Lasting Impact

Riley Meisch. (Photo by Viktor Budnik)

The Made in Ventura County issue is always one of my favorites on Ventana Monthly’s editorial calendar. It’s an opportunity to spotlight some of the most interesting artisans in the area, and there are always so many to choose from! Woodworkers and metalsmiths, jewelry and clothing designers, people who create body creams and accessories and all manner of objects both beautiful and functional. I’m constantly impressed by the number of makers in our midst, and the myriad techniques, both old and new, that they employ in their crafts.

Something else I’ve noticed as these issues unfold: Small-scale artisans tend to be concerned with, and committed to, eco-conscious creation. 

Brittany Cole Bush, featured on our cover, is the founder of Ojai-based Shepherdess Land and Livestock. She specializes in targeted grazing for fire risk management, weed control, invasive species removal and other land management needs. But because “mindful sourcing of things that come from animals” is part of Shepherdess Land and Livestock’s ethos, the wool gathered from her sheep plays a role in Bush’s holistic approach to land stewardship. It’s a new endeavor for her and her team, and she tells us all about it, and her hopes for a California wool revival, in our Cover Story.

Sustainability is at the heart of custom furniture maker Meisch Made (About Town). Founder Riley Meisch is committed to constructing pieces that last, combatting what he calls the “fast-trash” industry one table, chair and bookcase at a time. In addition, his preferred medium is wood sourced from trees that have been felled naturally in local forests.

Toothbrush Toys (Profile) is all about making oral hygiene fun and easy for kids…with the intention of establishing lifelong habits. And the adorable characters that are part of the toothbrush design can be removed from the brush to be used…and kept…as a toy. There are even replacement brush heads, meaning you don’t need to buy a new toothbrush every time. Easy to clean by hand or even in the dishwasher, these are items that can be enjoyed and cherished much longer, and in more ways, than your average oral care device.

It’s wonderful to have access to local makers being mindful in their approach to production. Supporting them supports the local economy, and, more often than not, the planet. Better quality, made sustainably, acquired closer to home, that lasts longer — that’s what conscious consumerism is all about. Buying local is one small thing we can all do that can lead to big changes and have a lasting impact. We should take advantage of those opportunities when we can.

– Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer