“One of the beauty spots of the world is the Ojai Valley in California. Mountains ring it round; it has remained secluded till recent times, and is still but sparsely inhabited. In winter snow lies on the high mountaintops, but does not touch the Valley. The climate is superb; orange-trees laden with golden fruit grow in parts of it, apricots and other fruit-trees in other parts. The sun shines out from behind a sky of deepest blues, and as it sets behind the mountain peaks, it paints the mountainsides in various purples and violets, and, when clouds float in the clear air and stream across the blue, it paints them in deepest crimson and glowing orange, and through the gaps we see lakes and rivulets of greenish blue, a panorama of gorgeous splendor, that I have only seen rivaled in Egypt or, in the rainy season in India.
The Valley itself has stretches of flat land broken by curving mounds and hillocks of considerable height, with the great mountains, barren and rugged, holding within their protecting arms the smiling Vale from end to end. Such is the setting for the cradle of the New Civilization in America."
-Annie Besant, Ojai, 1927
This is the story of how that vision became a reality. It all began with a visit to Ojai Valley. The vision was based on the conviction of Annie Besant and those who believed with her that certain spiritual ideas can bring about practical and effective social changes, alleviating misery and human violence. Though her vision may not be completely fulfilled, it is an ongoing process presently being realized through the Happy Valley School and the community slowly forming on the land.
Considering the seventy years that have passed since her description, remarkably little desecration has marred the Ojai Valley and virtually none in Happy Valley itself. Growth is inevitable, some ugly, some tolerable. And sometimes sheer economic restrictions does more to protect scenic beauty than the best of organized efforts. In the case of Happy Valley there has been time for careful and deliberate development. As we are about to complete the high school campus, it seems appropriate to look back at our origins, to reiterate and contemplate the visions and efforts of the original guardians of this land.
About the Author:
Radha Rajagopal Sloss grew up in Ojai, California, where her parents and J. Krishnamurti shared a home. She attended Swarthmore and Scripps Colleges and received her M.A. in Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. Radha lives in Santa Barbara with her husband James, a mathematician, and continues to write.
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