|3 Oct 2006 @ 17:04|
Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign
And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in
If God was here, he'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner
(c) Five Man Electrical Band
Well, this time the shoe is on the other foot. My foot.
Living in the serenity and sanctity of Matilija Canyon for almost seven years now (not a long time for the residents who have called this home for decades, accepting fire and flood as part of their relationship with nature) I have been fortunate to experience life in various locations throughout the canyon. In 1999 I moved from Los Angeles, up canyon, close to the Dent House. For five years I studied the terrain, cultivated gardens, became familiar with seasons and learned of the pre-European Chumash culture and their continued devotion to this land. Since then, I have lived briefly, for one year, in the center portion of the canyon and now for the last six months given the responsibility and honor of stewarding and caregiving one of the most pristine and historical environments in the Ojai Valley.
Though a "nature lover" and preserver during childhood, (in Junior High I was asked by my science instructor to join the environmental club. After school we planned eco-fairs for the campus and took field trips to places such as the landfill in the Santa Monica mountains) since moving to Ojai, I have become more immersed in the theories, methods and lifestyle of sustainability. At times failing and also celebrating my successes in sustaining land, livlihood and relationship. Ojai has become for me an important "real time" social experiment, as I experience myself and others balance nature, commerce, diversity and, at times, culture clash.
The sign(s) posted on the roadside demarcate an area of the land, once public yet since 1988 rezoned as private, which fall within my stewardship. For at least three generations the families of Ojai, and visitors, have come here to take refuge during the hot summer months and take advantage of the swimming. Unfortunately, in my brief role as conservator, take advantage IS what some seem to do. Not one to enjoy policing, micro-managing, or outright harassing others, the last few months of summer left me in a quandry. How do I respect the lineage of Ojai who has enjoyed this river oasis while also protecting the land (and safety of the people) from pollution, broken glass, inebriated clumsiness, spray paint and gang activity?