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  1. tjones800

    Ojai 100 years ago

    Ojai has a long history.

    Ojai 100 Years Old on April 8, 2017

    Click here to check out the video of the days events.

    A century ago, on April 8, residents of a small, mountain community gathered for a picnic to celebrate the transformation of their ramshackle downtown into an architectural jewel.

    The town, recently renamed “Ojai” instead of Nordhoff, had an elegant new post office tower, arcade, pergola and public park. All this was thanks to the deep pockets and vision of East Coast glass magnate Edward Drummond Libbey, who had adopted Ojai as his second home.

    At the picnic, Libbey gave the deeds for the park and post office to the community via the newly formed Ojai Civic Association. According to local historians, the moment marked the birth of Ojai as it’s known today, with its iconic Mission Revival-style buildings and community spirit.

    Ojai celebrated the 100th anniversary of this transformation Saturday April 8. The community held a Centennial Jubilee Picnic in Libbey Park, in honor of the original celebratory picnic in 1917.

    “Four years from now will be the centennial of when Ojai became incorporated… That’s like a technical thing,” said Mark Lewis, board president of the Ojai Valley Museum, which is spearheading the celebrations. “This is the centennial of when this community became the Ojai as we think of it today — between the architecture and the name and the spirit.”

    Libbey, who ran his glass business in Toledo, Ohio, fell in love with the Ojai Valley after he began vacationing there with his wife around 1908. At the time, the town itself was called Nordhoff after a 19th-century travel writer famous for promoting California. Although the valley itself was beautiful, Nordhoff was a dusty, nondescript backwater, Lewis said. Inspired by the era’s City Beautiful movement — the idea that beautiful architecture encourages people to become better citizens — Libbey spearheaded the metamorphosis of Ojai’s downtown.

    To accompany the town’s physical transformation, community leaders decided to change the town’s name as well. It’s not clear why the name Nordhoff fell out of favor. Some historians believe it may have to do with anti-German sentiment at the time in the lead-up to World War I. However, Lewis said he thinks the name change was simply a marketing move. The name Ojai — thought to derive from the Chumash word for moon — better suited the new architectural style of the town, he said.

    Saturday’s centennial picnic included a re-created speech by Libbey and handover of the deeds.

    The Ojai Valley Museum also has an exhibit about the town’s architectural transformation called “Inventing Ojai.” The exhibit will be on view through Sunday.

    Learn more at

  2. tjones800

    New York Times Article: Ojai’s Golden Hour

    OJAI, Calif. — On a recent Sunday morning the sidewalk in front of Porch Gallery Ojai buzzed with shoppers toting organic grocery bags to and from the nearby farmers’ market. Every now and then someone — a surfer dude with a blond topknot, a couple pushing a tricycle stroller — peeled off to snap a picture of “Before I Die,” an interactive installation outside the gallery in which viewers are invited to complete the sentence “Before I die I want to ….” on a large chalkboard mounted under an incense cedar. (One not atypical contribution: “Sound my barbaric yawp.”)

    Others joined the crowd mingling over prosecco and sticky buns inside, where a jazz pianist in a gray hoodie riffed on “My Favorite Things.” “We get musicians and chefs and poets,” said Lisa Casoni, one of Porch Gallery’s directors, surveying the crowd with her co-director and wife, Heather Stobo. “It’s a different way of having a gallery, but people respond to it.”

    People, particularly people belonging to Generations X or Y, are responding to Ojai as a whole with a collective barbaric yawp. The idyllic valley town, about 90 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles (and picturesque enough to play the role, for a few seconds, of Shangri-La in Frank Capra’s film version of “Lost Horizon”), has long drawn seekers, including the Indian sage Jiddu Krishnamurti and John Lennon and Yoko Ono. But the last few years have seen a sharp uptick in pilgrims who favor Hal Hartley movies and fixed-gear bicycles.

    Among the newcomers are millennial movie stars (Emily Blunt, Channing Tatum), offbeat heiresses (Aileen Getty, Anna Getty) and hippie-chic designers (Ramin Shamshiri, Channon Roe). They come from as near as Silver Lake, in Los Angeles, and from as far as Sweden. They are rehabbing crumbling storefronts and repurposing overgrown lots. And they are converging on Ojai because — well, that would depend on whom you ask.

    Chris Sewell, a self-described “motelier” with a copper-colored beard, runs the Ojai Rancho Inn, a 1950s-era roadhouse recycled to scenester specifications with faux-rustic rooms and a tepee and an Airstream trailer out by the pool. (Tepees and trailers may be supplanting citrus groves and stone walls as Ojai’s official totems.) Since its opening two years ago, the inn has served as a local hub, offering artisanal brews in an oak-paneled bar, live folk music and workshops on macramé and pompom making.

    “I think it mainly has to do with the boho craft movement that existed in Ojai and California in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” Mr. Sewell said, keeping an eye on a carpenter mounting a sculpture inside Chief’s Peak, the inn’s bar. “I think there’s a resurgence of that.”

    Channon and Bianca Roe, an actor/designer and model/actress, respectively, moved here two years ago with their son, Marlon, and recently opened In the Field, a store specializing in handcrafted, locally sourced wares — including tepees. Ms. Roe believes the migration relates to parenting trends. “The schools are phenomenal,” she said, singling out Oak Grove, the vegetarian boarding academy founded by Krishnamurti, where Marlon is in preschool.

    Click here to read more

  3. tjones800

    City of Ojai and Ojai Valley

    Articles on Ojai

    Find Articles on Ojai at

    Why Ojai

    Nestled in the Topatopa Mountains about 90 minutes northwest of LAX is the village of Ojai, which The Washington Post has called the “most desirable place to live in America,” and so I came as a guest of the Chamber of Commerce to find out why. My first scheduled stop was a facial at an herbal apothecary called EarthTonics, which proved to be one of the most pleasant hours I can remember. As
    I floated back out the door, I asked Daron Hope, the owner, “What just happened?” So she wrote me this note:

    “Your Botanical Facial focused on relaxing the face, neck, and shoulder muscles while we used some potent herbs and super- foods to deliver nutrient-dense hydration. We began with an herbal steam to soften your skin and support a deeper state of relax- ation. After cleansing and exfoliating with my Cardamom Cream Cleanser and Honey Bamboo Facial Scrub, I made you a custom mask with collostrum and goji berries. I covered your skin with hydrosol-drenched cotton (these are the floral waters I told you about, remember?)—a blend of rose, tulsi, and orange blossom which together are anti-inflammatory and very softening. These steeped your skin with antioxidants while we grounded your energy with a foot massage using my Grapefruit and Rose Body Nectar. We finished with a facial massage using my Repair Creme Concentrate, a powerful corrective cream with Tahitian tamanu oil and root herbs to heal sun damage and stimulate skin cell turnover.”

    In other words, my face and feet had been immersed in herbs and flowers and berries by a native of Ojai who had gathered and mixed and applied these fresh ingredients herself—and I think that level of pure intentionality goes a long way toward explaining why Ojai is such a desirable place to be. Like the facial, it felt more than skin deep.

    I stayed at the Ojai Retreat Center, a five-acre hilltop bed and breakfast overlooking the village that has 12 guest rooms, three libraries, and no televisions. The atmosphere is serene, in keeping with the energy of the manager, who came to Ojai from Switzerland, following Jiddu Krishnamurti. As you may recall, Krishnamurti was raised by the Theosophical Society in India, to be their prophesied Maitreya, or world teacher. Krishnamurti renounced his title and famously declared truth to be “a pathless land” that belongs to no creed or religion or country. Yet he became a world spiritual teacher, and he fell in love with Ojai in 1922 and died there in 1986. In the meantime, he drew people from around the world to create lasting centers like the Oak Grove School and the Peppertree Retreat Center, where I went for yoga. Many other teachers also came and created spectacular gathering spots like Meditation Mount, where people gather to quietly watch the sunset. While Ojai now has celebrities and cars that cost as much as houses, the underlying sprit of competition is somehow to be more mindful than one’s neighbor.

    The soul of the Ojai extensive foodie scene is Farmer and the Cook. Steve is the farmer who runs a 12-acre organic farm and CSA, while Olivia is the cook who runs the restaurant/farm stand. Their food is fresh, simple, inexpensive, and wonderful—and the long tables lend themselves to long conversation among people who have just met. This is Ojai’s central kitchen where everyone comes to hang out. At night there is a thriving urban cocktail competition in the fancy village bars, but the drink they were showing off at Azu is called the Pink Moment for the light that hits the mountains at sunset. Ojai is a delightful tourist town where even the cocktails are a call to be mindful. —STEPHEN KIESLING

    Peace on Earth
    The Ojai Valley is the perfect place to shop, nosh and drop your way into a stress-free holiday season
    By Leslie A. Westbrook

    When I yearn for a country fix with a laidback vibe, Ojai is my nearby “go to” destination.

    It’s hard to imagine a mellower spot in Ventura County to combine shopping and self-care. There’s a reason the small town has called out to spiritual seekers and Hollywood escapees, as well as creative types, among others. With no chain stores allowed, the shopping is blissfully easy during the usual holiday mayhem. Or, if your goal is to escape the madness altogether, there are plenty of cool spots for dining, imbibing and reviving, too.

    Picturesque Highways 33 and 150 leading to the town nicknamed “Shangri-La” (due to its role in Lost Horizon) set the tone. Or ride your bike up the path from Ventura — but carrying Santa’s sack of gifts on the 15-mile downhill trip to the coast could be challenging. Last January, Ojai’s Topa Topa Mountains and Chief Peak received dustings of snow, so there’s a chance of a winter wonderland backdrop, depending on Mother Nature. 

    To get the full benefit, check into one of Ojai’s charming lodgings for a couple of nights. The “Robin” suite at Su Nido Inn was the perfect “nest” to launch my shopping, noshing and dropping holiday. The 12-room inn is reminiscent of an Italian villa, and the pretty central courtyard with a gurgling fountain provides a soothing atmosphere. My room had a sitting room with a gas fireplace and a spacious bedroom with a Cal King-size bed. (All Su Nido rooms have just one bed, so if you need more, look elsewhere.) The bathroom, painted a warm golden tone, went beautifully with the artful tiles (nests and bird designs), a deep soaking tub and glassed-in shower.

To get your mojo working, run, do not walk, to the newest coffee house in town, Beacon Coffee, and fuel up on a great cup of fair-trade java made from beans sourced in Central and South America and roasted locally. Scones, savory biscuits and melt-in-your-mouth gluten-free buckwheat savory hand pies filled with vegetables and goat cheese are made in house. Who knew a former Carrows restaurant could be so cool?
    For lunch, pop into Rainbow Bridge market and grab something from the deli. I also enjoyed a satisfying and relaxing lunch of veggie tacos and organic greens under the Ojai sun on the outdoor patio at the casual NoSo Vita.

Cross names off your shopping list with ease in the surrounding blocks. The New Age Rainbow Warehouse has inexpensive stocking stuffers for stress reduction. Have children to buy for? Serendipity Toys has been family owned and operated since 1979.

    How about the chic and stylish women on your list? I love the cashmere sweaters and butter-soft leather purses at Hattie, a favorite upscale clothing store tucked inside a charming, vine-covered cottage on Montgomery Street. For men, I found many cool things at deKor & Co., perhaps one of the mellowest shopping environments in town. The cornucopia of tastefully curated items includes unique gifts, clothing, furniture, lighting and even gigantic incense coils ($55) that dangle from the ceiling for the person who has everything. Check out the beautiful inlaid cheese boards here, the Bogue Milk Soap shaving kits and the fragrant orange blossom Ojai coconut wax candle ($39), which burns for 45 hours.
    There are other unique boutiques to discover in the charming Arcade and nearby area. Have fun!

During my 90-minute signature facial at The Day Spa of Ojai, owner Kim Wachter gave me the best shoulder, foot and leg massage while my face was steamed between slathers of organic algae lotions and potions that restored my skin during this ultimate facial experience. I left aglow, from head to toe.
    Just a half block back to Su Nido Inn, I returned for a one-on-one yoga session — gentle, relaxing and created to suit my limited abilities — with Francesca Michelle Lies. I followed Francesca’s lead in the courtyard where she offers private yoga courses. Hummingbirds sipped at the fountain while I gently stretched and balanced and centered my body and mind, ending with a quiet meditation.

    Don’t miss Ojai’s famous “Pink Moment” sunset over the Topa Topa Mountain range at day’s end.

    The Gift of Good Taste
In my humble opinion, and that of others I know who live in Ojai — and I have not eaten everywhere in Ojai — the lovely Italian restaurant Nocciola may very well be the best restaurant in town. Located in a charmingly restored Craftsman bungalow, it offers a sleek dining room and a woodsy covered deck. 

    My dining companion and I both ordered the chef’s amazing five-course tasting menu. This is definitely the way to go, but you must come with an appetite. Seared lamb carpaccio, Piave cheese and truffle perlage and yellowfin tuna tartar were out of this world. The succulent quail and seared sea scallop were also delicious, and Nocciola’s homemade pastas are truly outstanding. Our meal was finished off with a trio of chocolaty homemade desserts. Bravo to chef/owner Pietro Biondi!
    Nocciola was the perfect ending to a lovely stay — and my last stop before I dropped into soft pillows and sweet, Ojai dreamland.

    Here’s Your Complete Guide To Ojai

    When the hustle of Los Angeles gets to be too much, we usually turn to the tried-and-true weekend getaways like San Diego and Palm Springs for rest and relaxation. But what about Ojai, the oft-forgotten jewel of zen trips that’s been showing up more and more in Instagram feeds.

    For being just an hour-and-a-half drive from L.A., this charming Ventura County city is surprisingly a very different place. It’s both bohemian (plenty of energy healing classes and reiki treatments here) and quite scenic because of its picturesque backdrop of rolling valleys and mountains. Even the sunsets are better here, so much so that the locals have dubbed them “The Pink Moment” because of the way the blush glow bounces off of the mountains and cloaks over the land during the fall and winter months.

    We were invited by the Ojai Visitors Bureau and also did some exploring on our own, and found that in Ojai, you might actually feel like looking up from your phone (except to take a snapshot of a rosy sunset). If holistic healing and chakra balancing aren’t your thing (or if they are, by all means you do you), there are still a ton of other things like yoga, wine tasting and seriously good food (especially of the organic and seasonal kind) to take your mind off of things for a bit. Here’s our guide to area—what to do, places to stay, and restaurants to check out.

    What to do in Ojai

    Check it out at

    Ojai: A Spiritual Getaway Just North of L.A.

    BY: GLYNIS COSTIN AUGUST 16, 2016 @ 3:00 PM

    This quaint town of 8,000 people, just a 90-minute drive north of Los Angeles, has long been a laid-back refuge for artists, health gurus, and bohemians—a sunny getaway with avocado groves and yoga retreats, organic gardens, and ceramic studios. Along with earthy residents, the town has also attracted its share of celebrities looking to get away from the limelight. Those who have purchased homes or land here include Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, Channing Tatum and Reese Witherspoon (Robert Pattinson famously hid out at pal Witherspoon’s Ojai pad post break up with Kristen Stewart).

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    What to do in Ojai

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