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Environmental advocates gather for festive fundraiser that includes a delicious dinner, ‘eco-portraits’ and a night of dancing

10-31-2013 2-46-27 PMPausing for a photo opportunity at the Community Environmental Council’s Green Gala at The Lark were, from left, board officers and members at large Karl Hutterer, Jeff Carmody, Kerry Allen, Carrie Riley, Dennis Allen, Dave Davis, Russ McGlothlin, John Melack and Andrew Lemert. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety | Published on 10.05.2013 10:45 a.m.


Who: “Green Gala,” the Eco-Chic Party of the Year

What: Benefit to support the Community Environmental Council

When: Friday, Oct. 4

Where: The Lark

The first-ever fundraiser held at The Lark on Friday night brought together a festive crowd of environmental activists and “green-friendly” enthusiasts in support of theCommunity Environmental Council’s Green Gala.

Greeters at the doors of the Funk Zone restaurant were decked out in festive garb and welcomed attendees who stepped inside to a stunning setting with décor from Merryl Brown Events.

Cocktails, silent auction, “eco-portraits” in a photo booth, and a three-course dinner by The Lark’s chefs provided guests with a magical evening in support of CEC. The night was topped off with a program, dessert and dancing in the Pullman Room.

The mission of the CEC is to identify, advocate, raise awareness and develop effective programs to solve the most pressing environmental issues that affect the Santa Barbara region. For more than 40 years, the organization has been at the forefront of environmental sustainability, change and progression in the area. From promoting locally farmed organic foods, creating zero-net energy buildings and solar-powered homes and installing electric vehicle charging stations to implementing community-based recycling programs, the CEC is dedicated to reversing the degradation of Santa Barbara’s natural environment.

The organization’s primary focus is building a community-based movement that transitions the region off fossil fuels in one generation, with a goal of being “Fossil Free by 33” (2033).

Guest speaker Dawn Mitcham, chief financial officer for Pacific Capital Resources, expressed the importance of this movement and the push for fossil fuels.

“So that’s why we’re here. The Community Environmental Council sees the headlights of the oncoming train and has put all of its energy into getting us away from fossil fuels,” Mitcham said. “This is no small feat as we are here talking about a system that’s been in place since the days of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.”

CEC partnership council member Megan Birney, director of strategic affairs at Wiser Capital, elaborated on the strides that the Clean Energy system is already making with people of influence toward these goals.

“One in every 35 new cars in California is an electric car that gets the equivalent of 100 mpg,” Birney said. “Thanks to our Plug In Central Coast project, electric car owners can now access a network of 200 public charging stations in the Tri-Counties.”

In addition to the informative messages, guests enjoyed a family style dinner that was designed for the gala by executive chef Jason Paluska and executive sous/pastry chef Nick Flores as a reflection of Eat Local Month and the restaurants commitment to locally sourced and grown food. Guests enjoyed a delectable menu, including vegetarian pizzas from the brick oven, kale salad with Midnight Moongoat cheese, carmelized fall fruit salad, warm faro tabbouleh, roasted Mary’s free range chicken from Pitman Family Farm with sherry maple chicken jus and topped off by brown butter pear tarte and spiced butternut squash cake with Mission figs.

Additionally, in the spirit of the gala, nearly everything for the event was repurposed for the evening to fill the space with added ambiance, such as the greenery, décor and table centerpieces that dazzled the crowd of 250 supporters.

The magic of the evening and the joy in the air weren’t lost on CEC President/CEO Dave Davis, who has been with the organization for nine years, and shared with Noozhawk a simple message that everyone can follow to live a happier and healthier life.

“Everyone can do something. You can recycle, you can take the bus, you can ride your bike. If you just eat meat one day a week less,” Davis said. “Everybody can do a little something and together it makes a huge impact. The carbon effects of everyone can be reduced by simple little steps. Live simpler. Live happier. Live healthier.”

Mitcham summed up the elegance and beauty of both the evening gala and the local community.

“We have some incredible resources here — we have enough sun and wind to power all our needs,” Mitcham said. “We have a year-round growing climate that should allow us to create a healthy, efficient local food system that doesn’t need to truck food hundreds of miles in a circle to come back to us. We have an educated and engaged community that does not like to see wasted resources.”

CEC offers special thanks to the major supporters of the 2013 Green Gala:

» Dennis Allen and Jennifer Cushnie, Classic Party RentalsCox Communications, Gretchen and Robert Lieff, Lieff Wines, Merryl Brown Events, Paul and Kathy Relis, Signature Parking and The Winehound.


— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at[email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk,@NoozhawkSociety@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan ofNoozhawk on Facebook.


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