Ojai is a city of about 8,000 people in the coastal mountains of southern California. The Krotona Institute of Theosophy and the Ojai Valley branch of the Theosophical Society were among the first of many spiritual groups to find a home there.
Krotona is known all over the TS world as a spiritual centre where members can go on private retreat or to study theosophy at its school. Krotona residents do a great deal of work in countless ways to provide this service.
What is less known is that the residents engage in modest local community service projects. At Christmas, for example, they adopt a needy family, clubbing together to provide enough groceries and gifts to help make the day special. This past December, they took care of the needs of a mother and her four children, gathering enough food and gift vouchers to cover many more meals than just j those of Christmas Day itself.
The Ojai TOS team - Back row - L to R: Joan Samara, Rochelle Voirel, Bim Burckes, Celeste Matesevac, Helene Vachet, Marqui Bury. Front row - L to R: Annine Wycherley, Joy Mills, Mel Burckes, Maria Parisen, Lakshmi Narayan, Marcia Doty (group coordinator).
(Participating in the Ojai service team must keep one young! Notice Joy Mills in this photo. Joy will be 90 on October 9 this year. She has recently completed the manuscript of a book which will prove to be a remarkable contribution to theosophical literature. Mark these words!)
Thanks to the dynamism of Marcia Doty, other projects are carried out as part of the work of the local TOS group, some of whom are Krotona residents. The group prepares a bag lunch for 15 homeless people once a month at the Krotona School which lends its kitchen for the work. This project is run in conjunction with the local Community Assistance Program.
Making sandwiches for the homeless in the Krotona School kitchen
As coordinator of the TOS group, Marcia’s main effort has been in battery recycling, with the goal of removing batteries from landfills by disposing of them properly. Small plastic buckets with an eye-catching, easily-read label are placed in schools, camera and electronics shops, bookshops and residential centres. An information table and bucket are set up every Sunday at the local Farmers’ Market. The label reads:
Battery Recycling: You can help our environment and create a greener Ojai. Dispose of your used alkaline, lead, lithium, mercury, nickel and zinc batteries. All sizes acceptable, including hearing aid and cell phone batteries.
The TOS is clearly identified, with a local contact and phone number. A list of drop-off locations is provided with every bucket. The TOS collaborates in this work with a local environmental protection group called the Ojai Valley Green Coalition (OVGC) of which Marcia took a turn chairing the Waste Management team in 2007.
TOS members meet regularly to wrap electrical tape around the conductors of the rechargeable batteries, a requirement for proper disposal.
The TOS group has collected tons of batteries (cell phones and ink cartridges are also collected in conjunction with OVGC-Waste Management team). The batteries are taken by TOS members monthly to the Pollution Prevention Centre in a nearby city for proper recycling.
Marcia has set up a model system adhering to local and state regulations. She has created a procedure manual along with suggested guidelines for battery recycling and interactive displays. She and her co-workers have worked on this project since 2007 and have the support of the entire community of Ojai.
Marcia’s enthusiasm and giving spirit are boundless. For a couple of years she and her TOS team sold special wooden pencils and bottled water to benefit the Tibetan Aid Foundation. Last year the TOS group collected towels and blankets for the National Search Dog Association.
Bravo Krotonians and bravo Marcia and the TOS team!