Ojai Magazine. Summer 2022

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SU M M ER 2022



Flower Farmers of

Frog Creek


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2364 BURNHAM ROAD, OJAI. Charming cottage style home above the Ventura River is a true sanctuary! Embraced by magical outdoor spaces, the updated interior boasts a flexible 2-story floor plan for extended family. Come experience the magic!! $948,900

10851 ENCINO DRIVE As you drive down a private lane you enter this exclusive estate located in Saddle Mountain. Multiple offers drove this home well over asking. Contact us to find out more about our marketing plan. SOLD $300,000 OVER ASKING PRICE!

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Midtown Ojai Love 206 Topa Topa Drive | Enchanting Authentic Spanish Hacienda in Midtown Ojai | 3 bed, 2 bath | Just under 1800 sqft | $1,675,000

Enchanting Authentic Spanish Hacienda in Midtown Ojai, California! Elevate your spirits and spoil your soul in this extraordinary private, gated piece of heaven in a midtown setting. This sophisticated turnkey home lives like a dream and is close to the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, bike trails, Libbey Park, coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, & wineries. Enter a world of serenity and wonder, where life centers around a glorious courtyard featuring a sparkling fountain with an outdoor firepit, and serene gardens with numerous terraced living spaces, each offering its own stunning view of the Topa Topa mountain range. Find your sophisticated haven in this thoughtfully-designed and lovingly maintained Spanish 3-bd, 2-bt, just-under 1,800 sqft. masterpiece infused with romance and beauty at every turn!


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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 | $5,900,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

Integrity, knowledge and experience you can trust

Build your dream home on this private, 20-acre parcel with 360-degree views that include the Topa Topa Mountains, Oxnard Plains, and the Pacific Ocean. There are not many Ojai properties that offer both a country setting and ocean views, so do not miss this opportunity to take advantage of what is already on the property to help you get started. Features include gated entry, concrete driveway, well, two 5,000-gallon water storage tanks, electrical, parking structure, house pad, avocado orchard, and a citrus orchard. 13382 East Sulphur Mountain Road | $1,000,000 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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The Ojai Alisal Vineyard The property includes an active vineyard that is the source for all the grapes used in Ojai Alisal’s wines. Initiated in 2009, Ojai Alisal currently has almost 3 acres planted with about 2700 vines. Red varietals are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Malbec while whites include Viognier and Grenache Blanc. Ojai Alisal produces about 500 cases a year and is known for award-winning wines made from grapes entirely grown on the property. There is plenty of room on the rolling hills to substantially expand the vineyard.




This private, gated, 20-acre vineyard estate features a luxurious 2br/2½ba Italian farmhouse with amazing 360-degree views. Downstairs is a large great room comprising kitchen, dining, and living spaces. The great room has high ceilings and is centered on a carved 1920’s fireplace. The chef’s kitchen includes Subzero, Wolf and Miele appliances. French doors lead out to a large, covered patio with a fireplace. There are also a separate mudroom/pantry, a cozy office/library and a powder room. Upstairs has a guest suite with a private bath, and an expansive primary bedroom suite with a walk-in closet. The beautifully manicured grounds include California peppers, sycamores and oaks as well as a garden of California-native plants. There is a separate 2-car garage, and the backyard area is enclosed by a stone wall with a basalt column fountain. Gravel paths wind through a family orchard with a wide selection of fruit trees. Price Upon Request OjaiAlisalEstate.com


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SUMMER 2022 Volume 40 No.2

EDITOR’S NOTE - 18 BIG ISSUES Mind of War - J. Krishnamurti - 56

OUTDOORS Shovels and Sagebrush - 22 Four Far-Flung Adventures - 66



CULTURE A Cut Above the Rest - 72 Oomph Inc: Rethinking the Internet - 86

CALENDAR - 112 FARM Flower Farmers of Frog Creek - 40 Studio to Farm Stand - 78


The Forager - 127

ARTS Modern Opera in Ojai - 32 The Art of Mary Neville - 48 Downtown Art Tour - 114



FOOD & HEALTH Yoga - Jennifer Pastiloff - 120 Eating for the Season - 100

OJAI PAST Resident Racoon - 94 The Manson Girl - 106













ang ping,’ or ‘lying flat’ in English, is a lifestyle social movement that originated in China last summer. People are making deliberate reprioritizations in response to a culture that pushes overworking based on a relentless growth model. The response is a rejection of a treadmill lifestyle based on broken value systems that are failing to include the majority … or even the Earth itself. Many people are responding to the pressure by doing less instead … they are lying flat. �uality of life is being placed ahead of the pursuit of an evermore elusive social contract. Ojaians have been embracing a bit of tang ping all along. Only 90 minutes from Los Angeles and 30 minutes from Santa Barbara, and yet Ojai doesn’t believe in the need to keep up with its sophisticated-cool neighbors to the north and south. Our town is populated by people who for various reasons have rejected the rat race. Some are here for refuge from its battering, others have fared well in it only to find it’s a losing game no matter how much you win, and others have never cared to race at all. Some have come to repair the havoc wrought by such race on their bodies and minds, others for the warmth of the non-anonymity of town life. Some enjoy hiding out in plain sight. Whatever their awakening, generations coming for a heart-felt quest generally rub off to the benefit of our Shangri La. How have we cultivated tang ping? As many great leaders in thought have taught us … by doing less. There has never been a lot to do in Ojai. We make our own fun. And like hand-crocheted potholders, the simple, slow life is gaining in popularity. The truth is that there was never enough time to do it all, or have it all, anyway — there is no finish line. Ojai is a place to slow down a bit. Just lie flat in the Ojai Valley dirt and feel it for yourself. The rejection of more, and the embrace of simple and slow, suddenly makes our little town trendy. Ojai has so much of nothing, now everyone wants some. As someone who has been living lame in Ojai for more than 20 years, I recommend it. We don’t care much about who you were, what you have, or how you look. It’s not really a vortex that makes the Ojai lifestyle possible … it is a place inside our souls and between us. So call it a movement, or call it a lifestyle, go ahead now and lie flat on your lounge chair; take a page from the subjects in our Summer Ojai magazine … explore a mountain-biking or hiking trail (pg. 66), visit a lavender farm (pg.40), let go through yoga (pg. 120), build a farm stand (pg. 78), question your beliefs through the teachings of Krishnamurti (pg. 56), start your own company (pg. 86), get a fresh look (pg.72), or write a book about how you survived the Manson family (pg. 106) … you know … live like a local.



EDITOR / PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward

ASSISTANT EDITORS Georgia Schreiner Karen Lindell



Karen Lindell Perry Van Houten Kit Stolz Steve Sprinkel John Huddles Francisco Mazza Robin Goldstein Valerie Freeman Jessica Ciencin Henriquez Drew Mashburn Johnie Gall Pamela Zero Kathleen Kaiser

PRODUCTION Tori Behar Mimi Walker



team@ojaivalleynews.com Ojaivalleynews.com @ojaimag

Cover photo: Erika Block

With affection,

Laura Rearwin Ward










when dillon osleger jams the printer at the local copy-and-ship, the weather outside is cool and overcast. it’s ideal mountain-biking weather, really, so i’m surprised to find the professional cyclist hunched over a paper tray instead of his handlebars. “I convinced a library to send me a copy of an original 1968 Los Padres forest map from their basement archives,” he laughs, smoothing his hand over the half-finished print. “It was just way too big of a file.” If most of us perceive our worlds through shapes and colors, Osleger sees in layers and lines. The 27-year-old Ojai local is the executive director of SAGE Trail Alliance, a nonprofit that designs and restores trails throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Ojai. The organization stewards over 250 miles of trail alongside land management partners and has invested more than $500,000 in the region’s public lands,

taking my bike out on the trails though, and I started making friends with all the old guys who would be out hiking and biking, and they invited me to a trail building volunteer day.” While trigonometry didn’t make sense to Osleger on paper, understanding why a trail needs to slope at a particular angle to prevent erosion was easy. Suddenly, he was memorizing soil composition and native species with the ease and fervor some kids master videogames with, which eventually led to a master’s degree in earth science. It was around the same time he was collecting diplomas that Osleger realized he was fast on a mountain bike — we’re talking podium and champagne-shower fast — and so did his sponsors. He’d made it to the highest level of competition with 200 of the top riders on the Enduro World Series circuit when something started to not sit right with him and, ironically, it all came back to trigonometry.

How a geologist and pro mountain biker is creating more sustainable Ojai trails.

“When I started biking, there used to be

Shovels and with construction of 65 miles of new trail planned by 2030. It’s a job that feels almost poetically suited for the geologist, professional mountain biker and budding historian — because, as it turns out, you need a lot more than a shovel to build a trail. Like the sinewy lines snaking across his half-printed map, Osleger’s story zigs and zags. His great-grandfather was the head of the Alpine Club in Switzerland. His parents are geologists, and he spent his childhood getting acquainted with the dirt next to them as they conducted their field work. But despite his academic pedigree, school didn’t click for Osleger, and he found himself skipping class to spend time in the forests around his hometown in Truckee, California. “I had a lot of anxiety as a kid and seeing math laid out on a whiteboard didn’t work with my learning style,” he explains. “I liked

this equilateral triangle,” he says. “There was racing at the top of the triangle, then community in one corner, and trail building and environmental advocacy at the other. But as time went on and the sport tried to legitimize itself, the triangle got weighted toward the professional athletes and really left youth and the reasons people join the sport behind. We were flying to the same places again and again, the same 100 people going as fast as they could and braking hard. That’s incredibly damaging to trails. I just didn’t understand where I was going with it and I missed the sense of community and advocacy that I’d had in Truckee.” It took a fire for Osleger to realize what he’d maybe already known about trails. Call it a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, maybe — except in this case, the trees were charred black and the trails were completely missing.

story and photos by JOHNIE GALL






“I lived in Santa Barbara during the 2017 Thomas Fire, and at night I could see its glow when it surrounded Ojai and eventually when the flames licked the border of Montecito,” he remembers. “That spring, as part of my graduate studies, I was tasked with measuring the geomorphic impact of the landslides that occurred as a result of that fire and following heavy rains.” Assuming he’d just hike the same trail he always took to the top of the canyon, he was shocked to find it had been wiped away alongside the homes that had been torn off their foundations. Car-sized boulders littered the mountainside. The waterfall he’d frequented was running thick and black down to the ocean, where beaches were closed on account of the carcinogens in the water. “That’s when I realized that the ways we cope with hardships in life, like being outside in nature and hiking and biking on trails, were being threatened by climate change,” he says. It wasn’t long after that he moved up from volunteer to executive director of SAGE Trail Alliance and set

Ojai probably knows about it — it grows for about three years after a fire and if you touch it, you’re going to have the worst month of your life. It also takes a lot of training and understanding to do trail work. You can’t just roll out there and start chopping.” Which is precisely why some trails have faded away over time — and why Osleger is so interested in that map currently jamming up the printer. Maps have always served a greater purpose than dictating how human explorers might chart a course from point A to B. They tell deeper stories about a place, but not all of us know how to interpret them. Fueled by rumor, dive-bar folklore, and whatever he can exhume from library basements, Osleger has been analyzing historic maps to cobble together a story about the long-forgotten paths that have been lost to time and climate change and, with chainsaw in tow, is working to bring them back into our trail system. “Every time I’m at Ojai’s Deer Lodge, I have someone tell me about a trail they

You have to let the landscape tell you where the trail should go instead of forcing what you want. to work restoring the trails that had been lost to the fires with the help of other local scientists and organizations. It was a larger task than any volunteer effort could address, costing thousands of fundraised dollars and requiring years of physical labor that involved using dynamite to blast clear new paths and mule trains to carry wood for building new retaining walls. Here’s the thing not many people realize about the trails in Ojai and beyond: they take a lot of time, money, and manpower to maintain. Foot, hoof, and tire traffic might be enough to keep weeds at bay, but then there’s the need for drainage repairs, the swiftly eroding Santa Ynez Mountains that send dirt and boulders down onto the trail, and the chaparral brush that can grow a foot or more outward every year. According to Osleger’s napkin math, it takes about $5,000 a year to maintain each two-mile trail. “I mean, just think about poodle-dog bush,” he laughs, “Anyone who lives in

used to use before a lot of this wilderness was enacted,” he says. “One day, I found some old maps and realized the USGS geology map I had was vastly different from the US Forest Service map. Some routes were built during the mining days in the 1800s, or were created by ranchers moving cattle. Some have lasted and some haven’t. It made me realize you have one shot to build a trail the right way, and if you aren’t building it for the long-term benefit of the community, that’s just silly. You have to let the landscape tell you where the trail should go instead of forcing what you want. I want trails to be meaningful for people, to connect them to the history of a place and tell a story about our past.” Before a spade ever touches the earth, Osleger looks at everything from hydrologic charts to soil stability to migration patterns to vulnerable plant species, layering map upon map to determine what trail is truly worth building. By looking at the intersectionality of trail



SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TRAILS: The Concerned Resources Environmental Workers (C.R.E.W.) www.thecrew.org Ojai Valley Land Conservancy www.ovlc.org Los Padres Forest Association www.lpforest.org SAGE Trail Alliance www.sagetrail.org



building and examining what trail builders of years past got right or wrong, Osleger is hoping to create a legacy for Ojai and the surrounding areas — not just in the dirt, but in his team of trail crew, local volunteers, and the future land stewards who will come after him. And that includes the hikers, bikers, and equestrians who set foot on the trails every single day. “When the US Forest Service got 1,500 letters from local people saying they wanted to protect Pine Mountain from logging, it became clear that no one really knew where it was, and those letters were mostly ignored,” says Dillon. “That’s why the first step isn’t volunteering, but just going out and making memories on these trails. You will work to protect a place you have a relationship with, where your community is. We’ll pay for a season lift ticket at a ski hill and not put money into the trails we use everyday — that’s something we really need to consider. You have to do what you can based on the value it brings to your life.” To become a member of SAGE Trail Alliance, make a donation and get informed about upcoming volunteer days, sign up at www.sagetrail.org, and follow them on Instagram @sagetrailalliance





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a Modern





omposer-conductor-pianist Matthew Aucoin, co-founder of the American Modern Opera Company, known as AMOC (pronounced “amok,” as in “run amok”), describes opera as “the medium in which art forms collide and transform one another.” The moving parts in AMOC are its 17 artists: dancers, singers, musicians, writers, directors, composers, choreographers, and producers who mesh and mash to create new musical works and reshape classic ones. AMOC, which formed in 2017, is the musical director for the 76th Ojai Music Festival, taking place June 9–12. This will be the first time an interdisciplinary collective holds the position of music director, which changes every year, and only the second time an ensemble rather than an individual curates the festival (after Eighth Blackbird in 2009). Several of the performers in AMOC are previous Ojai Music Festival artists, including soprano Julia Bullock, cellist Jay Campbell, violinist Miranda Cuckson, flutist Emi Ferguson, and bass-baritone Davóne Tines. Similar artists often work in a company together — singers in a chorus, musicians in a band or orchestra, dancers in a troupe — but these homogeneous groups don’t usually go the multidisciplinary route. For an opera or other production featuring multiple art forms, musicians, singers, actors, dancers, and others might come

A collision can be gentle, like two bubbles tapping skins in the air, or violent, like a speeding truck and train slamming together on a railroad track. In either case, all moving parties transfer energy and are transformed. Kind of like opera.

comes to



together for a few weeks or days for a rehearsal, then go their separate ways. AMOC has more holistic aims, gathering artists who work together over time and pay deep attention to words, music, sounds, visuals, movement, and how all the senses collide to create something more novel or complex. Ara Guzelimian, as the festival’s artistic director, each year chooses the music director. Many of AMOC’s members went to The Juilliard School, where Guzelimian was the provost and dean from 2007–20, so he knew many of the performers from their time as students. “Collisions between different disciplines happen routinely in the hallway at Juilliard,” Guzelimian said. “I can’t say every student picked up on it, but the artists in AMOC, even in their youngest days, had their antennae out for new and different experiences, and they have big curiosities.” However, any past school ties are not why he asked the collective to serve as the festival’s 2022 music director. “They have been taking the world by storm, individually and collectively, as artists,” he said. “The moment was right.” The choice unexpectedly ended up being “right” in another way. In 2021, due to Covid-19, the festival, with John Adams as music director, was postponed until September, but this year is back in its usual June time slot at Libbey Bowl. Guzelimian

asked AMOC to be the festival’s music director before the pandemic began, but said he was touched by the idea of a collective leading the way during a year that celebrates emerging from a difficult time when so many have been or felt alone. “Any collaborative is anti-C, because it requires sharing space, creating trust and finding intimacy,” said choreographer, dancer, and AMOC co-founder Zack Winokur. “That is at the core of what we do, so this is really urgent. We need to reunite and bring people together again.” Meet AMOC Each member of AMOC has a flourishing individual career. Co-founder Aucoin, a MacArthur Fellow, was artist-in-residence at Los Angeles Opera from 2016–20, and his opera Eurydice premiered in L.A. in 2020. Zack Winokur produced The Black Clown, an adaptation of Langston Hughes’ poem starring Davóne Tines at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln. Soprano Julia Bullock sang the title role in Katie Mitchell’s critically acclaimed contemporary version of Handel’s Theodora at the Royal Opera House in London, and has served as artist-in-residence for the San

Left to right : Soprano, Julia Bullock, pianist Conor Hanick, stage director, choreographer, and dancer Zack Winokur and Taylor West perfoming a piece by John Cage.


Francisco Symphony and other institutions. Pianist Conor Hanick, a “fierce advocate” for contemporary music, has premiered more than 200 scores, and collaborated with conductors Alan Gilbert, James Levine, David Robertson, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Anne Manson, Carlos Izcaray, Jeffrey Milarsky, and others. That’s just a recent sliver of the biographies of only four members. Winokur, Bullock, and Hanick described during a Zoom interview how the group initially came together. Winokur said he and Aucoin, who both attended Juilliard but didn’t cross paths there, were later introduced at a brunch by AMOC countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. They were interested in opera as “the place where all of these artistic disciplines can interact and transform each other in order to tell a story in the most compelling and unmitigated way possible.” When forming AMOC, the co-founders brought together artists they were deeply excited about as both performers and thinkers.



AMOC, Winokur said, is “not founder-led,” but instead “shape-shifts” around each artist’s ideas and what each wants to say.

The journey might be chaotic or contemplative.

AMOC is about “opening your mind to the possibility that music is and can be so much more than an abstraction of sound,” Hanick said. “Most of my conservatory brain was studying for and translating black and white symbols into air. But there are so many other layers to that process — getting from something that was notated, to understanding it, realizing it, re-realizing it, transforming it, and attaching meaning and emotion.”

Words, sounds, and movement all get equal treatment at the festival, sometimes slamming together in unexpected ways.

Bullock said AMOC acknowledges the very human origins of art. “It’s easy to forget that it’s human beings who developed music,” she said. “Most were grappling with large questions, and were trying to translate them in a way that could be understood by more people.” Opera, which literally means “work” in Italian, Bullock said, “is based on work that … exists within an ecosystem of other human beings who are aiming to communicate and connect with each other.” With such an abundance of creative minds, planning for the festival began with an overwhelming number of ideas. AMOC collectively curated the festival, with Guzelimian, and they made sure the diverse programming selections throughout echoed or spoke to one another. Here are a few ways artistic worlds will collide at this year’s Ojai Music Festival. AMOC, everywhere The festival’s opening concert is an introduction to AMOC, featuring all the members of AMOC performing individually or together to give audiences an idea of who they are. Then, throughout the next three days, they’re all over the place, in both the foreground and background. “You meet these artists in multiple perspectives,” Winokur said. “You see them leading a project that is straight from their brain and heart, then collaborating on other projects.” A cellist, for example, might suddenly become a dancer in another performance. “As you’re wandering from one performance to another, so are we,” Winokur said. “You’ll see someone leave one world, walk through the town, find a new kind of world, and thread and build it together.”

Poetry + music + dance

“One of the threads of the festival is the presence of poetry,” Guzelimian said. On the first day, “A Passageway Between Shores” will feature a melding of music, songs, and poems, with tenor Paul Appleby, violinist Keir GoGwilt, composer Carolyn Chen, and poet Divya Victor. The next day, “the echoing of tenses,” a world premiere song cycle by Anthony Cheung, will feature poems by Asian American writers, sung, spoken, and performed by Appleby, Cuckson, and Hanick. On the fourth and final day of the festival, the program will feature the premiere of AMOC member Bobbi Jene Smith’s Open Rehearsal, a dance theater piece set to music by Schubert, Bach, singer-songwriter Connie Converse, and folk singer Pete Seeger. “I hope the interrelationships between spoken and sung poetry, and even well-established classical music like Schubert, come to life,” Guzelimian said. Dinner + toasts A world premiere piece by Aucoin at the festival will be a potluck of sorts. For one month during the summer, AMOC members gather on a farm in Vermont where they live and work together 24-7. Many members of the group are excellent cooks, and mealtimes are key for ideasharing and camaraderie-building. Aucoin’s Family Dinner, a cycle of miniconcertos, is an attempt to capture the spirit of this time in Vermont. Each song offers a portrait of each member (as interpreted by Aucoin), with spoken toasts in between. “These dinners are multicourse and elaborate,” Aucoin said. “And they are ebullient and full of argument.” Love + death French composer Olivier Messiaen’s 1945 song cycle “Harawi,” originally subtitled “Songs of Love and Death,” spans emotional extremes. Influenced by Peruvian folk melodies, French surrealism, the

story of Tristan and Isolde, and love and tragedy in Messiaen’s own life, the work is usually performed by a soprano and pianist. The festival will feature a semi-staged version with singer Bullock and pianist Hanick, accompanied by dancers Smith and Or Schraiber. “It’s really shape-shifty and Freudian, and goes from the cosmic to the most intimate,” Winokur said. AMOC expands on Messiaen’s vision by adding dancers, movement, and other characters to create a visual world around the music. Movement is integral in AMOC’s pieces, by both dancers as well as musicians who don’t ordinarily incorporate such action or gestures on stage. “Among the many, many questions that Messiaen is asking himself is, ‘What does loss look like, and how would you move to it?’” Hanick said. “‘How would you move if you’re in a black hole?’” Perhaps you would collide, gently or violently.


The 76th annual Ojai Music Festival takes place from June 9–12 at Libbey Bowl and other Ojai venues. For tickets or more information, call 805-646-2053 or visit www.ojaifestival.org









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.



yourself. They obviously love what they do and enjoy sharing with their customers what has been their affinity for dressing. The Barbara Bowman Boutique affords the couple an outlet for the curating and presentation of Barbara’s jewelry, handbags, shirting, T-shirts and jacket designs. Since the advent of internet shopping, the face of retail has been changing. The customer wants “special.” Prior to Covid, Sol travelled extensively in the Far East collecting unusual beads and medallions which Barbara turned into unique collectable necklaces.

Created in Ojai Barbara Bowman Most people have some art form they either champion, collect, or produce. For Barbara Bowman and her husband Sol de la Torre Bueno it is the art of dressing. Fashion has been their calling since before they met. That fortuitous meeting in Capri years ago led to a collaboration in a shared love for textiles, fine leather and precious objects. “What you wear is an expression of yourself, your mood, your likes and your personality. The one thing we consistently do is get up and get dressed each and every day of our lives,” according to Barbara. What this couple does is offer you their time, eye, and enthusiasm for how you may express ADVERTISEMENT

Wanting to be able to direct a line of clothing for their store, they connected with a Los Angeles Manufacturer who produces their designs from finely woven Japanese fabrics. Their collection will soon include denim washes in a variety of styles with particular unusual detailing. Having worked in Milan designing shoes for years, Barbara was thrilled when Sol was able to get her leather handbags designs produced in his native country, Peru. The bags are smart looking with minimal hardware, an attention to detail and color combinations. 125 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, California www.barbarabowman.online




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UPPER OJAI ESTATE 4BD | 3.5BA | 3,300 sf | 10 acres | $3,900,000 See More at 11400TopaVista.com The perfect marriage of strength and airy beauty is realized in this spectacular view home on 10 acres in the Upper Ojai Valley! Feel transported as you wind your way down the long and very private tree-lined driveway, imagining all you might do with the wide-open spaces that greet you. Prepare to be amazed as you come upon a oneof-a-kind architectural wonder - constructed of stone, steel posts and beams and reinforced concrete walls - a home offering unparalleled peace and protection. Step inside and feel inspired by the Great Room warmed by white maple floors and the light flooding in from the wall of trim-less French Doors and windows. Pause to take in the panoramic views of the Topa Topas, seemingly close enough to touch. The downstairs primary bedroom has built-in maple cabinets and Japanese tile in the sprawling ensuite primary bath. The kitchen, with maple cabinets and granite countertops, opens onto a family room/library with built-in bookshelves and a desk for working at home or homework. A full pantry and laundry area provide a wealth of storage for all the essentials. Upstairs are serene bedrooms, baths and an office, all with balconies to say good night to the day. The grounds of the property are beautifully landscaped with stone walls and terraces and are graced by over 150 mature shade trees and dozens of fruit and nut trees. For those looking for a premier haven, just minutes from downtown Ojai but a world away, look no more.

Rosalie Zabilla 805.455.3183


DRE: 01493361

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



the Flower


It took “a saint” to make her lavender farm in Upper Ojai possible, said Christel Rogero. “We bought this 7 acres in 2003,” said Rogero, a teacher, speaking of herself and her husband, Larry, who works in renewable energy. “But it didn’t look anything like this.” Rogero turned to gesture at her driveway, a neatly landscaped courtyard built around a fire pit, with a view of the Topa Topa Mountains to the north, and a log-cabin home on a stone foundation to the south. On the other side of the house, down a short slope and across a wooden bridge over a barranca 20 feet across and 12 feet deep, was a field of lavender. In early spring, the neatly trimmed mounds were dormant, not yet ready to sprout new growth. “When we first moved in, my husband and I each brought a Weed Eater from our home in the valley at the time, and we went to work,” Rogero remembered. “We worked all day cutting weeds and then lay down on the porch, because it was July, and it was sweltering. Then we looked at what we had done, and we had cut out one tiny little square in 7 acres of tall weeds and we thought: What did we get ourselves into?” For help, they eventually went to a longtime resident, Jim Hall, who has lived in Upper Ojai for the last 34 years. At the time he helped support his farming and ranching habit by doing heavyequipment work for his neighbors, even though he had lost both his arms as a young man in an industrial accident when he was up in the air splicing a 16,000-volt Southern California Edison power line. “I just love that man with all my heart and soul,” Rogero said. “He came over here with a big tractor to knock down the weeds, and he told us where to plant. There’s never been animals on this part of the property, he told us, and it’s never been farmed. It’s the fluffiest dirt around”. Plant something beautiful” he told us. So lavender came into my mind, because it’s drought-tolerant, it outcompetes weeds, and it needs almost nothing.” Interviewed at his home in Upper Ojai, in a backyard overlooking a verdant field of young hay, Hall insisted he’s no hero, nor a saint for that matter, but does believe he’s alive for a reason. He said that at least seven times in his life he should have died — four in Vietnam, when he was leading a platoon as a young man, and three after being nearly electrocuted, because when he was in the hospital



of Frog Creek “I modeled this farm on a day that I would enjoy.” after being shocked, his heart repeatedly stopped beating. “This is going to be hard to explain, but when I needed help with things, there was somebody there. I’m going to say it was a blessing,” he said. “So I was willing to share what I had, and … I’ve helped people up here do a lot of different things.” At Christel and Larry Rogero’s Frog Creek Farm about 2 miles away, Hall used a tractor to clear a large field behind the house. The Rogeros planted 1,200 lavenders, of three varieties, to share with visitors during June and July in the summers. “It was a rookie move,” Christel Rogero said of the decision to begin with over 1,000 plants. “It’s a lot of work, and it happens mostly during the hottest time of the year. We ended up taking out every other row. It was a decision to reduce our water intake and reduce labor. With the water situation now, I won’t plant any more lavender. In fact, we’re taking out our grass.” Rogero said a well supplies the farm, but the house still depends on Lake Casitas for water. “Every time I drive by Lake Casitas, it breaks my heart,” she said. “We do water the plants from the well, but still, with climate change I want to be as sustainable as I can.” Every year in June and July on the weekends, the couple opens the farm for a “U-pick” operation for visitors, typically from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Christel Rogero said they don’t advertise and don’t take reservations.

“It’s an Old World culture to operate a U-pick farm, but people love it,” she said. “It brings families together.

Below Right: Christel Rogero with her niece Photo by Kai Morgan




harvesting, packing, designing, then turning around and packing it all up again. So it dawned on me one day: Why don’t I have people come here and let them enjoy it for what it is? It’s so pretty.” During the height of COVID, Rogero said, the farm became all the more popular. “The phone was ringing off the hook,” she said. “I think people, especially people from the city, just wanted to be outside and enjoy it. There was more of an appreciation, and more of an affinity for the experience. I could see it in their faces. I think it’s going to happen again this year.” Next door to the lavender field, closer to an entrance off Sulphur Mountain Road, is a separate part of the property called Topa Vista Farm, open mostly on weekends. The Rogeros have rented it out to different organic vegetable farmers over the years, and enjoy its produce, but aren’t involved directly in its operation.

to see people in beautiful dresses is kind of part of the experience.” The Frog Creek Farm was for a time part of the annual Lavender Festival in Ojai, and Rogero sat on the event’s board. “When I was on the board we used to get a lot more people up here,” she said. “We had buses coming, and more people than I could handle. I couldn’t even staff it. I have this little 15-by-20 shed for baskets and supplies, and we had hundreds of people in there on those days. So when COVID came along, we knew we had to manage people better.”

Top: Elli Connally at Frog Creek Farm. Photo by Lacey Connolly. Above: Jim Hall

Rogero said the U-pick method of harvesting was an evolution: They didn’t plan it. At first, they held annual harvest parties.

“I’ve had wedding proposals out in the field. I’ve had baby pictures taken, and baskets and baskets of lavender all around. People love it, and they love to dress up to do it. So

“We’d invite 50 or 60 people, and make it a fun afternoon for everybody,” she says. “Then it turned into, “OK, I’ll sell lavender at the farmers’ market [in Ojai on Sundays].” That’s a lot of work over the week in advance of the market —

“It was always just like Jim Hall said: We’ve got to grow something great out there, because that is untouched land. And we knew that we wanted to eat out of it,” Rogero said. “Larry and I are vegetarians anyway, so to eat like this, off our land, is just the best of the best.” Hall still works for Larry and Christel, but not nearly as much as in the past. “I’ve known them for a long time, ever since they first started that place,” he said. “I have a deep admiration for those two. I did a lot of work for them for years, but not so much anymore. I’ll go in there maybe once a year and help them some. They don’t need it like they did at the beginning.” “We’ve never made any money at this,” Rogero said. “But we are happy for people to come out and enjoy the experience. It helps us and it helps them. I know I just love the countryside, and seeing the flowers in all their variety, and I love that I can picnic out there — that scratches my itch for a good experience. I think that is a good day. So that’s the way I kind of modeled it. I modeled this farm on a day that I would enjoy.” Learn more at www.frogcreekfarmojai.com @frogcreekfarmojai



Photo by James Tu. @jtuphoto




BRUSHGOATS -vegetation management -wildfire mitigation -ecological improvement

Follow us @venturabrushgoats 805-358-1841 | www.venturabrushgoats.com









Painting in Real Time

photo: Lauren Whitney Glass


Mary Neville


Some artists paint to teach, others to point out missed moments in the world. Mary Neville paints to connect, both with others and herself. Her work is triggered by how she feels and whatever is happening in the world around and within her. The result is a powerful body of work that is beautiful as well as accessible. Her career was mostly in design and marketing until she started painting 10 years ago. “I came to painting rather late,” said the self-taught artist. “In the beginning it was just kind of figuring out how to paint, what materials I liked, and slowly, over time, I’ve realized that I bring a lot of my internal dialogue out. Painting is a huge way for me to have a conversation about the world, about issues, maybe global but also personal.” Neville was lured into painting by the prospect of creating for herself rather than for someone else’s agenda. “I was always interested in composition, how to order things,” she said. “Every career I’ve had throughout my life has gone back to this idea: to find the beautiful, the order, of the different parts.” Asked to volunteer for her daughter’s art class, she shepherded a project and created a piece with the students that showed hints of her now signature style. She learned of Amy Schneider’s mixed media class in Ventura and started honing the craft of painting. When Neville moved to Ojai, finding a house with a room for a studio was a priority. She settled in, did the Art Detour for a few years, and in 2017 was invited into the Ojai Studio Artists. With her work hung in downtown eateries, people around town started to take notice. “I became the girl with the

paintings in the restaurants,” she said with a laugh.

neath the layers. It was very blue and pretty.”

Disarmingly open, Neville has a sunny smile and is willing to discuss everything from being adopted to slowing down during the pandemic. “My adopted family was very nice, but I was always an outsider,” she said. “We tend to fear abandonment. You kind of come into this world trying to live up to the expectations of others; otherwise you’re going to get booted.”

Then the Thomas fire happened in 2017.

Like her paintings, what you see on the surface with Neville is both accurate and illusory. Sitting out by the pool at her house, with dogs wandering up now and again for pats, birds chirping, and the distant sound of the tower bells, it’s easy to forget about the often painstaking work of creating. “Sometimes I take a leap off a photograph, compositionally,” she said, “but mostly it’s just me starting out and trusting that whatever shape or color, line or mark finds its way there is because that’s where it needs to be at that time. If it gets covered later, that’s okay. I have one piece that showed up as one thing, I showed it, it came back to the studio, became something else, and then was finally done. It took seven years.” Neville’s art inhabits her house. A large piece in a bedroom awaits its next step and the living room is scattered with canvases. An early painting hovers on a wall in a side room, with blocks of blue and green. It’s more representative than her more recent work, but just as inviting. “When I started painting, I painted very pale, watercolor-y, pleasing paintings,” she said. “I was very interested in layering, and then as you got closer you started seeing what was under-

“For at least a year afterwards I couldn’t paint with color,” Neville said. “Every time I went in my studio it was gray, white, black. It was all very much subdued. I realized then that I am painting in real time, emotionally processing experiences that I am going through. Eventually the color came back, but some of the black stayed.” A painting titled “Oracle,” leaning against the wall in the living room, is an expanse of black that both looms and recedes. Painted after a dream of soaring through the air as a crow, the piece is part of her aerial view series. Blocks of deep yellow and textured white provide stability, and delicate shapes float through. “There’s something about soaring, trying to untether myself from a style,” Neville said. “I’m always wanting to explore my boundaries and push something further.” Her studio is a cozy room off a patio, filled with light. The floor is spattered with layers of paint and every flat surface is covered with the tools Neville uses for her work: palette knives, a bin of torn paper, and kitchen implements —whatever her work requires. Paintings, whether stacked on easels, or hung or leaning against walls, pulse in the room with a steady presence, some featuring simple ideas tossed on the canvas, others subtly detailed. Neville navigates her way through the large pieces with ease, pulling one out of the way to point out another. Neville’s creative process is mirrored in her studio, with overlapping layers of work


hiding and revealing themselves. “I’m conscious about how I show up in multiple ways in my paintings,” she said. “I tend to paint in a series, and I flip-flop a bit. Sometimes I’m feeling more painterly, so you’ll see more brushstrokes. Other times I’ll sand the canvas a bit or add materials to it. It’s all about what the canvas wants to do.” Neville’s paintings are vibrant records of the world around and within her. They bear witness to the real-time events that have affected her as she’s lived and worked, tucked away in her studio in the Arbolada. Wars, fires, her childhood — all of it is fair game as she puts her experiences on canvas. “I’m always delving into the inner parts of myself and letting go of what I can that’s not serving me, and becoming better aware of where I want to go, who I want to be, and how I want to show up in the world,” she said. “And painting is a big part of that.” Her next exhibit, a joint show with Shannon Celia titled 71%: Honoring Vital Waters, opens at the Channel Islands Maritime Museum in Oxnard on May 10. The pieces for the Maritime Museum are nuanced with water, round shapes, and sub-surface images, bringing visual depth to the show’s concept. As part of the Ojai Studio Artists, Neville participates in some of the organization’s Ojai events, as well as the Second Saturday mini-tours that focus on the Arbolada. A visit during the tours offers an up-close view of paintings on her patio and in her cleared-out workroom. Like Ojai itself, getting into Neville’s work is fairly simple. It’s beautiful, honest, and engaging. And, like Ojai, one leaves a bit changed for the better. Visit: www.marynevilleart.com




Left: Marine Layer. 2022. Paint on canvas Top left: Heat Wave. 2021. Mixed Media Top right: Worlds Apart. 2021. Mixed media Bottom left: Moulin Rouge. 2020. Paint on canvas Bottom right: Raincheck. 2020. Paint on canvas













THE MIND OF WAR Little has changed since Jiddu Krishnamurti spoke these words in 1984. Conflicts and divisions permeate our society today as much as they have from the beginning of time. With conflicts brewing globally, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are again called to observe, experience and reflect upon the nature of war. We must ask ourselves: Are we part of a process that ultimately produces war? Are the causes political, geographical, ideological, economic? Or are they psychological? These questions often point to an uncomfortable conclusion:

War starts in our consciousness, and we could all be responsible for it. Krishnamurti said war is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday living. War is a symptom of the society we have created, of our divided natures, communities, nations, ideologies. We are all responsible for our society, and as its creators, we are inseparable from its reality. Once we recognize that we are society, we wonder: What aspects of our behavior and psychology could be perpetuating conflict? Violence is part of this equation and part

of our lives, but how subtle can violence be? Jealousy, judging ourselves and others, not caring for or about others, comparing ourselves to others — are these oblique ways of generating violence? There are no simple answers to these problems, and they require daily observation and understanding of our behavior and relationships. We need a change — in ourselves, in our society, and thus the world. Krishnamurti offered his insights into the causes of war in the following excerpt from a public palk in New York in 1984:





J. Krishnamurti We are what we have made of the society, so we are society. That is a fact, not an exotic or stupid, irrational thought. We are society. Each one of us has made this terrible, confusing, contradictory, brutal society. And until human beings, each one of us, radically transform themselves, we will have perpetual wars. There will be no peace on earth. Religions have talked about it endlessly — the popes, the priests, local parish clergymen have talked about peace. This institution, with all its power, with its position, with its international grasp, this institution has not brought about peace either. Forgive me for saying this, if you don’t mind. And will institutions, foundations, will they ever bring peace on earth? Or it doesn’t lie in that field at all — organizations or institutions, propaganda, and all the rest of it. Or do we realize, each one of us — I am asking this most respectfully — do we realize that we are responsible for this? Not intellectually or verbally, or just accepting a theory, but we are responsible for this horror that is going on in the world; every form of violence, terrorism, wars, we are responsible for it. War is not in Beirut; it is in our hearts and minds. This has been said so often, one is rather bored by all that. And we human beings seem to be incapable of living peacefully in our relationship with each other, living peacefully without any dogmatism, ideals, concepts. Because beliefs, faith, conclusions, ideals, have separated human beings. And human beings apparently have not been able to live without any of those bondages. Human beings right throughout

the world are conditioned. Their brains have been molded according to a particular tradition, various forms of superstitions called religion. And is it possible for human beings, wherever they live, to be free of their conditioning? Is it possible for us, who are so advanced in technology, is it possible for us to radically, fundamentally, bring about psychological change? This is really a very, very serious question. This is what the biologists, bio-technologists are trying to do: trying to bring about a radical change in the very brain cells themselves so that human beings can live peacefully, not everlastingly fight each other. So facing all this, not abstractly, as a human being, what is one to do actually? Form another group? Another religion? Another institution? Or as a human being become aware of one’s conditioning, be concerned with one’s conditioning, and free the brain from that conditioning. Otherwise, we are going to have perpetual wars; there will be no peace on earth in spite of all the religions, in spite of every institution. It must begin with us, not with somebody else out there. So is it possible to bring about a deep mutation in the very brain cells themselves? Why are human beings so conditioned — Germans, French, Russians, Italians, British, Americans, Hindus, and so on — why? Is it because we want security, both external and inward? Is there such inward security — to be psychologically safe? Is there such security? Is there psychological security, either in the family, in a group, in a community, in a nation, and internationalism

and all that business? Is there any kind of security inwardly? And that is, if we are not sure about that, certain, clear, we try to seek security outwardly, externally, through nations, through religious organizations, through some ideologies. So it is very important, it seems to one, that we should talk over together now, and discover for ourselves if there is inner security — security in our relationships with each other, however intimate it may be, between man and woman, security in community and so on. Is there security in our relationship with each other? If there is security, why is there such contention between man and woman, wife and husband, such conflict in their relationship, each one pursuing their own ambitions, their own fulfillment, his own desires, and so on? Is it not important to find out for ourselves if there is such security in relationship? If there is such security in this, then that security is the beginning of peace. If there is no security in our relationship with each other, that is the beginning of conflict, war. So we ought to really seriously inquire into this question. That is, to become aware, conscious of our relationship with each other, because to go very far we must begin very near. And the nearest is the relationship with each other. In that relationship [if] there is conflict as there is now, then that conflict is spread, ultimately [to] war. We have never given thought to this, that as our house is burning, which is society burning, declining, degenerating, are we also degenerating? To slide, slip down, implies our whole life is a routine; our whole life is a series of battles, struggles, conflicts.









If we don’t alter there, how can you bring about peace on earth? It seems so logical, so rational, sane, but we don’t do that. So could we, as human beings — not as Americans and all the rest of that business — could we as human beings become aware, pay attention to our intimate relationship, because unless the psychological world is quiet, sane, peaceful, that psychological state will always overcome every kind of organization, whether it be communist organization, totalitarian, or so-called democratic organization. The psyche is far more important than the external legislation — governments and so on. I wonder if one realizes all this? Do we, sitting here, peacefully, so-called peacefully, realize our responsibility as human beings? The wars that are going on in the world is our war, because of our consciousness — if I can go into all this much more deeply — our human consciousness, which is made up of biological reactions, fears, hurts, pleasure, beliefs, dogmas, rituals and endless suffering. That is the content of our consciousness. If you observe this closely, it is a fact that every human being throughout the world shares this; every human being suffers; every human being has fear, pleasure, sense of loneliness, despair, anxiety, confusion — every human being, whether they live in the Far East, or here, or in Russia, or in other places. We have been brought up, educated to consider ourselves as individuals. Is that so? Is that a fact? Because we share the consciousness of humanity, because we all suffer, we all go through great agonies, boredom, every form of uncertainty. You may have great talents, great capacities, but behind those capacities lies the ordinary, daily consciousness of all humanity. So each one is humanity, not a separate individual. I know you will not accept this because you have been conditioned from the beginning by religions, by society, by culture, that each one is a separate individual, separate soul, and therefore he must seek his own salvation, his own expression, his own fulfillment. And this so-called separate individuality is creating havoc in the world. Which does not mean that we all become the same —

automatic, turned out in the same mold. On the contrary. Freedom is the highest form of existence. It is the greatest art, to live freely. But we are not free. One thinks one is free to do what one likes; especially in this country, each individual thinks he is supreme to do what he wants — his own fulfillment, the expression of his own desires, and so on. But if we examine closely and seriously, we share the consciousness of the entire humanity. Because this is a fact. Individuality may be an illusion, and to that illusion, we are committed. But when you travel around and observe very closely, every human being, whether they have great position, [a] great deal of money, status, power, they are like the rest of the world psychologically. They go through great pain, desperate loneliness, and all the rest of the psychological world of uncertainty, confusion. And we are the rest of humanity. We are not Africans and Europeans and all that nonsense. We are humanity. Unless we realize that one major fact in our life: We are the rest of humanity — black, white, purple, or whatever color they are — psychologically we are one. Unless human beings deeply realize that fact, we are going to have wars; we are going to be eternally in conflict, as we are now. No organization in the world has prevented any wars. And human beings have been responsible for these wars. You may not have a war in America, in this part of the world, but you have wars in other parts of the world because we are divided — as Americans and Russians and English and French, and all the rest of it — not only nationally but religiously — Christians, Buddhists, Hindus. So this constant division, both outwardly and inwardly, is bringing about great conflict. We are one human being, not separate. We don’t seem to realize that. You suffer, you go through great anxieties, uncertainties, and so does every other human being in the world. And we haven’t been able to solve that basic issue: whether we can live with ourselves peacefully — peace doesn’t begin on the other side of the world — whether

we live peacefully, without conflict. And I think this is a very important question which we must put to ourselves. Why is it that human beings who have lived on this earth perhaps 50,000 years, we have done extraordinary things technologically, we have done practically nothing in our relationship with each other, we are perpetually in conflict with each other, man and woman, and this conflict is extended into war. So, we are asking a most fundamental question: Why do human beings who have lived on this earth for so many millennia, who have done extraordinary things technologically, who have brought about good health for people — we have done the most incredible things externally but inwardly we are savages. Forgive me for the use of that word. We are fighting each other, even in our most intimate relationships. So how can one have external peace in the world, pacem in terris, if one is not peaceful in oneself? We never answer that question. We are always trying to bring changes in the outer, but we never ask ourselves why we live this way, perpetually in conflict. Fairly obvious when you ask that question seriously, not casually; we never spend a day trying to find out why we live this way, a vast network of escapes from this basic fact. And we are still going on. We never seem to realize unless each one of us fundamentally changes radically, there will be no peace on earth — as long as you are an American and they are Russian, different ideologies, different concepts, different gods, and so on, we will never have peace on this earth. So it behooves us, and each one of us, to find out why we live this way. And whether it is possible radically to change our whole psyche. If there is not a revolution there, mere outward revolutions have very little meaning. We have had Communist revolution, French revolution, other forms of revolution throughout the world, and we remain what we are: selfcentered, cruel, all the rest of it. The full excerpt of “The Causes of War” (New York, 1984) can be found at jkrishnamurti.org/teachings along with hundreds of other talks digitally archived by The Krishnamurti Foundation of America.










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Four Far-Flung Adventures story and photos by PERRY VAN HOUTEN

Long summer days provide adventurers with plenty of time to explore trails deep into the Ojai outback. In these remote areas, you’ll need to be selfsufficient and prepared for heat, elevation and a lack of water. All four of the trails described here begin 40 miles or more from Ojai, north of Pine Mountain Summit on Highway 33.



BOULDER CANYON For hikers looking for a new area to explore, Boulder Canyon Trail is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the time and effort. The 5-mile trail can be done as a shuttle from either end, or as an up-and-back from the lower trailhead, but I don’t recommend trying to descend it and then making the strenuous climb back to the top of the mountain. Whichever way you go, you’ll enjoy lovely Pine Mountain scenery and fantastic views of Lockwood Valley and the Cuyama badlands below. Park at the U.S. Forest Service station at Ozena, just south of the Highway 33-Lockwood Valley Road junction. The trail starts just east of the fire station. BEARTRAP CAMP On the north side of 7,000-foot Pine Mountain, in the Sespe Wilderness, Beartrap Camp is named for bear-trapping operations that took place in the area in the late 1800s. The camp is located 5 miles up the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. The moderately strenuous hike to the camp begins at the Reyes Creek Trailhead in the Lockwood Valley area of Ventura County. To reach the trailhead, continue on Highway 33 past Ozena to Lockwood Valley Road. Go another 3 miles to Camp Scheideck Road. Turn onto this narrow, winding road, cross the Cuyama River (normally dry) and drive through the Reyes Creek Campground to the parking area at the Reyes Creek Trailhead.

Left page: the Cuyama badlands, as seen from the trail to Beartrap Camp. Above left: the trailhead to the Boulder Canyon Trail. Top: along the trail to Lilly Meadows. Above: towering sandstone formations above the Rancho Nuevo Trail.



Here’s a far-flung adventure that begins at the foot of one of the highest peaks in Ventura County, 8,822-foot Sawmill Mountain. Lilly Meadows is in the Chumash Wilderness, on a narrow flat along North Fork Lockwood Creek Trail. From Lilly, hardy hikers can continue to an old sheepherder’s camp 6 miles up the trail. The going really gets tough only in the final steep mile to Sheep Camp.

Spanish for “new camp or ranch,” Rancho Nuevo became the new home for members of the Reyes family, which had homesteaded near Ozena. The trail starts at Rancho Nuevo Camp and climbs moderately as it follows the creek into the Dick Smith Wilderness and a pretty canyon, beneath towering sandstone formations. I recommend going only as far as Deal Camp, at about the 2-mile mark.

Drive Highway 33 to Lockwood Valley Road and continue 19 miles to Boy Scout Camp Road, which dead-ends 3 miles up at a locked gate. Park along the shoulder of the road, but don’t block the gate. Average drive time to the trailhead from Ojai is an hour and 45 minutes.

Take Highway 33 past Lockwood Valley Road and look for the signed Rancho Nuevo turnoff on your left. If the road to the camp is closed, you’ll need to park in the flat, shady area just west of the highway and walk approximately 2 miles on the dirt road to the trailhead.



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The hair salon on Signal Street with a history and a future



in a town as rapidly changing as ojai, some things remain the same. the post office bell tolls on the hour, the sunsets stay divine, and 312 north signal street has always been a hair salon. The building was completed in 1968 by Tom and Agnes Montgomery, a husband and wife team who wanted to work together, have lunch together, but still have enough room to maintain their sanity. The front half of the building became Montgomery’s Barber Shop, and the building’s side entrance led into the beauty salon. Their son, Duane, worked as a cosmetologist in the salon until his father’s death, at which point he took over as a barber. In the years since, Duane has retired, and the keys have changed hands to several stylists, but its newest storefront, Bohéme, looks like it’s here to stay. In the summer of 2020, Bohéme was enthusiastically welcomed into the neighborhood, earning the spot of Ojai’s Best Salon in its first year of business. Bohéme’s owner and Ojai native, Jen Keeler, confessed she’d been eyeing the space for

School. In her 20s she had her sights set on the stage and thought she might pursue acting, a profession not hard to imagine with Keeler’s ocean-blue eyes, flawless smile, and bubbly energy. “I loved theater; I met my husband doing a play together. But, I had an acting teacher who said, ‘If you ever find anything else in the world you love, that fills your cup, do that instead,’ and that’s what I’m doing now.” After Keeler made a name for herself in the Los Angeles beauty scene, securing a steady list of high-profile clientele on Melrose, she returned to her hometown to give her daughters the same roots that helped shape her. “I had the most magical childhood here, and I wanted to recreate it for my girls. It’s a total dream come true to watch them grow up where I did, play in the same parks, walk down the same school path my friends and I used to run down when we were kids.” Though Keeler’s plan for Bohéme was years in the making, the opening came with its share of unexpected snags. As COVID-19 swept through the country and California residents entered lockdown, Keeler locked in the lease, unsure when it would be safe to open. “We were told a couple of weeks, but none of us knew back then how long this would last. I decided to use that time to renovate the space and make it our own.”

years before it finally became available. “There’s history in those walls and hair in the floorboards — to me, that makes this place incredibly unique.”

Keeler brought her childhood friend and interior-design powerhouse Lilly Walton on board to help execute her vision. “Jen’s always dreamt of having her own salon, so it was always in the back of our minds that when the time came I’d be right there to help her bring it to life.” Though the pair had been friends since they were 4 years old, there were details of Keeler’s vision Walton couldn’t have known until they stood in the stripped space together. “It was important for Jen to have one big open room for the stylists to work side-by-side, feeding off of each other’s energy. She wanted to be able to kick open the doors with her foot if her hands were full or if her gloves were covered in color. These were things only Jen knew, so I took notes on the details and demands of her job and worked them into the design.” The remodel took six weeks, and Keeler was there with her team every step of the way.

History is important to Keeler, not only Ojai’s history but her own. She grew up in Ojai and graduated from Oak Grove

“This project gave me purpose during the pandemic. It got me out of the house and gave me something to do every day. My



husband was homeschooling the kids, and if I didn’t have the salon, we both would have been at home spiraling out.” Keeler put the pressure on, knowing they had to be ready to open the second the state gave the green light. “Every day we were closed meant time and money lost. So, I made construction my full-time job, taking trips to Home Depot like a madwoman because I wanted us to be ready.”Between all the mandates and changing COVID-19 precautions, Bohéme opened and closed its doors multiple times over the first year of business, shutting down for a total of seven months. “It was so stressful and extremely unsettling because orders were always effective immediately. ‘Closed, effective immediately.’ ‘Open, effective immediately.’ There was no warning for us or our clients; it was such a roller coaster for everyone.” Once the vaccine was approved and COVID-19 cases slowly began to taper off, Bohéme opened its doors for good. “It’s been an intense experience, and there are things we couldn’t prepare for, that we had to learn as we went, like how to hold the elastic of someone’s mask with my pinky while I cut around their ears — they don’t teach that in hair school.” Keeler has managed to face these unexpected hurdles head-on, seemingly unfazed, not an ounce of optimism lost. “But that’s Jen, she is the kind of person who can just roll with whatever comes her way, and not many people can do that,” says Stevi Cervantes, Keeler’s assistant, who is currently building up her own client book to fill her chair. “I worked with Jen at her old salon, and she brought me over with her. It wasn’t a hard decision at all. She’s an amazing boss; I’d follow her wherever.” There’s a strong sense of loyalty with every person in Keeler’s circle, a trust that has been earned and reciprocated. Her clients and colleagues use the same words to describe the energy, grace, and confidence Keeler exudes in every sentence and gesture. It’s no wonder why she has been voted Ojai’s Best Stylist eight years Left page: Tom, Agnes and Duane Montgomery Right page: Jen Keeler, founder of Bohéme Photo: Emma Larkan



in a row. Keeler, ever humble, manages to wrangle the humor out of what has been a heartbreaking couple of years for this community. “It’s been a ride, for sure. Someone will come in, masked, and ask me to cut their hair to their jawline, but I can’t see any jawline because we’re covered up. So, I’ll bring them outside and ask them to flash me their face. Let me show you my smile and you show me yours, and then we’ll get started,” Keeler says, laughing at the absurdity of this new shared reality. The welcome mat out front says, “come as you are,” and the invitation is not only for the clients but also for the Bohéme team. “Normal bosses have their boundaries up, but with Jen, I could go to her with anything happening in my life, and she offers a listening ear without judgment,” says Cervantes.

Photo: Emma Larkan

This salon feels like a sisterhood reminiscent of Steel Magnolias. Stylists hug each other hello and their clients goodbye; they pick up conversations where they left off on the last trim or the last shift. “It feels like she hand-picked us all,” says Ashleigh Zannon, veteran stylist and Keeler’s longtime friend. “We all come from different walks of life, we’re in different stages of life, but Jen is a master networker, a real plugger-inner. She puts people in the room who move together seamlessly.” Keeler was intentional about choosing a team of women she respects. “I don’t have anyone working here that I wouldn’t trust with my own hair,” says Keeler, “All of my stylists have a different area where they shine, but whoever

has three minutes to spare cuts mine.” The familiarity and ease they share are evident the moment you step through that front door; there’s a genuine intimacy that’s hard to capture. “Jen has been wanting this space for years, and it feels like the space wanted her, too,” says Sue Kiel, an Ojai local and Bohéme regular. “She’s created magic here, and you feel it. I trust Jen completely, not only with my hair but with the stories I’ve shared with her — I know her life, and she knows mine.” Many Bohéme clients describe their visits to the salon as “hairapy”, a time to sit down, unload, and leave feeling lighter in every way. “It’s true,” says Keeler, clients share with us more than they share with their therapists.” Each stylist brings connection, openness, and an immediate extension of trust to their clients. “I’m not in the hair business to do hair; I like to make people feel good and bring people joy — I think it’s one of the reasons people open up to me,” says Keeler. “I think it’s also because when they sit down, and they look in the mirror, it’s very self-confronting. Almost always, the first thing out of a woman’s mouth is self-critical. They notice the bags under their eyes or the lines on their neck. They’ll say, ‘oh, I look so tired,’ and that propels them into

talking about what’s going on in their lives, why they’re not sleeping, what’s wearing them down.” If shears could speak, they’d know the stories of every client who has ever sat in these swivel chairs. They’d tell of the carefully curled beach waves and settled nerves before weddings, post-breakup bangs, blowouts meant to embolden women before interviews, and the soft buzzed scalps following a diagnosis. Instead, Keeler is the keeper of those secrets. “Watching Jen build this place has been amazing,” says Zannon. “She’s worked for every penny she’s ever made, she’s earned all of this herself, and her fingerprints are everywhere.” It’s not only Keeler’s fingerprints but the fingerprints of those who have carried her along the way. The Bohéme logo, displayed in the window, is the slanted script of her mother’s handwriting. The music playing on the speaker is from the playlist Keeler’s husband made. The jewelry displayed on floating driftwood comes from designers that Keeler adores and wears herself. Behind the reception desk is a print shot by Keeler’s childhood friend and Ojai-based photographer, Jessie Webster: a simple capture of yellow flowers from a familiar field in Ojai. That framed picture brings together the energy of Bohéme, energy that sends a clear message: Welcome home. www.bohemeojai.com






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Studio TO Stand architecture to honor produce bins by KAREN LINDELL




josie’s gridley trail honor bar is open for business in ojai, and the merchandise is a bargain: 25 cents each, or $1 for five, to purchase pixie tangerines, navel oranges, lemons, grapefruit, or avocados. “or take it if you need it,” a sign says. The fruit is available at a simple but elegantly designed farm stand along Ojai’s Gridley Trail. The handmade vertical wood structure, about the size of a tall bookshelf, houses three black wire baskets filled with produce. Customers, based on the honor system, drop payment into a locked box at the bottom. The farm stand’s daily total? About $5 to $10, mainly in quarters. Architect Sonny Ward and his daughter, Josie, built this honor-system farm stand on his property, the Hermitage Ranch, north of the Gridley trailhead. Hikers and neighbors stop at the stand to sample citrus and avocados grown on the working ranch he shares with his husband, Michael Lombardo, and children Josie and Johnny. “I love seeing bits of orange peel scattered on the ground,” Ward said. Informal farm stands like this one — and not at all like this one, because each has a distinct, homemade look — can be spotted throughout Ojai. Popular in rural areas around the U.S., they are a win-win for everyone: farmers or homeowners who want to share or sell the abundant harvest from their farms, gardens, or orchards, and customers in search of


home-grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, herbs, and plants.

multidisciplinary Agency for Civic Engagement (ACE) program.

Unlike larger roadside stands that peddle local produce, these primitive farm stands aren’t on the main roads around town. They don’t have a cash register or employees. They are built by hand, or might even just be a wheelbarrow with cardboard signage.

Teams of ACE students combine their skills to create real-world projects funded by grants that serve the public good. Centuori, also the co-founder, with her artist husband, of UrbanRock Design in Los Angeles, said the design-build studio class is unique for an architecture school.

Honor farm stands are examples of “vernacular” architecture, loosely defined as everyday or ordinary structures (not necessarily buildings) created with a specific region and local materials in mind. Ward, founder and owner of June Street Architecture in West Hollywood, calls these sorts of farm stands “anti-architecture.” “For me, the architecture is not about the thing you build,” he said. “It’s very much about the experience of making them, and the communication and engagement with community.” Recently, Ward’s farm stand and others around Ojai became teaching tools. In 2021, students at Woodbury University’s architecture school in Burbank designed and built roadside farm stands tailored for Ojai. Ward, who has a bachelor’s degree from and later taught at Woodbury, worked with one of his former teachers there, Jeanine Centuori, to develop the course as part of the school’s

“Normally for a studio project, students design something big on computers, like a museum or an airport,” she said. “This is the complete opposite. They’re designing and actually building something in a single semester, so it has to be small-scale. These are nitty-gritty, real-world projects about trying to effect change at a grassroots level.” Other ACE projects have included an interactive self-guided tour of Watts in South Los Angeles, an outdoor classroom at a middle school in Burbank, and an ADAaccessible wooden deck at a therapeutic horse-riding club. Ward said he and his husband “weren’t looking to be growers” when they bought their ranch in Ojai in 2016. But the property has 50 acres of avocado and citrus trees, and he has happily become a member of Ojai’s agricultural community.

Clayton England with his fresh-look, stackable farm stands.

Photo: Clayton England



Ward, who has brainstormed with Centuori about other ACE projects, wanted to come up with a possible idea for Ojai that fit ACE’s mission. He and Centuori spent time driving around Meiners Oaks and the east end of Ojai, looking for vernacular structures. They decided small-town fruit stands could be an interesting design project for ACE students that might also help the Ojai community.

A field trip to Ojai transformed the students’ understanding of what might make the most functional stand. They visited Ward’s ranch and learned about the history of Ojai from local farmers and farmhands, then toured the town and observed farm stands to notice traits such as angled shelves, to get a better view of the produce, and fewer moving parts, to prevent injuries.

Farm stands “are really a cultural object,” Centuori said. “They’re very ad hoc — some cute, some crude — and put together by non-designers. We were interested in what design students could add.”

Of the four projects, only one, created by students Clayton England and Garo Klian, truly ended up executing Ward and Centuori’s vision of a simple farm stand.

“I love the studio of the everyday — glorifying everyday objects,” Ward said. “Someone put all this love in this object that honors these local communities. We teach students to admire and honor whatever the culture and values are of the community.” Four teams of students in the class, when coming up with initial designs, were overly ambitious and made their structures too “cumbersome and complicated,” Centuori said. Ward was more blunt: “They were Transformer-esque,” he said. “They opened up in 10 different ways. They were topheavy, with lots of places for little kids to get their fingers caught, and Rube Goldberg-ish, with cables and complicated ways to make them work.” Centuori challenged the students by asking, “Why do you need all of that? Put yourself in the mindset of growers.”

England and Klian built four A-frame stackable stands with angled shelves for displaying produce. They are labeled with the words “Ojai,” “Eats,” “Farm,” and “Fresh,” capable of creating a full sentence when all together, or functioning as separate words on their own. Each has a money box and chalkboard surfaces for writing.

actually went on sale at Wachter’s Hay & Grain, with proceeds going to the students. Ward and Centuori were also impressed with a stand created by students Nicholas Haddad, June Lee, and Minn Maung that was less functional but aesthetically beautiful. Haddad, who plans to make high-end furniture after he graduates, had never seen farm stands like the ones in Ojai. “I was used to seeing hot dog carts, ice cream stands, or those carts where people take watermelon and other fruit and put Tajín on it, but that’s about all the knowledge I had,” he said. Although the assignment was to design a roadside stand, he and his team “weren’t interested in something as typical as a standard produce cart,” Haddad said.

Visiting Ojai was incredibly valuable, England said, and helped the students realize “our ideas had to be a lot simpler.” He also got a strong sense of Ojai’s visual aesthetic. He and Klian wanted to create a mobile stand that could be easily manipulated and also thought carefully about the color palette, choosing citrus hues for background colors and lavender lettering influenced by items grown in Ojai. Their A-frame stands stayed in Ojai, and

Clayton England and Garo Klian in their studio design class at Woodbury University. Photo: Clayton England


“We wanted something bold that would intricately redefine one.” Their stand features panels made from cedar using a Japanese technique called shou sugi ban. The procedure, which scorches

the planks, protects the cedar from sun, water, bugs, and mold. Centuori said the cedar stand “had some nice features, but it was a little too delicate with too many moving parts, a Pandora’s box with things sliding and tilting, which made it challenging from a functional perspective.” Although the stand is too heavy to take to Ojai, Haddad’s team is proud that it will


still be put to good use at Woodbury University, displayed and used for distributing campus-grown avocados and other produce to students. England plans to graduate in May and start work at a large architecture firm. Although he’s more likely to end up designing buildings, libraries, and religious spaces than roadside stands, England said the project taught him the importance of visiting the community where an architecture project will be built. Meanwhile, look out for a yellow, orange, or green farm stand somewhere along the side of the road that says “Ojai,” “Eats,” “Farm,” or “Fresh.”







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Oomph Inc. Rethinking the Internet in Ojai: A Conversation with CEO Cristiano Bettler


when tech entrepreneur cristiano bettler needed to pick a headquarters location for oomph inc., a media start-up with no less revolutionary a mandate than reimagining the way the internet works, a pin dropped in the map of his mind: the ojai valley Son of a Swiss father and Mexican mother, Bettler was raised between what he calls “the beautiful chaos of Mexico City” and “the extreme calm of the Swiss Alps.” He eventually made his way to Malibu for an undergraduate degree in international business at Pepperdine before finding early success developing marketing strategies for Air France, Puma, Hurley, and Mezcal Unión. Next came a decade producing such documentaries as The End Of Poverty (an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival), Shadow Of Afghanistan, and Down To Earth (one of Europe’s highestgrossing documentaries), as well as distributing the environmental films of Sundance Film Festival-award-winning directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell. After connecting dozens of social-impact films with their audiences around the world, crisscrossing the globe for production and sales and attending media markets from Venice to Berlin to Park City, Bettler became an industry expert in the distribution of filmed content and the calculus of which stories work where. But for his new company, a labor of love that would turbocharge his professional ambition with his personal philosophy, the “where” had to match the “why”. And the “why” of Oomph Inc. is that it’s a disruptive streaming platform built to align content with consciousness and make the online media landscape a psychologically sustainable environment. In short: Bettler needed to base Oomph in a place where “consciousness” was not a dirty word, not even in the context of a for-profit entertainment service. Ojai, the Shangri-La of California, fit the bill. Long a destination for the splendor of its mountains, the charm of its farmers’ markets, and its one-of-a-kind open-air bookstore, the town named after the local Chumash people’s word for “moon” is perhaps best known for a nurturing spirit of place that Bettler believed would infuse the dayto-day work on his mighty project to rethink the internet.



the movies, series, concerts, and video art pieces that will stream on Oomph, as well as for quick access to the Santa Barbara Airport’s flights to Mexico City, where he travels once a month for old-school face time with Oomph’s team of coders. Not to mention that Oomph’s CTO, the legendary technologist and NASA Technology Of The Year Award Winner (1994), John Schewel, loves to visit the Bettlers in their new locale. Schewel’s clients include the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, MIT, and NASA itself … but a trip to Ojai, he’s known to quip, is “more perk than work.” About Schewel as a hire, Bettler confides: “I heard more than once that it was insane bringing in a 65-year-old Chief Technology Officer, that age 50 is already over-the-hill in the tech space. But that attitude is exactly why we’re so mentally upside-down right now in the digital world. Is it any wonder we’re all trapped in a gimmicky, childish online experience when the consciousness that built it is literally childish — and gimmicky for lack of life experience? With our CTO, Oomph has a systems architect who brings a depth and breadth of experiential tools to the job of reflecting humanity back at our users. He’s not a kid playing with his own toys while failing to understand anyone else’s deeper needs. Which, I’m sorry to say, reminds me of Mark Zuckerberg’s mantra: ‘Move fast and break things. If you’re not breaking stuff, you’re not moving fast enough.’ But I think in the year 2022 we now have all the proof we need that speed for its own sake — let alone breaking things along the way, like a user’s spirit, or a previously balanced state of mind — is not a path forward.”

Bettler’s creative partner and wife, environmentalist and acclaimed mantra singer Erin Breech, seconded the sentiment. So they packed up and left Los Angeles with their 4-year-old son, Lucan, moving in 2019 to Ojai’s East End. It’s proven the perfect location to incubate a business that’s equal parts commerce and community, science and spirituality, technology and entertainment. And the ideal new home for the now 6-year-old Lucan to do his birding before breakfast and take his Taekwondo class after school.

Hearing Bettler expound on his mission with both passion and clarity, it’s no surprise that Oomph is aiming to replace the toxic success of the internet as it’s currently constituted with a new digital architecture, one that succeeds because it improves the user experience without numbing the user’s senses. Bettler even mentions the digital pandemic that coexists with the physical pandemic but that’s much less discussed: doomscrolling, the increasingly common act of spending too much time consuming negative news online, and the resulting psychophysiological damage it causes. (Doomscrolling being the corollary, he says, to clicking on empty headlines and fragmented content designed to hijack our attention and override our intuition.)

“There’s nothing wrong with living in paradise as a base of operations,” Bettler says, “as long as you’re mindful of how lucky you are and that it’s not the norm in this world.” From the gorgeous ranch they’ve rented in the East End—featuring the airy modernism of a main house bracketed by a pine-paneled bungalow cum-homeoffice and an 1890s stone cottage used as a recording studio—Bettler and Breech have created a magical blend of family and work life. It doesn’t hurt that Ojai has neatly situated Bettler for ease of travel to L.A., where he drives twice a week to negotiate licensing deals for

The cure, he argues, is to deliver content tailored to nourish rather than distract each individual user content aligned with each user’s moods and intentions, content that resonates with and empowers the user every step of the way, whether with pure entertainment like the right movie, or relevant snippets from a documentary, or even a musical moodscape if that’s what’s needed at the moment. This, he explains, is what Oomph’s next-gen “harmonic resonance technology” has been designed to do: to counteract what Bettler calls the “system-wide failure in the digital space to strengthen human beings




Left to right: Lee Waterworth, John Schewel, Erin Breech, Cristiano Bettler - back right: Jose Antonio Ortega. Photo by: Mark Pancis


with customized content good for one person at a time and no one else.” Which is probably why Bettler’s company is being hit up with dozens of requests for collaborations, both from young content creators and rising brands hungry for stronger, more lasting and meaningful connections to users, as well as from more established entities like the Buckminster Fuller Institute, legacy of the famed 20th-century inventor and visionary who’s best known to the general public for creating the geodesic dome. The partnership between Oomph and BFI will, per the mission statement of BFI itself, “seek to inspire and support a new generation of design science pioneers — and expose today’s leaders to the conceptual models and tools necessary to design a future that works for 100% of life, without ecological offense.” There’s a philanthropic component to Oomph that also fits with the Ojai ethos. If, as a creator, you post a piece of socially impactful content on the platform that goes viral, not only will you be rewarded with Oomph crypto tokens yourself, but a percentage will go directly to the cause that your content aligns with. For instance, if your video brilliantly captures a surfer performing an aerial, tokens will go to an organization dedicated to cleaning the oceans of plastic trash. That’s how the platform intends to build a bridge between the digital and natural worlds, giving users the tools to make a positive impact on the planet.

“There’s nothing wrong with living in paradise as a base of operations ...” Bettler winds up our interview in his go-to spot for coffee, The Dutchess on Ojai Avenue, by paraphrasing Steve Jobs, who predicted before his death that the winner of the digital race will be whoever cracks the code of truly effective content discovery by providing an integrated, trustworthy, immersive experience that’s deeply personalized to each user’s preferences. Which is exactly Oomph’s mission, Bettler points out, sounding every bit the driven visionary himself. “My team and I are motivated and guided every day by our founding philosophy,” he says, “which is to humanize while we optimize the digital-to-user connection.” Walking to our cars, I ask Bettler if he’s headed back to the office. He shakes his head. Turns out he’s taking the afternoon off from Oomphing the internet to go hike Fox Canyon Trail with his son. Find out more at www.oomph.tv Filmmaker and author John Huddles’s fantasy novel of spiritual exploration, Asha Of The Air, was published on April 2nd. www.AshaOfTheAir.com. A part-time Ojai resident, Huddles’s next film is set in town and will shoot in the Ojai Valley in early 2023.









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Best of Ojai Winners 2015-2021






IT WAS THE WINTER OF 1976 — GERALDINE’S AND PATTY’S DOG-FOOD BOWLS WERE KEPT ON OUR SCREENEDIN FRONT PORCH THAT HAD A DOGGIE DOOR LEADING OUT TO THE FENCED SIDE YARD OF OUR PARK RANGER RESIDENCE AT MATILIJA LAKE PARK. A SET OF FRENCH DOORS WITH THREE BIG PANES EACH LEAD OUT FROM THE DINING ROOM TO THE PORCH. My wife and I noticed that the dried food in the dog bowls was disappearing rather quickly. Geraldine and Patty were keeping their slim figures, so we figured the wood rats were hauling off the food to their nests. But, we began hearing something out on the porch in the evenings. Wood rats couldn’t possibly be making much noise. We kept trying to see what it was, but by the time we would get to the doors, the porch would be vacant. The thefts happened every evening, and we kept going to the doors for a look. Well, after about two to three weeks, the robbers must have gotten somewhat used to us rushing to the doors, because we could finally see it was a mama raccoon and her three youngins. After a few nights of viewing, I left one door open with the screendoor closed. The raccoons let us look at them through the screendoor, and we were able to get a better view of this little family now. We noticed that Mama’s front right foot was in the stages of healing from a pretty severe injury. She was missing three toes, but she couldn’t let that deter her from finding food for her kits. She must have known that dog food was being served each evening at our home. The evening dining under our watch of the little bandits went on for a few months. Mama’s foot healed and the

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

kits had grown. Mama kept coming, but her kits struck off alone. We figured that Mama would, eventually, go back completely to her wild ways too. Wrong! She really enjoyed that dried dog food. I decided I’d like to have Mama come into our home. So, I locked the dogs in my bedroom — they enjoyed sleeping on a comfy human’s bed anyhow. I opened a French door and its screen-door. After a few evenings, Mama began coming into our dining room and into the kitchen that was off to its right. I dig pistachio nuts. One night, I was eating them. Mama came to me and sat up on her rear haunches and begged for a nut. She couldn’t get enough of them! She’d place her paws on my paw when she took the nut which, of course, I had to unshell. Mama loved tugging on one of my old socks while holding it between her teeth and growling loudly while I yanked on the other end of the sock. It was a fun game for her. It was a fun game for me too — Hey, I had to find ways to entertain myself because there was no television reception in Matilija Canyon. Mama and I bonded. She would let me pet her. I never attempted to pick Mama up. After all, she was a wild critter.


Mama would come to dine every night, then come inside our home for a visit. This went on for several months. We noticed that Mama would never go into our home further than the dining room and kitchen. Finally, my light bulb came on (No kiddin’ — it does sometimes!) and I knew why Mama had never gone through the dining room into the living room. I told my wife that when Mama came to dine and visit that night she would explore the rest of the inside of our home too. My wife asked how I knew so. I told her to just wait and see. Mama came, dined, then went right through the dining room into the living room, back bedroom, and bathroom. My wife was amazed. She asked me how in tarnation I knew Mama would make a change. I told her that since Mama had been coming inside it had been winter, and we always had the fireplace burning. Mama was a wild critter and fire was a danger to her. So, that evening I had not built a fire. Mama felt comfortable enough to explore our dwelling. In fact, Mama got so comfortable that she’d come every evening to dine and come inside. We had an old couch with a hole in its bottom lining. Mama would go under the couch, then climb up through the hole into the couch where she’d fall fast asleep for a few hours. When we went to bed, I’d have to tip the couch back and forth to wake Mama. Then, she would go back outdoors. After a few more months, Mama quit visiting us. We hoped that it was just because her paw had completely healed and she no longer required our hospitality.

at the ranger residence



Capturing carbon through soils and plants! A vibrant, healthy garden can be yours - We can make it so!


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

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

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

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

Thank you for voting for us!

• Hazardous tree & stump removal • Tree pruning & maintenance

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


(805) 646-9484





SEA FRESH SEAFOOD Seafood - Steak - Sushi

Serving Breakfast Saturday and Sunday 8AM-11AM Heated Patio - Full Bar


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






Eating with the season



Summer Robin Goldstein, chef and author of A Taste of Ojai cookbooks, shares inspiration for summer


ummer entertaining is my favorite kind of gathering — relaxed, laid-back, and casual. I love assembling a group of friends for an informal reunion. Throw on a few patterned tablecloths, large tea towels for napkins, and a variety of colorful bowls to bring a showy display to a long, weathered outdoor table. Aside from the decor, I let the menu do the decorating; the food is always my favorite part of a get-together. Prep items in advance and keep things simple so you can enjoy yourself — e.g., with a specialty cocktail for everyone to help themselves and some yummy shrimp kebabs with this Moroccaninspired Chermoula Sauce. Add some grilled veggies or salad and a great loaf of bread and you are set! CHERMOULA SAUCE Traditionally paired with fish or seafood, this chermoula sauce is a delightful mix of fresh herbs, earthy spices, and salty preserved lemon. Makes about 2 cups

1 teaspoon cumin seed 1 cup parsley leaves 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems 3 cloves peeled garlic 1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) 2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon rind 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice ½ cup olive oil 1 teaspoon harissa chili paste (or your favorite hot sauce) ½ teaspoon sea salt

Sprinkle the cumin seeds in a skillet and toast them over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, 1–2 minutes, being careful not to burn. Set aside. In the bowl of a food processor (or in a mortar and pestle), place the parsley, cilantro, garlic, pimentón, preserved lemon, lemon juice, olive oil, chili paste, and sea salt, along with the toasted cumin. Blend or grind until smooth. Be sure to taste and adjust seasoning as needed (note that preserved lemons are salty). Add more olive oil, if necessary, until the sauce becomes a loose, pesto-like consistency. Store the chermoula sauce, covered, in a nonreactive glass jar. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use chermoula as a marinade for fish or seafood, or toss onto vegetables before roasting or grilling.

SHRIMP KEBABS Makes 4 kebabs ½ cup good quality olive oil ½ cup white wine 2 cloves minced garlic 1 teaspoon dried oregano ¼ teaspoon crushed red chile, optional 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped ½ teaspoon sea salt freshly ground pepper 20 large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined 4–8” bamboo skewers, soaked in warm water for at least ½ hour Mix the marinade ingredients and toss together with shrimp in a medium bowl. Thread 5 shrimp on each skewer; continue with the remaining shrimp. Place them in a flat dish. Pour any remaining marinade over skewers. Allow to sit and marinate for at least one hour, or up to 8 hours. Grill or broil the kebabs over medium heat until cooked through and pink. Serve with chermoula sauce on the side.







Wine Tasting



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

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





Manson member to Ojai teacher TEENAGERS OFTEN MAKE POOR CHOICES. THE NEED FOR INDEPENDENCE, OR FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD, UNLOVED, OR MORE GROWN-UP THAN MOST ARE A FEW REASONS THAT MOTIVATE SOME TO LEAVE HOME EARLY. These factors were at play for 14-year-old Dianne Lake in 1967. Her beatnik-turnedhippie parents had sold their Santa Monica home and moved into a trailer they parked in various locations. When Dianne asked for emancipation, they wrote a note giving her permission to live on her own. So off she went with an older boyfriend to San Francisco. After all, it was the Summer of Love, and Haight-Ashbury was the hottest youth spot in the world. Growing disillusioned, Dianne returned to Southern California to find her parents parked at Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm in Tujunga. There, she met a couple who took her to Topanga Canyon and the infamous house called the Spiral Staircase. When Dianne entered the house, many girls and young men called out her name, knew who she was, and welcomed her. Showered with kindness, Dianne felt she’d found the loving family where she belonged.

Unbeknownst to Dianne, this group had visited the Hog Farm. Dianne’s parents gave them her photo and asked if they might find her while in San Francisco. They didn’t, but all instantly recognized her when she walked into the Topanga house. Dianne met everyone, including their leader, Charlie Manson, who welcomed the teenager to his “family.” “It’s like I felt all of this love coming at me,” said Dianne over lunch in March 2022. “They welcomed me with joy, made me feel comfortable, and that I was an important part of their family.” She happily settled right in, became a family member, and began an adventure that few escaped from with their sanity or freedom. Looking back 40 years later, the exploits she experienced reveal a side of the counterculture shared by few. The rugged lifestyle of moving from one location to another — from Spahn Ranch, to the Bel Air home of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, to Death Valley — showed the extremes normalized in Charlie’s world. And large doses of drugs fueled their chaotic lifestyle. “Dennis Wilson would give us girls some money to go buy food,” Dianne said. “We’d pile into his Rolls-Royce and go dumpster


diving behind the grocery stores, selecting items from the store’s trash and filling the car’s trunk. Then we’d return to cook it into a feast.” Dennis showed an interest in Charlie’s music and wanted to help him. However, according to Dianne, the stories of Charlie wanting to be a rock star are wrong. “Charlie wanted people to hear and follow the messages in his music and share them,” she said. “He didn’t want to be just a rock star.” Many versions exist of why Charles Manson sent family members to kill the people living on Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills that fateful summer night in 1969. (Actress Sharon Tate, writer Wojciech Frykowski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s gardener.) However, we do know they took the lives of five innocent people on August 8, and two more the following night. Dianne learned of the murders from one of the girls after it had happened, when the family packed up and moved to Barker Ranch in Death Valley. There, Manson began preparations for the great race war in which he would be asked to be the world’s savior. In Inyo County, Dianne, Charlie, and other family members were arrested and jailed for






set in. She lost herself in reading and found “The Sun Is My Undoing” by Marguerite Steen. That book became her lifeline, along with a comment she overheard from one of the jail’s matrons saying how sad it was that the young girls would never be able to make something of themselves. Soon the whole group was transferred to Los Angeles County for the Tate murders. On Monday, December 8, 1969, Dianne took control of her life. In her book, coauthored by Deborah Herman, member of the Manson Family, she recounts: “When I was brought before the grand jury, the bailiff asked for my name. I truly do not know what came over me at this moment that changed the course of my future. I answered, ‘My real name is Dianne Lake. I am only 16 years old, and I want my mommy!’” Her life had changed, and she testified at Manson’s trial, even though the experience was traumatic. Manson “family members” and wannabes hunted her. Then, a guardian angel appeared in her life, Jack Gardiner, her arresting officer from Inyo. He and his wife became Dianne’s foster parents. She moved into their home, returned to high school, and eventually graduated from college with a master’s degree. The Gardiners became the rock and loving support she had always craved. And she buried her years with Manson. Only Todd, her husband, knew the truth. Not until CNN aired a story in 2008 about buried bodies at Barker Ranch did Dianne tell her children of her past. After Todd died in 2014, her deep religious faith pulled her through. Part of that recovery was coming to grips with her life with Manson, which she did by writing her book.

Previous page: “Head of the Family”, Charlie Manson with 10th-grader, Dianne Lake (inset) Top: Dianne with her “Guardian Angel”, Jack Gardiner Above: In custody in Ventura Right: “Member Of The Family”, Dianne Lake’s Memoir of her time with the Manson Family Right: Dianne the Ojai school teacher photo: Dianne Lake

destroying government property. Previously, the group had been arrested in Ventura County. The Inyo sheriff took Ventura County’s word that Dianne was 18, so she stayed for two months in one large cell with all the women while Charlie and the men were in another. Incarceration was an eye-opening experience for her. The time in jail cleared the massive doses of LSD from her system, and reality

Published in 2016, “Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties” describes Dianne’s many escapades with the Manson “Family” in searing detail. She shows how a messianic figure like Manson could take control of minds, bend people to his will, and even make them murder. Dianne offers the following advice to any young person who might have made a wrong turn or met the wrong people: “There is always hope. You can break away and find a good life.”


We’ll get you there! From and to: For Just $1.50!


Ojai, Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte ADA, Medicare Card Holders, and Seniors 65-74 are 1/2 price. Seniors 75 and over, and children under 45” tall are FREE riders on the Trolley

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

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

408 South Signal Street, Ojai, CA 93024 Phone (805) 272 3883 • E-mail: transit@ojai.ca.gov • www.ojaitrolley.com



Thank You For Voting For Us!

Ojai Valley’s Original Mexican Restauant

Best Taco

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Family Owned since 1985

Open Daily for Breakfast & Lunch 8am - 2pm Closed Wednesdays 891 Ventura Ave., Oak View 805.649.9595 715 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai 805.640.1577 Casadelagoinc.com


We have answers to your Medicare questions. We help you with Medicare. Let us help at no cost to you. 1211 Maricopa Hwy, Ste 222, Ojai, CA 93023 www.LT-ins.com To schedule an appointment with a licensed insurance agent, please call

Lyn Thomas, CA License #0D96309 at 805-646-6409 Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm

Lyndon Thomas Insurance is a California licensed insurance agency working with Medicare beneficiaries to explain Medicare Supplement, Prescription Drug Programs, and Medicare Advantage Plan options.

Locally owned and operated • 25+ years experience • Bonded and insured




Summer 2022

Porch Gallery, Shana Mabari: Oceans Exhibit through May 23

May canvas and paper Ivon Hitchens: flowers May 19 – July 17 311 North Montgomery St. Open: Thurs. – Sun., Noon – 5 p.m. Free admission. canvasandpaper.org A nonprofit exhibition space showing paintings and drawings from the 20th century and earlier in thematic and single artist exhibits. Potrero John Creek Nature Hike Led by Lanny Kaufer May 22 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.; $45 Register at www.HerbWalks.com or call 805-646-6281 Porch Gallery — Shana Mabari: Oceans Exhibit through May 23. 310 E. Matilija St., Ojai. www.porchgalleryojai.com 45th Annual Art in the Park May 28-29, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Libbey Park 210 S. Signal St., Ojai Ojai Historical Walking Tours May 28, 10:30 a.m. Ojai Valley Museum 130 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 805-640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org Tickets: Adult $10; Family $25. Learn about Ojai’s unique history on a 90-minute tour led by Docent Cricket Twichell. Mountains 2 Beach Marathon May 29, 6 a.m. Downtown Ojai mountains2beachmarathon.com 26.2 mile marathon beginning in Ojai and ends at Ventura Beach.

June 17th Ojai Valley Century Bike Ride Fundraiser June 4, 6:30 a.m. Topa Mountain Winery 821 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai www.ojaivalleycentury.org Ojai Blues Fest 2022 June 4, 2 - 9 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai Visit www.ojaiartcenter.org for tickets and info. Tickets $30 Ojai Sessions at Ojai Art Center June 5, 11 a.m. -1 p.m. 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai in the Raymund Room. Contact Robin Riley for info. at 805-252-5361

Calendar 2022 Virtual Wildfire Speaker Series: Understanding Insurance and Wildfire. June 7, 6 - 7 p.m. RSVP Required Speakers: State Farm Insurance, CA Dept. of Insurance andyspyrka.vcrcd@gmail.com 805-764-5135 76th Annual Ojai Music Festival June 9 – 12. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai 805-646-2053 www.ojaifestival.org Summer Solstice Nature Hike on Pine Mountain Led by Lanny Kaufer June 18, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m Tickets, $45 Register at www.HerbWalks.com or call 805-646-6281 34th Annual Ojai Wine Festival June 18, 12 - 4 p.m. Lake Casitas Recreation Area 11093 Santa Ana Rd. Ventura 800-648-4881, Tickets: visit www.ojaiwinefestival.com “The Music Man” June 24 - July 24, Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m; Sun., 2 p.m. Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai www.OACT.org Ojai Valley Lavender Festival June 25, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Libbey Bowl, 210 S. Signal St., Ojai ojaivalleylavenderfestival.org Admission & parking are free.

July 4th of July in Ojai Free Concert July 3, 6 p.m. at Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai 4thofjulyinojai.com 4th of July in Ojai Parade and Fireworks Show July 4 - 10 a.m. - Parade along Ojai Av; 5:30 p.m. (Gates open) – Fireworks show at Nordhoff High School www.4thofjulyinojai.com 2022 Virtual Wildfire Speaker Series: Wildfire Prevention Efforts July 5, 6 - 7 p.m. RSVP Required andyspyrka.vcrcd@gmail.com 805-764-5135 Silence Day Open House July 10, 12 - 5 p.m. Meher Mount RSVP to: mehermount.org 9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd., Ojai Free open house event in honor of Avatar Meher Baba and Silence Day. Surf Rodeo July 15, 10 a.m. - Jul. 17, 8 p.m. Ventura Pier, Ventura 805-628-9083 Tickets: www.surfrodeo.com www.ticketsauce.com surfrodeofestival@gmail.com Oingo Boingo Former Members July 16, Doors 5 p.m. Headliner 7 p.m. Libbey Bowl, 210 S. Signal St., Ojai. Buy tickets at www.ticketmaster.com

The Zombies July 22, Doors 5 p.m. Headliner 7:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl 210 S. Signal St., Ojai Chubb Rock, Special Ed, Monie Love, Dana Dane & Kwame July 23. Doors 5 p.m. Show 6:30 p.m. Libbey Bowl, 210 S. Signal St., Ojai. Tickets from www.ticketmaster.com 27th Ventura Music Festival July 29-31. Ventura College Performing Arts Center 4700 Loma Vista Rd., Ventura. 805-648-3146 www.venturamusicfestival.org

August Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers Aug. 5. Door 5 p.m. Headliner 7 p.m. Libbey Bowl, 210 S. Signal St., Ojai Tickets from www. ticketmaster.com Mark Farner American Band Aug. 6, Door 5 p.m. Headliner 7 p.m. Libbey Bowl. 210 S. Signal St., Ojai. Tickets from www. ticketmaster.com 27th Ventura Music Festival Aug. 5-7, Ventura College Performing Arts Center, 4700 Loma Vista Rd., Ventura. 805648-3146 www.venturamusicfestival.org Ojai Playwrights 25th Anniversary Conference New Works Festival Aug. 7-14, Zalk Theater at Besant Hill School, Ojai. 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd. 805-633-1170 www.ojaiplays.org info@ojaiplays.org

ONGOING Ojai Community Farmers’ Market Thursdays 3-7 p.m. 414 E Ojai Ave., Chaparral School Courtyard, Downtown Ojai 661-491-0257 ojaicommunityfarmersmarket.com Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market Sundays 9 a.m. -1 p.m. 300 E. Matilija St., Ojai. 805-698-5555 Ojaicertifiedfarmersmarket.com Ojai Poetry Series at the Ojai Library 3rd Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Ojai Library, 111 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Contact: Judy Oberlander ojaipoetryseries@gmail.com





Downtown Ojai Art Tour The City of Ojai has over 40 works of public art represented in four Public Art Tours. This self-guided walking Downtown Tour starts at Cluff Vista Park and goes through Libbey Park, the Arcade Plaza, and onto Matilija Street.

Downtown Tour brochures are available at the Ojai Valley Museum. Docent-led tours available by advance appointment 9a.m. - 10:30 a.m. $10 per person. Contact Ojai City 805-646-5581 x 103. For more information: www.artsojai.org/ downtown-tour


A: CLUFF VISTA PARK A-1: West End Guardian Spirit: Standing sentinel at the entrance to the park on the west end is a tall basalt column by master stoneworker Paul Lindhard. A-2: Corona de Robles: Under the park’s pergolas, Corona de Robles (Crown of Oaks) oak branches and leaves hand-forged out of stone, copper, and wood, was designed by metal artist Jan Sanchez. A-3: Overlook Circle Fountain: Overlook Circle Fountain by Paul Lindhard symbolizes the sun with an

omphalos stone in the middle of the fountain. A-4: Trail of Discovery: A map displays the impressions of leaves, fossils, reptiles, birds and other animal tracks that can be seen scattered throughout the park. A-5: East End Guardian Spirit: By Paul Lindhard, a basalt column with an onyx cap and fiber-optic lights stands at the end of the park. B: THE OJAI VALLEY MUSEUM COURTYARD B-6: Museum Side Gates: Crafted of hand-forged steel by artist

Doug Lochner, the side gates are a four-panel bi-fold design echoing the “river of life” curves found in the museum’s carved-wood entry doors. B-7: Condor and Youth Soaring for Freedom: A sculpture carved by Carlyle Montgomery from Belgian limestone and red serpentine. Montgomery passed away in 1998 and his artist friends helped complete the piece. B-8: Mountain Dreamer: Ojai artist Dennis Shives conceived the idea of the sleeping brown bear. Roger Embury of Rock & Water Creations manufactured the fiberglass-reinforced concrete sculpture.


B-9: Museum Entry Gates: Doug Lochner’s two-panel, hand-forged steel gates reflect several architectural elements of the museum, including the arched tower, main doors, and plaster relief above.


C: THE OJAI VALLEY LIBRARY C-10: California Quail: A large tiled mural of a California quail highlights the library’s west wall. The mural, by artist Viqui McCaslin, a Yaqui Indian, transports the viewer from city life to nature. C-11: Charlotte’s Chair: Inside the library at the end of the east corridor is a door leading outside to “The Secret Garden.” Ceramist Merilee Eaton created Charlotte’s Chair in memory of Charlotte Bronstein, an accomplished actress, film director, and storyteller.


D-13: Trimpin Sound Arch: Internationally acclaimed artist Trimpin was chosen for his 12-foot-high Sound Arch that visually echoes the curved arch of the bowl. The arch “sounds’’ by means of a motion-activated sensor. Percussive sequences are chimed on 24 reclaimed metal tubes of varying lengths. The Sound Arch can be preprogrammed by musicians performing at the Bowl to play a specific theme. Also, a phone app allows passersby to choose a tune from a select list. (Look for instructions on the base’s bronze plaque.)


traditionally styled clothes reflect the Chumash Native Americans. A chocolate kiss serves as a hat that represents the sweetness of Ojai. The artist tells us that if you rub the little gold button on her purse, it will bring you good luck. E-16: Elliot the Bear: A pedestal at the east end of the Arcade features a COR-TEN steel sculpture of a bear that lumbered its way into downtown Ojai and climbed a tree on the corner of Aliso and Ventura Avenue. Eventually the bear was tranquilized, causing it to fall from the tree and suffer an injury. It was euthanized. Mark Benkert, a metal sculptor who owns the property where Elliot took refuge, forged a memorial


E. THE OJAI ARCADE E-14: Matilija Poppy Fountain: Awardwinning artist Sandra Kay Johnson created the centerpiece of the Arcade with the petals cast in bronze and welded to a stainless steel base.

piece. It features a mirror image of the words “A Hard Day’s Night.”


D: LIBBEY PARK D-12: Fun for All: In the playground, Doug Lochner’s three pieces: a cast concrete lizard, a lady-bug, and an archway reminiscent of children’s building blocks.

D-12 E-15: Early Bird Shopper: On a rock base near the rear entrance to the plaza stands a cast-bronze sculpture by iconic Ojai artist Sylvia Raz. A playful interpretation of an eagle honors the bird life in the valley, while


E-17: EVO-3: In front of Sane Living Center, EVO-3, a seamless stainless-steel sculpture sloping from a height of 8 to 4 feet, takes the form of a question mark lying on its side. A compass represents the question mark’s dot under which a time capsule is buried. Envisioned by Sane Living Center developer Aubrey Balkind and public artist Ray Cirino.




F I R E S T I C K P OT T E RY Creative Workspace Open to Public

Open 10-6 daily 1804 E. Ojai Ave 805-272-8760

Gallery Workshops Pottery Parties Free tours





805.640.1656 • www.NutmegsOjaiHouse.com •


Beautiful Smiles, Naturally.



Lance Grant, DMD | Mark Weiser, DDS

Cosmetic and Biological Dentists 1511 State Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101 805-899-3600 | santabarbaradds.com

photo courtesy Jennifer Pastiloff




If Jennifer Pastiloff has a superpower, it’s that she can make anyone feel important

“SO MANY OF US GROW UP BELIEVING WE HAVE TO ACCOMPLISH X, Y, OR Z BEFORE OUR LIVES MATTER. I HATE THAT; I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THEY MATTER RIGHT NOW. YOU MATTER. I MATTER, WITHOUT THE X, Y OR Z,” SAID PASTILOFF, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ON BEING HUMAN: A MEMOIR OF WAKING UP, LIVING REAL, AND LISTENING HARD. When the hybrid memoir, self-help book debuted in 2019, it immediately found a following as loyal and enthusiastic as Pastiloff herself. Fans promoted the book across social media platforms, from award-winning singer-songwriter Pink, to actress turned author Lena Dunham, to journalist and activist Katie Couric. It is no surprise that Pastiloff’s writing speaks to so many. With each chapter, she lifts the veil on some of life’s most difficult challenges: depression, anxiety, mental illness, and disordered eating. Pastiloff writes unflinchingly about the grief and guilt of losing a loved one. Not once does she shy away from sharing the hardship of living with invisible disabilities, like hearing loss, something Pastiloff has experienced since she was a child. No subject is taboo, and because Pastiloff chooses to write into her feelings than run from them, readers around the world feel connected to her story, many finding relief in her message: I didn’t like who I was and I didn’t want to be alive, but now I love who I am, an I want to be alive. Pastiloff isn’t just living; she’s thriving — and bringing everyone with her. Last summer, she left Santa Monica with her husband Robert and their 5-year-old son, finally ready to make a home in Ojai, a town she has long called her happy place.


“I came here for the first time in 2008 for a retreat, and then I just kept coming back,” Pastiloff said. “I fell in love with how I felt here, like my body could relax, like I was coming home.” Ojai has long been attractive to creatives and spiritual seekers. With the pandemic came a new wave of residents searching for the kind of peace they didn’t realize was so necessary or accessible until the first COVID-19 shutdown. “So many people said to me, ‘Ojai either welcomes you in or spits you out,’” Pastiloff said. “Well, Ojai couldn’t have welcomed me more. I’ve found my people here, and the house I live in now was the first and only house I’ve ever looked at in my life. I know I was meant to be here.” People often describe Pastiloff as “someone you have to meet.” Those lucky enough to have shared space with Pastiloff have left feeling seen, known, and a little worthier of the life they’re trying to build for themselves. “It’s like the six degrees of Jen Pastiloff,” said Venius Adams, a fashion designer and founder of Turbans by Venius. “I had a dozen people tell me I had to meet her before I ever stepped foot into her workshop. When we finally met, I immediately loved her. Her transparency and her realness cross all boundaries. And because Jen is so fully herself, it invites you to be whoever you are, flaws and all.” Pastiloff doesn’t hold back from showcasing the messiness of her life on social media. Her feed isn’t curated, and her photos aren’t posed. Pastiloff isn’t perfect, and that’s part of her appeal. Seeing her accept her imperfect self seems to motivate others to accept themselves with the same unabashed delight.



to the Unspoken



When Pastiloff isn’t working on her second book, she’s expanding her retreats and workshops, bringing them even closer to home. “The switch from in-person to online was scary for me because I’m really averse to change,” she said, “but once I did it, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Not only does it work, it works better, and more people can show up.” Pastiloff has traveled all over the world helping those in search of their own soul shifts, from Italy to Arizona, and now she’s bringing her expertise home to Ojai. “What I do doesn’t fit in a box,” explains Pastiloff. “It’s not yoga. It’s not a writing seminar, and it’s not life coaching. I took what helped me heal, what I knew, and what I was good at and started putting all those things together. I focused on what I really wanted, which was getting people to connect with themselves and with each other.” It’s easier to package what Pastiloff does by simply stamping the word yoga on it, but to do so would miss the mark entirely. “In my retreats, I put everyone on a yoga mat because that’s familiar to most people,” she said. “Then, I use the body to keep everyone out of their heads. We dance, we move, we

photo: Joe Longo

sing. We breathe. Combining these things is the quickest way to help strangers open up. It’s about unblocking what they have buried in their bodies. I’ll get people hot, tired, and sweaty, and then I’ll give them a writing prompt.” According to writer Dani De Luca, the writing aspect of the workshop is where many find a gold mine of self-realization.

photo courtesy Jennifer Pastiloff


“Jen has initiated this introduction between who you are, who you are ashamed to be, and who you are too afraid to become. The writing prompts become the dialogue that those parts of you need to be having with one another.” When De Luca began working with Pastiloff last year, she quickly became familiar with Pastiloff’s approach, grape-vining between challenging and comforting. “One of the first things I told her was that I used to be a ballerina, but that I hadn’t danced in 25 years,” De Luca said. “Jen stopped me and said, ‘Wait, so ballet informed your whole life, but now you don’t dance anymore? Here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to start dancing every day, and you’re going to make videos and send me one every day.’” Just like that, De Luca was jolted out of hiding, and suddenly became accountable to someone else until she could hold herself accountable for the growth she was working toward. “It’s this Pastiloffian witchery that she has,” De Luca said. “She just knows where to tap in because she listens to the things that are not spoken. The minute details that we leave out of the conversation, that’s where Jen probes — that is the reason I’m back to dancing and writing poetry again.” Whether you’re attending one of Pastiloff’s On Being Human retreats (offered virtually and in-person), Saturday morning backyard yoga sessions, or flying to one of the writing workshops she hosts around the world, you will find yourself pushed to the edges of your comfort zone — and surprisingly happy about it. “The retreat I did was four weeks long, and we chimed in one morning a week, online,” said Adams, who attended Pastiloff’s Shame Loss retreat this past winter. “There were about 40 of us, and though we were all so different, we all came in mimicking Jen’s transparency. She showed up authentic, so we did, too.” Pastiloff gives each group the same set of exercises and a simple set of mini-tasks with enough time to think about their answer, but not enough time to second-guess it. She asks questions to get people thinking about who they used to be, what they used to love before the world, and how their experiences


pulled them away from those parts of themselves. “We were able to share our answers with the group, and that’s where it was clear that what connected us all was being human,” Adams said. “We are all from different backgrounds, different countries, but the questions we were tapping into is what made us human. We talked about our hurt, our pain, our guilt, our fear. It might have been in the movement, or the yoga, or the writing, but I think it was the sharing that impacted people the most … you know, because when there’s unity, people heal, and Jen is helping orchestrate that.” Pastiloff’s insatiable appetite for helping others is a part of her identity she has no problem broadcasting. She does more than send thoughts or prayers; she shows up. Her offers are genuine and she doesn’t take no for an answer. “People have a hard time asking for help and accepting help, but I was born this way, with this desire to help people,” Pastiloff said. “I know I can’t save everyone, but I’m still going to try because that’s why I’m here.” To celebrate her birthday last year, Pastiloff hosted a pop-up for local artists and entrepreneurs to meet, mingle, and promote their products. On Saturday mornings, you can find her leading a yoga class in her backyard, a dozen women (with 50 more joining on Zoom) sprawled out on yoga mats — some posing, some resting, some writing — all there to raise funds for those in need. Whether the donations go to a single mom whose electricity is about to be turned off, or to support the World Federation of the Deaf, Pastiloff has built her life around lending her voice, energy, and resources to make a difference wherever she can. And maybe that is Pastiloff’s real happy place, found in the moments when she’s helping someone else. Ojai is just lucky enough to witness her magic from the front row. www.jenniferpastiloff.com



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

www.thecrystalcornerojai.com | inquiry@thecrystalcornerojai.com | 805-272-8402










Bugs Out in the Drought I ALWAYS WANDER THE FIELDS WITH MY EYES ON THE GROUND. I DON’T WANT TO TRIP. I’VE TRIPPED BEFORE, SOMETIMES DEEPLY. I DON’T WANT TO RUN INTO A TOOL, A PIPE, A HOSE, A SNAKE. THE GROUND IS COVERED WITH DISTRACTIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES Bugs are always populating a certain sensitive sector of my brain. When you meet a farmer, you greet an entomologist. The insects are usually down by my feet ruining something. I have been looking for bugs again this year, vainly, but I still refuse to ignore them when I see them. Only one out of 100 people will notice the minute pin holing of the flea beetle on baby radishes, unless they’ve picked your pocket for $1,000. I was legitimately surprised when I saw a 12-spotted cucumber beetle on the basil the other day. Me say: “Whoa!” to a bug that typically enjoys a full ravage on basil, romaine lettuce, and all kinds of Cucurbitae. They commonly eat in droves. Elsewhere there have been individual grasshoppers, but always appearing in small numbers. I’ve uncovered miserably defenseless potato bugs, photophobic nightcrawlers hiding in the moist, lackadaisical mulch. Like discovering horned toads and newts, finding them is a religious event. Everything counts as endangered. They who plant the squash and her cousins always prowl for the striped cucumber beetle. In these pages you have read me bewail the merciless striped beetle. God, how they infest! When the kabocha and the cucumbers are planted out, the daily surveillant trudge ensues. Four hundred feet down, 400 back, we survey the striped beetle, fearfully tripping when 22 are discovered on every butternut baby. But this dry year, these plagues have laid low. Gone elsewhere? Slumbering until later? I’ll not shed

a tear over their absence. Lord, how they made me work. I won, but at such a cost. Up in the wretched tumble above the tomatoes, there be all manner of weed. Some be goosefoot, some be mustardy. And the mustard and all its many cousins is what draws the bagrada. I found a few, mating, as usual. They bear watching. You thought I might never spell out that Eritrean pest-invader again because it has been years since they probably climaxed in a vortex of genomic strangle. Those that came over in some pallets of Sicilian pottery were limited in genetics by the limited intrusion off that boat debarking San Pedro in 2014. Thence they spread by the trillions and then died off mysteriously after killing all the cole crops from Calexico to Contra Costa. They largely disappeared. Good thing, because all organic farmers were generally prevented from planting cabbage and the black Italian kale right when people became fond of it. This year, even the aphids were a shrug, and I had to manage bigger problems than crushing earwigs. I need to acknowledge the sulfur butterflies, but they contaminated what was already lost to the squirrel season from hell. I know you’ll be glad about all the cabbage I failed to foist on your burdened kitchen table. I gave away the goods to Lucio and the folks at

Bagrada hilaris, the bagrada bug

the nursery, then turned the smithereen machine on the burning bed of sun-burnished little cabbage bulbs, still tight with bitter hearts only the cabbage loopers would enjoy. When all was laid chopper-flat, I called it good like God might have said on the ninth day. How I love to flail. Like me, you may be begging a corollary, bug versus drought. There’s scant edible out ‘dere. Seems plausible that the spirits guiding grand Gaia instructed her cherished winged and six-legged beasts long ago to lay low when water be scarce. The Magicicada cicadas singing by the billions earlier this summer on our eastern continent likely evolved in response to such fathomless weather requirements, emerging to sing every 17 years. The blessing of the drought is that insect competition is comparatively nonexistent. But I’ll take bugs over this calamity.







This 2 bed, 2 bath on two levels is move in ready. Five minute walk to town, easy access to everything Ojai. Relaxed open floor plan with access to patios and outdoor fireplace. Lower level with private entrance, suite with bedroom, bath and sitting area. Looking for a versatile home that can accommo- date live/work, an artists lair, or room for live-in nanny, this Ojai gem might be the perfect fit.

Mid Century home located close to town with 3 beds, 3 baths, polished wood flooring, a fireplace in the living room and casual kitchen with vintage Wedgewood stove. Easy access to patios with raised garden beds and fruit trees. Gated entrance from the rear garden to neighborhood park. Move right in and enjoy the Ojai life!



SOLD OVER LIST PRICE WOW, HERE’S AN OPPORTUNITY! Two one bedroom room bungalows, each with bonus room that could be an office, second bedroom or den. With approximately 600 square feet each, one house is two level and has a fireplace and deck. Located on over 1/2 acre accessed by a private driveway. The homes were built in the 1940’s and have a lot of character, privacy and charm. Other features include free standing carport and several oak trees. This is a unique property in a gorgeous setting with lots of possibility.


Amanda Stanworth 805.218.8117 DRE: 01262333



Teresa Rooney 805.340.8928 DRE: 00599443


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









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

Welcome Home to this Ranch style home tucked behind the gates of Rancho Matilija with magnificent views. Once you enter the home you will enjoy the light-filled living room showcasing the mountains. The great room opens to the kitchen and leads out to the backyard. The views are breathtaking with pink sunsets and early morning sunrises. Bring your creative touches and make this charmer your home for life. With the trails right outside your door you can walk your dogs, take a hike or ride your horses. Horses are welcome on this equestrian property. Private and gated.




22 ACRE UPPER OJAI LOT This 22 acre lot on Koenigstein Road presents a rare opportunity to build a fabulous estate or a private mountain getaway. With multiple buildings sites and ample usable land, the lot has unsurpassed, panoramic views of the Topa Topa Bluffs, the Santa Ynez mountains, and the entire Upper Ojai Valley. Graced with three seasonal streams, moss-covered, sculptural native boulders and a variety of majestic oaks, the land has a wild, magical quality that is immediately palpable. There is an existing private well and an additional one-third interest in a shared well. It has a paved driveway, easily accessed from highway 150 halfway bet ween Ojai and Santa Paula, and lies within the Ojai Valley Unified School district. UpperOjai22AcreLot.com Offered at $1,250,000


(805) 340-3774