August 2017

August 30, 2017

Kusa Seed Research Foundation looking for Seed Guardians

The Kusa Seed Research Foundation is Ojai's own “heirloom seed” organization, keeping alive the ancient human valuation of the preciousness of untrammeled seeds. They are looking for help hosting these seeds.

Founded in Ojai in 1980, the Kusa Seed Society has built-up a deep collection of bio-diverse, highly nutritious edible seedcrops — endangered staple-food seed crops that can re-green the earth and deliver healing and re-greening energies to mind and body alike.

Seeds are nutritious packages of peace and abundance, their germination power can light the pathway to human balance and well-being.

To preserve its collection, the Kusa Seed organization stores the seeds in household-type chest freezers, each one about the size of a small common refrigerator. Each seed-storage freezer is like a botanic treasure chest.

Recently, an opportunity has arisen to help maintain these sleeping seeds on their journey.

A “Seed Guardian” is needed, someone who will volunteer a space to keep the seeds safe until the magic of soil, moisture, and sun can re-awaken them. This “Seed Guardian” opening can be filled by any member of the community willing to host one of Kusa Seed's botanic “treasure chests.” What's needed is a dry, secure, indoor space with electrical service available. A quiet corner in a church, school, office, shop, garage, or outbuilding will do fine.

Anyone in the community with hosting suggestions, ideas or questions should call the Kusa Seed organization at 805-646-0772 or e-mail:

Ojai Valley Green Coalition chooses new executive director

The Ojai Valley Green Coalition has chosen a new executive director, Tim Nafziger, following the resignation of Russell Sydney, who served in the post for a year and a half. Nafziger plans to serve for six to nine months in an interim role to help the organization find a long term executive director.

“We appreciate Russell’s service over the last 18 months to the work of the Coalition,” said Ched Myers, a long-time member of the Board of Directors. “He has worked hard during a challenging transition period, and helped open up a new chapter for our mission. As our Interim E.D., Tim Nafziger brings to our circle activist energy, organizational skills and management experience, and the passion and perspective of the next generation. The Board sincerely thanks Russell, and looks forward to partnering with Tim to deepen and broaden the work of the OVGC.”

Tim Nafziger has been a reservist and organizer for years for the Christian Peacemaker Teams that work in small teams to reduce harm in conflict zones around the world, including Iraq. He spent 6 years on staff with the organization as outreach coordinator and then as assistant director. He identifies as a Mennonite, and has been active as an organizer in the Carnival de Resistance, a traveling arts carnival and ceremonial theater dramatizing themes of ecological justice and radical theology. He also is a leader with Showing Up for Racial Justice Ventura County, or SURJ VC, a local chapter of a national group that does education and advocacy for racial justice He runs a web design company called Congruity Works that helps nonprofits with their web strategy.

“I look forward to working with the Board of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition,” said Nafziger. “We are fortunate in the Ojai Valley to live in an extremely charismatic watershed, and I am eager to bring new voices into the ecological conversation in this valley.”

For over ten years the Green Coalition has spearheaded recycling, green living, water conservation, electric vehicles, and other forms of conservation in the Ojai Valley, most recently helping sponsor a showing of “The Cat That Changed America,” about the effort to build the world’s largest wildlife crossing to save the mountain lions of Ventura County.

“It has been one of my goals to build the Board’s capacity to take on the task of running the Coalition,” said outgoing director Sydney. “This is the perfect time for me to step back from a very public role that was thrust upon me. I am delighted that this transition is happening.”

Tim Nafziger can be reached at

Thacher Astronomer to Host Dark Skies Open House on September 15

During the day, Jon Swift teaches astronomy and mathematics at Thacher School in Ojai’s East End, where he has taken charge of a large state-of-the-art astronomical observatory, and oversees a hard-working group of students enthralled with the stars.

At night Swift and his collaborators look to the skies for illumination on a variety of astronomical subjects, he says, from “emerging galaxies” to “some of the most mysterious stars in the universe.”

Swift knows how important dark skies are, not just to astronomers, but to the natural environment and to our sense of wonder.

“One of the first things I did when I came to Thacher was to look at the characteristics of the site,” he said. “Before they built the site I wanted to know how bright the site was at night, and how much the stars twinkled, as well as the weather patterns. This is one of the things we’ve been monitoring with the Ojai Valley Green Coalition.”

Swift sees the night skies as a way to reach the community beyond Thacher, and potentially to unify it.

“I don’t really have a particular agenda,” he said. “I hope this event can bring people together regardless of political opinions, to explore the beauty of our environment, and to raise awareness of the consequences of light pollution. It’s my hope that as people become aware of our research observatory and have a bit of fun with it that they will become more aware and more interested.”

Swift has been working to preserve dark skies for many years, as an astronomer at CalTech, and as a collaborator with the Great Basin Observatory and National Park in Nevada. Being keenly aware of the light pollution issue, when he heard that time-lapse artists Gavin Hefferman and Harun Madmeninovik of the stunningly beautiful and powerful Sky Glow book and series were available, the best available argument for dark skies and against light pollution, he was eager to set a date to introduce them to Thacher and the broader public.

“Absolutely, this will be a sort of open house for us as well,” he said. “We want to host public events, and bring in other schools, and have people really look with their own eyes at what we are seeing.”

The public event, which is donation only, will be held in the Milligan Center for the Performing Arts. Parking available near the main entrance in the large lot. This will take place on Saturday September 15 at 7:00 p.m. Point person for questions: Katie O’Neill (

Please help spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook:

VanLeit Joins Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board

Betsy VanLeit, who joined the Ojai Valley Green Coalition’s Board this August, brings years of experience in administration of different sorts, from working in health issues (while teaching at the University of New Mexico, and administering federal grants for underserved people in the state) and the environment (while working for the US Forest Service, in earlier years in Oregon).

Betsy is eager to dive in and help the Coalition, and thinks tentative plans to revive the demonstration garden near City Hall, and manage it as a water-wise garden and as a community garden, make a lot of sense, both for the City and for the Coalition.

“I would love for us to become the leaders of that effort, to do something tangible for people and to bring people together,” she said. “I think we need to be bringing people together around questions of sustainability and local food, and this garden was the specific piece that made me want to roll up my sleeves and help to create something exciting here.”

Betsy retired from academia and came to Ojai in part to be closer to her parents, but has already been busy volunteering not just with the Coalition, but with Food Forward and the Land Conservancy. She thinks the town especially needs to pay attention to water and how to keep it on the land, after being certified in permaculture techniques.

“I think affordable housing and water are at the heart of the things that Ojai needs to grapple with right now,” she said. “I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do think the Green Coalition could help bring people together, and have the kind of conversations that could allow us to do things differently.”

Betsy stressed her eagerness to help, as well as her lengthy experience on one of the largest and most successful of food co-ops in the country, La Montanita in Albuquerque.

“There just seem to be a lot of wonderful and very caring people here, paying attention and trying to do good work and make it a better community,” she said. “And lots of people in spiritual practice as well. As a Buddhist practioner I like that connection to place and a certain sense of sacredness about life. In a lot of ways it feels very special to me, and I must say the farmer’s market is awesome. In Albuquerque we had a farmer’s market, but it began in May and ended in October, so to see the abundance of foods here week after week is quite amazing!”

August 17, 2017

SKYGLOW Project Presentation Sept. 15

OVGC_SkyglowFlyer_FINAL.jpg On Friday, September 15, 7 to 9 p.m., join the Coalition for a SKYGLOW Project screening and book signing.

SKYGLOW explores the history and mythology of celestial observation, the proliferation of electrical outdoor lighting that spurred the rise of "skyglow” and the Dark Sky Movement that's fighting to reclaim the night skies.

Held in the beautiful Thacher School Milligan Center for the Performing Arts at 5025 Thacher Rd., the suggested donation is $10 (students are free). There will be a drawing at the end of the program - 2 bottles of wine and 4 tasting tickets - complements of Topa Mountain Winery. Another Dark Sky Friendly Ojai Valley business - THANK YOU!

Thank you to our host/partner The Thacher School and the financial support of the City of Ojai and Rotary Club of Ojai for making this important educational event possible.

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