Fire Update #10: Meet Mariah

NOVEMBER 7, 2018.  Letter from the Executive Stewardship Circle (ESC)
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Autumn Greetings!

The crisp mornings, clear blue skies and neon pink hues on the mountains signal the arrival of autumn and an invitation to prepare for winter—a time to slow, renew, and incubate. It is also a time, when the gusty Santa Ana winds return, reminding us of fire, loss, and the elemental power of nature and the dynamic forces of change upon us.

At The Ojai Foundation (TOF), the cycles of nature remind us to be patient as the reality of re-opening remains in the distance. While we can look back and see unfathomable progress with clean-up and recovery on the land, looking ahead much remains to be done.

Our intention continues: to maintain a sane pace, to listen deeply, to focus on gratitude, to receive the many gifts we might otherwise simply pass by, and to be patient with one another and the forces at play, as each next step is revealed. As we enter this fall/winter, we turn our attention toward the gestation time—knowing that the seeds planted and the underground root networks are alive with potential.

In the meantime, we continue to steward the land mindfully, with deep care, and the tremendous help of the Center for Employment Training (CET) crews, and we continue limited programming when and where possible. (Scroll down for detail and updates.)

Thank you for remaining in the process with us.

With love and gratitude,
Executive Stewardship Circle (ESC)
Brendan Clarke & Sharon Shay Sloan, Co-Directors
David Bryan & Laura Whitney, Board Co-Chairs



Hello TOF community,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mariah Simpson. I was born and raised in the western Sierra Nevada foothills. I was privileged to live where it was safe to play outside. I spent a lot of time playing in the oak woodlands, rolling grasslands, and river canyons of western Nevada County. I will always consider that area to be home. I developed an appreciation for nature in those early years. In coming to The Ojai Foundation, I felt drawn to the geography and the sense of community in the Ojai area, both of which remind me of home.

I have worked for nonprofits in the conservation field since 2013, when I returned home from college. I fell into an office administration job at a local land trust randomly after spending the first six years of my working life in sales and marketing. It brought welcome relief to be part of organizations that are doing things for the greater good and not for profit. In that role, I was given the opportunity to learn office systems and was also given the freedom to innovate, allowing those organizations to begin operating at a higher level. Creating order out of chaos has been fulfilling for me.

I deeply feel that The Ojai Foundation has so much to offer in terms of personal growth and I am grateful for the opportunity to offer my abilities in service to its growth as well. The spirit of the land is so alive here, even in the wake of the devastating Thomas Fire. I am grateful to have the opportunity to assist in the transformation and rebirth of this place. I have begun establishing a relationship with the land, in between filing projects and answering emails. It is a quiet time and a good time to practice listening to the plants, wind, and critters.

Mariah Simpson
Operations Manager
(530) 575-9333

Read more of Mariah’s BIO HERE.

Land Stewardship Update


One of the major land projects in process is the repair and improvement of the severely damaged Council Hut on the upper land. This was no small task, as the building is quite unique. Over the past months, Marlow Hotchkiss led a crew as we puzzled through how to replace sections of the reciprocal frame* roof. As in so many cases post-fire, the damage also invited an opportunity for re-imagining. Now, with a repaired roof, our next steps include replacing and upgrading the windows, which are now re-configured for better insulation and air circulation for both summer and winter use, and plastering.

*A reciprocal frame is a self-supporting structure made of three or more beams and which requires no center support to create roofs, bridges or similar structures.







Council Hut after the Thomas Fire.

  Marlow Hotchkiss led the re-design and repair of the roof and windows.


  Council Hut after the roof repair.


The Center for Employment Training (CET) crew continues to be a huge boon for TOF. The corners of our mouths turn upward as we witness the crew gradually embracing and enjoying the process of making beauty with mindful care, simple touches and intention.  To our delight, it is looking like the grant that funds our CET workers will be extended, allowing the program to continue through March 2019. Fingers crossed!


Do you recognize this site? Once kitchen and dining, for months a post-fire debris pile, and now a versatile gathering space.


Program & Events Calendar Update

On-site programming continues to be suspended until the land and facilities are fully safe, legal and operational.  We currently envision a possible “soft opening” in late Spring 2019 for limited in-house programming, day use and visitors. Stay tuned for a calendar of offerings to be launched in Fall 2019.

Limited TOF programming continues off-site with a handful of longtime clients and partners including with schools and corporations.

See below a sneak preview of some upcoming public offerings off-site. Check our website HERE for updates on Council Trainings, programs, events and volunteer days