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Coalition Team of Volunteers Cleans up Ojai Creek at Libbey Park

In September on our annual Creek Clean up day, we cleaned trash, tennis balls and miscellaneous items out of the Ojai creek bed that rambles through Libbey Park. The day was led Noel Douglas, our Coalition office manager and board member Betsy VanLeit. They worked with twenty volunteers -- including Thacher students and Severo Lara, our board chair.

“We took forty bags of trash out of the creek, and five large bags of tennis balls, but we still finished early,” Douglas said. “The creek seemed to be cleaner to us than in past years.” Greg Grant (the Public Works Director for the city of Ojai) was there, and he thought maybe the C.R.E.W., Concerned Resource and Environmental Workers, might have been through there recently.”

The most unusual item found in the creek was a ouija board.

“We had happy, smiley people, eager to go,” Douglas said. “The Thacher students, led by their teacher Juan Sanchez, actually went down twice, they finished so quickly the first time.”

The effort was also aided by one fellow with a van who drove down to the barranca behind the tennis academy and pulled out five large garbage bags of tennis balls.

“There’s some talk of inviting the tennis academy next year to join us,” Douglas said. “Maybe after a tournament they could take a few minutes to find some of the balls that end up in the creek.”

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Restoring Soils and Seas on October 12 at Ojai Retreat Center

John Roulac, the founder of the organic superfood company Nutiva, lived in Ojai in the 1990’s, helped lead a composting movement here, and still loves the community. Even though he moved with his company to the Bay Area years ago, he continues to fund environmental activism in the Ojai area.

On Thursday, October 12th, at the Ojai Retreat and in association with the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, Roulac will lead a presentation on “Oceans in Peril,” about the crisis we face from our polluted and carbonized ocean water, and what we can do to help restore ocean health.

Roulac is alarmed by the accelerating decline in our ocean’s health and productivity, especially from pollution and acidification, but as “chief visionary officer” of the company he has some ideas on what can be done to reverse the damage as well.

“As part of our participation in 1% for the Planet, we are sponsoring ocean farming workshops along the California coast, in places like Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and San Francisco,” Roulac said. “In the same way oak woodlands are a keystone species in the coast ranges of California- a species on which thousands of other species depend - kelp forests are a keystone species off the shores of California. They have been devastated, beginning with the hunting of the otters for fur. The otters eat sea urchins, which eats kelp. Kelp forests are still recovering from that loss [of sea otters]. What we are talking about ultimately is a reforestation of the coast, but what we’re looking at right now is what we can do with ocean farming.”

Dan Marquez, a restorative ocean farmer with 25 acres off the Santa Barbara coast, will speak on the challenges of farming with kelp. Roulac says that one of the ideas being tested is the idea of feeding cows meal made of kelp instead of corn. He said that cows that consume kelp instead of cornmeal generate less methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

“In the last year this has gone from being considered some bizarre idea, to a “wow”! People are beginning to think about about whether they could be ocean farmers, working right off our coasts,” Roulac said.

Roulac and Nutiva also helped fund Ojai filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell, who are completing a documentary project called Kiss the Ground, a 90-minute documentary expected to be entered into the Sundance Film Festival next year. A preview from the documentary will be shown as part of the presentation, and Ojai’s Steve Sprinkel, an organic grower for the community based at The Farmer and the Cook, along with Roulac and Marquez, will also be a featured guest speaker.

OCEANS IN PERIL at the Ojai Retreat at 7 pm on Thursday October 12th. 160 Besant Road, Ojai CA (near the Ranch House and Oak Grove School, off Lomita Avenue).

Ojai Creek Cleanup on September 16

On Saturday, September 16, from 9 A.M. through noon, the Ojai Valley Green Coalition invites the public to join them and the Ventura Countywide Coalition for Coastal and Inland Waterways. That morning, participants will remove and record litter from Ojai Creek running through Libbey Park. Ojai volunteers are asked to sign in at 8:45 A.M. at the Libbey Park lower tennis court parking lot off S. Montgomery St. in Ojai.

Be one of 67,000 people to take part in the California Coastal Cleanup Day 31st anniversary event! Volunteers will remove debris from the coast, creeks, rivers, lakes and shorelines all around California protecting wildlife from harm while taking care of our environment.

The California Coastal Commission estimates that 80 percent of the debris on California beaches originates from inland and then washes out to the ocean. Last year volunteers collected nearly 750,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s beaches, lakes, and inland waterways.

Coastal Cleanup Day takes place every year on the third Saturday of September, is the nation’s premier volunteer event focused on the marine environment, and offers a way for students, neighbors, families, and service groups to join together, have fun, and show community support for the stewarding of shared natural resources.

All participants must sign 2 waivers and those under 18 must have waivers signed by a parent or guardian which will be available on site. Please email coordinator@ojaivalleygreencoalition.com with any questions.

Please wear sturdy shoes and we recommend bringing your own gloves. We will provide rubber gloves.

If possible, please download the 2017 waiver form here, print it and sign it and bring it with you.

We will also have some copies of this waiver form available on site for those who are not able to print this out ahead of time.

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 (koneill@thacher.org).

Please help spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/210937369441242/

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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