A short review of the less obvious aspects of two decades
of innkeeping. Steppin' Out Magazine publisher Jeanne Francis asked us if we wanted to represent
the "real" Mendocino for their "creative
landscapes." issue. We agreed to be featured and
the following article was published. We are re-publishing
it here, because the story is about what has become
most important to us at Stanford Inn Eco-Resort. - Jeff
& Joan Stanford
Nurturing Energies At Mendocino
"When we came here twenty-three years ago we had
no idea the twists and turns our lives would take,"
recounted Jeff Stanford who with his wife and partner,
Joan, are owner-innkeepers of the Stanford Inn by the
Sea in Mendocino. "We had fallen in love with Mendocino
as so many others," Joan added, "but never
expected to live here." Picture of Jeff
on tractor 1980 »
The story of how they came to purchase Big River Lodge,
now the Stanford Inn, is another story, however, their
beginning was auspicious.
The sellers Art and Katherine Williams, who still live
in the 1850s farmhouse in front of the inn, provided
significant and decisive financial help.
The Stanfords started modestly moving into
a 375 square foot guest room, doing most of the work
themselves from housekeeping to installing fireplaces.
In just two years they had two children and were waking
each morning to serve their guests breakfast
"We wanted to create something special and along
the way the land began to influence us." Jeff shares
stories of experience with energy. "This is real
stuff; not something I read about or sought out, but
something experienced and then researched."
"Transformation takes place here physical,
emotional and spiritual. While we were transforming
the buildings and the landscaping, it was as if we had
opened up a vein of co-creative
potential. It is a manifesting process," Joan explained.
"We love living things and it seemed natural to
solve landscaping problems with organic gardens."
Jeff and a close friend began digging double dug garden
beds, following the work of John Jeavons. He urged those
working in the gardens to become sensitive to the energies
1981 Looking from Lodge
Jeff is purposefully vague about working with earth
energies. "I am not trying to make this mysterious.
It isn't," he explains. "What I can tell you
is how this 'working' manifests: When we adjusted the
footprints of buildings we planned to build to save
a Bishop pine, two smaller trees which were in the way
of construction just fell down. There was no storm.
It meant for us to go ahead."
However, Jeff is not an ordinary environmentalist.
He had mixed feelings regarding the creation of the
new Big River State Park in spite of being involved
in the effort. "It's unfortunate that rather than
insure healthy, sustainable logging practices, we are
forced to remove land from forestry altogether to preserve
it." He argues that it is irresponsible to damage
a forest's biodiversity and over-log. "Taking land
out of production here puts incredible pressure on other
Over the years, the Stanfords have worked
to develop fulltime jobs rather than the part time jobs
characteristic of a seasonal resort area. Catch A Canoe,
the Inn's canoe and kayak livery operated for only seven
months of the year until Jeff added & Bicycles,
too!, a bike shop, permitting the staff to become year
The creation of their California Certified Organic
Farm created full time jobs and now supplies the Inn's
restaurant, The Ravens, the area's only organic vegetarian/vegan
restaurant, creating more jobs.
"We get a lot of people who come to work here
because we are vegetarian, organic. They believe this
is a Shangri La. It isn't. It is hard work," Jeff
explained when asked why some people "don't make
it." "When I began experiencing earth energies,
I read a variety of books including Dorothy MacClean's
description of working with angels at Findhorn, Scotland.
Our angels, if you want to call them that, are not etheric,
they are hard workers: 'buff,' if you know what I mean.
They're tough and those who work with them need to be
Staff often becomes part of the family and
Jeff and Joan encourage them to develop interests and
aptitudes and to finish school and go on to college.
For years they have worked formally and informally with
the schools. Joan works in the schools addressing issues
of self esteem and peer counseling. The inn provides
work experiences, training in everything from cooking
to bike mechanics. Students have come to work to fulfill
requirements for graduation or simply for money and
some have stayed. One began working as a gardener when
he was fifteen. Eventually, Jeff made him manager of
the new & Bicycles, too! He helped grow the business,
became an expert bike mechanic, and worked in the community
to raise money for a skate park which unfortunately
has yet to be constructed.
The Stanfords look at their operation as a garden or
farm. They understand the energies they experience to
be nurturing and they believe they must reciprocate
by nurturing not only the gardens, but the people with
whom they work and the community. They provide meeting
rooms at no charge for local non profits and public
agencies such as the school district; canoes for local
schools' recreational and educational programs; and their gardens
for the local 4-H club where the kids learn propagation,
planting, and composting from the staff.
Some teachers bring students who have difficulty in
traditional schools to experience how the Stanfords
work with nature with the idea that a return to nature
This is life at the Stanford Inn.