Ojai Magazine. Spring 2022

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281 S MONTGOMERY ST, OJAI. Start the new year right with this move in ready 2 Bedroom 3 Bath Downtown Los Arboles condo, priced at $1,050,000.


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This hip Mid-Century Modern, 3-bedroom home features walls of glass opening to a delightfully private acre with mature trees, succulent gardens, a bocce court and 45 fruit trees. The 1 + 1 guesthouse, accessed by a separate drive, boasts an inviting “outdoor room” for entertaining. This location offers hiking, biking, farmer’s markets and is just 15 miles to the beach. You deserve the Ojai lifestyle!! $2,059,000

4320 THACHER ROAD OJAI, EAST END The romance lives on in this renovated and artfully preserved 1928 3-bedroom cottage in one of Ojai’s most prominent locations. Oak canopies dot the exquisite grounds with rock paths leading to a sumptuous 1 + 1 guesthouse, vintage stone outbuilding (perfect for wine cellar/studio), huge saltwater pool and a 3-car garage. This property is pure magic!


$3,695,000 989 VIA CIELITO VENTURA, HILLSIDE VIEWS Amazing panoramic views! Located on one of the most coveted streets in Ventura, this large custom home has everything you have been looking for. As soon as you walk in, you are welcomed by tons of natural light and vaulted ceilings. The open floor plan flows into the tiered viewing decks in the backyard. This serene and peaceful home is waiting for you. There is nothing left to do but unpack and enjoy the Ventura lifestyle.



Char Michaels 805.620.2438 DRE 00878649

Brittney Ferro 805.794.5568 DRE 01708004

Ventura County Real Estate • Keller Williams Ojai

Belinda Wynn 805.368.1820 DRE 01414001





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1476 Brodiea Avenue ~ Ventura Coast The Pacific Ocean is calling! The best Ocean views in the historic Coastal town of Ventura, California! Situated between the SoCal Coastal towns of Malibu and Montecito, Ventura offers this exceptional property with its mesmerizing, unobstructed 180-degrees views of the Pacific Ocean and beaches with their world-renowned surf spots! Enjoy views of the Channel Islands referred to as ‘’The American Galapagos’’; the Mission Basilica San Buenaventura, built in the 1700s; and the San Buenaventura Wharf, also known as the Ventura Pier, the oldest wooden Pier in California! With the unmatched views and priceless location comes an impeccably over 3200 sqft, remodeled in 2021, turnkey three-bedroom, two-bath home, plus a separate one-bedroom studio. Simply stunning! SOLD for $2,118,000

791 E. Santa Clara Ave Townhome No 11 ~ Ventura Coast Life Is Good ~ Beach & Midtown Coolness! ENJOY a balanced, healthy, active, blissful Live/Work Lifestyle ~ You deserve it! Walk to the beach to surf, stop by the Farmer’s Market one block down, pick up a freshly caught Sea Bass at the Ventura Harbor Fish Market! Enjoy Fish Tacos across the street from your hip loft-style Condo or dine in one of many fabulous downtown restaurants (Three-minute walk). Take advantage of working from your inviting home office. Zoned Mixed Use! OFFERED at $795,000

2249 McNell Road ~ Ojai Ultra-Private exceptional 2-acre Ojai Retreat featuring TWO HOMES! Located in one of Ojai’s most priced and tranquil neighborhoods, set against a backdrop of majestic Topa Topa mountain views, this exceptional property embodies the essence of Ojai with unrivaled tranquility and natural beauty! Explosive, dramatic mountain and valley views will take your breath away! SOLD at $2,527,583

Happy Spring




Enjoy resort-style living at this country retreat on approximately 10 acres in Upper Ojai. Just 10 minutes from the spas, boutiques, and cafes in downtown Ojai, this private oasis features a lighted, north-south tennis court with a large observation deck, swimming pool with beach entrance and wading pool, spa, outdoor kitchen, family orchard, art or yoga studio, and horse facilities. Flagstone patios flank the main house for indoor-outdoor entertaining, while the guest house/pool house offers a gym, kitchenette, steam shower, enclosed outdoor shower and changing room, and pool and patio storage. The main house features three fireplaces, large island with breakfast bar, Viking range with griddle, two refrigerators and freezers, wet bar, family room or library, media room, office, two guest wings, six-inch plank floors, custom light fixtures, and upscale finishes. Additional features include a three-car garage, two-car garage, and separate laundry room with commercial machines. www.RocaVistaRanchOjai.com | Roca Vista Ranch $6,200,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

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This 16+ acre ranch offers room to spread out with four bedrooms, two offices, living room, great room, formal and casual dining, large laundry room, and multi-room master suite. The remodeled kitchen features Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances, wine refrigerator, breakfast bar, and island with produce sink. Outside, enjoy approximately 15 acres of avocados, an outdoor kitchen, an expansive deck with amazing views, lighted tennis court refinished in 2020, and approximately 3,000-square-foot shop. www.2871MaricopaHwy.com | 2871 Maricopa Highway $4,999,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

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

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SPRING 2022 Volume 40 No.1 EDITOR’S NOTE

- 14


The Seeds of Vandana Shiva - 18 Revolution Generation - 56 CULTURE

Zavier & Boop - 38 Jes Maharry - 48 OUTDOORS

Reborn in the Wild: Rick Ridgeway - 28 Life with Horses - 64 Skate Ojai - 82



Australian Natives - 104 Spring Hikes - 124 HUMOR

The Forager - 69 FOOD AND HEALTH


Earthtrine Farm - 74 Dining & Tasting - 73 Medicinal Herbs - 90 Mindfulness & Healing Directory - 97 Chakra Chai - 98 OJAI PAST

A Chumash Chapter - 114 REAL ESTATE

- 120



18 56






EDITOR’S NOTE: SPRING 2022 “I’m a human being, goddamn it; my life has value!” — Network 1976. (The “Silent Generation”) Will there be a revolution generation? Ojai filmmaker, Rebecca Tickell, is part of the Millennial generation, and does not see her values reflected in the world she lives in. Together with her husband, Josh, she makes movies to motivate others to work towards change for our broken systems. Every paradigm that exists is under critical review — consumption, fuel, housing, agriculture, education, health, industry, and information ... to name those most salient in Ojai. The Tickells look at the big picture, and we at Ojai Magazine applaud their latest Big Picture Ranch film, Revolution Generation (page 56).


EDITOR / PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward

ASSISTANT EDITOR Georgia Schreiner

Another fearless local couple, Jim and Camilla Becket of Becket Films at last released their eight-year passion project The Seeds of Vandana Shiva at the Ojai Film Festival and beyond, growing the audience of global eco-activist Vandana Shiva, herself a Boomer, as a voice for agricultural sanity. She sees free seed preservation and small farms’ health as the great hope to heal the planet. When she visited the Oak Grove School for Earth Day in 2016, she talked about the stupidity of spraying poisons on our valley, submitting that, “Love for the planet and love for the future is one love” (page 18).


Voices are rising from Generation Z (born 1996 to 2010, and generally children of Gen X) and, soon enough, Generation Alpha. They are wondering how, with such a local concentration of bomb-diggity change-makers in Ojai, doing so many awesome things, why the world hasn’t progressed further. Some complain it is constructed of a society and education system which enculturates them into carrot-and-stick robots to feed them the same broken paradigms of consumption and caste. Will these generations become resigned or furious? The sacrifices made by Gen Z and Gen Alpha (under 13 years old) during the pandemic have costs yet to be realized. Will they be the ones to rise up against the current social contract since the odds seem stacked against them? They might just demand a reshuffling of the deck.


Enormous change comes out of enormous pain, and we can expect turbulence to follow a rejection of the traditional narrative of profit over people. The question of who and what we are and what we want to become is on the table. Incremental changes may not be enough. The seeds of change have been sown by all these generations. How will our land be protected from pollution, and our water resources be divided? How will we invest in humanity and infrastructure, yet preserve our town’s neighborly culture? The youth are our best investment in the future; let’s listen to them and plan to share the Ojai-lifestyle opportunity. Let’s keep our minds open, question our own beliefs, listen. We can’t make Ojai great again. We will have to move forward. Believe that Ojai can be better, through vision and intentional change … Edward Libbey 2.0. Our roots, and the spirit of our time, can be found in these pages. Stay close to Ojai’s longest running magazine, a part of our 130-year-old community journal of record, the Ojai Valley News.

Laura Rearwin Ward

Paul Stanton


Karen Lindell • Perry Van Houten Grant Phillips • Kerstin Kuhn Jessica Ciencin Henriquez • Mimi Walker Robin Goldstein • John Foster Valerie Freeman • Steve Sprinkel • Will Ryan Ally Mills • Tori Behar



Ojavalleynews.com 206 N. Signal St., Ste. G Ojai California, 93023 805-646-1476 @ojaimag Becket Films presents The Seeds ofVandana Shiva Cover photo: ©2021 The Seeds of Vandana Shiva vandanashivamovie.com

Ojai Girls Cover photo: ©Betina La Plante www.betinalaplante.com @betinalaplante

With affection,




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


Specializing in Projects and Locations throughout California, with a concentration in Southern California and Central California. Recipient of UC Santa Barbara Alumnus Of The Year Award











the bean-shaped thing underground, its tiny embryo tucked inside a hard coating, gradually sprouts tiny roots and tender green shoots when exposed to sun and water. Food and flowers are born. A child’s drawing of a seed and its germination is pretty basic. But a seed, so simple it can be understood by a kindergartner, is also loaded with the weight of the world, entwined in culture, politics, economics, health, and social justice. To Vandana Shiva, seeds are allpowerful. “Food is a weapon,” says Shiva, an Indian eco-activist, philosopher, scientist, author, and feminist. “When you control food, you control society. When you control seed, you control life on Earth.” Shiva is the star (although she’d be the last person to use that term) of The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, a documentary about her life and activism produced by Camilla and Jim Becket of Ojai-based Becket Films. With large agricultural companies in control of the world’s food supply, the system is destructive to the Earth and its inhabitants, Shiva believes. Seeds, the foundation of our food supply, should not be in the hands of big business, but rather tended to by traditional small farmers.

Ecoactivist rock star


Shiva, who admired Einstein growing up in India, has master’s degrees in nuclear physics and the philosophy of science, and a PhD in the philosophy of quantum physics. She has written more than 30 books; speaks at world environmental conferences; founded a research institute and international sustainability movement; leads protests against agricultural companies; advocates for fair trade; and campaigns against GMOs, even preventing the former Monsanto company from sowing its GMO seeds in India. TIME magazine named her an “environmental hero,” and she’s received numerous awards, including the Right Livelihood Award, which has been called the “alternative Nobel Prize.” Greta Thunberg follows her on Twitter. Why isn’t this eco-activist and thinker more well-known beyond the world of agricultural politics? “That’s our job as documentary filmmakers, to let people know she’s an important figure,” Jim Becket said.



Most people don’t know a lot about the intricate system that brings food to their plates. “The food system is a bit of a wonky subject,” Camilla said, but Shiva “makes it accessible.” The Beckets hope their documentary will do the same. Shiva said she agreed to be the subject of the film, even though she was originally “very embarrassed about the idea,” in part because she knew Jim Becket from events where she spoke, and was aware of his background and dedication to causes similar to hers. photos left and below: COURTESY NAVDANYA

Jim has worked as a human rights lawyer, journalist, author, and filmmaker, producing and directing films about refugees and environmental issues, including for the United Nations.




Camilla, born and raised in South Africa, served as an anti-apartheid activist before shifting to book publishing and film production. The couple met in the 1990s in West Hollywood through mutual friends. After they married and had a daughter, they moved to Ojai in 1999 because they didn’t want to raise her in Los Angeles. Ojai “was small, it was beautiful, and we felt like they were our people,” Jim said. They created Becket Films in 2005 with a mission to focus on international environmental issues, social justice, and health. Jim met Shiva about 20 years ago when he was involved in filming environmental symposia that brought religious leaders and scientists together. He didn’t know much about her before he heard her speak, and his first impression was that “amid a group of very distinguished scientists and religious leaders, she more than held her own.”

Camilla and Jim Becket

Camilla, equally inspired, said Shiva was “good at connecting dots between culture, economics, society, science, food, and social justice. She had this incredible capacity to distill it in a way that impressed deeply intellectual people and also people who didn’t know much about it.” The Beckets said they realized Shiva was “an eco-activist rock star,” and after spending more time with her, wanted to tell her life story, tracing her evolution as an activist and showing viewers that one person can make a difference. “We also wanted to amplify her message, which offers real hope for the future of farming and food,” Camilla said. In 1982 Shiva created the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and in 1987 founded Navdanya, a movement that supports biodiversity, sustainability, seed saving, fair trade, rural farmers, and “Earth democracy.” (“Navdanya” means “nine seeds” or “new gift” in Hindi.) The documentary took about eight years to produce. The Beckets, as independent filmmakers, had to constantly seek funding, via both grants and investors, to make the film. Jim said that although much of the filming took place in India, the documentary “really is an Ojai-made film” because most of the people on the filmmaking crew were from Ojai.



“is unbelievably good.” And Camilla called the chai tea there “pretty much the best I’ve ever had (the chai at Farmer and the Cook being a very close second).” A lifetime of eco-awareness The timeline of Shiva’s life and activism, covering decades, is extensive. But the documentary covers it all in 121 minutes. Shiva, 69, grew up in the Himalayas, where she learned to love nature by tagging along with her father, who inspected forests as a conservator. She attended school at a convent, and early on became interested in physics. Originally, she wanted to be a nuclear physicist, and earned a master’s degree in the subject, but realized that “science only teaches you how to modify nature without the understanding of what that modification does to the larger world; [it] is not a complete science.” Shiva says in the film that she prefers “knowledge in the whole. If you don’t understand the whole, you don’t understand the patterns. If you don’t understand the interconnections, you really don’t have knowledge.”


In addition to interviews with Shiva, the documentary features historical news footage and photos from Shiva’s life and the worldwide environmental movement. The information is combined with gorgeous cinematography of nature: seeds, flowers, trees, grasses, and Indian farmland and landscapes. The Beckets traveled five times to India to film and interview Shiva. “We love India for its chaos and color,” Camilla said. “What is normal to Indians can be confronting to Westerners until

you adapt and learn to go with the flow.” Navdanya maintains an organic farm and seed bank in India where the Beckets conducted interviews and shot film. “Vandana’s farm is calm and peaceful, the pace is slower (than other parts of India), more rhythmical and more considered,” Camilla said. Not surprisingly, she said, the vegetarian food served at Navdanya

After earning her PhD, she truly absorbed and applied this epistemological orientation: When she returned to India, her beloved forest had changed due to logging. Streams were gone, trees cut down. She got involved in the nonviolent Chipko movement, run by rural women in India who were the original “tree huggers” (“chipko” is a Hindi word that means to hug or embrace) as they sought to protect forests from logging. “The women activists of Chipko became my professors in biodiversity and ecology,” Shiva said. “They taught me about the relationship between forests, soil and water and women’s sustenance economies.” Meanwhile, quantum theory had taught her four principles that guide her thinking: “Everything is interconnected, everything is potential, everything is



etically modified crops” that went viral. Among other critiques, the article questioned her total condemnation of GMO foods, noting that the National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and other scientific organizations “have all concluded that foods derived from genetically modified crops are as safe to eat as any other food.” Shiva has become one of the stars of global environmental activism photo: WIKI COMMONS

indeterminate, there is no excluded middle; we are interbeings.” Her feminist side flourished in the 1980s after she was invited to the United Nations World Conference on Women in Nairobi. A publisher told her no one was connecting issues of women and the environment and suggested she write a book. Shiva published Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development, and became a voice for ecofeminism. A defining moment in her activism took place in 1984, when a gas leak at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, killed thousands and harmed many more. Shiva realized that the “Green Revolution” was doing more harm than good. The celebrated Green Revolution (one of its founders won a Nobel Peace Prize) featured the introduction of new varieties of crops, mainly wheat and rice, that multiplied considerably the amount of food available in countries such as Mexico and India. But these new varieties required high amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which Shiva calls “poisons.” Another turning point in her life occurred when she saw that big corporations like Monsanto were trying to monopolize the world’s seed market.

She began to collect and propagate seeds, and shifted her research, activism, and teaching priorities to biodiversity, food, and traditional farming. She began studying the biotechnology industry, whose companies say their GMO technology can feed the world. But industrial farming, with its emphasis on pesticides, GMOs, and replacing humans with machines, harms traditional small farmers, Shiva believes. She visits farmers in India, encouraging and training them to save seeds and shift to organic farming. The seed bank at her farm, she said, is not a “museum.” The goal is to sow every seed saved, and to show how biodiversity and native seeds can feed the world. Shiva has taken her activism to other countries as well, particularly in South America and Africa, as well as North America and Europe. The documentary does address Shiva’s critics, who aren’t just leaders in the biotechnology business. In 2014, The New Yorker featured an article by Michael Specter titled “Seeds of Doubt: An activist’s controversial crusade against gen-

See The Seeds of Vandana Shiva in February at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (Montana), in March at the Boulder International Film Festival (Colorado) and locally at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival March 2 - 12.

She’s been called “a dangerous fabulist” (Forbes) and criticized for not being a true scientist because her PhD is in philosophy. But Shiva, and the Beckets, see her background in both philosophy and science as a strong point. “She has a huge and varied deep knowledge of quantum theory and thinking,” Jim said. “Uniting science and philosophy leads to common ground. You can’t have just one or the other.” So far, the film has been shown at film festivals, and a screening took place in Ojai in October 2021, with Jim attending for a Q-and-A session. Camilla has been in Australia living with the couple’s daughter; the COVID-19 pandemic has kept them from traveling. After screening The Seeds of Vandana Shiva at film festivals, the Beckets hope to work with distributors to show the documentary at schools and universities, then via mainstream film, TV, and streaming platforms. The Beckets said Shiva’s greatest gift is her ability to help people see that healing the earth is synonymous with healing themselves. “You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder,” Shiva said. “It is good to remember the planet is carrying you.” Even a kindergartner can draw that. For more information about The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, including possible upcoming screenings, visit vandanashivamovie.com. For information about Becket Films visit becketfilms.com







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In an uninhabited and unexplored northwest corner of the Chang Tang Plateau, Tibet photo: © Jimmy Chin


Reborn IN


rick ridgeway, in his newly-released memoir, LIFE LIVED WILD: ADVENTURES AT THE EDGE OF THE MAP, writes that he was born 72 years ago in southern california, but was reborn on october 13, 1980, on a high mountain named minya konka in the tibet autonomous region in china. On that day Ridgeway and his friends Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia; Kim Schmitz, an expert climber; and Jonathan Wright, a photographer and business partner, had climbed all day from a base camp to set up a 2nd mountain-climbing camp at about 20,000 feet. Having completed that arduous task, and climbed down a steep section with care, they were whooping it up as they slid rapidly towards the base camp far below on their butts, still roped together. “Then it happened,” writes Ridgeway, describing his sudden bewilderment as the snow around him began to rise “... as if it had started to boil.” In an avalanche gathering speed, he fell and began to tumble, trying to curl himself into a ball with space in front of him for the air he would need to breathe should he have to dig himself out of snow when he came to a stop. In the eternity of a moment’s plummet downward, he surfaced briefly.


To his surprise, Ridgeway emerged from that fall of as much as 2,000 feet bruised but not seriously hurt. Chouinard came to consciousness waist deep in snow, concussed and confused, with blood pouring down his face from a head wound. Schmitz was screaming in pain from a broken vertebra and other injuries. Ridgeway found Wright facedown on ice, immobile, and mumbling incoherently. Ridgeway pulled him upright and began to resuscitate him. Despite his fervent efforts to breathe life into Wright, which at first seemed to succeed, Wright soon stopped breathing, went pale, and died in Ridgeway’s arms. Ridgeway has never forgotten that moment and, like Chouinard, still thinks of it every day. Just thinking of climbing on avalancheprone slopes now gives him goosebumps. Yet he considers himself to have been “reborn” in that instant. In an interview in a modest home under large oaks in the East End, sitting cross-legged in an armchair, he explained that it changed his relationship not just with the mountains he climbed, but with his time remaining.

Jim “The Bird” Bridwell’s tattoo predated by about three decades the resurgent popularity of body art. photo: © RICK RIDGEWAY

“Suddenly time slowed. I breathed deeply and exhaled deeply, and in that brief second, I managed to calm my thoughts,” he writes. “I looked ahead as the entire slope of snow we were riding, the tons and tons of snow, pitched into space.” “Died October 13, 1980,” he thought in that moment. “Thirty-one years old. Buried in Tibet.”

THE Wild


Rick Ridgeway’s adventures at the edge of the map



himself had not reached the summit—- that he was thinking of giving up expedition climbing. PK told him that was a good idea, shook his hand, and reminded Ridgeway that he was still young. He could still marry and have children and figure out a different kind of life. Days later, Ridgeway met a striking woman in Kathmandu. Her name was Jennifer Fleming. She came of age in the fashion industry, and happened to be there on assignment for Calvin Klein. Despite her elegant attire and pricey luggage, Ridgeway invited her on a threeweek hike through the planned Nepalese national park around Everest. “But the furthest I’ve ever walked is from a cab on Fifth Avenue into the front entrance at Bergdorf Goodman’s!” she shot back. Despite the enormous differences between their lifestyles — fashion-conscious Jennifer would never sleep in a tent, far less explore wildernesses with Ridgeway — they married in 1982, and settled down happily in Ventura County. Jennifer found work at Patagonia as its first advertising and photo director, where she pioneered the outdoor clothing firm’s photographic focus on real-life adventurers in the wilds around the world. She worked at the headquarters in Ventura for years, and together they raised three children — Carissa, Cameron, and Connor. RIDGEWAY AT HOME

Tom Brokaw, on his first snow and ice climb on the Kautz Glacier, Mount Rainier. photo: © RICK RIDGEWAY

“I was reborn in the sense that I was able to renew my sense of what it means to be alive by learning to do a better job of living in the moment,” he said in an interview. “Not to live in the past and not to live in the future in the way I was in the habit of doing — always thinking about what project I was going to do next — but like most kids seem to be able to do, to be more fully engaged in the moment.” After the avalanche, Ridgeway built a bier of flat stones on Minya Konka’s lower slopes and buried Wright’s frozen body under the

rock, with prayer flags mounted on glacier wands fluttering in the wind. He came down with the climbing party doubting himself, overhearing the muttering complaints of those on the expedition who blamed him and his team for the avalanche. He thought his mountain-climbing days might be over. A few months later, while in Kathmandu on a lower elevation assignment for National Geographic about a national park, he told the admired Sherpa Pasang Kaji, known as PK — with whom he had successfully climbed Everest, even though Ridgeway

With a few deprecating remarks about the dating woes of climbers such as himself and his peak-obsessed pals, Ridgeway lets readers know that he considers the wooing and wedding of his beloved “Bella” (Jennifer) to be the most meaningful of his feats, far surpassing any of his adventures. Ridgeway is not a big man, but he has broad shoulders and broad features and strong hands. His gaze is steady; he answers questions with barely a movement, but is on his feet in a flash to show off personal treasures, including four volumes of Robinson Jeffers, the poet, standing in a prominent position high on his wall of bookshelves, as well as large paintings of the uncommon pheasants Ridgeway raised as a boy with his grandfather, and the wooden box — the “altar” — that Ridgeway made for his late wife Bella.



In the l980s Ridgeway continued in his work documenting adventures, such as a journey on foot across Borneo. Two highly successful corporate leaders, Frank Wells of Warner Brothers and Dick Bass, an oil and gas executive and ski resort owner, invited him to go with them on their mid-life quest to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. Although intrigued, Ridgeway told his wife that he thought it was too risky. “But it might be more risky not to go,” she said, adding that it might mean Ridgeway was not being true to himself, to his own nature. Besides, she said, “You need to stay open to getting to know new people.” This resonated with Ridgeway, who already had come to the conclusion that he climbed mountains not for fame or glory, but for the unrivaled company of his fellow adventurers, and for the privilege of experiencing the wild in places where few if any people had ventured before. Ridgeway had spent 68 days above 18,000 feet as part of a months-long expedition climbing K2, the 2nd-highest mountain on earth. But even after standing on the summit — and after a close encounter with frostbite and the near death of one of their team — Ridgeway writes that he and his partner almost forgot to take the traditional triumphant photograph at the summit. “I had no feeling of conquering anything,” he writes. “We were two tiny humans on top of the world’s most awesome mountain, and the mountain was indifferent. I held my ice axe across my waist, shoulders down, and stared into space. John [Roskelley] took the photo, and we started our descent.” THE ADVENTURING CONSERVATIONIST

In the 20 years that followed, Ridgeway and some of his friends — including Doug Tompkins, the founder of The North Face and one of four adventurers, including Yvon Chouinard, who explored Patagonia in a station wagon in 1968 — morphed into an ad hoc team of so-called “Do Boys” exploring some of the wildest places on earth. With friends new and old, Ridgeway climbed unexplored mountains in Bhutan, dodged polar bears in the Arctic while observing rare Beluga whales, climbed a

rock spire in the Amazon with the help of local Yanomami tribal guides, and kayaked a river in the Russian Far East with network anchorman Tom Brokaw and others. Ridgeway stayed in touch with his late friend Jonathan Wright’s wife and his daughter, Asia, and 20 years after her father’s death on Minya Konka, when she had been just a baby, Asia asked him to take her there to find her father’s grave. Ridgeway had doubts. His wife did not. “Of course you’re going to take her,” Jennifer said to him. “Asia isn’t just asking you to help her find her father. She’s asking you to be her father.” This journey took months. The two went first from Nepal to the alpine steppe of the Chang Tang plateau in western Tibet; then to join pilgrims circumnavigating the sacred Mount Kailash; then to the summit of an unnamed, unclimbed mountain 21,000 feet high in the almost unvisited Aru Basin; and finally to the slopes of Minya Konka. As documented in Ridgeway’s earlier book, Below Another Sky, the last journey to the gravesite, where they found Wright’s body disturbed — perhaps by snow leopards — and in need of reburying, brought them both to tears. Together they rebuilt the bier. Asia placed a brass plaque on her father’s grave, and positioned the last stone, just as Ridgeway had done 20 years before.


central warehouse in Reno, NV, repairing over 100,000 customers’ worn clothes for free in 2019. In 2009, amidst the Great Recession, Ridgeway noticed a New York Times story describing a small cohort of people who while under financial pressure were choosing to buy fewer items than in the past, but of higher quality, even if they cost more. “I read that and thought: These are our people,” Ridgeway said. “These are the kind of people we want to attract at Patagonia, because we make the best quality stuff. We also encourage people to fix it if it’s broken. We have now the biggest apparel repair center in North America, outside of the government’s. So we realized this required a partnership with our customers. We called it an “upside-down loyalty program.” Most companies create a loyalty program to incentivize customers to use more of their goods and services. We wanted to incentivize our customers to use less, and keep it longer, and wear it out more.” This thought gave Ridgeway the daring idea to run a full-page Black Friday ad in the New York Times, right behind the usual Macy’s ads, with a photograph of one of their bestselling jackets and the headline above it:


Three years later, despite his trepidation about working for one of his closest friends Chouinard, Ridgeway accepted a full-time job as the chief of Patagonia’s environmental and sustainability efforts. He still found time to go on adventures — such as a 300-mile traverse of the unoccupied high Tibetan plateau occupied by the endangered Chiru antelope — but increasingly devoted himself to saving endangered species around the world. Under his leadership as director of environmental affairs, among other efforts, Ridgeway expanded the company’s “Worn Wear” clothing and equipment repair program, launching a Worn Wear blog telling the stories of both the clothes and the adventures that their wearers have had in the wild. The blog remains active, and the repair program employs 70 people at its

“DON’T BUY THIS JACKET.” “I remember talking to the New York Times, and they were so stoked because they assumed they had a new customer, and we were going to be like Macy’s. And then when we sent them the mock-up for the ad they just shit, because, they had never seen anything like that.”




Ridgeway has now lived in the Ojai Valley for 30 years, after first moving to Ventura County in large part for the opportunity to surf. He explains that in the winter, the Channel Islands block the swell from reaching Malibu, where he had been living, so at that time of year he often found himself going to the Oxnard area to surf with his adventuring buddy Yvon Chouinard.

About Ojai, Ridgeway expressed confidence about its future, despite the Thomas Fire and other crises. He felt this after battling the Thomas Fire around his house and his neighbor’s, and after seeing how friends and acquaintances supported those who had suffered.

Jim Donini (left) and Doug Tompkins celebrate the only sunny

“I was getting more day on the entire sea kayak and climbing adventure in the southern fjords of Chile. photo: © RICK RIDGEWAY and more frustrated with Malibu,” Ridgeway said. “It was a land of He lost Tompkins while on a kayaking poseurs — all these movie people who were pretending to be other than what they adventure in Patagonia that nearly took his were. And so I asked Yvon one day when I own life as well. Bella he lost to pancreatic was up here if he could keep his ears open cancer. He treasures both their memories, for a house to rent and he called up one and for Bella he had an “altar” made for day and said, ‘Well there’s a house for sale her of a black oak fallen on a neighbor’s on the beach where I’m at.’ I didn’t think property, a standing chest containing her I could possibly afford to buy a house but ashes and personal objects sacred to them it was hardly anything. It didn’t even have both. regular stud walls, just posts in the sand He continues to plan adventures — though with plywood.” he’s more interested now in long walks than Ridgeway and his Bella lived for a time in mountain climbing — and he continues there on the beach, but the arrival of to get out on walks and even runs, “talking children and their schooling in Ojai changed back” to his body when his knees ache or his the Ridgeways’ minds about where to live. legs complain. “The kids were first at Montessori and then later at both Ojai Valley School and Oak Grove, depending on their temperaments,” he said. “My wife was coming up to Ojai twice a day sometimes to take the kids to soccer practice, or to play at friend’s houses, and finally one day she said, ‘I’m over it. I want to move to Ojai.’ I said fine. So we came up here in the early ‘90s, and it was a perfect place for the kids. It worked for them and it worked for us, so I’m still here 30 years later.” Ridgeway has suffered two great losses in recent years, the death of his good friend Doug Tompkins, the co-creator of an enormous new national park in Patagonia, and that of Bella.

Day twenty-five of our foot traverse across the Chang Tang Plateau, northwest Tibet photo: © Jimmy Chin

“When I tell friends and acquaintances that I’ve been here for 30 years, people frequently say, “Oh, you must have seen a lot of changes.’ And I can say that yeah, I’ve seen a few, but really very few. The population has been relatively stable, and the character of the town is so much the same. The only thing that’s really changed is the number of visitors we have on the weekends, but you know, I kind of lean into that. I don’t use side streets to avoid going through the middle of town, I always go that way. I enjoy watching people visit the town and I admire the arcade and when I go into town to have lunch or shop I meet new people all the time and that’s cool. So I’m okay with the increased tourism.” And he still gets out into the mountains, even if they’re 20,000 feet lower than the Himalayan peaks he climbed in his youth. “One of my favorite things to do in the Ojai Valley is to go up the Pratt Trail really early in the morning. I’m still thankful I can keep a good pace. I can get up to the fire lookout by nine in the morning and have breakfast and watch the glory of the morning spread across the Ojai Valley and beyond to the ocean, and see the islands out there on a clear day, and have just a wondrous hike and feel like I’ve been up Everest.” Ridgeway grins a little — gap-toothed, a glint in his eye, alive to the thought of it. “You know?” he said. “It’s a thrill.”






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Betty Boop to Bauhaus: the Ojai Journey of

Zavier Cabarga





If you’ve never heard the phrase, “Boop Oop a Doop,” you’ve probably had your head in an inkwell for the last 90 years. Betty Boop, of course, is the world’s most recognized progenitor of that delightfully squealy insinuation. She is the now-classic cartoon femme fatale who was single-handedly rescued from near-obscurity in the 1970s by a talented teenaged artist and author, Ojai’s own Zavier Leslie Cabarga, formerly known as Leslie Cabarga.

bizarre characters, sound effects, joyous music, and strange voices were utterly fascinating. The cartoon backgrounds were painted in gray tones to contrast against the sharp black and white of the foreground characters who were always moving or bouncing, usually to wonderfully jazzy 1930s tunes. The buildings and lampposts in

Cabarga grew up in New York, where watching black-andwhite 1930s cartoons recycled for 1960s television was a primary delight. “There’s a visual quality to those old cartoons, especially the ones with Betty Boop, and Popeye the Sailor, that I loved. The titles crediting the Fleischer Studios seemed very mysterious to me. The animated drawings,


those backgrounds were always curvy and disheveled, and the crazy cartoon architecture was probably what I liked best about those cartoons.” Cabarga knew early on that the cartoon world was for him. “I was always drawing pictures in class, and one day a teacher took a bunch of my drawings to the front of the room and began ridiculing them. ‘Look how Leslie wastes his time,’ she said. So I’m seven years old and I’m sitting there thinking, what is she talking about, my father makes a living at this!” Indeed, young Cabarga planned early on to follow in the footsteps of his commercial-artist father. Describing himself as “a classic scholastic under-achiever way before Bart Simpson,” he left school at 15 to pursue his dream of becoming a comic artist. The memory of those old Betty Boop cartoons remained a chief stylistic inspiration. He even tried to research the old cartoons. Max Fleischer’s rival, Walt Disney, had become a household name, but despite a search through the massive New York Public Library, other New York collections, and even the local phone book, Cabarga could find no information about Max Fleischer, whose Manhattan studio had produced those favorite cartoons. THE KEY TO FLEISCHERLAND

Above and left: Some of the many faces of Betty Boop as chanelled by Zavier Cabarga Right: Max Fleischer

But Cabarga’s ongoing Boop research received a lucky break. “I made an appointment to show my portfolio at Topps Chewing Gum, Inc.



When I got off the subway in Brooklyn, the air smelled of cherry lollipops from the emissions of the Topps factory three blocks away. I showed my samples to the art buyer, Woody Gelman, and pointed out one piece that I’d done in imitation of the Betty Boop cartoon style.” To his surprise, Gelman replied, “Oh, I used to work for Fleischer Studios, and in our art department, two of the former Fleischer animators are here working for me.” Cabarga “flipped” and after meeting the men, arranged to interview them at their homes. “And before I left their offices, Topps assigned me several ‘Wacky Packages,’ a popular bubblegum product, to illustrate.” When Cabarga returned to present his finished art, he also showed Gelman an article containing the animators’ interviews that he’d edited and designed as a potential magazine article.

ground” comic books. After a few years of earning a reputation in that realm, he gravitated to illustration. As Wikipedia puts it, “By the early 1980s Cabarga had become one of the most popular illustrators in New York, creating covers for Time, Newsweek, and Fortune, to name just a few.” He was also turning out dozens of album covers for America’s largest recording label, Columbia Records, featuring many of their top country artists.

“Gelman, who as a sideline ran a comics-related publishing company, was impressed and said “If you expand this into a book I’ll publish it.” That was quite a coup for a 16-year-old! “I left on cloud nine.” “It took me about four years, during which I read books on how to write, and interviewed and corresponded with dozens of former Fleischer Studios artists. While I kept up my regular work as a comic artist, I researched, wrote, designed, and illustrated the book that was published in 1976 as The Fleischer Story. Almost immediately after the book came out, I was asked to create new art for greeting cards, ceramics, and other products featuring Betty Boop. I became the go-to guy for Boop illustration, eventually painting over 50 greeting cards, Betty’s first-ever LP album cover, and designs for dozens of ceramic mugs and figurines.” The Fleischer Story, meanwhile, found a second publisher after Gelman passed away and remained in print for nearly two more decades.

“I loved emulating different kinds of art, so I didn’t have just one style. Rolling Stone liked my cartoony work, often done with watercolor or air brush, and The New York Times preferred my more serious, woodcut-engraving style that I replicated using brush and ink. The latter work attracted the attention of TIME magazine and I ended up eventually doing four covers for them. It was a major thrill to see your work on the end rack of every supermarket checkout line — even if only for a week.” By his own account, “There was a period of about 15 years where not a week went by that my work could not be seen in one to five publications. Every day was another frantic deadline!”



In the meantime, Cabarga’s cartooning career was moving along — thanks in part to newspapers, small publications, and the newly-flourishing “under-

“In 1981, I got a call from a company called Nintendo. They wanted an illustration to announce a new video game they were going to call Donkey Kong.

I had no idea what it was all about but I based my drawing of Mario the Plumber on Popeye the Sailor, giving the little mustachioed chap the classic ‘30s-animation white gloves. The massive Donkey Kong I likened to Popeye’s nemesis, Bluto, and Pauline the damsel in distress I based on the figure of Betty Boop (with a smaller head). Only years later did I learn that Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong, had actually been greatly inspired by a classic 1934 Max Fleischer Popeye cartoon.”



whimsically named “Ojaio,” presaging his eventual move to this community.

An important ongoing aspect of Cabarga’s career is as a writer, designer, and publisher of books. One of his earliest books, A Treasury of German Graphics, contained the very pared-down, iconic logos and trademarks by German designers from the pre-war era. It was the first time present-day designers had been exposed to this surprisingly modernlooking work. The book has been credited as having ushered in the age of the computer icon.


APPLES AND FONTS By 1990, the Macintosh Apple computer had become a viable option for artists and Cabarga took it up with zeal. He had always wanted to create fonts — a task that was not really viable for

Even as a child, there had been a foreshadowing link to Ojai for Cabarga. In the book The Feminine Mystique, author Betty Friedan described ‘60s housewives running screaming into the streets, frustrated by their limiting and confining routines. Cabarga remembered: “That’s exactly what my mother did. One evening she fled to the home of a friend who offered tea and sympathy, and a little book by J. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. K’s philosophy was the balm she needed and my mother became a lifelong fan. I grew up almost spoon-fed on ideology through my mother from this deep well of wisdom. It was somehow synchronistic that I would wind up in Ojai, the town Krishnamurti called home.” By 1995 Cabarga was living with his small family in Los Angeles. “Eventually we decided to leave the hub-bub of Los Angeles and settle in Ojai. Although the move did

nothing for the marital relationship, we all thrived here and still remain very close, literally and figuratively. My kids attended Oak Grove School, and my son just graduated from Chaparral.”

an individual to accomplish in pre-computer times, but Cabarga was an early adaptor. By 1995, he had released a suite of Art-Deco-inspired script fonts that achieved immediate acceptance in the field. “A friend called me up one day and exclaimed, ‘I saw your face on the cover of Rolling Stone!’ He meant my typeface!” Prominent among Cabarga’s fonts are “Streamline,” “Raceway,” and “Magneto Bold,” the latter of which received wide distribution through Microsoft and has become a classic. Another font Cabarga

Cabarga continued creating books on the art and design that he loved, such as Dynamic Black and White Illustration, The Designer’s Guide to Color Combinations, and the bestselling Logo, Font & Lettering Bible. Cabarga’s book Talks with Trees; A Plant Psychic’s Interviews with Flowers, Vegetables and Trees reflected new dimensions in his developing interests. Cabarga had met the brilliant and prodigious MAD Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragonés at comic book conventions. “Sergio invited me and my family to visit him in Ojai and he gave us a really extensive tour through the Arcade, Arbolata, and the East End, that was then in the delicious-smelling


midst of orange blossom time. We were enchanted. (He was exhausted!). “On our first visit to Ojai, with Sergio, we stopped at the Krishnamurti Library. They had some orange trees and I picked an orange — first I apologized to the tree — then took it home to ‘interview.’” The orange “told” him: “This library was blessed by the energy of the man and his ideals. Before he left we all were imbued with the lasting light of his radiance. I am happy that you were so drawn to us that you wanted a “free sample” and that we appealed to you, friend. How divorced you are from the earth that it brings a thrill when you see us in our natural state of growing! You experienced the bliss and serenity of our fields as you drove through. “The people in this town love their way of life. They’ve all come, attracted by the unspoiled nature and peace. But they soon begin to take over and ironically threaten our existence. Humans don’t mean to upset nature (so we cannot blame them). As they come near they tend to take over. Then it’s as if we become a quaint decoration. Some people would rather see this ‘real estate,’ now covered in fruit orchards, utilized in other ways.” Up to that point in his life, Cabarga had never dared argue with an orange, and he was not about to begin now. He and his family immediately packed up their Los Angeles belongings, moved to Ojai, and never looked back. Cabarga says, “I’ve always noticed that Ojai seems to accept some people who come here, and reject others if it’s not a good fit.” I guess it worked for me because it’s been 15 years and I never tire of gazing up at the mountains surrounding this valley. When I was a kid my mother would say, ‘Go outside and play,’ and I would reply, ‘Whataya mean? There’s no pencil and paper out there!’ I spent my life at desks making art, but I have become a devotee of the River Bottom and Ojai hiking trails and really miss them if I don’t get out often enough.”



TINY HOUSE IN THE VALLEY “In 2014, I toured a tiny house on wheels created by local architect Vina Lustado. I admired it, but thought little about it until four months later when I was suddenly struck with the idea, ‘I wanna build one of those!’ I’d been a woodworker since I made go-carts as a kid. Through the years, I’d renovated several houses and one day, while building a new Craftsman-style kitchen for my house in Los Angeles, I said to myself, ‘This is the most fun I’ve ever had,’ and I resolved to switch my career to cabinet-maker.” One revealing indication of Cabarga’s later-stage career change was that, little by little, the graphic design books in his collection began to be exceeded by books on architecture. “It’s more satisfying to actually walk through one’s own designs in 3D than just appreciating them on a piece of paper,” Cabarga says. “What I loved

about building a tiny house — with Craftsman, Jugendstil, and Bauhaus influences — is that the entire thing became a piece of fine furniture.” Having heard he was focusing on carpentry, a friend asked Cabarga to build a simple shelf over his bed. “I don’t really do ‘simple.’ The result was a shelf with a cherrywood sunburst and glass mosaic sun rays that was loosely inspired by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s 1930 Lit Soleil bed. The client was ecstatic!” A mid-century-style bathroom suite followed, and then, “I was hired to remodel the interior of a 1953 Spartan Royal Mansion house trailer, which I did in authentic Art Deco style. I love working in period styles and I believe my experience as an illustrator enables me to draft more complex and flowing designs than builders who are often limited by the geometric shapes favored by computer programs.” LOOKING AHEAD Zavier Leslie Cabarga, this Jack and master of many disciplines — in all

known dimensions still enjoys all the things that have ever held his interest, from Betty Boop to Bauhaus, from J.S. Bach to Irving Berlin, from Krishnamurti to Eckhart Tolle. But it’s what is yet to come that intrigues him most, and he is committed to letting the Universe reveal what next lies ahead, in its own good time. And that, as for many locals, is pretty much the Ojai way.

Editor’s Note: This biography of Zavier Carbarga by Will Ryan is, sadly, Will’s last work before his death from cancer on December 19, 2021. Will Ryan, a dear friend to Zavier, voiced hundreds of cartoon characters, such as Tigger in Disney’s Pooh Corner series, and Seahorse in The Little Mermaid, also authored many humorous books, including “Popcorn Haiku” which is being published posthumously. He is missed.





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Jes Maharry Rising above the clouds


jes maharry rescues things. soda tabs. twigs. metal. donkeys. and with her hand, she nurtures them into wholeness. MaHarry is an Ojai jewelry artist whose love of animals, the earth, and found objects are all entwined in her life and art. In the studio on the grounds of her Sun Horse Ranch in Ojai, she’s just as likely to be feeding carrots to rescued donkeys as she is etching images of birds, stars, and trees, along with inspiring words, on reclaimed silver and gold. To make her mixed-media jewelry, she combines raw and refined materials, from recycled metals to trade beads and precious gemstones, then forms them by hand into rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. MaHarry’s creations, worn by celebrities and everyday people, and sold in the prestigious Sundance Catalog since 2000, are both rough and polished, and always infused with a warm spirit.

and friends. “I never thought of doing it for money,” she said. Her father had told her that as an artist she needed to work in advertising to make a living, so after college, she interviewed with numerous ad agencies. “I never got hired,” she said. “Every time, they said, ‘This does not seem like your thing; you seem like a children’s illustrator.” She ended up working odd jobs to get by, mainly as a waitress, but continued to fashion jewelry. Her mom paid for her to take a beginning jewelry class at a museum, which MaHarry calls a turning point. During the six-week class, MaHarry learned she could draw on metal. “It was like the parting of the sea; I realized I could merge my love of drawing with my love of jewelry,” she said. Second, she learned how to picket for animal rights.

MaHarry said three things have been consistent in her life: “My love for art, animals, and nature.” Some of her first and clearest memories, she said, are her connections to “creatures big and small. … I’ve always felt their heart was my very own heart. I could feel what they could feel, and I knew they could feel me too.” MaHarry, who grew up in upstate New York in an artistic and musical family, said another early memory is playing with her grandmother’s jewelry in her crib. For as long as she can remember, she liked shiny gems, and drawing. Early on, self-taught, she started making her own jewelry. But those first bits of bling were not at all bling-y. “I’d find all these beautiful little objects on the ground, like rusty old washers, bottle caps, shells, and feathers,” she said. She later learned how to work with glass and metals using her family’s old kiln. MaHarry eventually went to art school for illustration and design, following in the footsteps of her father, who worked in advertising. She asked the college’s president if he would consider offering a jewelry class. MaHarry said he told her, “No, that’s not an art form.” So MaHarry continued what she’d learned on her own: twisting and hammering found copper, brass, and other metals, then incorporating leaves, twigs, and other objects to create adornments she gave away to family

The Lit Path Ring

MaHarry, who had always nurtured sick birds, cats, and other creatures, said the woman who taught the jewelry class was a passionate animal-rights activist, and brought MaHarry into that world as well. Art and activism collided when MaHarry began drawing animals on her jewelry. Images of horses, bears, dogs, and birds still adorn her work, and she donates to organizations devoted to saving animals and the earth, including Wild Horses in Need, the Ojai Raptor Center, Best Friends Animal Society, the National Resources Defense Council and Heal the Ocean. Eventually, someone told MaHarry she should consider selling her creations, so she set up tables at street fairs, then came up with a business retail plan: Find a store in every city she’d be proud to sell her work in, then ask the shop owners if they would buy

Redford did for the environment,” she said. “It was a natural connection.” MaHarry didn’t feel ready for Sundance, however, until she had learned more about her craft. She delved into books at the library, learning skills that seem small, but make a world of difference in the quality of a final piece of jewelry, such as finishing the endings of string, or smoothing ear wires. Although the high-quality jewelry she makes now no longer includes soda tabs or twigs, every piece still has an organic, natural, slightly rough-hewn quality. Desire Love Necklace

her jewelry. Her first attempt, selling earrings made out of wire-wrapped bottle caps from cans, was a success. The earrings ($7 a pair) sold out in two days and the owner wanted more.

The goal, MaHarry said, is “finding perfection in what is imperfect.” By the time she was ready to submit to Sundance, a little over 20 years ago, she was living in Ojai; one of her sisters had moved there and urged MaHarry to join her.

She developed a following in upstate New York, and started doing trunk and trade shows.

MaHarry’s style was unique at the time: mixed-media works featuring untreated natural gems combined with medallions, talismans, found objects, and etched words and phrases to inspire wearers, such as “Unity,” “Love Is Love” and “True Courage.” A short list of some of the gems and stones she works with includes amber, antique coral, chalcedony, citrine, diamond, emerald, garnet, moonstone, opal, quartz, ruby, sapphire, sunstone, tourmaline and turquoise. Her dream, MaHarry said, was to sell her jewelry in the Sundance Catalog, a mailorder publication started in 1989 to offer handcrafted items initially sold at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah. “I really believe in what they did — how they supported artists, and what Robert

MaHarry sees her jewelry as “a vehicle to put goodness into the world.” She’s far from being Mother Teresa or anything, but if I can make people feel better, that’s a gift.” All of her pieces, like any works of art, have names (some with a nod to Ojai). A few examples: the “Wrapped with Compassion” and “Pink Moment” necklaces; “True Courage” cuff; and “Rise Above the Clouds” and “The Mountains Are Calling” rings. To understand the inspiration for her designs, MaHarry said, immerse yourself in the “colors, shapes, textures and sounds of nature. Consider the feeling you get from silence or bird song… the joy of bright green baby grass as it reaches for the sun or the arch of a tree as it bows to the wind.” That’s all easy in Ojai, she said. “I always have to start with some- thing that moves me, and Ojai is so magical. I literally can’t believe how much I love it.”

At her first trade show, MaHarry said, Suzy Tompkins of the Esprit clothing company bought her collection, and suddenly her jewelry was on billboards in Times Square. She added precious and semiprecious gemstones to her work, making sure they were ethically sourced, and used recycled gold, silver and other metals, along with leather and string. “Early on, I decided if I’m going to make something to sell, it had to be authentic, natural, and have some deeper sense of purpose,” she said.

their ranch in Ojai, which includes a house, studio and barn. She and Patrick have three children ages 8 to 18, and the family is always tending to a Noah’s Ark of dogs, cats, cows, goats, rabbits, sheep, birds and more. “You have to love animals to work with me,” she said, laughing.

Treasure Island Cuff

When she finally got the call from Sundance, they wanted to meet her and see every piece of jewelry she made. MaHarry’s creations have been in the catalog every year since. Since then she has made a peace medallion for the pope, talismans for Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, and jewelry for celebrities like Jennifer Aniston. Through her Sundance connections, she found “incredible” artisans to help her, she said, such as gem setters. She now works full time as an artisan, selling items via her website, the Sundance Catalog, and a retail store that recently reopened in downtown Ojai. Business success has allowed her to rescue more animals: She and her husband, Patrick, who’s also an artisan, purchased

Ojai is filled with such motivation — and it’s not always pleasant. The Thomas fire, for example, inspired her “Blaze Bracelet.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have asked her to craft rings and necklaces with words of hope and healing. Her new collection for Sundance is based on empathy and compassion, including pieces featuring donkeys, spurred on by two she recently rescued. People might think it’s a little strange to draw a donkey on a piece of jewelry, she said, but “these creatures are so kind and gentle, and the compassion they have for each other is beautiful and profound on so many levels.” It’s not a surprise that one of her bracelets featuring a donkey is titled “Peace Messenger.” MaHarry’s website is jesmaharry.com




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

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In April of 2021, Ojai-based filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, known for their environmentally-centered films such as Kiss the Ground and Fuel, debuted their latest project The Revolution Generation, a combination film, book, and college lecture series focused on inspiring the millennial generation and their potential to change the world.

organization, activist and artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez fights for indigenous rights and representation, and Steven Olikara who is the founder of the Millennial Action Project. The diverse voices are woven together through the storytelling skills of the Tickells who treat the subject with respect and admiration, providing a cohesive voice for the members of a generation that are often misunderstood or misrepresented.

The film highlights key moments in culture that serve as turning points for millennials (defined in their book as those born between 1980 and 2000), ranging from presidential campaigns to the Standing Rock and Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. The film addresses common misconceptions about the generation, namely their entitlement and laziness, and offers a different perspective, one that highlights their dedication and commitment to causes and their participation in politics, in activism, and as heads of nonprofits.

Rebecca Harrell Tickell, a millennial herself, showcases the potential and dedication that the generation is capable of achieving.

The film acknowledges half the people on earth are under the age of 35 - more than were alive in 1950 and they face a disproportionate amount of economic, humanitarian, environmental, and political hardships.

The film has already received several awards from film festivals around the country including Best Production at the Gladiator Film Festival as well as Best Screenplay and Best Producer at the DOC LA Awards.

The documentary is narrated by Michelle Rodriguez, known for her roles in the Fast & Furious franchise and the television series Lost, who is also known for her activism both on and off screen. In addition to her support of several foundations including The Foundation for AIDS Research, the Boys & Girls Club of America, Feeding America, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, she has spoken out as an animal rights activist for Unchained TV, where she advocated for the rights of all sentient beings. She brings her passion for activism to the documentary, providing a narrative that compliments visually engaging graphics that present complex concepts in an informative and inspirational way. The documentary features several other millennial activists like actress Shailene Woodley who attended the Standing Rock protests back in 2016, as well as those working behind the scenes at nonprofits and organizations advocating for change. Christine “Cici” Battle serves as Executive Director of the Young People For

The film was produced during the pandemic at the Tickell’s Big Picture Ranch, an Ojai-based production studio that doubles as a sustainable 5-acre avocado farm. The space utilizes the regenerative farming practices the filmmakers are known for advocating. The location serves as a source of inspiration and a reminder that the choices of individuals can make a difference on both an independent and communitybased level.

Ojai Magazine spoke with the Tickells about the film, the millennial generation and the role of Ojai in providing and supporting sustainable solutions to help save the planet. Ojai Magazine: What do you hope Revolution Generation will provide to its younger audience? Rebecca Harrell and Josh Tickell: Our greatest hope is that this film offers tools, solutions and a new perspective for young people who feel disempowered by the current environmental and political landscape. The film is not only a historical movie with lots of information about why today’s youth generation is inheriting these problems, but also how they can take the reins of power to solve these concurrent crises. OM: As a millennial, what are some of the biggest challenges the generation is facing today? R&J: The biggest single challenge that will, in time, dwarf COVID and political gridlock of today, is the climate. The most important


climate solutions are not being discussed. Instead, “fixing the climate” has become the domain of technocrats and policy wonks. This “technology will save us” approach misses the greatest and most scalable asset we have - the youth. It also discounts other important solutions, like regenerative agriculture, which is the practice of growing food while simultaneously building soil. This type of work requires massive numbers of educated people, which is a perfect fit for today’s largely underemployed youth. We can fix the climate crisis, but it must be driven by human change first. And the youth generations are the best poised to do the real work. OM: The documentary focuses on several key turning points within the culture; what moments stand out for you?

Rebecca Harrell and Josh Tickell with Michelle Rodriguez photo: BIG PICTURE RANCH

R&J: The most important takeaway from the film is that history is extremely cyclical. The cycles of history follow a path that brings out a kind of “crisis moment” once about every 80 years. Typically that crisis is solved by a war (World War II, The Civil War, The Revolutionary War.) If we are going to truly address the underlying issues with our environment, a war is not just unadvisable, it is the wrong way to deal with the internal conflicts that are arising around the misuse of capital and power. The big question is not whether or not we are headed for a crisis, but rather can we work together to solve this crisis peaceably? OM: Is it true you are working on a Standing Rock project as well?

R&J: Yes - we have a scripted film which will hopefully also be released this year that follows a war vet who goes to Standing Rock during the protest there and has to make a series of life altering decisions. It’s called On Sacred Ground and we hope it will be in theaters by year’s end. OM: What do you believe that moment in history demonstrated? R&J: Simply put, we as a society are at a crossroads. As a post-WWII society, we have embraced a type of “winner takes all” capitalism for so long, we have forgotten that other cultures, other people and the very fabric of our species’ survival all depend on trillions of linkages with one

another and the natural world. The protest at Standing Rock was messy, imperfect, problematic and ultimately failed to stop a pipeline. But it was a testament to our shared humanity, our need to heal wounds of the past, and our desperate need to find a peaceful and shared path forward as a nation of many peoples, some of whom have a very long history on this land. OM: How important are the roles of community in these moments? R&J: Community is the sinew that binds us. As such, it is the ultimate mechanism through which we can find our shared humanity and common ground. Friends, family, neighbors, countrymen and country women have always bonded together in times of crisis. We saw this in Ojai with the Thomas fire - boundaries and differences disappeared and what remained were humans helping humans. These kinds of connections will be critical as we enter what The Revolution Generation calls “The Fourth Turning” - a time when the climate crisis is unimaginably more intense than it is today because of the brittle nature of our environment and economy. In times of great upheaval, human connection is perhaps the most important asset we have. OM: Do you find that Ojai, as a community, can potentially help with some of these challenges related to climate? R&J: There was a great op-ed in the LA Times recently about how Ojai is an example of agriculture that is past its prime, running on a dwindling water supply to serve markets far away with produce we largely don’t eat. Our community quietly examples the epitome of the climate crisis and, given the resilient and strong nature of our town and valley, we certainly have the potential to turn that around and become an example of a thriving, profitable community that is rebuilding its ecosystems and learning from the mistakes of the past. OM: As a millennial, what do you think our generation can do to change the future for the better? R&J: Watch The Revolution Generation when it comes out on Earth Day and share it with everyone you know. Don’t back down from tough conversations. Go to town hall meetings. Become a voice for change. And learn how you can use your skills to secure a future that works for all humans, not just a precious few.

The crew at Big Picture Ranch photo: BIG PICTURE RANCH



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Ojai horse woman extraordinaire

Sue Gruber


“Slowly one blessing after another walked down my driveway”


SUE GRUBER SAYS SHE IS THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. “NOT MANY PEOPLE GET TO LIVE THEIR DREAM, BUT I DO,” SHE ENTHUSES. INDEED, AT THE OJAI VALLEY TRAIL RIDING COMPANY AT OSO RANCH, SHE HAS TURNED HER LOVE OF HORSES INTO HER LIFE’S WORK, AND THAT’S CERTAINLY SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF. Located just west of Ojai, directly adjacent to the Ventura River Preserve, Gruber’s Oso Ranch — named after the nearby trailhead — is a sanctuary for any animal lover. With almost 100 horses and ponies as well as cows, goats, pigs, bunnies, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and a particularly vociferous peacock, it’s a place where the worries of the world get left behind. Daily trail rides take both locals and tourists into the protected river preserve, with its grasslands, meadows, and surrounding canyons offering a spectacular escape into nature. Riders are greeted by friendly guides and tacked up horses, and regardless of riding experience, Gruber’s steady steeds are there to take them on an hour-long adventure they won’t soon forget. Among the 20 or so trail horses at the ranch most have either been rescued and come here to recover from injuries or been acquired and retired from former careers such as show jumping, roping, racing, and even police work. There’s Buttons, a former polo pony; Misty, a retired roping horse; Chia, whose injury saw her previous owners abandon plans for her to become a professional show horse; and Armador, an erstwhile three-day eventer and the great-grandson of Secretariat, the famous American Thoroughbred racing legend. These horses have been given a second chance at Oso Ranch because to Gruber a retired horse is just as special as a reigning champion. “Many people want the perfect package and will pass by purchasing a horse that’s older or has a little imperfection,” she says. “But even with a bit of arthritis, an overbite, a little blindness, or a scar, they’re still valuable citizens. I mean, my back doesn’t always feel good, but I can still put in a day’s work. I will buy any horse that is serviceably sound and work with its shortcomings. And more than that, I’ll give it a great home.”


Born in 1958, Gruber’s love of horses has been a life-long affair. While growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, she started horseback riding at the tender age of 9, when her mother took her on a trail ride. “I immediately caught the bug,” Gruber recalls. She started doing riding lessons “every Monday night for $5, come rain, sleet, snow, or heat,” and at age 12, her parents bought her first horse, a Pinto gelding called Cochise, who taught her many a lesson. “I definitely learned the hard way,” she laughs. “If I tell you not to tie your horse to a lawn chair that’s because I did. If I tell you not to jump on your horse bareback with a bucket of brushes in your hand, that’s because I did.” At 14, Gruber attended her first horse show and got hooked. By the end of her first year of competing she was the All-Around Missouri Paint Horse Champion as well as Miss Missouri Pinto Queen and went on to compete at the National Miss Pinto Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1974, Gruber’s parents moved lock, stock, and barrel to California, towing the family, including Cochise, all the way from Missouri to Los Altos in the Bay Area. Gruber completed high school and went on to enroll at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where in 1981, she graduated with a degree in agricultural business, writing her thesis on the feasibility of a horse-boarding facility. Soon after, she got married and moved, together with her new husband and two horses, to Oak View. Based here, Gruber ran a successful private-yacht restoration business out of Ventura Harbor but despite the water’s great draw — water skiing has always been her second biggest passion — her love of horses and showing them never ceased. Over time she bought more and more of her own horses and participated in every event the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) had to offer, showing in just about every discipline she could, including roping, reining, show jumping, dressage, and driving horses. She won countless titles, including 27 State Championships, two All-Around Open State Titles, five Superior Horse Awards, seven Honor Roll Achievement Awards, and over 50 All-Around Year-End Club Awards. What’s more, she has become an acclaimed judge, who has attended horse shows across the United States.



photo: MARC ALT

In 1994, Gruber divorced her husband and with all the money she had, bought the 10 acres of land that is now Oso Ranch. “I bought a travel trailer and a porta-potty and moved in with my 3-year-old son and three horses,” she recalls. Over the years, and with a lot of help from friends and family, Gruber built Oso Ranch into a horseback riding haven. There are two large arenas for both English and Western style riding, as well as another smaller arena and a number of round pens. There are barns, pastures, stalls, and stables housing the many horses, not to mention the other farm animals who call Oso Ranch their home. Gruber doesn’t just provide a great space for horse owners and lessees to learn, practice, and immerse themselves in the equine way of life, but also offers lessons to children and adults alike, and over the years she has hosted many a horse show and event. Building the ranch up from the ground has been nothing short of a labor of love and Gruber insists that much of it is thanks to the kindness of the community. “Slowly one blessing after another walked down my driveway,” she explains. “Someone would come and say, ‘Hey I’m selling my horses, take all my saddles.’ Or, ‘I can’t ride anymore, please have my horse.’ Or, ‘Do you need a barn? I’ll gift you mine if

you come and get it.’ One day someone knocked on my door and offered to pave my driveway for me. Everything you see on this property today has been built with the help and generosity of the community. It’s really been an amazing thing to see.” But Gruber has given back, too. Not only has she rescued horses that nobody else wanted, in 2011, she founded Horses, Heart and Soul, a nonprofit organization that pairs dependents of the court and other at-risk children with those rescued horses. The program provides low-cost or free instruction on horsemanship and riding as well as care of horses in the stable atmosphere. “The idea is to create a sense of respect for the animals and one’s own self, as well as teaching responsibility for the care and wellbeing of the animal and the child,” she explains. While the nonprofit received grants to operate and support the horses, the Covid-19 pandemic changed that. “We’re off the list and right now we have no money. So my instructor Katelyn is giving lessons out of the goodness of her heart and I’m supporting the horses. But I do hope the funds will return next year.” Covid certainly changed a lot of things at the ranch. Not only was Gruber forced to cancel any and all shows, but she also

initially shut down all operations, with only horse owners and lessees allowed on the property, and all lessons and trail rides canceled. But as the pandemic went on and things slowly reopened, business began to boom as trail rides became increasingly popular for people seeking outdoor and socially distanced activities. As the sole vendor offering trail rides to guests of the Ojai Valley Inn, Gruber says that during the busy months she’ll have up to eight different groups hitting the trails per day. “We never turn people away, but some days do get very busy.” With five employees and plenty of volunteers, these days Gruber herself doesn’t get to ride too often. “I have osteoarthritis in my back, and it hurts,” she admits. “But I still do the feeding most days, which I love, because it means I’m still connected to all the horses.” Gruber has certainly come a long way since riding Cochise as a little girl in Missouri but her passion and love for horses is as strong as ever. “When I submitted my thesis on the feasibility of a horse-boarding facility at college, my professor gave me a C-minus saying I was just a crazy horse girl and it would never work,” she recalls. “But I always knew that one day I would do it.” ojaivalleytrailridingcompany.com









Kitty says: “Pause.”



itty looked at her field and said: “What You Got?”

And so we say: “No more the beautiful boxes of good we set Thursdays.”

I said, “Not much, Catty. Stuff ’s all small as kittens, ‘bout three inch tall.”

The CSA program will cease in February and return in March. There is no gibberish in saying PAUSE plainly.

“Why’d you do that?” asks Catty, paws on hips, all saucy. “I did not do anything nor did I nothing do, nor did a nothing do me.” “I planted out as hoped, I asked plants as wanted. I husbanded as a mother.” “But we still got we no crops for a short month.” I got the plantings between rain storms and don’t expect me to moan about the rain because I will not bask in a sunny day and say it is wonderful. The only good weather is swirly clouds and showers, silver nimbus and then downpour wazoo. Will you people just park all that sunshine talk? I long again to be hubcap deep in a sticky quag, don’t you? I want to look at the dirt and instead have a murky puddle say back to me: “Go home, Stucky-McMudtry. Pluck out your rubbers and marvel in the wee weeds breaking out in your crunchy paths.” Pray then for water and FLOODED warnings. Gad, bring on the sandbags. So we thus plan for mire in February. But the pause we promised has nothing to do with weather really, but the small near future.

The money part explains that if you paid more dollars in advance then you should pay less in the short term of March, because February will not exist, at least as we know it. There will still be 12 months in a year, of course. I can’t change that, though I am tempted. I owe you or you owe me, maybe we’ll remember together. Don’t remind me about digging a divot as I pivot in a not-so-resilient whirl, revealing the true meaning of sustainability. I did not sustain. And this has little to do with true regeneration. Am I revealed as the human natural disaster, responsible for sudden food shortages, a boulder-strewn curve on the vegetable highway, a gas pump hung with a crooked sign scrawled “EMPTY,” dry electrical outlets that harbor no juice? Oh what portent of doom! A day without lettuce! It’s been a good run, Hun. It’s been convenient to have something to do, even to look forward to, like beating the letter “A” so often with the ring finger on my left hand that you can’t tell what letter it is. The key is now a distant glowing supernova. My finger knows where in that galaxy “A” lives. The adjacent “shift” key is getting sort of vague too. At least “delete” seems safe.

The old farm patch calls for a shadow’s meaning every day. We swing out in the vaporous morning like a herd of cows heading for a taller pasture, nibbling dill and baby yukina on the side of the path, snapping that last broccoli stem before the flail nails it like giant hail. You like a little spice, eh? How about that spiky arugula? This is the fourth cut if I don’t be wrong, and it’s a bit of a record, going back to the glory days of Angel Perea and the gory years of Texas trouble. There was plenty of Lone Star production until I got off my tractor one day and drove away. Don’t sanity feel good? Don’t you miss it, just a little? Some good old- fashioned lucidity with a dollop of trust? If you can’t trust your own brain, what does that say about tomorrow? That is one reason why I love Tuesday. Think about it. Isn’t Tuesday just about the nicest day in the whole weekly seven-card poker hand? Tuesday is so cool and a far cry from the rush of Friday or the playtime obligations of Saturday, which has become so fraught with impulse. Tuesday strolls about without the rev of Monday nor the insidious “hump” of Wednesday, and I have to say, Wednesday has grown tired of that nickname. He said it’s become pretty tiresome because recent research revealed that 35.7% of the people who mindlessly mouth the word “hump-day” immediately conjure a rather lascivious illustration. This is why, similarly speaking, that you so rarely run into someone named “Dick” any more. And that’s that Gwen! See ya later. www.farmerandcook.com



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BOB DAUTCH, OR “BD” AS HE IS UNIVERSALLY KNOWN AMONG HIS FRIENDS AND CUSTOMERS IN OJAI AND SANTA BARBARA, HAS BEEN FARMING WITHOUT PESTICIDES OR CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS FOR NEARLY 50 YEARS, EVEN BEFORE “ORGANIC FARMING” WAS A LEGALLY DEFINED PRACTICE. He has been organic farming since before people knew the meaning of the word. “Back then I don’t know if people used the word ‘organic’ at all,” he said. “Now ‘organic’ is a legal concept with more rules and regulations than Deuteronomy and Leviticus put together.” The Old Testament is familiar territory to BD, whose father came to this country with his family as a child immigrant from Latvia, and who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish tradition. By contrast, after graduating from an Ivy League college, BD went to work on a farm in New Hampshire and then to California to visit some surfer friends, even though he wasn’t much of a surfer himself.

to the Santa Barbara Farmers’ market by bicycle cart. He recalls fondly a “Farmer’s Olympics” held in the Santa Barbara area in 1980, where he trundled wheelbarrows full of compost in competition. “There was a lot of integrity back then,” he said. “That was before we had third-party inspectors, who did it for a living. Back then it was farmers, going to other farms to certify. Not everybody knew all the regulations nor had the regulations even been clearly defined at that point.” Today BD can be found at the farmers’ market in downtown Ojai every Sunday, from early in the morning until closing. He can also be found at the farmers’ markets in Santa Barbara, where he has sold since 1979. BD and Earthtrine Farm do not have a site on the web, but BD is available by email at robertbdmoon@yahoo.com and the man himself comes faithfully to his stands at the markets, not just because he thinks it’s important to his business, but because he likes to talk to people. They’re not just customers to him.

carnations, and much much more, depending on the season. The Earthtrine Farm stand bustles; it has a large staff of helpers, many with long experience. But back at the farm, where he lives in Ojai with his family, BD still rises at six to weed and harvest and walk the water lines, looking for leaks and irrigation issues. “He still picks!” said Cynthia Korman, who manages the Sunday market, and first met BD at the market in Santa Barbara. “I called him the other day and he was on a crew harvesting at his farm in Carpinteria. He’s still hands-on.” Korman admires BD’s decades-long dedication to his customers and to his farmlands and his large stand at the Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market, but also to the humblest of farming tasks. BD said that planting and weeding and tending has always been part of the fun for him.

“I really didn’t take the time to cultivate that skill,” he said in an interview in a barn at his farm in Ojai. “I got into cultivating the earth.”

“There are probably fifty people at any given market that I talk to where I am able to share growing tips, or the story behind the variety, where the seed came from, or what is organic, what does it mean,” he said. “It’s not just about selling produce.”

“I have just always enjoyed watching plants grow,” he said. “When I was in college back East, on the walk from my apartment to school, if I had some potatoes sprouting or an onion sprouting in the pantry, I would just take them along with me and put them in the soil in someone’s yard or along the walk, and then watch them grow until another gardener came along and took them out.”

In 1975, BD fell in with a group of idealistic gardeners in the Isla Vista area, growing for co-ops and a restaurant or two, and at times bringing lettuces and vegetables

At the Ojai Sunday market, Earthtrine’s L-shaped stand features long tables with a well-cleaned and beautifully presented cornucopia of herbs, lettuces, squashes,

After growing up in Buffalo, New York and graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972, and after working on a farm in New Hampshire, BD went to India and then

BD of Earthtrine Farm by KIT STOLZ

Pioneering organic farmer






to Bali in the company of a flight-attendant girlfriend who could fly eastward around the world for almost nothing. Eventually the girlfriend returned to the United States, but BD stayed on in Bali for six months, living on a shoestring, entranced with the beauty of farming there.

hours to keep the produce fresh and vibrant, especially on long summer days in Ojai.

“I became fully inspired,” he recalled. “It’s just the coolest scene over there. They have these terraced hillsides for growing rice, and they set up these little altars in the fields, and then at night the people and their kids will all come out to put on their plays and their dances, with the gamelan orchestra and the shadow-puppet plays. To me it seemed as if they had incorporated the arts and their vocation with the love of nature and beauty, and the spiritual devotion and family.”

BD said that this year he gave a raise to his workers, but still had to struggle to stay fully staffed. Despite the difficulties of managing a lot of hard work on a small farm, BD expressed pride in his people’s ability to keep plants alive and growing through ups and downs, fires, floods, and heat events.

Over time, BD has brought a similar idealism to cultivating the earth on his own farm. He states with pride that his modestly-sized farms in Carpinteria and in Ojai, which grow mostly greens and herbs, support about 50 people. He asks his workers to tend and harvest the produce as if they were bringing the food to be sold to their own grandmother, or sister, or mother.

“We have a lot to do,” he said, taking a break from maintaining a water-line, tipping his hat to protect himself from the heat of the sun. “It’s really hard when it’s 100 degrees.”

“Last year when it was 118 degrees at one point we still didn’t lose anything,” he said. “We knew it was going to be hot, and so we watered the orchard beforehand, and we used a soaker hose so we could water in the heat of the day, when every drop would go directly into the ground. As long as we have access to water, we have been able to deal with climate change.” Over the years, through fires such as the Thomas Fire which burned right to the edge of his property in Ojai, despite insect outbreaks that devastated his vegetables, and through his own personal issues of aging and health, BD and his staff have managed to sustain Earthtrine Farm as an organic producer. BD today worries about the availability of water and of good workers in Ojai, not to mention unpleasant surprises such as new and devastating pests. “There’s a big learning curve to farming,” he said. “You can never stop observing and paying attention. It’s like being at a dance where every five seconds you switch from a waltz to a tango to a jig to clogging. You have

“We take a lot of extra care, filling one box at a time, picking and washing and keeping it in the shade, keeping it at an angle so that the water will drain so it’s not sitting in a little puddle, box after box after box,” he said. “A lot of extra time is spent taking care of everything to make sure that it gets to market in as ideal condition as possible.” Carlos Diaz, who has been working closely with BD for 16 years, said that he and the other workers in the field have to work long

to stay on your toes constantly.” Looking back on his career as an organic pioneer, BD credits his father for instilling a work ethic in him that has sustained him through decades of field labor, but also for supporting his efforts even when he did not understand BD’s passion for farming. He adds that his father didn’t like what he was doing after graduating from college; not at first, and not at all. Not until he visited the fruit ranch where BD was working in the summers with a group of other organic pioneers in Northern California, building a “sweat connection” with his fellow farmers, and producing an abundance of delectable peaches and figs and other fruits. “He came out and visited me at this farm in 1983 and all of a sudden it made sense to him,” BD said. “He saw how hard we were working and how productive we were, and he realized that there were billions of people in the world, and they all eat, every day. And all of a sudden it clicked, and he was proud of me.” Left: Inspired by his time in Bali, BD likes to lay out his lettuce crop Balinese style Above: Fresh flowers in season cultivated to perfection Below: With Karen Nedivi, who has been with BD for ten years Right: Carlos Diaz has been at the farm for 16 years Photo: Kit Stolz






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Gallery Workshops Pottery Parties Free tours







ate last fall, a hundred people rolled into the Skating Plus rink in Ventura on a Saturday night, dressed in flared velour, neon hot pants, and sequined jumpsuits. The DJ spun vinyl classics: The Beatles, Blondie, and David Bowie while the disco ball swirled scattered circles along the walls. The time machine was set back to 1975, and skaters from Ojai and Santa Barbara toe-heeled and grape-vined to the beat, holding hands and spinning fast enough to release all the stress the pandemic had pent up. “It’s Studio 54 on wheels,” says Chase Elder, private chef and founder of Roller Disco Ojai, a group that hosts such quarterly community events for skaters to come out and vibe together. “There’s so much nostalgia here, any song that has that dnt chnn dnt chnn — music that’s hitting that base and that beat — brings us back to childhood, a time when things were easier, more carefree.” Skaters breeze by, flowing freely in rhythm and unabashedly unleashing the kind of joy that’s too often kept hidden under the intensity and scrutiny of middle age. “We all leave our stress at the door and let this excited, wild energy wash over us. Disco is the blanket for all of that — which is why it was the choice music for everyone who was skating in the ‘70s. Hip-hop and R&B have it, too, slightly slowed down and much sexier. This style of jam-skating originated in and is dominated by the African American community. Someone else is responsible for this and while we get to enjoy it, I’m always trying to honor the founding fathers.” Roller skating has a rich history in the Black community. During the 1940s and ‘50s, African Americans protested, picketed, and staged sit-ins to uphold their right to remain in the rink, many of which were still segregated through the 1960s. Though many see the roller movement as only recently making a comeback, for the Black community, it never left. That history was often dismissed as the surge of skate culture continued well into the 1970s and 1980s, solidifying skating as an event for black communities to come together — it was somewhere they could gather for purpose and pleasure. “That doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Cierra Nielson, Meiners Oaks mother of

Roller Disco is Back, Baby by JESSICA CIENCIN HENRIQUEZ

three, “when you’re skating, you’re not thinking about what’s happening in the world because you’re in your own world. In those moments when you’re on loop 50 or 60 around the rink, you’re totally in tune with your body, connecting to the beat and the sound of wheels rolling on wood. I think that’s what makes it so appealing and so terrifying at the same time. Not many people are comfortable being in their bodies.” Prior to the pandemic, many skaters in Ojai hadn’t laced up since they were teenagers. “I was surprised at how much I remembered,” says Tristan Thames, a craftsman born and raised in the Ojai Valley. Though he skated through his

childhood and teenage years, one day he took his skates off, and it was a decade before he put them on again. “That’s just how it is, life happens, and we grow up and have bills to pay, and we all just sort of forget how to play,” says Elder, “When I moved here four years ago, I knew there was a need for something like this. I wanted to bring people together in the same way they’d meet at the club. I wanted to create an event where people could come out and move to music, separate but together.” Elder spent her 20s in New York City as a club promoter; bringing people together for a good time is what she does best. To Elder, the goal of roller skating is not to look good


but to feel good. “You don’t even have to know how to skate to enjoy yourself — just dance, feed off the energy, come into the middle of the rink and just do a step-touch with me. You can wave your hands and look like you know what you’re doing for the rest of the night. It’s the most natural high, not to mention, there’s serious vulnerability happening. We’re all out here overcoming a big fear of embarrassing ourselves, falling, looking silly. The question isn’t ‘Can I skate?’, It’s: ‘Can I let go of the fear of somebody seeing me look like an asshole?’ For this group, the answer is a resounding yes. In early 2020, when the world went into lockdown, Elder linked up with Ojai local Arthur Aumont for impromptu skate sessions. “Arthur looks like Freddy Mercury and skates like a dream. We started meeting up in Libbey Park on the stage, but we needed something bigger,” says Elder. Their first hurdle was finding a suitable space: flat, empty, and not too hilly. “Arthur started doing Google [Earth] views and found us the best parking lots in the county. When we pulled into the Matilija Middle School parking lot, we knew this was the spot. The asphalt was brand new, the school was closed; it was perfect.” The pair taught each other all the


moves they knew, and when they ran out of new steps, they brought Francesca Gold, a yoga therapist and roller-skating instructor, into the nascent group. “Francesca is the only person in Ojai who’s qualified to teach anybody how to skate — she’s a brilliant skater,” says Elder. Gold had been skating competitively since she was 4 years old and has since become one of the leaders of the Ojai Skating renaissance. Her students range from age 6 to 60, and her class size grows each week. “It’s always been important for me to make skating accessible and visible to everyone. This has been a mission of mine for years. I’ve been skating in the Ojai parade, solo or with one other skater, since 2015, hoping to inspire people to join in, even if it feels scary or self-revealing.” Adulthood tends to bring with it an insecurity and hesitation that doesn’t seem to exist in childhood. “Grown-ups are afraid to look silly,” says Ashley, a student at Meiners Oaks Elementary School who skates around Libbey Park on the weekends with her father. “But I think looking silly is why this is so much fun. My dad always says to ignore the imaginary eyes because no one’s really looking at us anyway.” Ojai Skate Club started on that asphalt and expanded rapidly; soon that parking lot became a roller-skater’s playground. The group showed up regularly with a speaker on wheels, whirling around giddy and dizzy, learning from each other and encouraging one another to roll way out of their comfort zones. The group’s diversity reflects the mish-mash that makes up the Ojai community — there are moms with pink hair, photographers, farmers, scientists, artisans, artists — but the common thread is that they’re all movers, people who don’t do well sitting still. “I love our dynamic,” says Jimmy Click, a Swiss-American entomologist living in Ojai, “Each person brings something unique. Chase brings the sparkles and pizazz. Arthur is calm and courageous, always trying the boldest moves with grace and beauty.

photo: MARC ALT

Left: Chase Elder and Arthur Aumont Right: Tara the roller-skating elephant



Frenchy is the coach; she’s grounded, elegant and patient. And Tristan is our smooth trickster.” Week after week, they showed up without expectation or agenda; the only goal was to have fun and accept that it would look different for each of them. “Jimmy can flamenco dance on his skates,” says Elder. “I was so inspired by him expressing himself through dance, at his height, on wheels! He is so completely and totally himself when he’s skating.” This kind of authenticity and liberation is exactly what Gold focuses on with her students. “On skates, you learn how your mind and your body are one organism,” says Gold, “what’s difficult one day seems easier the next. It’s an art form that grabs hold of you, and suddenly you’re able to commune with parts of yourself you’ve never directly spoken with. It’s like time completely stops, and you become one with your skates. It’s pure ecstasy.” After two years of weathering the COVID-19 crisis filled with loss and interruption, people seem far more open to finding this kind of ecstasy in unexpected ways. “These parking lots have become a place for us to share stories and have heartfelt conversations,” says Click. “When we’re skating, while the sun sets over beautiful Ojai and the alpenglow illuminates the Topatopa Mountains, I feel beyond blessed by the beauty and the people I’m surrounded by.”

photo: MARC ALT

Last year’s Fourth-of-July parade-goers saw skaters show up by the dozens, showcasing the moves they’ve mastered together. “I haven’t seen people this excited about skating since there was Tarra the elephant on wheels speeding down Ojai Avenue,” says Samantha Croton, who lived in Ojai during the reign of the famous roller-skating elephant named Tarra who, along with her owner Carol Buckley, lived in Matilija Canyon during the ‘70s and ‘80s. “The kids skating now are way more refined in their moves, but I’ll tell you, seeing them brings a whole lot of joy to those of us who simply can’t skate anymore.” Now that skating has re-entered their lives, many don’t plan on giving it up ever again. “I hope to keep skating until I need a walker,” says Kira Friedman. “I always wanted to get back into it, and after having my second child, I finally started taking lessons again. Immediately, I was hooked. My husband bought me purple Moxi skates for Christmas, and I’ve never looked back.” Whether it’s parking lot meet-ups or events at the rink, these skaters come together to toe spin, strut, snake walk, and let loose. Everyone’s inner child is on display, and the more often they show up, the less shame they have about messing up.

“Of course, falling is dangerous, but the falling for me brings so much humility. Falling means you’re trying to do something outside of your comfort zone,” says Elder. In a time of uncertainty, one thing is for sure—the roller disco is back, and the invitation is wide open. “Everyone is welcome,” says Elder, “show up, let everything else go, and feel the flow. Anybody from anywhere can roll into our group and feel like they’re safe here, like they belong.”

Weekly group lessons. Upcoming Discos Monthly donation-based classes April 14th, August 18th & Free open-skate meet-ups November 17th. For more information on private lessons and on other skating OjaiSkateClub@gmail.com Events: Hello@chaseelder.com @ OjaiSkateClub @RollerDiscoOjai






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IN DECEMBER, KAUFER PUBLISHED HIS FIRST BOOK, MEDICINAL HERBS OF CALIFORNIA: A FIELD GUIDE TO COMMON HEALING PLANTS. The nearly 300-page, full-color book is the first statewide guide to common medicinal plants, or what Kaufer calls “ancient overthe-counter remedies.” Since 1976, Kaufer has led herb walks, nature hikes and edible and medicinal plant classes and workshops, “taking people into nature so they can learn how to learn from nature.” he said. “I’m 75, so I’m a late bloomer when it comes to writing a book.” In the process of researching and writing the guide, Kaufer realized how much more there was to learn about medicinal plants. “I thought I had a fair amount of knowledge on this topic; more than the average bear. No, more than the average human,” he said with a laugh. “The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.”

200 plants, so he focused on just over 70. His criteria in choosing plants for the Guide: 1. Does the plant exist in California in sufficient numbers to justify going out and picking it? 2. Is there a history of traditional Indigenous use? 3. Is there enough scientific data to explain that history? In the past, it sufficed to say that Native Americans used this plant for this, or the settlers used this plant for that. “Now that we’re in the age of following the science, that’s not enough anymore,” Kaufer said. Bringing in the scientific data and pharmacological research completed the process.

Taking this attitude going in, Kaufer concentrated on healing plants he could gather locally, but he expanded that knowledge to include plants throughout the state.

Surprising to Kaufer was the amount of research that has been done on medicinal plants over the last 30 years, providing scientific evidence to support the healing qualities of the plants, “to show that, yes, they have what it takes to do what Native Americans have always said they do,” he said. “Their remedies, if they worked, kept getting used and passed on to the next generation of healers. If they didn’t work, they fell by the wayside.”

He made a list of all the plants in California he knew to have some recorded history of medicinal use. They totaled roughly 200 plants, but there was no room in the guide for

Kaufer’s biggest challenge was consolidating the information into a usable format. Each plant chapter features photos and descriptions, common and scientific

names, conservation status, cultivation tips and information on how to find and use medicinal plants. There are also recipes incorporating healing plants in everything from teas to tinctures. One of the most beautiful native plants in California — woolly blue curls — is used for stomach problems, nervousness and rheumatism. There’s been so little study done on the plant and it hasn’t been written about much, and it deserved a place in the book, Kaufer said. “Medicine” is the simple translation of the Chumash word for woolly blue curls. “That’s like the Spanish naming a plant ‘yerba santa,’ which means ‘holy herb.’ The Spanish were notoriously disrespectful of the knowledge of California Indians, so for them to name a plant ‘holy herb,’ that’s saying a lot,” said Kaufer. Yerba santa can be used to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs and colds, while mugwort provides relief from poison oak. Prickly pear cactus can be used for treating diabetes, lowering cholesterol and, topically, for relief from sunburn, while California golden poppy is useful for treating insomnia, nervous tension and pain. Native sages come in a variety of colors, from white to purple to black, and can bring relief from colds, coughs, pain and anxiety, according to the guide. The most underrated medicinal herb in the book? “Goat head,” said Kaufer, “a nasty, invasive weed.” Used for treating elevated blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides, “it also has an urban legend reputation as a male-enhancement herb.” Kaufer is perhaps most proud of an introductory chapter on the history of herbal medicine in America. A majority of the research that has been done was aimed at finding the active ingredient in the plant, what Kaufer calls “trying to do nature better than nature.” That’s a mistake, according to Kaufer. “These plants are whole organisms with a synergy of all these different chemicals. When we try to isolate what we think is the active ingredient, that may work for targeting one specific thing, but if you really want the full healing power of the plant, it’s better to use the whole plant,” he said.



“Nature is the Teacher. I’m the Guide,” says Ojai native plant expert Lanny Kaufer. by PERRY VAN HOUTEN

California golden poppy is useful for treating insomnia, nervous tension and pain. Photo: Wiki Commons



Though plenty of laboratory studies have been done on medicinal plants, Kaufer writes that more research is needed, especially clinical studies, “trying it out on humans. I hope that my book is an impetus to further study of these plants,” he said. Throughout the book, Kaufer references medicinal plant expert Jim Adams. After meeting Adams, Kaufer’s research took on another dimension. “Because he’s not only a pharmacologist, he’s studied with a Chumash healer,” he said. “He’s virtually the only pharmacologist in the country who studies just plants.” Goat Head for treating elevated blood lipids like cholesterol. Photo: Wiki Commons

No field guide is a substitute for actually going out with an expert and seeing the plant growing in its native habitat and experiencing what Kaufer called “the language of the plants” — what the plant looks like, how it smells and how it feels to touch. Kaufer finds more and more young people are interested in herbal remedies, “which is very heartening to me,” he said. “They don’t have lifetime prejudices.” Native sages can bring relief from colds, coughs, pain and anxiety. Photo: Perry Van Houten

Kaufer dedicated the book to another mentor, Chumash plant teacher Juanita Centeno, and to all Indigenous healers and plant experts of California. The guide includes a chapter on sustainable collecting — where and when to pick and how much is reasonable to take. Kaufer also provides tips on cultivating your own healing plants. “We’re very fortunate because we can grow a lot of the plants that grow all over California right here in Ojai,” he said, adding most of the plants are droughttolerant. “I would like to see local growers growing medicinal herbs, and I hope my book will lead to that.” The guide features more than 200 photos of plants in various stages of growth. The images show different parts of the plant, from leaves to flowers.

In truth, Kaufer needed two or more books to cover plants from all over the state. “We’re blessed in California to have such an incredible geography that we have such a diversity of plants,” he said. Medicinal Herbs of California has inspired a series of books on healing plants currently planned by Falcon Guides. “My book is intended to be the first in a series for all the states, or at least regions of the country,” said Kaufer.

Doing the research was the best part of writing the book, according to Kaufer. “I like digging into things. I never got bored with the project. I spent every day for a year working on it, and I looked forward to doing it because it was just getting more and more interesting,” he said. The pandemic turned out to be Kaufer’s cloud with the silver lining because schedules went out the window and Falcon Guides gave him additional time to finish the book. “2020 was the perfect year to be hunkered down, with no distractions, writing a book,” he said, admitting he’s easily diverted by wanting to hike, forage or work in the garden. “To me, it’s a very exciting moment in history to be able to write a book like this,” said Kaufer, who lives in Meiners Oaks with his wife, Rondia. “Still having access to the traditional knowledge but now having it informed by this new generation of pharmacologists.” Medicinal Herbs of California sells for $26.95 and is available from Kaufer’s website at www.herbwalks.com


HUMMINGBIRD SAGE CHOCOLATE TEA FOR ANXIETY Ingredients: 2 leaves hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea), fresh or dried 2 wedges Ibarra Mexican chocolate 1 cup (8 ounces) water* Directions: 1. Place chocolate in cold water and bring just to boiling in a covered saucepan. 2. Turn off heat and whisk mixture to dissolve remaining sugar. 3. Add hummingbird sage leaves; steep, covered, for 10 minutes. *Milk can be used in place of water. — Recipe by James D. Adams Jr., adapted from Garcia and Adams, Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West. HOREHOUND COUGH SYRUP This is an expectorant syrup to help move phlegm out of the lungs. Ingredients: 1 ounce dried or 3 ounces fresh horehound (Marrubium vulgare) leaves, with flowers if available 1 pint water 2 cups granulated organic sugar Directions: 1. Prepare a strong infusion by pouring just-boiled water over horehound in a lidded vessel. Steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Prickly pear cactus. Photo: Wiki Commons

2. Strain liquid into a glass or stainless-steel saucepan. Compost the herb. 3. Add sugar and heat, uncovered, over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and liquid is a syrupy consistency. Add more sugar to thicken, if needed. 4. The syrup can be stored in the refrigerator in a mason jar or stoppered bottle for quite some time. Take 1 teaspoon as needed for coughs.














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LOVE HAS A TASTE: NOTES OF ROSE, REISHI, CACAO, AND ARJUNA (AN HERB), ENVELOPED IN WHITE CHOCOLATE. This is the “taste profile” for “Love,” one of the Chakra Chai company’s seven beverages that nourish, and are named after, the general theme of each of the seven chakras of Eastern spirituality: Root, Flow, Power, Love, Truth, Insight, and Spirit. The origins and mission of Chakra Chai, founded by Ojai resident Hoda Mohajerani, are similarly rooted in body, mind, and heart — especially in heart. “We were created from love, and from love, we create,” Mohajerani said. She founded Chakra Chai after losing one of the greatest loves a woman can know: her newborn child. In January 2017, Mohajerani’s son, Arta, was born premature. “He was with me for only four days,” she said. “Needless to say, for the year following I was a complete mess.” One year later, around what would have been Arta’s first birthday, Mohajerani, who was born in Iran and grew up in Europe, was in Austria, praying and meditating while living in a 550-year-old stone building reminiscent of a monastery. “It was a hermetic time for me, the hero’s journey so to speak after such a huge life event,” she said. While in deep meditation, she heard Arta’s voice say, “Chakra Chai.” She replied, “What is this, and what am I to do with it?” The response: “If you wish, you are permitted to move on this, but you don’t have to, because I

know you’re exhausted.” Mohajerani had no clue what “this” referred to. “I knew what chakras are, and I enjoyed a good cup of chai tea,” she said. “Was I supposed to open up a teahouse?” The one thing Mohajerani did know, she said, “is this was a beautiful gift from the beyond. If I were to accept, it wouldn’t be a passion project. It felt like a mandate, taking an oath of allegiance.” She mulled over the experience for a few weeks, and after meditating again and formally “accepting” the gift, received instructions on “this”: Create a beverage and business based on the ayurvedic principle of the interconnectedness of life. Mohajerani prayed for resources and support. Aided by a business-oriented

co- founder, she started Chakra Chai, with a goal of “conscious nourishment for the conscious age.” This is not just an abstract concept for Chakra Chai; the company has worked to translate the motto into viable products, practices, and experiences. Chakra Chai is a business that wants to make a profit, but in a way that honors the Earth, community, and other human beings. Regenerative work Mohajerani’s career shift to Chakra Chai wasn’t a complete one-eighty for her. A graduate of the University of London, she studied comparative religions, and first worked in academia and for human rights, collaborating with grassroots and intergovernmental organizations.



“Conscious nourishment for the conscious age”

Mohajerani also has a creative side, and worked in Europe in fashion, art, and music production, as well as luxury goods branding.

business: customers, employees, Earth, co-creators and investors. All points are linked to and depend on each other.

Her son, in offering “Chakra Chai” to her, “allowed me to synthesize my entire life experience, personal and professional, into — for want of a better term — servant leadership,” Mohajerani said.

Her employees are well-versed in the concept of interconnectedness as well. “Working with Hoda is the most challenging thing I have ever done,” said Keith Hinkley, Chakra Chai’s director of operations. “Demands are high. … How can we do better, how can we take care of one another, and how can we show up in a way that is in the best interest of everyone?”

She and her team spent almost three years developing the formulations for the seven chakra-based beverages, and developing a way of doing business that understands investors are not the only stakeholders. Mohajerani said her business is based on author Carol Sanford’s “regenerative business” model. Consider a star with five points that represent everyone affected by a



Seven Chakras, Seven Causes Chakra Chai follows what Mohajerani calls a “Seven Chakras Seven Causes Impact” framework. “Chakra,” a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel,” comes from early Hindu tradition. The seven primary chakras are

points, or wheels, of spinning physical or spiritual energy. Aligned along the spine up to the top of the head, the chakras create an invisible healing energy that must be balanced and aligned to create physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Chakra’s seven beverages are formulated with adaptogenic herbs, plants, and other ingredients that are designed to bring each chakra into balance by affecting and nurturing a different part of the body, mind, and spirit. “Root,” for example, supports the perineum and adrenal glands, focusing on rejuvenation of the immune system, cellular health, and stability.


“Power” addresses the solar plexus and pancreas, supporting self-esteem, drive, charisma, and a healthy immune system. “Love” focuses on the heart and thymus, enhancing emotional stability, the immune system, serenity, empathy, tolerance, and surrender. The “Seven Causes” are local or national charitable organizations related to each chakra, with 50 cents from the sale of each drink donated to the related cause: forests for Root, oceans for Flow, children’s education for Power, mothers for Love, free speech for Truth, elders for Insight, and wildlife for Spirit. Everything throughout the production process follows the regenerative model. Chakra Chai ingredients are organic and sustainable, and the company partners with regenerative suppliers whose businesses have a positive social impact. For example, the honey in Chakra Chai products is hand-harvested in India by women, which allows them to become entrepreneurs. Chakra Chai’s proprietary formulas, Mohajerani said, are formulated by ayurvedic experts with high-quality ingredients that are not officially sanctioned by Western medicine, but have been shown in some studies and over thousands of years of use, to be healing. A short list of the ingredients includes almonds, frankincense, dandelion root, dates, basil, cacao butter and nibs, ginseng, honey, lotus flower, maca, thistle, marshmallow root, neroli, peppermint, saffron, and turmeric. Because of FDA rules that require

multiple rigorous trials and testing protocols, Chakra Chai products (along with most vitamins, supplements, and herbs) cannot claim to cure or treat any disease or condition. Chakra Chai items are sold as foodgrade products, Mohajerani said, because “you could go the route of scientific studies and spend thousands trying to convince the FDA,” or “use your capital instead to make products based on a form of medicine that is 5,000 years old.” Mohajerani said she moved to Ojai to start her company because she knew California championed innovation, the counterculture movement, and health and wellness. “It was a no-brainer; we had to come to California,” she said. “Austria was not ready for this.” She started looking in Los Angeles, Venice, Santa Monica, and Santa Barbara, but was attracted to nearby Ojai’s theosophical movement; regenerative farmland; and intimate, supportive community.

using similar herbs, the products are very well thought-out. The amount of thought that went into them and the quality of the ingredients, right down to the glass packaging — everything in there is incredible.” Chakra Chai products, sold in glass bottles, might be more expensive at the point of purchase, but throughout the entire product process, lead to a lower “cost” for all involved, including the environment. “We need to start a dialogue about how we assign value,” Mohajerani said. Lowering costs by using plastic bottles, which other for-profit companies do, “creates a cost to the Earth and the customer.” Mohajerani said many customers purchase a “rainbow pack” (each chakra is also associated with a color) and drink one each day over the course of a week. Others choose just one. Each 4-ounce bottle is two servings, but some people, she said, drink more or less at a time.

Chakra Chai products first made their retail appearance in 2021 at Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods in Ojai.

They are not for children under 2 because they contain honey, or for people with allergies to nuts because their base is almond milk.

Rainbow Bridge owner Ernest Niglio said he sells Chakra Chai drinks not simply because they are made by a local resident. “They’re a unique, high-quality, effective healing product,” Niglio said. “From my experience


Chakra Chai also plans to create additional products, such as foods, looseleaf teas, herbal formulas, and “things that are not ingestible but nourishing,” such as music.


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HUMMINGBIRDS, BUMBLE BEES, AND BUTTERFLIES ALL FLUTTER BY AMONG THE AUSTRALIAN NATIVE PLANTS CURATED AND CULTIVATED BY JO O’CONNELL, OWNER OF AUSTRALIAN NATIVE PLANTS. Located on N. Ventura Avenue, O’Connell’s growing grounds are filled with rare plants from both Australia and South Africa, making her collection the largest selection of Australian native plants within the United States. Knowledgeable, passionate, and an Aussie herself, O’Connell offers not only plants, but consulting, contracting, and growing tips for each species she cultivates. The beautiful pink hues and deep purple tones of the grevilleas intermix with the vibrant oranges and reds of the kangaroo paws, who all in turn echo off the deep, varying shades of green from the banksias

Banksia ericifolia

JO O’CONNELL and her

Australian Eremophila (emu bush)

Grevillea pink midget

Banksia praemorsa yellow

and leucadendron. Together, the plants all appear in a propagated mosaic, reflective of the diversity of Southern California and Ojai itself. Each individual bud showcases its personality among a sea of living color. Jo O’Connell first came to Ojai in 1989 to work on the Taft Gardens, a 252-acre preserve of California-native Open Space located in the foothills of Ojai near Lake Casitas. Shortly after, O’Connell moved to Ojai with her husband Byron Cox and established Australian Native Plants. With a mission to provide plants that are hardy, drought tolerant, and birdattracting, O’Connell quickly gained popularity throughout Ojai, curating




gardens for homes and businesses including a pepper garden along Foothill Road and another in the East End. But much like O’Connell, her plants had to adapt to the new environment. “The soils here are much richer than they are in Australia and South Africa,” said O’Connell.


“There’s so many colorful plants for all soil types.” Australian soils tend to be more acidic than the alkaline soils typically found in Ojai and Southern California. This can cause iron to lock up. But O’Connell listens to her plants when they produce chlorotic or yellowing foliage, and adapts quickly. “It’s an easy fix,” assures O’Connell. “It’s just an application of sulphur, if you know your soils are alkaline, or you can add iron chelate.” The well-established plants have also provided O’Connell with the ability to propagate, creating new plants from her cuttings through layering, budding, and grafting. Certain plants can offer up to 50 cuttings, and with time to grow, those cuttings can produce even more the following season, a cycle that has helped O’Connell during the challenges of Covid-19. “Since Covid, Australia is not even shipping seeds,” said O’Connell, who is unable to make her yearly trip collecting seeds due to Australia’s harsh lockdowns. “They ship to my sister and she then ships to us.” But through methods of propagation, along with having set herself up nicely with her work at Taft Gardens, from which she can still collect seeds, acclimation has been a bit easier. “It hasn’t affected me too badly,” said O’Connell. “I’m Banksia speciosa seed pod



starting to collect more seeds from plants that I’m growing here.” O’Connell’s adaptability and continued success with her growing gardens has resulted in a list of helpful tricks and tips that she shares with all of her clients. These range from beginner instructions like never planting a dry plant in a dry hole or waiting for the heat wave to finish before planting, to the more scientific suggestion of utilizing leaf litter and sulphuric acids to increase the concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil, which can help lower the pH levels. Pruning is also an essential element for maintaining her nursery and the livelihood of her plants. It not only increases their longevity, but allows for flowers to bloom. “Pruning is another big issue with a lot of stuff,” said O’Connell. “If you cut it when its young or pinch out new growth tips, then you’ll get branching, and it makes a stronger plant so the plant can hold itself up.” O’Connell respects the gardens she’s worked on that keep up with this sometimes neglected aspect of gardening. “My favorite gardens are the ones that are maintained,” said O’Connell. “Because that means the people care and they’ll look after it, and the garden grows and flourishes.”

skill with many rewards, it can also create complications when trying to grow plants with nutrient-rich fertilizer. “If you start putting Miracle-Gro on them, for the most part, all you’re doing is killing them,” said O’Connell. The plants retain their nutrients in such a way that they too can absorb too much of a good thing. Their resiliency also serves as a protective barrier during wildfires, a lesson O’Connell learned first-hand. In December of 2017, O’Connell lost her home and much of her growing grounds to the Thomas Fire as it spread from Sulphur Mountain Road chaparral onto her property. The nursery, however, stayed relatively intact as surrounding plants took most of the damage. “I lost all the plants across the front of the property, down to, say, a third,” said O’Connell. “I would collect seed and cutting material from it, and it was really disappointing.” Certain Australian native plants can slow the spread of wildfires, like Callistemon ‘Little John’ and eremophilas. “All plants will burn, but certain plants can slow down a fire,” said O’Connell. “Some embers cannot ignite for nearly 40 minutes and I think that’s what helped save the little cottage that I’m living in now.”

One key to Australian native plants’ resiliency comes from their ability to absorb and store a variety of nutrients within their roots and vascular systems for long periods of time. This makes them drought tolerant and able to grow in sun-soaked settings.

After the fire, certain plants grew back and bloomed to new extremes, appearing with flowers as signs of hope.

“Overwatering is not a good thing,” said O’Connell. “You’ve got to give them a deep, infrequent watering, so their roots push down deep into the soil, and you keep the mulch so the top root systems are nice and cool.”

In addition to being fire retardant, certain banksias benefit from the fire exposure, opening up seed pods and gaining nutrients from potash.

With soils low in phosphorus or potassium in parts of Australia and South Africa, the native plants have evolved with root systems capable of absorbing a variety of nutrients out of the soil. While this may seem like an adaptable

Plants like the emu bush and Little John (bottlebrush) flowered for months afterwards.

“That’s the banksia,” said O’Connell, pointing to her flowering tree at the edge of her nursery. “I couldn’t believe a year after the fire, it had so many flowers, it was just beautiful.” Other plants like eucalyptus contain ligno-tubers, or underground dormant buds, so when they get cut or burned,

it initiates them to spring back. O’Connell too, had the opportunity to spring back from the destruction by building her new home and office on the property, a process with challenges due to lingering repercussions from the fire. “I still don’t have power here since the fire,” said O’Connell, “which makes the watering process difficult.” O’Connell has shipped plants to gardens and nature preserves all around the world including countries like Bolivia, Hong Kong, Canada, and Singapore, where O’Connell contributed to Gardens by the Bay, a Mediterranean garden whose Flower Dome is the largest greenhouse in the world. When shipping plants over long distances, a risk is involved regarding sustainability. Her protea, for example, have incredibly soft leaves that are vulnerable to changes in climate. “They were trapped inside a box for a month and just couldn’t make it … feel this,” said O’Connell reaching out to her protea. The furry and delicate texture of the leaves shows the tenderness and grace required to cultivate the South African species. “And this here” said O’Connell, pointing to the Eucalyptus orbifolia, also known as the round-leaved mallee. Their toughness and texture showcase a healthy vascular system spreading throughout each leaf. By touching their tough leaves, you can feel the resiliency radiating from them, proving they can handle droughts, frost, wildfires, and even a global pandemic. “I don’t know how I’ll ever retire,” said O’Connell. “I just really like what I’m doing.” The growing grounds are an ongoing communal effort for O’Connell and her family. While O’Connell propagates and cultivates, her husband Byron assists with the pruning. Her dogs Blue and Wallaby help to take care of the raccoons, coyotes, and mountain lions, and even her cats take care of the rodents when they’re brave enough to venture outdoors. O’Connell has a flock of chickens who roam the prem-


ises who take care of the snails, insects, and other garden critters. “You’d find thousands of snail eggs in the pot plants,” said O’Connell, who spoke of the difficulty of snails during shipping, along with their appetite for plant leaves. “But now, I don’t see a snail.” Even with her family of helpers, O’Connell, like many of her plants, is still an Australian native. “To be living outside of Australia, this is probably the best place I could be,” said O’Connell. “But really, my heart is in Australia.” Her longing is for the rain forests, the animals, her family, and the exotic birds that flock to the different native flowers of the country. “I miss the birds,” said O’Connell. “I guess that’s why I grow the plants, I miss the birds that are associated with these plants out there. They’re big, and colorful, and can be tamed, and I really miss that.” While certain people may have apprehensions mixing indigenous plant species with exotic ones, O’Connell assures that the history goes deeper than our current situation. “Some of these trees were around since the dinosaurs were around. These are ancient trees,” said O’Connell, pointing out the Grevillea robusta, which has been here since the 1800s. “They’re pretty good at

Right: Leucadendron salignum yellow Inset: Wallaby

adapting.” Whether it’s softening succulent gardens, adapting to the houseplant trend, or filling in front yards, Jo O’Connell has an option for all types of prospective plant lovers. “I don’t care how people get into plants, whether it’s houseplants or big pot plants or succulents,” said O’Connell. “I just want to see young people getting into plants.” The plants have an ability to adapt and intermix with the native species of California for long periods of time, forming a new collection of cooperative plants that have all learned to not just coexist, but help one another. “I think Australians, South Africans, and Californians look good together and they


grow in well together too,” said O’Connell. “To heck with the people who say Californians and Australians can’t live together, if you ask me.” To visit O’Connell and walk among her personal rainforest and gardens, head over to 9040 N. Ventura Ave in Casitas Springs. The growing grounds are open by appointment only. www.australianplants.com



Outdoor, Indoor, Annual, Perennial, Trees, Organic Veggie Starters, Drought Tolerant Soil, Tools, Pottery & More.

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Thank you Ojai Valley Community for keeping your beloved local gardening and landscape company viable through these past 28 years. We are grateful for the opportunity to make an impact in this Precious Valley. We offer our skills in improving the soil health, collecting surface water and planting woody plants that capture carbon from the air and water from the sky and return them back into the soil where they belong. Can you imagine if all Ojai gardens followed this method? Our air quality would highly improve and our water holding capacity in the soil would allow a more verdant, vibrant valley to be actualized! Love to all who Love this Valley! Jessica Thompson and the Green Goddess Crew


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The Chumash by JOHN M. FOSTER photos submitted by THE OJAI VALLEY MUSEUM



in the Ojai Valley

As I walk the Foothill Trails above Ojai and then down into the city streets, I am in two worlds, one with flowing streams, thick groves of oaks, occasional bear footprints, and the scent of sage, the other filled with pavement, tourists, traffic signals, honking cars, and the smell of barbeque.



I SEE THE WORLD AROUND US TODAY AND THE WORLD AROUND US THAT DATES AT LEAST AS FAR BACK AS 13,000 YEARS AGO WHEN THE CHUMASH FLOURISHED AND PROSPERED, UNTIL THE SPANISH ARRIVED AND THE TWO WORLDS COLLIDED. When Europeans first arrived, Chumash-speaking peoples occupied a large area that extended south along the California coast from San Luis Obispo County into Los Angeles County and east to Kern County, and included the Channel Islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa. The Chumash living in Ojai spoke Ventureño, one of the six major dialects of the Chumash language. Known as the Ventureño Chumash, this group was distinguished from their culturally similar neighbors on the basis of linguistic variations noted by the early Spanish missionaries of the area, rather than by any apparent difference in social or economic organization. The Ventureño (so named because of their association with Mission San Buenaventura) were the southernmost of all the Chumash peoples. Native American culture in this region evolved over the course of at least 13,000 years and has been described as having achieved a level of social, political, and economic complexity not ordinarily associated with huntergatherer groups. Ethnographic information about the culture is most extensive for the coastal populations, and the culture and society have been well documented for groups such as the Barbareño and Ventureño Chumash. Much of what is known of the Ventureño has been provided by the journals of early Spanish explorers and by accounts from the Chumash. All of Ojai and the surrounding county and federal land is archaeologically sensitive —and you only have to walk down Ojai Avenue and look right and left at the mountains rising up on both sides, leaving a lush but condensed paradise in between.

Once, not too long ago, water flowed freely in streams, creeks, and of course the Ventura River. Soule Park was once a marsh that hosted thousands of birds, both migratory and local. Animal life was abundant, as were the thousands of plants and trees that produced the food and raw materials that the Chumash used to make their homes here for thousands of years. One of the factors that led to the prominence of the Chumash was the acorn, and when I see one laying under an old oak tree, I marvel at the transformation that the taming of the acorn brought to the Chumash people. The acorn is permeated with tannic acid, making it a grim meal at best, but the Chumash people learned to leach the acid out, pound it into a paste, and make a cake from it. While the ability to eat the acorn was a huge benefit, its ability to be stored over the winter months was what made it a game changer, and the population grew and grew. The Ventureño exploited a wide variety of natural resources within an ecosystem similar to that of their neighbors in Santa Barbara County. The limited area occupied by the Barbareño Chumash, a narrow coastal plain bounded on the north by the Santa Ynez Mountains, combined with a productive nearshore fishery, resulted

On display at the Ojai Valley Museum is a rare basket water bottle also called a “water olla.” The basket was made, then the inside was coated with local tar to seal it and then use it as a canteen.

in the establishment of substantial permanent villages. These large villages provided centralized locations from which the inhabitants ventured out to exploit available resources and to disperse their surplus resources and manufactured goods through intervillage exchange networks. There are several known villages in the Ojai area as well as specialized sites that were functionally limited to one or two uses, like acorn-gathering sites or hunting sites situated along creeks and the Ventura River. The Ojai Valley Museum has a pilot program to date these sites through radiocarbon dating and have successfully found one village with two different time points, 994 AD and 252 AD. Whether the site was used before or after those dates is as yet unknown. I like to think of artifacts of these past cultures as words that in context form sentences, paragraphs, and books, essentially telling us the history of these cultures. This is why artifacts, in their original locations, are very important to inform us of these ancient cultures and to give back some of the lost history to the modern day Ventureño Chumash. Sometimes these “words” of the past of Ojai are hidden in plain sight in today’s planter beds and rock walls, scattered across the open ground, peeking out from under cinder block walls, and exposed in street utility trenches and plowed fields. Many of our known archaeological sites have been destroyed in the last 250 years. Some are buried under alluvial fans that make up the northern half of the Ojai Valley, but no one knows how many are present. Of the few known sites that are left, only a couple have been archaeologically excavated, and several of those were done in the 1960s when archaeological methods were still being developed. Early Spanish explorers to the coastal Chumash village of Shisholop, located in what we now know as the City of Ventura, reports having been met by “many very good canoes, each of which held 12 or 13 Indians.” This prompted the visitors to name the settlement the Pueblo de las Canoas.


A group of Franciscan Padres described the native “pueblo” as consisting of 30 large houses with no fewer than 400 inhabitants. The first Roman Catholic Mass was celebrated at this time, the location was renamed La Asunción de Nuestra Señora, and the seeds of the coming Spanish mission system were planted in the local populace. On Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, Junipero Serra established the new “Mission of the Seraphic Doctor, San Buenaventura,” bringing about dramatic changes in the Chumash way of life. Between the time of the establishment of the Mission San Buenaventura (and that of Mexican independence) and the secularization of the mission lands nearly 50 years later, ancient lifeways gradually began to disappear. Villages were abandoned, traditional marriage patterns were inhibited, hunting and gathering activities were disrupted as newly introduced agricultural practices altered the landscape, and large portions of the native population died from European diseases for which they lacked immunities. Today the local Chumash, the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians led by Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, is a vibrant and proactive community conducting blessings, ceremonies, and other community services. In

addition, the group regularly reviews development plans to determine if they could potentially impact archaeological resources or sacred sites which still exist in the Ojai area. Band members are actively being trained in archaeological methods and processes so that they can judge for themselves what is found rather than relying on archaeolgists to tell them what is going on when something is discovered. Archaeological research and interpretation of our Ojai sites and artifacts is important not only to science but also in bringing to light the long-buried knowledge of ancient life for our Chumash friends. A shared community memory leads to deeper understanding and stronger bonds for all of us today.




Seeds of the Moon: A look at acorns in Chumash cuisine Acorns—or `Ixpanə š in the Chumash language— have long played an integral role in the tribe’s culture and seasons of life. They are the seeds of the oak tree, and early Chumash people were known as “Oak Grove” people, living under and amongst the kuw’ and ta (Chumashan for the live oak and valley oak trees, respectively). In Chumash culture, oaks are called “children of the moon”; this term denotes their significance as a guiding force that often appeared in Chumash people’s vision quests. An acorn’s purpose was multifarious; it could be used for making necklaces, toys akin to a spinning top, and even— when crushed up—used as a hair gel to soothe women’s scalps after searing their bangs with firewood to trim them. Eventually, the people came to use


the acorn in their daily cooking. Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Chairperson of the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians, explains how this may have come to be: “Someone was brave enough to try. Maybe they had visions that came through dream time, perhaps seeing an old ancestor saying ‘try this.’ These oaks served as a community for so many animals — everybody enjoyed many parts of the tree, in their burrowing, nesting, etc. However, not many of the animals ate the acorns straight from the tree. They’d go and bury them: scrub jays, coyotes, squirrels. Squirrels and scrub jays were responsible for our beautiful oak groves. They’d buried so many acorns it was impossible to keep track. They see the sprouts from the seed, the rain comes and naturally

leaches the acorns, and then the animals come and dig them up. The Chumash people must have tasted it and realized it wasn’t bitter anymore. They couldn’t wait for the rains to finish off their plantings. They looked to the water for their source to help them eat acorns immediately.” The Chumash began collecting the acorns, drying them in the sun, shelling them, then setting them in granary baskets lined with white sage to ward off bugs. They would then be pounded into a fine powder with a stone mortar and pestle or on bedrock mortars on the riverbed. They’d go into yet another basket (a 14-basket process in total) to be soaked and filtered of their bitter tannins, either by using an asphaltumlined water bottle or by dipping the basket in a creek. The final result would


be a light flour, not unlike cream of wheat, that was then mixed with water and constantly stirred with hot rocks and made into a mushy soup eaten three times daily. Sometimes, acorn soup would be seasoned with salt or seaweed and was often eaten with a mussel shell as a spoon. The powder itself is a perfectly usable flour for baked goods, and can be made at home without quite as many steps, though you may still need to be up for a bit of a challenge to take on the task. Says Julie Tumamait-Stenslie: “Gathering is a very tedious process. It takes 200 acorns to yield a cup of flour. I like the big giant ones—there’s hardly any skin on them. You don’t want to collect any acorns with holes in them— little worms can get in there. What I do is crack them open immediately … if you leave them in the shell, they rot. They have a high water content.” She dries them out in her oven and grinds them up in a food processor. Then she puts the flour in a glass bowl and rinses every 30 minutes or so totalling around 12 rinsings a day (pouring off the water in between — keep the flour in the bowl!), tending to the house and kids in the gaps. When filtering is complete (the flour will always be a tiny bit bitter, but that will dissipate immediately once it’s back in the oven), she wrings out the meal in a cheesecloth and dries it one more time in the oven or in the sun. You can blend one more time to your desired consistency. Don’t store it in plastic — it will sweat and grow mold. Use glass instead. Though it does “…take all day,” Tumamait-Stenslie finds the homemade processing of the flour “meditative.” Of course, you can always order the flour online or find some in a specialty Asian supermarket. Acorn flour and starch is used to make noodles (dotoriguksu) and even a gelatin (Dotori-muk) in Korea. It is a whole flour, naturally gluten-free and loaded with complex carbohydrates. Here’s a recipe adaptation for Acorn Cookies, courtesy of Gerry Browning of the Museum of Ventura County.

ACORN COOKIES 1 cup butter or margarine 1 3/4 cups brown sugar 2 eggs 1 cup toasted coconut, ground up fine 1 1/2 cups flour 3 cups oat bran 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 cup ground, leached acorns, toasted Mix ingredients into a dough and chill. Roll into 1 inch balls and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 10 dozen cookies. HOW TO LEACH AND TOAST ACORNS Gather fresh acorns; wash in running water to clean off surface dirt. Crack open and use only clean white acorns (acorns will turn brown as the air hits them; this is OK, they are a starch). Toss away any rotten or buggy acorns. Place acorns on a cookie sheet and roast in a low oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool. Place 1-2 cups in a blender and grind into flour. Transfering to a glass bowl, fill the container


with cool or warm water to the top, covering the acorn flour. Let the water sit for 15-20 minutes, pour off the water and keep the flour in the container. Replace water and repeat process; as you do, you’ll see a change in the color of the water. After 12 or so changes of water, you can taste the acorns. If it’s not bitter (or not too bitter), it is ready (NOTE: if you find that it’s late and you haven’t finished, cover container, put in the fridge, and start again in the morning). If acorns are ready, get as much water out as possible, using a strainer with a piece of cheesecloth or a paper towel. Spread wet acorn flour on cookie sheet and dry in a very low oven, 250 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool. Place back into blender and reblend into flour. Store in an airtight glass container and refrigerate; use within one week or freeze it. Please remember that the acorn is the oak’s offspring and one of God’s creations. Show respect by making an offering after you have gathered the acorns. Example: leave sage or tobacco, hair for the birds to use as a nest, or any other kind of food offerings. Say a prayer of thanks and honor the tree.









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Spring Hikes


Horn Canyon Trail (22W08) An abundance of blooms and the sound of flowing water along this popular trail make Horn Canyon a great springtime outing. There are four creek crossings very early in the hike, so be prepared for some rock hopping and possible wet feet. At about 2.5 miles, the trail passes through “The Pines” campground, where a historic grove of Coulter pines stood for many years. Most of the drought-stricken, bark beetle-infested trees were removed a few years ago. What was left burned in the Thomas Fire. The trailhead is located on McAndrew Road, south of The Thacher School main gate. Follow the signs and pass over the school’s road to the primary access point, approximately a half mile from the trailhead. Gridley Trail (22W05)

Story and photos by PERRY VAN HOUTEN

Spring is the ideal time of year to hike this 6-mile-long trail in the Ojai front country. Temperatures are bearable and wildflowers typically make a good showing. The rocky trail climbs moderately past avocado orchards into low chaparral and trees, terminating at Nordhoff Ridge at 3,775 feet elevation. (The avocados are private property, so don’t pick them!) Gridley Spring, 3 miles up, is the site of a former trail camp removed by the U.S. Forest Service in 2013. It’s still a pleasant spot to stop for lunch. Just south of the


spring is a section of trail where ferns, maples, and other vegetation uncommon for the area grow. To get to the trailhead, take Gridley Road north to its end at a private gate. There’s limited parking along the road but no facilities. The first mile of the trail was adopted by Ojai Valley Land Conservancy in April 2017 under the USFS Adopt-ATrail Program. The trail provides access to OVLC’s Valley View Preserve via the Fuelbreak Road Trail. Ventura River Preserve Trails Proximity to town and a network of varied, well-maintained and signed trails make the Ventura River Preserve instantly appealing, especially when the grasses are green and the flowers are blooming. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle without driving far, head for the nearly 1,600-acre VRP. Opened in 2003 by OVLC, the VRP offers trails that run along the riverbank, loop trips that take you through oak forests and peaceful meadows, and lofty adventures that take you high above the Ojai Valley. El Nido Meadow, off the Wills Canyon Trail, features an expanse of purple needlegrass, the state grass of California. The VRP can be accessed from three distinct trailheads: the Oso Trailhead, off Meyer Road; the Riverview Trailhead, on Rice Road; and the Baldwin Road Trailhead, off Highway 150. Parking is free at all three trailheads. Spring and summer hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.




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

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


NEW LISTING! | 130 S. Alvarado Street | $1,150,000 Large 3 bed, 3 bath home built in 1935 with rare European Old World Charm in the village of eclectic Meiners Oaks. Beautiful house interior with lots of windows, solar tube lighting and original refurbished stone gas & wood fireplace. An expansive Primary Suite with exterior door lays on one side of the house, with the two bed, one bath down a hallway on the other side. The large finished attic with cathedral ceiling & storage room has so many options! Large sunny lot, front & back decks, vegetable garden area, beautifully cared-for oak trees, room for family orchard & RV parking. Newer oversized 2- car garage with windows, built-in cabinets and pull down ladder to attic (for an ADU conversion?). Fully fenced and private, located on a quiet, neighborly street a short 1/4 block to restaurants, markets, galleries, shops, gym, yoga, etc. Perfect location & excellent condition - ready to move right in!

Joan Roberts

805 -223 -1811 | CalDRE# 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.





Pick your favorite time of day to enjoy the ambiance of this Ojai home. Close to Topa Topa Elementary School, this 2 bedroom, 2 bath home with sunroom is set for entertaining. The open patio is a great area for celebrating those perfect Ojai summer evenings. The living room has a fireplace & plenty of room to stretch out. Attached garage. Lots of potential for fun here. A great value.Under $850,000




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


With the sensibilities of the 1950’s, this traditional 3 bedroom, 2 bath Ojai Terrace home with fireplace, formal dining & family room has an attached two car garage. Enjoy the outdoors with the covered patio & spacious yard complete with fountains, a built in barbecue, luscious gardens, mountain views, fruit & shade trees. Under $900,000


A fresh palate awaits you in this Ojai Golden Oaks 3 bed, 2 bath home. Exceptional corner lot with meadow and mountain views, an open floorpan that lends itself to a variety of uses, room for gardens, RV and more!




Amanda Stanworth 805.218.8117 DRE: 01262333


Teresa Rooney 805.340.8928 DRE: 00599443


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DRE: 01493361

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Gated and private, this beautiful Mediterranean-style estate designed by local renowned architect Marc Whitman is on 2 acres in Rancho Matilija. A dramatic entry which leads you to the open spacious great room you can’t help but notice the perfect mix of indoor/outdoor living where light filled rooms blend with the lush landscaping. You will love the gourmet kitchen with commercial grade appliances, vaulted ceilings, multiple fireplaces, media room, and sweeping staircase leading you to an exquisite office or family room. Perfect for entertaining with two outdoor kitchens, saltwater pool/spa, and a private pool house/art studio.

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

“Stay Strong. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected”.

805-798-0516 | donna4remax@aol.com





12407 MacDonald Drive

Located behind the gates of Rancho Matilija you will find a simple Ranch style home. This four bedroom, three bath home sits on over 2 acres with some of the most spectacular valley views. You will love the open floor plan with vaulted ceilings, wood floors and plenty of light. The home belonged to one owner and will need some updating however if you’re looking for views and privacy, look no further.




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