Recently in VC Style Roving Eye 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.

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!

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.


The City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Division Engages Local Students

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar


Balboa Middle School WINNERS of the GREEN SCHOOL AWARD 2011, 

From Left to Right: Balboa Students: Aiyana Alvarado, Crystina Ahumada, 

Destiny Schwab, Karissa Baucom, Teri Gern (Balboa Principal), Christine Wied

(Environmental Specialist, Environmental Sustainability Division), 

Mayor Fulton, Steve Roth (Balboa Teacher) and Jose Duenas (Balboa Teacher).




This year's 2011 GREEN SCHOOL AWARD was presented to Balboa Middle School for their recycling and horticulture practices during a November 14 City Council Meeting in honor of America Recycles Day, (November 15).  Mayor Bill Fulton and Agromin Chief Executive Officer, Bill Camarillo, presented the honor to Balboa Principal Teri Gern, Teachers Steve Roth and Jose Duenas, and several of the Balboa students.  Balboa Middle School will also receive a $500 check, courtesy of Agromin.

Schools are judged for the Green School Awards by submitting applications that detail their sustainable practices, which are then reviewed by representatives of the City's Environmental Sustainability Division and Agromin. 

"Over the years, we've witnessed an increase in schools entering the competition," said Christine Wied, Environmental Specialist for the City.  "We look forward to continuing to make it a competition that schools are anxious to win because not only is it a positive step in the student's environmental education, it benefits our planet.

"Balboa was specifically chosen for their impeccable efforts in recycling paper, plastic bottles and cans," continued Wied.  "This types of hands on activity, which involves weighing and keeping a recyclables log, also gets students involved with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that also makes them think about their impact on the environment."

The student's efforts also make the school about $700 a year, which gets recycled into special activities and projects.

Recycling activities began in 1997 at Balboa Middle School.  Since then the school has continued to grown their programs. Mr. Jose Duenas is the teacher that supervises the student body recycling efforts while Mr. Steve Roth teaches a 7th and 8th grade elected course on horticulture.   Last year, Roth and his students began a California native garden specifically to learn about xeriscaping, composting and growing flowers, vegetables and fruits. 

"We grow vegetables and fruits in boxes provided by Food Share, the non-profit organization that provides food and support to Ventura's hungry," said Roth. "We use some of the produce in school, but donate a majority of it to Food Share.   So not only are the children learning about how to care for and nurture the environment, they're learning how to grow produce and the importance of helping those in need."

This year special "Environmental Hero" recognition certificates were also presented to Ventura Charter School of Arts and Global Education for their environmental community action at the Earth Day Eco-Fest and Trash-a-thon fundraiser and to Buena High School for "Environmental Leadership" in recycling and other community environmental programs.  The "Eco-Hero" certificate was presented to Juananmaria Elementary for developing a culture of environmental awareness in their daily activities.

"It's vital that our youth learn how to care for our precious environment," recently said Mary Haffner, Board Member for the Ventura Unified School District. "Becoming 'environmentally engaged' at a young age engrains positive behaviors and attitudes in students that are so vital for the quality of their future -- and for their children's future."

Previous winners of The Green School Awards have been Portola Elementary School (2010), Lincoln Elementary (2009), Saticoy Elementary (2008) and Pierpont Elementary (2007).

In addition to presenting The Green School Award for environmental practices, the City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Divison teaches environmental education.  Throughout the year, City of Ventura-based schools and businesses can have a representative from the City come present a stand-alone presentation or talk.

"Curriculum used in the classroom presentations aligns with State curriculum guidelines for all grade levels," said Ray Olson, Manager, Environmental Sustainability Division.  "The City's program teaches concepts of recycling, composting, water conservation, and stormwater pollution prevention to more than 4,000 students per year.  In addition to working with the schools, we also offer FREE presentations and free business evaluations to local organizations and businesses to get and keep them on the sustainable track."

To find out more about the FREE environmental programs and how you can schedule a presentation, visit and/or call 805-652-4584.


-VC Style's Roving Eye and Sustainable Ventura by Maryann Ridini Spencer




It Takes A Village for The Jeffrey Foundation's Project 40

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar


The Jeffrey Foundation (, a non-profit Child Care/Resource Center offering educational services, childcare and counseling for special needs children, was founded by Alyce Morris Winston in 1972. 

Over the past 40 years, the Foundation, which strives to improve the quality of life for special needs children (ages 18 months through 18 years), serves children with such diseases as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and autism.  Other children enrolled in their programs have a variety of physical impediments or are victims of abuse, neglect or in utero drug exposure.

At the Foundation, children and families are served through a variety of community-based therapeutic, recreational, educational and social programs including childcare, preschool, K-12 educational programming, speech therapy, occupational therapy, life skills, parenting education, after-school activities and social events. 

While the Foundation serves the greater Los Angeles area, Morris Winston is also involved in a national and international outreach program, Special Child USA.  Via Special Child, Morris Winston consults with other cities, states and even countries that are interested in developing similar childcare and resource centers.

"There are over 30,000 disabled youth in Los Angeles County that are in need of special interventions," said Morris Winston.  "Our Foundation is the only one of its kind in LA and we only have a capacity of only 124 children per day, and 40 families per month.  So the need is great -- not just in Los Angeles, but everywhere."

Morris Winston, whose adopted son Jeffrey, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was two, abandoned her career as a Max Factor model and began the Foundation after discovering that there was not enough appropriate child care, resources or support for families with special needs children.  What began in her living room is now housed in two professional buildings on West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles.

"Most of The Jeffrey Foundation's students are referred by Child Protective Services or a Regional Center," said Morris Winston.  "Many of the families are headed by single mothers with multiple children.  In the Foundation's Parent Training program, over 85% of the children are in foster care and 10% are living with a parent who has lost custody at least once due to child abuse, neglect, maltreatment or abandonment."

The emphasis of the classes and programs, which are inclusive, aim to build core competencies such as cognitive skill building, language development, gross and fine motor skills and social and emotional development, as well as provide health and nutrition education. 

"We also strive to enrich our student's lives by giving them the opportunity to enjoy some recreation and special events.  We encourage them to learn and appreciate art, music and nature.  Our mission is to improve the quality of every aspect of their live as well as serve as a support for their families," said Morris Winston. 

The current economic climate, and cuts in federal and state funding, are severely impacting the Foundation's ability to keep some of their programs alive.  To offset some of the negative impact, Morris Winston recently came up with the creative idea of "Project 40" in honor of the Foundation's 40 years. 


Project 40 will be a series of 40 events and happenings to fight the economic turndown.  Last night, one of the Foundation's friends, Lladro Boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, hosted a kickoff reception and launch of the YES! Network (Executives for Special Needs Children and their Families).   The YES! group will spearhead many of the Project 40 programs which will take place in Southern California as well as nationally.

Morris Winston hopes that through the YES! Network, different members of the business community will also become engaged to network, cross promote, as well as lend their expertise and support in developing new programs and fundraisers to sponsor and boost the Foundation's needed programs.

 "We support the community, and we need assistance from those in the community and beyond," said Morris Winston.  It does take a village and we want to be around for the next 40 years!"

To find out more about The Jeffrey Foundation, Project 40 and the YES! Network, visit:

Images from the YES! Network Launch Party at Lladro Boutique in Beverly Hills on November 17.  Photography by Maxine Picard Photography.


LtoR:  Agnes Nicole Winter, Elaine DuPont Bernard, Mara New, 
Alyce Morris Winston & Maryann Ridini Spencer (YES! Network


LtoR:  Singer and Evening's Entertainment, Laurie Marchese,
Preity Uupala (Miss India International) and Alyce Morris Winston


LtoR:  Alyce Morris Winston and Nancy Jordan
(YES! Network Chairperson)


Izabelle Gooch


LtoR:  Barbara Berg Adams (Author "Ring Shui" and
Evening's Entertainment), George Adams and Alyce
Morris Winston

VC Style's Roving Eye: Ventura County Star WOMEN TODAY EXPO Celebrates Women, 10am-5pm, November 11-12, 2011

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar


The second annual Women Today Expo returns to Ventura County 
to celebrate all aspects of a woman's life -- Career, Shopping, Cooking, 
Family, Health & more!  Presented by the Ventura County Star and 
taking place on the Ventura County Fairgrounds (Harbor Boulevard),
this year's event features over 100 exhibitor booths and such celebrity 
guests as Chef Fabio Viviani (Bravo's "Top Chef"), Master Chef Adrien 
Nieto (Fox's "Master Chef"), "Project Runway" Fashion Designer Santino 
Rice and Singer/Songwriter Casey Weston (NBC's "The Voice").

"The event celebrates every facet of a woman's life," said Su-lin Rubalcava, 
Ventura County Star marketing manager.  "'The Women Today Expo' inspires
and empowers women to live their best lives as well as follow their career 
passions.  Experts are available to share their information and knowledge on 
a variety of topics as well as demonstrate their products and network their 

In the video interview below, Su-lin shares some information about
the November 11-12 activities taking place from 10am-5pm at the 
Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura.  

This morning from 11:05am-Noon, Fabio Viviani's cooked up some simply delicious 
gnocchi in a demo on the Cooking School Stage.  

The gorgeous Cooking School Stage

Cooking School.jpg

The delicious gnocchi!

Other exciting Cooking School Stage demos included:  The Brothers of 
RedBrick Pizza presenting fresh and healthy gourmet pizza and salads, 
Bosch and Pacific Sales presenting holiday convection cooking,  
and Chef Adrien Nieto presenting fresh, homegrown dishes inspired
by ingredients from Maddy's Gourmet Market.

Glorious booths featuring an array of clothes, appliances, utensils, 
gift items and more lined the halls!


The "Passion with a Vision" panel (pictured above) which took place 
on the What Women Want Stage (presented by, from 
12:05-12:40pm today, featured an eclectic group of inspiring women 
ranging from chefs, business entrepreneurs to musicians and dance 
instructors.  Neil Palache ( served 
as Moderator to the panelists (Kate Dunbar/Owner of Petite Rêve
Cafe & Petite Reve Chocolates, Maria Durant, Owner/Dance 4 
Wellness,  Jodi Womack, Owner/No More Nylons, Dyna Valentine, 
Public Speaker, Lara St. John, Violinist and Sarah Ioannides, 
Conductor), who spoke about developing their passions into 
money-making endeavors.  

Other presentations on the What Women Want Stage featured:  Bergins
Automotive & ABC Autocare's talk on "Taking control and learning the basic 
skills of maintaining your car," Dressbarn's Fashion Showcase featured stylish 
designs on a budget, Jafra consultant Angelique Jackson demonstrated makeup 
and skin care products & tips to enhance a woman's natural beauty and Hair 
Therapist Kim Pagano talked about how toget the haircut that works for you.

This evening from 5:30-8:30pm, The Women's Wine Down, presented by 
Fashion Forms, features food, wine, networking,various presentations and
the musical talents of singer/songwriter Casey Weston.

Let's here it for the ladies!

For more information, visit:

-VC Style's Roving Eye, Maryann Ridini Spencer

"Haunting at the Harbor" Business Expo in Ventura Harbor

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar
VC Style's "Roving Eye" (aka me with video camera!),  recently attended the "Haunting at the Harbor" Business Expo at the Four Points Sheraton in Ventura Harbor. It was a great event presented by the Ventura Chamber of Commerce.   There were approximately 59 local business tabletop exhibits, a variety of food vendors, a silent auction, and raffle.  I had fun doing some business networking -- not to mention enjoying some pre-Halloween cheer.

During the evening, I caught up with the Environmental Sustainability folks at their booth.  Environmental Specialist Christine Wied shared some recycling tips.  Next door at Ventura Water, "Aunt Sally" compared the price of water per gallon to other must-haves. 

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.