Last week in California, my partner and I visited The Ojai Foundation and found a great source of inspiration for the type of service we eventually hope to provide. Most notably, the Foundation combines lessons about sustainable living with experiences that foster the development of the human spirit.
One of the predominant maladies that I notice in our current culture is that people feel lost and without meaning. I believe that experiences in nature foster an inherent sense of worth, place, and meaning and I feel that it is my life’s calling to help people remember their connection with the natural world. If people can turn to nature to experience their spirituality and to find a sense of purpose, they will be much more willing to protect nature and work with it. Recreating a meaningful relationship with nature might be one of the best ways to ensure that we can solve or get through our current environmental crises. And we just might be happier and healthier for it, too.
Gardening, permaculture, and nature observation are all wonderful places to start and the Ojai Foundation was able to provide space for each of these pursuits. They host educational gatherings for people of all ages and they call themselves a “semi-wilderness, sustainable-model educational sanctuary for living in right relationship with each other and the earth.” How awesome is that?! I want to do it!
As visitors, we were able to grab a map at the Foundation’s office and take a walking tour, called “A Gratitude Walk”, that took us past the highlights of the land.
Paths following the patterns of nature wove us around the landscape, continually introducing us to new sights and places to sit, reflect, and be a part of the landscape.
As permaculturists would, edible plants were scattered throughout the design.
Areas were also incorporated to collect alternative forms of energy.
A community house was made of natural building materials with a living roof,
and various other structures were also made out of the Earth.
The Foundation had a series of additional, low-impact accommodations like yurts and domes for groups or classes…
…and solar-powered bathrooms.
Part of the walk led to a teaching tree with plenty of cozy branches to sit upon.
Our walk reached a climax as we ascended to the highest part of the land…
It was a perfect way to culminate our gratitude walk, and to move on to the next part of our day. The Ojai Foundation was truly an inspirational place and provided us with extra incentive and some new ideas for creating our own healing landscape.