Come for the Controversy, Stay for the Insight


The Ojai Chautauqua
Free Community Seminar Series on
The Foundations of Our Republic
Taking place the first and third Thursdays of each month
beginning May 3, 2018

We are thrilled to offer our first free community seminar series, taking place at the Ojai Library from 12:00 – 1:00PM on the first and third Thursdays of each month, beginning May 3rd. Groups will be kept small (12-18 people) in order to facilitate conversation. Registrants are invited to attend as many sessions as they would like, and can begin at any time. Reservations are required and attendees read the scheduled material prior to attending each seminar. Click here to register. Download the first reading here – The Declaration of Independence.


What are the fundamental principles of our Republic? Are these principles based on a view of objective reality/nature, or simply the “consent of the governed”? Are these principles changeable, and if so on what grounds? What authority is given to the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches? What are rights? Are they based on nature or consent? Are they inalienable? We invite community members to join us as we discuss these founding and subsequent documents in an effort to better understand the principles of our ongoing American experiment.

Beginning Schedule:
Thursday, May 3 – 12:00-1:00PM
Thursday, May 17 – 12:00-1:00PM
Thursday, June 7 – 12:00-1:00PM
Thursday, June 21 – 12:00-1:00PM

First reading: The Declaration of Independence (download here)
Future readings: Selected Federalist Papers, The U.S. Constitution, Dred Scott Decision and Dissenting View (edited), Lincoln Douglass Debates (edited), Letter from Birmingham Jail.

The Ojai Library
111 East Ojai Avenue
Ojai, California 93023



Sunday, April 15, 2018
Water: Part II
Matilija Junior High Auditorium
703 El Paseo Rd, Ojai, California 93023

Look for the video of the event posting this week.

Free admission thanks to private donations, the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Oak Grove School.


the ojai chautauqua panel on water in the ojai valley
Download the Information Packet in PDF format. Click Here.

In addition to our panels promoting civil discourse on topics of national concern, The Ojai Chautauqua is launching a series of events specifically focused on issues facing the Ojai Valley. We kick off this new series with an imminent and critical choice facing all of us – Water. In 2014 we held a panel on The Future of Water (view the event here) and since then the situation has only become worse with the continuing drought. There are several proposals under consideration and the purpose of this panel is to thoughtfully consider all of the options and their implications. We hope you will join us as we work together to ensure the vitality of this beautiful community.


Tom Krause
President of the Ojai Chautauqua Committee


Tom Ash
Water Conservation Expert and Horticulturalist

Mary Bergen
Board Member of the Casitas Municipal Water District

Dan Breen
Board President of the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency

Richard Hajas
Member of the Ojai Valley Water Advisory Group

Connor Jones
Ojai Permaculture Founder

Bruce Kuebler
Board Member of the Ventura River Water District

Alex Kim
Managing Director of the Ojai Valley Inn

Bill Weirick
Ojai City Council Member

On every chair at the Panel on Ojai Tourism event – Sunday, November 19th, 2017, there was a handout containing data about Ojai tourism history, tax revenue, population, traffic, and housing. Click here to download in PDF format.

Click here to read to coverage in the VC Star.

The purpose of the Ojai Chautauqua is to engage Ventura County in civil discourse about controversial and highly passionate subjects. The Chautauqua was an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s.

The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, and specialists of the day. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is “the most American thing in America.” The Ojai Chautauqua is continuing this movement, with a special focus on encouraging civil discourse on controversial and highly passionate subjects. The feedback so far has been phenomenal. Civil discourse is dangerously absent from all aspects of contemporary life. The result of this failing is not only sad… it is dangerous. If we can develop this essential ability, we can begin to affect a positive change to many aspects of life that can extend far and wide.

1129 Maricopa Highway #156 • Ojai, California 93023 • (805) 231-5974 •


Tourism in the Ojai Valley – Sunday, November 19th, 2017

ojai tourism image

It’s no secret: Ojai runs on tourism. It provides at least 30% of the city’s operating budget, and the industry provides far more jobs than any other in town.

Longtime residents frequently bemoan the changes this influx of tourists has brought to the valley — even as merchants benefitted from the change. Epic battles over topics such as short-term rentals and funding for the Ojai Visitors Bureau have raged both in City Council chambers and on Facebook community pages.

There’s no question that Ojai’s attempts to market itself in recent years have been effective. But why is tourism the driving force of Ojai’s economy? Is it good or bad for our community? Has it always been this way? Are there other options? And what did that Edward Drummond Libbey guy have to do with all of this?

The Panelists were:
Caryn Bosson, Leslie Clark, Michael Haley, Johnny Johnston, Hallie Katz, and Dennis Rice. Tom Krause, President of the Ojai Chautauqua Committee, will be moderating.

The Advisory Committee was:
Misty Volaski, Kit Stoltz, Scott Eicher, Tim Dewar, Veronica Cole, Andrew Cantwell, Kimberly McLin, Bill Moses, Bret Bradigan, and Ulrich Brugger.

View the event here:

View our Past Events


Since 2014 The Ojai Chautauqua has provided forums for intelligent and civil discussion. And this is only the beginning.

 Watch the February 17, 2018 panel Beyond the Whistle-Blowers – What Happens Next? Power, Gender, and Writing New Rules for the American Workplace

Moderators – Cecile Ablack and  Dan Schnur
Shakari Byerly – Managing Partner of EVITARUS, INC.
Ana Cubas – Founder of the Latina Public Service Academy
Ted Johnson – Senior Editor at Variety Magazine
Cinny Kennard– Executive Director at The Annenberg Foundation
Tom Krause – President of the Ojai Chautauqua Committee

Watch the November 19, 2017 event Tourism in the Ojai Valley

Panelists Include:
Caryn Bosson, Leslie Clark, Michael Haley, Johnny Johnston, Hallie Katz, and Dennis Rice. Moderator –  Tom Krause.

The Advisory Committee Includes:
Misty Volaski, Kit Stoltz, Scott Eicher, Tim Dewer, Veronica Cole, Andrew Cantwell, Kimberly McLin, and Bill Moses.

Watch the October 20, 2017 event An Evening with Dan Schnur and Warren Olney

Watch the June 3rd, 2017 panel on Politics, Media, and Society

Moderator – Dan Schnur – Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC
Bill Burton – Managing Director at SKDknickerbocker
Ken LaCorte – 18-year Fox News veteran
Naomi Seligman – Communications Director for Mayor Eric Garcetti
John Thomas – Founder and President of Thomas Partners Strategies
Alice Walton – Leader at Ek, Sunkin, Klink & Bai

Watch the May 6th, 2017 panel on An Unconventional Presidency – Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Moderator – Dan Schnur – Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC
Claudia Cowan – Fox News Channel San Francisco-based correspondent
Henry C. “C.J.” Jackson – writer and editor for POLITICO
Mike Madrid – Principal at GrassrootsLab
Johanna Maska – Former White House Aide and LA-based Consultant
Seema Mehta – Political writer for the Los Angeles Times

Watch the October 8, 2016, panel on the 2016 Presidential Election – Part Two – What Happens Next?

Moderator – Dan Schnur – Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC
Gail Becker – Former head of Global Communications for Edelman Worldwide
Jeff Greenfield – Award-winning television journalist and author
Adam Nagourney – LA Bureau Chief for the New York Times
Conan Nolan – KNBC political editor and host of “News Conference” program
Roberto Suro – Professor at USC and Director of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute

Watch the September 17, 2016, panel on the 2016 Presidential Election – Part One – How Did We Get Here?

Moderator – Dan Schnur – Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC
Brian Calle – Opinion editor of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Cinny Kennard – Executive Director of the Annenberg Foundation
Steve Lopez – Los Angeles Times columnist
Larry Mantle – Longtime host of “Airtalk” on KPCC.
Bill Schneider – Professor of Communications at UCLA and CNN commentator.

Watch the June 7, 2015, panel on Income Inequality

Moderator – Dan Schnur – Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC
Matthew Fienup – Economist, California Lutheran University
William Voegeli – Author, editor of The Claremont Review of Books
Sarah Bohn – Economist and analyst for the Public Policy Institute of California
Edward Kleinbard – Former lead staffer on a Congressional tax committee
Nelson Lichtenstein – MacArthur Foundation Chair in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Watch the April 12, 2015, panel on Immigration

Moderator – Herbert E. Gooch – Cal Lutheran Professor, Department of Political Science
Elton Gallegly – Former U.S. Representative
Hiroshi Motomura – UCLA scholar of immigration and citizenship law.
Abbé Kingston – Immigration Attorney
Arsenio Lopez – Executive Director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project
Ric Oberlink – Former Executive Director of Californians for Population Stabilization

Watch the November 9, 2014, panel on The Future of Fracking

Moderator – Kit Stolz – Writer
Brian Segee – Environmental Defense Center
Don Clarke – Petroleum Geologist
Craig Nicholson
– Geophysicist at UCSB
Dave Quast – Director of Energy In Depth
Henry Stern – Legislative Aide to State Senator Fran Pavley

Watch the June 22, 2014, panel on The Future of Water

Moderator – Timm Herdt – Ventura County Star
Steve Bennett – Ventura County Supervisor
Eric Bergh – Calleguas Municipal Water District
Lynn Maulhardt – President of the United Water Conservation District
Emily Friend Thacher – Ojai Citrus Farmer

1129 Maricopa Highway #156 • Ojai, California 93023
(805) 231-5974 •