BY MARGARET MAGNUS
FATE OF BABA'S TREE IS FRONT PAGE NEWS
The news coverage started with Perry Van Houten, who had written an earlier article “Ojai’s Trees” for the Winter 2014 edition of The Ojai Valley Visitors Guide. This article included Baba’s Tree as one of six trees featured.
He approached Meher Mount for a story for a story about Baba's Tree after the Thomas Fire. His article, “Group mounting significant effort to try to save Baba’s Tree,” was published on February 2, 2018, in the Ojai Valley News.
Later, Claudia Boyd-Barrett, an Ojai resident and journalist who had visited Meher Mount before, contacted Meher Mount to set up an interview. She talked with Board President Sam Ervin, Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky, arborist Michael Inaba, and Interim Caretaker Cassandra Bramucci.
Her story for the Ventura County Star, “Baba's Tree, burned in Thomas Fire, fights for survival in Ojai,” was published on February 18, 2018, on the front page of the first section of the newspaper.
The articles in the Ventura County Star and the Ojai Valley News generated interest in Baba’s Tree and in the efforts to nurture its possible recovery. This interest and curiosity brought even more people to visit Meher Mount, despite its remote location 2,500-feet atop Sulphur Mountain.
first-time VISITORS COME FOR THE OPEN HOUSE ON MEHER BABA'S BIRTHDAY
Avatar Meher Baba’s Birthday – February 25, 2018 – was the first time Meher Mount was officially open to the general public since the December 4, 2017 Thomas Fire.
Frequent visitors and followers of Meher Baba came to remember Him, to say goodbye to the departing Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky who had lovingly and thoughtfully served Meher Mount for the past four-and-a-half years, and to see Meher Mount and Baba’s Tree for the first time since the fire.
The Ventura County Star article mentioned the February 25 open house. The result? About 25% of the approximately 50 visitors that day were visiting Meher Mount for the first time and attended Baba’s Birthday celebration because of the newspaper articles about Baba’s Tree.
BABA'S TREE PIQUES CURIOSITY IN the area
The spreading “fame” of Baba’s Tree is apparent in the remarks by the various work people who visit Meher Mount. When Margaret Magnus called one company and said, “Hello, I represent a property called Meher Mount…” The fellow on the other end of the phone line interrupted and immediately said, “Oh, Baba’s Tree…” Albeit, it was a tree services company, so he might have had a greater awareness than others.
Then there was the neighbor of Meher Mount’s consulting arborist Michael Inaba of Inaba Horticulture. He stopped Inaba in his driveway to ask about Baba’s Tree.
As a result, Inaba arranged for his neighbor's official visit. On Saturday, February 17, 2018, the neighbor — Ojai landscaper and gardener John Winspear of John James Winspear Landscaping — delivered 24-cubic yards of mulch to Meher Mount for Baba's Tree. He was so taken with the property that he then spent another hour hiking the Well Road and looking around.
When the crew from Southern California Edison (SCE) came on February 23, 2018, to do the final electrical hook-up at the well head, several crew members asked about Baba’s Tree. They even took a few minutes to walk out to Baba’s Tree and Avatar’s Point, which is in the opposite direction from the well.
"AS POWERFUL AS EVER..."
Every few days since the articles were published, a visitor or two arrive at Meher Mount asking to see Baba's Tree. One man explained, "I saw the article in the newspaper and just had to come see the tree."
Another visitor returning from her walk to Baba's Tree reported to Interim Caretaker Cassandra Bramucci, "Baba's Tree is as powerful as ever..."
Even as Baba’s Tree remains in seclusion, Meher Baba is using His namesake tree and the Thomas Fire to draw visitors to Meher Mount and closer into His orbit.