AN EXCERPT FROM ANNUAL REPORT 2016-17: A Message from the President
As you will see in the pages of this Annual Report, fiscal year 2016–17 was an abundant and active time at The Ojai Foundation (TOF). Led by co-directors Adam Rumack and Miriam Tassone, we continued as we have for the last three decades, to serve schools and youth groups, offering a nature immersion experience, council, ceremony, and ropes course leadership challenge. Our rites of passage trips with high school seniors continued as a mainstay of our annual programming. In addition, thanks largely to a contract with a dynamic and growing Los Angeles–based corporate client, TOF experienced a year of significant growth in programming, staffing, and income.
(read more here)....Weekly day-long programs kept program facilitators and our land and office staff busy to ensure that our gardens and meeting spaces were safe and beautiful, and that groups were having meaningful experiences in council and on the land. The increase in program income allowed us to move more fully toward some of our strategic priority areas. Our efforts there included the Deep Dive and Council Summit for our relational education and long-form, immersive programming as well as experiments with new circle-based decision-making forms and practices. We also began to address obstacles to becoming a multicultural, inclusive community with our Cross Cultural Communication & Listening Summit and a grant-funded Social Justice Initiative.
Last year also saw a move from a conventional management structure with a single executive director to co-directorship, an important step toward our new Executive Stewardship Circle (ESC) formed this past summer. These steps toward shared leadership and a circle-based organization are part of our deepened commitment to exploring regenerative and joyful ways to be both a land-based community and a sustainable business — a challenge that continues to inspire us.
By July 2017 and the end of last fiscal year, waves of change had already begun. Our corporate work decreased, leadership transitioned, and we moved toward a smaller staff and “tightened belts.” A more spacious program calendar has offered the time and space for us to slow down and listen to the spirit of the land. In the pause, we remember the land as a sanctuary — a place, as originally envisioned, for a peaceful culture to emerge.
On a personal, national, and global scale we also feel the waves of great change. How will we respond? Shall we become more of a sanctuary and a school, a place of learning and respite, a place of dynamic discourse and deep questioning? Can we be a place to restore and renew, a place to look even more deeply into the work of social justice, environmental regeneration, culture repair, and spiritual healing?
As we move with change, we see old forms passing to make way for what’s to come. Can we remain alert, agile, and emergent? Are we prepared for the waves ahead? What will it take? These are questions we will hold in the coming months of deep retreat and visioning.
On the day of the felling of our beloved Medicine Tree, the arborist reminded us that though only the stump remained visible, the roots beneath were surely still teeming with life and the possibility for new growth. We know this is true as we work, day to day, tending the land, the water, the programs, and the people as best we can.
And we are eternally grateful for our many supporters and the many circles of care that love and tend alongside us in countless seen and unseen ways.
With a grateful heart,