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PUBLISHED SINCE 1982

VOLUME 38 No.1

SPRING 2020

THE DISCOTECA OF

PERLA BATALLA

PLUS : BECOMING NOBODY / OJAI HISTORY’S FIRST DRAFT / SONIC BUTTERFLY OJAI MUSIC FESTIVAL 2020 / SEVEN WOMEN CHEFS / FOUR-LEGGED FIREFIGHTERS D I S T R I B U T E D I N V E N T U R A + S A N TA B A R B A R A + L O S A N G E L E S C O U N T I E S


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OJAI

106+ Acre country retreat with mountain and lake views and custom, stone house | www.luckyqranchojai.com Lucky Q Ranch Price upon request Nora Davis 805.207.6177

OJAI

Four-bedroom Arbolada Home with Guest House, Pool, Four Fireplaces & Mountain Views | www.407TicoRoad.com 407 Tico Rd. $2,199,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

OJAI 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath hacienda-style home on 5+ acres in Upper Ojai with horse facilities, pool, tennis court, much more.

OJAI Meticulously renovated three-bedroom, two-bathroom oasis with pool, cabana and views on large lot one block from downtown and adjacent to Ojai Valley Trail.

12605 Highwinds Rd. $2,649,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

209 S. Ventura St. $1,879,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

Kellye Lynn 805.798.0322 kellye@ojaivalleyestates.com DRE 01962469

Integrity, knowledge and experience you can trust


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OJAI Custom Spanish Revival home in the East End on 7.5 acres with gated entry, courtyard, multi-room Master Suite. | 5180ReevesRoad.com 5180 Reeves Rd. $3,450,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

OJAI 4 BR, 4 BA + 2 powder rooms on 5.43 acres with formal living and dining, butler’s pantry, two walk-in pantries, covered porch, and so much more. 1436 N.Montgomery St. $1,595,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

VENTURA 3 BR, 3 BA home with fireplace, formal dining room, Italian tile floors. 1923 S. Hill Rd. $759,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

OAK VIEW 2 BR, 1 BA with detached garage, RV parking, recent upgrades within walking distance of shops and restaurants 291 Larmier Ave. $519,000 Nora Davis 805.207.6177

THE DAVIS GROUP

Integrity, knowledge and experience you can trust

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


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works by

Roger de La Fresnaye Giorgio Morandi Ben Nicholson

March 12 – May 31

canvas and paper 311 N. Montgomery Street

Thursday – Sunday noon – 5pm

canvasandpaper.org

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EDITOR’S NOTE

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e are thinking about regeneration: of our soil and surroundings, of ourselves and of our community. We are discovering ways to regenerate, adapt and forge an environment that sustains our community. Learn from David White, Ph.D., who regenerates our land in Transition to Organics, and Jesse Grantham who comes to our garden rescue again, teaching us the way to plant in support of local birds and other Ojai Valley wildlife. Then arrives shepherdess Brittany Cole Bush, working with the Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council and a local farmer to preserve our valley by fighting fire with four-legged friends. Our rare east-west oriented valley is known for its transformational leaders, and we share the lessons of these trailblazers of the human condition: In spirit, Rikka Zimmerman leads a journey of self-discovery — “Adventures in Oneness.” In mind, a local filmmaker has captured the wisdom of Ram Dass’s lifework in the film, “Becoming Nobody.” In heart, Photographer Ben Winkler challenges our traditional values of beauty, capturing the natural appeal in the faces of older women with his Faces of Silver project. In love, Susan Stiffelman educates us on how to improve our family relationships by becoming a parent without power struggles. We build on the work of our predecessors by musing over past chapters and bounding toward new ones with soul and vision. We celebrate local news — Ojai history’s first draft — with a review of the history of the Ojai Valley News, a portion of its 129-year-old story told by senior reporter Perry Van Houten. Today, Perla Batalla, our cover story and neighbor, unleashes the life-force of music with the power of her voice; she sings in sweet memory of her family’s Discoteca Batalla. Elsewhere, music meets performance art when out of Ojai’s cocoon flys Sonic Butterfly, the creative genius of Andrea Brook. At Libbey Park, Matthias Pintscher, in the footsteps of his mentor, Pierre Boulez, brings the Ojai Music Festival full circle with his direction in 2020. Finally, we feast with seven, new-generation, female chefs who set Ojai’s bountiful table, Ellen Sklarz reports. We feast our souls on the natural world of Ojai with wildflower hikes and our classic spring hikes. Ojai is blooming with innovation, spirit and regeneration right here in our community. Come to do, come to be, and meet the people whose work and intentions lead the way. We join together to grow into the world we want to create and live in. Please allow this Spring Issue to inform your understanding of Ojai now, while considering our past for the benefit of our future. Most surprising to me is that these people are my neighbors, the people of Ojai; I am honored to walk among them. Laura Rearwin Ward, publisher

EDITOR & PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward publisher@ojaivalleynews.com

CONTRIBUTORS

Karen Lindell • Perry Van Houten Alicia Doyle • Ellen Sklarz • Austin Widger Glen Creason • Kit Stolz • Jesse Grantham Drew Mashburn • David White Guy Webster (cover image)

ART DIRECTOR Paul Stanton

ASSISTANT EDITORS

Marianne Ratcliff • Linda Griffin Georgia Schreiner

ADVERTISING Linda Snider

PRODUCTION Bill MacNeil

CIRCULATION Ally Mills

BUSINESS MANAGER Jodie Miller

CONTACT US

team@ojaivalleynews.com Phone: 805.646.1476 Fax: 805.646.4281 101 Vallerio Avenue Ojai, CA 93023 ©2020 Downhome Publishing, LLC

Cover: Perla Batalla photgraphed by the late, great Guy Webster.

PUBLISHED SINCE 1982 BY THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS

OJ A IVA L L E Y N E W S.CO M


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SPRING 2020 VOLUME 38 No.1

ARTS & CULTURE

Faces of Silver: The Photography of Ben Winkler - 18 Artists and Galleries Directory - 25

SHOPPING

Cattywampus Crafts - 28

FOOD & DRINK Seven Women Chefs - 36

136

Small On Purpose, Ojai Valley Brewery - 48 Dining & Tasting Directory - 52

EDUCATION

Parenting Without Power Struggles - 56

MUSIC

Cover Story The Discoteca of Perla Batalla - 62

62

Matthius Pintcher Directs the 2020 Ojai Music Festival - 70

EVENTS

Ojai Calendar - 76

108

TRANSFORMATION Becoming Nobody - 82 Sonic Butterfly - 92 Rikka’s Adventures in Oneness - 100

Mindfulness & Healing Directory - 104

BIG ISSUES

Four-Legged Firefighters A Shepherdess Comes to Town - 108 The Kale is Ready ... the Kale is Ready! Regenerative Agrigiculture - 116

PAST & PRESENT

History’s First Draft The Story of Ojai’s Newspaper - 159 Look Back in Ojai - Old Gray - 159

OUTSIDE

A Bird-friendly Garden - 136 Perry’s Trails, Spring Flower Hikes - 148 Classic Spring Trails - 154

REAL ESTATE - 141

82 18

126 36


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Jes MaHarry Store 316 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai California 93023 L ov i n g l y h a n d c ra f te d i n O j a i , C A jesmaharry.com ~ 877.728.5537 ~ jesmaharryjewelry

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An Ojai tradition for over 50 years 302 W. Matilija Street (805)646-3755 9:30 - Sunset daily

www.bartsbooksojai.com


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MARTHA MORAN OJAI ROCKSTACKER

Fountains, Sculptures, Custom Showers & Home Decor

www.ojairockstacker.com 805 279-7605


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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

www.firestickpottery.com

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Ben Winkler has discovered the art of achromotrichia. That’s the medical term for the loss of pigmentation in hair, or in more familiar terms, going gray. Ojai photographer Winkler, known for his architectural, fineart and portrait photography, has become a specialist in images of women whose hair is gray — or as he prefers to describe it, silver. Winkler has created “Faces of Silver,” a photography project that includes a book, blog, podcast and exhibitions of his portraits devoted to capturing the beauty of silver-haired women, most of them middle-aged and older. The project refers to “faces,” not “heads,” and “silver,” not “gray,” for a reason. In his photographs, Winkler said, he aims to capture “a natural progression of female beauty, a testimony to the mature feminine, full of grace and poise.” Women’s later-in-life natural hair shades, he said, are “full of vibrance” and “a million shades of not gray, but silver — the color of the stars.” Winkler has always been exposed to natural beauty — the outdoor kind. He has lived in or traveled through Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and moved to Ojai two years ago because it resembled Zell am See, the small mountain town where he grew up in Austria’s Alps. “Ojai reminded me of my childhood; it’s a place of sheer beauty tucked away,” he said. His first encounter with a camera was a little destructive, yet motivated by toddler curiosity. He pulled his dad’s camera apart with a screwdriver because he wanted to see what was inside. At age 7, he got his first Kodak camera and started taking pictures. When Winkler was 13, his grandfather, an amateur photographer, taught him how to use a darkroom. The early experiences, he said, taught him “to ‘see’ things … in a unique way, not just with my eyes but with my heart; and then with this vision, to capture them, and to watch as they came to life, floating, suspended in liquid, in order to commemorate each moment in time.” Winkler’s first photographic ventures centered on the terrain around him. Later, German-Australian fashion photographer Helmut Newton was a key inspiration. “With his voyeuristic, provocative view, he showed us things we don’t see in daily life,” Winkler said.

In college, Winkler earned degrees in architecture, interior design, construction engineering, business management and digital architecture, and began working as an architectural photographer on the East Coast of the United States, from New York’s The Hamptons down to the Florida Keys. “I was good at it, and knew what to do for design magazines, but at the end of the day, it was looking at a dead wall,” he said. “What fuels me is the collaboration I have with people to help them change how they feel about themselves.” For a time, he served as a member of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, which earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. He has also worked as an architect, interior designer, carpenter and bartender. The Faces of Silver project got its start when he lived in Boca Raton, Florida, and had a thriving portrait business. His main customers were women at midlife and older, and he also shot legacy photos — generations of mothers and daughters in one image. At one point, he recalled, someone asked him: “Are you shooting gray-haired women?” Winkler then started seeing gray-haired women’s groups and posts on social media, which triggered a key but crude memory. His own mother, he said, had been prematurely gray-haired. She owned a coffee shop in Austria, and when he was around 13 years old, standing behind a group of men in the store who waited as his mom left for a few minutes, he heard one say, “If she’s gray up there, what do you think she is down there?”

For Ojai, photographer and author Ben Winkler, silver is the new gray.


VOLUME 38 NUMBER 1 | SPRING 2020

By Karen Lindell

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Faces of silver


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“As a teen with raging hormones and wanting to defend my mother,” Winkler said, “I remember thinking, how do we have the audacity to judge people like that, and how they should color their hair.”

me, beauty is individuality, which gets killed the minute we start comparing, so we end up second-guessing ourselves. I need to find that something. Hearing the person’s story helps me to bring that out.”

achromotrichia noun achro.mo.trich.ia :the absence of pigment in the hair Remembering that adolescent moment of indignation, he decided to create the “Faces of Silver” photography project. One of the “thank-yous” at the end of the book reads, “To my mother for the awareness to stand up for what’s right.” “Faces of Silver” took him to cities throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand and all across Europe. He began a blog and podcast on the topic, was interviewed for a local NBC news station and on radio talk shows, and created the “Faces of Silver” book. “Before I knew it, I was known as ‘the silver guy,’” he said. Quick science lesson: Hair doesn’t actually “turn gray”; the follicles simply stop producing pigment. A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that 74% of men and women ages 45 to 65 years were affected by gray hair, with varying degrees of intensity (and with less gray hair for subjects of Asian and African descent). Winkler said every portrait starts with the subject’s story. Portrait photography “is so personal and vulnerable,” he said. He talks on Skype with the women a few days before their photo shoot, discussing why they want to do the session, what they will wear, their vision for the shoot (sometimes they create a Pinterest mood board), and who they are as human beings. “We are warming up, talking about life,” he said. “This type of photography is all about chemistry, trust, authenticity and comfort. I need to get them there.” He said many of the “life stories” he heard in Florida were similar: a woman in her 50s, often with kids in college and a floundering marriage, worried about sagging skin and whether to have plastic surgery. “If I can only hold up and mirror for them what other people see,” he said. (Winkler tried marketing a silver project to men as well, but said interest just wasn’t there and the idea “just flopped.”) When taking anyone’s portrait, Winkler said he is looking for “essence. Anyone can take a pretty picture, but I want to see the rawness in it. There are different definitions of beauty. To

After the photo session, he shows his subjects the photos as large images projected on walls. “That’s not me — it’s Photoshopped,” is a common response, Winkler said.

But Winkler limits retouching and editing. “I’ll soften heavy bags, maybe 30 percent, but won’t make you a porcelain doll,” he said. “I preserve the structure of your face. I also shoot it right to begin with,” using an artist-photographer’s skills at working with light, shadow and posing. One of the women in the “Faces of Silver” book is from Ojai, Katherine McClelland. Her photo shoot appeared plagued from the beginning, in part because of the natural light Ojai is famed for. Winkler planned to photograph her during an Ojai sunset, but the mountains were blocking the light he needed.


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They decided to head for the ocean instead, but any spot they found, the light was gone too quickly. They ended up shooting the photo inside McClelland’s Ojai home — and it only took 15 minutes. In the book, most of the women have a double spread, and text by Winkler or the woman accompanies some of the images. McClelland’s spread is the final one in the book, and it includes her poetic words: “Love yourself into a Vivacious and Re-Beautified You and live the life of your dreams; beautiful, passionate, pleasured and loved!” Silvana Stefanovic-Riley, another woman featured in the book, writes, “Aging is a natural process, not a disease to be combated. … I see my life in full color, CGI’d in 3D and with full-blast surround sound. I have emerged from that darkened, black … silent movie theater of my life. I am never going back.”


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Audrey Wilmot of San Diego writes, “I had never had such a lovely photo taken of me. … Recently, I have felt a major shift in my life. I have felt prettier. It’s OK to be turning 60 in March. It’s OK to have silver hair … It is OK to have scars and not perfect teeth.” Another Winkler photo project, already underway, he said, is called “Undercover”, exploring “what lies underneath,” featuring fine-art nude photographs of women from ages 45 to 81. “It’s a beautiful thing, celebrating the mature woman, showing her she’s not invisible, and life is not finished,” he said. He’s also working, again with the same age group, on a project called “Scars”. He’s taking photos of mature women will all kinds of scars, including those who’ve had mastectomies and other surgeries, and even cutters (people who intentionally cut themselves or self-harm in other ways). “Scars don’t define us,” Winkler said. “They add value to us,

reminding us we’re still here, with a story to tell and more to do.” He was inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi (literally “golden repair”). When a ceramic object such as a vase or bowl breaks, kintsugi artists fuse it back together with a lacquer mixed with powdered gold or silver, which both mends and enhances the breaks, or scars. After Winkler shoots the black-and-white photos, he paints the subjects’ scars on the images with gold leaf. All of these projects, Winkler said, are “not so much about the imagery. It’s more about the shift, that one degree, that 1 nudge of thought that you’re still worth it, you’ve still got it. If that raises your self-worth and how you see yourself, I’ve done my job. Imagery becomes secondary.” For more information about Ben Winkler and “Faces of Silver,” or to purchase the “Faces of Silver” book, visit www.benwinkler.com or www.facesofsilver.com


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canvas and paper

OVA Arts

Dan Schultz Fine Art Gallery & Studio

Ojai Studio Artists

Firestick Pottery

Pamela Grau

A non-profit exhibition space showing paintings and drawings from the 20th century and earlier in thematic and single artist exhibits. Hours: Thursday – Sunday, noon – 5pm 311 North Montgomery Street canvasandpaper.org

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

Creative workspace or clay artists & students. Open 10-6 daily. Closed Tuesday. 1804 E. Ojai Ave. www.firestickpottery.com 805-272-8760

A R T I S T S

&

Your Go-To Place For Gifts. 238 E. Ojai Ave. Open daily 10-6 www.ojaivalleyartists.com 805-646-5682

2019 Annual Studio Tour Oct 12 · Oct 13 · Oct 14 Free, Self Guided Tour 10am - 5pm www.ojaistudioartists.org

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

G A L L E R I E S

D I R E C T O R Y

Human Arts Gallery

Porch Gallery

Karen K. Lewis

Ventura County Pastel Artists

Martha Moran

Latitudes Fine Art Gallery

Poppies Art & Gifts

OVG Artists and Galleries Guide

Folk art, jewelry, glass, art wearables, furniture, sculpture and more. 246 East Ojai Avenue www.humanartsgallery.com 805-646-1525

Painter & printmaker; etchings, monoprints, figure drawings, plein-air landscapes, still lifes and large-scale oil paintings. www.ojaistudioartists.org | 805-646-8877

The Ojai Rockstacker Rock stacks, fountains & more for garden or desktop. Studio visits by appointment. martha@ojairockstacker.com | 805-279-7605

323 E. Matilija Street in beautiful Ojai, California. We are behind the historic downtown Arcade. Stop in for local art and art events. 323 E. Matilija St., Ojai. www.poppiesartandgifts.com | 805-798-0033

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310 E. Matilija St. Open: 11-5, Sunday: 9-1:30 Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday Instagram: porchgalleryojai lisa@porchgalleryojai.com 805-620-7589

“Fall into Pastels” Sat., Nov. 9 - Sun. Nov. 10. 11am - 4 pm Bert Collins Studio, 1545 Cuyama Rd., Ojai bobbib1@me.com 805-798-2403

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

Reach a wider audience with the Ojai Valley Guide, Artists & Galleries listings. The OVG is distributed throughout Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. Contact us for details. team@ojaivalleynews.com | 805-646-1476


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Hours 10 - 6 Mon - Sat and 10 - 5 Sunday

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hen creative husband-andwife duo Kirk and Anna Nozaki moved to Ojai from Los Angeles in 2014, they were seeking a small, curious community immersed in nature where they could raise their daughter, Naomi. “My husband had been a clothing designer in the skate industry and I was a graphic designer with clients primarily in New York,” Anna said. “After living here for a year, our conversation naturally turned toward: What is our contribution to this town that we’ve chosen?”

Aspects that the couple really loved about Ojai were “how integrated the local community is here with the visiting community,” Anna said. “It’s really beautiful and something we wanted to celebrate and welcome because those two factors really work together .… The visitors really help local families be able to live here and make a living.”

“Ojai is such a creative community; it draws artists of all sorts,” said Anna, adding that half of the shop offers all-natural materials for people to make things, and the other half is filled with items for sale. “So it’s not a place just for knitters, sewers or dyers,” she said. “For a lot of people, it’s their favorite gift store and a place to just go shopping.”

Cattywampus: The Art of the Perfectly Imperfect

By Alicia Doyle

With these ideas in mind, the couple opened Cattywampus Crafts, a creative shop launched three years ago that’s full of natural materials and tools for knitting, weaving, dyeing and sewing, as well as home goods, clothes and jewelry for sale.

The visual displays at Cattywampus Crafts are also special, “and something that we’re really known for,” Anna said. For instance, her husband puts together “incredible vignettes” of “very eclectic” items, such as crystals, branches, flower buds and dried plants in a way that’s “visually soothing.” When people come into their shop, “we give them the time and space to go through and explore; it’s like a little treasure hunt,” Anna said. “We also have fiber art on display, and vintage macramé sculptures.” To prepare for the opening of Cattywampus Crafts, Anna and her husband took a 12-week business plan course through Women’s Economic Ventures, which she describes as “a fabulous organization” that helps new entrepreneurs. While working on their business plan, “we started getting really excited about the bigger range of things we could offer makers we could invite to the store to both sell their goods and teach their classes.” Anna describes Cattywampus as “a

Cattyw


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creative lifestyle store for makers and lovers of handmade living,” and believes “the duality of both things that are already made and materials for making things has really served our mission.” Today, “Cattywampus is everything we love and are inspired by,” Anna said. She and her husband believe that everyone has a creative side, and at Cattywampus, “we want everybody to find their creative spirit. “That’s a big part of why we wanted our store not only to be for makers,” she explained. “We have things that are already made with a handmade element — things from nature — that are a source of inspiration and access point for anyone to wander in and be inspired, and maybe get curious enough to try making something

themselves.” Cattywampus Crafts is located in a former Carrow’s diner, and renovating the space involved sandblasting the ceilings, and stripping everything down to its raw, natural materials. “It’s a beautiful space,” Anna said. “We also have a lounge area with a sofa, chairs and coffee tables where people are welcome to gather anytime.” Throughout the week, Cattywampus Crafts offers workshops where people can learn a variety of skills, such as how to weave on a portable wooden frame loom to make a “fiberlicious” wall hanging, how to master the basic knit stitch to create a hat, and how to work with chunky yarn to make a cardigan sweater. Other offerings include a “Weaving as Meditation” class, where participants gather in a circle to practice the art of slowing down, centering, conscious breathing and feeling the deep contentment that comes from mindfully creating a hand weaving on a metal loom.

“We are always working with and seeking out really interesting makers from all over the world,” Anna said. “We have people come to teach workshops who are from Japan, Canada, all over the United States.” Anna further emphasized that “we love seeing new people,” and that “the overriding spirit of Cattywampus is always being welcoming and curious about whoever comes through our doors. We want to inspire creativity in everyone. Our shop’s mission is that we are a celebration of creativity, handmade living and the planet.” As far as the name of their business is concerned, Cattywampus “is a fun word we love,” Anna said. “It means something that’s a little off, not quite perfect, but with a fun spirit about it. … It’s not necessarily perfect and that’s okay — it’s something to celebrate.” Cattywampus Crafts is located at 209 W. Ojai Ave. For more information, call 805.633.9222; or visit www.cattywampuscrafts.com

wampus


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A FREE PEOPLE NEED A FREE PRESS

SERVING OUR COMMUNITY SINCE 1891

OJAI VALLEY NEWS

805-646-1476 CIRCULATION@OJAIVALLEYNEWS.COM

COMING THIS MAY: THE WOMEN OF OJAI 2020 SPECIAL ISSUE Included with your copy of the Ojai Valley News. Be a part of the issue and help to honor Ojai’s women. team@ojaivalleynews.com OJAIVALLEYNEWS .COM N OW I T ’ S C L E A R


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11400 N.Ventura Ave., Ojai

805-613-3048 Open from 11:30 to 9:30 everyday except Monday 4:00 to 9:30

SEA FRESH SEAFOOD Seafood - Steak - Sushi

Voted “BEST SEAFOOD” 5 Years in a Row!

533 E. Ojai Ave

• 805-646-7747

Open 8am - 10pm Breakfast • Full Bar • Outdoor Dining

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SEVEN WOMEN CHEFS When great women gather, great moments unfold.

On one clear Ojai afternoon, seven skilled, smart, creative, passionate chefs and food enthusiasts came together to discuss their work, dreams, obstacles, and deep desire for community and collaboration. All the unique women have relocated to Ojai to forge their own paths. They are doing food their own way, bucking the trends and maledominated food scenes prevalent in many large cities.

Photograph: Ellen Sklarz

by Ellen Sklarz


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Left to right: Ariane Aumont, Meave McAuliffe, Lexie Roth, Rory McAuliffe, Melissa Bishop, Chase Elder, and Alexis Plank


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Melissa Bishop Five years ago, Bishop moved to Ojai to be with her now-husband, Mike Sullivan. Initially, she joined Aumont for Le Picnic’s private catering work, pop-ups, retreats, and special events. In response to the Thomas Fire in December 2017, Bishop volunteered at the World Central Kitchen feeding operation in Ventura. With a background in school food reform, she was reminded of her love for feeding larger groups of people in an institutional setting. Today, she is a Lead Cook for the café at Patagonia’s corporate headquarters in Ventura. On a personal level, Bishop is happy to show up at work every day to feed hundreds of eager eaters, while supporting local growers, ranchers, and vendors, and with an awareness of the impact of her purchasing power. The café staff is constantly improving meal offerings and waste reduction to address Patagonia’s mission to save our home planet.

Photograph: Max Maurer

Ariane Aumont : hellolepicnic www.hellolepicnic.com Growing up between Los Angeles and the Santa Ynez Valley, Aumont spent much of her childhood enraptured by all things food related. At a very young age, she discovered her adeptness and understanding of balancing flavors, colors and textures, clearly evident in her cooking today. Aumont’s of 20 years professional cooking experience was inspired by extensive world travel, enriched by Cordon Bleu culinary education in San Francisco, and nurtured by a rich, family cooking history. She has been a private chef in Europe and the U.S. and has taken a primary role in establishing varied food-industry businesses and ventures in California. About six years ago, Aumont came to Ojai, where she established Le Picnic, a boutique catering company. As chef/ owner, she often describes Ojai as her “dream community,” close to nature and to the city, vibrant, creative, and surrounded by farms growing extraordinary organic and pesticide-free produce.

Photograph: Leela Cyd

Chase Elder : friendsoffarmers www.chaseelder.org Elder’s first kitchen experiences were with her Grandma Merle, who prepared Southern-style soul food on her Virginia farm. Her contagious passion fueled Elder’s journey to New York City, where her cooking ranged from 10-course tasting menus to rustic farm-to-table cuisine. With a growing interest in wellness, nutrition and altering people’s unhealthy habits while evolving their palates, she received Health Coach certification from the Integrative Institute of Nutrition. Today, Elder happily reports that “life in Ojai is beyond my wildest dreams.” Since relocating three years ago, this personal chef uses “the best produce my hands have ever touched.” She has served plant-based student and faculty lunches at The Thacher School and is currently Food Service and Hospitality teacher at Chaparral High School. Elder’s approach is simple: “Eat the good stuff, remove the bad stuff, and don’t be afraid to change what you need to along the way.”

Photograph: Chase Elder

“Eat the good stuff, remove the bad stuff, and don’t be afraid to change what you need to along the way.”


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Meave McAuliffe : rorys_place_ojai_meaveeatsworms www.rorysplaceojai.com McAuliffe has recently moved to Ojai from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to open a restaurant with her sister Rory. McAuliffe started her career at Gjelina in Venice, under the mentorship of chef Travis Lett. There she developed a passion for cooking innovative and refined cuisine, always sourcing the freshest, highest-quality and most sustainable ingredients possible. Just as important to her were the personal bonds she developed with farmers, fisherman, and food producers, forged through a reverence for their shared craft. McAuliffe loves small towns and went on to open restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard. She was then head chef of Saltwater restaurant in Inverness, California. McAuliffe is excited to open Rory’s Place, where she and her sister will create an inviting, playful space to showcase local ingredients from the land and sea, while building community around the thing they love most—making delicious food together.

Photograph: Meave McAuliffe

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Alexis Plank

Lexie Roth

: buckskinacres www.alexiscplank.com

: lexiemakesfood www.lexiemakesfood.com

Growing up on a cattle ranch north of Mt. Shasta, Plank started hunting and fishing with her father as a young girl. On the ranch, the family focused on soil, pasture and river health, believing in the importance of establishing a natural equilibrium between their domestic animals and the surrounding wildlife. After finding her way into cooking through working in restaurants up and down the West Coast, Plank eventually moved back to the ranch, where she started organizing dinners and events. Last October, she built a 24-foot, transportable table out of two live-edge catalpa planks. (Yes, Plank is really her last name.) With serving dishes and plates carved into the wood, the food is plated directly on the table and served family style. Plank believes these dinners helps create community and connect people to the process of getting food from soil to table.

Meave McAuliffe describes her friend Roth as a “badass chef.” Roth is from an artistic family, a multimedia-artist, business-savvy mother, and acclaimed guitarist father Arlen Roth. After losing her mother and sister at a young age, Roth discovered the joy of hosting dinner parties and bringing people together around food. “Cooking delicious meals has always been a way for me to ensure that people are around.” Building on the idea of healing through food, Roth studied nutrition and culinary arts at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, an hour south of Westchester, where she was raised. She recently relocated to Ojai from Martha’s Vineyard, where she was a sought-after private chef for 12 years. A proponent of “cooking with locally sourced everything and as little embellishment as possible,” Roth treats food preparation as a fine art, creating large colorful spreads that are conversation pieces for her meals and gatherings.

Photograph: Alexis Plank

Photograph: Lexie Roth

“Cooking delicious meals has always been a way for me to ensure that people are around.”


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Photograph: Elizabeth Cecil

Rory McAuliffe : rorys_place_ojai www: rorysplaceojai.com Rory and Meave grew up in Venice and spent much of their childhood at the Santa Monica bakery owned by their mom and her sister. From a young age, the sisters rung people up and learned how to cook and bake, always dreaming of opening their own restaurant one day. Rory—with experience working at Gjelina and at catering companies in N.Y. and L.A.—will be general manager of Rory’s Place, with emphasis on sourcing and procuring natural wines. Living between L.A. and Ojai, she has spent the past 10 years working as a producer of documentary films, advertisements and national public service announcements. Clearly, Rory has honed her managerial skills by organizing and inspiring crews of more than 50 people in the film industry.

lthough they have arrived in Ojai from disparate cultural and geographical backgrounds, similarities among this impressive group are apparent. Without engaging in culinary clichés, they are unanimously committed to sustainability — using fresh, unprocessed, organic, local ingredients — and composting, with little or no waste. As a newcomer to Ojai with plans to open a restaurant, Meave McAuliffe wants answers. “What are people looking for? What would be a really meaningful addition to this town? The theme here is collaboration, but if we are the chefs in the kitchen, it doesn’t go anywhere if we don’t have feedback from the people.” As McAuliffe begins her quest for those responses, Roth says that the best restaurants are where chefs want to eat and hang out. Bishop is excited to welcome the team behind Rory’s Place since, she says, people in Ojai tend to cook at home. Meave, when asked about the affordability of meals at Rory’s Place in a town that has become increasingly more expensive, says that she would like to offer a “gleaned dinner” twice a month. The menu would be dictated by partnerships with local farmers and the produce they did not sell after the Farmers Market. This “pay anything night” would create an opportunity for an affordable community gathering. Having partnerships with farms helps with food waste, a big problem in the restaurant industry. Says Meave, “I studied environmental science all through college. I don’t want to make more trash and be part of the problem.”

Photograph: Meave McAuliffe

“Ojai is a unique town, so we all need to work together to feed one another.”

When questioned about roadblocks and barriers to the work, hesitation was followed by a crescendo of “long hours, quality staffing, high cost of living.” Then came dissatisfaction due to lack of a city compost program for food waste. For these women, who provide food without a restaurant, they lamented in unison about Ojai’s lack of a certified, community commercial kitchen.


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After all, says Roth, “buying in bulk is great, but where do you put it without access to a walk-in refrigerator?” Many cities and towns have shared “culinary incubator” spaces with hourly rents or monthly memberships for use by independent culinary professionals. With so many caterers and private chefs in Ojai, a shared commercial kitchen would be a supportive addition to our small town. These chefs question their futures with regard to the work, mostly because of the physically demanding nature of the profession. Bishop has taken a different path with Patagonia, known for its progressive corporate culture. She is thankful for a regular schedule, health insurance, matching dollars on donations made to nonprofits, a supportive human resources department, and the opportunity to take time from work to volunteer. Says Bishop, “The security and stability that I am afforded by my workplace have changed my life.” Most chefs have their comfort foods, often evoking a powerful childhood memory or a traditional regional favorite. Each of the women was very specific when asked about a singular go-to dish, beginning with Aumont: “White rice with butter, a little bit of soy sauce, and a fried egg . . . maybe a little fermented something.” Bishop echoed, “Same but with a raw egg and Yeo’s Chili Sauce, which was my dad’s sauce and now mine.” Then came Elder’s “kimchee fried rice with scrambled eggs and scallions.” Plank loves “cheesy grits” and, for Rory, simple “bread and butter.” Her sister goes for “braised greens — chard, kale or collard greens — with garlic, smoked paprika, and sherry vinegar.” Roth craves “perfectly roasted chicken with crispy skin, sautéed kale, and as many shiitake mushrooms as physically possible.” Since that powerful, fun, inspiring gathering, some of the group have started working and/or cooking together. This natural microcosm of what’s possible without labels, judgement, competition or hierarchy ended with a simple statement from Bishop: “The food’s here. The eaters are hungry. Ojai is a unique town, so we all need to work together to feed one another.”


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

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

westridgemarket.com


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Open Daily for Breakfast & Lunch 7 am - 2:30 pm Closed Wednesdays

805.646.0207

328 East Ojai Ave.

Order your homemade holiday tamales by Dec 22nd

Private Catering available 423 E. Ojai Ave. | 805-646-7715 107 E. El Roblar | 805-646-1066 Skip the lines ... order online!

www.mexicanfoodojai.com

Best Taco Best Mexican Restaurant


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HAKANE SUSHI Best Omakase Sushi in town ESTABL

2008

ISHED

“Ojai Style Sushi” • IZAKAYA Menu • Unique Appetizers • Bento Gozen Dinner

Top sushi chef with over 30 years experience! 967 E Ojai Ave, Ojai | (805) 640 -3070


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Cuyama Buckhorn was founded in 1952 as a roadside stop for weary travelers to enjoy a meal in good company and rest up along their journey. More than 60 years later, Cuyama Buckhorn has become a historic establishment, nestled in The Hidden Valley of Enchantment.

Open Daily 6am–6pm

RESTAURANT & BAR

Open Daily Monday – Thursday | 10am – 2pm Friday - Saturday | 8am - 9pm Sunday | 8am – 6pm

4923 Primero Street, New Cuyama, CA 93254 | cuyamabuckhorn.com | @cuyamabuckhorn


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Lori’s Original Lemonade

www.lorisoriginallemonade.com | 805 640 6565

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Small on Purpose by Alicia Doyle

Something’s brewing down on Bryant Street

“S

mall on purpose” is the mission of Ojai Valley Brewery, where Jeremy Haffner strives to create beer styles that are all about Ojai, as opposed to mimicking the rest of the market.

For instance, some of the local herbs he forages for his seasonally evolving beers include white sage, black sage and purple sage, as well as yerba santa, sumac, sage brush and mugwort.

“It’s a very small operation,” said Haffner, who makes 240-gallon batches at a time compared with large-scale operations that make 10,000-gallon batches. “We do a lot of beers where we’re making up style guidelines, and we’re coming up with them from scratch and using a lot of stuff from the hills and the farms here,” he said. “That gives a sense of place to the beer that’s specifically about Ojai and gives people something they’ve never tasted before.” At his brewery in a modest storefront on Bryant Street, he prides himself on handmaking natural, unfiltered beers, using water in its natural state, with local herbs for bitterness and flavor, while staying small and creating his own styles rather than chasing current trends. This two-man operation is run by himself along with assistant brewer Griffin Davis. In addition to utilizing the bounty of resinous edible plants in Ojai to make beer, Haffner is proud of the fact that his whole brew system is 100 percent electric, “so we get to run it off of renewable energy.” Also, “because we are as small as we are, we don’t have to use a ton of water; there’s negligible water waste here and we get to recycle a lot of stuff.” Another aspect that makes this beer unique is that it’s made using the water profile from Ojai.

With the specifics of brewing chemistry, “what happens a lot of times is that certain areas are famous for certain beers because of the water profiles that go along with them,” Haffner explained. For instance, Dortmund, Germany, has hard calcium water that creates a very specific lager style “that has become the paradigm of what lagers are,” he noted. “In a place like California, you don’t have that water profile, so a lot of breweries, for the sake of homogeneity, use reverse osmosis water; then they build the chemical water profile … to make their lagers by adding back chemical salts.” Using reverse-osmosis water “was unappealing to me for a number of reasons,” he said. “I feel like the reason those beers are famous is because of where they come from … so we’re using the water profile from Ojai to make a very specific tasting beer.” Reverse-osmosis systems, which are what most breweries utilize, also use a lot of water. “So when you’re talking about a big brewery doing 10,000 gallons at a time, you’re talking 10,000 gallons of wastewater for one batch of beer, which seemed silly to us, especially in a place like this,” Haffner said. Ojai Valley Brewery is “coming at it from a different angle,” he said, and “we are trying to do this more like the model of a winery.” The traditional model of an industrial brewery is to create homogeneity across the packaging line so that every single beer you have tastes exactly the same, he noted. “I don’t find that to be a benefit necessarily,” Haffner said. With Budweiser, for example, “there’s some serious engineering that goes into making Budweiser taste the same every single time. But when you’re talking about small craft products,


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there are going to be discrepancies.” With Ojai Valley Brewery’s white pixie, for instance, he creates the beer with locally grown ingredients that change from one year to the next, and “whether it was sunny or it rained, it’s going to taste a little different. The ingredients change from year to year … and we could adjust and try to make that homogenous, but it feels disingenuous to me.” He typically makes about 10 different varieties of beer at a time, including a wheat beer made with chaparral that’s bittered with black and white sage from the Ojai hills. He also makes a black lager with Mexican vanilla bean. “Seasonally, we do a high-alcohol beer that’s got prickly pears and hibiscus,” Haffner said. He also makes barrel-aged beer, such as a black ale with Mexican vanilla and cocoa that contains 14 percent alcohol. “And we do another one with citrus, lemons and pink peppercorns that we barrel-age here,” he noted, “and we do a 100 percent gluten-free beer made from brown rice and sorghum.” Varieties of his beer are carried at Azu, his family’s restaurant in Ojai, where “I do $6 pints all day, every day for locals.” His beer is also sold at the Ojai Valley Inn, which carries his white pixie, as well

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as local businesses, including Sage Mindful Meals, Westridge Market, and Rainbow Bridge. For those who aren’t beer drinkers, “You are my bread and butter because I make beer specifically for people who say they don’t drink beer,” he said. Later this year, Haffner plans to open his brewery to the public because “there’s a large demographic of craft beer drinkers who want to see that. So we’re in the midst of trying to figure out how to take this whole front office space and build a tavern here.” He reiterated that his brewery is “small on purpose.” “At the end of the day, I know breweries that have to make decisions for products based on the median taste levels and the fact that they need to meet as much in the middle as possible to make those mass production sales,” Haffner said. “This is something we’re not interested in because, frankly, we could do other things and make more money if that was our mentality.” At Ojai Valley Brewery, “we want to make stuff that we want to drink and that we feel is easily pulled out of a lineup next to other people’s beers.” For more information, visit www.ojaivalleybrewery.com

“Frankly, we could do other things and make more money if that was our mentality.”


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La Fuente

Ojai Rotie

Housemade Tamales, Tortillas and Tacos. Private Catering. 2 locations. 423 E. Ojai Ave. 805-646-7715 107 E. EL Roblar Dr. 805-646-1066

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

Mandala

Papa Lennon’s Pizzeria

Cuyama Buckhorn

Sea Fresh Seafood

Ca’Marco Ristorante Italiano

Marché Gourmet Delicatessen

Bonnie Lu’s Cafe

Sage Mindful Meals

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

4923 Primero St., New Cuyama The Buckhorn Restaurant & Bar: Mon – Thurs 10am – 2pm Fri–Sat: 8am – 9pm | Sun-8am – 6pm The Buck Stop Coffee Shop: Open daily: 6am – 6pm www.cuyamabuckhorn.com 661-766-2825 @cuyamabuckhorn

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

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

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

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

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

Healthful global cuisine under the sycamores. Brunch, Lunch, Dinner and Happy Hour. Wednesdays & Thursdays: 11am – 9pm. Fridays: 11am – 11pm. Saturdays: 9am – 11pm. Sundays: 9am – 4pm. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays. 217 E. Matilija St. 805-646-9204 | www.sageojai.com

Agave Maria’s

AZU

Farmer and the Cook

Blue Ridge Honey

Restaurant & Cantina 106 S. Montgomery St. Mon-Fri 11am-9pm | Sat 8am-9pm | Sun 8am-8pm www.agavemarias.com 805-646-6353

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

A Sohisticated, casual restaurant & bar. We serve Spanish Californian cuisine paired with our artisanal beers, local wines and craft spirits. Open all day, 7 days a week. See our website for details or to book. 457 E Ojai Ave. 805-640-7987 | www.azuojai.com

Ventura County’s local source for a healthy sweetness. Available at local stores and farmers’ markets or stop by our facility, 1461 Tower Square, Ventura 805-941-3777 www.blueridgehoneyca.com


Dining and Tasting Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill

Welcome to “Ojai’s Favorite” Burritos & Burgers. Delicious Mexican and American food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for over 20 years. Sun - Thur: 8am - 9pm. Fri - Sat: 8am - 9pm (Cantina 10pm) 214 W Ojai Ave. 805-640-1301 |www.jimandrobsojai.com

Ojai Beverage Company

Outdoor patio dining, great food! Open 11am to 11pm 655 E. Ojai Ave. www.ojaibevco.com 805-646-1700

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Ventura Spirits

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

Majestic Oak Vineyard

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

Heavenly Honey

Boccali Vineyard & Winery

Ojai Olive Oil Co.

Topa Mountain Winery

Island Brewing Company

Hakane Sushi

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

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

Creating community through craft beer since 2001 Tap Room open Monday to Thursday: 12noon-9pm, Friday: 12noon-10pm, Saturday: 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-9pm 5049 6th Street, Carpinteria 805-745-8272 | parties@islandbrewingcompany.com www.islandbrewingcompany.com

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Tastings at Boccali’s Ojai, Sat & Sun 11am-4pm. 3277 East Ojai Avenue 805-669-8688 www.boccalivineyards.com

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

The best Omakase Sushi in town. Izakaya menu, unique appetizers, Bento Gozen dinner. Top sushi chef with over 30 years experience. Open 7 days a week. See our website for details. 967 E Ojai Ave. | 805-640-3070 info@hakanesushi.co | www.hakanesushi.com


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Best Mexican Restaurant and Best Margarita

Great food, fun atmosphere, excellent margaritas! OJAI

106 S. Montgomery St., (805) 646-6353

CAMARILLO

710 Arneill Rd., (805) 383-2770


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A spring sunset at Island Brewing Company

A view, a friend, a beer to share!

5049 6th Street, Carpinteria, CA Linden Ave at the Trax www.islandbrewingcompany.com | 805.745.8272

Tap Room Open Monday to Thursday: 12-9 pm Friday: 12 -10 pm Saturday: 11am -10 pm Sunday: 11am - 9 pm

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Parenting Without According to parenting expert Susan Stiffelman, if you want to imagine how to parent without power struggles, it helps to picture a ship captain, two lawyers, and a dictator. And ice cream. Stiffelman, a psychotherapist, author and speaker, uses her hands to illustrate the three ways parents can engage with their children: As a calm Captain of the ship, an argumentative Lawyer, or an overpowering Dictator. “Make your hands into two fists,” she says, “and position them side by side. The hand representing the parent will be on the right, and the hand representing the child will be on the left.” She invites us to imagine pushing the two hands against one another, palm to palm, to visualize the dynamic she refers to as “the Two Lawyers.” Each side is arguing for what they want, with neither listening to the other. A child may announce, “I’m having ice cream for dinner.” The parent, fearing a power struggle, says “You can’t have ice cream for dinner! We’re having mung bean stew with organic zucchini and quinoa!” “I hate that stew,” says the child, and the battle has begun. Things escalate, with parent and child each arguing that they’re right and the other is wrong. This is a familiar scenario for parents who find themselves bargaining and negotiating to convince a child to cooperate. Things often get worse. The child says, “I’m not going to eat that stew unless you give me ice


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Power Struggles cream first!” Using the hands analogy, the child’s hand is above the parent’s, leaving mom or dad desperate to regain control. And just as a dictator who feels powerless relies on fear and intimidation, the parent resorts to threats or bribes to force the child into compliance. The sweet spot is when the right (parent’s) hand is above the left. The parent is confidently charge, like the calm captain of a ship who isn’t afraid of stormy seas. If the child says he wants ice cream, the parent sets limits with kindness: “I know you want ice cream. You really like it and it’s hard to hear that you can’t have something you want so much.” The parent validates the child’s desire without shame or anger, helping him move toward disappointment in a way that builds resilience while maintaining connection. “But we’re going to wait and have dinner first.”

in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and on PBS, the “Today” show and National Public Radio. For many years she wrote Huffington Post’s weekly parenting column, and she now offers a podcast, an online membership support community for parents around the world and live parenting presentations.

Power of Now,” wrote the foreword to her 2015 book “Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids,” and included the book as part of his curated Eckhart Tolle Edition series. Spiritual author (and presidential candidate) Marianne Williamson, musician

When parents and children interact in this way, Stiffelman says, they have fewer power struggles. “I’m not saying that parents should be in control of their kids; I’m suggesting they need to be in charge,” she writes in her 2010 book “Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm, and Connected.” “Control,” she says, “is an attempt to compensate for feeling powerless or afraid. Being in charge means that we’re capable of keeping our cool even when our kids are unhappy or misbehaving. When our children perceive us as steady and calm — regardless of their moods or behavior — they can relax, knowing they can count on us to get them through the challenging moments of their lives.” Stiffelman recently moved to Ojai with her husband. Her career began as a credentialed teacher more than 30 years ago. She later became a marriage and family therapist and psychotherapist. Mom to an adult son, Ari Andersen, she has been featured as a parenting expert

Speaking at the launch of the Eckhart Tolle Foundation.

Stiffelman said that when she started out as a therapist working with kids with emotional or behavioral problems, parents often asked her to fix their child without getting involved in the solution. “I realized everything would change more fundamentally if I helped parents shift how they relate to their kids on a daily basis,” she said, “so I invented the idea of being the confident captain of the ship for our children.” Stiffelman, who started meditating at age 17, also incorporates spiritual concepts into her parenting advice. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, author of “The

Alanis Morissette, and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn have endorsed Stiffelman’s approach, and she has worked closely with Ojai’s Byron Katie, creator of “The Work” method of self-inquiry. Stiffelman weaves mindfulness into her work, encouraging children — and parents — to feel their feelings without trying to hide from the unpleasant ones. “Children feel more when we’re the captain of the ship — rather than the argumentative lawyer or bossy dictator.” Stiffelman often asks parents at workshops what percentage of interactions with their child are friendly ones. A majority discover that they actually spend most of their time criticizing, giving


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advice, or telling their child what to do or not do, generating ongoing tension and conflict.

mentors is Gordon Neufeld, a childdevelopment psychologist who approaches parenting from the perspective of attachment theory, which “means different things for different people,” Stiffelman said. “Some people think it means never putting a baby down or co-sleeping throughout their childhood.”

To help parents increase friendly interactions while still remaining firmly in charge, she offers another metaphor. “In chemistry, if a solution is highly acidic, you don’t bring it back to neutral by removing the acid,” she said. “Instead, you add a base, or alkaline.” Increasing loving interactions reduces the “acidity” of the parent-child relationship. “Human beings are wired to resist being bossed around outside of attachment,” Stiffelman explained. “If we’re always in lawyer or dictator mode, we’re in coercion mode, fueling the child’s instinct to resist and push back. When in captain mode, we’re less directive and punitive,” which biases a child to be more cooperative, receptive, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, she said, lawyer or dictator mode “is where a lot of parents live.” It’s usually how we were raised and therefore what we’re most familiar with, leading us to issue commands, negotiate, argue, bribe, and threaten when our children aren’t cooperating. But reducing power struggles doesn’t mean being permissive — caving in or letting kids have whatever they want.

Coaching an audience of parents in San Francisco.

of the internet. But “a child’s brain needs engagement with the 3D world, nature and imaginative play,” she said. The first (and hardest) step she asks parents to take related to digital dependency time is to set limits. To a child who won’t turn off a digital device, a parent might say, “I get that you wish you could play on the iPad another half hour and it doesn’t seem fair that your screen time is over … and it’s time to turn it off.” “Due to the addictive nature of digital devices, children will not be pleased,” she said. “You have to be comfortable with the child’s unhappiness, including their anger, tantrum or meltdown.” Next, she said, parents need to be models by spending less time texting or looking at a phone themselves. Success requires continued reinforcement. “You’re swimming upstream, and your child will say you’re the only parent who has these limits,” she said. “It helps to find likeminded, like-hearted parents” for support.

Teaching online with Byron Katie.

“I’m definitely not an advocate of wishy-washy, ‘do whatever you feel like’ parenting,” Stiffelman said. The captain “holds a safe place in the child’s life by setting sane, practical limits with compassion. Children are unsettled when they don’t where the line is.” A challenge parents face often, she said, is over technology and screen time. “There is a direct correlation between overimmersion in digital activity, and anxiety and depression,” she said, adding that she’s “not a Luddite,” and realizes her own work reaches many more people because

Stiffelman acknowledges that many people have grown up in dysfunctional families and haven’t learned by example how to parent effectively. “A lot of our own unhealed wounded parts can show up when we’re parenting,” she said. “When parents start trying to be less reactive and more patient, it can stir up big emotions. It’s second nature to do to our children what was done to us.”

For her, however, “it’s simply a term that implies that we cultivate a loving relationship with our children that helps them feel seen, safe, and secure.” Attachment, she said, is designed to create a sense of connection and closeness “that is essential to the emotional well-being of a child, or any human being of any age.” She’s also influenced by homeschooling proponents John Holt and Howard Gardner, who developed the theory of multiple intelligences. “Because I was a teacher, I came to see that a lot of what happens with kids who claim to hate school is that they’re being asked to learn in a way that’s incompatible with their learning style,” she said. “Every child is born with brilliance. When we pigeonhole our kids and don’t nurture their unique gifts and passions, we set them up for challenges with anxiety, misbehavior and depression.” Stiffelman knows none of this is easy. “Just because you’ve become a parent doesn’t mean you’ve changed species. You don’t suddenly become a saint with infinite patience,” she said. “My work is about self-awareness, self-compassion, self-care, including reaching out for support when we need it.” After all, even the best captain has a trusted crew. For more on Stiffelman’s work, visit www.SusanStiffelman.com

Much of her work with families involves breaking those patterns, teaching parents to be compassionate toward themselves, which includes noticing and naming whatever feelings come up — even the tough ones. A current parenting “trend,” she said, is attachment parenting, which is one of the foundations of her work. One of her

Best sellers, “Parenting Without Power Struggles” and “Parenting with Presence.” available from book stores and online.


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Introducing

· NEW CLINICS ·

FOR JUNIORS & ADULTS OF ALL LEVELS VISIT OUR WEBSITE to view the weekly calendar and reserve your clinic today.

855.591.8868 OjaiValleyInn.com

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“To sing is to love and affirm, to fly and soar, to coast into the hearts of the people who listen, to tell them that life is to live, that love is there, that nothing is a promise but that beauty exists and must be hunted for and found.” — Joan Baez


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the Discoteca of

Perla Batalla By Glen Creason

The first thing you notice at a Perla Batalla concert is her cool confidence. Even before she opens her mouth and relaxes the hall with a voice you could pour over a waffle she has a charismatic presence. Maybe that stems from the genuine love she exudes for her audience and they just organically give back. Yet, her shows are always about music that traces her own history, and she chooses only the very best material from many years on stage. The Perla sound is rich and resilient, capable of reaching almost anywhere notes are waiting to be sung the right way. You might mistake her graceful glide to the microphone as regal until you notice she is barefoot and smiling like a kid at Disneyland. That is because she loves to sing, loves to give the gift of music and just can’t stop preaching about the beauty and pain we all share.


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This voice is V-8 powerful but capable of rare delicacy on ballads. I am of the opinion that the greatest musical instrument in the world is the human voice and I am particular to female singers but I have actually seen her make admirers forget to breathe when the last notes fall. Hers is an instrument that can reach the back row of the balcony but the plaintive intimacy is straight out of Mexican vocal tradition. A friend automatically reaches into her purse upon hearing the opening piano coda of “Cucurrucucú” Paloma” at that soft time in a concert. She knows what

is coming but still becomes one with the brokenhearted protagonist every time. The purity and power of Perla’s pipes are rare and wonderful to behold but she has paid the price to get to the level she now occupies. Many modern singers are focused on the framework of song and their ability to perform sonic pyrotechnics, with the lyrics as an afterthought. Ms. Batalla has the hard-earned skill of understanding the intent of a songwriter and putting passion into her interpretation which is presented without the ego that afflicts so many young

singers. Secondly, there is the choice of marvelous material that gives freedom to the perfect vocalist to cover the gamut of emotional honestly. You can hear a fine voice on American Idol, but you can only put love into lyrics like Perla by travelling a long musical journey filled with setbacks, surprises and low points conquered with the help of good friends, family and a deep unshakable love for singing. She can lead a march on “Hey Look Me Over” and share shots of musical tequila with José Alfredo Jiménez, always staying true to the music. Overall, her personal


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As another singer described it: “the sound my scars make when I sing.” It is more important to give the audience the gift of the true Leonard Cohen than to talk about one’s own grief. I confess I have followed Perla since her days in small clubs where people smoked and she was an ingénue who sang the great American songbook the way it was supposed to sound, all sweet and dreamy. It was evident from the get-go at the Largo that she was focused on the songs and not how she sounded singing them. She was just a kid but she had that musical wisdom early. This is 180 degrees away from today’s song thrushes, but she had already learned plenty at her papa’s knee about telling a story in a song. Perla was raised by immigrant parents in a Santa Monica that was far from today’s unreachable real estate locations. Her dad was a larger-than-life Mexican singer and owner of a record store, Discoteca Batalla, at the corner of Lincoln and Pier. Her mom, the businesswoman, was an energetic and charming Latina who Perla only discovered was Argentinian when she heard her using German words to a neighborhood butcher.

attitude is one of gratitude and celebration of the arts that keep us positive in our journeys. God knows, we need that positive vibe now. She may sing a rousing “Gracias a la Vida” with an honest glow but change the temperature of your blood with the sadness of “So Long, Marianne,” within the context of her personal reminiscence of her deep bond with Leonard Cohen. In the case of Perla’s bittersweet tribute show to her late and great mentor “Leo,” when she touches her own sadness she must press on past her own feelings of loss and put his legacy into the song.

Above left: Perla with friend and mentor Leonard Cohen. Left: Barbara Batalla serves another customer at their Santa Monica record store, Discoteca Batalla, where Perla worked as a little girl. “By the time I was 10 years old I could run the store by myself.” Above: Perla’s “papa,” Jorge Batalla (right). “Sometimes on the weekends ... out front there would be a full mariachi in their costumes ... and hundreds of people would gather down the street.”


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PERSONAL APPEARANCES Sun, Mar 29, Ventura, CA The Museum of Ventura County Focus on the Masters; A Conversation with Perla Batalla Sat, Apr 18, Los Angeles, CA The Theater at Ace Hotel “Perla Batalla’s Discoteca Batalla” Thu, Apr 23, New York, NY The Town Hall “Perla Batalla in the House of Cohen”


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The record store was a place where the entire family worked and hung out because it was a really fun gathering spot with music and friends and good food filling those Santa Monica days. Perla learned the songs of Javier Solis and Lydia Mendoza but also some Patsy Cline and Frank Sinatra along the way. They say “only write about what you know” and presently Perla Batalla is producing a show about those formative years at the family store filled with sweet memories and great songs she sings from deep in her Batalla family heart. The music goes back to when she was a little girl and her love for those songs has never faded. Early on, it was evident the little Perla had a gift and despite some advice about the life of a musician she managed to get in front of audiences doing one of life’s most nerve-racking pursuits. Over the years she has sung in smoky, little clubs; in historic halls; in cool, low-ceilinged jazz rooms; at the Getty Museum; venerable Royce Hall; in churches; private gardens; at a medieval castle; in a Los Angeles water court; at the Sydney Opera house; under oak trees in Ojai and in historic buildings all over the world. The list is longer than a Rite-Aid receipt. Recently, her popularity in Spain has given her the opportunity to enjoy the mother-mother country but also a lot of hotel rooms and airport lounges away from Ojai. She has been humbled and disappointed many times by the business but the music drew her back. After all, she has stood on a stage next to two of the greatest figures in music history (Sonny Rollins and Leonard Cohen) and held her own. This brings up the challenge of all musicians who have to hit the road to make a living. It might be nice to stay in beautiful Ojai with her dear friends but even The Beatles had to leave Liverpool. Despite the demands of a troubadour’s life, being a mother has always been her primary role and the result is a daughter so extraordinary you would wish you had a kid to set her up with. Perla and Claud moved to Ojai to raise a family and scraped up enough

dough to send Eva to one of the best schools in Southern California and then to an excellent eastern university. They had to break the piggy-bank to make it through but they cooked a lot of great food and sang a lot of beautiful songs along the way. The Batalla-Mann family has always been socially conscious and you will see them giving their time for great causes including the empowerment of women, social equality, literacy, immigrant rights and the unending fight against hunger where Claud has been on the vanguard. Despite music being Perla’s livelihood, she has given her voice to good causes countless times, including once singing “Las Mãnanitas” over the phone to a senior citizens home. Claud also makes legendary sourdough bread and co-owns an excellent Ojai restaurant, Ojai Rôtie. God bless him. In the beginning, Perla was a singer who knew the words, then a performer who understood how to bend the melody to fit the lyric, then an entertainer who could mix story and song, and for some time now an artist who can rise above and make a concert memorable time after time. Talent is easy enough to discern but making a concert an entertainment is another thing altogether and a daunting task in these sound bite days. You sing four ballads in a row and teary eyes glaze. You start slow and Below: With husband, chef and restaurateur, Claud Mann.

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Above: “Discoteca Batalla,” available to download from www.perla.com

when you achieve lift off the audience has left off. You have to find the perfect mix and keep the faithful joining you in the up-tempos and down-beats of your concerts. Finding this mix is what makes a true vocal artist and Perla knows how to create a mood for a full evening. Maybe it helps that her husband and co-conspirator is a chef who understands pacing and taking chances to create a lasting memory. The last show, “The House of Cohen,” was as tight and emotional as any seen in these parts in a long time. We will be looking forward to the new show “Discoteca Batalla” and visits to some old favorites like the increasingly poignant “El Reloj,” the exquisite “Cucurrucucú Paloma” that she truly owns, and other musical memories that will sit this extraordinary singer down on her porch of memory with Papa Batalla.


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74OJAIMUSICFESTIVAL This year, the Ojai Music Festival will be directed by internationally renowned conductor/composer Matthias Pintscher who will conduct pieces by his musical mentor Pierre Boulez, who was himself, director of the festival for seven of its most formative years.


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At the Ojai Music Festival, Matthias Pintscher’s music will emerge from nothingness, as a beginning. Not the beginning — a beginning, a moment of hazy rather than firm truth. Music director Pintscher, to open the 74th festival June 11, will conduct the Ensemble Intercontemporain, playing his composition “Bereshit,” the Hebrew word that begins the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), translated in English as “a beginning.” In the Torah verse, God is creating the world. In “Bereshit” (pronounced beh-ray-SHEET), the music begins with silence, followed by brief spurts of sound from the double bass, percussion and harp, all slowly unfolding to include the other orchestral instruments.

0611-142020

By Karen Lindell

Pintscher describes this moment “as if you woke up in the pitch darkness of night in a strange room and only realized after a few seconds where you were. In this state, you attempt to make out the shapes of the space. It is a beginning of a beginning from absolute darkness and shapelessness. Quite cautiously and gradually, particles free themselves, then condense and fit together in shapes.” Like all of Pintscher’s compositions, and the music he champions as a conductor, “Bereshit” creates space to bring audiences into the music and lets them shape what they feel. The 74th Ojai Music Festival, with concerts taking place from June 11 to 14, will feature the multinational Pintscher — he was born in Germany, has spent a great deal of time in France and lives in New York, where he teaches at Juilliard — as space- and shape-maker.

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Chad Smith, the festival’s new artistic director, replacing Thomas W. Morris, said the 2020 event will, as always, “challenge us, but it will also be a festival with the space for contemplation and finding solace in one of the most magical valleys in the world.” The festival, Smith said, will explore Pintscher’s “musical persona: his connection to (Pierre) Boulez” and other European modern and contemporary composers, “his life split between the musical communities of New York and Paris, his role as an educator, and his extraordinary imagination as a composer. Across the weekend’s concerts, those threads … are contextualized by works from the great canon, and challenged by voices familiar and unfamiliar.”

director since 2013. The contemporary ensemble, in residence at the Philharmonie de Paris, tours frequently, but will be making its first appearance at the Ojai Music Festival. “As a collective, they are one of the most important and refined bodies of musicians,” Smith said. “Individually, each player is a great artist in his/her own right.” Other festival artists include the Calder Quartet and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. Smith, who was promoted to chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in October, said he has known Pintscher for many years, and worked with him at the LA Phil. “He has this incredible connection to the lineage of music, and is a widely admired friend and colleague to composers around the world,” Smith said. Among Pintscher’s closest mentors was the late French composer-conductor Boulez, music director of the Ojai Music Festival himself seven times from 1967 to 2003.

Ensemble Intercontemporain with Matthias Pintscher conducting.

So, for example, in addition to Pintscher’s works, audiences will hear Mozart’s “Gran Partita Serenade in B-flat major”, paired with Pierre Boulez’s “Sur Incises”; György Ligeti’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” on a program with Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G-major” and Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth’s “Aello — ballet mécanomorphe”; and Edgard Varèse’s “Octandre” on a bill with Frank Zappa’s “The Perfect Stranger” and Gustav Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde.” Many of the performances will feature the 31-member Ensemble Intercontemporain, founded in 1976 by Boulez and helmed by Pintscher as artistic

“Pierre Boulez was one of the great founding musicians of this festival … so the music and spirit of Boulez live in this place; we’re going to have some of that through the eyes and ears and conducting of Matthias,” Smith said. Pintscher, 49, met Boulez as a young composer in the early 2000s at a lunch set up by the music director of the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Pintscher told Van Magazine when they first met, he was “really nervous. Because what if he asked: ‘How are you generating your harmonies? Why are you orchestrating like that?’” He needn’t have worried. They ended up talking about “Jean-Luc Godard, film noir, Francis Bacon, Paul Klee, a lot about Patrice Chéreau.”

2003. Pierre Boulez conducts the LA Philharmonic at Libbey Bowl. One of the leading lights of the 20th century avant garde, Pierre Boulez was Pintscher’s muical mentor.

Later, Boulez became “like a father” to him, Pintscher said. Despite his German upbringing, Pintscher told Fanfare Cincinnati that he “always felt more French than German” and moved to France at age 16. “Naturally, French music has been very close to my heart,” he said. “I love one element that basically all French art and culture shares: an appreciation and awareness of detail. … It’s something you can really connect with on any level, as a composer, as an interpreter, as a conductor and as a teacher.” Pintscher, born in 1971 in the German town of Marl, grew up learning to play the violin, piano and percussion, then became a conductor (his first conducting experience was leading a youth orchestra at age 14) and composer, so he could “breathe life into the orchestra himself.” He studied conducting with Hungary’s Peter Eötvös in his 20s, and composition with German composers Hans Werner Henze and Manfred Trojahn. By age 22, he had already written three symphonies, and his career took off after the premiere of his opera “Thomas Chatterton” at the Semperoper Dresden in 1998. Pintscher has been the “season creative chair” for Switzerland’s TonhalleOrchester Zürich, artist-in-residence for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and artist-in-association for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (a tenure that lasted nine years). He has also been a guest conductor throughout Europe and North America for the


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top orchestras in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Helsinki, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Milwaukee, Montreal, New York, Paris and more. He started teaching composition at The Juilliard School in 2014. Other Pintscher compositions to be performed in Ojai include the West Coast premiere of “Nur,” a concerto for piano and ensemble; “Uriel,” for violoncello and piano; and his Fourth “String Quartet, Ritratto di Gesualdo” (Portrait of Gesualdo, referring to the Italian 16th-century composer Carlo Gesualdo).

space and perspective are very crucial elements of any composition. Space allows the reader, the listener, the viewer, to include him or herself (in) what the artist has conceived. I strongly believe that we need to provide that space, and not throw out a one-to-one intention that we are imposing on the listener. We need to find a way for people to find out something about themselves inside a piece of art.” Watch — and listen to — this space.

Andrew Clements wrote in The Guardian that “anyone coming to Pintscher’s music for the first time … will be struck by the beguiling soundworld, by the microscopic detail of every texture and by the imagination with which every color is used.

Pintscher’s compositions are often inspired by visual art, and he has spoken about the idea of visual and musical space. He told Ludwig Van, “I think

THURSDAY 06/11 7:30pm Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain with Della Miles, vocalist Unsuk CHIN Gougalōn (Scenes from a Street Theater) Matthias PINTSCHER Bereshit Olga NEUWIRTH Suite from Eleanor (US Premiere) FRIDAY 06/12 11:00am Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain GENESIS CYCLE (U.S. Premiere) 7:30pm Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain LA Phil New Music Group Calder Quartet MENDELSSOHN String Octet, Op. 20 Matthias PINTSCHER Nur (West Coast Premiere) Steve REICH Tehillim SATURDAY 06/13 11:00am Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain LIGETI Concerto for Piano and Orchestra BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 Olga NEUWIRTH Aello – ballet mécanomorphe 7:30pm Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain, Members of the LA Phil MOZART Serenade in B-flat major, K.361/370a “Gran Partita” BOULEZ Sur Incises

Pintscher told Van Magazine in 2017 that as a composer, he doesn’t write when he’s “experiencing strong feelings. Never. There are no tears when you’re writing. ... For me it’s like Japanese calligraphy. All the inspiration and preparation go toward the moment when you dunk your brush into the ink, and you execute the stroke, the sign, the gesture. Maybe you prepare two days or 20 years for it. But you can’t alter it. It’s done. And it represents some sort of perfection. Even if there’s only a hint of perfection in that gesture, it’s valid.” As a conductor, Pintscher said he believes in the key “synergy” between himself and the musicians he’s leading. He told digital news media network Ludwig Van, “You don’t come in with answers; it’s really a dialogue with the musicians, with the score. You rehearse. You set it up, but then you also have to let go. That’s the most important element of being an interpreter. It doesn’t really matter how much you know; the music has to speak — be unleashed.”

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74OJAIMUSICFESTIVAL 0611-142020 At Libbey Bowl and other Ojai venues.

Full program and tickets: www.ojaifestival.org Box Office: 805 646 2053 boxoffice@ojaifestival.org Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

SUNDAY 06/14 8:30am Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain Calder Quartet Matthias PINTSCHER 4° quartetto d’archi “Ritratto di Gesualdo” GESUALDO Arrangement by Sciarrino BACH Selection from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080 BOULEZ Mémoriale 11:00am Libbey Bowl Matthias Pintscher, conductor Ensemble Intercontemporain, Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano, and Andrew Staples, tenor VARÈSE Octandre ZAPPA The Perfect Stranger MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Glenn Cortese). For a complete festival shedule visit their website www.ojaifestival.org


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SPECIAL ISSUE EARTH DAY EVENT PROGRAM - APRIL 10TH Included with your copy of the Ojai Valley News, about town, and at the event in Libbey Park on April 18th. team@ojaivalleynews.com OJAIVALLEYNEWS .COM NOW IT’S CLEAR

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Calendar

MARCH 2020 - JULY 2020

The Ojai Music Festival 2020, will be directed this year by Mattius Pintscher.

March Art Exhibit Feb. 1 through April 19 Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Ave. (805) 640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org “22 Miles: Ojai Valley Landscapes” features works by 19 Southern California artists who are favorites of the co-curators, Ojai artists Jennifer Moses and Gail Pidduck, whose homes are on opposite ends of the Ojai Valley. Art Exhibit Feb. 28 through April 2 Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org Works by artist Robbie Braun will be on display in the Main Gallery, by Tom Hardcastle in the Signature Gallery and Beato Showcase, and by Drew Lurie in the Front Showcase. Art Exhibit March 12 through May 31

Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. canvas and paper, 311 N. Montgomery St. (805) 798-9301 www.canvasandpaper.org Works by artists Roger de La Fresnaye, Giorgio Morandi and Ben Nicholson will be on display. Art Exhibit

“Sacred Deities of Ancient Egypt: An Exhibition of Photographs” by Jacqueline Thurston. A free reception will be held March 14 from 2 to 4 p.m., followed at 4 p.m. by a lecture and book signing on “Sacred Deities of Ancient Egypt.” “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” March 20 through April 12 Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 640-8797 www.OjaiACT.org Linda Livingston will direct this Tony Award-winning play, which is a playful Chekhov parody by Christopher Durang. Guitar Concert

March 14 through April 25 Fridays & Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com “The Lost City,” an exhibit by Patricia Keller, will be on display in the Beato Gallery, while the Logan Gallery will be displaying

March 21, 7 p.m.

Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com Jim Kimo West, Hawaiian slack key guitarist, will perform. “Postcards from Home” March 28, 7 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com “Postcards from Home: Music, Dance and Stories from a Different Time in Hawaii” will be presented by master storyteller Kamaka Brown and singersongwriter Kimo Williams. Baseball Skills Training Clinic March 29, Noon to 2 p.m. Rancho Grande, 7674 Rose Valley Road gm@ranchogrande.com Kitasuna, Little League World Series Champions from Japan, will hold a baseball skills training clinic for all local 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls. Admission is free and all are invited to this two-hour workout.


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Opera Concert March 29, 4 p.m. Ojai Retreat & Inn, 160 Besant Road (805) 646-2536 www.ojairetreatculturalcenter.org World-renowned opera singer Samuel De Palma will perform in a concert to benefit the retreat.

(805) 646-7241 www.ojaitourney.org theojaitennis@gmail.com “The Ojai” is the oldest amateur tennis tournament in the United States. This will be the 120th annual tournament, sponsored by the Ojai Valley Tennis Club. Lama Glenn

April Art Exhibit and Raffle April 3 through May 3 Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org The annual “Great Art Theft” exhibit will be on display in the galleries and showcases. Local artists have donated art which will be raffled off to benefit the Art Center during a gala reception May 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. “Seeking Truth” Talk April 9, 7 p.m. Ojai Retreat & Inn 160 Besant Road (805) 646-2536 www.ojairetreatculturalcenter.org Dr. Wade Dayez will deliver a talk titled “Seeking Truth in an Age of Pluralism: The Importance of Understanding World Religions.” Open House April 12, 2 to 4 p.m. Ojai Retreat & Inn, 160 Besant Road (805) 646-2536 www.ojairetreatculturalcenter.org Visit guest rooms and outdoor event venues. Admission is free and there will be a gathering at 3 p.m. on the Mountain View Terrace featuring music and raffle prizes. Ojai Tennis Tournament

April 22 through 26; various times, matches start at 8 a.m. each day Libbey Park and various venues

April 23, 7 p.m. Ojai Retreat & Inn 160 Besant Road (805) 646-2536 www.ojairetreatculturalcenter.org Lama Glenn will talk on “Harmonizing Bliss and Wisdom.” Pay at the door ($15, $12 for students and seniors).

May KFA Gathering

Art Raffle and Gala May 3, 4 to 7 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org The “Great Art Theft” exhibit will end with the donated art being raffled off to benefit the Art Center during a gala reception. Photography Exhibit May 8 through June 4 Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org “Contrast: Beyond Black and White,” the annual photography exhibit, will be on display with a reception being held May 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. “Young Frankenstein” May 8 through May 31 Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 640-8797 www.OjaiACT.org John Medeiros will direct this musical comedy by Mel Brooks. Ojai Valley Garden Tour

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Art Exhibit

May 16 through June 20 Fridays & Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com Works by the American Ceramic Society of Southern California will be on display in the Beato Gallery, while the Logan Gallery will be displaying “Ojai Visions: Part 1,” featuring works by members of Ojai Studio Artists. A free opening reception will be held May 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. Community Chorus Concerts May 16, 7 p.m. & May 17, 3 p.m. Ojai United Methodist Church, 120 Church Road (805) 798-4791 www.ojaichorus.wordpress.com The Ojai Community Chorus will perform their spring concert with the theme of “Fun Under the Big Top.” Many Ojai artists, both vocal and instrumental, will be featured, and a bake sale will be held. “Art in the Park”

May 2 and 3, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oak Grove School 220 W. Lomita Ave. (805) 646-2726 www.kfa.org The Krishnamurti Foundation of America hosts its annual free gathering featuring speakers, workshops, dialogues and more. Art Exhibit May 2 through July 19 Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Ave. (805) 640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org “The Ojai Eye: Master Photographers, 1874-2020” will be on display throughout the museum.

May 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Various locations (805) 646-8126 www.ojaichamber.org The Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsors this annual tour of private gardens located around the Ojai Valley. Super Cool Treasure Sale May 16, 9 a.m. to noon Ojai Valley Museum 130 W. Ojai Ave. (805) 640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org Tons of bargains will be available on collectibles, antiques, books and more.

May 23 and 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Libbey Park (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org Some of the finest artists in the Ojai Valley and from around California will showcase their work at the Ojai Art Center’s annual “Art in the Park.” Admission is free. Memorial Day Breakfast May 25, 7 to 10 a.m. American Legion Hall, 843 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai


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(805) 640-0277 pattibagley@gmail.com Free breakfast for all veterans will be served by the American Legion Auxiliary #482 ($4 for all others). Memorial Day Concert

May 25, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Libbey Bowl (805) 646-0076 pattibagley@gmail.com A free concert will be held in Libbey Bowl, beginning with patriotic music by The British Brass, followed by singers and speakers, honoring the fallen. Posters honoring veterans will be on display.

June Art Exhibit June 5 through July 9 Tuesday through Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Ojai Art Center 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org Works will be on display throughout the gallery by artists Carlos Grasso, Gayel Childress and Bruce Tomkinson with a reception June 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. Blues Festival June 6, 2 to 10 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-0117 www.ojaiartcenter.org The sixth annual Blues Festival, featuring several music groups playing blues and rock, will be held on the back patio. Chamber Music Concert June 7 at 2 p.m. Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery St. (805) 646-1158 www.ojaiartcenter.org The Landmark String Quartet will perform a concert of classical music favorites.

Ojai Music Festival June 11 through June 14, various times Libbey Bowl and other venues (805) 646-2094 www.ojaifestival.org The 74th annual Ojai Music Festival will fbe led by this year’s music director, Matthias Pintscher. Weekend Retreat June 13 & 14, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Ojai Retreat & Inn, 160 Besant Road (805) 646-2536 www.ojairetreatculturalcenter.org Mukesh Gupta will lead a weekend retreat on “Is There a Completely Different Way of Living in a World of Confusion and Violence?” Dance Program June 13, 6 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com Rangoli Dance Company will present “Chandrachooda, Adorned by the Moon,” an evening of Indian classical dance. Ojai Wine Festival June 14, noon to 4 p.m. Lake Casitas (800) 648-4881 www.ojaiwinefestival.com Rotary Club of Ojai West will host its 34th annual Ojai Wine Festival, featuring award-winning wineries and breweries, plus food, crafts, silent auction, live music, dance floor, and more.

Music Concert June 20, 7 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com Jazz pianist David Paquette will perform with special guest guitarist Ken Emerson.

Lavender Festival June 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Libbey Park (805) 646-3424 www.ojaivalleylavenderfestival.org The Ojai Valley Lavender Festival will feature a marketplace of lavender plants and products, plus cooking demonstrations, music, speakers, and more. Free admission, parking and shuttle.

(805) 640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org Approximately one-hour tours of historical and cultural attractions in downtown Ojai.

July Independence Day Events July 3 and 4 Various times and locations See www.ojai4thofjuly.com for more information.

Music Concert July 17, 7 p.m. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road (805) 646-3381 www.beatricewood.com Stephen Inglis, award-winning Hawaiian slack key guitarist, will perform.

Ongoing Events

Certified Farmers’ Market Every Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Matilija Street city parking lot (behind the Arcade) (805) 698-5555 Open-air market featuring locally grown produce, plants, musicians and handmade items, including soaps, baskets, beeswax candles and olive oil. Ojai Historical Walking Tour Every Saturday (except Ojai Day), October through June, 10:30 a.m. Depart from Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Ave.

Old-Time Fiddlers Second and fourth Sunday, 1:30 to 4 p.m. Oak View Community Center, 18 Valley Road, Oak View (805) 797-6563 www.calfiddlers.com Join the California State Old-Time Fiddlers, District 8, for a fun-filled afternoon of listening or dancing to country, western and bluegrass music. Free admission and parking. Third Friday in Ojai Third Friday of each month 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Ave. (805) 640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org Free admission, refreshments, music and more every month. Other nearby downtown merchants also participate. Family Fun Day Sunday Last Sunday of each month, 1 to 3 p.m. Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Ave. (805) 640-1390 www.ojaivalleymuseum.org Free admission and family-friendly activities. Concerts in the Park Third Friday of each month, 5:30 p.m. Libbey Park’s Fountain Plaza (805) 646-8126 www.ojaichamber.org Free concerts are sponsored by the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce. Chess in the Park Third Saturday of each month, 2 to 5 p.m. Libbey Park’s Fountain Plaza (805) 646-8126 www.ojaichamber.org Free chess games are sponsored by the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce.


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BECOMING

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NOBODY

How Richard Alpert, a prominent Harvard psychologist, was transformed into Ram Dass, the much-loved and revered American guru. by Karen Lindell Everyone wanted Richard Alpert to be somebody. But being somebody (an admired Harvard professor) was unsatisfying, so he became Ram Dass, whose goal was to be nobody. He succeeded admirably, and encouraged everybody else to be nobody, too. “When you can make yourself into zero, then your power is unbelievable,” Ram Dass says in the documentary “Becoming Nobody.” “You are an irresistible force, where there is no high and … no low, there’s no judgment and no opinions, there’s no good and bad. You merely are a part of it.” You are a soul, no longer trapped in somebodiness. “Becoming Nobody,” produced by Ojai resident Raghu Markus and presented by the Ojai-based Love Serve Remember Foundation, was released in September 2019, a few months before beloved spiritual teacher Ram Dass died at age 88 at his home in Maui. Ram Dass, author of the bestselling 1971 “Be Here Now” and other spiritual books, was a wellknown author and speaker who had a remarkable

ability to convey Eastern philosophies to Western audiences. He suffered a stroke in 1997 that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak. But he learned to talk again, and resumed appearances until his death in December 2019. Documentary producer Markus is exeutive director of the Love Serve Remember Foundation, created in 2009 to preserve and continue the teachings of Ram Dass and his guru, the late Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharaj-ji. The foundation offers online courses, a blog, films, pod-casts, retreats and satsang, the Hindi word for spiritual community. In January, the foundation hosted a celebration of life for Ram Dass at Hari and Lakshmi Cianciulli’s Ojai home, known as Hanuman Gardens

(Hanuman is a Hindu monkey deity). Hundreds of people attended the memorial, which featured music, speakers and food. Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert in 1931, earned his new name, which means “servant of God,” after traveling to India in 1967. Up until then he had been a Harvard psychology professor with a doctorate from Stanford, a career on the upswing, and a posh Cambridge life. All the psychology he was teaching, however, didn’t ring true with him, so he welcomed the presence of Timothy Leary as a colleague at Harvard. With Leary, Ram Dass first tried hallucinogenic mushrooms, an experience that transformed him, as he describes in “Becoming Nobody”: “It undercut the models I had of who I thought I was. … Instead of being good, or this or that, or achiever, or anything, I experienced a place in myself where I just say, ‘I am.” It felt like it was my true being.” The two also tested psychedelic drugs on their students, which famously led to Ram Dass Pioneers in consciousness: Professor Richard Alpert and Dr. Timothy Leary.


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Right: Ram Dass became a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba, “I hang out with my guru in my heart. And I love every thing in the universe. That’s all I do all day.” Below: Published in 1971, “Be Here Now” has since become what many consider a seminal work of Eastern spirituality.

and Leary’s ouster from the university. Ram Dass then became a counterculture proponent of LSD, but after visiting India and meeting Neem Karoli Baba, learned spiritual principles and practices that taught him how to get “high” without the help of illicit substances. As he wrote in “Be Here Now,” he returned to the United States to share “the true message ... the living faith in what is possible.” “Be Here Now,” first published in 1971, is still in print and has sold more than 2 million copies. It’s divided into four parts: an autobiographical account of Dass’ transformation from Richard Alpert to Ram Dass; a selection of core beliefs and teachings with illustrations; how-to advice for yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices; and suggested further reading. A few of his many other books include “How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service” (co-written with Paul Gorman); “Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing and Dying”; and “Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Living and Dying” and “Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service” (both co-written with Mirabai Bush). Markus became a follower of Ram Dass while living in Montreal in 1969. At the time, Markus was the program director at a rock radio station, and someone called wanting the station to promote a lecture


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by Ram Dass at a nearby university. Markus, who had never heard of Ram Dass, asked for a tape of a previous lecture.

what Ram Dass is all about: He’s a vehicle for this incredible energized being with the ability to surrender into a vast space of unconditional love.”

“I was blown away; everything I heard was the truth I’d been waiting for all these years,” Markus recalled. “I just had to meet this guy.” They met at an apartment in Montreal. At first, “there were no words, just this powerful gaze that enveloped me with unconditional love and compassion,” Markus said.

Ram Dass’ legacy, Markus said, is the power to share that love, along with his sense of humor, “willingness to discuss his own foibles,” and the wisdom he has developed because of his career as a psychologist, blended with Eastern knowledge. “No one else has done it this way; he gets across a message that is plain-spoken, not esoteric, yet keeps the integrity of this tradition alive.”

Ten months later, they traveled to India together so Markus could meet Neem Karoli Baba. Markus’ first thought upon meeting the guru, he said, was, “That is

Markus, who created a world-music record company in Los Angeles in 1990,

Neem Karoli Baba, known to his followers as Maharaj-ji, was a Hindu guru, mystic and devotee of the Hindu lord Hanuman.

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moved to Ojai several years ago. He and other Ram Dass followers gravitated to Ojai when the Cianciullis, also devotees of Ram Dass, began hosting gatherings at Hanuman Gardens. “A vital, like-minded community grew up around it,” Markus said. Ram Dass had a strong network of followers from Los Angeles through the Bay Area, and Ojai was a natural spot for this community to gather. “Ojai is obviously very special as a spiritual place,” Markus said. Ram Dass himself visited Ojai before spending his final years in Maui, Markus said, although he was not sure exactly when, or what he did while in town.


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Markus last saw Ram Dass in Maui two weeks before he died, when the spiritual leader attended a Love Serve Remember retreat there. “He could barely speak, but gave everything he had,” Markus said. In private, they talked about “the future of the foundation, and he was completely present for every conversation.” The Love Serve Remember Foundation, at Ram Dass’ request, will continue its mission, Markus said, and amp up its efforts to reach more people, including those from diverse traditions, races, age groups and economic background. It’s working on presenting additional material online or via apps, and will offer retreats around the country, beyond Ojai and Maui.

“Becoming Nobody” features excerpts from archived Ram Dass lectures combined with a modern-day interview by director Jamie Catto. Artistically interspersed with footage of Dass are old cartoons, news footage and other vintage videos. Markus said Catto, co-creator of the award-winning “1 Giant Leap” films and albums, approached him about producing a Ram Dass documentary. Thousands of Dass’ speaking events are recorded, Markus said, and he gave Catto access

“Becoming Nobody” opened at the Maui Film Festival in Maui in June 2019, Markus said, and won the audience award. Ram Dass himself attended the screening; his response, Markus said, was, “‘Really, isn’t it boring seeing that guy talking?’ But when he saw people crying and laughing, taken in by the poignancy, he turned to me and said, ‘This is good.’ He didn’t care about himself; he cared about how it would help people. He just wanted to serve.” Markus, who hosts a podcast called

Along with his speaking and writing, Ram Dass founded the Hanuman Foundation to support humanitarian service and spiritual well-being and education. The organization’s efforts included the Prison-Ashram Project, which offered yoga, meditation and counseling to incarcerated individuals (it’s now a separate organization called the Human Kindness Foundation, with a mission to “encourage more kindness in the world”); and the Living-Dying Project, which offers support to people and families suffering from lifethreatening illnesses. He also co-founded the Seva Foundation, which works to prevent blindness and provide eye care to people in need. During their final time together, Markus and Ram Dass also discussed death, a subject Ram Dass embraced and peacefully accepted, especially in his later years after the stroke.

Above: Raghu Markus with Ram Dass at his home in Maui. Below: With Jamie Catto during filiming for “Becoming Nobody.”

The final part of “Becoming Nobody” focuses on dying.

The theme of the film, he said, revealed itself as they worked. “It turned into this journey about how we identify with our roles, and who we think we are — and how you undo all of that,” he said. “It talks about what service is, and how we deal with death in Western society on our journey from somebody to nobody, to the center of our being, that place called loving awareness.”

“Death is absolutely safe,” Ram Dass says in the film. “It’s like taking off a tight shoe. … The more you are aware of the spiritual nature of life, the more you see the moment of death as a moment for release … And the art form in dying is that at the moment of death, you are neither grabbing at life or pushing it away.”

Right: Raghu Markus with Hari and Lakshmi Cianciulli at the Ram Dass’ memorial event at Hanuman Gardens in Ojai.

to them. Together, they spent four years weaving together footage.


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Mindrolling, said he hopes the documentary serves to “translate teachings from the East so they can be a building block for people to get their lives in balance,” and help them let go of attachment to who they think they are. In “Becoming Nobody,” Ram Dass says we’re all born in a “spacesuit” we grow used to. “You get so good at using your spacesuit that you can’t differentiate yourself from your spacesuit anymore, and everybody comes up and says, ‘What a nice suit,’ and you’re constantly looking into other people’s eyes to find out if you’re really wearing a nice spacesuit. It’s what I call somebody training.” Being somebody, however, can be confining, untrue to who we really are, and a block to seeing other people. “We only see others as separate from ourselves,” Ram Dass says. “One of the dramatic characteristics of the psychedelic experience is being with another person

and suddenly seeing the ways in which they are like you, not different from you.” Markus hopes viewers will appreciate Ram Dass’ vast body of spiritual knowledge, drawn not just from Eastern religions and ideas like Buddhism, but also from Judaism, Christianity, Sufism and the Quaker doctrine. The documentary, still showing in some U.S. theaters, is available on DVD from the Love Serve Remember Foundation website. Markus hopes it will eventually air on Netflix or another streaming platform. Meanwhile, viewers can also watch another documentary on Netflix, “Ram Dass, Going Home,” a 30-minute film that features Ram Dass talking gently at his tranquil Maui home. Markus did not produce the 2017 film, directed by Derek Peck, but is thanked in the credits. Described as “a short film about being,” “Going Home” is worth watching as a sort of meditation, with tranquil images and

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music. It starts out featuring a black screen as the backdrop for Dass’ post-stroke slow, raspy, voice: “We are soul. As souls, we are not under time or space. We are infinite.” Because Ram Dass is unable to speak in long sentences, his words have a mantralike quality. “Make friends with change,” he says. “There’s change in the body, strength. Memory. Death is change. Just another one. Just another one. If you’re identified with your soul, death is a snap. The soul goes birth, death, birth, death. Death is another step towards home.” And perhaps most poignantly of all, he softly chants, “Love, love, love, love.” For more information about Ram Dass and the Love Serve Remember Foundation, including the seventh Ram Dass Legacy Immersion Retreat in Ojai taking place May 21 to 24, visit www.ramdass.org


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Sonic by Ellen Sklarz


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On this particular evening, Brook is joined by two other gifted musicians. Grammy Award–winning keyboardist and Ojai resident Mikael Jorgensen has been playing keyboards in the band Wilco for nearly 20 years, and tonight he performs on a selection of modular synthesizers. Sometimes referred to as David Lynch’s muse, Chrysta Bell — who recently played FBI Agent Tammy Preston in Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: The Return” — is this evening’s singer. She and Brook have known one another and, at times, performed together over the past decade. Guests entering the studio area are enveloped by Sonic Butterfly, an acoustic, chromatic, long-string harp designed by Brook. The resonating chambers with butterfly wing-shaped LED “wings” have two full octaves, and the strings are a minimum 60 feet long. All 26 strings expand out over the audience, creating a dreamy, full-sensory experience. Three disparate artists join together with Jorgensen’s heady, engrossing electronic music; Bell’s sultry, captivating presence; and Brook’s unparalleled, otherworldly array of sounds and movement. Clearly confident in what they do, each of these artists is completely immersed. Usually, for such a performance, says Brook, three rehearsals comprise the show for writing, refining, and actually rehearsing.

Butterfly An unassuming exterior belies what awaits this evening. Host Andrea Brook greets her local and out-of-town guests as she offers light snacks and beverages in the pleasant living/kitchen area. Small talk and bits of chatter are followed by an announcement to follow the downward staircase into the performance area. You have entered

The Ojai Cocoon


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Prior to this evening, however, Jorgensen came to the studio, set up, and started to play. Brook then joined in and also started to play. Finally, Bell, emerging from seemingly nowhere but everywhere, started singing. After 20 minutes, they stopped, looked at one another, and realized that this spontaneous music amalgam should not be controlled. They knew there would be no more rehearsing for the Saturday-night show.

Above: Sonic Butterfly creator Andrea Brook. Below: Blue Cocoon, left to right: David Lynch’s muse Chrysta Bell; Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen; Sonic Butterfly creator Andrea Brook.

Born in Michigan while her dad served in the Vietnam War, Brook played a little piano and a bit of bass guitar as a young girl. She never played the harp but was a dancer and gymnast, always exploring some type of movement sport or activity. Excelling in springboard and platform diving, 12-year-old Brook won a silver medal for diving in the Junior Olympics. By that time, her family had moved to South Florida, where she became a “‘Bring It On’ competition-style cheerleader, building pyramids, doing flips . . . all the physical things. “Even

today, my performances are very kinesthetic,” says Brook. Another chapter of her life began when Brook was performing aerial dance at the San Diego Street Scene with a performing arts company called Mass Ensemble. This particular show was accompanied by earth-harp designer William Close. When the principal dancer left, Brook was asked to tour with the group. Ultimately, she became the Mass Ensemble associate director for the next 12 years, working with them to produce shows throughout the world. In 2012, Brook was playing the earth harp at the annual Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The instrument was strung up to the main cathedral, La Parroquia. Along with a vocalist/violinist and two local drummers, Brook and her group were just one of the festival’s interactive participants in the colorful sight and sound celebration of traditional and contemporary art and creativity. Amid


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thousands of people in costumes, music, dancing and multicolored flags, Brook suddenly saw swarms of monarch butterflies flying through the town square. Historically, the Day of the Dead occurs when the monarchs appear. After performing at the festival three nights in a row, Brook became moved by the journey of the monarch butterfly, considered to be an iconic pollinator. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousands of miles — ranging from southern Canada through Northern South America — with a corresponding multigenerational return north. Transformation and rebirth, and the need to make changes in life, are among the many symbolic meanings of the monarch butterfly. Brook needed no further signs that it was time to make personal and professional changes in her life. She designed Sonic Butterfly, started touring, moved to Ojai, bought a house and established The Ojai Cocoon. As creator of Sonic Butterfly Productions,

Andrea Brook rehearsing with Ojai Youth Opera for “Nightingale & the Tower”.

she is clear, smart and organized, and is running a multifaceted company as artist, musician and entrepreneur. Hired for performing arts centers, festivals, corporate events and weddings, Brook has brought Sonic Butterfly to Canada, Mexico, India, Richard Branson’s Necker Island, and most recently, São Paulo, Brazil. The budget often dictates the type of show, although solo, duet and trio performances can be as compelling as a huge corporate event with a full band and dancers along with Sonic Butterfly. Locally, Brook is very involved. In January 2018, she performed outside Porch Gallery for the Thomas Fire Artists’ Recovery Fund. Last spring, she performed at Libbey Bowl with the Ojai Youth Opera in “The Nightingale & the Tower.” She teaches Sonic Butterfly yoga, along with a monthly long-string meditation. Recently, Mira Monte and Topa Topa elementary schools’ fifth graders visited The Ojai Cocoon art studio to experience Sonic Butterfly. Brook’s Guest Artist Series included the evening with Bell and Jorgensen, with that trio now called Blue Cocoon, available for bookings. The Sonic Butterfly Musical Journey,

which can be booked through such local hotels as the Ojai Valley Inn and the Blue Iguana Inn, is a two-hour show encompassing the sight, sound and story of the long-stringed harp. As one guest review says, “Imagine being inside of Yo-Yo Ma’s cello during a performance or sitting in the middle of a piano during a concert. This is how it felt to me to be literally inside and under a 59-foot-long harp that is the Sonic Butterfly. It’s awesome!” When asked about the future, Brook reflects on sustaining the physical demands of traveling with 200 pounds of equipment and costumes each time she performs out of town. Right now, though, she happily travels with her form of performance art, as she transforms architecture and natural environments into large-scale musical instruments. When she returns home to Ojai and this beautiful valley, Brook is quite content to continue her metamorphosis in her very own cocoon. www.sonicbutterfly.com : sonicbutterfly_andreabrook


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Soon after she launched Life Transformed University 14 years ago, Ojai native Rikka Zimmerman helped more than 150,000 people in 138 countries live better lives. But it wasn’t until may of 2015 when she was diagnosed with stage four melanoma cancer that her work took on deeper meaning. “When I was diagnosed, I had seven brain tumors in my head, one the size of a golf ball, and tumors in my lungs, liver and intestines … and it was a very aggressive, fast-growing cancer,” recalled Rikka. The day she heard the words “eight weeks left to live” from her doctor, she was consumed by grief. “It felt like I had died – this idea of the life and future that I thought I had was gone,” Rikka remembered. “I was

recovering from cancer, which she did in six months through changing her diet, and doing “all the emotional and spiritual work” involved with creating self love. She also underwent treatment that involved an immune therapy drug that was on trial at the time, “but it had a 68 percent success rate.” “When I met the doctor in Los Angeles, he said it was kismet I was in his office, because he was one of the people out

“When I was diagnosed, I had seven brain tumors in my head.” of 14 licensed to do the trial,” Rikka remembered. Surviving cancer had a huge impact on her role with Life Transformed University,

of limiting beliefs and into alignment with these six principles. Rikka’s first principle involves knowing “I am loved by Source.” “Quantum physics has proven that everything is made up of a unified field of life force energy that supports and sustains life,” she further explained. “This energy is called by many names: love, spirit, oneness, life force energy, universe, God; I like to use the word source, but it’s all the same.” It’s this infinite source energy that fills the universe, she said, and “fills our beings and connects all living things.” And yet, “we are living in a consciousness crisis. We have forgotten how, or even that it’s possible, to connect and align with source.” Her next four principles include I am

Rikka’s Adventures in Oneness devastated. How did I end up here? And more importantly, how do I get myself out?”

because it “opened me up to a whole other level of teaching and a whole other level of alignment with love,” she said.

As she reflected on her life, she realized she subconsciously believed: “I am not loved.” She had acted out this belief again and again in her past circumstances, and knew she needed to develop a new mindset, because “these beliefs had led me down a very destructive path … that were wreaking havoc on my life.”

“It created a transformation of moving from these self-imposed beliefs into alignment with source energy. And this brought forth a form of teaching life force alignment based on six principles that life energy functions from.”

Living the life she dreamed meant

“I used to dream of being a transformational leader inspiring millions.”

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Alicia Doyle speaks with life coach and transformational leader Rikka Zimmerman

One with Source; I am being Served by Source; I am Received by Source; and I am Infinite in Source. And the sixth principle involves “taking the first five principles and brings them to a whole new level that opens up your magical abilities and manifestation,” Rikka said.

“I am loved by Source.”

Today, her six-week program is based on what she calls the “six principles of true success,” which she said were inspired by a higher source.

“This is ‘I am Already’; already loved, one, served, received and infinite.”

“There are six principals that life force energy functions from,” Rikka said. “They aren’t belief systems, they align with quantum physics,” she added, and involve “the paradigm shift” of transforming out

“My life is living proof that these six principles are the solution to stepping out of struggle, suffering and pain and into your dream-come-true reality,” said Rikka, who not only survived cancer, but went


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rom being $80,000 in debt to a sevenfigure transformational coaching business. “Once I discovered the six principles … my entire life snapped into place.” Rikka largely attributes her success in business, both locally and internationally, to the Ojai Valley where she was born. She came into the world 42 years ago at Ojai Hospital before they stopped delivering babies there, and later attended Topa Topa Elementary School, Matilija Junior High and Nordhoff High School. “I’ve heard the Ojai Valley is one of the rare valleys in the world that runs east to west versus north to south,” she said.

community. I thought, I’m commuting back home. I should just move back.”

For me, that was putting all of my heart and all of my love into music.”

Because of the spiritual vibe she feels in Ojai, “it’s easy for me to do my international livestreams – the energy of Ojai holds you in its nest. It feels like all that inspiration and creativity, and connections to higher dimensions, is right here. So it’s easy for me to work here and be inspired.”

Her last CD, “Be The Change,” features what she calls “toning and heartmonics music.” This CD was inspired while Rikka was meditating, and asking what she was truly on this planet for. The answer she received during meditation

In other endeavors, Rikka is also an award-winning songwriter and singer whose album, “The Miracle,” debuted in top 20 albums on i-Tunes, and was nominated for the EmPower Posi

“The energy of Ojai holds you in its nest.” was “to activate one billion people’s hearts.” With that, both albums are “vibrationally enhanced” with 60 layers of tones that are silent to the ear, but felt by listeners. She noted that this music has been scientifically tested using a Gas Discharge Visualization machine, which is a medically recognized device in more than 20 countries that showed people’s energy levels before and after listening to this music. With only a couple of minutes of listening time, results showed that that people’s chakras returned to alignment after listening to the music. People who heard the music also expressed they reaped other benefits, including lower stress levels, more restful and regenerative sleep, improved organ and endocrine function, and eliminated weakness in their immune system to yeast, fungi and molds. Today, Rikka travels the world, and has assisted more than 150,000 with living better lives, and gets to “watch miracles happen for a living.”

“That’s why it’s such a spiritual mecca for people because it’s a vortex the way the mountains are placed and the way the energy comes up through the earth.” She lived in Ojai until age 24, when she decided to move to Santa Barbara for 15 years “to experience the big city.” She moved back to Ojai in 2016 because while living in Santa Barbara, “I kept commuting back to Ojai to be with my friends, go hiking and be with the

Awards, which were introduced in 2005 to recognize excellence in songwriting for positive, empowering music. “Going through my cancer journey, I realized the only reason why I wanted to live was to love, so I’ve dedicated my life to helping other people return to that love within themselves like I have,” she said. Also, when she was told she only had eight weeks to live, she thought, “What have I not done that I need to do now?

She also has around 200 certified coaches teaching her transformational tools across the globe. “I used to dream of being a transformational leader inspiring millions,” she said, “and now I get to live that reality.”

For more information, visit www.RikkaZimmerman.com


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Four-legged firefighters An innovative shepherdess is working with Ojai residents to bring her fire-hardening and brush-clearance knowledge to the Ojai Valley. Brittany “Cole” Bush is an urban shepherdess and regenerative-agriculture advocate born and raised in Southern California. Cole not only shepherds goats and sheep, but also people and projects. She hopes to use her passion for shepherding and ecology of the land she was raised on to help fight fires with hooves. Her background is in environmental studies, with a degree in agricultural ecology from UC Santa Cruz. She became interested in land stewardship through livestock. Cole explained: “While I was in school, I worked with a rancher who was using what is called ‘holistic manage-

By Austin Widger

ment’ of sheep and goats to do restoration projects on his ranch. So he was using prescribed grazing, which is using goats to push back encroachment of invasive species like coyote brush, with the goal to encourage restoration of native grasslands; as well as reforesting redwoods on the ranch, using grazing as a tool to prime the understory of the forest.” The rancher was restoring his ranch using grazing in a way that was very different from the traditional style of grazing. Rather than using the animals for meat and fiber, he used them to manage vegetation. Cole decided to take the knowl


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edge she learned from him to the East Bay Regional Parks District in the Bay Area. She made a bid for contract grazers to graze the parks to abate fire hazards. After winning the contract, Cole started Star Creek Land Stewards. She recalled: “When I started, there were about 1,200 animals and by the time I left, we were close to 3,000 animals. They were grazing, I was managing the grazing of several different bunches of herds around several different counties all over the Bay Area. We were getting paid to graze, to provide this grazing service.” This holistic approach to vegetation management with the rancher launched her career in 2010. Seeing the popularity of regenerative agriculture in Northern California, and the role of grazing in it, she said she realized she “wanted to bring the work that I started elsewhere back home. Southern California so needs it, so, essentially, in light of the increasing threat of fire, and how big the fires are getting, I was like I have to come back down south.” She sees Ojai as an incredible community and recognizes the opportunities to replicate in Southern California some of the projects she did in the Bay Area. A community-supported grazing program is a model other communities in the state can embrace. Ojai native and permaculturist Connor Jones connected with Cole to discuss this possibility around the time of the Thomas

Fire. “Together we really started envisioning what it would look like to have more of a community approach to having a grazing program,” Cole said. “The goal is really to create a whole band and perimeter around all of the built environment around Ojai so we could actually just walk our animals and graze along. Walk and then graze instead of having to truck and trailer them.” Cole and Connor approached the Ojai Fire Safe Council next. Executive director Chris Danch was excited to adopt the grazing program as part of its fire-risk mitigation roadmap. The Fire Safe Council is facilitating the community outreach and funding for the project, which it is modeling after a similar program executed by the Marin Fire Safe Council. It is one of several local partners on the project. Cole said: “Through the community of like-minded folks, Connor and I connected and it was a collaborative envisioning to start something like this. We asked ourselves, how do we start? It needs to be community-supported, it needs community stakeholders that have leadership and land stewardship and support fire resiliency in Ojai. We identified our first best partner would be the Fire Safe Council. It has been successful so far.”

Danch enthused: “The prescribed grazing program falls under the heading of fuel reductions, which itself fits into the larger comprehensive strategy for risk mitigation. It can be economically self-sustaining after a while. It can improve the ecology of the area. It can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by not using power tools.” The target start date to begin the grazing is when the green brush turns to gold. The animals should be on the ground by the time the brush turns dry in May. Cole’s company, Shepherdess Land and Livestock Company, will be carrying out the community-supported grazing program. “The success of the project really lies within the preplanning, and identifying what the goals are for each site,” Cole elaborated. “That’s what differentiates this type of grazing from your traditional ranching livestock grazing, is that each site has a goal. Some of them are going to be habitat-restoration goals, which are going to be a little different than managing vegetation for fire hazard. Our goal is not to just get rid of all of the vegetation. The goal is to increase fire resiliency, the


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health of that particular ecology, to create more fuel breaks, give more space for fighting fires.” A lot of the workload is the planning for the animals to be there. The grazing style is high-density, high-impact, low-duration grazing. Basically, a lot of animals will be there quickly, preventing long-term damage to the area. They try to mimic how wild herds move through landscapes, Cole said. Temporary electric fences keep them contained and keep predators away. However, the company also shepherds with border collies. Cole said: “We’ll be working with dogs to move the animals and surgically graze. We call this prescribed grazing because it’s essentially surgical. We know exactly where we want to go and we try to focus that grazing where we want to go, and so we can use electric fences or dogs.” Danch added: “This is a great tool to be developed in our area. It isn’t used enough. It is also important to distinguish between a prescribed grazing program and just any kind of grazing program. The skill of the shepherd or shepherdess

is really key. It takes a lot of training and learning and sophistication to do this correctly. So a prescribed grazing program is different than just a grazing program.” Support is needed from community stakeholders, larger stakeholders, private and public entities, the city of Ojai, the county of Ventura, the Land Conservancy, the Ojai Foundation, private landowners and schools, Cole said. To garner that, supporters are planning to hold a town hall to answer questions about the program and engage the community. Cole said: “So a town hall meeting, which will also be a community fundraiser event. From there, we’re also going to need to create the town overlay maps of where the grazing will initially begin, a series of pilot demonstration sites for proof of concept. So a map overlay of the grazing program sites on both public and private lands. Then education for employees … staff education for folks like the C.R.E.W. and the Land Conservancy. People who are going to be working with the contract grazer.” “The long-term goal is for Ojai to be a

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premier example of how a community can come together and adopt and create a program that’s multi-stakeholder, both private and public entities, to create something that is an ecological, careful approach to grazing, to become an example to other towns. The success of that would be measured with a grazing curve throughout the fire season, for up to six months, without having to get on a truck and trailer to be transported from one contract to another, but can contiguously graze to create a whole buffer zone around town … short-term is, this year a measure of success would be to create demonstration pilot projects to keep a grazing herd on the ground. Demonstrate projects in fire prevention, habitat restoration and invasive species management, and education.” With the determination of Cole, the Fire Safe Council and the Ojai community as a whole, these goals will be achieved without question. The can-do spirit of the Ojai Valley can once again help be an innovator for fire resilience in all of Southern California.


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Farmers: Is it time to transition to organic? Our Ojai citrus is so important to us. We want this traditional legacy to continue and are hopeful that we will be able to promote the kind of farming that is both sustainable as well as profitable for the farmers.

There is an abundance of information about the advantages of organic/regenerative methods, including: improving crop yield, supporting biodiversity and health of the ecosystem, helping to alleviate the climate crisis by sequestering carbon in the soil, increasing water infiltration rates in the soil, and reducing water usage. According to organic/regenerative farming experts, the answer to pest problems is to maximize the diversity and strength of the life in the soil, by planting cover crops, encouraging beneficial insects, applying compost, compost tea and mulch. When you have healthy, biologically alive soil and a healthy ecosystem, pests and diseasecausing organisms don’t take over and toxic synthetic pesticides are unnecessary. There are nearly 8,000 acres of organic citrus in California and the sector is enjoying enough success that a thousand certified acres are being added to that total every year.

Transition to Organics (TTO) is a program of the Blackbird Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. www.transition-to-organics.org transitiontoorganics@gmail.com

Conventional farmers, if you’re interested in finding out more, please contact us. Transition to Organics and Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture will provide support to help you transition.

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At a January seminar on healthy living at the Sane Center for Living in Ojai, David White takes the stage. He smiles broadly. White has a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in cellular biology, a serious subject, and now leads the nonprofit Center for Regenerative Agriculture to bring health to the soil and food production, also a serious subject, but he enjoys humor too much to keep a straight face for long, especially in front of a crowd.


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The kale is ready... the kale is ready!

By Kit Stolz

“W

ell, Hans (Dr. Hans Gruen, the organizer of the weekend gathering) said it’s best to start with a joke,” White says. “So! People say I’m an egomaniac, but enough about them.” Adding that he comes from Scotland, where the national food is haggis, which is oatmeal, mixed with chopped-up sheep’s offal — liver, heart and lungs — boiled in a sheep’s stomach, White admits that he’s not sure his native country’s national food would be welcome in Ojai’s organic markets. But, as he has moved thousands of miles away from the boiled and fried foods of Scotland, he

has also moved closer to Ojai in spirit, incorporating the lessons about nature he has learned from his studies and from scientists he admires, such as Sir David Attenborough, the natural historian and documentarian behind “Blue Planet” and other BBC nature documentaries. “If you listen to Attenborough talk about what we can do about the climate crisis, one of the first lessons he has is to be less wasteful,” White says. “Nothing is wasted in nature. The waste produced in one system becomes the fuel for another. So if we want to learn from nature, it’s about bringing the cycles of nature into the design of our lives.”


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White has now lived in Ojai for a little over 30 years. In his youth, he worked in construction and trimmed trees in the valley before moving on to teach biology and science at Besant Hill and Ojai Valley School, while learning permaculture from some of its leading figures. Over the years, he took a leadership position at the Once Upon a Watershed nonprofit organization that brings environmental education to local schools. In 2002, he launched a nonprofit of his own design, the Center for Regenerative Agriculture. Environmental issues are personal for him. The examples he offers on how to live a healthy and sustainable life are usually drawn directly from his own experiences and based on principles he learned while studying to be a scientist. In a dialogue in front of the crowd with Dr. Gruen, he explains some of these principles. “I try to incorporate the cycles of nature into my life,” he says. “I like to juice for my health, so I have a fridge full of veggies. What do I do with the pulp that comes after juicing carrots, for example? I put the pulp in my compost, so the waste from my kitchen becomes the food for my compost, and then the compost becomes a food for a vegetable garden.” For Gruen, it’s this kind of thoughtful, principled effort that makes not just a healthy lifestyle possible, but also a health-conscious community. “Buying local food from a farmers’ market or other local outlets is to have a relationship with the earth,” he says. “In medicine, we measure vitality — the life force

DR. DAVID WHITE’S

HEALTY SOIL GUIDE

— by a multitude of factors, including the health of our relationships.” For White, “the vital spark of nature” can be seen most readily at the edges of natural forms, where the edge of one landform meets another. “That’s what you get when you stand looking out over Bates Beach at sunset, is this openness, a vibrancy at the edges that some people call ‘a soft fascination,’” he explains. “This vital spark can also be found in locally grown foods, which have a higher nutritive density, which is healthier for our kids.” Gruen included White in the healthy lifestyle weekend “intensive” at the Sane Living Center with a number of other prominent speakers — including author Byron Katie on conquering addiction, and Michelle Lopez on the power of fermentation — in part to show the health to be found in connecting with the community and with the earth that feeds us. White builds community by working with other volunteers and by building healthy soil for Ojai gardens. “Composting is about returning carbon material to the soil,” White explains. “Healthy soil has increased carbon levels, which means the soil is putting carbon back in the ground in a form that feeds

DR. WHITE’S HEALTHY SOIL RECIPE 1. To get healthy soil, get seeds of your favorite plants — mine are herbs for teas. 2. Add your seed mixes to the soil for “cover cropping” — an excellent way to control diseases in citrus orchards. Healthy plants create healthy soils because plants take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and become, in a sense, liquid carbon, which is pumped into the ground to feed the soil biology.

3. Along with seeds, plant food trees, oaks and shade trees. 4. Mix seeds, plants and soil repeatedly. 5. Watch how it all works together to create a feast for beneficial insects, songbirds, steelhead swimming in healthy creeks and happy, healthy humans. Everything is connected!


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the root zone, the rhizosphere, including the nematodes, flagellates and other biology that enhance plant health.” To encourage composting on a community level, White’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture is part of the Ojai Cycling Compost Collective, which picks up residential compost and takes it via electric bike to the city of Ojai’s demonstration garden near City Hall. The center also supports Ventura’s “Queen of Compost” Camila Guzman’s Food Scrap Stations at farmers markets in Ojai, Ventura and Oxnard. White has also sponsored community soil-testing workshops, in which participants can study the biology of soil firsthand and through the microscope. After the Thomas Fire, the Center for Regenerative Agriculture, supported by a grant from the Ojai Women’s Fund, last year applied compost tea — made using compost and castings from worm bins — for free to fruit trees on Ojai properties hit by the firestorm. In conversation, White moves easily from the arcane language of soil science to the delight he shares in working with kids, who teachers take on farm tours and in tree-planting outings. “It all comes back to connections, and the health of the community in which we live,” he declares. “I try to think about regeneration, and that’s our youth. Every community has a public school. Are the kids getting out and connecting to nature? Are the kids eating healthy foods? Some people think that all kids really want to eat is pizza and ice cream, but I’ve seen kids who work in their school gardens running through the garden they’ve grown shouting: “The kale is ready! The kale is ready!”

DR. WHITE’S COMPOST RECIPE

won’t smell — at least not much.

Compost happens. Having a compost bin is like having a pet. You have to give it regular care. I make veggie juice and compost the pulp. That compost feeds the plants I eat. It is a natural cycle and regenerative system we can all participate in.

2. Add equal amounts to your green waste.

1. Add browns, such as straw or leaves, to your greens. That carbon source will offset the nitrogen in green waste, so it

3. Add some water. 4. Layer it and keep it hydrated. 5. Then, enjoy the healthy soil that comes out of your compost bin and start planting. If you need more help with composting at home, visit ojacra.org and click on “Community Composting.


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Ojai history’s

Photographs: Ojai Valley Museum

For over a century, the Ojai Valley News has chronicled the story of our town;

F

rom its first edition, published on Oct. 27, 1891, the newspaper has been the historical record of the valley. “For a local historian it’s invaluable, because it’s the record of the life of the community,” said Ojai historian and author Craig Walker. In the inaugural issue of The Ojai, founder Leverett Mesick expressed high hopes for the valley’s future. A printer by trade, Mesick suffered from rheumatism and came to Ojai for its warm, dry climate. The legend on his masthead read, “For the good of Mankind, by telling of the greatest sanitarium for throat and lung

troubles in the known world — the Ojai Valley.” The Ojai was published weekly and sold for a nickel ($1.42 when adjusted for inflation today). Though the inhabitants of the tiny town of Nordhoff numbered only 300 in 1891, the first local newspaper immediately found an interested and engaged readership. The paper not only reflected the events going on at the time, but regularly printed letters to the editor presenting both sides of various local topics. Among the early controversies was where to build Nordhoff High School (where Matilija Middle

School is today). “That was a big issue that divided the community, but then, somehow, everybody came together,” Walker said. The major issues over the years haven’t changed much — water, fire, education, to name a few. “Those stories are all told in the paper. It’s just fascinating reading,” said Walker. Mesick’s printing press came from the east and was shipped around Cape Horn. It took six months to get here. In the late 1890s, the newspaper office moved to the current location of the Ojai Playhouse. It was moved again when the theater was built in 1914. “They loaded it


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first draft Perry Van Houten tells the story of this venerable Ojai institution.

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up on some kind of wheels or conveyances and they moved it down the street, to the end of the block. The whole time they were moving it, they were still cranking out the newspaper,” Walker said. The Ojai changed hands many times in those early years. The long list of owners included Sherman Thacher, who bought the business from Mesick for $500, and Bill Train, an Oxnard newspaperman recovering from a bout of typhoid who owned the paper from 1918 to 1925. Theosophist Annie Besant bought The Ojai in 1927 and each week published two versions of the paper — one for the locals and the other for theosophists around the world. “She did that because people who were involved with theosophy and Krishnamurti were interested in what was going on in the town that was going to become the new center,” Walker explained. 1949 brought competition from a new publication, the Ojai Valley News. In 1958, J. Frank Knebel bought The Ojai and the Ojai Valley News and merged them into the Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette. It got some competition in 1960 from an alternative paper, the Press Sentinel, which took a decidedly slow-growth stance. For two years, it was published by volunteers, including Walker’s father, renowned architect Rodney Walker. Craig had a paper route with the Press Sentinel (he delivered to the Arbolada area) and helped out around the office. He remembers the metal plates and hot lead used to print the paper. “There was a lot of splattered lead around that I had to clean up,” he said.

Left: The office of The Ojai, the first newspaper in the Ojai Valley, circa 1894. The location may be South Signal Street. Founder Leverett Mesick and two of his children can be seen on the front porch. Above: A very early edition of The Ojai. Above right: Bill Train, publisher from 1918-1925. A former employee, Train contracted typhoid but recovered and returned to take over the business.

Drew Mashburn delivered the Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette to his 12 to 20 regular customers, for 10 cents an issue, and collected from them once a month. “I can remember waiting on my customers’ front porches while they went and got the money they owed me. It took some of them what seemed like forever to scrape together their payments,” he said. Mashburn’s mom, Arlou, was a reporter for the paper.


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Roberts, who through sports and musical events had good connections and an interest in law enforcement, soon segued to the police beat and reported on a series of major crimes over a short period of time involving arsonists, serial rapists and murderers. He learned to cover court cases and kept the police scanner on at home on nights and weekends. “It drove Kay (his wife) nuts,” Roberts said. “I lived it and I loved it.”

Sherman Day Thacher bought the newspaper from Leverett Mesick for $500. Photograph: Kyle Dane.

In 1962, former Associated Press correspondent and veteran backpacker Fred Volz purchased the Ojai Valley News and bought the rights to the Press Sentinel. “His thinking was very much like the group that had run this alternative paper. He was part of the effort to bring environmental issues to Ojai and help stop the air pollution and over-development that was going on. He used his position as the editor to really make a difference,” Walker said. Soon after he bought the paper, Volz introduced the world to the police blotter, a history of the calls for police service and information dispatched to officers investigating complaints. “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson found comedy gold in the blotter and used it on the show. During the 1970s, Volz embarked on a $400,000 expansion and improvement of the paper’s building and printing facilities. In 1982, he launched a sister publication, the Ojai Valley Visitors Guide, which came out quarterly. Volz sold the paper in 1987 to Walt and Bob Wick. In 1991, the Wick brothers hired a sports reporter named Lenny Roberts.

The hardest story Roberts ever had to cover was the 1996 murder of Ventura County Sheriff ’s Deputy Peter Aguirre, Jr., who was shot and killed while investigating a family disturbance in Meiners Oaks. Roberts was covering a baseball playoff game at Nordhoff High School at the exact moment that Aguirre was gunned down.

“When I got there it was horrible,” he said. “I knew that something bad had happened, because I heard the shots.” Roberts will forever regret not covering a motorcycle crash on the Dennison Grade on July 8, 1999. The patient was responsive and there was no indication of the severity of the crash. “I found out that he was the third person to


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walk on the moon!” he exclaimed.

baton, we kept that spirit in the newsroom.

Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad succumbed to internal injuries suffered in the crash later that day at the hospital. “A picture of him being tended to by the paramedics would have been something special. I’ll never forgive myself, because I would go out on everything,” Roberts said.

“We were all in the trenches together, whether it was sitting through marathon City Council meetings or sifting through stacks of court documents for the Golden State case, or just celebrating everyday people.”

Once a week, Roberts would walk to the Ojai Police Station and spend an hour or two going through the crime and arrest reports, which he’d compile for the police blotter. “It was a good way to spend Wednesday morning. A way to keep personal, face-to-face contact,” said

Walt and Bob Wick who bought the newspaper in 1987. Photograph: Wick Communications.

Roberts, who was promoted to managing editor in 2001. For more than a dozen years, Roberts molded his team of reporters into journalists. “What I tried to instill in the reporters was that this isn’t a job, it’s

Over the years, the Ojai Valley News has featured regular columns by local historians such as “Mr. Ojai” David Mason, Ed Wenig and Joseph Ross; columns that are still used today by historians researching a topic. The paper featured columns penned by other great storytellers, like Bud “The Steamer” Furillo, who covered sports in print and on the air in Los Angeles and brought his popular “The Steam Room” column to the Ojai Valley News. “At first, I saw Bud as a funny and irreverent old dude with a great laugh and stories that lasted just a little too long to my uneducated ears. I didn’t know who he was talking about half the time, but his storytelling abilities were so epic it didn’t really matter. That’s why everyone loved his columns, even people who didn’t follow sports,” said Hall. For laughs, there was Mel Bloom’s “Much Ado About Nothing” column (occasionally co-written by Bloom’s cat, Mr. Chips) and cartoons by Colleen McDougal.

Left: Fred Volz, a former AP correspondent, bought the newspaper in 1962. He sold it 25 years later to the Wick brothers. Below: Annie Besant acquired it in 1927 and published two versions, one for the residents of Ojai and another for theosophists around the world. Photographs: Ojai Valley Museum.

an honor, because that’s the way I felt about my position,” Roberts said. “You are responsible for reporting the news in an honest, non-opinionated way,” he told his reporters. The paper won numerous state awards for investigative reporting in the mid-2000s. When an ambitious former Nordhoff High School journalism student came to Roberts looking for a job, he hired her as a sports reporter. Misty Hall soon earned the title of sports editor and would go on to replace Roberts as managing editor, when he retired in 2012. “Our newsroom was loud and we argued a lot, but in a good way,” Hall said. “We pushed and questioned each other. Even after Lenny retired and handed me the

Since the Wicks, subsequent owners Ren Adam, Bill Buchanan and present owner Bob Daddi have carried on the paper’s mission of reporting local news and issues. In 2015, the newspaper office moved to 101 Vallerio Ave. While Ojai has changed over the course of 129 years, its local newspaper has continued to chronicle the town’s growth and growing pains, representing the differing opinions and philosophies of the populace and recording the life of the community. “We think of ourselves as a community where people speak their minds, and sometimes people fall in on certain sides of an issue,” said Craig Walker. “But that’s been part of the Ojai character forever.” To subscribe to the Ojai Valley News, call 805-646-1476 or visit: www.ojaivalleynews.com/contact-us/subscriptions


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ojai valley trail riding company Explore California’s Shangri-La with a majestic horeseback tour of one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We have rides suited for a beginner or an advanced rider. Just 3.5 miles from downtown Ojai, we are open 7 days a week. Call for reservations.

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A bird-friendly garden

Jesse Grantham explains why wildlifefriendly habitats are being eroded and how we can help mitigate the damage.

“Of Global Concern.” That’s a term we hear more and more these days, and not just about geo political confrontations, but more frequently about global environmental conditions, and how those conditions will affect all life on the planet. Pretty heady stuff. As someone who keeps in touch with what’s going on in the scientific community regarding global environmental impacts on wildlife, yes, there is a reason for concern. Ecologists now feel one of the greatest threats to the loss of ecological diversity is the degradation and loss of native habitats. This is not meant to minimize the overwhelming effects of the release of a myriad of toxins into the environment, which is another whole story. Degradation of habitat means those natural areas around us can no longer function as intact ecosystems because key components are missing. Examples of missing key components could be pollinators, soil mycorrhiza, and competition with non-native species of plants. They can no longer contribute to sustaining the diversity of life by supporting the plants, animals and insects in that system. “Of Global Concern.” What happened to those woods and fields I roamed as a kid back in eastern Pennsylvania? They are long gone, now shopping malls, and huge housing developments (ever hear of Levittown?), and Eisenhower-era connecting highways and freeways. The baby boomers hit the ground running, particularly in the United States and Europe. Hundreds of millions of acres of native landscape converted to other uses.

But now it’s not just baby boomers, it’s a world population hitting close to 7.7 billion people and climbing. And with this comes what scientists are now calling the fracturing and unraveling of Earth’s ecosystems. “Of Global Concern.” In a 2019 scientific article published in the journal Biological

OF GLOBAL INSECT SPECIES POPULATIONS HAVE DECLINED OVER THE PAST DECADE Conservation based on data collected primarily in the U.S. and Europe, 41% of global insect species populations have declined over the past decade. In Germany alone, a 75% decline. Causes are the heavy use of pesticides, urbanization and climate change. Who doesn’t remember the frequent stops at service stations to clean insects off your windshield, or stand outside at night to watch insects swirling around your porch light. I haven’t had to clean insects off my windshield for years, and I never see insects around my outside lights. This is not just a local phenomenon, it is

happening worldwide. This is a warning signal, a shot over the bow …. Things are unraveling. It’s clear insects drive the ecological freight train that pretty much sustains life on the planet, while plants provide the fuel. It is ironic though that we have an all-out war on insects. Go into any hardware, grocery store, or nursery and the shelves are lined with pesticides that will indiscriminately kill just about any insect. Open your refrigerator and pull open the vegetable drawer and every vegetable you see in there is a direct result of insects pollinating a flower. Something wrong with this picture. Prof. Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex, UK, says: “It should be of huge concern to all of us, for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.” Not surprisingly then, according to a recent study by Cornell University and published in the magazine Science, bird populations in the U.S. have declined by close to 3 billion individuals since 1970. Declining insect populations have been implicated as a contributing factor to those declining bird populations. All pretty daunting stuff for those of us living in idyllic Ojai Valley. Globally, scientists studying ecological processes have all concluded that native plants support animal and insect populations that are directly related to human health and survival. As Douglas Tallamy says in his most recent book, “Bringing Nature Home,” “One of the


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most effective ways to assist our native animals and the ecosystems in which they live is to reintroduce native plants into our lawns and gardens, now planted with non-native trees, shrubs and flowers. Gardeners are now important players in the management of our native wildlife and indeed native plant gardens play a critical role is sustaining all the animals with which we share our living spaces. Plants form the first level in the ecosystem hierarchy that provides energy that sustains all life. Of importance to all terrestrial creatures is that inextricable link between plants, animals and insects.” Tallamy identifies “gardeners” as important players in contributing to the restoration of healthy functioning ecosystems, but I would add urban and suburban landowners and homeowners, land managers, farmers, ranchers and condo residents as well. It’s important to understand what the term “native” means in this context. Every plant is a “native plant” somewhere. What’s the big deal? In the context of how the term is used in a natural ecosystem, “native” is the term that refers to plants that evolved over time, perhaps thousands of years, in a particular area or region and were here prior to European settlement. They have co-evolved with and now depend on certain microbes, fungi, animals and insects for survival, and are intricate players in maintaining Earth’s healthy ecosystems. In turn, insects, animals, and amphibians now depend on those plants for survival. Non-native plants, as an example oleander, privit, bougainvillea, eucalyptus, and California (not a native!) pepper tree, do not fit into the natural functioning role of our native ecosystems in North America and provide little to no benefit to nature. They have evolved in other parts of the world and are not part of our native ecosystem. In many cases, these non-natives crowd out or can be mildly to severely toxic to other plants growing in proximity. You might as well have facsimiles of plants made of cardboard and cement for all the ecological value they bring. When you plant native plants here in

the Ojai Valley you are planting plants that 1) can be drought tolerant because that’s the type of ecosystem in which they evolved, one where there are winter rains and summer heat without rain, 2) you support other plants and animals that have evolved to exploit and survive off of those plants, and 3) you are supporting restoration of healthy ecosystems. As I write this in mid-January, looking out the window at our garden, I see natives already beginning to bloom; manzanita, hillside gooseberry, island snapdragon, and golden currant. Native bees and other native pollinators are already busy visiting flowers, many I have never seen before, or only rarely. Other native plants are leafing out and budding up, and it’s only mid-January.

BIRDS LOST IN THE U.S. IN THE LAST 5O YEARS At the same time the fruits of the native toyon are now ripening, and huge flocks of robins and cedar waxwings descend to feast on the fruits. This has been going on for thousands of years, the birds dependent on the trees for much needed winter food just when food resources may be at their most scarce, and the toyons are dependent on the birds to distribute their seeds for future germination. Those seeds, wrapped in a tasty pulp, are enticing the birds to be the “distributors.” And that, in a nutshell, is how it works. Taking a very complex issue and reducing it to a very simplistic picture. The toyon tree and its use by these birds is direct evidence of the critical relationship between native plants

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and animals. Planting these native plants has been a conscious effort on my part to, at least on a local level, contribute to healing a badly injured ecosystem. Drive any street in Ojai and you will be hard-pressed to find native plants being used in the landscape. It is sad to say these landscapes produce nothing to benefit the environment, despite the fact that the residents may feel very strongly about environmental issues. The disconnect is complicated because we have to completely rethink the way we treat our landscapes. It’s not about “me” anymore, i.e., what pleases me, it has to be about “us.” It is indeed an issue of Global Concern. We’ve talked about the rationale behind the importance of native plants in our environment, and in our community. What does one do if you want to act. Switching from non-native plants to natives, and from water-consuming plants to drought-tolerant plants can be a challenge. We hear a lot of conversation when it comes to reducing water usage in the garden to simply switching to drought tolerant plants, and in this case preferably natives. It’s not an easy switch if you’re used to the old way of gardening. People get pretty frustrated and give up. I learned the hard way … lots of trial and error. What really helped me was making contact with those people in the community who had extensive experience. And a lot of reading of reference materials and online exploration. There is a tremendous amount of helpful material out there today. And here is a secret I’ll pass on. It’s about water for drought-tolerant natives. When and how much. The key is, the less the better. It’s very easy to overwater. I learned a great deal from Ron Singer at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy nursery about watering. Being from the East Coast, I watered much too much. I killed hundreds of dollars worth of plants. When I stopped the weekly watering and went to 1 gallon once a month despite how the plant looked during the summer months, success jumped to almost 100%. For people and organizations in the community the Ojai Valley Land


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Conservancy has an excellent nursery and staff, most notably Ron Singer who has an encyclopedic knowledge about what plants work best, their culture, and availability. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy nursery has a great web page created by long time Land Conservancy volunteer June Juett: www.ovlc.org/planting-watering-guidefor-california-native-plants.

2

June has included numerous references and contacts. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is an incredible resource for learning about native plants and seeing them growing in a garden situation. The California Native Plant Society is a terrific organization to support and it produces two seasonal magazines, Fremontia and Flora. A great all-around reference guide with photographs of plants, gardens, and cultural information is “California Native Plants for the Garden” by Bornstein, Fross and O’Brien.

3 4

Listed here are 10 native plants I would suggest for the Ojai gardener. One cautionary note, don’t be a compulsive buyer. Read up and learn all you can about the plants you are acquiring. Check their cultural information, sun/shade tolerance, soil preference, water needs, size. Remember this is a learning experience. You will be frustrated at times. You can’t just plunk a native in the ground and walk away from it because it’s drought tolerant. It’s going to require some attention. And remember drought tolerant doesn’t mean “no water,” it just means the plant can take less water than average.

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All photos: Creative Commons except Toyon by Jesse Grantham

9 10 Ten plants for the Ojai gardener

5

1. Berberis, Berberis pinnata: Shiny stiff green leaves that look very much like an eastern holly. Produces yellow flowers in March followed by purple grape-sized fruits in the late summer. Excellent pollinator plant and bird food. 2. Manzanitas, Arctostaphylos species: The straight species is a strong upright evergreen shrub, blooms in January and February. Bumblebees and other native bees are common pollinators. 3. California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum: Buckwheats are one of the most versatile of California’s native plants, with something like 125 species. California buckwheat has cream-white flowers on thin stalks 6-8” tall. A great pollinator plant. A favorite of native bees and flies. 4. Toyon, Hetermeles arbutifolia: Can be a large shrub or small tree, produces pannicles of white flowers in late June and July that will be covered with bees and other native pollinators, and then produce abundant clusters of scarlet red fruits which color up in December through January. The berries are a favorite food of robins, cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, thrashers, bluebirds and finches.

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5. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii: One of the many great sages that can be grown in the Ojai Valley. Others include white sage, black sage, purple sage, hummingbird sage. All very drought tolerant and the leaves are quite fragrant, and can be used in cooking. A favorite of pollinators. And very drought tolerant. 6. Quail Bush, Atriplex lentiformis: A real sturdy shrub with silvery leaves. Extremely drought tolerant, loves full sun. House finches and goldfinches eat the leaves, quail love the small seeds. Makes a great hedge. 7. Ceanothus Species, Ceanothus: Often called California Lilac because of the blue fragrant flowers produced in spring. Very drought tolerant. Deep green-colored somewhat shiny leaves. Does not take well to overwatering. 8. Island Snapdragon, Galvezia speciosa: Forms a really nice spreading mound with scarletred flowers that can be present most of the year. A favorite of hummingbirds. 9. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis: Very drought tolerant, blooms with small white flowers in December through April. An excellent pollinator plant. Produces small seeds fed on by wintering sparrows and towhees. Small green leaves very reminiscent of English Boxwood. Can be judiciously pruned to look very much like a boxwood hedge.

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10. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium: A great garden perennial, 5” wide flat flower heads bear numerous small white flowers. A very good pollinator plant.


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Living the Ojai life

O

jai’s reputation as a uniquely desirable place to put down roots continues to grow. Surrounded by natural beauty yet a mere stone’s-throw from Los Angeles, residents can live a relaxed, family lifestyle within a close-knit community. Recent articles in The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Washington Post have helped to attract buyers from around the nation and from futher afield, all of them seeking their own little slice of Ojai heaven. For the best in local real estate pick up your copy of Ojai’s only weekly real estate supplement, free with with the Ojai Valley News every Friday and online at www.ojaivalleynews.com


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Pr ic e

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Ne w

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EAST END CONTEMPORARY This newly remodeled and completely renovated contemporar y masterpiece on the bucolic East End exemplifies good taste and qualit y construc tion. Clerestor y windows, French doors and vaulted ceilings with exposed beams create a light and spacious environment. The floors are beautiful white oak and the k itchen counters are Statuarietto marble. I t has been built with the finest qualit y doors, appliances and fix tures. The bathrooms have mosaic traver tine floors and Cararra marble -tiled bath and shower. The master bedroom balcony has mountain views in t wo direc tions with decorative Granada wall tiles, Porcelanosa floor tiles and an outdoor shower. 1701McNellRdOjai.com

Offered at $2,885,000

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25 years matching people and property in the Ojai Valley


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PRIVATE DOWNTOWN OASIS Situated on a private road in downtown Ojai, this elegant oasis is graced by ancient oak trees and stunning views of the Topa Topas. The 5 bedroom, 4½ bath home features a great room with a standalone double fireplace, skylights, vaulted ceilings and a chef ’s kitchen. The floors are reclaimed oak and the bathrooms feel like spas. Amenities include solar panels, a 3-zone HVAC system, double paned windows, a circulating hot water system, and a mud room. On over an acre, the property includes more than 40 organic fruit trees, a double car port, a chicken coop and an organic vegetable garden. A grapevine covered pergola offers spectacular outdoor dining and some of the best hiking trails in Ojai are only minutes from the door. 815CanadaStOjai.com

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For your breath of fresh air

3191 LADERA ROAD, OJAI 3 Beds • 4 Baths • 4,336w SF • $5,100,000 Once in while a legacy property comes to market, offering the discerning buyer an opportunity to own a truly spectacular home and land collaboration to enjoy and share with family and friends. The ranch at Ladera Rd in Ojai’s fabled and bucolic East End is such a property. Tuscan inspired, the beautiful main residence commands the high ground of the almost 40 acre estate. Enhanced to accommodate your menagerie of pets, horses and livestock in luxury, this gentleman’s ranch is unique. But above all else the inspiring and apex views across the Ojai Valley and beyond will take your breath away. Shown by appointment only.

Robin Williams

DRE 01435322 805.798.2025 rwilliams@livsothebysrealty.com © 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act.


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For those achieving goals

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411 FOOTHILL ROAD, OJAI 3 Beds • 2.5 Baths • 2,300 SF • $2,650,000 For generations the Ojai Valley has welcomed travelers, seekers and those with a desire to truly relax and rejuvenate. With an attention to privacy and relaxation, this celebrity-owned home offers the rare combination; both a superb location and a beautiful home. The home sits well back on more than an acre of flat land, nestled among bucolic greenery. An expansive courtyard welcomes guest and offers the perfect spot for sunbathing or lounging under large umbrellas during the day, and nighttime hang-outs around the fit pit. Beautiful outdoor retreats, anchor oaks and an oasis pool make for a magical resort-like feel year-round. Finishes include custom pavers, wood floors, RTK tile, stained French doors. Amenities include, pool with spa, outdoor shower, indoor steam shower, designer kitchen, fireplaces, water purification system, detached studio, all gated and fenced. Just a short stroll to restaurants, cafes, shops, concerts in the park and the world renouned Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.

Robin Williams

DRE 01435322 805.798.2025 rwilliams@livsothebysrealty.com © 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act.


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The flowers that grace the grassy meadows and hills of Ojai can vary from year to year. What makes a good year for some blooms and not for others is somewhat random, but experts say some nicely spaced rain helps. Many species that are always present are much more abundant after a fire and adequate rainfall, as we saw last spring. Here are several hikes around Ojai where I’ve found wildflowers and native flowering plants making a fairly reliable showing each and every year. GRIDLEY TRAIL This 6-mile trail in the Ojai front country is close to town but takes you far into a deep, rugged canyon where wildflowers typically make a good showing in spring.

P E R R Y VA N H O U T E N ’ S

find unless you know where to look. You’ll find the trailhead at the north end of Gridley Road. The first mile or so is rocky and rough, but the going gets easier as you hike into the canyon, past vast rows of avocado trees.

A flower you’re unlikely to see anywhere else is the Ojai fritillary, reliable on the Gridley Trail but difficult to

VENTURA RIVER PRESERVE TRAILS Spring in Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s Ventura River Preserve means expanses of green grasses and an abundance of blooms, including California goldfields, baby blue eyes, blue larkspur, red maids and

HORN CANYON TRAIL Here’s a great springtime wildflower outing on Ojai’s East End, where a creek babbles beside the trail and lush stands of purple sage grow.

Most of the usual suspects are found in Gridley Canyon: California golden poppy,

lupine, Indian paintbrush and elegant Clarkia.

O J A I VA L L E Y H I K I N G & B I K I N G

of Indian paintbrush.

fairy lanterns.

The Matilija poppy, the “Queen of the California Wildflowers” reigns here, with its 5- to 9-inch-wide white crepe paper petals and bright gold stamens. The trailhead is located on the grounds of The Thacher School. If the Thacher gate is open you can drive directly to the trailhead; if not park on the shoulder of Thacher or McAndrew roads and follow the letters “HC” painted in white along the road that bears to the right.

March to May is the showy purple owls clover, a relative

Brodiaea, more commonly known as “blue dicks,” grow

everywhere in the VRP. It’s a flower you’ll find on every single trail, six months out of the year. A real treat from

The 1,600-acre VRP can be accessed from three distinct trailheads: the Oso Trailhead, off Meyer Road; the Riverview Trailhead, on Rice Road; and the Baldwin Road Trailhead, off Highway 150. Parking is free at all three trailheads. Spring and summer hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST TRAILS For the adventurous, there’s the Rose Valley Recreation Area, approximately 15 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33. The pleasant, 3-mile-long Howard Creek Trail is a good

place to see purple lupine and


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SPRING WILDFLOWER HIKES Photos: Perry Van Houten Indian paintbrush and Ojai fritillary: Creative Commons

Indian paintbrush. The unmarked trailhead is less than a half-mile up Rose Valley Road. The trail starts on a gravel road behind a locked gate and climbs moderately to Nordhoff Ridge, at more than 4,400 feet elevation. Or head for the Sespe Wilderness, on the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca Trail,

where Matilija poppies grow 6 to 8 feet-tall. You’ll need an Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead, at the far end of Rose Valley Road. Cross the wide streambed and take the trail on the left through the expanse of towering white rocks. Piedra Blanca Camp is 2 miles up the trail and Twin Forks Camp a half-mile beyond that. The best wildflower viewing is near the camps, on the slopes above the creek.

Ojai fritillary

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For those who seek an exceptional life Your home is more than a building or an address. It’s where you experience life, family, connection, growth. Your home should be as exceptional as you are, and as you are going to be. For a lifestyle inspired by your potential, there is only LIV Sotheby’s International Realty.

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1102 N MONTGOMERY STREET, OJAI 3 Beds • 2 Baths • 2,384 SF • $1,295,000 Dennis Guernsey | DRE 00499291 | 805.798.1998 Desirable single story custom home on almost 1/3 acre in great Ojai cul-de-sac location. Main house has 3 beds, 2 baths and a beautiful backyard built for entertaining. Home has raised ceilings, a remodeled kitchen, rock fireplace, wood floors, French doors to large patio and pool/spa area with beautiful mountain views. Newer roof with owned solar panels and low maintenance landscaping. Property includes legal second unit - studio room with bath and kitchenette.

1312 RUGBY ROAD, OJAI 4 Beds • 3 Baths • 2,650 SF • $2,950,000 Larry Wilde | DRE 00521627 | 805.640.5734 Remarkable Contemporary, Incredible Views & Very Private. Recently renovated, this classic retreat offers tremendous character and charm, with many of the comforts of newer bathrooms, large country kitchen, new roof, heating and air and more.

2385 BURNHAM ROAD, OJAI 4 Beds • 2.5 Baths • 2,074 SF • $1,195,000 Erik Wilde | DRE 01461074 | 805.830.3254 Nestled among a park of Ojai Oaks, this spacious ranch home has a classic Ojai feel with a modern touch. With an abundance of windows throughout, this home includes a living room with vaulted ceilings and fireplace, an open and airy kitchen with modern amenities and stainless appliances.

LIV Sothebys International Realty | 727 W. Ojai Avenue Ojai, CA 93023 © 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act.


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Gridley Trail (22W05)

Words and pictures by Perry Van Houten

Spring is the ideal time of year to hike this 6-mile-long trail in the Ojai front country. Temperatures are bearable and wildflowers typically make a good showing. The rocky trail climbs moderately past avocado orchards into low chaparral and trees, terminating at Nordhoff Ridge at 3,775feet elevation. (The avocados are private property, so don’t pick them!) Gridley Spring, 3 miles up, is the site of a former trail camp removed by the U.S. Forest Service in 2013. It’s still a pleasant spot to stop for lunch. Just south of the spring is a section of trail where ferns, maples and other vegetation uncommon in the area grow. To get to the trailhead, take Gridley Road north to its end at a private gate. There’s limited parking along the road, but no facilities. The first mile of the trail was adopted by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy in April 2017 under the Forest Service Adopt-A-Trail Program. The trail provides access to OVLC’s Valley View Preserve via the Fuelbreak Road Trail.

Three, classic Ojai spring hikes


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Horn Canyon Trail (22W08) An abundance of blooms and the sound of flowing water along this popular trail make Horn Canyon a great springtime outing. There are four creek crossings very early in the hike, so be prepared for some rock hopping and possible wet feet. At about 2.5 miles, the trail passes through “The Pines” campground, where a historic grove of Coulter pines stood for many years. Most of the drought-stricken, bark beetle-infested trees were removed a few years ago. What was left burned in the Thomas Fire. The trailhead is located on the grounds of The Thacher School. If the Thacher gate is open, you can drive directly to the trailhead; if not, park on the shoulder of Thacher or McAndrew roads and follow the letters “HC” painted in white along the road that bears to the right.

Say goodbye to winter and head for the great outdoors.

Ventura River Preserve Trails Proximity to town and a network of varied, wellmaintained and signed trails make the Ventura River Preserve instantly appealing, especially when the grasses are green and the flowers are blooming. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle without driving far, head for the nearly 1,600-acre preserve. Opened in 2003 by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, the Ventura River Preserve offers trails that run along the riverbank, loop trips that take you through oak forests and peaceful meadows, and lofty adventures that take you high above the Ojai Valley. El Nido Meadow, off the Wills Canyon Trail, features an expanse of purple needlegrass, the state grass of California. The Ventura River Preserve can be accessed from three distinct trailheads: the Oso Trailhead, off Meyer Road; the Riverview Trailhead, on Rice Road; and the Baldwin Road Trailhead, off Highway 150. Parking is free at all three trailheads. Spring and summer hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.was adopted by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy in April 2017 under the Forest Service Adopt-A-Trail Program. The trail provides access to OVLC’s Valley View Preserve via the Fuelbreak Road Trail.


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Peaceful and private, This 4 bedroom 3 bath Ojai home with additional guest area, is just what you have been looking for. Located at the end of a cul-de-sac, a few minutes drive to the Ojai Village, this home has been renovated inside and out, and has a floorpan that is most accommodating. Recent upgrades include new flooring throughout, renovated kitchen, and bathrooms, an open floor plan with great room, and fireplace that invites friends and family gather and enjoy. Perfect indoor outdoor living spaces with covered patio, and sparkling pool. The second story suite is a dream. Expansive views of the Topa Topa Mountains, vaulted ceilings, a fireplace and private bedroom with ensuite bath. But wait, there’s more, in addition to four bedrooms there are two bonus rooms ideal for in home office, craft or art studio‌ or, the ideal sanctuary for overnight guests. This is an extraordinary entertainers dream home. Situated on 1/4 acre lot fenced for privacy and safety. There is room to spread out and relax.

Amanda Stanworth DRE 01262333 805.218.8117

Teresa Rooney DRE 00599443 805.340.8928


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Old Gray Route 66 was a cool old highway. My parents took three of us kids on 66 in 1965 to visit Dad’s side of the family in Missouri and Mom’s side of the family in Indiana. We were on this vacation for about a month. For a vacation like that, you have to have some reliable wheels. I accompanied my dad to the auto dealership in Ojai to bring home the 1961 Chevrolet Apache halfton pickup with a 283-cubic-inch engine and three-on-the-tree manual transmission he had ordered. I was only 9 years old, but remember the experience like it was only yesterday.

The Tom Mahon Chevrolet dealership is where Jersey Mike’s is now. There are all the big windows at this sandwich shop because it used to be the showroom floor for displaying the new-model vehicles. Jersey Mike’s is in a long, narrow building that also houses St. Thomas Aquinas Thrift Shop, She Seeks Nomad, Cuts & Curls, The Ojai Donut Shoppe, Kristy’s Nails and La Fuente of Ojai. All these businesses are in what used to be the mechanics bays with really tall, roll-up doors. Dad and I were led out of the office by the car salesman to the parking lot adjacent to the bays. A few other employees gathered near us. All the bay doors were closed. We waited with bated breath

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

while the salesman had us look at one of the doors. It slowly rose and there was Dad’s brand-spankin’new pickup. A gent was in it. He drove it slowly out to the parking lot. The keys were handed to Dad as the salesman and others congratulated him. It was a BIG DEAL back in those days! I swear, it was like a grand opening of a new store or something. I’m surprised they didn’t have some uplifting, symphonic music blaring. But, all I could think was something like, “Dad, with all the colors available, you chose coral?” . . . which was basically pink. Dad never sold that pickup, though he did paint it a number of years later. At one time it was white, then dark blue, then primer gray. When it was younger, he called it Betsy. At the end, he called it Old Gray. Dad passed on in 1998. Mom had me donate the pickup to a charity. It was like cutting off an arm as Old Gray was towed away.


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828 & 985 FORDYCE ROAD, OJAI

EAST END CITRUS RANCH 37+ ACRES

$5,495,000

Lisa Clark DRE#Ol 880476

805.698.5986 • lisaclarkojai@gmail.com

Cameron Clark DRE#01869702

818.606.4048 • camaclark@gmaiI.com

www.clarkandclarkhomes.com Cameron Clark: Realtor Associate (DRE#0l869702) at WishSIR (Broker DRE#Ol916623) • Lisa Clark: Realtor Associate (DRE#Ol880476) at LIV SIR (Broker DRE#00969542). We do not guarantee accuracy of square footage, lot size, condition, features, or income provided by sellers, third parties, or public records. Buyers are advised to verify accuracy of all information through independent inspection by professionals. Buyers and sellers are advised to seek legal and tax advice when purchasing or selling real property. Broker does not guarantee specific school availability. Each franchise is independently owned & operated.

Ojai Café Emporium

Ojai Café Emporium is a turn key, well established breakfast & lunch restaurant located in the heart of downtown Ojai! Prime location steps away from all of Ojai’s events and attractions. Ojai Cafè Emporium has for over 34 years had a reputation as a warm and friendly dining destination for family, friends and business. Included on the property is an adjoining bakery/ coffeeshop producing fresh baked goods every morning. Prime Real Estate in Downtown Ojai with Well Established Restaurant & Bakery. $2,200,000

Tom Weber - Broker CalDRE# 00805061

805-320-2004 TomWeber@ojaitom.com


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Best Property Management in 2019

Local, Licensed and Experienced Agents to help you with all of your property needs!

1211 Maricopa HWY Suite 104 Ojai CA 93023 Lic # 01958206 Office Phone: 805.648.9900 www.joekapprealestate.com

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403 N. Montgomery Street El Viaje, a luxurious Italian Villa where old world charm & the modern conveniences of every day life come together perfectly! Enter through the gates to a private, secluded yard with a mix of mature trees, rose gardens & cozy seating areas. Inside you will appreciate the elegant but simple lifestyle, with polished concrete floors downstairs & Brazilian Cherry wood floors upstairs. Cozy living room open to kitchen & dining rooms, perfect for entertaining. Venetian plaster throughout, granite counter tops, top of the line kitchen appliances & an elevator. The brilliant finishing touches & attention to detail cannot be ignored!


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3860 Grand Avenue Fabulous & charmingly inviting, this two-story Victorian estate is nestled in the magical East End of Ojai. Surrounded by organic orchards & meticulous landscaping, this 5 bed & 4 bath home is filled with Southern Charm. The wrap around porch looks out to the gardens, the country kitchen & breakfast nook looks out to the pool & tennis court. Perfectly situated nearby are the spacious guesthouse, separate cottages & a writer’s studio, creating plenty of living space for friends & family.


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Patty Waltcher

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

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

A Z U R E S TAU R A N T & B A R : A N I CO N I C O J A I G AT H E R I N G P L AC E

Ojai’s original California tapas bar, Azu has been a central downtown gathering place for nearly 20 years. The lovingly restored 1910 building has 160 seats, two full bars, sidewalk dining, a fireplace dining room, a private dining room, a garden patio and two kitchens. In addition to regular restaurant dining, Azu is frequently used as an event venue for welcome dinners, weddings, corporate events and birthdays. The sale includes the building and the business. Offered at $2,975,000 AzuRestaurantOjai.com

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

Profile for Ojai Valley News

Ojai Valley Guide Spring 2020 edition  

We're excited to bring you the latest edition of Ojai's own magazine. Culture, food & wine, nature, people, entertainment and events, the Oj...

Ojai Valley Guide Spring 2020 edition  

We're excited to bring you the latest edition of Ojai's own magazine. Culture, food & wine, nature, people, entertainment and events, the Oj...