Picked up a copy of this issue of Desert over the weekend at Sagebrush Press & Bookstore in Yucca Valley. Fantastic magazine from an almost-lost era.

Download the entire May, 1955 issue at: Desert Magazine archive

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From our good friend and neighbor Angela de la Agua:

I am so blessed and so thrilled to finally unveil what I’ve been working on for many Moons. My new photography website WWW.ANGELADELAAGUA.COM is up and running, and even more exciting, I have released my first book of photography!

The creation of my book, Water in the Desert, was truly a dream come true for me. I have always believed my photos would be best communicated through the book format. I was always intrigued by the possibilities of how my photos relate with each other, how they sit alongside one another. What stories would they tell together, I often wondered. In the book, the images come together in conversation, relating to each other, finding their connections. While laying out the book, I would witness how certain photos would find each other, moments that were captured long ago effortlessly find comfort and strength in the company of a more recent experience. The connections between the photos are endless, and it was an incredible experience to sit with thousands of my images and find the conversation that was happening in the present moment- a conversation that wanted to be shared on a large scale.

It has always been my dream for someone to hold a book of my photos, and to be able to sit with it quietly, becoming absorbed in the connections within the images and finding her or his own connection within it as well. It’s a much different experience from focusing on a single image standing alone in a different context. It is the sacred intimacy and quietness of my experiences that I long to communicate with others, I want others to feel the same peace and connection I feel when I am in the sacred process of creation. I believe this is most effectively communicated through the intimate time spent sitting with a book. The stillness and sacredness of one’s meditation can touch the lives of others, I have learned. It is my hope that each individual who holds my book and spends time with it, is touched by the light and love that I experienced not only when the images were first captured, but while I was making the book.

The book-making ritual was truly a ceremonial experience for me. I devoted my life to its creation for two months, and let my entire home evolve into a temple dedicated to the creation of Water in the Desert. It was my every waking moment, my nourishment, my meditation, my pulse, my light. It was a sacred, transformative journey, and it took me to places I was unprepared for. I birthed this book with the most sacred of intentions, light and love woven into each and every page. Now that it is complete, I am forever changed. It is an honor to offer a tangible object to the world that truly holds my heart and spirit….

On the new website you will discover a selected archive of my work to explore, which I will continue to add to, and a shop to purchase the book and a selection of prints….

MORE: http://www.angeladelaagua.com/

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A flock of migrating turkey vultures in the neighborhood late yesterday afternoon, roosting in out neighbor’s giant mesquite, a couple hundred yards from our house. Incredible to hear their giant wings flapping en masse, as they arranged and re-arranged their respective roosts. Very hard to photograph, but here they are from this morning, motionlessly warming their outstretched wings on fence posts before departing. Cel phone pic by Stephanie…


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Here’s some fantastic local wildlife corridor/linkage news via a sign that popped up recently less than a quarter-mile from us. We are so grateful for this far-sighted effort to keep land non-”developed.” One of our goals with our property acquisitions is to augment the efforts of the Mojave Desert Land Trust (and other NGOs and agencies) to create and steward wild lands, for wildlife. Every unfenced, monitored acre helps…


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This is our fourth homestead cabin, ‘Sahara’, with a 30-foot camper trailer just delivered Friday, bought on craigslist for a song. Future farmstand/studio/gallery space, and friends & family crash pad, spring 2015.

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This ruling means that if they still want to put a Dollar General in here in Joshua Tree the developer will have to start the permit process pretty much all over again, only this time they will be required to do a very expensive Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which they didn’t have to do previously. They can also appeal this ruling, but apparently these kinds of rulings are rarely overturned in appeal. We’ll see what happens next. This battle has been going on for almost three years now and WE ARE WINNING.

Press release via the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance website

Joshua Tree, California wins a key court battle against corporate predator, Dollar General.

Joshua Tree, California, a small, unincorporated desert community and the Gateway to Joshua Tree National park, is engaged in a nearly three-year struggle to preserve its unique community character, and so far it’s winning. Small, local business owners and residents in Joshua Tree, 150 miles east of Los Angeles, won a key court fight against San Bernardino County and discount retailer Dollar General, which wants to build an outlet in the iconic tourist village. The store would be the fourth Dollar General serving the community of about 8,000 and surrounding towns, in addition to a Walmart Supercenter only four short miles from downtown Joshua Tree.

“Tourists, campers, rock climbers, bird watchers, artists–they all come to Joshua Tree National Park to get away, and they stay, eat and shop in the town of Joshua Tree because we offer something different, something charming and authentic that they cannot find in most cookie cutter towns around here,” said Celeste Doyle of the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance (JTDBA), which brought the suit. “Our local economy and tourism appeal depend on our unique character.”

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Donald R. Alvarez agreed the store could put the town’s economy at risk. Judge Alvarez recently ordered the County to conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to determine whether business and property owners would suffer economic harm from the proposed 9,100 square foot formula retail chain store. Dollar General, a $17.5 billion public company with 11,000 stores in 40 states, will pay for the EIR…

Read the entire press release and the court’s 41-page writ and judgement: jtdba.wordpress.com

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Propagation-in-progress by Stephanie of Shoestring acacia and Desert willow trees using locally foraged seed. When they’re ready, the seedlings will be planted in protective cages across the six properties for specific uses; for example, at Sunever Farms, these drought-tolerant trees will be planted in patterns that should provide some wind barrier and shade cover to future plantings of other trees, and will begin to repair and enrich the damaged, scraped soil. More on this later, as we get further along. The desert willow is a genuine local desert native tree, of which there are only a few species. The acacia comes from Australia. Store-bought trees would cost $30-50 each, maybe more. The shoestring acacia  isn’t always easily available.

Photo via instagram

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Photo by Stephanie on Instagram of the old water tanks at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, our neighbor. (Elevated water tanks were necessary in this area before public water lines were installed in the mid-1980s.)

Dhamma Dena was founded in 1977 by Jay’s dhamma teacher, Ruth Denison, and built, decorated and maintained by her and her students through the decades. Today it is a collection of houses, cabins and camper trailers spread across several acres. Now 92, Ruth has retired from formal teaching but Dhamma Dena endures, holding several meditation retreats a year, as well as free daily silent morning sittings in the center’s zendo.

Our friend Caroline Ryder profiled Ruth for Spirituality & Health a year and a half or so ago: read her article here

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