Recently in Sustainable Ventura Category

VC STYLE: Water Take 1 Online Short Film Contest Awards Video News Story

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar
Thumbnail image for watertake1logo.jpg

On Thursday, November 8, 2012, the first Water: Take 1 Online Short Film Contest Awards Presentation and Party was hosted by Brooks Institute of Photography on one of the sound stages at their Ventura Campus. SustainableVentura.TV's Maryann Ridini Spencer covered the event attended by Ventura Mayor Mike Tracy and Ventura City Councilmembers Christy Weir and Neal Andrews. Those present enjoyed refreshments and mixed and mingled before watching a special video presentation of finalist and winning films. Also present were local contest winners and representatives from Patagonia, Limoneira, Ventura Water and iThentic, all contest sponsors.

Over 125 people attended the free ceremony, open the public with an RSVP.

Water Take 1 online short film contest awards video news story


Sustainable Ventura visits the Ventura Chamber of Commerce's "Haunting at the Harbor"

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

On Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 4:30-7:30pm, The Ventura Chamber of Commerce presented the "Haunting at the Harbor" Business Expo at the Four Points Sheraton on Schooner Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The event featured over 60 local businesses showcased in tabletop exhibits, food vendors, a silent auction and raffles and prizes. The "Sustainable Ventura" TV Series was on hand to talk to attendees.



"Sustainable Ventura," hosted by Maryann Ridini Spencer and Ray Olson, airs on Caps-TV VTV's Channel 15, Thursdays at 8:30pm.  It rebroadcasts Monday-Thursday and Saturdays at 9:00am, Sundays at 8:30pm and every other Wednesday at 8:30pm.

Thrifty and Reusable Halloween Costumes

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar


Halloween costumes, depending upon how elaborate you intend to get, can cost at a minimum, $25 dollars on up per costume.  If you've got several children or family members to outfit, the costume bills (along with candy and other fun fare) can really start to mount.

So why not get creative with reusable, eco-friendly Halloween costumes? How do you start? Look in your closet.  What do you have that might (when paired with certain items), make a great costume? Maybe you have all the items you need or perhaps you may have to buy one piece rather than an entire costume.  Another great resource is check with friends and relatives. See what you can mix and match.  Thrift shops, where others trade in their wares, are also a great place to find the little nuances to add to your costume. Below are some great ideas for reusable Halloween costumes to try:

Princess -Pair a long gown with gloves (short or long). Wear a tiara and carry a star wand. Your Halloween subjects will bow in appreciation.

Cowboy or Cowgirl- Flannel shirt with Jeans, cowboy boots and hat. You might even tie a red bandana around your neck.  Don't forget to carry some rope - to lasso in your candy of course.

Halloween Masked Man- Everyone knows the iconic white mask from the John Carpenter Halloween movies.  How to create this look? Black pants, black top and white mask of course.  BOO!

Hippie or 70's person- Think colorful.  For girls and women - pair a long skirt with a flowered top.  Wear several long necklaces and dangly earrings.  A headband around your head or floppy hat also works.  For a man - pull out some ripped jeans and wear a cool t-shirt with a peace sign (or your favorite band logo).  Put on the boots and/or sandals and maybe a funky hat. Now you're lookin' groovy!

Witch - Pair a black skirt and top with pointy hat.  Bring a long a broom  (or for a wand, carry a long glow stick!). Instead of black, you can also opt for being a good witch and wear blue or white.  Whatever it is you choose to do, just remember to say, "Bippity Boppity Boo!"  Now you're ready to caste some spells!

Vampire - I vant to drink your blood!  To transform into a creature of the night that would even give Bram Stoker a scare,  almost any type of dress with creative make-up will do. (If you have a red or black cape, fantastic.  However, the only purchase that might be needed to complete the look - Vampire fangs!  (Even a red lipsticked-mouth with droplets of blood dripping from the corners will  do!).

Maid - Coffee or tea anyone?  A maid's outfit might be anything from a black dress or skirt and top paired with a white apron.  Don't forget to carry your broom,  feather duster or even a silver serving tray!

Hobo -To create the look of an authentic hobo, try wearing some ripped or patched jeans or pants.  An oversized jacket and t-shirt and a funny looking hat add great touches.  Of course, don't forget your hobo stick (a long stick with a red kerchief pouch - which can double as another place to stash your candy!).

Hollywood director - Lights! Cameras! Action!  If you want to get the look of an old time Hollywood director - wear some jeans or black pants, paired with a white or dark top.  Don't forget the beret, dark shades.  You might also want to carry a video camera to document the Halloween fun!

Let your creativity run wild.

Creating your own costume will be almost as much fun as going out Trick-or-Treating!



*Original article by Maryann Ridini Spencer appears in print in the Sustainable Ventura Newsletter & Blog.

Water Take 1 Launches Global Online Short Film Contest

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

Every person on this planet relies on water. In Ventura, our water is from local sources and it's our responsibility to protect it for future generations. To help spark that awareness, Ventura Water is partnering with Limoneira's Limco Del Mar, Patagonia and iThentic for the inaugural "Water: Take 1" Online Short Film Contest. We hope that this exciting initiative will highlight people's relationship with water and promote water awareness, efficiency and recycling programs.
"We chose to do an online film contest with a water focus because members of our community, as well as on a national and global level, must begin to recognize the importance of water and its infrastructure," explained Shana Epstein. "With the contest, we hope to engage intelligent and creative conversation between leadership, businesses and the community."
Filmmakers worldwide are invited to submit short films of less than five minutes in any genre - drama, documentary, comedy, animation, Sci-fi or experimental - that address the topic of water. Films can be submitted and uploaded at no cost to the contest website,, through September 4, 2012.
A panel of environmental and entertainment professionals will choose a winner for the $1,500 Grand Prize and the top winner will be presented at an event hosted by the Brooks Institute later this fall. The film receiving the most votes at will be presented the Audience Choice Award and its filmmaker will receive a Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR camera.
Competing in this contest is a great way for Ventura County's high school and college students, among others interested in water and the environment, to do something positive that helps others appreciate our access to clean water while promoting water efficiency and sustainability. Help spread the word to your friends, neighbors and coworkers and get involved by joining the contest and/or join the wave by voting for your favorite video at
The issue of water infrastructure is a global one. In the United States alone, there are large areas of infrastructure more than 100 years old that must be fixed or replaced. However, in many other countries, such as parts of Africa and India, the total lack of infrastructure there has a serious impact on the local health and economy and causes a negative ripple effect worldwide.
Water is also an important issue in Ventura, although many residents are unaware of the huge effort and the amount of energy it takes to clean and move our water so it can be used again and again for generations to come.
Ventura is among California's oldest coastal cities and has many areas where infrastructure is ending its useful lifespan and will need replacement over the next few decades. While projects and plans are underway to improve this invaluable infrastructure, it isn't without cost.
Years ago, much of the infrastructure was maintained using federal grants, most of which are no longer available due to budget cuts. As a result, water customers now bear the full financial responsibility of infrastructure maintenance, replacement and improvement.


Saving the World A Drink At A Time: The GREEN TASK FORCE Hosts GREEN DRINKS

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

"Green Drinks" is a term known in the environmental world as a fun,

meet up for like-minded business professionals in relaxing, celebratory

settings where they can network, exchange ideas and forge valuable

working relationships.

Well known in international environmental circles, Green Drinks is a network

of unstructured meet-ups where environmental professionals and concerned

locals get together in a relaxing setting to network, exchange ideas,

and forge valuable relationships.  At last count, Green Drinks events

are hosted in over 600 cities worldwide.   


The mixture of attendees at Green Drinks events usually include professionals

in the areas of: general business, academia, government, non-profit, medicine,

home décor, construction and other fields.  


On Wednesday, August 1, The Ventura Chamber of Commerce's 

Green Task Force (GTF) organized this year's first Ventura-based Green

Drinks event at EcoLogic Life, downtown's designer showroom for

sustainable home decoration products. The event was a smashing success

with over 50 attendees. Tutti's on Main provided the delicious food.

Alquimia Tequila provided the green drinks, made from organic agave, no food

coloring included.

Green Task Force Co-Chairs.jpg

LtoR:  Diane de Mailly and Courtney Lindberg, Green Task Force Co-Chairs

"Green Drinks has been around for a long time," said Diane de Mailly,

President, DDM Metering Systems and GTF Co-Chair. "Recently, the

GTF was asked to step in and organize these events in Ventura.  We know

they'll be a big success moving forward because Ventura is such an

amazing community dedicated to the environment.  We plan to make

Green Drinks a quarterly event."

"What the GTF strives to do," added Courtney Lindberg, Environment

Specialist with the City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability

Division and GTF Co-Chair, "is to promote green business development. 

We bring local businesses together and educate them about sustainable

practices, covering such topics as waste recycling, energy, water

conservation, pollution prevention and staff education. We highlight successes and

learn from our mistakes so that we can grow as a community with

green business practices part of our every day consciousness."    


Green Task Force LtoR: Courtney Lindberg (Environmental Specialist,
City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Division and Green
Task Force Co-Chair), Janis Shinkawa (Veterinarian, Buena Animal
Hospital), Diane de Mailly (President DDM Metering Systems
and Green Task Force Co-Chair), Kirsten Davis (AdvoCare)
and James Davis (Associated Electric)


"If you had to paint Ventura one color, it would probably be blue,

the color of our ocean.  If you added another color, it would be

green," Rick Cole, City Manager, City of Ventura. "This is a

remarkable community and environmentally-oriented to its core.

We all pay attention to the motto 'Think globally, act locally.'

Whether it be on a global scale, or a local scale, waste costs money

and pollutes the planet. It's also something we don't want to pass

onto the next generation."

In addition to Green Drinks, the GTF organizes a series of quarterly

"Best Practices Workshops" where local businesses share their

green ideas and practices with others in the community. To date,

there have been workshops at Red Brick Pizza focusing on sustainable

practices and the YMCA focusing on lighting retrofits.

Room.jpgVIEWVIEW Event Photos on Facebook, CLICK HERE.


In May 2012, The Green Task Force teamed up with the office of

Assemblymember Das Williams's for the Second Annual Green Jobs

Summit held at City Hall.

"The Green Jobs Summit brought a number of businesses together to talk

about ideas and sustainable principles," said James Joyce,

Field Representative, Office of Assemblymember Das Williams.

"Through working together on the Summit, our office developed a

great relationship with The Green Task Force.  There's so much

synergy. It's great to be a part of it."


Stay tuned and read this newsletter for information on future

Ventura-based Green Drinks events.



VIEW Event Photos on Facebook, CLICK HERE!

Healthy Gardens with Natural Pest Management

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar
A healthy garden is a garden that is filled with a variety of flowering plants that encourages a host of beneficial creatures such as ladybugs, dragonflies, lacewings, tiny non-stinging wasps and other little welcome friends that feed on garden pests.

Pesticides are extremely dangerous to the health of our waterways.  When it rains, these toxic elements are carried by debris and water emanating from our lawns and gardens, and flow, untreated, into the storm drain system. It's a major source of water pollution.

Some helpful tips to keep pesticides out of our rivers, creeks and oceans:

*Reduce or eliminate the use of broad-spectrum pesticides.
*Attract beneficial insects into your garden by providing the right mix of healthy plants and flowers.
*Plant compatible species for your garden vs. altering natural growing conditions.
*Know your soil and the soil requirements for your plants.
*Understand the characteristics of your garden and what your plants require.
*Select pest and disease resistant plants.
*Watering requirements vary from species and soil type.


LISTEN to the Sustainable Ventura Podcast on Healthy Gardens in iTunes, CLICK HERE.

SUBSCRIBE to the Sustainable Ventura Podcast RSS Feed, CLICK HERE

Also visit,

Get Your GREEN on!

Semi-Annual Table Top Business Expo "Olympics By The Ocean" at the Four Points Sheraton Podcast

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

On June 7, 2012,  the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, presented the Semi-Annual Tabletop Business Expo "Olympics by the Ocean" at the Four Points Sheraton.  The City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Division and Ventura Water were some of the sponsors of the event.

LISTEN TO the Sustainable Ventura podcast (hosted by Maryann Ridini Spencer), from the event and hear interviews with local businesses sharing their green practices!



Subscribe to our RSS Podcast Feed

Listen to us in iTunes

Local Teen Leads High School Waste Assessment Program

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar



Lujain Al-Saleh, a student at Ventura's Foothill Technology High School (, doesn't like trash.  So, this month, as part of her school's senior student community service requirement, she led a Hero project in waste assessment in the school courtyard.


Ten students dumped the contents of all the trash receptacles at the school on the lawn onto huge tarps, dividing the waste into categories such as 1-Styrofoam (or cardboard) trays, 2-spork packets, 3-milk and juice boxes, cartons and non-recyclable beverage containers, 4-fruits and vegetables, 5-trash, 6-litter and 7- recyclable items (cereal cups, recyclable bottles, pudding cups and snack-ables).




Lujain plans to write up a "how to manual" for other students who want to do the same at their schools. 


"I started getting interested in trash reduction when I attended the Ventura Charter School," says Lujain.  "I want to get other students engaged and aware of waste and its impact on the environment."



The assessment conducted on March 23 provides a baseline estimate for how much waste is generated at Foothill annually.  From this one assessment, it can be estimated that about 22.7 tons of trash is sent to the landfill each year from the trashcans located within the common areas in the main quad, not including trash from individual classrooms or other buildings.


Foothill Technology High School Waste Assessment Data (3/22/12)



Total (lbs)

Average Daily Total








Disposable Utensils/Spork Packets






Milk Cartons & Juice Boxes or Pouches






Fruits & Vegetables for Composting












Recyclable Items






Total Amount:







Lujain has already set up a CRV collection and recycling program and has initiated recycling programs at school events such as track meets and other sporting events.  Her Hero project advisor, Rick Villano, was also present at the waste assessment.


When Rosie Ornelas, from the City of Ventura's "Volunteer Ventura," found out Lujain was interested in protecting the environment, she was introduced to Environmental Specialist, Jill Sarick, who provides environmental education classes and leads regular waste assessments at the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) elementary schools.


"It's important to engage students at their level of understanding and then build upon that knowledge in a creative and entertaining style," said Sarick.


The waste sort program is a recent collaboration between VUSD Healthy and Green Schools Partnership and the City's Environmental Sustainability Division. In the program, already conducted at 10 of the 16 elementary schools, 5th grade students help Sarick sort through lunchtime trash to glean information that could help reduce waste.  So far, it is estimated that roughly 297 tons of material from only the lunch waste is set to the landfill each school year from these 10 schools alone.


At one school, the sorting team discovered a significant number of unopened milk cartons and uneaten apples from the school lunch program discarded in the trash.  Further analysis showed that one cause could be students' impatience to get to recess, which immediately followed lunch.       Some schools have students go to recess first and then come in to eat lunch. In fact, a lunchtime waste assessment at another school, where recess precedes lunch, showed almost no such waste. 


"These educational waste assessment programs, as well as other educational programs teach concepts of recycling, composting, water conservation, stormwater pollution prevention and other environmentally friendly "best" practices to more than 4,000 students per year," said Sarick. 


Environmental Education Programs are provided FREE to all schools in the City of Ventura. Curriculum used in the classroom presentations aligns with State curriculum guidelines for all grade levels. For more information, contact:  Jill Sarick at (805) 652-4501 or email,


-Maryann Ridini Spencer for VC Style/Sustainable Ventura



$30,000 Grant Opportunity for Businesses - Apply by April 1, 2012

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

Business Grant Opportunity

Reusables Funding up to $30,000

Apply by April 1, 2012!


Reusable Grants requests up to $30,000 are available for businesses and other organizations that are planning to incorporate reusable packaging into their transport and distribution.


Eligible Projects should focus on waste prevention and specifically reusable transportation (projects that replace single - or limited - use transport packaging with durable pallets or bins, reusable pallet-wrap, expanded use of intermediate bulk containers, IBCs).


To be eligible, programs need to be implemented within six months of application or have already been implemented in the six months prior to application.

To find out more, Visit the City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Blog.


Lawn To Ocean Friendly Garden

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

Lawn, as defined in the dictionary, is an "area of aesthetic and recreational land planted with grass and other durable plants."


It's believed that the concept of "the lawn" developed in medieval times for the purpose of communal grazing of livestock.  At this time, lawns were similar to pastures or fields.  To tend to these lawns, laborers used scything and shearing. Sheep and livestock grazing also maintained the lands or lawns.


Later, in Tudor and Elizabethan times, the lawn garden became a place for walkways and social areas. And by the 17th century, the Jacobean epoch of gardening began and the "English" lawn became a symbol of status and gentry.  While at first lawns were primarily made up of meadow plants, by the Victorian era, a wider variety of perennials were available as were elaborate sculptures and water features.  In the 19th century, with the advent of sprinkler technology and the lawn mower, lawns and gardens were also affordable to the masses.


In Ventura, all our water comes from local sources - The Ventura River, Lake Casitas and groundwater wells.  Today, unlike hundreds of years ago, we are armed with the knowledge about the importance of conserving our precious, natural resources - especially our valuable water.  Low maintenance and drought tolerant grass and native plant replacements are the wise sustainable choices.  Some wonderful native plant choices might include:  White Sage, California Fuchsia, California Lilac, California Poppy any variety of succulents, to name only a few.  The variety and beauty of "Ocean Friendly" gardens is on the rise.  So, why not choose beauty and sustainability?  For information on how you can create the Ocean Friendly Garden* of your dreams, talk to your local nursery about suggestions for your garden.  In Ventura, visit Green Thumb Nursery at 1899 Victoria Avenue and Napalito Native Plant Nursery at 4107 E. Main Street.

*Ocean Friendly Gardens Program is a trademark program of the Surfrider Foundation. For some great Ocean Friendly Garden Events Information,  CLICK HERE.

For some great information at Surfrider, CLICK HERE.

VC Style
Maryann Ridini-Spencer produces video stories about environmentally friendly and healthy living in Ventura County.

She co-hosts "Sustainable Ventura" with Ray Olson on CAPS-TV's VTV, Channel 15 as well as "Simply Delicious Living with Maryann" on Time Warner Cable ON DEMAND.