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Survival Instincts

March 05, 1994

Down on the Oxnard Plain, they joke that it takes six Ojaians to change a light bulb: one to replace the bulb, five to assess the environmental impact.

The Ojai Valley is increasingly perceived in the rest of the county as a nest of environmental radicals who oppose all progress. "NIMBY eco-fascists" they call us, for fighting the Weldon Landfill and the National Weather Service's radar tower.

What is it about Ojai, anyway, that makes us so protective of our turf? Some say it's the topography, which geographically defines us and gives us a strong sense of place--brings out our territorial instincts. Others wax mystic about pink moments and Chumash spirits.

Whatever the reason, it works. Over the years, the people of Ojai have routed some tough intruders: Petrochem, Waste Management Inc., the Franciscan Corp. And as a result, Ojai today is very well preserved compared to most of the other communities in the county.

Instead of ridiculing us, the folks on the Oxnard Plain would be wise to emulate us. If they do, they just might have more than an acre or two of open space left 10 years from now.

KEN SHELTON JR.

Ojai

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