Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ojai Foundation

snow on the Topas, Ojai, CA.

After my sojourn on the East Coast, I found myself quite suddenly back where I’d started. I took the airporter from LAX to Ventura and was met there by Laura, who was a sight for soar eyes to say the least. The story of loving, missing, reuniting, and trusting that goes along with BB for me is a journey unto itself… but that story is for anther time, perhaps over a nice whisky or a glass of wine.

In any case, Oct. 24th marked the day I returned to California to begin being a pilgrim in my own land. I returned to the Ojai Foundation and made its' beautiful oak woodland my California home-base: Entering the community as a volunteer in service, as a witness, as a participant, as a guest... wearing many hats, as has been done so often on this journey. I moved in and out of volunteer residency at TOF during most of my time in the states, deepening my connection and exploration with the place, its' way, and its' people.

Though I came and went from Ojai, my time there spanned a dynamic juncture, through which the Foundation and the community on the land went through some big and important changes. in addition to deepening my learning with what is there, I was also given the unlikely chance to watch a community deal with change and negotiate an unknown future ripe with transformational possibilities. Intense change is rarely easy, but is often rich, and witnessing it (however peripherally) is one of the many gifts that came from choosing to go back and reconnect with the place. In a study of community and new models of human living systems, there is so much to be learned from all angles: what works really well, what does not, what traditions and 'ways' to hold on to, which to let go of, how to birth something new, and how to let something die in a good way.

During my month-plus at Ojai I came in and out of the community often (heading from there to other sights along my independent pilgrimage path), and was greatly gifted by the chance to do that. My gratitude and appreciation to all of those holding the work and vision of The Ojai Foundation, past, present, and future. May it thrive.


A word on Joanna Macy at Ojai:

During my first days back at Ojai I was lucky enough to participate in a week-long intensive with Joanna Macy. With no need to recount the full scope of the teachings from that week here, I will simply say that it was profound and enlightening to the fullest. Of all the great inquiries happening for me on Beyond Boundaries, Joanna’s teachings touch on some of the questions that I personally hold closest to my heart:

-- How do we respond in the face of a dying world?

-- What happens if we dare to allow ourselves to feel the grief and anger at what’s happening on the planet every day? How do we hold that?

-- Where do we find the resolve to continue showing up in the face of such monumental forces of apathy, shortsightedness, injustice and destruction?

-- What tools can we employ – both personally and collectively – to aid us in these times?

-- In a world that is seemingly so separated and isolated, how do we reconnect?

-- How do we align our personal “small” stories with the larger contextual story of our times in a way that empowers us both as individual beings and as global citizens?

… The list goes on and on, and Joanna spoke to all of this with the eloquence, grace, and fierce tenacity of one who has truly committed her life to the cause. She holds a series of traits that I have encountered too infrequently in my life; traits which for me mark the presence of a real elder. My deep gratitude to all those whom I have met and have yet to meet that have taken up this call.

Joanna Macy group at TOF, Oct. 2009

I strongly encourage any and all to look into Joanna and her work. It is deeply in line with the vision and intentions behind Beyond Boundaries, and hers is a true voice for our particular moment in history.

Also, for a quick 5 minute interview done with Joanna while at Ojai, check out this link:

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