The Teaching Tree


Greetings from Ojai!

Whether from the barrage of the daily news, the grief and hardship of these last years of pandemic and isolation, or the overwhelming alarm at the state of our planet, it is easy to get caught up in despair these days! But what a relief can be found when we turn to learn from the earth. 

As many of you who have spent time on this precious ridge in the Upper Ojai know well, the land has unfathomable ways of teaching. And now that we are setting out with renewed optimism to reestablish profound connections between people and the natural world, we are ceaselessly humbled by all that this land has witnessed. This earth and these tenacious trees continue to pass their lessons of resilience on to us at TOF, the new Topa Institute of which we are a part, and all who join us here.



Teaching Tree Educational Center

For so many years, this ridge has offered young people and adults opportunities to deepen their relationship with others and with nature. In honor of the magnificent live oak you may have sat under here, we are inaugurating the programs that gather communities in the practice of listening and speaking from the heart with a new name, the Teaching Tree Educational Center, under the joint leadership of O’Kawai Kin and Anita Samaha. As the respective directors of Educational Programs and Outreach and Partnerships, O’Kawai and Ani are working to bring back our youth programs as well as creating and designing new council, team-building, and nature-based programs filled with joy and exhilaration. If you are interested in bringing young people through a school or organization to the ridge, please get in touch with O’Kawai. Or connect with Ani, if you might like to bring a group of any age together to increase communication, leadership, and collaborative skills.



Volunteer Opportunities
in Eco Art and Hospitality

Eco Art

As part of our commitment to a deeper engagement with the earth and its inherent intelligence, we are so pleased to welcome Skip Schuckmann back as our artist-in-residence. Skip is a longtime friend of The Ojai Foundation. Both of the kivas you can see on the ridge are his creations. We are so grateful he is returning to lead new art projects on our Dragon Ridge Land Sanctuary. Skip will need some extra helping hands (and hearts), if you are interested in volunteering, click here.



We invite you to come spend a beautiful day at the ridge, while sharing your gifts and being of service and stewardship to this magical place.

As a greeter and docent, you will help to create and facilitate the conditions for deep listening, connection, and magic to occur; welcoming guests upon arrival, being present in the office; sharing some of TOF’s history, stories, and mission; guiding visitors through the pathways; and inviting them to discover for themselves the sacred beauty and secrets of the land. The hospitality role is available on Saturdays or Sundays, 9am–2pm.

I’m Interested in Volunteering!


New Fiscal Sponsorship

A Bigger Story

A Bigger Story is a project led by Mimi Fuenzalida, Machi Florencio, and Andre Christou, whose aim is to facilitate an encounter between the First Nation people of Canada and the Mapuche people of South America to share knowledge, create partnerships among both nations, and address the Earth’s present threat of global warming.

This encounter of north and south, and the captured footage, will provide an expansive opportunity for many worldwide to connect deeply with Indigenous people and support necessary actions of living and caring for the planet at this critical time.

Follow A Bigger Story on Instagram @a.bigger story