Outside Chance

Photo by Viktor Budnik

Happy Solstice, Ventana Monthly readers!

Yes, it’s June, and that means another beautiful Central Coast summer is upon us. We celebrate the season and our local environs with an issue devoted to our outdoor spaces and the people that have shaped it into the very distinctive paradise it has become.

It makes sense to begin at the beginning, which is why the wonderful Beverly Folkes of Thousand Oaks is on our cover. Folkes is a Chumash Elder and member of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians who has spent her life and career supporting and advocating for her Native California Tribal community. One of her major accomplishments was co-founding, with other tribal members, the Chumash Indian Museum. Located in Lang Ranch Parkway near the site of a former Chumash village, this museum is a repository for art, artifacts, educational resources and more that tell the story of the Indigenous people of Ventura County and their enduring legacy. The museum is also adjacent to 400 acres of oak woodland, a beautiful and serene space that on its own makes for a wonderful respite from hectic city life. It also connects with many of the trails that traverse the open spaces of Conejo Valley. We delve into the many natural and historical wonders of the Chumash Indian Museum in our cover story.

History of another kind inspired this month’s Conversation. We had the great privilege of interviewing journalism and law professor Stephen Bates, a descendant of the people for whom Bates Road in Carpinteria is named, and who once called Rincon Point home. The Bates family is intimately tied to the history and development of the Central Coast, from Santa Barbara to Ventura, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Stephen Bates is currently writing a book about the area. He shared some of what he’s uncovered about his family in a fascinating Q&A.

You can’t talk about the Ventura County environment without mentioning the vast and diverse Los Padres National Forest. Dramatically damaged by the Thomas Fire in December 2017, it has continued to recover and evolve, and despite everything remains a splendid wilderness waiting to be explored by hikers, campers and backpackers alike. We discuss the status of the forest today, some of the best hiking trails and the volunteers who have helped restore them in Travel.

Living on the Central Coast, anytime is a good time to get outdoors . . . but summer’s long days and sunshine make that an especially appealing prospect. We hope you have a chance this season to visit the wild spaces and historical places all around us. We are lucky enough to live in an area with so much natural beauty and culture; why not embrace it?

– Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer