MEHER MOUNT

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road
Ojai, CA 93023-9375

Phone: 805-640-0000
Email: info@mehermount.org

HOURS

Wednesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

MANAGER/CARETAKERS

Buzz & Ginger Glasky

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sam Ervin, Preident
Ron Holsey, Vice President
Ursula Reinhart, Treasurer
Jim Whitson, Director
Richard Mannis, Director

OFFICERS

Margaret Magnus, Secretary

9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
Ojai, CA, 93023
United States

(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

Anecdotes, activities and stories about Meher Mount - past, present and future.

HOW MEHER MOUNT'S MASTER PLAN GUIDED FIRE RECOVERY

Margaret Magnus

By Margaret Magnus

When Meher Mount’s fiscal year started on July 1, 2017, the year-long goal was to update the Master Plan. There was a community meeting in July along with an online survey to solicit comments for the next version of the plan.

TOP PRIORITIES FROM THE COMMUNITY MEETING & SURVEY

 BABA’S FIREPLACE and courtyard area at Meher Mount was identified as a top priority at the July 2017 Community Meeting. This fireplace was in the room where followers of Avatar Meher Baba spent time with Him on August 2, 1956. (Left to right: Brent Carter, Richard Mannis, Nancy Pinckert, Ron Holsey, Steve Bostwick, Ursula Reinhart, Elliott Karpeles, Jim Whitson, Donnalyn Karpeles, Robert Turnage. (Photo: Sam Ervin, July 22, 2018)

BABA’S FIREPLACE and courtyard area at Meher Mount was identified as a top priority at the July 2017 Community Meeting. This fireplace was in the room where followers of Avatar Meher Baba spent time with Him on August 2, 1956. (Left to right: Brent Carter, Richard Mannis, Nancy Pinckert, Ron Holsey, Steve Bostwick, Ursula Reinhart, Elliott Karpeles, Jim Whitson, Donnalyn Karpeles, Robert Turnage. (Photo: Sam Ervin, July 22, 2018)

Following the community meeting and survey, the Board of Directors identified five major projects:

  • Baba’s Fireplace and Courtyard – Develop and implement a plan for improved use in a remembrance of Avatar Meher Baba’s visit.

  • Water System – Upgrade the system for greater reliability and simplicity.

  • Sustainable Revenue – Identify sources for ongoing revenue.

  • Volunteer Work Days – Create more on-site volunteer opportunities.

  • Planned Giving – Develop a planned-giving program with an endowment option.

Then, on December 4, 2017, the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount. It seemed initially that master planning would be set aside to focus on fire recovery. On the contrary.

MASTER PLAN GUIDES RECOVERY

The discussions from the previous months, which supplemented the existing Master Plan, served as guiding principles for fire recovery and renewal.

It was as if the recent planning process had been particularly designed to guide recovery projects. Specific actions outlined in the plan became part of the recovery and renewal effort.

A GREATER FOCUS ON BABA’S FIREPLACE

 BABA’S FIREPLACE commemorates the August 2, 1956 visit of Avatar Meher Baba to Meher Mount. This photo was taken just after the Eucalyptus stand that burned in the 2017 Thomas Fire was removed in April 2018. The Board of Directors is continuing to develop a plan for preserving the fireplace and enhancing the courtyard area with shade and landscaping. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 6, 2018)

BABA’S FIREPLACE commemorates the August 2, 1956 visit of Avatar Meher Baba to Meher Mount. This photo was taken just after the Eucalyptus stand that burned in the 2017 Thomas Fire was removed in April 2018. The Board of Directors is continuing to develop a plan for preserving the fireplace and enhancing the courtyard area with shade and landscaping. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 6, 2018)

The Thomas Fire and high winds badly damaged Baba’s Tree. Steps were taken to help the tree survive and grow.

 A BENCH made from a burned limb of Baba’s Tree in April 2018 will be part of the courtyard area by Baba’s Fireplace. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin, September 1, 2018)

A BENCH made from a burned limb of Baba’s Tree in April 2018 will be part of the courtyard area by Baba’s Fireplace. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin, September 1, 2018)

Now, Baba’s Tree is to remain in seclusion for several years while it recovers. As a result, the focus has shifted to other Meher Baba touchstones at Meher Mount.

The plan for Baba’s Fireplace has taken on even greater urgency. This fireplace was part of the guesthouse where Meher Baba met with His followers in 1956.

Specific fire-related projects – the use of wood from Baba’s Tree to create outdoor benches; installation of new doors and windows in the Visitor Center; removal of the burned Eucalyptus tree stand; and repairs to the Visitor Center – all became part of the plan for Baba’s Fireplace and courtyard.

Volunteers also started uncovering an original sandstone walkway leading to Baba’s Fireplace.

The fireplace and walkway are important artifacts from His visit – particularly since the 1985 New Life Fire destroyed almost everything else on the property.

WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM IS IMPROVED

 ONE OF TWO WATER TANKS next to the upgraded water treatment system for Meher Mount’s well water. This large tank holds potable water, while a smaller “ag tank” holds untreated water for watering plants at the Visitor Center and Baba’s Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, September 2018)

ONE OF TWO WATER TANKS next to the upgraded water treatment system for Meher Mount’s well water. This large tank holds potable water, while a smaller “ag tank” holds untreated water for watering plants at the Visitor Center and Baba’s Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, September 2018)

One of the first priorities in fire recovery was getting the water system working. That effort took five months. In the process, new elements – not available in 2004 when the system was initially established – were put in place.

The system is still not simpler, because Meher Mount’s water is still complex. However, important parts of the system were upgraded for greater reliability and longevity.

A POSSIBLE SOURCE OF ADDITIONAL, SUSTAINABLE REVENUE

 STACKED WOOD milled from the fallen limbs and branches of Baba’s Tree. All the wood is being stored for future use while it cures. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, February 6, 2018)

STACKED WOOD milled from the fallen limbs and branches of Baba’s Tree. All the wood is being stored for future use while it cures. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, February 6, 2018)

There will always be an Annual Fund Campaign to solicit donations to support ongoing operations. However, additional sources of sustainable revenue can give Meher Mount a stronger financial base.

 A TWIG BOUQUET from the downed limbs of Baba’s Tree. (Margaret Magnus, September 2018)

A TWIG BOUQUET from the downed limbs of Baba’s Tree. (Margaret Magnus, September 2018)

The question is always – What are those sources of revenue?

The fire damage to Baba’s Tree created an opportunity. Both ashes and wood were salvaged. The wood was milled and stored for future use.

Individual supporters sent emails and posted on social media their suggestions for using wood from Baba’s Tree as a source of future donations.

The board is in the process of developing a policy and plan for use of the wood – both at Meher Mount and as a source of donations.

THE COMMUNITY SUPPORTS VOLUNTEER WORK DAYS        

 VOLUNTEER DAYS COORDINATOR Jim Whedon uses an electric weed whacker to get ready for the June 1, 2018 deadline for fire abatement. Meher Mount was given a thumbs up by the Ventura County Fire Department. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 19, 2018)

VOLUNTEER DAYS COORDINATOR Jim Whedon uses an electric weed whacker to get ready for the June 1, 2018 deadline for fire abatement. Meher Mount was given a thumbs up by the Ventura County Fire Department. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 19, 2018)

As news of the Thomas Fire reached the Meher Baba community, there were offers to help with fire clean-up.

Fire recovery spurred multiple volunteer days: fire cleanup, caring for Baba’s Tree, harvesting and storing Baba’s Tree wood, weeding and mowing to get ready for fire abatement inspection, and general repairs.

The community responded and volunteered, even coming all the way from New York. Thank you. There are more volunteer days scheduled.

Meher Mount also installed a new app — Volunteers for Salesforce — for Salesforce’s constituency relationship management (CRM) program.

Meher Mount is using this app to track volunteers and hours, starting with Master Plan participation.

PLANNED GIVING IS ON THE AGENDA

Now that fire recovery is completed, it’s time to turn attention to the next top priority: planned giving with an endowment option.

There is a board meeting scheduled for November 2018 to discuss feasibility, implications and the possible next steps.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF THE MASTER PLAN

 AVATAR MEHER BABA (center, blue coat) walking with His followers at Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. Baba’s Path and is kept mowed so that visitors can walk in His footsteps. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, (c) Meher Nazar Publications)

AVATAR MEHER BABA (center, blue coat) walking with His followers at Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. Baba’s Path and is kept mowed so that visitors can walk in His footsteps. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, (c) Meher Nazar Publications)

Meher Mount’s Master Plan and the resulting projects are based on five guiding principles.

  • Facilitate the remembrance of Avatar Meher Baba – To maintain Meher Mount as a medium for remembering Avatar Meher Baba and to honor His presence at Meher Mount.

  • Nurture divine love and oneness through nature – To preserve the natural environment and to support opportunities for loving God through nature.

  • Support pilgrimage to Meher Mount – To facilitate day pilgrimage with the least impact to Meher Mount.

  • Be good stewards – To preserve Meher Mount for future generations with thoughtful and careful stewardship.

  • Provide opportunities for service – To honor Agnes Baron’s legacy by creating opportunities for selfless service.

A PLAN FOR ALL TIME

A master plan is a living, breathing and changing road map. Its role is to provide a rationale, a vision, continuity, and guidance for today and for the future.

Meher Mount’s Master Plan definitely served its purpose during fire recovery and renewal.

 COMMUNITY MEETING 2017 to update Meher Mount’s Master Plan. The group is in front of Baba’s Fireplace before the Eucalyptus trees to the right burned in the December 2017 Thomas Fire and were later removed. (Top row, left to right) Ron Holsey, Robert Turnage; (Middle row, left to right): Buzz Glasky, Steve Bostwick, Brent Carter, Jim Whitson, Marta Flores, Nancy Pinckert, Byron Pinckert, Donnalyn Karpeles, Elliott Karpeles, Eric Van Buskirk, Ursula Reinhart, Richard Mannis; (Front row) Ginger Glasky, Margaret Magnus, Patti Jones, Bing Heckman. Not pictured is Sam Ervin who is taking the photo, July 22, 2017.

COMMUNITY MEETING 2017 to update Meher Mount’s Master Plan. The group is in front of Baba’s Fireplace before the Eucalyptus trees to the right burned in the December 2017 Thomas Fire and were later removed. (Top row, left to right) Ron Holsey, Robert Turnage; (Middle row, left to right): Buzz Glasky, Steve Bostwick, Brent Carter, Jim Whitson, Marta Flores, Nancy Pinckert, Byron Pinckert, Donnalyn Karpeles, Elliott Karpeles, Eric Van Buskirk, Ursula Reinhart, Richard Mannis; (Front row) Ginger Glasky, Margaret Magnus, Patti Jones, Bing Heckman. Not pictured is Sam Ervin who is taking the photo, July 22, 2017.



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