Editor's Note

Reaching for the Light

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Photo by T Christian Gapen


itting down to write this Editor’s Note is giving me a powerful sensation of déjà vu. It wasn’t so long ago (October) that I was musing on the tragedies that had befallen Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Within days of that issue hitting newsstands, the fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties broke out. We covered a few of the local efforts to bring relief to the communities affected by those natural disasters in our November issue. A few days after the December issue went to print, the fire that would become the largest in California history broke out, devastating parts of Santa Paula, Ventura, Ojai, Carpinteria, Montecito and Santa Barbara.

And this week, the rain and mudslides came.

Hearts have been heavy for many of us going into the new year, a time generally reserved for fresh starts and new hope. So with this issue we aim to boost spirits a little with stories that offer encouragement and inspiration. 

The story of René Corado, featured on our cover, does both. The renowned oologist (an ornithologist specializing in eggs and nests) and collections manager of Camarillo’s Bird Museum began his journey in a small, poor village in Guatemala. He traveled many miles — literally and figuratively — to overcome his impoverished background and build a life in Ventura County. His story is one of optimism, self-determination and perseverance in the face of the improbable. “You never know what you’re capable of until you try,” he says. Wise words for us all.

The work of artist Elain Thompson is a balm for the soul. Her light-infused depictions of Ventura are soft, warm, familiar and beautiful — each one a visual love letter to her home town. Thompson’s work is a poignant record of the many good things that make Ventura special. More importantly, her paintings remind us that this is what the fire-scarred city still is, and will continue to be in the future. 

We also feature a few different destinations to check out when the travel bug bites. 

Enjoy an easy weekend getaway to Monterey (northbound), San Diego or La Jolla (southbound) and explore these other cities-by-the-sea that each offer something unique — and possibly some attractions you’ve never heard of! Closer to home is Mount Pinos, a drive up Interstate 5 and the highest point in Ventura County. Beautiful hiking in fair weather, and a snowy playground — the only one in the county — once winter storms arrive.

Yesterday’s dark days continue to cast shadows, as we pick up the pieces and the community goes into recovery mode. But let us take heart: Ventura County is strong, and resilient, filled with much good and hope for the future. It’s a new year, after all — let’s face it with joy and optimism.


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