The following article was first published in the Winter 2018 (VOLUME 36 NUMBER 4) issue of the “Ojai Valley Guide” magazine that is published by the “Ojai Valley News”. With their permission, the article is reprinted here. It ran on pages 154 and 155 in the magazine.
LOOK BACK IN OJAI 1969 Beautification Month
Contributed on behalf
of the Ojai Valley Museum
In October 1969, the Ojai Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a “Beautification for Better Business Campaign.” I had graduated from Nordhoff High School only a few months before and must tell you, at the time, my business was chasing after beautiful women and cars. I could not have cared less about sprucing up things around the valley, except for a good wash and waxing of my 1961 Austin Healy “Bug Eye” Sprite to, hopefully, impress beautiful young ladies.
So, moving on, I was ignorant of this cleanup drive.
Mr. Libbey, of Libbey Glass Co. fame, was a proponent of the “City Beautiful Movement” featured at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. At the original Ojai Day, April 7, 1917, held in Civic Park (now Libbey Park), Libbey said in a speech: “There has been too little attention paid to things aesthetic in our communities and in our homes. The time has come when we should encourage in ourselves thoughts of things beautiful, and the higher ideals which the people fostering of the love of that which is beautiful and inspiring.”
Libbey’s speech includes the word “beautiful” twice. His words and actions emphasized improving Ojai’s aesthetic qualities. As a lifelong resident (67-plus years) of the Ojai Valley, I truly believe that Libbey’s ideals have been ingrained in our town, even inspiring the 1969 beautification campaign and valleywide cleanup drive decades after his speech.
On the evening of Oct. 30, City Building Inspector Ken Swift and Hal Mitrany of the Chamber of Commerce chaired a meeting at the Ojai Woman’s Club to organize the cleanup. Thirty-eight groups were invited and about 40 representatives attended. The PTA, American Legion, Chamber of Commerce, Boy and Girl Scouts, Retail Merchants Association, Jaycees, Woman’s Club, Garden Club, Retired Men’s Club, East Ojai Valley Associates and the Committee to Preserve the Ojai were among the groups participating.
Harrison’s Rubbish Service volunteered to place collection bins throughout the city and dates were set for free trash and junk removal.
City, county and state agencies were on board. The City Council proclaimed November Cleanup and Beautification Month. The county allowed a main trash-collecting station to be located behind Libbey Park and the state furnished a truck and driver to assist groups that picked up litter along the highways.
A city beautification conference was held at the Ojai Valley Inn, attended by about 80 planners and planning commissioners from all the cities in Ventura County. Featured speakers were Camarillo officials who touted their community’s beautification successes.
In November, the Ojai Architectural Board of Review decided to demolish the Pergola’s two large arches that had been bombed in October 1967 and December 1968. In addition to removing an eyesore, they wanted to open up the view of the park from Ojai Avenue. The Ojai Planning Commission, City Council and Ojai Civic Center Park trustees agreed.
The city also decided to work with business owners to help pay for sidewalk repairs as some sidewalks were not only unsightly, but dangerous. Sidewalk repairs and installation of planters were coordinated with the state repaving Ojai Avenue. In addition, the city repaved 12 residential streets in the western portion of town.
Despite the fanfare and ambitious goals, Inspector Swift reported at the end of November that the beautification and cleanup campaign had fallen short, as participating organizations failed to develop, propose or implement plans. Little had been accomplished beyond some improvement at private homes. He did, however, report two successful beautification projects:
+ The Civic Center Park Board of Directors voted to demolish the bombed arches at the front of the park.
+ The Chamber of Commerce purchased and planted a permanent Christmas tree at the “Y” intersection.
That very same Christmas tree has grown into a mighty fine tree that we all continue to enjoy during the holidays and all year round.
The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, January 21, 1970 edition of “The Ojai Valley News”. It is reprinted here with their permission. The photo has been added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.
How Nordhoff deals with truancy problem
Truancy is a problem that exists on all school campuses. The Nordhoff High School attendance office reports that the problem is no greater here than at other schools in the county. According to the Education Code passed by the State Legislature “a child is deemed an habitual truant when he has been reported absent or tardy without a valid excuse for three or more times.”
Mr. Paul LaBute has recently been named Attendance Officer to combat the truancy problem on the Nordhoff campus. Specific procedures are followed each day in attendance procedures. Each day attendance is taken in homeroom. Those absent are listed for the day on a Master Absence List. Then each teacher takes roll in each class. Any student absent from class and not on the Master Absence List is reported to the Attendance office.
Step 1 — If it is determined the student is cutting class, a Student Referral Form is made out by the attendance clerks.
Step 2 — If a student receives three of these referral forms (that is, he was caught cutting classes three times) a School Conduct Report is sent by the attendance office to the parents.
Step 3 — If the truancy problem still exists, the student is suspended for five days. He must report to the continuation school to keep up with his class work.
Step 4 — Should a student still be truant, a Notice for Child to Discontinue Violating School Law is sent to the parents from the County of Ventura Superintendent of Schools office. This is sent by Mr. F. J. Holyoak, Child Welfare and Attendance Coordinator and it says:
“This letter is sent to notify you that this office has received a complaint that (your child) is violating the school laws of the State of California by being truant.
In accordance with the Education Code, Section 12408, the County Superintendent of Schools may request a Juvenile Court Petition in behalf of any child who is habitually truant, irregular in attendance, habitually insubordinate or disorderly during attendance at school.
The Juvenile Court, after hearing such a petition, may render judgement that the Juvenile be detained or his parents required to deliver him to the school each day or execute a $200.00 bond which is forfeit if there is further nonattendance or misconduct.
You are hereby directed to do whatever you can to prevent further noncompliance with school law. After 10 days, if matters have not improved or if there are further violations a request for a juvenile court petition will be made.”
Step 5 — The final step is a 10-day suspension, after which the student would be referred to the Placement Committee of the District. The Placement Committee may refer the student to the School Board which could result in expulsion, or the Placement Committee could place the child in a continuation high school or in an adult evening program. After hard work, the student can still graduate and then go into the service, on to college or trade schools or begin a job.
The counseling office reports that a student’s attendance record is a very important factor in job placement. Employers usually ask two questions, “Is this person reliable? Was his school attendance regular.” If the student has been truant the counseling office must report that fact. Work habits are established in school, the counselors concluded, but often the truant student cannot easily be convinced of the seriousness of establishing a truancy record.
The following article first appeared on the front page of the Friday, August 18, 1916 edition of “THE OJAI.” The author is unknown. Note: Reference is made several times to the town of “Nordhoff.” This was what the town’s name was before it was changed to “Ojai”. All photos were added to this article by the Ojai Valley Museum.
THE TRANSFORMATION HAS BEGUN
Just now things are doing in Nordhoff of such unusual character that the oldest inhabitant is constrained to sit up, or stand up, and take notice. In fact, the activity is being led by one of the oldest inhabitants — Thomas Clark, who, indeed, throughout all the past in Nordhoff’s history, has lived an active life, contributing his full share of the warp and woof woven into history’s fabric, which has grown threadbare in spots by the constant wear of time, and which he has started in to rehabilitate with new industrial threads and some patches.
No doubt the inspiration for greater and better things first surged in on the crest of the wave of sentiment for good roads, becoming a fixed purpose when Mr. E. D. Libbey arose to the occasion and gave added impetus to the vehicle of progress not alone in words, but in action. As a captain of industry and commercial achievement few men are better equipped than Mr. Libbey. With the wealth to humor any reasonable ambition, coupled with an inclination favorable to this locality. Nordhoff is indeed fortunate to have the right to lay partial claim to the citizenship of such a magnanimous benefactor and admirer of nature’s gifts so lavishly, of which Nordhoff is the commercial center.
Mr. Clark’s labors for betterments are closely linked with Mr. Libbey’s plans for civic or community improvements, the work of the former aiding the purposes of the latter, which are known to and being carried out by Mr. H. T. Sinclair. Mr. Libbey’s confidential agent in the matter of improvements contemplated or in progress on the beautiful park tract and the old Ojai Inn square, which is the expansive front yard or plaza of the business center of Nordhoff, to be transformed into a place of greater beauty by the hand of artifice, and to harmonize the scene, without a blemish, the property owners will obscure unsightly fronts behind an ornamental arcade of concrete and tile, the material for which already lines either side of the street, awaiting the labors of the architect and the builders.
After some parleying, and a small amount of worry as to the fate of the postoffice, Tom Clark cleared the way for a place for the old postoffice building to light, and Escovedo, the housemover, accomplished the rest, and the old Smith building has been transplanted — in two sections — across the street, and now rests intact on the east side of the Clark lot, with post office, plumbing shop, barber shop and Brady’s kitchen safely housed as of yore.
To do this Mr. Clark wisely revised his plans and demolished his entire barn structure, to be replaced with a modern garage and auto and horse livery annex. The west wall of the garage, under the skilled hand of Philip Scheidecker, of Los Angeles, is rapidly going up, entirely constructed of rock, mostly moss-covered, above the rougher foundation.
The removal of the old building is the signal for activity on the Libbey side, but just what transformation is to take place is a matter of rumor or conjecture. A fine building, without doubt, is to replace the old, combining post office and public library — perhaps. Many other things are likely to happen that will add to the greater and more beautiful Nordhoff.
People walking into canvas and paper are in for a surprise.
The approach is slow.
From the outside, one friend thought it was an art supply or a stationery store. Another, a framing shop. The name is simple and it can lead to various interpretations. Spelled in white lower-case letters on a square, grey sign, the name is clearly visible from the street.
Located on Montgomery Street a couple of blocks north of Ojai Avenue, this small California bungalow house looks renovated and appealing. Soft greys, white trims. Two large, square windows flank the entrance. A flagstone path carves its way through a sea of pea gravel, leading to the front door.
So, past the two olive trees, left and right of the paved walkway, you arrive at the front door, which is wide open. You enter into a spacious room, softly lit. You feel you’re about to discover something different.
Indeed, you are.
There are three art works on display. Only three: one on the left wall; one on the right wall; one on the back wall facing the entrance, each identified by the tiniest possible numbered marker, or a small label. The space is deceptively, purposely simple; quiet; spare, but inviting. Natural, filtered light mixes with recessed gallery spots to create an ideal environment for viewing artworks. A sense of warmth and serenity gently embraces the visitor.
The color of the paint on the wall is a light, warm grey, almost white; an ideal choice for showing art. Georgia O’Keeffe’s biography mentions the keen attention she dedicated to choosing the right color for the walls of Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery in New York, and for her own studio: “a neutral grey, a tone that was best for thinking visually.” The color of the wall behind artworks is a serious matter for any art professional. In some circles, it is the subject of endless debate and subtle considerations. The muted tones of the oak wood floor mix light shades of greys with blues and earthy neutrals, adding to the serenity of this visual oasis.
In the center of the space, under six recessed skylights, is a round, soft grey ottoman sofa: the proverbial Circle in the Square concept embodied in this design. Here is a fine place to sit and slowly look at art, if one wants to. Or, just to sit.
In the window alcove, to the right of the entrance, a stylish young woman sits behind an elegant wooden desk with her MacBook, fresh flowers in a small vase, a guest book, and a one-sheet of information about the works on display.
There are no prices listed as the works are not for sale. But for those curious to learn more about the artists or their work, a short bibliography is provided on the verso of the list. She (Alex Jones) welcomes you to take a sheet, if you wish. She will fully engage in conversation and offer information, if you wish. You can talk. Or not.
Is this an art gallery?
It could be. But there are no openings, no parties, and the art is not for sale.
Is this an art museum? Yes, it is, but one with a twist.
What exactly is it then?
It is a gift. A surprising, enigmatic, generous gift from an art-loving Ojai resident to this town renowned for its art-loving artists, residents and visitors. The space is open and free to visit, Thursday to Sunday afternoons.
The website simply states: “canvas and paper is an exhibition space showing paintings and drawings from the 20th century and earlier in thematic and single artist exhibits.”
The first exhibit opened in October 2018, and showcased landscape paintings by modernist British artist Ivon Hitchens. The website documents this and every subsequent exhibit, facilitating online visits.
It was followed by paintings from the 1950s representing three key painters of the Bauhaus and abstract movements: Josef Albers, John McLaughlin and Max Bill. As a group, their works created a palpable, vibrational effect in the space. One could feel the desire to look and to be in a quiet state of mind, inclined to contemplation and meditation. Quoting Josef Albers: “I am interested particularly in the psychic effect-aesthetic experience caused by the interaction of colors.”
The third show offers “portraits on paper” by Alberto Giacometti. Three pencil on paper drawings of three writers – James Lord (Giacometti’s biographer and friend), Jean Stein (author, editor and oral historian) and Jean Genet (French novelist and playwright) – focus on a lesser known aspect of the famous sculptor’s talent. Rather small in size, their presence nonetheless fills the space with a strong evocation of these significant writers and their exceptional lives.
The next show unveils three still life paintings by Jacob Van Hulsdonck (17th century Flemish), and French modern masters André Derain and Georges Braque. It runs from June 27 to September 1.
Every three months a new group of three works appears, carefully selected by the man behind this project, Neil Kreitman. The art shown at canvas and paper comes from a collection of paintings and drawings assembled by him in recent years.
Born and educated in London, Neil traveled widely and lived in several countries, including years in Greece. He spent twenty years in Los Angeles. As for Ojai, he first lived in the valley between 1988 and 1992, before coming back to settle here in 2010. A quiet man, he speaks softly and slowly, fully engaged as he listens to the visitors.
Growing up Neil was exposed to art collecting by his parents, whose interest was primarily in mid-century modernist British artists. His own earlier interests drew him to South Asian art, mostly of Buddhist inspiration. More recently he re-discovered 20th Century British, American and Western European artists.
What prompted him to create this space?
His lifelong love of art combined with a sincere motivation.
Simply stated: The idea of sharing beautiful things with other people in a beautiful place, with the hope that it will resonate with them. The pleasure of seeing the space evolve as an expression of an idea.” His wish was to create “a space which allows the viewer to feel with no expectations, but the intention is to tell a small part of the bigger story.” Like its architecture and its gardens, this art space is a book open for interpretation.
It took two years for Neil to turn his vision into reality, transforming the property into its current incarnation. He credits the process and its result to four people closely involved with him in the creation of the space: “The architect on the project was Jane Carroll, the garden was designed by my partner Sarah Munster, Kerry Miller was the contractor, and the floor was made by Mike Bennett. It was a collaborative endeavor and it involved a lot of dialogue.”
There are infinite ways to discover art and to experience it. From the emotional to the esthetic, the connection to art covers the rich range of human perception.
Here, at canvas and paper, the space has been carefully designed to allow freedom for a close look at art. The environment engages the viewer in a singular, intimate relationship with the artwork and its maker. Go into the garden. Walk around slowly. It is a serene place for meditation.
Time stands still around here. If you allow it. So does the mind. Let the eyes be quiet, to look and to see.
In art as in music, significance is defined by what is present and/or absent, by what’s there and what’s not; we feel the difference and savor this rare experience whose meaning is shaped by its context.
In the increasingly fast paced, noisy environment of most contemporary art galleries, fairs and even museums, visitors crowd the venues and spent on average 20 seconds with any one work. There are expectations and demands as one enters these places, the traditional and ever more popular temples for art devotees: to look; to learn; to move; to comment; to buy; to take pictures and selfies and share them, fast. The noise and the movement replace the experience itself.
Not surprisingly, a contrarian trend has developed in recent years: the “slow art” movement.
Slow Art Day is “a global event with a simple mission: help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art.” An annual event held in April, there were 175 “slow art day” venues around the world in 2019, most of them in museums. The formats vary, but “what all the events share is the focus on slow looking and its transformative power.”
What a surprise to find in our own town a space for experiencing art in an intimate setting, free of noise, demands and expectations, a calm place where we can enjoy a slower pace for contemplation, for spending five to ten minutes or more looking at one single artwork floating on an entire wall. Facilitating an authentic engagement in a tête-à-tête with art – and with oneself – is a rare occurrence. It makes for a refined art experience. Democratic, yes. Banal, no. Intimidating, it could be. Privileged, yes. Demanding, yes and no. Depends on what each person makes of it.
canvas and paper holds a delicate balance, a delicious line undulating between simplicity and complexity.
Step inside. Take time to look, observe and feel: you may be surprised by what develops.
The following article first appeared in the Friday, November 24, 1916 edition of “THE OJAI” on the front page. The author is unknown. This was written before the town name changed from “Nordhoff” to “Ojai.” The photos were added by the Ojai Valley Museum.
ANOTHER BEAUTY SPOT ON MAIN STREET
Landscape gardener F. C. Fassel, on the annual payroll of Mr. E. D. Libbey, is now grading the vacant lot between the Ojai State Bank and the Boyd Club, which within a year will be styled the “Garden of Rose,” which in beauty will outrival Eden — perhaps — with the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve looking in instead of looking out.
The ground is to be artistically embellished for the reception of all the more popular and beautiful varieties of rose bushes. All of the fine specimens so carefully nurtured by custodian Achelpohl of the Club will be transplanted in the plot, without retarding their bloom. This beauty spot will serve to add to the power of the magnet that will surely attract outsiders to the Ojai valley, adding still greater charm to Nordhoff’s civic center.
It is to be regretted that the wheels of the vehicle of progress shattered and tore out the great trailing rose bush at the corner of Clark’s deposed livery barn. In full bloom, with the rich colorings gleaming from the lower and upper branches of a live oak that served as a trellis, it was the marvel of all the tourists and the pride of the valley. It, however, still survives to bloom perpetually in thousands of “snap shots” by the ladies and knights of the Camera.
But there is some recompense for its loss. A handsome garage, built of moss covered native rock and tile adornments, is nearing completion on the corner, which furnishes an attraction less dainty, but more useful.
The new post office building of hollow tile construction, with its massive tower, is now going up. The memorial fountain, after being torn down, is assuming its former shape in a position four feet further back from the street.
The park wall and pergola is lining up handsomely.
The big park is taking on more beauty daily, and the million gallon reservoir is nearly completed.
The following article first appeared in the Ojai Valley News on Wednesday, October 21, 1992. It is reprinted here with their permission.
Volunteer team is dedicated to helping Valley neighbors
OJAI VALLEY NEWS
Since the 1950’s, Upper Ojai rancher Carl Hofmeister and a group of Valley volunteers have worked as partners with the Sheriff’s Department in an important capacity — as a trained search and rescue team that regularly finds lost hikers, saves victims of hard to reach accidents, and plucks drowning or stranded people from raging rivers or flood waters.
Hofmeister, a man of few, but well chosen, words only smiles and shakes his head when you ask him how long he’s been doing this kind of thing. Hofmeister organized the group “many years ago,” even before the Sheriff’s Department became involved, to help his fellow Valley residents. The Valley was less populated and more isolated at that time.
“If someone gets hurt, you can’t run off and leave them, you have to help them. It gets in your blood,” Hofmeister, the Captain of the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue team said.
Today the team is officially organized through the Sheriff’s Department, who supplies them with rescue equipment, including two trucks kept at Hofmeister’s Upper Ojai ranch, and monthly training.
The 18-member team is called in by the Sheriff’s Department when special rescue skills are required. Some examples of their work include being called if a car is over the side of a mountain road, if an organized search is required to find a lost or injured hiker, if a victim or body must be recovered and transported out of a remote location, either by helicopter or overland, or if a plane wreck must be located.
The Upper Ojai team is one of four in the county. Other squads include the Fillmore, East Valley and Dive teams. The Upper Ojai team is traditionally the busiest, with the Los Padres mountains close by. Hofmeister says the team can get called up as often as two or three times each month. But in slower times, for instance during the summer, calls can be fewer and further between.
Members’ training includes CPR and first aid. Some of the members, who come from all walks of life including ranchers, optometrists, attorneys, and county parks employees, are trained as emergency medical technicians.
But they all receive special training — from how to tie a proper knot to rigging pulley systems to lift someone out of a tight situation.
Drew Mashburn has been on the team for just over a year, and has been impressed with how much there is to learn. He says he’s just now getting more comfortable with his training and skills.
Mashburn said the team’s most common rescue results from people just not being prepared when they go out into the wilderness.
“Many times people bring these things on themselves. They don’t let people know where they are going, and they don’t wear proper clothing and get caught in inclement weather,” Mashburn said. “Even in Ojai in August, you should bring a windbreaker when you go hiking — you never know when you could fall and break a leg and get stuck overnight in bad weather.”
Many people don’t even realize the team exists, or that it’s a strictly volunteer enterprise, Mashburn said. But the team is now seeking community support so they can make an important capital purchase — beepers to notify members when they need to assemble for an emergency response.
“We are trying to upgrade our unit, and one of our biggest problems is slow response time,” Jim Wright, a 23-year veteran of the team said.
“When we have an emergency, the Sheriff’s department calls Carl, and then he goes through the phone list and calls everyone else. Than can take 20 or 30 minutes, but if we had pagers that went off we could respond immediately,” Wright said.
The pagers have been priced at about $2,500. And to help raise the funds in these days of tight county budgets, the Search and Rescue Team is hosting a benefit barbeque at the Upper Ojai’s Summit School this Saturday.
The $12 donation gets you top-sirloin steak with a soda and all the trimmings. Children under 12 will be served hot dogs and hamburgers free of charge.
For tickets and information call 646-2496 or 525-7943.
The following article first appeared in the Sunday, November 12, 1967 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on the front page. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.
Optimists honor 25 Nordhoff students
The Ojai Valley Optimist Club’s “Youth Appreciation Week” will be held Monday through Sunday, Nov. 13-19. Highlight of the week is “Youth in Community Day,” when 25 students from Nordhoff High school participate in the work day of 25 local businessmen.
Students and sponsors are scheduled for a 7 a.m. breakfast Thursday at the Oaks Restaurant, according to Optimist President Bob Music.
The Optimist Club will present two outstanding community service awards: one to Roger Armstrong, an Eagle Scout who was instrumental in collecting needed items for fire-fighters during the recent Santa Paula fire; the other to Elizabeth Jones, a senior at Nordhoff high school who has contributed 190 hours of work as a volunteer of the Junior Red Cross. The awards are among the highest given by the Optimist club.
Rev. Theodore R. Little of the Ojai Presbyterian Church will give the invocation at the Nov. 16 breakfast, after greetings from President Music. The master of ceremonies will either be Dale Holt or Rev. Little.
Dr. Pat Rooney will give the keynote talk, followed by the community service awards presentation and introduction of students and their sponsors. Participation certificates will also be given at this time. Chairman of the event Bob Smith will give the closing words of thanks.
After the breakfast, the students will pair off with their sponsors and work with them at their professions until 2:30 p.m. that day.
Sponsors and students participating in “Youth in Community Day” are: Ojai mayor and David Keitges; city administrator and Byron Barnes; chief of police and Pat Harwell; recreation director and Karen Bunch; Oak View fire station, Allen Ormsby; Meiners Oaks fire station, Rod Davis; U.S. Forest Service, Terry Hanrahan; Ventura River Municipal Water District, Frank Carlson; U.S. Post Office, Beverly Fox; Presidio Savings, Jeni McKinney; Channel Islands Bank, Karen DeSautelle; Soule Park, Greg Stafford; Ojai Hospital, Nancy Branch; Price Realty, Ron Brandolino; Ojai Valley News, Kathy Magill and Merideth Morrison; Neilson and Co., Jim Flanagan; Rexall Pharmacy, Danny McKinney; Safeway, Jim Blymer; Roberts Shoes, Annette Hanson; Oaks Hotel, Carolyn Cloar; Rains Dept. Store, Marie Goudy, and county supervisor, John Hubbard.
The 35-member local Optimist club put the final touches on “Youth Appreciation Week” during their Thursday breakfast meeting at the Boots and Saddle restaurant. President Music said that the County Board of Supervisors has issued a proclamation for the national youth week, and that the Ojai City Council will also issue a proclamation when the councilmen meet Monday in City Hall.
The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, December 6, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page D-6. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission.
EDITORIAL by Fred Volz
Our only protection is thru long range planning
Twenty years ago after World War II only the most far-sighted cities in California envisioned what would happen to them.
First, they took to heart the population predictions of the experts, predictions which estimated 30,000 people a day would migrate to California in the ’60’s.
Second, these imaginative communities began to make long range plans for doubled, tripled populations. Many enacted the first master plans so new developers would be forced to adhere to more than nebulous “guidelines”, or to the wishes of a current planning commission. Now, these areas have become the model communities of California, where property values are high because they are the preferred places to live. It was all done through long range planning.
Other communities couldn’t see the need for long range planning and dealt only with problems when they were pressed by developers. San Diego, for example, is still squabbling over whether it should enact a master plan. We hardly see whether it would make any difference; San Diego has been raped by uninhibited development and only massive, expensive urban renewal can salvage what’s left.
It was so easy for communities just to coast along 20 years ago (just like Ojai is now). There seemed to be enough room for everybody. Land was cheap, autos one to the family, and the vistas of the Great West beckoned to all. If a man wanted to put a gas station across from the post office, why not — the lot was obviously “commercial” and just sitting there.
Twenty years later we can see the end — there is just so much land. The frontier is gone. This is easy to see in the Ojai Valley, bounded by high mountains on three sides and the ocean on the other. Unless long range plans are made now to protect the semi-rural environment of the valley, the citrus groves and ranches will be overwhelmed and the valley will become another San Fernando.
Even in Ojai, at a time in our history when the most unperceptive resident should know better, there’s a persistent notion that a man who owns property has the “right” to develop his land any way he chooses. Not only that, but he has the “right” to do so without the government interfering, or any planning commission telling him the rules of the game.
This hangover from the Frontier came into the open recently in, of all places, the county planning commission when it was considering a golf course development which curiously had a trailer park at its entrance. The county planning staff wanted extra time to draw up long range plans for the Lake Casitas watershed, surely one of the most beautiful, unspoiled areas left in Southern California. The majority of the commission became impatient with the staff. “Why these people want to put in trailers immediately,” was the commission consensus. (We’ll bet that the developers don’t turn a shovelful of dirt in five years. They just wanted the zoning.)
Think of the valley. Think of the millions of dollars in beautiful homes, ranches, citrus groves. Think of the thousands of modest homes that represent the largest single investment of their owners.
We believe these people have rights — and joined together they represent the rights of the community. They have the right to expect from their government some guarantee of protection.
Protection of what? Why, protection of the semi-rural beauty of the Ojai Valley — the very reason people wanted to live here and invest here. Make another vast tract out of the valley and you’ve destroyed the prime value of our community.
That’s why long range planning — right now — is essential. Without it, the population explosion will destroy our environment, just as it did in countless cities who didn’t plan ahead.
We the people who live here have “rights” and it is perfectly in order for us to ask local government bodies for protection of our environment.
There is no other guarantee of protection than long range planning.
The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, November 1, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page D-6. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. PLEASE NOTE: Nick Robertson wrote the article when he was only a Senior in high school. The photo of Robertson was added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.
Less talk about hippies; more talk about change
by Nick Robertson
Happy Valley Senior
A “church in change” is a phrase which might draw a strong reaction from both those who think it is perfected and those who think it incapable of facing change. But to a majority of people, it is probably one of the greatest blessings to come from the institutionalized church for a long time.
There are many, myself included, that think that a religious and moral institution should lead the way for social reform, not fight it. There are, of course, arguments which slow the more impatient of us down to a walk: namely, that the church should consider social change carefully before either opposing or supporting it.
What an institution cannot afford to do is avoid facing social changes, and with this in mind, the United Presbyterian Church of So. Calif. sponsored a conference on Theonetics (a catchy, expressive and convenient if undenfinable word) with the subject “Under 21 in California.”
Aside from the word, which sounds much more active than theology, the subject is particularly attractive to someone under 21 in California. It was, as a matter of fact, even more attractive when I found I could be subsidized by the conference if I went as a “conversation starter”: one of the few times I have ever heard the axiom that children should be seen and not heard put to better disuse.
The idea of having a host of youths at the conference was necessary, not only because of the topic, but because over half of the speakers were well over 21 anyway (it was decided that 21 really meant nothing and it was youth that was being discussed). The formal parts of the meeting tended to be discussing youths rather than discussing with them.
As I have an admitted bias to being discussed rather than heard from, I think that I will speak primarily about being heard from.
The hippies, whoever they may be at the moment, were the predominant topic of discussion for the first two days. It seemed to me that most of the people attending were unduly hung up on long hair and acid, and the program scheduled two speakers on the hippies. The first was the editor of a Los Angeles underground newspaper, “The Oracle”, and in keeping with the spirit of the times, he was well over 40. The second speaker did not show up for some reason, and by the second day it struck me as good luck that the emphasis (we youths had discussed threatening a walk-out unless emphasis was taken from the hippies) was shifted.
The first evening featured three young speakers under the heading of “Youth in Action”. They were all participants in some sort of social welfare program (Inner City, VISTA, and a function of the Presbyterian church called Caravaning). The church establishment came under a certain amount of fire from all of them, as the church is bound to. The message: do something!
I think that as far as I was concerned the most impressive speaker of the entire affair was introduced as “The Minority Youth.” He was Johnny Scott, a product of Budd Schulberg’s writer’s studio in Watts, and one of the most eloquent voices to come out of the ghetto (some of his poems appeared in both the L.A. Times and Time Magazine). Scott, a student at Stanford, spoke stirringly about the plight of the black man in a lily-white America. Being predisposed to such talks, anyway, for I feel that most of us WASPS (White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants) have created a lot of our own problems, and having the guilty conscience of the typical white liberal, I don’t think anyone left the conference not duly impressed and saddened by the demand, not plea, for understanding of a black youth.
The entire set-up of such an event makes it possible for all in attendance to either take or leave the insights presented as well as enrich them by informal conversations. It is only fair to admit that I approached the hall with somewhat the attitude of an extremely angry (and extremely) young man, and I think that hard-headed , angry revolutionists pale after a brief exposure. Were it mine, I would keep more time unstructured: I felt that the talks provided a tremendous stimulus, but a stimulus that could have been matured better by more freewheeling discussion. Our table talks were probably as important to all involved as any other single part of the conference, though I could have relaxed a little more at them.
One decided hang-up most young people attended with was the idea of communicating for result. We are an impatient breed. While we speak of the necessity of communication rather incessantly, there is, so to speak, method to our madness. Most went not with the idea of learning so much as to prod, to force a confrontation on the church, speed up a committee or two, and get what many young people in the church feel is a necessary involvement out of their congregation.
While adolescents are almost by definition a state of change, the church has often been a leader in social reaction, and it seems that there is now a tremendous impatience within the younger membership of the church that now demands action and acceptance of change.
But when one can obtain enough objectivity, it is seen to be a creative, worthwhile, and effective means of dealing with a problem (assuming that a younger generation is a problem). Perhaps we can attribute the tremendous concern for the younger generation to the long-haired, barefoot element. We beat the “seen but not heard” axiom by looking fully as obnoxious as we sound.
The following article fist appeared in the Wednesday, May 31, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page D-6. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. Nick Robertson wrote the article when he was only a Junior at Happy Valley School. The photo of Robertson was placed into this article by the Ojai Valley Museum.
Marijuana more than a drug; it’s a symbol
Happy Valley Junior
Probably one of the most pressing problems for many people today is the question of juvenile use of drugs. Question, perhaps, is not exatly what it is though: thus far, one group has been determined to stop people from smoking marijuana and the other group has been hell-bent of getting high without getting caught. Both groups, as a matter of fact, are too busy to bother to learn anything about marijuana itself, or the other group.
At the moment, marijuana is more than just an intoxicant. For the mainstream of America, it is long hair, beards, cacophonic music, and “dropping out.” For the “hippies” and the other youth cults (call them what you will: fads, movements, games, cults. Who knows?) it is a heavy club to hold over mainstream America, somewhat comparable to a Masonic handshake or some other symbol of a closed society.
As far as I am concerned, it is a rather selfish cause, but highly understandable. To many people, middle class America is represented as much by alcohol as the hippies are by drugs, and a rebellion against middle class America is not only understandable but highly logical to youth.
But I’m straying from my end: It is time for a reevaluation of our laws concerning marijuana on one hand and a reevaluation of the use of marijuana on the other.
Let’s begin at the beginning: marijuana is the name we have for the leaves of the plant cannabis sativa meant to be smoked. The plant, also known as Indian hemp, was at one time used for rope. Hashish, a specially prepared form of the plant which looks somewhat like sen-sen, takes it name from the same root as assassin: disciples of Hassan Ben Sabah, “The Old Man of the Mountain,” who started a terrorist organization working from the mountains of Persio, got “high” before they were sent out to murder assorted people. Thus, hashish, “the gift of Hassen.”
The drug is common in the Middle East, where the Muslim religion prohibits drinking. Apparently, there is little or no problem of addiction in the hashish dens more spectacular than their equivalent of barflies.
The problem does not begin until one comes into possession of marijuana in the United States. According to the 1965 edition of Compton’s Encyclopedia, one is arrested for failing to pay the tax on marijuana (this is the federal law, bear in mind: probably designed to make the FBI eligible for work in narcotics control), or for selling narcotics without license, if sale is the charge. Though I do not know exactly what would happen were one to ask for a tax stamp, there are also state laws (though in Colorado, the charge of marijuana possession is a misdemeanor only) which make it illegal.
The effects of marijuana have been variously described as amazingly similar to alcohol (they are in essence the same, after all), an opening of doors in the mind, and even as a temporary form of paranoia. It is non-addictive, and as to charges that it leads to addiction, they have been answered by saying that this is society-induced and legalization could correct it.
Many people find absolutely no hostility when under the influence of the drug, but law enforcement agents say that someone may become dangerous when under the influence of some form of marijuana. It is said that marijuana leads to addiction, and some would even consider the drug addictive.
The numbers of people knowing, or having heard, both sides to the story is extremely small. As a matter of fact, most people are rather ignorant about the subject, yet would cheer when users are arrested simply because they are breaking the law.
The police, of course, recognize the ignorance and apathy get nowhere, and have begun programs of education for youths, parents, and teachers.
This is a step in the right direction, but with one foot only. Is there any reason why parents shouldn’t talk to some users, too? Is there an way the police could talk to the users?
Whether all this is possible is indeed a question, but I fail to see how the best interests of all can be served unless both sides are shown in a fair and just light. Of course, if indiscriminate arrest or constant use are in the best interests of all, I stand corrected. But if otherwise, there is no cure for gloating over the arrests of “pot-heads” and expelling suspected users from school, nor in groups sitting around a pipe, secure in their superiority over mainstream America.
There has obviously got to be some form of correction of our attitudes. As usual, the problem is communication, and barriers are put up by both sides. Perhaps long hair isn’t all bad, perhaps work has its spiritual and moral aspects, and little on both sides. Marijuana might be a somewhat ridiculous place to start, but everybody should be grateful for anything.
As it is, any discussion of marijuana is hampered by the association of it with rebellion on college campuses, sit-ins, marches, and youth movements: by the continued propaganda and lobbying of the all-powerful liquor industry; by the inherent evil people seem to find in things foreign and the inherent good young, or rebellious people seem to find in things forbidden.