Ojai Valley Guide Summer 2020

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0/20 vision is giving us sight we can’t unsee. It is altering our world. We are living with a new way to die and facing the truth of who we are as individuals and within the society we have built together.

Our town is now peeking out of doors, taking stock and learning to live with uncertainty. Recently with the Thomas Fire, and now with a pandemic, the people of the Ojai Valley are again suffering loss together. Our lives turned upside down this year and we aren’t even allowed the hugs we so dearly need! How are we changed from it; and what can we learn? What will we secretly miss? How can our improved vision make our community better? I’ve noticed a local spike in outrage, a common response to fear and one that temporarily spares us from facing loss. For some, this anger has insidiously seeped into everyday interactions, but others have turned the rage into a collective movement to fix our broken socioeconomic structures and corrupted institutions. They’re standing up and going outside to shout, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore! Things have got to change.” Let’s not miss the chance to benefit from catastrophe.The paradigms are shifting; we have the option to put the world back together better than it was before. 2020 vision affords us the opportunity to grow stronger by embracing the uncertainty that has always existed in parallel to our best laid plans. As Ojai local Diane Ladd advises, “Stay safe and kick a little dirt.” About this issue ... It is somehow comforting to know the pandemic in Ojai is not unprecedented; it happened here before in 1918 with the Spanish Flu, and our community survived. When Ojai reporter Perry Van Houten began digging around to find out what our Ojai Valley ancestors did, there was nearly only one source, old editions of the Ojai Valley News, to tell our local story. A reminder that 100 years from now, the same publication may still serve as that record … and we were here! How are Ojaians coping?

EDITOR / PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward

ASSISTANT EDITOR Georgia Schreiner


Perry Van Houten • Alicia Doyle Karen Lindell • Kit Stolz • Ted Cotti Ellen Sklarz • Dakota Cox Donna Granata • Kathlyn T. Hendricks Valerie Freeman


Paul Stanton


Robert Lloyd • Jodie Miller Billy MacNeil

An Ojai surfer escapes quarantine for solitude in Humboldt County. Focus on the Masters writer Donna Granata illustrates recent shifts in the artistic process of six local artists during the stay-at-home order.


We honor in story those who sustain us — they grow, pick, provide and cook for us:


A farmer and a cook — Steve Sprinkel and Olivia Chase. Steve is a leader and mentor in Ojai’s local organic food movement; his wife, Olivia, is the force behind the successful store and restaurant. Friends of Fieldworkers is a group helping to support the often forgotten people in our local fields; Ellen Sklarz connects us to the effort. Feeding ourselves is the trend in Ojai’s modern “victory gardens,” where suburban agriculture gardening is growing wild. The Ojai Valley News’ 2019 California Newspaper Publishers Association Award winning profile, “Sole Survivor,” written by senior reporter, Perry Van Houten, retells Scott Eckersly’s tragic tale in the eye of the historic flood of 1969. The flood changed the Ojai Valley physically and it altered the DNA of its people. There has never been a better time, or more urgent reason to get healthy and to be strong. We are going to need to dig deeper and think more creatively than we ever imagined possible. Many of us have already learned lessons from the pandemic, such as neighbors matter, and it’s not a bad thing to slow down — the rats were winning the race anyhow. Please take a moment and enjoy the lifestyle of Ojai, in our Summer Ojai magazine. Laura Rearwin Ward, publisher.

Ally Mills

Linda Snider


team@ojaivalleynews.com advertising@ojaivalleynews.com Phone: 805.646.1476 101 Vallerio Avenue Ojai, CA 93023 ©2020 Downhome Publishing, LLC Cover: Steve Sprinkel with wife and partner Olivia Chase are community mentors and owners of the iconic Ojai eatery, The Farmer and the Cook. Photograph: Lina Tirado PUBLISHED SINCE 1982 BY THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS