EDITOR’S NOTE | Bret Bradigan

All Alone, Together

Your Ojai Survival Guide to Covid19

The most frustrating part of this current crisis — the novel coronavirus — is the isolated impotence it makes us feel. Ojai is used to rallying around each other when we’re threatened, and now, in our dark hour, we are told to stay apart. As Bill McKibben put it in his thoughtful essay in a recent New Yorker, “Hell is the absence of other people.”

There’s a few things we can do. As Winston Churchill wrote, “America always does the right thing, after all other options have been exhausted.” The compliance with self-isolation, our local phone trees to check on friends, families and neighbors are all positive actions that will help us get through this, together.

If you have a modest amount of tech skills, time on your hands, and a desire for another positive action, here’s a task for you. There is a document tree – linked below – on a google doc that is listing all the various ways in which people can pitch in, get current knowledge, learn ways to flatten the curve – the phrase d’epoque – and even tips and tactics for pantry stocking.

It’d be a public service to update this google doc with Ojai-based resources.

In the meantime, here’s a few resources already in place:

  • Ojai Shopping Cart. The inimitable Nigel Chisholm and crew are offering to pick up and deliver groceries and pharmacy prescriptions for no service fee. It is limited to high-risk residents with compromised immune systems or extenuating circumstances. You can send them a message through their Facebook page.
  • The Ventura County Community Foundation’s Rapid Response Fund can use whatever you can spare for its food banks, YMCA efforts and outreach to undocumented workers to make sure that they know they are safe to report any Covid19-like symptoms to help slow the spread. Check them out at vccf.org.
  • Ojai Community Business Network is posting updates on restaurants which are doing delivery and curbside pickup. Check them out on their Facebook page. Again, do what you can to support local restaurants, because we need them to be there for us when we get out the other side of this misery. A big part of the enjoyment of Ojai life is the range of eating options well beyond what a typical town of 8,000 residents could support. If you enjoy a superb meal in Ojai, you can thank tourists. Until the tourists come back – and they will eventually – let’s support these important community resources.
  • Ojai Valley Family Shelter is a front-line resource for our most vulnerable people. They need donations, which you can make through their website, ovfs.org or through their Facebook page.

Despite the drip-drip of dread, there have been a few memorable moments when the walls of isolation came down and we felt the old Ojai spirit. For example: “Legally Blonde” played its final weekend in front of an empty house, streaming the production over Facebook Live. Besides these talented teens who put on such a thrilling show without the give-and-take of an audience around which to calibrate their performances, the comments section was a hoot and a holler.

My sympathies for those stellar lead actors, who really deserved an audience to bear witness to their triumph. But I know there were a few of the student-actors on stage who might have felt a sense of relief that they could get through the lines and blockings without the terror of a live audience. I know that, because I’ve been that person. You were brave and you got through it. And though you may never get near another stage in your life, these moments will last your lifetime.

Much gratitude to the people who made it all possible. If you didn’t know already, Nordhoff’s Spring Musical is one of the highlights of Ojai’s cultural calendar. The well-oiled machine that Dr. Marty Babayco has put together over the past few decades once again proves that Ojai has cultural capacity beyond any town its size.

That’s why this one hurts. We are used to getting together, especially when we need each other.


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