Vicki Riskin recalls a town meeting on Martha's Vineyard a few years ago, when a crew of middle-school kids convinced their elected elders to adopt a ban on single-use plastic bottles.
"I thought, if these children can do work on climate change, what am I doing?" she remembers.
For Riskin, the answer to that existential question became "Bluedot Living," a journalistic enterprise that publishes a print magazine; researches and promotes a marketplace of eco-friendly products;,and emails a growing raft of national and localized digital newsletters -- including one in Santa Barbara - that are dedicated to "solutions-focused climate stories," along with "good news, good food and good tips for living every more sustainably."
In 2018, Vicki was a longtime Montecito resident and community hero, whose life was changed, suddenly and forever, in the debris flow disaster: her cousin, the prominent realtor Rebecca Riskin, was killed, and her home was destroyed, amid a neighborhood turned to ruin.
Having since relocated to Martha's Vineyard, the prosperous island south of Cape Cod, she dropped by Newsmakers TV this week. for a conversation about the ways and means Bluedot is seeking to help people face up to, and handle in a practical way, the uncertain impacts and consequences of climate change in our day-to-day lives (eg: "Clarifying California's Weird Weather," "Sustainable Super Bowl Snacks," "Ethical, Planet-Friendly Valentine's Chocolates").
Renaissance woman and force of nature, Vicki has been, variously, a therapist, a television writer and producer, and president of the Writers Guild of America, West. A notable, global human rights activist. she also led the revival of Antioch University in Santa Barbara and wrote "Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir," a dual biography of her parents, the famed actress (who upstaged King Kong in the original movie) and screenwriter ("Lost Horizon," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" and "It Happened One Night").
In her present incarnation, she peripatetically has overseen the launch of the "Bluedot Living" newsletter in eight cities besides SB, and is immersed in spinning off new publications (next up: "The Bluedot Kitchen"), while frequently finding time and reason to visit her former home. Most recently, she's negotiated a partnership with the Independent, for a local version of Bluedot's print magazine, which is scheduled to be distributed with the paper this summer,
In our conversation, Vicki also talked about the behind-the-scenes role she quietly played in construction of the critical, new Randall Road Debris Basin, recalled a book tour interrupted by Covid, and recounted how Bluedot helped bring about important, pragmatic changes in the eco-system of her new hometown.
Complete information about the Bluedot operations, and a link to subscribe to the Santa Barbara newsletter, among others, is on their website here.
All this and more, right here, right now on Newsmakers TV.
Check out our conversation with Vicki Riskin on YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Channel 17, broadcasts the show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on weekends. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday,
CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Cartoon: David Sipress for The New Yorker.
Must-read of the week. As a young man, Steve Garvey was a squeaky clean Dodgers star, then married to a glamorous local TV celebrity, who made no secret of his political ambitions. In the 1970s and 80s, smilin' Steve spoke openly about running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate, or maybe beyond, when his playing days were done.
Mr. All-American botched his idealized marriage, carrying on a series of messy simultaneous relationships with two other women, fathering along the way multiple children, while generating a tangle of shambolic break-ups, bitter paternity battles, and toxic public hostilities that accompanied his sudden second marriage, to yet another partner, and several more offspring.
His serial knavish behavior, that of a narcissistic sexist scoundrel, was the kind of reckless personal conduct that up until about 10 minutes ago was considered scandalous enough to preclude any thoughts of a career in public life.
Then Donald Trump demonstrated his otherworldly talent for shamelessness, and changed the rules of politics.
Garvey, now 70, is finally running for U.S. Senate in California under the GOP label, an old man pursuing a young man's dream, at a time when personal rectitude no longer seems to matter much to the voters of a party that once put a premium on character.
Amid his first, shaky appearances on the campaign trail, the (also shaky) L.A. Times this week published a brutal, comprehensive account of Garvey's past -- and his present, as well, in the form of interviews with several of his now-adult children, who portray him as a cold, calculating and distant figure all but absent from their lives, now rendering himself as Mr. Dad.
In "Steve Garvey touts 'family values' in Senate bid. Some of his kids tell a different story," reporters Nathan Fenno and Adam Elmahrek not only produced a stark chronicle of the candidate's'personal history, but also offer a Rohrschach test to measure the values of voters in a political culture much coarsened and transformed over the past eight years.
The extent to which Trump's brazen refusal to observe basic norms of personal decency is a singular superpower, and how much it's transferrable to other politicians of his ilk, are intriguing questions that Garvey's campaign will help clarify.
Our best bet: The Times piece makes him more popular among the Republican electorate.
Image: First wife Cyndy with Steve Garvey in happier days (U.S. Sun).