Dear Friend,

The rains earlier this month have turned formerly sooty patches of earth, left by the 2017 Thomas Fire, to bright green swathes, dotted with wildflowers. We are so grateful for the abundance of new growth brought by the rains, as well as the abundance of a successful year-end campaign. Your generosity exceeded our expectations and together we raised over $40,000 to help build a bridge to our future. Learn more about how we will be using these funds or donate today. 

With gratitude,

The Executive Stewardship Circle
Brendan Clarke & Sharon Shay Sloan, Co-Directors
David Bryan & Laura Whitney, Board Co-Chairs

 Luke Gatto: In Memoriam

We are saddened to announce the passing of Luke Gatto, the original founder of what has become The Ojai Foundation, originally called Human Dimensions Institute/West. Luke passed away in the early morning on New Year’s Day, 2019. His obituary was published in the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Remembered by Irasha Talifero

I have been honored to call Luke my friend. We met about forty-two years ago while I was hiking. I was carrying my son, Snowshadow, in a baby carrier on my back. Of course, Luke offered me some healing herbs and flower essences. Something Luke loved to do was to take care of people. He was thrilled with our names and kept saying them over and over again. Luke decided he wanted to be a part of our lives and included us in everything after that.

The thing that excited him the most was the nonprofit organization he founded in 1975, using all of his inheritance. He named it Human Dimensions Institute/West (HDI/W), and specifically chose the ridgetop when he obtained the lease from the Happy Valley Foundation. The name was changed to The Ojai Foundation in 1980 by the third director (after Luke and Lorin Loverde), Joan Halifax. Luke fought for the name to be changed back to its original up until the day he passed.

The foundation was one of his biggest legacies. He founded HDI/W with a vision of a place to learn and participate in higher learnings, knowledge that wasn’t ordinarily taught. He wanted to bring teachings to the people of the Ojai Valley, knowledge that people always wanted, but never knew where to go to learn. Or things we knew absolutely nothing about, but felt we would benefit from.

One of many things Luke did was to include the people and their families of the Ojai Valley and make sure they were a part of these experiences on the land. Any given day you came up to the land you could find families with lots of children playing everywhere. Luke loved that, and would often join in, just letting go to the big child that lived inside of him.

It was with Luke that I first sat in circle. We sat with the Hopi on the land and it was beautiful. Luke brought many cultures of people from many countries up onto the land to share their teachings with us: a dowser who found the location of the well, an aboriginal man from Australia who took us on a Walkabout, Grandfather Vincent Tumamait who sang Chumash songs and taught us how to walk carefully and silently on the land, leaving no footprints. So many sweet memories of the early days…

Every time I sit in council I am very grateful, because I’m sure that we wouldn’t be doing any of this without him Fathering us on the beautiful path we now walk; the story began with Luke…

Thank you dear Luke, I promise to keep your name alive in my heart and in all of the people who now walk the path behind you.

With love…Rest in Peace,

Nameless One

 Calendar of Events

The Art of Intimate Conversation
Spend the day with a small group of couples who want to bring more love, more passion into their lives. Facilitated by TOF Elder Leon Berg and his partner Glori Zeltzer. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019
10:00 am to 5:00 pm 

at Somatic Sanctuary

COST: $300 per couple

Call or email to register:
(805) 648-3535

Spend a day in community and in practice while giving back to the land. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019
Saturday, May 4, 2019

Contact Mariah at to get on our volunteer list!




Sespe Wilderness Backpacking Pilgrimage
April 11-16, 2019

TUITION:$1,250 total, including meals (breakfasts & dinners), permits, shuttle costs, guide fees, etc.

Read more…




 Annual Report

2017-18 Annual ReportThe Annual Report gives a picture of the past year, including the devastation and loss along with the many surprises and gifts from the fire.

View TOF’s 2017-18 Annual Report