By Rich Henrich
A voice for the Hi-desert clears a communal throat for Music. Art. Culture. Ecology. Local Love and a printed place for community to gather and share stories.
The Joshua Tree, the most famous of inhabitants in the Hi-desert, is a character who stands at once in stark contrast and wholly complete in the rugged-rock landscape. The twisted bristled tree, named by Latter Day Saint settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-1800s. The shape of the trees reminded them of the Biblical story of Joshua. Facing difficulties in battle, Joshua stretched his hands up to the sky in prayer to the Lord. He asked God to hold the moon and the sun still so his army could continue to fight for Israel. God answered his prayers and helped the Israelites. Today, desert resident icons, Lisa Lynn Morgan and Ray Rodriguez Jr., have outstretched their hearts and collective resources to create a new publication for the Hi-desert. Welcome, Joshua Tree Voice! May your prayers and intentions be answered by the community you seek to serve and may you find victory in pursuit of your mission.
The early settlers and pioneers eventually transformed the Mexican Rancho area of the greater San Bernardino Valley and the Mojave region into a diverse settlement. The land was being populated by people just before California became a state and entered the Union, a free nonslave state by the Compromise of 1850. Many Southern converts joined this settlement, bringing slaves with them who ultimately were granted their freedom. Native Americans (Morongo Band of Mission Indians), Mexicans, Anglos, and many seeking freedom and sovereignty gathered in a beautiful and harsh environment in pursuit of a better life.
The diverse community today includes those descendants, artists, craftspeople, military, musicians, small business owners, city dwellers seeking refuge, and the complicated relationship with outside money that often fails to recognize the people who live and create the magic of the Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, and the Morongo Valley Basin. Publisher, musician, and businesswoman, Lisa Lynn Morgan, along with her partner, restauranteur Ray Rodriguez Jr. (The Cork Tree, Casuelas Cafe) want to celebrate the creative culture, nature, and spirit of the Morongo Valley from the far reaches to Yucca, Joshua Tree, and 29 Palms.
“There are a lot of changes happening in the desert. This is good but can present challenges,” says the new publisher. Her partner, Ray, says they share a common appreciation for the Hi-desert and want to present a platform for the many voices that often aren’t amplified and provide a showcase for the creativity and people that make the area so unique and special. “Having grown up in the desert, I’ve watched the evolution. The Hi-desert will have to go through this growth, too but maybe they can do it differently. I want to use our Voice as a way to educate people coming in how to respect and love this land.” The duo has enlisted the help of a local Advisory Board to guide their mission and purpose. They started with ecology in mind and reached out to Jacqueline Guevara, Executive Director, Joshua Tree National Park Association. “Mylie Cyrus found herself in trouble for sitting in a Joshua Tree for a photo. I don’t believe she intended to harm. She just didn’t know how fragile the ecosystem is out here,” says Morgan. Part of their mission centers on distributing the monthly publication to places where visitors live and educating them about the people and place before they arrive. The team plans to distribute in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles to go beyond the region soon.
Other members of the Advisory Board include Barnett English, Director of the Joshua Tree Music Festival, Owner of Rancho De La Luna Recording Studio, Dave Catching, who is also a musician and producer along with musician Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man). The council of wisdom is rounded out with the Artist, owner, and creator of Furstworld, eclectic visionary, Bobby Furst. The insights and talents of this group are fueled by a shared passion to create and contribute to a first-rate quality publication. “The goal is to provide a vehicle for people to talk to each other. It’s not a political publication- we’re creating a lifestyle and culture publication that’s in print and online. It’s a human publication,” Ray Rodriguez Jr. adds. Lisa has been connected to the music scene and plays frequently at Pappy and Harriet’s and knows the community will benefit from putting a sense of history to print. “We want to allow people to write in. People don’t always feel heard- even when it’s not positive,” she says.
When two community-minded people join forces, good things are to be expected. “We went to an event in Landers for the Boys and Girls Club and Lisa said to me- Ray we have to make sure every one of these kids has a chance,” the emotion in his throat underscored his purpose. Part of their mission with Joshua Tree Voice will be to support the National Park, the Boys and Girls Clubs and to work with people and organizations helping those who face mental health challenges. “We lost a couple of people close to the music community to suicide. People in certain communities are more affected,” says the former military wife and volunteer marketing director for the CV Horse Rescue program. Morgan shares that she survived a failed attempt at her life and wants to share her story so others may find hope and know they are not alone in their struggles.
There is no doubt Joshua Tree Voice will come full force with love and embrace Music. Art. Culture. Ecology and a community. Look out this October for the publication and support local and love always. Check out: www.JoshuaTreeVoice.com for more info.
New Publication Joshua Tree Voice Launches in the Hi-desert this October
It is my honor to be the first to announce a new publication coming to the Hi-desert, Joshua Tree Voice. Lisa Morgan will be the Publisher and will co-own with Ray Rodriguez Jr. Jr., owner of Casuelas Café and The Cork Tree. These are two of my favorite people and I have immense respect for both of them. As our readers know, Morgan has been with CV Weekly since day one when I started my publication 9 ½ years ago and she served in several positions including our Head Music Writer and Sales Manager. The late great BB Ingle introduced us and well, the rest is history and now she will be running Joshua Tree Voice. I couldn’t be more proud of her and I can’t think of a man I respect more the Ray Rodriguez Jr. Jr. I am so excited to pick up the first copy of their monthly magazine in October. Read their mission statement and comments about each other below. Congratulations to you both!