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The Shining

By Matt Katz, Editor

 

ertain people and places shine. This is one of nature’s incontrovertible truths. And as these exemplars rise above mediocrity, they pull the rest of the world along with them, elevating the standards by which we live.

Consider Casa Barranca in Ojai: Much more than a piece of architectural history, the property is a confluence of nature and structure, of spirituality, eco-consciousness, intricate detail, and immeasurable charms. It has the aura of a sacred place. Owner Bill Moses (page 41) felt the power in 1993 when he was an East Coast city slicker visiting friends in Ojai. Casa Barranca and the local lifestyle affected Moses to his very soul, and in a classic California turnaround he never looked back. Around the time you read this, Bill and his lovely wife, Eliza, will likely have welcomed the newest member of their family. One look at the couple and it’s clear—they’ve found their Shangri-La.

But the places that affect us aren’t always so idyllic. Take, for example, the story of Camarillo’s Shigeru “Shig” Yabu (page 25), whose lifetime of philanthropy was largely shaped by three years at a Japanese internment camp during WWII. I first heard about Shig from a co-worker who showed me a children’s book he’d written. Cute. But the editorial light bulb didn’t flicker until I learned that Shig was the very first executive director of the Camarillo Boys & Girls Club—back in 1967, when it was just the Boys Club.

More impressive, though, was the book I nearly overlooked. In it, a young boy in an internment camp adopts a magpie that’s fallen out of a tree. The two become friends, and the camp community embraces the bird, which ironically enjoys freedom within the harsh confines. By now you’ve probably guessed that “Hello Maggie” is a true story—the story of a person who finds pockets of warmth in cold places, in this case the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. Fortunately for us, over the past 40-plus years Shig Yabu has shined his warmth upon Ventura County.

As usual, we offer a number of shorter pieces in addition to our in-depth features. We like to think these departments hit home for local readers. Our assistant editor, Maxine Hurt, puts together the Shopping section each issue, and let me tell you—she doesn’t just phone it in. She’s on the beat in all corners of the county, scoping out goods and keeping the section fresh month after month. For February, the theme, as you’d expect, is Valentine’s Day. But to be honest, I find that lifestyle magazines tend to overdo the hearts-and-roses theme, so we limited it to two departments: Shopping and Wine. I consciously avoided a Valentine’s Day-themed travel article (submissions of those stack up like commuter cars at the Rincon bottleneck) and instead green lighted a “girlfriend getaway” piece. Sort of a friendship theme to keep the issue from drowning in chocolate and lingerie.

Speaking of drowning, it looks like we’re in for a beautiful spring in California. The hillsides are already green and the barrancas are flowing. Get out there and enjoy.

Matt Katz, Editor

MattK@VentanaMonthly.com

02-01-2008

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