings convey the stoke of surfing. If you’re not familiar with the term stoke, according to surfd.com, it is “a sense of exuberance felt by surfers during and after an excellent surf session; stoke can be experienced before a session, based purely upon anticipation of how good the waves will be.” It’s the “before” and “after” that Ojai artist Lancaster tries to capture in his paintings, not the ride itself. Lancaster said he “felt stoke was something that hadn’t been explored — the experience of preparation, anticipation,

elation, camaraderie and the journey.“ “It’s the community around surfing. I learned from my elders and peers about caring for your equipment, respect in the water and developing your own style.” Lancaster understands both sides of stoke. He’s been surfing since age 9, and at age 70 continues to get in as many sessions as he can. “I still can’t get a full night’s sleep before I surf, even at my age,” he said. Despite his many travels to beautiful places and tropical surfing meccas (Sumatra, Fiji, Maldives, the local

“climbs” in Hawaii) Lancaster’s paintings have a darkness to them. His Instagram handle is @arts_noir, meaning “dark art,” or “night art.” “I avoid the typical bright sunny day and rainbows,” Lancaster said. “Some of my paintings come from surfing’s shadowy side.” When he was growing up, Lancaster said surfers were considered rebels, and that’s not the case now. Lancaster, who grew up in Palos Verdes, said he remembers “always drawing,” and his mom, an artist herself, encouraged him to pursue art as a career, so he attended the California







College of the Arts in Oakland in the 1960s. He used to work full-time as a graphic designer and illustrator in the entertainment industry, creating album covers, movie posters, and other projects. He moved to Ojai from Santa Monica a decade ago with his longtime girlfriend and is now “semi-retired.” Although Ojai is known as an artist -friendly place, Lancaster said that wasn’t the initial draw for him. “Ojai is one of the only small towns left in California that has a sense of place and a beautiful setting with a mixed culture vibe,” he said.

Jeff Lancaster



While at home during the pandemic, Lancaster has pivoted his focus to daily painting, working most recently in the opaque water medium of gouache, with a style he describes as wandering from “graphic hard-edge print-like to impressionistic.” Switching to painting from graphic design “has been a little bit of a primal scream; it’s very freeing. If people who see it like it, that’s a great addition.” Many of his paintings — surfing-related or not — feature the outdoors and landscapes. But Lancaster is not a plein-air painter, nor does he use photographs of places he’s been. Although he’s inspired by familiar vistas, he’s not

trying to recreate particular scenes. “All my art is drawn from memory, and a culmination of ideas,” he said. Jeff has shown his work at shows in a select few galleries but hopes to continue in San Francisco, where one of his sons owns the Book and Job Gallery. In the meantime, he’s discovered a powerful online showcase. “The gallery I’m used to now is Instagram,” he said. “It’s an amazing venue for artists during the pandemic. I get a lot of feedback from people, including other artists, and people I haven’t met who have a visual

vocabulary.” Lancaster said he doesn’t have a particular artist philosophy, and doesn’t always know where his motivation comes from, although surfing, nature and people — “anything expressive” — can be inspiration. In addition to surf paintings, his Instagram account currently features images from his “House” series, “spurred on by COVID, and what’s going on politically,” he said. The paintings feature the same house — although sometimes its look varies: a primitive white, rectangular country home with a triangular sloping roof, and the same simple door and windows on the front (or maybe the back).


But Lancaster renders the house in almost surreal ways: teetering on the edge of a cliff (“brinksmanship”), half-buried in a lawn, planted in the middle of a freeway interchange, stuck between skyscrapers, on top of someone’s head like a mask, covered in leaves, with vines trailing off like octopus tentacles, split in half horizontally, or surrounded by a moat to keep people out. “A house”, Lancaster said, “can be a place of safety, conflict, growth and expression, so that was the basis for the metaphor,” one all viewers could relate to. But sometimes people take the paintings as metaphors “in a completely different direction” from what he intended.

“Without being too politically biased, when things happen in society that are ridiculous, my intent is to comment on it, but I leave the door open for interpretation,” he said. “I try to stick with compelling images that are thought-provoking.” One painting features the house sinking into the ground, tilted on its side along with a mailbox. The work is captioned, “state of liquefaction.” One Instagram commenter wrote, “I truly look forward to seeing what you are thinking about.” And Lancaster, who’s still processing it all himself, replied, “A house is a home, and home is in your head”.








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JOIN OUR ARTISTS PAGE Reach a wider audience with our Artists & Galleries directory. Ojai Magazine is read and enjoyed throughout Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties so show them your work in the most widely-read local magazine in your area Contact us for details. advertising@ojaivalleynews.com 805-646-1476

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

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

OVA ARTS Your Go-To Place For Gifts. Thursday - Monday. Hours: 11-5 238 E. Ojai Ave. 805-646-5682 www.ojaivalleyartists.com

DAN SCHULTZ FINE ART GALLERY & STUDIO Plein air landscapes, figures and portraits in oil, with a special focus on California landscape paintings. 106 N. Signal St., Ojai 805-317-9634 www.DanSchultzFineArt.com


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


Painter & printmaker; etchings, monoprints, figure drawings, plein-air landscapes, still lifes and large-scale oil paintings.

THE ART OF VENTURA COUNTY Paintings and drawings of California and beyond. Viewings available by appointment.

805-646-8877 www.karenklewisart.com

805-798-3172 www.artofventuracounty.com

PAMELA GRAU 949-903-9743 pamelagraustudio@gmail.com www.pamelgrau.com


the way of stor y

CATHERINE ANN JONES While the pandemic has prompted fear and uncertainty across the globe, certain individuals refused to allow this time to determine their destiny. Catherine Ann Jones — a playwright, screenwriter and author — is one of them. The Ojai resident was traveling and teaching all over the world when the pandemic hit, forcing the cancellation of all travel and events. “It gave me time to write,” recalled Jones, who holds a graduate degree in Depth Psychology and Archetypal Mythology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also taught. “I realized I’ve been putting off writing two memoirs for years, and I thought, I have no excuse not to.” During the pandemic, the award-winning playwright and Emmy-nominated screenwriter published True Fables: Stories from Childhood, which is described as “comforting, comfortable, and fun tales to be enjoyed by children and adults everywhere [that] possess a special power that arises from a deep sincerity and truth, combined with soft, inviting lessons for the soul” by Julie Albright in Children’s Services. Jones also published Buddha and the Dancing Girl: A Creative Life, which is based on her story of inner and outer adventures — from acting in New York to writing in Hollywood — and from her girlhood in Texas to her spiritual search in India. Both books are available at Poppies Arts and Gifts in Ojai, and on Amazon.


Buddha and the Dancing Girl is a metaphor for her life. “The swing between the spiritual quest or the spiritual life and the compulsion to create and express myself through drama … swinging back and forth with the attempt to merge the two — the spiritual and the creative” said Jones. It’s the same energy behind Touched by an Angel, a popular 1990s television series on CBS that Jones wrote several episodes for, and is now being streamed on Netflix. “We got a letter once … from a man who was going to commit suicide,” Jones remembered. “He had never seen our show, but he happened to have the TV on CBS. Touched by an Angel came on and he watched the hour-long drama. At the end, he was sobbing like a child and decided to give life another chance.” The same goes for her books. In Buddha and the Dancing Girl, for instance, “someone read it and said, ‘You don’t speak negatively about anything or anyone.’ That surprised me because I didn’t set out consciously to do that, but in my philosophy, whatever happens to you is a learning experience and sometimes we learn more from the difficult times in our lives than the happy times … it’s about the evolution of the soul.”

“Luckily, I found Ojai … a small town without small town people.” Her latest two books add to the others she has written, including The Way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing, Heal Your Self with Writing, What Story Are You Living? and Freud’s Oracle, which are used in many schools, including New York University writing programs. Her next book, Tea with Mrs. Gandhi: Stories of India, is scheduled to be published in the U.K. in the summer of 2022. Jones currently leads The Way of Story and Heal Your Self with Writing workshops throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. More than 56,000 people have subscribed to her six online courses, which can be found on her website at www.wayofstory.com. Looking back on her residency in Ojai, Jones believes it was no coincidence she resonated with the area after living in cities like Manhattan and Hollywood. She didn’t adapt to big-city living, “and luckily, I found Ojai…a small town without small-town people.” For more information, visit www.wayofstory.com or email catherinejones@wayofstory.com.








MOTown feeling F


received, ondly as to ed l Starborn rr refe all, rura Oaks is a sm s er n ei M d , lin n an Hea g eauty MOTow by natural b at ed d th n y u it o n rr u has since comm town su d an involved s n p u o o sh ar d ed n re expanded cente -pop-ow a of mom-and h ry it w to is s h es beyond our a has s on welln cu fo a , ts n smalldreams to and restaura ’t-sweat-then o d d adding an t , u o become a said Moore, r,” g shiny ab free-spirited in te n th o ce n s is es e elln who ated on e. Ther complete w f the people stuff attitud r is concentr o te n n o ti ce ec se aff er t the dance, that their div ity through MOTown, bu n u m . m w co lo e g a e it modalities. supporting th inhabit it giv ative healing rn n te y al ee b d e an av ents h located barel movement, d idden gem, e establishm h an es a s th ly ar f u o ye tr e y n is w m an n “So its o y for m “MOTow jai … offering ous e communit ugh the vari utes from O al qualities.” in staples in th ro ic m th ag e ve m iv fi d rv an su s to es n le in se ab y diver have been OVID, largel uniqueness, owns from C s er rt o p community p su l recent lockd many of the at ntinued loya th ey co ac ed e d Tr th id ad to She h outside of thanks unity,” sa a broad reac erful comm e d n av o h l w s e Cook, an E is le t th as ap st within rmer and th Fa cated on E g lo in is d p u o cl sh in se at has grown MOTown, Moore, who . restaurant th d an t s ke ar Roblar Drive wers over it organic m , of loyal follo y er it tn n , u ar ’s p n m o m n er n h a Le a vast co She and similar to Pap man, first in business, s n. ar w ye to David Black in -term staple Town in the another long explored MO 019. summer of 2 e “Both of thes ife-w d d n an g husband-a “After seein ful ti u nts ea ra b is au st th g owned re experiencin of y it n u a m ed m n have gai alternative co eople who yal red p te en -c broad and lo rt ea h ve one lo e, d as b an rt er o m p o cust openly sup s y knew tl Lo an to st g in in h e w reac another, e b ld u o w d we Angeles an mmunity that ore id. this was a co sa at re o th o M f,” beyond,” Mo Meiners Oaks, e a part o b to d re o n ile ho said. Wh ts from the is a “beautiful s any commen m so ld u o Meiners Oak ed w iv ful they They rece te ra sual than g ast ca w o re h o g alternative voicin ing for the p feels m ls and ta ys cr f o community ts of fine din s g as e o in b Th er ill ff e, o st at r it m ei e th Ojai, ey d inti community of be to receiv d-winning an thereafter th t n ar o w as p A so s. at ed ar ri th o ye s 70 t has a st ling, a n gy healing ea ra er H au en rn st o re b m ar heart-centered rmet enu, doors of St Ranch House offering sourced gou p o lly sh ca opened the t on lo if g ry al la tors alike. D etaphysic and exemp people who cals and visi lo crystal and m lings based within the y b le p d ye am jo ex hea highly en yet another Reiki energy openly support ican eatery is l udio. ex St ya M lo sa ’s a h lo am it H La w r ntributo established co m er d rhood. -t o an g b , n h and love one of a lo s in 2019 the neig g es n n ri si o u b ch r u e an o e hav ing customer bas “Since open port that we another.” ntinued sup co e th to ks than


“Meiners O aks is an off -the-beate enclave fille n-path d with uniq ue business and an auth es entic eclec tic commun said Carly B ity,” lumberg, w ho moved to Ojai in Octo ber and ope ned her ate in Meiners lier Oaks in De cember of 2020, “pre tty much mid-

Carly Hom e is her “de sign atelier, workshop/d my esign studio turned reta is a place w il.” It here she cre ates and pai original text nts iles, wallpap er, furniture pillows, bed , ding, and m ore, and where she opens the d oors on the wee kends to we lcome visitors and locals. Her which she d brand, escribes as “colorful, fl pandemic.” and upliftin oral, g,” is “The shops inspired by and restaura many nts are all w walkable dis different cu ithin tance from ltures each other,” noted Blum and aesthe berg, whose tics. shop, Carly Home, is lo cate “My biggest right next to d on West El Roblar, Papa Lenno goal is to c n’s. reate “There seem things that “There seems to s to be a re bring n aissance happening happiness an and MO is d at th be a renaissance chartering e forefront color into y new territo of our ries,” Blumb said. “It is si erg home,” Blu tuated just happening and mberg close enou to Downto g h said. In add wn Ojai but ition also, remove enough to MO is at the d to original hold its ow n. We have mix of dinin a g re d g at esigns, “a la , shopping, forefront of rge and wellness It stands ap . art because part of what it is just on I do heels of dis chartering new the covery.” is incorpora te found item territories.” s that add to the aesthetic o f Carly Hom These item e.” s could be v intage sofa antique tab s, les, hutche s, and uniqu ceramics, o e r even odd things like an antique bee keeper’s hat made out o an old feed f sack that co uld now be repurposed into a lamp . “We were o riginally loo king for a place to liv e in Ojai, bu t instead of finding a place to liv e — which thank good ness we eve ntually did find — I saw a corne r retail location wit h a “For Re n t” sign and I said to myself, ‘that store.’ Espe ’s my cially after one heck of a year, I Blumberg g felt this pu rew up in New Yo lse in MO th rk and lived experience Brooklyn fo at I d early on in in r many year Brooklyn b s. After com and during out west, sh efore its renaissan ing e was cravin ce. I wante g a creative be a part o community d to f that again that was gro , but here — unded and tighter, sm authentic, “w on a aller, uniqu hich is what e scale.” drove us to explore Oja i. Besides th S h e was draw en we were re n to Meine ally drawn to atural beauty, felt lik rs Oaks “as e a place to the eclectic it culture. It w discover an as a breath p e o d I wanted ple to have of fresh air we felt insp that feeling and ired and just when they of discovery wanted to b part of this experience ea community. d m y M st O ore/brand. is magical an ” d unexpecte love that!” d and I


pecte x e n u d n a l “Magica




become me, and has o h m o fr ity home away ur commun r many of o you fo g e in m th sa ry e ve th s “is e Meiners Oak all town,” said Eric members.” sm ss a e t lln u e W a new ia im u love abo described as er of Alq n is w ss o e r, n e si tn u a. b ters, where e Scal Their Baumgar ellness cen ife, Chesera w f w o is n h o h ti it ra w gene along the eets edges in all e th self-care m d n u o ar h g ’s u it ro care, y, s “It’ gritt community e said. “It’s h ” f s, o ay rk w o t w h h rig patc and Eastern a beautiful businesses. l real, and it’s al sm g in medicine dwork d hang genuine, har an e id h s al joins forces e loc a n e e rn b It’s where th as It h with Weste weekends. s, lk fo g out on the al in n rk functio of Ojai’s wo stronghold shifting, I am e ar s g medicine to in th h be to e ew u n and althoug ti n o provide a n at it will c Ojai is at tic h lis w o optimistic th f h o f t o l ar leve r and he te n e ic p e e th wellbeing. t.” really abou t as d our from the E knowing “We opene wife moved ber of 2019 m r te te p af e S d n He and his in E st we could business n to the We s was where ak the O in rs s the e End of tow ar in e e y that M n reaching about five r services o u o valley, r s e u c tn fo ar mg best locals,” Bau

“Rough around t


“and were e e differenc amazed at th ways loved al ad h e y. W g closer in the energ O, but livin M in t u o g aving this hangin River and h ra tu n e V e to th n as our end of tow

“We enjoy the sense of belonging that only a edges in all the rig ht ways” small ve town said. “We lo y of the wn, but man with to n d an , d se our dow u c o can offer – are tourist-f cals businesses nal swells, lo o as se d an d n ” s. ke d e w e and we are e cro the w r to avoid th often prefe surrounded by place as to find a d an e Their goal w rv se ly the stunning could real a where they s to create al c lo h it w ancient oaks collaborate y care. r communit fo l e d o m w ne and natural takes a great, but it is e ar s, c e lf lv e e “S r ours beauty of the ally care fo was where village to re O M at th knew Ojai Valley.” ate and we just rder to cre

od neighborho g.” ch a blessin su has been d on West ss — locate e lln e W ia Farmer and Alquim ay between fw r al h r la b El Ro n’s — “is ou Papa Lenno d an k o o C the

to be in o tner we needed s,” Baumgar al c lo r fo e as that spac be healthy annot truly for th al e h said. “We c g in ut creat o h it w s al g u ll-bein of individ and the we y, it n u m m d to the our co is connecte y it n u m m o our c lanet, so we ing of our p e llb e w r e spire our great uplift and in to g in enefit rk o w are be for the b lo g e th f o r little corne of all.”


Unlike m any sma ll towns Meiner and com s Oaks has res making isted th munities, itself ov old chu e lure o er to em and con rch f ulate a sequen t radition houses books city — tly, it re and tru s f m e to its new, us and of every d rom all origins, ains unique ed, and escript ion — rare, as curiosit well as ies “curate booken ” throughout, d ds fro have tw to Vaseline gla m vintage oa ss. an Airst dditional build They also ream b rimmin ings on site: travel a g with b nd the ook great o tiny hou u tdoors, s on se behin and d all type s of leis the Airstream a ure arts f everyda and cra or y living fts for . “When the down, c city energy w ears yo om u casual v e share the u nique, ibe of o ur spec Meiner ial place s Oaks,” — Matese vac said “Stroll . down q uiet st the to Marc a food fa citrus, enjoy n reets, smell Matese ia Doty ccording vorites ew vac, ow and Ce at our ners of le unique Bookst BookEn ste ore & ds Curiosit ies, whic h is locat ed renovat in a 1943 ed chur ch on Pueblo restaur Avenue explor ants shops” betwee and Far South she add e our one-of-a , n ACE mer an H e -k d th d. “We of belo ard are tem enjoy th ind nging t porarily e Cook. While ware h e a can off t only a s c t online t er small to ense hrough losed, they are hey wn the stu and we are sur AbeBoo selling nning a rounde ks.com “We mo ncie db . beauty ved her of the O nt oaks and n y e when purcha atural jai Valle we sed the y.” bu — we d idn’t wa ilding nt t leave an d are st o ill here,” said Ma tes that the evac, adding y were drawn to the b uilding o f the Church of and ima Christ for yea rs, gin someda ed that it cou ld y becom e a boo That ha kstore. ppened in 2011 the chu when rch was for sale . The cou ple’s “r eimagin ed”

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JULY – SEPTEMBER 2021 Alan Parsons Live Project August 28, 5:00-10:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 888-645-5006 For tickets go to: www.wmmts.com or ticketmaster Henri Matisse drawings at canvas and paper through August 5

Calendar July

Ojai Valley Museum Ojai Eye: Master Photographers Exhibit Through Aug. 8 130 W. Ojai Ave. (805) 640-1390 https://www.ojaivalleymuseum.org Friday 1pm-7pm Sat. & Sun. 10am-4pm This exhibition highlights images from J.C. Brewster, Guy Webster & Donna Granata canvas and paper paintings by French cubist Jean Metzinger Through July 25 311 N. Montgomery St., Ojai. hours: Thurs.–Sun., noon–5:00 p.m. free admission. visit canvasandpaper.org for details Ojai Art Center Whitman Family Art Show Through July Reception: Sat., July 31 5:00-9:00 p.m. 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org “Relatives With Roots” Free Art & Native Plant Classes for Kids 8-11 yrs July 17 & 24, 9:00-11:30 a.m. Cluff Vista Park 324 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai (805) 649-8445 Register at: www.ojaivalleygreencoalition.org/ rwrsignup

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy July 17, 5:00-10:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 888-645-5006 For tickets go to: www.wmmts.com or ticketmaster Porch Gallery Ojai John Millei: Works on Paper July 22 – September 12 310 E. Matilija St. Ojai, Ca 93023 805-620-7589 www.porchgalleryojai.com Various mediums of drawing, collage and painting.

July Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike with Lanny Kaufer Fri., July 23, 7:00-9:30 p.m. 1300 N. Signal St. (Shelf Road Trailhead) 805 646-6281 Fee: $35 visit www.herbwalks.com/registerfor-an-event Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike above the Ojai Valley Blue Oyster Cult July 23, 5:00-10:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 888-645-5006 For tickets go to: www.wmmts.com or ticketmaster Ventura Music Festival July 23 - July 24: 8:00 p.m. July 25: 3:00 p.m. 600 E. Gonzales Rd., Oxnard Featuring: Jazz/pop singer-

trombonist Aubrey Logan, Time for Three; and classical guitar by Italy’s Andrea Roberto Ticket prices range from $15 to $70 www.venturamusicfestival.org

August canvas and paper drawings by Henri Matisse August 5 – October 3 311 North Montgomery St. hours: Thurs – Sun, noon – 5 p.m. free admission visit canvasandpaper.org for details Ojai Playwrights Conference Aug. 5-15 Various times and locations (805) 640-0400 www.ojaiplays.org A celebration of creative collaboration featuring world-premiere plays, performance events and the OPC Youth Workshop presentation. Little River Band August 7, 5:00-10:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 888-645-5006 For tickets go to: www.wmmts.com or ticketmaster Yacht Rock Legends: Ambrosia, John Ford Coley & Peter Beckett of Player August 22, 5:00-10:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 888-645-5006 For tickets go to: www.wmmts.com or ticketmaster

September 75th Annual Ojai Music Festival Sept. 16-19, various times Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 805-646-2053 Full Schedule – visit www.ojaifestival.org/2021festival-schedule. Purchase passes at: boxoffice@ojaifestival.org Single tickets available John Adams, 2021 Musical Director

Ongoing Events Ojai Community Farmers’ Market Every Thursday, 3:00-7:00 p.m. Chaparral School Courtyard, 414 E. Ojai Ave. (661) 491-0257 For more info. visit www. ojaicommunityfarmersmarket.com First Fridays Presented by Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce First Friday of each month 4:00-8:00 p.m. Downtown Ojai ShopEatOjai.com (805) 646-8126. Stroll Ojai’s downtown eating at the restaurants, enjoying music at various locations and visiting stores open after hours. Certified Farmers’ Market Every Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Matilija St. city parking lot behind the Arcade (805) 698-5555 www ojaicertifiedfarmersmarket.com Starborn Healing Psychic Faire Second & fourth Sunday 2:00-4:30 p.m. Hamsa Studio 109 E. El Roblar, Ojai (805) 212-9678 www.starbornhealing.com There will be intuitive readers, energy workers, vegan delights.

For current events listings visit www.ojaivalleynews.com/events






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“All hail to the infant just born! And may she grow and prosper and become a sturdy giant among the municipalities of the county.” –The Ojai, July 29, 1921


his summer, the City of Ojai observes its centennial anniversary, celebrating one hundred years as an independent, self-governing municipality. Today, the city is home to about 7,500 residents, with another 22,000 living in the unincorporated areas of the valley. Its citizenry is both active and passionate, often packing city hall to debate issues such as bicycle lanes, short term rentals, and zoning restrictions. Residents take their role as citizens seriously as Ojai tackles the complex issues surrounding growth and the preservation of the city’s historic, small-town character. Of course, Ojai was a much different place 100 years ago. In 1921, the population of the town was just 728, with 1,500 living in the valley. It was a dusty, sleepy little village; most townspeople lived simple, work-a-day lives, with little thought given to municipal services or planning. In fact, nearly all

of the town’s early cultural and civic improvements — a library, social clubs, schools, hotels, parks, and public buildings — had been donated by wealthy, progressive outsiders like Edward Libbey, Sherman Thacher, H. Waldo Forster, Josephine Pierpont, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Nordhoff, and Charles Pratt. The townspeople counted themselves lucky to have such benevolent, wealthy friends, and were happy to accept and enjoy their contributions, but they were also content to let others make them happen.

by CRAIG WALKER Images courtesy Ojai Valley Museum

service was unreliable. What wealthy winter resident would donate a sewage treatment plant or a power station? In 1917, two major fires destroyed much of the town, triggering a mass exodus by both residents and visitors. It became evident that Ojai could lose everything if its residents failed to manage their town

By 1920, some of Ojai’s more civic-minded residents began to question whether relying on the largesse of a few wealthy benefactors was a sustainable approach to meeting the needs of their growing community. The town’s cesspools were overflowing and electrical



in a more professional, business-like manner. After careful consideration of the matter, the townspeople voted to incorporate, which became official on August 5, 1921. On September 30, 1921, The Ojai newspaper published a front page editorial on the town’s new status, outlining the benefits and responsibilities of cityhood. It’s interesting that the newspaper viewed the beneficiaries of incorporation as both city and valley residents, that they had been united, not divided by the city’s incorporation. “Now that we have arrived at the dignity of a city, we, the citizens of both city and valley, should pause and consider where we are and what we are to do about it.

For the first time in our history, we, as a community, are able to think for ourselves as a separate entity. We are conscious of existence as a political unit and of a certain independence. We are no longer the loose-jointed, easy-going, will-of-thewisp, sleeping on the job people that we once were. Incorporation at once puts every citizen in the district in a different frame of mind. Whether one realizes it or not, this is inevitably the case. One now thinks not in terms of oneself altogether, but must think, or must come to think, in terms of the political and social group called OJAI. Sooner or later, citizens feel the weight of something they have never felt before. If he is the right sort of citizen, pride, self-reliance, interest, a sense of responsibility and the itching of public spirit will manifest itself. The greater the number of citizens of this sort, the greater the progress and glory of the community. When, in a republic, a community decides to govern itself, a subtle consciousness of power arises. Every person walks about with his head a little higher; his careless attitude becomes one of solicitude; he develops and enjoys a sense of responsibility; he has a sense of belonging to the group; he is anxious to see



the results of his investment in the form of taxes, and takes credit to himself for whatever of convenience or beauty is added to the community. We have elected our board of Trustees. We must not consider these men our masters. We, the citizens, are the masters. The trustees act for us in carrying on the usual business of government, and thus it is that business methods take the place of hit-and-miss improvements.” The Road to Cityhood Ojai’s transition to cityhood was set in motion by Edward Drummond Libbey, owner of the Libbey Glass Company in Toledo, Ohio. Around 1907, Edward and Florence Libbey began wintering at the luxurious Foothills Hotel just north of the town (then named Nordhoff); in 1909 they built a home on Foothill Road and purchased more than 500 acres across the street (the Arbolada). Libbey loved the stunning views of the Ojai Valley from his back porch, but he thought the ramshackle little town needed some attention after 45 years of haphazard growth and neglect.

Left to right: Charles M. Pratt, Sherman Thacher, Edward and Florence Libbey, Charles Nordhoff, and Walter Bristol.



On April 17, 1914, Libbey called a meeting of the valley’s prominent men to discuss the town’s future. He urged them to organize and take action. J.J. Burke, a local banker and real estate developer, announced that he had already purchased three stores on the southwest corner of Ojai Avenue and Signal Street and would be building a new Spanish-style movie theater, which would open later that year. Before the meeting was over, the assembled men organized themselves as The Ojai Valley Men’s League. It had 87 members and 17 Directors. Sherman Thacher, founder of the Thacher School, was elected president, and Walter Bristol, principal of Nordhoff High School, its secretary-treasurer. Over the next two years, Libbey bought up several of the town’s old stores and vacant properties. In early 1916, he formulated a plan to beautify the town in the spirit of the progressive City Beautiful movement. With the help of the Men’s League and several of the town’s merchants, Libbey financed the construction of a new civic center, which included a Spanish arcade fronting the stores along Ojai Avenue and

a Spanish pergola, post office tower, and civic park across the street. The new buildings, designed by the noted San Diego firm of Frank Mead and Richard Requa, were completed in March of 1917. The following month, on April 6, the Ojai Valley Men’s League sponsored the first Ojai Day to honor Mr. Libbey for his gifts to the town. It was a day of music, picnic lunches, and celebratory speeches. In his speech, Mr. Libbey urged the town’s residents to continue building a dynamic, beautiful city that would inspire civic pride and community spirit: “There has been too little attention paid to things aesthetic in our communities and in our homes. The time has come when we should encourage in ourselves thoughts of things beautiful, and the higher ideals which art encourages and promotes. Art is but visualized idealism ... must awaken in the

San Diego architect Frank Mead (below) and his partner, Richard Requa, designed Ojai’s downtown Spanish-style buildings in 1917. When completed, Mead stayed on, serving on the city’s first Board of Trustees.


people the fostering of the love of that which is beautiful and inspiring. Thus, we are today celebrating, in the expression of this little example of Spanish architecture in Ojai Park, a culmination of an idea and the response to that spark of idealism which demands from us a resolution to cultivate, encourage and promote those things which go to make the beautiful in life, and bring to all happiness and pleasure.” On June 16, 1917, a devastating forest fire roared across the mountains to the north, from Matilija Canyon to Foothill Road, then down into the town. The fire destroyed many of the town’s older buildings, but stopped short of the new ones.

Five months later, on November 28, a second fire broke out inside one of the downtown stores, destroying most of the buildings in the west half of the new arcade. Libbey quickly financed the rebuilding of the town, and even donated a new fire truck to help fight future fires. The Men’s League was overwhelmed by Libbey’s generosity, but they also realized that the town’s residents must step up and take responsibility for protecting what was now theirs. Walter Bristol argued that Ojai must incorporate as a city to protect and continue the architectural improvements that were the town’s most important assets: “What [Mr. Libbey] has done has put Ojai on the map, and has stimulated interest in wevery enterprise within the valley. It has brought business to hotels and stores, stimulated increased values in real estate, and above all given


us a sense of the beautiful in architecture, landscapes and gardens, which sets a standard of untold value. Beauty then is a most important asset and must be treasured and advanced as a most precious thing if a community is to grow and prosper as it must, for any people who are content to stand still are fooling themselves, for there is no such thing as standing still. We either go ahead or we go back.” Talk of incorporation dragged on for nearly three years. Some residents were wary of progress; others worried about new taxes and regulations. The Men’s League continued to do its best to deal with various civic needs and problems that arose in both the town and surrounding valley. Eventually, the issue that emerged as the deciding factor was the need for a sewage disposal system. Every household and business in the town had its own cesspool or outhouse, many of which were leaking or overflowing. The smell was noticeable everywhere and at all times, but it was particularly overwhelming during the hot summer months.



The Men’s League investigated the possibility of forming a sanitary district to build and manage a waste treatment plant, but they discovered that the initial costs and ongoing fees would far exceed those of forming a city and operating a sewer plant as a city service. Cityhood would also allow for fire and police protection, street paving and repairs, city planning; and other municipal services. A New City is Born In 1921, the Ojai Valley Men’s League began drawing boundaries, holding community meetings, and recruiting candidates to serve on a board of trustees should incorporation succeed. On May 27, the Men’s League filed a petition with the County Board of Supervisors requesting their approval for the proposed city. On June 8, dozens of Ojai residents appeared

before the supervisors to negotiate final boundaries and speak in favor or opposition to the petition. The county supervisors approved the petition and scheduled a vote by all registered voters living within the proposed boundaries. The result was overwhelming — 127 for incorporation, 44 against. Following certification by the county elections board, the petition was sent to the State of California which declared that, effective on August 5, 1921, the town of Ojai would become the City of Ojai.

During the election, several names were placed on the ballot by town residents seeking election to the board of trustees. The top two vote-getters, Glen Hickey and Frank Mead, were elected to full four-year terms; the next three, Ira Gosnell, Clark Miller, and Earl Soule, were elected for only two years, so the board’s four-year terms would be staggered. It was agreed before the election that

the candidate with the most votes would be selected by the board to serve as mayor. Glen Hickey nosed out Frank Mead by just one vote to claim the title of Ojai’s first Mayor. Getting Down to Business On August 8, 1921, the new board of trustees held their first meeting in Judge Harrison Wilson’s courtroom at the back of the Ojai Realty building in the arcade (now “The Ivy”). One of the first acts of the new board of trustees was to designate the Ojai Realty building as Ojai’s first city hall. Above: In late 1917, a fire destroyed the western half of Ojai’s new arcade, demonstrating the need for city services like fire protection. Center: Glen Hickey, Oja’s first mayor. Left: In 1968, the destruction of the pergola set the city on a course of progress that included the preservation and revitalization of its historic downtown.


At that time, city trustees were expected to roll up their sleeves and manage city operations themselves; it wasn’t until 1956 that the Ojai City Council hired its first city manager. Like most small cities in the 1920s, Ojai also had no planning director. However, the new city was fortunate to have Frank Mead on its board. Mead had been a lead architect on Edward Libbey’s 1917 downtown redevelopment project and had stayed in Ojai to manage Libbey’s interests in the valley. As a city trustee, he ensured that the future development of the city would continue in an orderly, professional manner following City Beautiful design guidelines. Once all city officials were sworn in, the trustees began drafting ordinances. One of the first established a process for raising funds through the sale of bonds. Ojai’s first bond election was in 1923 when $1,000 was raised for a new firehouse, and $18,000 for a new sewage disposal plant. The firehouse was constructed in 1923 (where the store Danski is now). The firehouse, with two fire trucks, was located on the street level with the fire chief’s residence below, next to the creek. A sewage disposal system, complete with sewer lines and hook-ups, was completed in 1929. Other ordinances written that night included a taxation plan, a schedule of punishments for those violating city ordinances, and a prohibition on carrying concealed weapons within the city limits. The constable was ordered to notify the City Garage (where Topa Topa Brewery is) to hold down their noise on Sunday mornings so as not to disturb services at the Presbyterian Church (then located on the southeast corner of Montgomery Street and Ojai Avenue). The board also ordered that a bootblack be removed from The Arcade. Between 1921 and 1930, the people of Ojai brought many new and improved services to the town through their new city government, including paved streets and roads; reliable power and water service; and other modernizations. The Ojai Valley Men’s League continued their support of the new city by proposing and promoting new proj-

ects and making sure the city fathers stayed true to their founding vision and purpose. In 1927, the Ojai Valley Men’s League changed its name to the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Arc of Progress When my family moved to Ojai in 1956, the City of Ojai was just 35 years old; by then, it already had most of the city services one would expect of a small California town. Its population was growing, with 4,000 residents and new housing tracts planned north of Grand Avenue and at the “Y” intersection. Most of Ojai’s businesses, however, were still confined to the aging Arcade block, where stores were small and inventories limited. Ojai residents began shopping at the new, modern malls that were opening in Ventura and Oxnard. Real estate developers saw an opportunity. The Ojai Terrace Shopping Center at the “Y” opened in 1960 after a ballot measure overruled the council’s rejection of the project. More shopping centers were proposed on recently-annexed properties both east and west of town. The council and downtown merchants feared that approving shopping centers in outlying areas of the city would lead to boarded up Arcade stores and downtown blight. It was happening all over Southern California. To counter the developers’ proposals, the city decided, in the late 1960s, to expand Ojai’s downtown commercial district around a more open and central Libbey Park. Using redevelopment funds, the council planned to transform downtown Ojai into a regional shopping destination, with new stores along South Montgomery and Signal streets, a shopping center where the school district offices are located, and a new government complex on South Montgomery Street. For improved traffic flow, the council proposed one-way streets through the downtown, a bypass road through Libbey Park, and widening the state highways to four lanes. Various freeway routes were proposed both into and through the valley. These plans for “the new Ojai” differed greatly from Mr. Libbey’s vision in which the pergola and arches in front of the park


formed the centerpiece of a beautiful, mission-style Spanish village. When the Pergola and arches were damaged by vandals in 1968, the community raised the funds to repair them. However, the council removed them instead as part of their plan to open up the park. The community was so angered by the demolition, the council was forced to rethink its redevelopment plans. It was clear that Libbey’s 1917 buildings were meant to be the heart of the city, both architecturally and psychologically. Instead of creating a new downtown shopping center, the city used its redevelopment funds to rehabilitate the back of the Arcade and create more downtown parking. In 1985, at the urging of local businessman David Mason, the city formed a Cultural Heritage Board (now the Historic Preservation Commission) to protect and manage the city’s historic buildings. In 1990, when it looked like the downtown merchants couldn’t afford to rehabilitate the Arcade, the city acquired the Arcade by eminent domain and rebuilt the arches to meet modern earthquake standards. The following year, the city revived the community’s annual Ojai Day celebration to again honor Edward Drummond Libbey and his vision for Ojai. In 1993, the city purchased and restored the old Catholic church, making it the home of the Ojai Valley Museum. In 1999, the city worked with Mason and a citizen’s group to rebuild the Pergola and its arches. For 28 years the Pergola had been missing; its absence was felt by all those who understood the town’s architecture and the vision it represented. When the City of Ojai began reconnecting with, and investing in, its founding vision as a small town centered on a beautiful Spanish village, it once again began to prosper. Today, Ojai is one of California’s most beautiful and historic cities; it is a desirable place to live and a popular destination for visitors. Progress, it seems, can sometimes be achieved when a city embraces its historic roots, especially when they are rooted in beauty.




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




SEA FRESH SEAFOOD Seafood - Steak - Sushi

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

Thank You For Voting For Us!

Ojai Valley’s Original Mexican Restauant

Best Taco

Best Mexican Restaurant

Best Burrito

Family Owned since 1985

891 Ventura Ave., Oak View 805.649.9595 715 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai 805.640.1577




Sea Fresh what I like and what tastes really good: cilantro, lemon, jalapeño. It’s fresh, and the spice is not too high.” Sanchez also suggests trying the roll with yellowtail, calling it a “perfect” combination with the light, tangy herbs and bright flavors. Sanchez says he puts a little bit of a kick into each roll he makes up, and very much welcomes customer feedback, tailoring and fine-tuning each roll until each ingredient complements the other in harmony.

Over three decades of sushi fusion.

“We’re always checking on new items, new trends; it’s all in the name of being creative and being diverse.

In the year that was all but eclipsed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Sea Fresh Ojai celebrated 35 years in business.

It’s always fun to try out new items on our customer base. We share what we’re creating and get feedback on what they like.”

“Sea Fresh opened in 1985, and the sushi bar four years later,” says co-owner Gus Garcia. “My brother-in-law is a commercial fisherman, so he’s always wanted a place where he’d be able to sell his products. We’re a fishing family; he’s fished all his life. So, we first started with a small fish-and-chips market. But then, the market proceeded into full-service, with a sushi bar, tables, and what we have today.”

Sushi chef Daniel Sanchez, who has been behind the counter at Sea Fresh for almost a decade, says “… there have been five or six new recent rolls, like the Monkey roll (spicy tuna and tempura shrimp with spicy mayo and garlic), the White Dragon (krab sticks, escolar and eel topped with zesty ponzu sauce), and the South of the Border roll.”

Fresh fish is shipped every day to the restaurant by a Los Angeles-based specialty seafood market. Garcia says it’s important for the restaurant to keep its menu contemporary.

The South of the Border roll is packed with plenty of punch: ahi tuna, cucumber, lemon, lots of cilantro and jalapeño, with avocado and green onions. Sanchez created this roll alongside another co-worker, and says “… this flavor combination is very specific to me,

Something else that makes the sushi dining experience at Sea Fresh unique is the personalization of rolls, some of which are named after beloved customers. There’s the Jesse roll (hot and cold tuna with yellowtail, sun dried tomatoes, sprouts, and jalapeño), the Melissa roll (spicy tuna with cream cheese and pickled onions), and the Tara roll (an extra crunchy tempura shrimp and krab stick cooked roll with sriracha). “We have fun naming the rolls,” Garcia says. “Jesse was a sushi chef who created his own rolls. Melissa was a customer who created her own roll when she was pregnant. We create rolls with the community; some customers have asked us to name rolls after them if they really enjoy eating one or came up with a creation of their own. After over 35 years, we have a hugely loyal customer base.” Garcia is very proud that the community has supported Sea Fresh through the years, and now he attributes the restaurant’s success to its devoted kin. “I have employees that have been here for over 30 years in the back of the house. It’s a family.”



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



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

Best Breakfast

Best Customer Service

Open Daily for Breakfast & Lunch 7 am - 2:30 pm Closed Wednesdays Yelp & our Order System

328 East Ojai Ave. • 646-0207

Best Brunch

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





Eating with the season



Roasted Tomato Pie for the crust 1 cup all-purpose flour ¾ cup yellow cornmeal ½ teaspoon sea salt 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces 3 tablespoons shredded manchego cheese Ice water


Robin Goldstein, chef and author of A Taste of Ojai cookbooks, shares some savory inspirations for spring.

he concept of seasonal eating has been around, well, since the beginning of time. Before the arrival of supermarkets, we gathered and grew our own food, and traded what was available. Depending on where you lived, that meant young asparagus, broccoli, or peas in spring; peppers, eggplant, or tomatoes in summer; pomegranates or pumpkin in autumn; and fresh citrus or carrots in winter. Eating seasonally also means eating locally.

The great anticipation of summer cooking; visions of eating al fresco, grilling, and sharing a meal with friends and family, perhaps more dear to us this season than ever before. But first, here’s what you ought to know about the spoils of eating seasonally. 1. Eating seasonally encourages diet diversity Eating a diverse range of plants has plenty of benefits for our health and changing our diet with the seasons is a simple way to mix up our intake, which plays a role in many aspects of health including our mental health, digestion, and immune system. 2. Eating seasonally is environmentally friendly Not only is seasonal produce more affordable at our local grocery store or farmers’ market as it’s in peak supply, but it also has a smaller environmental footprint, cutting down on the environmental impact of extensive transportation and storage. Consider investing in local farms with a membership to a weekly delivery of just-picked farm-todoor produce (aka Community Supported Agriculture, CSA). 3. Eating seasonally tastes better Nothing can compare to a perfectly ripe, bright, and juicy piece of produce. Seasonal local produce is grown and sold in optimum conditions, meaning it’s fresher when it gets to our local market. And, to our great fortune, summer screams melon, stone fruit, berries, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini,eggplant, and last but certainly not least, dozens and dozens of varieties of fresh ripe tomatoes. Here is one of my favorite recipes to serve for an alfresco dinner or Sunday brunch. As soon as the first-of-the-season tomatoes hit the market, I collect a basketful for my favorite savory summertime foods. Make this delicious ricotta and manchego cheese mixture with fresh herbs and a homemade crust. A store-bought crust can be used in a pinch, although taking the extra time to make this from scratch is certainly worth it.

for the filling 2 lbs mixed tomatoes Extra virgin olive oil Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 1 large onion, sliced thinly 1 cup shredded manchego cheese ½ cup ricotta cheese 3 tablespoons chives 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme To make the crust, pulse flour, cornmeal, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and 3 tablespoons manchego cheese. Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons of ice water, pulse until the dough just comes together. Add more ice water by the tablespoon as needed. Turn out the dough and pat into a flat disk. Wrap in a towel and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes, lay them out in a single layer on a baking pan, sprinkle with salt and olive oil, and roast in the oven at 375°F for 30 minutes. After chilling, roll your dough into a 12-inch round and transfer to a 10-inch pie plate or tart pan. Fold the dough overhang under itself and crimp the edges. Pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Line crust with foil, then fill with dried beans to weigh it down. Bake for 20 minutes at 375°F. Remove foil and beans and continue baking 10–15 minutes more, until golden brown all over. Transfer to a rack to cool. Over medium heat, sauté sliced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 15 minutes, until lightly caramelized. Set aside to cool. Combine 1 cup manchego, ½ ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons each of chives and parsley, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, and the cooled sautéed onions. Spread this mixture in the baked crust and arrange the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and some pepper. Bake in 375°F oven for 10 minutes, just to warm the cheese through. Serve warm, or room temp., scattered with any remaining fresh herbs. www.privatechefrobin.com



SUPERFOOD CAFE COMING SOON Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Saturday & Sunday 10am-4pm





mandala Cultures Thrive in a Caring Community



In Tibetan Buddhism, the kaleidoscopic mandala visual is an emblem of the sacred space within the universe that all minds yearn to reach in quiet meditation. Having a mandala image present in a physical space is believed to send out peaceful and healing vibrations to those who are in its presence. Such is the goal of Mandala Restaurant on North Ventura Avenue. The Tibetan/Indian/Japanese fusion eatery opened in June of 2016. “We’ve lived in Ojai for over 23 years,” says Dorjee Tsewang (who supports his wife, Dolkar, Mandala’s owner, with customer service). “And for all those years we’ve been in the food industry. We worked at the Ojai Valley Inn spa for almost 15 years. We had a dream to open up a restaurant. Then this [location] became available; it used to be a Japanese sushi restaurant. And I love sushi. So, when we bought it, we thought it was a great idea to keep sushi on the menu as well, so it became Asian fusion. At the beginning, a lot of people hesitated before coming here: ‘Is it Tibetan? Is it Indian? Is it Japanese? What’s going on?’ The foods of Tibet, India and Japan complement each other to become a wonderful cuisine.” Traditional Tibetan fare includes the garlicky ginger-infused momo dumplings and thukpa noodles, but includes Indian curries, samosas, naan, and plenty of sushi (the fish is supplied by a Los Angeles-based fish market and is sourced from Alaska, Canada and Japan). “It’s Americanized sushi,” Dorjee says. “If you go to Japan, you may not get all these rolls of what we have here. It’s different; it’s our own creation.” The customers have also contributed to the innovative items. “Sometimes when we serve the customers, customers


may say ‘… can you put this and this together, let us try it out and see how it feels?’ Like our sushi burrito: sushi from Japan and burrito from Mexico. It’s an interesting combination we’ve never had before, but we put it on the menu, and it’s very popular; people love it! And it’s very healthy too! Some people come here first either for Tibetan food, sushi rolls, or Indian curries. Sometimes I’ll start a conversation [with them]: ‘Ok, you know what? Today I want you to explore this. Skip this. Do something different.’ Some people learned how to eat sushi here.”

learned about Indian cuisine: very healthy, and a lot of curry-spiced food. We really loved it.”

Dorjee had an arduous trek to Ojai. Originally from the Amdo region of Tibet, he escaped Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1992, and met his now-wife Dolkar — who grew up in a city a few hours away from his village — when they both reached Dharamsala, India.

“They started to sponsor us, and a few years later, they said, ‘We’re going to bring you to America.’ We didn’t know what was in America. We were refugees; we were homeless. So in 1998, we came to America through sponsorship and landed straight in Ojai, and we never left the valley. Ojai is our home.”

“We escaped from Tibet through the Himalayas, walking 30 days in the snow. We became refugees in India in 1993. That’s a different culture; Tibet is over 14,000 feet above sea level, and then reaching India, it’s very low sea level, very humid, hot, different culturally, and linguistically, the food … it was a culture shock. During that time, we Mandala CEO and Head Chef Dolkar Tso prepares momo dumplings with Tibetan flavors.

Dorjee and Dolkar lived in the refugee camp for five years. “Basically, we just survived, getting breakfast, lunch and dinner; we never thought about ‘What’s our dream job?’ or ‘What is our dream for the future?’ I never had that dream before.” Then, they met some Americans from Ojai and Santa Barbara who came to the refugee camp to teach the couple English.

Jonathan and Linda Lambert met the Tsewangs in autumn of 2000 when they moved into the same neighborhood and became fast friends. In 2003, the Ojai Film Society showed a documentary, Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion, which depicted the history of the Chinese takeover of Tibet. “When we came out of the movie, Dolkar was in the lobby and was crying because they knew this history. They were there and knew people who lived through it,” recalls Jonathan Lambert. “We knew that even though they didn’t have very much, they sent money home to Tibet,” Lambert continues. The Lamberts were sympathetic to the Tsewangs. “So we said, ‘How can we help? Can we give you something that you can send home?’ Dorjee basically said ‘… wow! Let me think about it.’ The next morning, he came up and knocked on the door...he said ‘Can I share my dream with you?’” His dream was to create a way for his remote village to get health care and education. “This was Dolkar’s dream, too,” adds Lambert. “From that, we helped them form a new 501(c)(3), which was the



Tibetan Aid Foundation.” Several other neighbors joined the cause and became the first members on the board of directors. The Tibetan Aid Foundation really is a dream come true for Dorjee and Dolkar. “That’s an extension of our American Dream,” Dorjee emphasizes. “We have benefitted from the sponsorship of American citizens at the refugee camp. We really appreciated their help. One day, we went to Santa Barbara to see our sponsor, Steve Harrison. And I told him ‘We are getting paychecks. So, we’re going to write checks to you; we are going to pay back all your money. You helped us.’ And he said, ‘No, I don’t want your money … I have plenty. What you can do is work hard and study hard so that one day you become successful, and share that success with people who are in need in Tibet or in India.’ And we kept that promise.” In the time the nonprofit was established, a 13-room clinic was built in the Chazu Valley of Tibet, staffed with both Tibetan and Western-trained doctors. Educational scholarships, accessible health care, and clean water projects were also established. The opportunity to bring basic necessities to his homeland strengthens Dorjee’s conviction in the power of giving back to the community at large. “As an immigrant, as a refugee, you just think about survival skills, but you don’t forget about helping others,” he says. “It’s giving back. Even in the restaurant, we provide free food to the homeless shelter here in Ojai. We’ve been part of a meal delivery program for seniors through Help of Ojai. It’s not because we have to; it’s because we are part of a community. I think it’s very important.” Last year in March, once California shut down, “...everybody freaked out and went home and locked the doors,” he comments. “Instead of doing that, we left the door open. My wife and I discussed ‘What do we do? We give.’ So we give free lunches and dinners to the homeless shelter. In turn, we get

The team at Mandala prepares weekly meal deliveries for Help of Ojai.

support from the community because we give. It’s just a beautiful win-win situation in this business.” “We have learned a lot about compassion from watching Dorjee and Dolkar,” the Lamberts state. “Watching them, and the way they deal with problems and how they want to help has been an education for us. It helped to change how we see the world. Dorjee … is always willing to reach out and learn, and use what he knows and what he’s learning. And watching that is a very affirming thing.”

people. The environment and listening to music creates relaxation. People can rejuvenate themselves while sitting here and enjoy their meal. When guests aren’t here, we enjoy it ourselves for meditation, doing yoga and eating healthy food. That’s how we create the sanctuary called Mandala.” “Community is so important, especially in times like this,” says regular customer Carmel Rivello Maguire. “It’s a community restaurant where you gather your soul. It’s not like a regular restaurant. It is the Buddhist soul, made with love. When you make it with love, it touches a deep part of your soul.”

“We Tibetans, we come from Buddhism; we believe in the Dalai Lama’s compassion and kindness,” says Dorjee. “Very family-oriented people. Naturally, we host people in our house.”

Rivello Maguire has become so close with the Tsewangs that she even taught them how to swim in her home’s pool. “They’re going to be there to celebrate my 85th,” she notes.

When he and his wife came to Ojai in 1998, they had neighbors and friends who always enjoyed Tibetan and Indian food in their home.

The Tsewangs are very grateful the long and winding road led them to Ojai, and Dorjee says being here has only served to help him and his family thrive.

“So, that’s part of the nature of serving people — putting others before us. I think also, when we work in the hospitality industry, it’s really become our second nature. We love to serve people. When we bought Mandala, realistically we bought it for ourselves. We left from a corporate job, and we created a space as if we were in Tibet, and also as if we were in India: the music, the ambiance and the environment. We create in such a way that guests come in and we share the space with

“We hear of restaurant businesses suffering since the pandemic, but we’ve never been affected. We’ve hired eight people since the pandemic started. That’s the ripple effect of the community: once we give, the community supports, and with community support, we hire more people and give them jobs. As long as we’re part of the community, we’ll survive. That’s the beautiful part of the Ojai community. My wife and I, we step back and say, ‘We have enough; let’s share it.’”





Wine Tasting



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

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





dining 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

Ojai Rotie

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

Free-range rotisserie chicken, organic sourdough and the finest wines, beers & cider from the region. 469 E. Ojai Ave. (805) 798-9227 www.ojairotie.com

Casa De Lago

Papa Lennon’s Pizzeria

Farmer and the Cook

Ca’Marco Ristorante Italiano

Ojai Valley’s Original Mexican Restaurant. Margarita Mondays. Family owned since 1985. 2 for 1 House Margarita 715 E. Ojai Ave. 805-640-1577

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


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



tasting Heavenly Honey

Ventura Spirits

Majestic Oak Vineyard

Old Creek Ranch Winery

Ojai Olive Oil Co.

Topa Mountain Winery

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

Tasting room. All natural pure honey. 206 E. Ojai Ave. 805-207-4847 www.heavenlyhoneycompany.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 321 E. Ojai Ave. (Downstairs) 805-794-0272 www.majesticoakvineyard.com

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

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


ating 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.









barefoot in ojai by GEORGIA SCHREINER

My feet are greedy. Grass-fed, pasture-raised, locally grown,

my Ojai feet have been grown greedy. Nourished (and made sticky) by Ojai pixies and avocados, they are firm and solid with bulbous toes — or sausage toes, to use the taunting terminology of my brothers’ younger, crueler selves. Tanned holy golden by the Ojai sun and powdered brown with Sespe dust. Burned raw by the dead-summer heat flaming up from downtown sidewalks on afterschool preteen adventures (they wailed asphalt-black tears all night in grievance). Pricked into profusions of profanity (the feet, not me!) by satanic goatheads performing their ritual childhood sacrifice. Puppy-licked by hundreds of verdant tongues whipping in the wind with all the valley’s at-last-arrived spring vitality. Washed dirty by the mini-floods of infrequent rains which gush along the sides of streets and gather in mucky backyard pools of ill-prepared SoCal homes and buildings.

All this to explain why they are so greedy. They are greedy for sensation. The sensation of crunchy grass lawns in autumn. Of braving that first smack into icy water, praying for a rock-free fall from the overhead ledge to the water hole’s sandy bottom. Of that irreversible moment of contact between their asphaltstained, pine-resined, mystery-crudded selves and your justa-moment-ago pastel carpet. Of the momentary ecstasy of Greek-yogurt-style chicken excrement squirting up between my toes. Of the doctor’s knife probing deep in my held-down novocained foot for month-old glass as it wriggles in tickled fits. Of the sandstone suns bulging about the river bottom, gently toasting their soles in the sage-baked afternoon air.

greedy for your admiring eyes, your mildly off-put They are

and perhaps a-little-bothered-because-Georgia-that’s-gross

eyes, your eyes that envy such invincibly leathery soles as they tromp on gravel indifferently, even your eyes as they squinch just before you coolly and a little weary tell me to put my shoes back on, and perhaps most of all your eyes that wince when I inform you that tonight I will indeed crawl into my sheets with my feet just as they are, caked in coagulated dirt-sweat and fecal residues and perhaps a little blood.

My feet are greedy for life. They are screaming in classic Jim Morrison fashion “We want the world and we want it now!” and reciting Whitman as they too loaf in the summer grass, celebrating themselves. Perhaps, if you paused the socksuffocation and flip-flop-strap-strangulation of your feet for just a little while, they would start to talk to you too. Perhaps they already do.

But whether they speak up or not, and regardless of what

your New-Age guru friend/healer/unevadable-garrulousneighbor has to tout about the benefits of earthing, you must know that your feet are always children. Sometimes they are toddlers, bug-eyed and looking to know the world by putting it in their mouths. Sometimes they are mischievous middleschoolers, wreaking havoc in all places of adult authority, all the while rather unsure of themselves. Sometimes they are naughty high schoolers, experimenting with sensuous pleasures and altered states of consciousness, fornicating with the mud and getting baked in hot tubs. However they may be today or tomorrow, they are always children. They are always reaching out for the world around them.

And no matter how much toxic nail polish you’ve smeared on them, no matter how much you’ve pumice-stoned them into frailty, they are always ready to come out and play again.



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It’s a warm late spring day at Lake Casitas. As a Frisbee is thrown, it makes a whooshing sound as it whizzes toward the basket. This is the scene at Coyote Point Disc Golf Course, a beautiful, challenging course overlooking Lake Casitas.

Disc Golf




isc golf has soared in popularity in recent years, but grew even more exponentially during the past year. The local disc golf club in the Ojai and Ventura area is called Ventura Disc Golf. The club’s main purpose is to upkeep and maintain Coyote Point, as well as look to install other disc golf courses around the area.


According to Ventura Disc Golf President Wayne Kuntz, who was elected in late 2019, club membership nearly doubled during the pandemic. The club had 50 members before and is now close to 100. “Even before this latest exponential growth of the sport, it’s been one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, if not the world, for several years,” said Ventura Disc Golf co-founder and Coyote Point co-designer Kory Thomas. “But once COVID hit, it was the one thing people could do to not go crazy.” Thomas first took an interest in disc golf in the early 1990s playing down in Ventura. He started playing object golf with a few friends, shooting at random objects and trash cans at San Buenaventura State Beach. Through playing object golf he met Chip “Chipper Bro” Bell, a several-time world champion freestyle Frisbee player who had a few disc golf baskets he gave Thomas on permanent loan. “Every Friday after work I’d unload all of my construction tools, load up these big heavy metal baskets and drive them over to the park and set up a little three-hole loop,” Thomas said. “We made different tee boxes for each basket that made up an 18-hole disc golf course, even though we only played in three baskets. So that was my tradition for many years when I still lived in Ventura.”

A disc golfer attempts to putt into the basket at Coyote Point Disc Golf Course overlooking Lake Casitas.

During that time, Thomas made more friends who had a mutual interest in disc golf and putting in a permanent course. That was when he helped found the club. After presenting a proposal for a course to the powers-that-be at Lake Casitas and promising to raise all the money, they were approved.



“One weekend we got all of our stuff together, and myself and another crew of guys, went out there … and we built all the forms to pour the concrete tee boxes,” Thomas recalled. “We poured nine concrete tee boxes in one day. So we did half of the course in one day. Getting the concrete truck out on the rolling hills of Lake Casitas is no easy task. So that weekend we concreted in some basket locations, we got nine tee boxes poured, and that’s kind of where it started. That was March 6, 2005 when the first baskets and the first nine tee boxes actually went in the ground at the lake.” After installing half of the course in one day, the first thing Thomas and the rest of the club did to celebrate was to have a beer and play what is now Coyote Point Disc Golf Course for the first time. The other nine holes were installed one or two at a time over the rest of that month, and the course was complete. Soon after, the course was open to the public. “For disc golf, you can go up hills and down hills, pretty steep angles uphill or down hills for a shot, too,” Kuntz said. “So the terrain plays into it, especially up here. The course terrain up here is pretty radical, pretty up and down.” The club is looking forward to bringing Below: The Coyote Point Disc Golf course overlooking Lake Casitas. Right: Junior Player, Ezra Schaffer, drives from a difficult tee box position.

back its annual Coyote Classic tournament in October after a year hiatus. This is a Professional Disc Golf Association tournament where 40 to 50 professional players come out to the course at Lake Casitas. “It draws people from all over the state and even out of state,” Thomas said. “In 2019, we had people from as far as Finland. It’s one of the most sought-after tournaments to play, because it’s a three-day campout that’s super fun.” Today, the club’s main goal is to find a place to build another course in the area. There are courses in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, and Santa Barbara. However, Coyote Point is the only course for the Ojai Valley and Ventura. According to Kuntz, there are a few challenges with locating a spot for a course in this area. A good course requires a location with trees and various elevation changes. “It takes up space, so you really need about 10 acres per nine holes,” Kuntz explained. “The ball golf ranges per yards kind of equate to disc golf feet. So we average out around 300 to 350

Bob Ward attempts a tough par putt on challenging hole #7

feet per hole. We’ve got some holes that are 450, close to 500 feet. We also have some holes that are 120-150 feet, but they’re up and down a hill or something. It’s the terrain. It’s willingness for somebody to let us get in there. It’s having enough space.” Kuntz emphasized his desire for seeking the community’s help in getting another course built. With the popularity of the sport expanding so rapidly, space and terrain are the only real limitations to achieving this goal. “We’ve been pushing the club and we’ve got a pretty good organization going again,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm. Once COVID hit, disc golf became a sport not just in Ojai or Ventura, but across the world that has just experienced a giant boom.”









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he garden goddesses of world mythology — Pomona (Roman), Demeter (Greek), Jacheongbi (Korean) and Pachamama (Aztec), to name just a few — are complex female figures associated with more than harvests, plants, and vegetation. They are also powerful yet gentle mother figures: strong, loving, nurturing, and connected to everyone’s Mother Earth — kind of like Jessica Thompson

by KAREN LINDELL Photos: Green Goddess Gardens

Kind of like Jessica Thompson. The owner of Green Goddess Gardens in Ojai — a holistic landscaping design and garden maintenance company — Thompson talks tenderly but with authority about the “energy” of the garden: “We’re all connected, and you need to love your garden for it to thrive, and for yourself to thrive,” she said. But Thompson, who has a degree in horticulture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is also an expert on the ground-level basics, like soil and water. In Southern California, drought is real and dirt can be less than ideal, so she is a proponent of permaculture — using the natural qualities of plants, animals, and the environment to create an integrated, sustainable ecosystem. She also practices regenerative agriculture, another holistic technique that uses photosynthesis to keep carbon in soil, which makes it healthier and more capable of retaining water and nutrients. Thompson is especially concerned about water, and keeping it in the ground instead of gushing into gutters. “The old designs for landscapes captured water and put it into the sewer,” she said. “Now, we want water to sink into soil before it runs off.” So she and her gardening team create natural landscapes that preserve water and nurture the soil organically, and create beauty using color, texture, and fragrance.





“The simplest systems I create are berms and swales — formations of soil that go across the contour of the land, enough to stop the water from flowing downhill and to keep it in an area you want it to be,” she said. Adding such landscaping features isn’t difficult, and doesn’t require a professional water whisperer. “Anyone can create it themselves,” Thompson said. Rainstorms in SoCal are so infrequent, she added, that investing in tanks and cisterns as a way to hold on to water isn’t cost-effective for most people.

Ojai residents Steve and Cathryn Colome had Green Goddess Gardens design all the landscaping around their home. They have a giant 200to 300-year-old valley oak tree in front that was originally planted on a lawn with flagstone around the tree’s roots. The yard slopes down, so when it rained, all the watershed onto the sidewalk and down the curb. Thompson replaced the lawn with native plants, and installed a hügelkultur (a German word meaning “hill culture”) bed, a mound of woody materials and compost that keeps water from draining onto the sidewalk. Now, water goes to the roots of the tree and a field of grasses, manzanita, sage, and other native plants.

In the backyard, water accumulated against the Colomes’ home, so Thompson built a swale, a broad shallow ditch that keeps rainwater from collecting along the house. Along with creating water-wise landscaping, Thompson believes gardeners can keep everything green, quenched, and well-fed by tending to soil health, which means mulching and composting. Layered on top of soil — no digging required — compost and mulch create and protect micronutrients that soil eagerly gobbles up.

Gardeners can make their own tea, but would have to purchase a brewer, so Thompson recommends buying the tea instead. One made in Ojai by David White, Ph.D., of Regenerative Designs Ojai, is a good option, she said. By purchasing the tea, “the microbiologist checks the batches, and can make it bacterial dominant or fungal dominant,” she said. Leafy greens, vegetables, and annuals like a bacterial tea; woody perennials prefer a fungal concoction.

“Microbes are the only things that create good soil structure,” Thompson said. In addition to regular compost, she recommends a compost tea — for thirsty plants, not humans.

White, a cell biologist and executive director of Ojai’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture, said Green Goddess Gardens is “cutting edge” in its use of regenerative landscaping techniques.”

Compost is a combination of brown organic matter, such as leaves, twigs, and landscape debris, and a wet, green material, such as fresh vegetable discards, animal manure, or a combination of the two.

Composting, including the use of actively aerated compost tea, “is a nature-based climate solution,” he said.

Compost tea, she said, “is a brewed batch of compost and other microbial food like kelp.” After an overnight brewing, the “tea bag” of compost turns into “a highly concentrated tea of diverse microbes” that can be applied to trees, shrubs, grasses, and lawns.

“The compost is a biological, active material — it’s alive,” Thompson said. “When you bring that life into the garden, the energy and vitality of the garden goes up.”

With the compost tea, he said, we had “a full-grown native garden” at the end of the first year.

Thompson doesn’t believe people need to do away with grass and lawns entirely to conserve water, and often combines a low-water meadow landscape with a manicured lawn. “Reducing the lawn is a better solution,” she said. Smaller lawns can serve as ground cover, keeping dust down and cooling the environment, especially combined with the shade of a tree. Thompson also wants people to plant more trees to create shade and combat global warming.

A swale slows down the rapid flow of water runoff by ponding water between its sloping sides, often called berms. The ponding not only slows the rate of flow but allows pollutants to settle out of the water. Eventually, the remaining ponded water will either evaporate or infiltrate into the soil. “If you have to stop watering something, stop watering lawns, but don’t forget about trees,” she said. “Forest your property, because once the trees go, we are in trouble.” Another climate-saving choice that can also save time: Leave your grass clippings and leaves alone. Ditch the gas blowers (and air pollution), because the grass and leaves serve as natural fertilizers. “The cleanliness people are freaked out about germs,” Thompson said. “They think that if a sidewalk has debris on it, it’s dirty. Relax.” A regenerative landscape, she added, generates more than the soil: “These gardens generate serenity, and you just don’t want to leave.” For more information about Green Goddess Gardens, call 640-1827 or visit www.gggojai.com




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You can get local! PUBLISHED SINCE 1982

VOLUME 37 No.3

FALL 2019


VOLUME 37 No.4




Mail to: P.O. Box 277, Ojai, California 93024




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Soil cyclers Camila Guzman and Bruce Jugan

Every little bit helps solve the climate crisis.




lobal warming — or “the climate emergency” as Scientific American urges it be called — has hit Ojai hard. For the second time this century, Ventura County has fallen into “extreme drought,” according to the measurements of the U.S. Drought Monitor after the second driest winter in 127 years in California. Less than five inches of rain fell this year in downtown Ojai. Land managers warn that historically parched vegetation in the state threatens a year of wildfire as widespread and devastating as 2020. Meanwhile, temperatures in Ventura County on average have warmed more than five degrees since the 19th century, which is the fastest rise among all counties in the lower 48 states, according to a 2019 data analysis by the Washington Post. And that’s not even mentioning the cataclysmic 2017 Thomas Fire. But on a pleasantly cool Sunday morning in May, Camila Guzman rides into the Ojai Community Demonstration Garden near City Hall on an electric cargo bike, effortlessly pulling behind her three tubs of fresh kitchen scraps. As part of an effort supported by the Center for Regenerative Agriculture, a small non profit led by environmental educator David White, Guzman organizes a handful of volunteers to collect fresh kitchen scraps from as many as 50 residents of the City of Ojai on Sunday mornings, which are brought back to the Community Demonstration Garden and composted. Guzman smiles as she explains the process to a film crew from the City of Ventura, another town where she works as a “soil cycler,” collecting scraps at farmers’ markets and offering composting services to small businesses. Her “career in food scraps,” as she jokingly calls it, began in professor Sean Anderson’s senior conservation biology class at California State University Channel Islands when she debuted her idea for a small business organized around the usefulness of organic waste to food growers. As part of her project, she dubbed herself “the queen of compost.”

“I knew I had something when the class laughed at that, and even professor Anderson smiled,” she said, thinking back on the decisive turn in her life. As White oversees, Guzman demonstrates a simple eye test by which a soil sample can be checked for its level of organic matter, then empties her compost bins into the long dark pile at the demonstration garden, which will become fodder for decomposition, and in time excellent soil that’s rich in humus and biological activity. When the time is right, it will be added to a garden. The effort is called the Ojai Cycling Compost Collective, a grassroots effort launched in the spring of 2019 that’s supported by small grants, such as a recent $1,500 donation from the Ojai Rotary Club. Composting breaks down food scraps and other organic matter harmlessly with aerobic bacteria, but when crushed without air under thousands of tons of debris in landfills — such as at Toland Road near Santa Paula — organic waste consumed by anaerobic bacteria produces methane in large quantities. Some landfills in California — including Toland Road, not far from Santa Paula, which handles Ojai waste — have produced so much climate-heating methane that its plumes are visible from far above to NASA-designed methane-detecting instruments. Eugene Tseng, an engineer and professor with California State University Northridge, helped organize the “California Methane Source Finder” for NASA and California four years ago. For two years, the survey repeatedly flew over the state with a plane carrying an advanced spectrometer able to detect methane plumes from above. After surveying 272,000 facilities — including oil and gas installations, dairies, and landfills — the survey found that the Toland Road facility at that time released more methane than all


but one landfill in Southern California, the massive Sunshine Canyon facility serving Los Angeles. Satellite spectrometer image of Toland Road landfill taken on October 16, 2017, by the California Methane Source Finder. Methane plumes are shown in red.

Tseng points out that nations such as Japan and many European countries have already excluded organic waste — food in particular — from landfills. In California in 2016, Senate Bill 1383 put in place a goal of reducing organic waste by 75% from all landfills in the state by 2025, specifically to reduce the generation of “short-lived climate pollutants” such as methane in landfills, which are estimated to be one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the state. That means 23 million tons of solid waste a year must be diverted from landfills to composting facilities across the state, according to Bill Camarillo, the CEO of Agromin, a composting company headquartered in Oxnard. About half of landfill waste is organic waste, according to a CalRecycle spokesperson, meaning that if buried, it will in time produce methane. Staff at the City of Ojai said that it took nearly 30 years, substantial investments, and legislative penalties for container recycling to be instituted through California. Now with SB 1383, the state has given cities and counties less than 10 years total to keep millions of tons of organic waste out of landfills. “By diverting organic waste from landfills, whether it’s green waste or food waste, the effort is to get that green waste to composting facilities, and food waste to edible food recovery efforts,” Grant said, noting that the county will lead the edible food recovery effort, although each city remains responsible for reducing its share of organic waste that ends up in landfills. Ventura County’s public health division said that a consultant’s plan for food



recovery will be presented to the board of supervisors this fall, and that efforts to revive a wood recycling center akin to the Ojai Valley Organics mulching operation on Baldwin Road that closed last year are in the works. Nan Drake, an executive with waste hauler EJ Harrison & Sons, said that beginning in July, Harrison will pick up all three curbside barrels in Ojai on a weekly basis. “This should give residents a lot more barrel space for both their recyclables and for their green waste,” she said. County “disposal rate” statistics collected by the state’s CalRecycle agency show that many cities in Ventura County, including Ojai, are generating more waste than in the past. In Ojai, the state estimates residents are generating 8.4 pounds of waste a day, the most in the county, up by one-third since 2012. Grant said that a substantial percentage of Ojai’s waste is generated by tourism. He compares Ojai to Malibu, another small town that generates a high level of solid waste. “Both Malibu and Ojai have small populations with a high level of tourism,” he said. “It’s a small base of people, but includes a lot of hotels and restaurants, so the numbers for that population look heavy.” For David Goldstein, an administrator

“This composting program is an example of community action, without the use of large, industrialized compost programs,” White said in a conversational debate with Goldstein. “We are at the tip of the spear, and that’s the most important part.”

Above: Camila Guzman and David White turn the compost pile at Ojai’s Demonstration Garden. Inset: Camila Guzman tests compost samples for organic content.

and environmental writer with the county’s Recycling Market Development Zone, which uses incentives and loans to develop business opportunities in recycling, the bicycling composting program is a worthy educational program for local residents, but much too small to solve Ojai’s massive solid waste problem, which added up to a total of 11,861 tons in 2019, according to CalRecycle. For David White, the point is that the composting of organic waste effort led by Camila Guzman and himself is a “nature-based climate solution,” in which plants take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and release it safely into the soil, feeding soil biology, and cycling nutrients for plant health in a natural way, without requiring toxic chemicals or releasing greenhouse gasses.

“You are at the tip of the spear, and that is important,” Goldstein said, in partial agreement. “But the rest of the spear — that’s also very important and a much bigger part.” The city of Ojai supports the Center for Regenerative Agriculture’s bicycle composting program, which operates under a memorandum of understanding, and agrees with Goldstein that much more needs to be done to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills. “The compost collecting is a great program, highly visible, and it’s something that people can see and appreciate and it helps people understand how composting works,” he said. “All that is great, but as far as the impact on the total amount of solid waste, it’s not huge. Its impact is in terms of visibility and education and outreach.”



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Walk to Downtown Ojai from this lovely 3 bed, 2 bath on large lot with full guest cottage. Vaulted ceilings, fireplace, generous kitchen, comfortable one level floor plan & large bedrooms. Vegetables, fruit trees & flowers. So many options for all, in this downtown Ojai home. $1,429,000 Classic Arbolada Ranch Beautiful park-like setting with majestic oaks, sycamore & native plants, creates a private & peaceful setting. Single level home with large picture windows, high vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, open living & kitchen areas, 3 spacious bedrooms & large glass sliders that are an invitation to nature. Move right in and begin making memories. $2,250,000

Teresa Rooney 805.340.8928 DRE: 00599443


© 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.










Goat Walk A magical goat walk through the majestic arching oaks of the Upper Ojai Valley provides an opportunity for family and friends to commune with each other and nature. One follows the pace of the goats as they steadily graze on the tasty brush encountered along the path where the Chumash have walked before them.

Chirping children frolic with newborn kids and goattending teens make sure the livestock does not stray from the group, while patient grandparents share their words of wisdom of days gone by.

Story and pictures by


This daily ritual of strolling with the herd reminds us to slow down, and appreciate one another. This daily ritual of strolling with the herd reminds us to slow down, appreciate one another, and be in reverence of Mother Earth’s creations.







For the acquisition or sale of your home, investment, estate or land. 30+ years Ojai Valley Real Estate Experience. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty Local and Global Dominance

SOLD FOR $1,255,000

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.





“GONG!!! BONG!!! GONG!!!” went the old church bell. Would this bother you, say, around midnight?


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


ack in about 1964 my buddies and I were hoping it might. We were mischievous young teenagers just out havin’ a bit of fun. We had snuck into the Ojai Presbyterian Church’s bell tower from its former back door. We ran like jackrabbits after committing our dastardly deed! It wasn’t the first time we’d pulled this stunt. It was the third. We’d clanged the bell earlier in the evenings on our first two attempts, not quite achieving the results we were

E B TO aiming for. Now at this later time, we hid ourselves a short distance away and waited in anticipation. We had succeeded … an Ojai Police cruiser came to investigate, then quickly departed.

We were never found out. I’m just hopin’ the statute of limitations has taken full effect now that I’m sharing this peace-and-quiet infraction in print, and a few other, let’s say, a tad lessthan-legal activities. I hate to have to admit it, but I began my life on the not-so-Little-Angel-side before 1964. When I was a kid in the 1950s, my parents owned a home that backed up to the main baseball diamond at Sarzotti Park. A few old-timers might


remember the old, wooden, two-story announcer’s booth. The diamond’s backstop — similar to heavy hog-wire fencing — was fastened along the front eaves of the announcer’s booth and swept outward about 15 feet from the base of the building where the fencing was attached to about a 4-foot-tall wall made of thick wooden planks. The gap was closed in on the sides too with fencing. Therefore, there was a sealed area that was inaccessible directly in front of the building. My good nextdoor-neighbor buddy, Mark Kingsbury, and I thought, “Surely, somebody musta dropped some coins or other good stuff into this closed area from where the announcer’s did their announcing on the second floor. We need to get in there!” I must admit, it was me that got Mark to thinkin’ along these lines. After all, I was the brains of the outfit because I was about 7

Matilija Street home. A bunch of their neighbors came. We had a blast-fest! After it was over, Carmen and Jack’s eldest son, 15-year-old Nick, told Mitch and me that he could make the spent pyramid-shaped cardboard fireworks shoot again with gunpowder because he knew how to make it. Whoa, NellieBelle!!! Really??!!! So, the next day, several of us trooped off with Nick to the pharmacy that used to be housed in The Arcade where Bonnie Lu’s restaurant is now located. We went up to the counter and Nick asked the pharmacist for the three ingredients. Nick didn’t tell the pharmacist what we had planned, but any gol-dang decent pharmacist should know what’s used to make crude gunpowder. Nowadays, I’m sure a pharmacist would hit the little red button that’s concealed under his counter and S.W.A.T. would show up in a matter of seconds!

BUSTED!! years old and Mark only about 6. We borrowed a pair of Mark’s dad’s dikes, then cut our way through the hog-wire. To our dismay, we came up emptyhanded. I really liked and appreciated the park caretaker, Elmer. Even after all these years, I’m sorry we created more work for him. Can you believe that I wound up being a park ranger for 41 years? Stinkin’ vandals! Oh, but, this was a great learning experience for Mark. As a firefighter, he got properly trained and paid to break into tight-toaccess areas!!! In 1965, my parents took my siblings (Mitch, Blake, and M’Lou) and me on a month-long road trip to visit relatives in Missouri (Dad’s family) and Indiana (Mom’s family). I think it was in Oklahoma when Mitch, 12 years old, and I, 14 years old, bought fireworks — and lots of ‘em! When we got home, we set up a fireworks-shooting evening at Carmen and Jack Robertson’s E.

But not back then. In short order we had the fireworks reloaded. They weren’t nearly as good as new, but they did work, and Nick was on his way to being a living legend among the neighborhood kids. (No … none of us ever blew ourselves, or anybody else, up.) In 1963, my parents had a brand-spanking-new home built at the top of the only real steep rise on S. Rice Road in Mira Monte. We moved in during the summer right before I began seventh grade at Matilija High School (Go Eagles!). The home was directly across the street from the former Ventura County Sheriff Department’s Honor Farm. My neighborhood buddies


and I hoofed it up and down that steep road next to the Honor Farm many times. We did the same with our bicycles, skateboards, and anything else that rolled. We spent a lot of hours on that hill. There was a barbed-wire fence that ran between the road and jail property. From the fence down the hill into the Honor Farm, the vegetation on the hill was kept clear so the inmates held there could not easily escape. At the base of the hill were agricultural fields that the prisoners maintained. They grew all kinds of crops, including corn. Say, wouldn’t it be cool to have a corn-fight??? So, my buddies (Doug, Rick, Ronnie, Joe, and a few others ... last names omitted because I’m not a stoolie) braved the denuded hillside between the fence and corn, and jammed down it as fast as our legs would carry us. We spread out within the tall stalks that concealed us. We weren’t even able to see one another. We ripped off corn cobs and began bombing each other with them. When one of those heavy, green cobs comes whipping through the stalks at you, you sure can hear it. And when you get thumped in the head with one, you sure do know it! Explains a lot about me doesn’t it?!!?? Amazingly, we never got busted. My cohorts in mischief all grew up to be fairly decent adults. I even learned some common sense along the way.




Real Estate Team Specializing in Ojai Valley Luxury Real Estate for 15 years.

Contact us to learn how we will protect your equity.

Rosalie Zabilla 805.455.3183


DRE: 01493361

Annie Cox For More Information ZabillaGroup.com



DRE: 02093166






520 Buckboard Lane, Ojai

Sitting on over 3 acres in the prestigious Persimmon Hill area of downtown Ojai. This 5 bed, 3.5 bath sprawling ranch style home showcases open beamed vaulted ceilings, a stunning great room with a massive brick fireplace, formal dining room, and a large master suite. The magical meandering pathways lead you to an Artist’s studio. Plenty of charming areas to gather and enjoy the famous Pink Moment or enjoy a swim under the stars in this completely private estate. Private well and solar panels. Country living within walking distance to Libbey Park, shops, restaurants, and the Ojai Bike/Hike Trail. Horses welcome.

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

“Stay Strong. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected”.

805-798-0516 | donna4remax@aol.com





537 Del Oro Drive, Ojai

Nestled in the hills yet within walking distance to downtown, this home blends the perfect mix of indoor/outdoor living. Featuring an open floor plan with vaulted and beamed ceilings, large windows, three fireplaces, this spacious home still feels cozy as it is surrounded by trees and has a nearly 1000 square foot veranda for outdoor living. Five bedrooms, nanny quarters, amazingly large garages & parking - gated & private. The land is just over an acre with mature trees, Majestic Oaks, a variety of fruit trees, grown up tree house for those hot summer nights. Once you are here you won’t want to leave!