Activists often say that raising awareness is the first step toward creating change; and through the work of a few local advocates, it’s happening with little more than a camera and a drop of water. Two separate but closely related projects — one created by Ventura Water, the other by environmental filmmaker Janet Bridgers — are striving to bring community attention to the oft-overlooked issues of water conservation and coastal preservation.

The first of these is Water: Take 1, an online film contest organized by Ventura’s water department along with sponsors Patagonia and Limoneira, which aims to promote discussion amongst Ventura residents by sharing short films that deal with themes surrounding water and its use.

The competition kicked off on World Water Day, and, according to Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein, aims to “keep dialogue going across generations.” Highlighting the need for programs of this nature, Epstein explained, “For us to thrive as a community, we all have to use less so there can be more for the future.”

In order to encourage people to submit their films, the city and the event’s sponsors have put up a $1,500 prize for the film judged to be the best by a panel of environment experts and film industry members. To encourage community participation in the event, the director whose film receives the highest number of viewer votes by Oct. 4 will win a Canon EOS 7D camera.

While the contest is open to filmmakers everywhere, many submissions have been composed of shorts produced by local talent. One of those local directors is Kathleen Good, a retired teacher turned eco-filmmaker, who submitted two films to the contest entitled Three Great Green Shorts and When It Rains.

Good hopes to “create awareness of water and our consumption habits” through her work. “If everybody would just change one or two things, that would equate to … millions of gallons of fresh water (saved every year),” she said.

Bridgers, another environmentally focused filmmaker, is striving to spread a similar message through a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary tentatively called Saving the California Coast about the grassroots campaign to found the California Coastal Commission — a state-run environmental agency tasked with protecting the California coastline — in the early 1970s.

By spreading the story of the movers and shakers who managed to pass a voter initiative to establish the then-revolutionary organization, Bridgers believes the film can serve as a way to “inspire the next generation of coastal activists.” Bridgers successfully raised $10,000 on Kickstarter to film her documentary.