September 2011


I leave you this week in Houston. An oil ton if there ever was one. Got to love a group that is trying to do without hydrocarbons altogether. They claim they are moving to a new site BUT I couldn’t get there yet, so here is a sample of their old site.

http://transitionhouston.wordpress.com/

Movin’ on…

The website subgroup of the Outreach and Education Action Group has been working on an updated website for Transition Houston for some time, and all that effort is paying off!  We are going to concentrate our information share and move content to the new site:  www.transitionhouston.org.  Please bookmark that location and check with us often for news about Transition in the Houston region, Neighborhood Initiative and Action Group updates, calendar, newsletter archive, and more!

Once again, the new Transition Houston website:

www.transitionhouston.org

 

There are several other options for connecting with us.

We are on Ning.

We are on Facebook.

We are on Twitter.

And you can subscribe to our Newsletter!

August 1, 2011

Permaculture goes mainstream, hope rises

Sometimes little things give hope that progress is possible, and that maybe “if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time,” to quote the Cheerful Disclaimer.  This last week the little thing for me was the discovery of permaculture by the New York Times.  Now, I’m not so naive to believe that seeing permaculture in the mainstream press is going to make a lot of difference immediately, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see a surge of interest in permie classes across the country with long-term benefits to both participants and the environment (FYI, classes are offered here in Houston by the Permaculture Guild of Houston, through Urban Harvest).

I think the important point is that awareness is growing in our country:  awareness of our ecosystem impacts, awareness of the lack of sustainability in our lifestyles and economy, and also awareness of that which is missing in our lives–community, connection, purpose.  Permaculture is a positive response to that growing awareness, as is the permaculture-based Transition movement.

There are a couple of opportunities to join with others in our Transition Houston community this week and next.  Please avail yourself of these options to increase your awareness and find connection with a community of folks working for a resilient Houston region.

Transition Houston Hub meeting, Tuesday, August 2, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Green Film Series Presents Blue Gold: World Water Wars, Tuesday, August 9, 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Transition Houston Hub meeting, Tuesday, August 2, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
We hope to see you at Tuesday’s Transition Houston meeting, which will feature a guest speaker in addition to news from the Transition Neighborhoods and Action Groups.

We are very fortunate to have Peter Wang, League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor, as our guest speaker.  Peter is considered a local biking expert.  He’s everywhere as a go-to guy for media interviews about bikes, and has been involved in a lot of bicycle issues.  He is risk-averse–exactly the kind of guy you would want to help you practice being safer!–and has taught a lot of these safety classes.

Peter will present a video screening followed by a discussion. The video is Enjoy The Ride, about essential bicycling skills.

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More whenever.

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I love Brit speak. Some groups are not undecided they are mulling things over. Anyway there is a great list at the end of this article so go check it out.

http://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/canadas-transition-communities/

Canada’s Transition Communities

23 Sep

No 67 Posted September 23, 2010

IMPORTANT UPDATE, Jan. 7, 2011: Ten *NEW* communities added to the List of Canadian Transition Communities (below).

What is a Transition Community?

The following text is excerpted and adapted from Ball’s research paper, Transition Towns: Local Networking for Global Sustainability?

The Transition Movement, promoting an action-based approach to (local) sustainability, has in the past four years grown to incorporate a large network of individual Transition Initiatives. Informed by ideas and values within environmental organizations, yet, in its practical organisation it is distinct from past models of sustainability by incorporating broad grassroots support in a diverse range of places within the framework of a coherent networking model.

Sustainability challenges the dominant, market-based capitalism of industrial society, on economic, social, environmental and ecological grounds, citing devastating ecological and environmental exploitation. Sustainability, in contrast, calls for production and consumption within long-term ecological limits.

While local sustainability has become a politically important goal, in practice neither top-down government nor grassroots community models have gained widespread uptake or success: the former have failed to connect with or involve a grassroots public; the latter generally have few resources and limited capacity.

The Transition Model, a non-governmental community-led model, advances an action-based approach. With its fast-growing network of Initiatives, the Transition Movement is akin to a non-profit franchise operation, combining the advantage of a centralized support base with the capacity and resources of a decentralized networking organization.

The Transition concept, co-founded by Rob Hopkins, who has a background in permaculture, builds upon a core thesis: that the modern industrial capitalist economic and social system, based upon cheap oil and resources, is unsustainable, making a major restructuring of economy and society imperative, and inevitable. Transition contends that citizens and communities need to act proactively and positively at the local scale, in a process of ‘Transition’ and ‘Powerdown’ to build localized and resilient communities in terms of food, energy, work and waste. The vision holds that decarbonized local communities will be resilient in their capacity to “hold together and maintain their ability to function in the face of change and shock from the outside.” Transition is modelled to be a self-organizing community-led model, for people to “act now and act collectively.”

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More tomorrow.

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Today I found two articles that define the pros and cons of Transition Communities. I would tend to call one selfish and foolish. I would call the other one “heads up”, but that is just me. I do not want to take up the space with both complete articles so I will post a taste of each.

PRO

http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/09/14/a-vision-for-the-post-peak-oil-future-pt-6/

In a harsher future we’re now in the process of consigning our children and grandchildren to, this is okay?

When so much power and prosperity is confined to so few, what then? As more and more is stripped away from more and more in order to protect the few, greater inequality will result, and a much larger percentage of those so far unaffected by that disparity will then fall into the have-nots, including our children and grandchildren—and perhaps many more of us.

Of course we ought to be legitimately worried about what massive debt will do for the prospects and opportunities of our children and grandchildren, but if we aren’t also doing all that we can right now to provide the programs and resources and opportunities and investments to innovate and grow starting now, they’ll be faced with the double whammy of the burdens of great debt and no viable means to address the problem! What a wonderful prospect … but thank God the wealthy will be okay!

“What is the crisis we face today? We have an economy scarred by mass unemployment, falling wages, and growing insecurity. In the downturn, a staggering 40 percent of American households have been afflicted by unemployment, negative home equity (‘under water homes’ worth less than their mortgages), mortgage payment arrears, or foreclosure. In November 2008, one quarter of Americans aged 50-59 reported that they’d lost more than 35 percent of their retirement savings.

“The [wage] imbalances were obscene before the recession, with finance capturing 40 percent of corporate profits, the wealthiest 1 percent capturing half of the benefits of economic growth, the US running soaring trade deficits, even in high technology products, with China and the world. Our decaying infrastructure, broken health care system, declining educational performance in relation to the industrial world all preceded the fall….

“The right question we need to ask, I would argue, is what is the new strategy, the new foundation for an economy that offers hope for rebuilding America’s economic vitality in the competitive global market place? This requires a clear and bold strategy for revitalizing American manufacturing. It requires investments in areas vital to our future — in modern infrastructure, in education and training, in research and innovation. We need to capture a lead in the green industrial revolution that is sweeping the world. It requires new trade strategy, shackles on financial speculation, empowering workers to capture a fair share of the productivity and profits they help generate to help rebuild America’s middle class. We have to figure out how to afford this, financing what we can, changing priorities and raising revenues where needed. But this is a far different question than just how we get our books in order.” [3]

As Mr. Borosage noted at the conclusion of the passage just quoted: “It is hard to get the right answer when you ask the wrong question.”

CON

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/06/12/bjorn-lomborg-explains-how-to-save-the-planet.html


A Roadmap for the Planet

Jun 12, 2011 10:00 AM EDT

How we live today is clearly unsustainable. Why history proves that is completely irrelevant.

From the 18th through the mid-19th century, whale oil provided light to much of the Western world. At its peak, whaling employed 70,000 people and was the United States’ fifth-largest industry. The U.S. stood as the world’s foremost whale slayer. Producing millions of gallons of oil each year, the industry was widely seen as unassailable, with advocates scoffing at would-be illumination substitutes like lard oil and camphene. Without whale oil, so the thinking went, the world would slide backward toward darkness.

By today’s standard, of course, slaughtering whales is considered barbaric.

Two hundred years ago there was no environmental movement to speak of. But one wonders if the whalers, finding that each year they needed to go farther afield from Nantucket Island to kill massive sea mammals, ever asked themselves: what will happen when we run out of whales?

Such questions today constitute the cornerstone of the ever-louder logic of sustainability.

Climate alarmists and campaigning environmentalists argue that the industrialized countries of the world have made sizable withdrawals on nature’s fixed allowance, and unless we change our ways, and soon, we are doomed to an abrupt end. Take the recent proclamation from the United Nations Environment Program, which argued that governments should dramatically cut back on the use of resources. The mantra has become commonplace: our current way of living is selfish and unsustainable. We are wrecking the world. We are gobbling up the last resources. We are cutting down the rainforest. We are polluting the water. We are polluting the air. We are killing plants and animals, destroying the ozone layer, burning the world through our addiction to fossil fuels, and leaving a devastated planet for future generations.

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More tomorrow.

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This is a pretty good discussion of the sustainability component of it. I apologize up front for just posting the video connection and not much more. I am terrible at posting videos.

http://vimeo.com/28881870

Five minutes with Dave Hamilton
2 days ago
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See all Show me 

nu project’s videos
 

5. Five minutes with Dave Hamilton 

12 days ago
 

2. Hackney City Farm  

by nu project1 year ago
Dave Hamilton has a degree in Nutrition, is a professional foraging,food and gardening writer. He lives in Devon, where he grows and forages for most of his own food and teaches horticulture.

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But here is more about the guy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Hamilton_%28author%29

Dave Hamilton (author)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David John Hamilton (born 1974) British author, Journalist, Gardener and Forager.[1][2] Born in Northampton he now lives in Totnes, Devon.

He attended Weston Favell School in Northampton where he slipped through the education system graduating with only three G.C.S.E’s above C grade including English language.

He has lived all over the UK and amongst other things has worked as a market trader in Camden Stables Market and in Anjuna India, a postman and a gardener in Oxford and a driver’s mate and factory worker in Northampton.[3]

He later returned to education and whilst studying a BSc in Nutrition and Food Science at Oxford Brookes he began growing his own food.[4] Realising there were still bills to and full self-sufficiency was very difficult he coined the term ‘Self-Sufficientish’ which later was adopted by the website he runs with his twin brother.[5]

The website led to the publishing of his first book, with Andy Hamilton, The Self Sufficient-ish Bible: An Eco-living Guide for the 21st Century (ISBN 978-0340951026) [6]

He now lives in Devon where he is following another of his passions, that of plants, by training to be a sustainable horticulturist at the Dutchy College run course at the Schumacher College in Dartington. Along with fellow students on the course Dave has started up a sustainable bee keeping group using methods championed by Phil Chandler.[7]

He occasionally appears on TV and radio and writes a regular column for Alan Moores underground magazine Dodgem Logic.[8] He also contributes to Grow It Magazine and Country Small Holder.

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More tomorrow.

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This is a pretty complete piece about an oil savvy guy. It is a long piece so go and read the rest.

http://www.energybulletin.net/node/49304

Published Jun 17 2009 by North Bay Bohemian, Archived Jun 23 2009

Transition communities gear up for society’s collapse with a shovel and a smile

by Alastair Bland

Cheer Up, It’s Going to Get Worse

Three years ago, David Fridley purchased two and a half acres of land in rural Sonoma County. He planted drought-resistant blue Zuni corn, fruit trees and basic vegetables while leaving a full acre of extant forest for firewood collection. Today, Fridley and several friends and family subsist almost entirely off this small plot of land, with the surplus going to public charity.

HOW DOES YOUR...: Home food production is an 'entry-level' survival tactic, says Scott McKeown. (photo: Michael Amsler)

HOW DOES YOUR…: Home food production is an ‘entry-level’ survival tactic, says Scott McKeown. (photo: Michael Amsler)

But Fridley is hardly a homegrown hippie who spends his leisure time gardening. He spent 12 years consulting for the oil industry in Asia. He is now a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute in Sebastopol, where members discuss the problems inherent to fossil-fuel dependency.

Fridley has his doubts about renewable energies, and he has grave doubts about the future of crude oil. In fact, he believes to a certainty that society is literally running out of gas and that, perhaps within years, the trucks will stop rolling into Safeway and the only reliable food available will be that grown in
our backyards.

Fridley, like a few other thinkers, activists and pessimists, could talk all night about “peak oil.” This catch phrase describes a scenario, perhaps already unfurling, in which the easy days of oil-based society are over, a scenario in which global oil production has peaked and in which every barrel of crude oil drawn from the earth from that point forth is more difficult to extract than the barrel before it. According to peak oil theory, the time is approaching when the effort and cost of extraction will no longer be worth the oil itself, leaving us without the fuel to power our transportation, factories, farms, society and the very essence of our oil-dependent lives. Fridley believes the change will be very unpleasant for many people.

“If you are a typical American and have expectations of increasing income, cheap food, nondiscretionary spending, leisure time and vacations in Hawaii, then the change we expect soon could be what you would consider ‘doom,'” he says soberly, “because your life is going to fall apart.”

The Great Reskilling

But is it the end of the world?

Fridley and other supporters of the Transition movement don’t believe it is. First sparked in 2007 in Totnes, England, Transition was launched when one Rob Hopkins recognized that modern Western society cannot continue at its current pace of life as fast access to oil begins to dwindle. Global warming and economic meltdown are the two other principle drivers of the Transition movement, but in an ideal “Transition Town,” society would be ready for such changes.

With limited gas-powered transport or oil-based products, a Transition community’s citizens would live within cycling distance of one another in a township built upon complete self-sufficiency, with extremely localized infrastructure for agriculture, clothes making, metal working and the other basics of life which the Western world largely abandoned to factories in the late 1800s, when oil power turned life into a relatively leisurely vacation from reality.

Now, Transitionists say, it’s time to get back to work—and quick. Localized efforts have sprouted from the ground up in Santa Cruz, Cotati, Sebastopol, San Francisco and many other towns worldwide, where residents and neighbors are putting their heads together and collaborating on ways to relocalize themselves, bolster self-sufficiency and build the resilience that communities will need to absorb the shock of peak oil.

Scott McKeown is among several initiators of Transition Sebastopol. A 53-year-old event coordinator by vocation, McKeown believes that as early as 2012 the global economy could founder. “That’s when it’s really going to hit the fan,” he says. “We’re not there yet, but we will be very soon.”

McKeown founded Peak Oil Sebastopol in late 2007 as a public discussion forum for what was then becoming a popular topic of relevance among social reformers. Yet Peak Oil Sebastopol eventually proved a bit too heavy on the talking for McKeown.

“I wanted to shift from a discussion group to an action-based effort,” he explains. “Transition attracted me as a way in which we could actually begin doing something.”

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More tomorrow.

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I honestly do not know whether I could live in a transition town or not. I took a hitch hiking tour of “intentional communities” here in America in the early 80s. Now I am not trying to compare Ttowns to communes, but some of them were low tech attempts to be agricultural communities. Unfortunately, it seemed to be a question of how you fit in with the people more than what they were doing, per se. Still they are interesting ideas.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/climate-solutions/communities-in-transition

Communities in Transition

Less carbon – more skills and connection

Doug Pibel wrote this article as part of Stop Global Warming Cold, the Spring 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Doug is YES! managing editor. Photo of Doug Pibel

posted Feb 01, 2008

 

Transition Town Westcliff: community gardens. Photo by Fred Robinson
Citizens of Transition Town Westcliff, in the United Kingdom, are exploring how to prepare for a carbon-constrained world. The town is creating an Energy Descent Action Plan. This photo: community gardens. Photos by Fred Robinson

Rob Hopkins was teaching permaculture in Kinsale, Ireland, when he encountered the concept of peak oil. Hopkins and his students were shocked at the looming prospect of a world without cheap energy, and at the absence of plans to deal with the repercussions. Rather than wait for someone else to act—government or otherwise—they figured out how to address the problem, one community at a time.

Hopkins says, “The idea emerged that the future with less oil could be preferable. But we need to rediscover what was actually good about life before cheap oil.”

Their work led to the Transition Towns movement, which claims 26 communities as members in the United Kingdom, with 400 more worldwide expressing interest in becoming transition communities—people taking charge of preparing their communities to make a graceful entry into a low-energy world.

The essence of the Transition Town concept is building resilience at the community level. As Hopkins points out, it is only in the last half-century that oil has become the central force in all aspects of our lives, moving people, moving food, and removing both the sense of community and the skills for local mutual support.

During World War II, Hopkins says, Victory Gardens were an important part of the food supply. At the time, growing food in the back yard was not a great challenge—most people were at most a generation away from some sort of home food production. Those who were not had ready access to the knowledge of neighbors or elders.

Transition Town Westcliff: sustainable transportation. Photo by Debbie Burnett
Transition Town Westcliff, in the UK. This photo: sustainable transportation. Photo by Debbie Burnett

In the years since World War II, we’ve so absorbed the notion that food should come from trucks that a Victory Garden would be beyond the capability of most. Similarly, cheap clothing shipped across the world has made sewing a quaint thing of the past. Skills that were commonplace less than 100 years ago have disappeared. What we’ve lost, says Hopkins, is resilience.

The Transition Towns movement aims to rebuild that, from the ground up. One key to the success of the movement has been that it invites people on a journey of change, starting where they are right now, rather than using fear or guilt as motivators. The news about peak oil and climate change is still poorly understood by many; helping people adjust to what seems very bad news is part of the Transition Town program

 

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More next week.

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I think the real questions here are, can enough of us flee in time and can the different technologies required to do it handle climate change. Unfortunately we shall see.

http://transitionculture.org/about/

About this site and me

robintotnesFor more about this website and what is all about take a look at the page Why Transition Culture?. This section is to tell you about myself.  It is written in the third person not due to delusions of grandeur, but so that people who need biog pieces can cut and paste it from here.

Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. He has many years experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and set up the first 2 year full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as co-ordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission.

observerethicalawards2009logonewHe is author of ‘Woodlands for West Cork!’, ‘Energy Descent Pathways’ and most recently ‘The Transition Handbook: from oil dependence to local resilience’, which has been published in a number of other languages, and which was voted the 5th most popular book taken on holiday by MPs during the summer of 2008.  He publishes www.transitionculture.org, recently voted ‘the 4th best green blog in the UK’(!).

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More tomorrow.

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Those fleeing a hydrocarbon existence use many different rationales. Like Thoreau, they want to lead a simpler life, while resisting the constant wars the US seems to be in. Like Schumacher they want to celebrate appropriate technology. Like the Amish they want to support earth conscious sustainable food production methods. What ever the reason, this is what WIKI says about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_Towns

Transition Towns

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Totnes, Devon: a Transition Town

Transition Towns (also known as Transition network or Transition Movement) is a brand for environmental and social movements “founded (in part) upon the principles of permaculture[1], based originally on Bill Mollison’s seminal Permaculture, a Designers Manual published in 1988. The Transition Towns brand of permaculture uses David Holmgren’s 2003 book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. [2] These techniques were included in a student project overseen by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. The term transition town was coined by Louise Rooney[3] and Catherine Dunne. Following its start in Kinsale, Ireland it then spread to Totnes, England where Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande developed the concept during 2005 and 2006.[4] The aim of this community project is to equip communities for the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil. The Transition Towns movement is an example of socioeconomic localisation.

Contents

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Out to weed the strawberry patch. More tomorrow.

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House cleaning: I will soon be on vacation and I think not posting. Or at least intermittently posting. Until then I want to post meditations on the transition community movement.

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These are conscious communities that try to wean themselves from hydrocarbon fuels. While they look to be like other commune movements such as the most recent “back to the land” movement of the 60s and 70s, they are purposeful in their reduction of greenhouse gas production. They are all around the world and have their own network of publications and even conferences. But as I was trying to dig my strawberry patch out of the grass attack that killed it this summer, I was thinking that I started “stoop” labor when I was a small child gleaning for corn and working in my great grandfathers truck patch. I thought then “when I grow up I will never do this again”. But look at me now. It can be a tough life. And if we had to get by on our strawberry crop this year we would be dead before winter even started. Still IF we had to depend on our strawberry crop we would have done a better job. So first up some of the bigger sites and some in odd places.

http://www.transitionnetwork.org/news/2011-08-31/august-round-whats-happening-transition

August round up of what’s happening in Transition

Published on August 31, 2011 by Ed Mitchell

 

We’ll start down under in Australia where Transition Eudlo (NSW) held a talk in the wonderfully named Mullumbimby which means ‘small round hill’ in Aboriginal. It was presented by Sonya Wallace, founder of Transition Town Eudlo and Transition Sunshine Coast. Also in Australia, MINTI, the Melbourne Inner Northwest Transition Initiative, held a local food forum and asked ‘What’s Eating Australia?’ poster

Over in Balingup, Western Australia, following a successful speaker event by a sustainability lecturer and member of Bunbury TT, public screenings are being held around town to raise awareness of the Transition movement. Balingup locals plan to spread the word and help make Transition as thriving in the west of Australia as it is in the east. Read more about it here.

In Japan, this August update (to the TN website) from Paul Shepherd in Tokyo on the emergence of a Japanese national hub is well worth a read. The headline is that following the existing TT’s in Fujino, Hayama & Koganei, there are now about 20 to 25 emerging Transition Towns in Japan.

Sara and Emilio (www.nu-project.org) would like to share their latest short film which includes an interview with members of Transition Barcelona, some footage of the 15M protest movement across Spain and how it’s connected with Transition.

Transition Town Kinsale in Ireland have been busy this month with a butterfly walk, a sanctuary walk and talk in a restored limestone quarry with Ted Cooke of The Woodland League (to help mark National Heritage Week) and a Kinsale Hub BBQ fundraiser on the dock. Check out this great poster…:

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Go there to read much much more. More tomorrow.

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Taking the day off to pull weeds. So yes it will be a labor day for me.

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More tomorrow.

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