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Archive for the ‘Mendo Island Transition’ Category

Transition: Can the Stuck-in-Place Economy Help Us Face Climate Change?

In Mendo Island Transition on January 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

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From Yes Magazine

New studies show that people with deep roots in the place where they live are better equipped to handle upheavals of the type that come with climate change.

After I finished high school in the flat, square corn country of central Illinois, I fled—along with many of my fellow classmates. We chased jobs or graduate school in places like San Francisco, New York, or Washington, D.C. I settled in Seattle. It wasn’t until I hit my 30s that I became aware of the social costs of this mobility.

It’s about more than mere hand-wringing over the ton of carbon I am dumping into the atmosphere this Christmas as I fly east or the psychic toll of separation from my parents, my brother, and my four-year-old niece. I am somehow ungrounded. I have limited history in this gray and watery city: Even after 10 years I don’t have the same sense of belonging as people who grew up here, and that sometimes feels disquieting.

According to recent environmental research, this could also mean that I am less equipped to cope—if, say, an emergency strikes—than someone who’s better connected to Seattle. Sense of place, community, and rootedness aren’t just poetic ideas. They are survival mechanisms.

Social scientists call it “place attachment”: “the bonding that occurs between individuals and their meaningful environments,” according to psychologists Leila Scannell and Robert Gifford. Based on several studies released in the last couple of years, place attachment More…

Transition: The Power of the Powerless…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 31, 2013 at 9:49 am

tFrom The Picket Line

(Why does seemingly every corporate headquarters, hotel, school, and so on in the U.S. have the stars and stripes flying on a big pole not far from the front door? When people visit the U.S. from other countries they often remark how weird it is to see the flag everywhere instead of primarily on certain government buildings. Is this because American corporations, or foreign corporations with offices here, are especially enthusiastic about the flag? Or is it because nobody wants to be the target of some Fox News two-minutes hate about being insufficiently patriotic — that is, insufficiently subservient to the ruling ideology? Why do sporting events open with the national anthem, and what do you think would happen if you stayed seated when it played?)

I recently read Václav Havel’s essay on “The Power of the Powerless.” I thought I was going to be rereading it, but I realized that what I had read before was only excerpts. Today I’m going to summarize and paraphrase and riff on the full essay for a bit. It’s a fascinating and surprising piece of work and I think it has useful lessons for us today.

The context for the essay is Czechoslovakia in 1978. The country had been behind the Iron Curtain for thirty years, and ten years had passed since the brief experiment in political liberalization known as the “Prague Spring” which had been quickly stopped by a Soviet-led invasion.

Havel was a Czech playwright with international renown More…

Transition: How I Became an Ex-Liberal…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 15, 2013 at 9:15 am

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From ERIK LINDBERG
Resilience

In 2010 Scott Walker was elected Governor of my home state of Wisconsin.  Although he ran on the typical Republican program of cutting spending and providing “tax relief” to the wealthy in order to boost the economy, most of us were surprised when Walker unveiled his more draconian plan of ending the rights of government employees to engage in collective bargaining.  Walker argued that he was only trying to provide more flexibility to local municipalities struggling to balance their budgets, but it didn’t take long for critics to become aware of his larger agenda of pitting a wealthy ownership class and a low income white voters against government employees.  Crushing workers’ unions, it soon became apparent, was also one of Walker’s goals, a goal shared by billionaire funders like the ultra-conservative Koch brothers.  Labor Unions were one of the last liberal strongholds able to compete with funding bonanza that was now flowing into conservative “Super Pacs,” and conservatives believed they could achieve a permanent electoral advantage by destroying unions once and for all.

Because Walker openly used phrases like “divide and conquer” and “crush” when referring to his political opponents, it was obvious he was prepared for a fight.  But he was likely taken off-guard by the sudden groundswell of liberal and Democratic energy.  Attempting to postpone a crucial vote on Walker’s bill, the State Senate’s Democratic minority fled to Illinois  where they holed-up in a motel waiting for public opinion to realize what was at stake; meanwhile tens of thousands of protestors descended on Madison, occupying the Capital Building with round-the clock drumming, chanting, and singing, while growing crowds swelled on the adjacent streets as the throngs of protestor reached a count of close to one hundred thousand, despite the windy and cold February and March days.

On a cold, rainy, and particularly windy Sunday in early March, my wife and I bussed in from Milwaukee and joined the protests with some of our friends. More…

James Lee: Mendocino Coast Transition Towns Upcoming Event Notice — Reasserting Community Rights — Going Beyond Single Issue Activism…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm

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From JAMES LEE
Anderson Valley

Are you frustrated by the apparent inability of local communities to stop corporate destruction of the natural world (unnecessary road building, fracking, sludge dumping on farmland, bottling and removal of water from local rivers, use of toxic pesticides in forests, oil drilling in pristine areas, etc.)? Are you wondering why the public seems to be powerless to stop these abuses of corporate power? This workshop will illuminate how and why the law has been used to progressively expand corporate powers. It will also provide a new and proven way to reestablish community rights, the power of community self-determination, and the power to stop destructive practices through local ordinance writing. Used in more than 160 communities in ten states across the USA, local ordinances are enabling local communities to assert their right to protect themselves and nature from corporate domination and control. In support of this, the California Constitution says: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.”

Well-known community rights organizer, and partner with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF.org), Paul Cienfuegos will be leading this intensive two-day workshop at the Community Center of Mendocino (998 School St., in the town of Mendocino), on President’s Day weekend – February 15-16, 2014. This two full day event includes two potluck lunches. Paul is the founder of Democracy Unlimited in Humboldt County, which models new ways of working on a variety of ecological and social justice issues such as forest clear-cutting, weakening organic food labeling standards, and big box store take-over of local business. He also co-founded More…

Transition: The day I closed my Amazon account…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 10, 2013 at 8:49 am

Amazon fulfilment centre

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

I’ve done it.  I’ve closed my Amazon account.  I now stand before you as an ex-Amazon account-holder.  I feel curiously shaky, but at the same time empowered, excited even.  While opening a new Amazon account is easy as pie, closing one is another matter altogether.  I’d like to share with you how, and why, I did it.

Was it the recent Panorama programme about working conditions in those vast Amazon ‘fulfilment centres’ that tipped me across into doing something?  Was it the stories about the appallingly low levels of tax Amazon pay in the UK?  Was it the recent video showing Amazon’s plans to be delivering across the UK within 30 minutes through the use of drones? Was it hearing the level of taxpayers’ money that goes in sweeteners to attracting Amazon to open up in different communities, while the profits generated pour out of those same places?  What actually tipped me across was a conversation I had with a book seller in my town. It was that that led me, finally, to build the steely resolve needed to close down my Amazon account.

Yes, I confess, I had an Amazon account.  I buy music from my local record shop, I support my local book shops, but there are times when I need a book quickly, or feel I do, and it’s just easier and more convenient.  And, if I’m honest, I love getting exciting parcels in the post. And isn’t it cheap?  But as Carole Cadwalladr, who went undercover in Amazon’s Swansea ‘fulfilment centre’ for The Guardian puts it:

Our lust for cheap, discounted goods delivered to our doors promptly and efficiently has a price. We just haven’t worked out what it is yet. More…

Transition: Founder Rob Hopkins visits San Francisco and Hopland…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

City Lights bookstore

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

Letter from America #4: Five extraordinary days in California…

California is vast, a nation in itself.  As a state, it actually is home to the ninth largest economy in the world.  It is home to one in eight Americans, and produces at least half of the nation’s fruit, and a sizeable proportion of its vegetables.  Its climate runs from tropical in the south, to subarctic in the mountains.  It’s a fascinating place.  When I first got to San Francisco, I had, unusually for my madly packed schedule, the rare joy of a couple of hours to myself.  I headed to City Lights bookstore.  I have to say it was one of the best bookshops I have ever been in, specialising in poetry, literature, arts, political books, alternative and counterculture publications.  It describes itself thus:

Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is one of the few truly great independent bookstores in the United States, a place where booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture’s only “Literary Landmark.”…

Complete article here

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Transition: Think a New Economy Is Possible? Meet the Man Already Making it Happen…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 15, 2013 at 6:41 am

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From AlterNet

Rob Hopkins helped start the first Transition Town. Now it’s a global network of thousands of communities showing no signs of slowing down.

Standing in front of a crowd of hundreds at Oakland, California’s Grand Lake Theater, Rob Hopkins shows a picture of a butcher shop in a small town in Northern Ireland. A row of hams hang in the window, the door is cracked open, welcoming, a passerby walks his dog. Just another example of a successful small town business, vital for the local economy. Right? Except, Hopkins explains what you can’t immediately see when you glance at the image. The store is real, but the window display is a fake—it’s simply photoshopped posters plastered over the glass. The local business has gone under, the shop is gutted, but those organizing the last G8 meeting of the world’s most powerful countries that met in Northern Ireland don’t want to be reminded of this and they sure don’t want the media to see it. So the truth has been glossed over, obscured.

These are the times we live in. More…

Energy Wasted to Fill the Shelves…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

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From RESILIENT COMMUNITIES

Society’s dependence on commercial produce and energy production is at an all-time high. In fact, that is probably why most of us have chosen to adopt resilience strategies and attempt to live more sustainable lifestyles in the first place.

However, the facts are undeniable. Society has become so dependent on commercial food production and the energy costs associated with manufacturing, processing and transportation that we have become a mere shadow of what our ancestors just a couple generations ago were able to accomplish.

Although most of this change can be attributed to the instant gratification mindset that many people have adopted in recent years, the blame does not rest solely within our own communities.

The Alarming Truth

According to the US Department of Agriculture, it took 12 fuel calories to deliver 1 calorie of consumed food in 2002. In 2007, it took approximately 14 fuel calories to deliver 1 calorie of food. We can assume that this upward trend means it takes about 15 calories or more to deliver 1 calorie of consumed food in 2013.

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These figures factor in More…

Transition: Covelo library offers seed lending…

In Mendo Island Transition on September 5, 2013 at 7:11 am

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From GLENDA ANDERSON
The Press Democrat

Directly across from the non-fiction aisle in remote Round Valley’s small but modern public library sits an old-fashioned card catalogue representing a growing trend: seed lending.

“We’re the first in Mendocino County,” said Pat Sobrero, the Covelo library technician who initiated the seed-lending library in June.

Seed saving and lending is an old tradition that is enjoying a resurgence that’s made its way into public libraries.

The first modern-day seed library in the United States is believed to be the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library, or BASIL, established in about 1999 at the Berkeley Ecology Center.

Now there are at least 170 such libraries in more than 35 states…

About two dozen are in Northern California with more to come. Seed libraries currently are being considered for Healdsburg and Ukiah, library officials confirmed…

See complete article and photo gallery here
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Walmart’s Latest Scheme to Replace the Middle Class With an Underclass Forced to Buy its Shoddy Goods…

In Mendo Island Transition on August 23, 2013 at 8:00 am


(Why we can’t shop our way to a Better Economy)

From STACY MITCHELL
Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Walmart’s planned takeover of urban markets threatens to cut off other viable economic development options.

Almost 30 years ago, as the U.S. was bleeding jobs, Walmart launched a “Buy America” program and started hanging “Made in America” signs in its 750 stores.  It was a marketing success, cementing the retailer’s popularity in the country’s struggling, blue-collar heartland.  A few years later, NBC’s Dateline revealed the program to be a sham.  Sure, Walmart was willing to buy U.S.-made goods — so long as they were as cheap as imports, which, of course, they weren’t. Dateline found that Walmart’s sourcing was in fact rapidly shifting to Asia. More…

Transition: Disobedience the true foundation of liberty…

In Mendo Island Transition on July 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

life is struggle

From GUY McPHERSON
Transition Voice

As if he could peer into the future, Henry David Thoreau is credited with the expression: “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

Herein I present a few recent examples of obedience at home. This essay is hardly comprehensive, and the hits keep coming, so this essay represents a minor start to a major issue. I’m certain many more examples will appear until American Empire finally sinks to the bottom of the cesspool in which it is mired.

I focus on the Obama administration because it is the most recent and also the most horrific example of imperialism. I refuse to play the game currently popular among Democrats in which Obama is compared to Mitt Romney or John McCain. Obama has a record as president, and Romney and McCain don’t. More…

Could fracking finally kill off rural America?

In Mendo Island Transition on July 23, 2013 at 7:46 am

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From ERIC CURREN
Transition Voice

Gasland 2, the sequel to Josh Fox’s documentary about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, introduces a frightening image.

It’s not another money shot of tap water on fire, though the water well hose lit up by the owner of a multimillion dollar home in Parker County, Texas is a wonder.

Nor is the most frightening image an internal gas industry memo labeling residents of small towns in Pennsylvania or New York State an “insurgency” that More…

Transition: From Housing to Health Care, 7 Co-ops That Are Changing Our Economy…

In Mendo Island Transition on April 24, 2013 at 8:30 am

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From CLAUDIA ROWE
Yes! Magazine

How manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, and others are doing business the cooperative way.

1. Green Worker Cooperative’s Co-op Academy
, The Bronx, N.Y.

Ideas for co-ops may flourish, but few people understand exactly how to make theirs real. The Co-op Academy is providing answers. Founded four years ago by Omar Freilla (who recently made Ebony magazine’s list of the Power 100), the academy runs 16-week courses that offer intensive mentoring, legal and financial advice, and help designing logos and websites.

Run by the South Bronx-based Green Worker Cooperative, the academy guides up to four teams per session through the startup process and has graduated four organizations now thriving in New York City. These include Caracol Interpreters, which is raising the bar on interpreter wages, and Concrete Green, which focuses on environmentally sound landscaping. Six more co-ops are in the pipeline.

“I’m amazed at how little knowledge and information is out there for the average person about how co-ops function and how to start one,” More…

Transition: Self-Employed? Build a Community First…

In Mendo Island Transition on April 24, 2013 at 8:10 am

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From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

I interviewed a couple of successful entrepreneurs last week on the Resilient Roundtable.

They are doing so well and having such a good time with their new business that they recently quit their “day jobs.”

They’re very lucky. They get to spend their productive hours on creative, innovative, and challenging work they can accomplish locally.

Not only that, their able to support themselves financially doing it.

What made them successful?

It’s a feature we are going to see again and again in successful businesses. It’s a feature that is going to make them resilient.

They built a small, but growing, community of customers and fans before they sold their first product.

A community of people that are enthusiastic about what they build.

A community that supported them when they launched and is now supporting them as they build out the business.

A Resilient Business More…

Transition: Cheap by Choice — When Frugality Means Freedom…

In Mendo Island Transition on April 13, 2013 at 7:59 am

Use-it-Up

From DAISY LUTHER
The Organic Prepper

As a parent, sometimes I’ve asked my kids to do things they don’t want to do.  (Haven’t we all?)  The biggest key to their success in the endeavour is their attitude.

Scenario #1:

Me: Kiddo, it’s time to swap your winter clothes for your spring clothes. Please go through your closet, sort through your winter clothes and get rid of the stuff that’s too small or that you don’t want anymore.

KiddoI don’t want to!  I hate this! It’s not fair!!!

Kiddo goes through the closet, angrily shoving things in a garbage bag without taking a good hard look at things.  She sulks, pouts and is otherwise miserable.  She gets the job done but makes sure that it is unpleasant for all of us.

Scenario #2:

Me: Kiddo, it’s time to swap your winter clothes for your spring clothes. Please go through your closet, sort through your winter clothes and get rid of the stuff that’s too small or that you don’t want anymore.

KiddoOkay – this gives me a chance to see if there’s anything I can re-purpose, too!

Kiddo goes through the closet, eagerly sorting items into piles.  She comes up with a good stash of ‘new’ materials for craft projects, a bag of donations, and 2 shirts that were buried at the back that she forgot she had.  The job is done and the end result is its own reward.

Switching over to a more frugal lifestyle can be just like the above scenarios.   You can embrace it and relish the challenge of it, or you can sulk, pout and be absolutely miserable. More…

Transition: Bioregional Wool Milling…

In Mendo Island Transition on April 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

mgMatt Gilbert, Mendocino County

From FIBERSHED

The mission of Fibershed is to change the way we clothe ourselves by supporting the creation of local textile cultures that enhance ecological balance, and utilize regional agriculture while strengthening local economies and communities.

Our first fundraising event for a regional cotton mill was almost two years ago today.  We gathered to celebrate the first 7 months of our project that had taken on the challenge to create bioregional attire from our local farms and wild places.

The funds raised from that feed-barn fashion show were graciously, and somewhat surprisingly donated back to us by cotton farmer we raised them for.  Sally Fox asked that we take those (humble) funds and instead of having them be used for perhaps one small piece of cotton processing equipment More…

Transition: The Hard Road Ahead…

In Mendo Island Transition on March 7, 2013 at 6:55 am

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From JOHN MICHAEL GEER

The latest round of political theater in Washington DC over the automatic budget cuts enacted in the 2011 debt ceiling compromise—the so-called “sequester”—couldn’t have been better timed, at least as far as this blog is concerned. It’s hard to imagine better evidence, after all, that the American political process has finally lost its last fingernail grip on reality.

Let’s start with the basics. Despite all the bellowing on the part of politicians, pressure groups, and the media, the cuts in question total only 2.3% of the US federal budget.  They thus amount to a relatively modest fraction of the huge increases in federal spending that have taken place over the last decade or so. (I sincerely doubt that those of my readers who were in the US in 2003 noticed any striking lack of federal dollars being spent then.) In the same way, those who protested the “tax increases” at the beginning of this year by and large failed to mentioned that the increases in question were simply the expiration of some—by no means all—of the big tax cuts enacted a little over a decade ago in the second Bush administration.

At a time when the United States is spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year it doesn’t happen to have, and making up the difference by spinning the printing presses at ever-increasing speeds,  a strong case can be made that rolling back spending increases and giving up tax breaks are measures that deserve serious consideration.  Any such notion, though, is anathema to most Americans these days, at least to the extent that it might affect them. More…

Hey Ukiah City Council and Staff: Let’s Cut the Bullshit on Costco and Walmart — Big Box Stores Kill Jobs, Increase Taxes and Destroy Communities…

In Mendo Island Transition on February 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

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From Institute for Local Self Reliance

Below are summaries and links to key studies that examine the impact of Wal-Mart and other large retail chains and, in some cases, the benefits of locally owned businesses. For ease of use, we’ve organized these studies into the following categories, although they do not all fit neatly into one category.

  • Economic Impact of Local Businesses vs. Chains Studies have found that locally owned stores generate much greater benefits for the local economy than national chains.
  • Retail Employment These studies examine whether the arrival of a superstore increases or decreases the number of retail jobs in the region.
  • Wages & Benefits Studies have found that big-box retailers, particularly Wal-Mart, are depressing wages and benefits for retail employees.
  • Existing Businesses These studies look at how the arrival of a big-box retailer displaces sales at existing businesses, which must then downsize or close. This results in job losses and declining tax revenue, which some of these studies quantify.
  • Poverty Rates Counties that have gained Wal-Mart stores have fared worse in terms of family poverty rates, according to this study.
  • Social and Civic Well-Being This study found that Wal-Mart reduces a community’s level of social capital, as measured by voter turnout and the number of active community organizations.
  • City Costs These studies compare the municipal tax benefits of big-box development with the cost of providing these stores with city services, such as road maintenance, police and fire—finding that cities do not always come out ahead.
  • State Costs Because many of their employees do not earn enough to make ends meet, states are reporting high costs associated with providing healthcare (Medicaid) and other public assistance to big-box employees.
  • Subsidies The expansion of big-box retailers has been financed in part by massive development subsidies and tax advantages provided by local and state governments. These studies document those subsidies More…

Transition: Still just preaching to the choir?

In Mendo Island Transition on February 26, 2013 at 6:41 am

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From SHARON ASTYK

I get invited to speak to a lot of US Transition groups, and often I go.  Often the leaders are blog readers, sometimes people I know through the internet, often future-friends.  While every talk is different, they have some real similarities.  Whether speaking in a suburb of Maryland, a large city in Ohio or to a coalition of rural towns in Virginia, I know that some things will probably happen.

I will meet wonderful, kind hosts who will put me up in their guest room and on their couch.  I will most likely speak at a Unitarian Church (although I have spoken in many, many different kinds of venues including Churches of many denominations, synagogues, Grange Halls, Public Libraries, Town Halls, Public Parks and other venues, Unitarian Churches by far predominate.)

The audience will be warm, welcoming and attentive.  The average age of the audience will be at least a decade older than me and often much more (50s, usually.)  The audience will be largely or exclusively white (although I have also spoken to a very few impressive urban transition groups that are neither) and middle class.  Before my talk a long list of committees and administrative tasks will be discussed, and we will welcome many co-sponsors of my talk from local resources that tend strongly towards the middle-class progressive.

After my talk on food issues, oil and climate issues, transportation, etc… (depending on what they’ve asked me to speak on), someone will raise their hand and say how wonderful it is that the audience is of X size, but how do we get the message out to everyone else, and why are there only white middle class people in the audience?  Odds are I will have already had this conversation two or three times with the leaders of the group or others involved also.  They will point out that they have done outreach and advertising, movie nights, etc… and it still seems to be mostly attracting the same group of people – older white people with money to spare.

When these questions are asked, I find myself giving a number of answers over and over again.  Some of them I have rather frequently written about here, for example:

1. Most people do not hire babysitters/come out on a freezing/raining/frying More…

Transition: Dancing on Big Box Graves…

In Mendo Island Transition on February 18, 2013 at 9:02 am

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From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

Back in the day when big box retail started to explode upon the American landscape like a raging economic scrofula, I attended many a town planning board meeting where the pro and con factions faced off over the permitting hurdle. The meetings were often raucous and wrathful and almost all the time the pro forces won — for the excellent reason that they were funded and organized by the chain stores themselves (in an early demonstration of the new axioms that money-is-speech and corporations are people, too!).

The chain stores won not only because they flung money around — sometimes directly into the wallets of public officials — but because a sizeable chunk of every local population longed for the dazzling new mode of commerce. “We Want Bargain Shopping” was their rallying cry. The unintended consequence of their victories through the 1970s and beyond was the total destruction of local economic networks, that is, Main Streets and downtowns, in effect destroying many of their own livelihoods. Wasn’t that a bargain, though?

Despite the obvious damage now visible in the entropic desolation of every American home town, WalMart managed to install itself in the pantheon of American Dream icons, along with apple pie, motherhood, and Coca Cola. In most of the country there is no other place to buy goods (and no other place to get a paycheck, scant and demeaning as it may be). America made itself hostage to bargain shopping and then committed suicide. Here we find another axiom of human affairs at work: people get what they deserve, not what they expect. Life is tragic.

The older generations responsible for all that may be done for, but the momentum has now turned in the opposite direction. Though the public hasn’t groked it yet, WalMart and its kindred malignant organisms have entered their own yeast-overgrowth death spiral. In a now permanently contracting economy the big box model fails spectacularly. Every element of economic reality is now poised to squash them. More…

Transition: What Would a Down-to-Earth Economy Look Like?

In Mendo Island Transition on February 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

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From YES! MAGAZINE

How did we end up with Wall Street when models for a healthy economy are all around us?

With proper care and respect, Earth can provide a high quality of life for all people in perpetuity. Yet we devastate productive lands and waters for a quick profit, a few temporary jobs, or a one-time resource fix.

Our current expansion of tar sands oil extraction, deep-sea oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction, and mountaintop-removal coal mining are but examples of this insanity. These highly profitable choices deepen our economic dependence on rapidly diminishing, nonrenewable fossil-energy reserves, disrupt the generative capacity of Earth’s living systems, and accelerate climate disruption.

A global economy dependent on this nonsense is already failing and its ultimate collapse is only a matter of time. For a surprisingly long time, we humans have successfully maintained the illusion that we are outside of, superior to, and not subject to the rules of nature. We do so, however, at a huge cost, and payment is coming due.

To secure the health and happiness of future generations, we must embrace life as our defining value, recognize that competition is but a subtext of life’s deeper narrative of cooperation, and restructure our institutions to conform to life’s favored organizing principle of radically decentralized, localized decision making and self-organization. This work begins with recognizing what nature has learned about the organization of complex living systems over billions of years.

Our Original Instructions

Some indigenous people speak of the “original instructions.” Chief Oren Lyons, of the Onondaga Nation, summarizes the rules in “Listening to Natural Law” in the anthology Original Instructions:

More…

Transition in Romania…

In Mendo Island Transition on January 11, 2013 at 6:02 am

From TRANSITION CULTURE

More of what’s happening in the world of Transition here

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Local Cooperative Journalism…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 5, 2012 at 7:00 am

Co-ops-Unite

From NIEMAN JOURNALISM LAB

Tom Stites had a long career in newspapers, editing Pulitzer-winning projects and working at top newspapers like The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. In recent years, he’s shifted his emphasis to trying to figure out a new business model for journalism through the Banyan Project. Here, Tom outlines where he believes web journalism stands today and one model he thinks might work; here’s part one, here’s part two, and this is part three.

Maybe we’ve been looking for models in all the wrong places. To find the elusive secret to making web journalism sustainable in community after community, maybe we need to take a peek behind the curtain into the secret sector of the economy.

For years now, people have been trying to devise business models for online community journalism that are both sustainable and replicable, but the usual sectors aren’t delivering: Only a few isolated for-profit sites are generating enough advertising revenue to support themselves while producing the original reporting that’s so crucial to civic health and democracy; on the nonprofit side, there are nowhere near enough philanthropic dollars to support enough sites, at least not for long (see part one of this series). And the idea of public-sector news publishing gets tangled up in the First Amendment.

It’s common to think these three sectors are all there are, but there’s a fourth — the cooperative sector — which future-of-journalism efforts are just starting to explore. More…

A Visit to Decentralized Cooperatively-Owned Community Energy…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

From TRANSITION CULTURE

Last Friday I visited Brixton in south London to visit Brixton Energy.  Brixton Energy had just closed its second share launch, Brixton Energy Solar 2, which had raised £70,000.  Its first project, Brixton Energy Solar 1, was the UK’s first inner-city community-owned solar power station, a 37kW solar array on the roof of Elmore House on the Loughborough Estate.  The second was a 45kW system spread over the roofs of the 4 housing blocks of Styles Gardens.  I joined Agamemnon Otero of Brixton Energy on the roof of a neighbouring tower block on a crisp and clear winter day, with a clear view over the solar systems that Brixton Energy had already installed (see picture above), to ask him more about the project.

“I’m Agamemnon Otero, I’m a director for Brixton Energy and Repowering South London. I set up decentralised, cooperatively owned renewable energy projects.  A few years ago Transition Town Brixton (TTB) heard I was working on my Masters thesis around social responsibility and community-owned energy and how to facilitate low carbon economies, and asked me to do a talk at an event.  Their buildings and energy group had dissolved some time earlier.

Before and after the installation of Brixton Energy Solar 1. More…

Transition: Is the entire “eat local” movement naive and insufficient?…

In Mendo Island Transition on December 3, 2012 at 7:04 am

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From DAVE POLLARD

About half the people on Bowen Island, where I live, commute daily to Vancouver via a heavily taxpayer-subsidized car ferry. The reason they do this is, basically, that whatever they have to sell can’t be profitably sold here, because it doesn’t directly meet any of our needs. Much of what they produce does make it back here, in the form of gasoline, imported products, processed foods, bank, insurance, accounting and legal ‘products’, construction materials, pharmaceuticals and household goods. And interest and rents paid to absentee mortgagors and landlords. Little of what we really need — food, clothing, building materials, drugs, energy, household products, health services etc. — is made here in significant quantities. We ‘import’ just about everything.

The other half of the population is either retired, unemployed, or (from what I have ascertained) constantly struggling to make a living. We have many artists, craftspeople and artisans, musicians, and service people of all kinds (hairdressers, therapists, construction workers, seamstresses, retailers, caterers, water taxis, maintenance people, restaurants etc.). The price of land and property here is insane, thanks to our proximity to Vancouver, so a lot of people work from their homes instead of offices. The citizens, struggling More…

Transition: Cheer up — things really are as bad as you think…

In Mendo Island Transition on November 14, 2012 at 6:36 am

From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

In last week’s election, Obama may have been a better choice than the alternative, but no American president is likely to have much positive impact on climate change, peak oil and the worldwide economic crisis anytime soon. Given the sorry state of national governments, controlled as they are by rapacious corporations driven by the profit motive, there’s little chance of either hope or change coming from the top in Washington or any other capital.

So, it’s up to local communities around the world to save themselves. Three new books will inspire you to join the effort while helping you achieve the calm and cool mind you’ll need to succeed.

Old McDonald had a brownfield

Deeply embedded in daily life, industrial food could be the most insidious kind of tyranny that today’s society exerts over people and communities. You nearly have to become Amish to completely avoid processed food made from GMOs and packed with chemicals and additives that may not kill you right away but will certainly kill you slowly through cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Urban Farms

Urban Farms by Sarah Rich is a non-combative hardcover volume with pictures by photographer More…

Transition Ukiah Valley: ‘Urban Roots’ Film Showing Tonight Tuesday 11/13/12 at 6pm

In Mendo Island Transition on November 12, 2012 at 5:38 am

Transition Ukiah Valley Film Series
and the
Gardens Project of N.C.O.
Present

The post-industrial urban landscapes of Detroit’s neighborhoods are being reclaimed, and a community spirit is being built, and people are feeding each other through community gardening and farming.

“Detroit’s farmers are building a new and powerful urban economy, and providing an invaluable service to their community. We need empowering films like Urban Roots to keep us moving in the right direction.” ~Alice Waters

Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak St. Tuesday, Nov. 13th at 6:00PM
$5-10 Donation requested

Discussion after the film…
Folks from the Gardens Project
and the Transition Ukiah Valley Food & Seeds working group
will talk about their local projects and answer questions.

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an international localization movement to build community resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic instability.

Join us! Contact: 707-376-8846

A Fiscally Sponsored Program of the Cloud Forest Institute.
TUV Film/Speaker Series
Sponsored & Supported by the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse.

~~

Transition: Who will get this economy going? No one…

In Mendo Island Transition on November 6, 2012 at 5:30 am

From DAVE GARDNER
GrowthBusters

“We’ve got to get this economy going again!” Unless your cave lacks wifi, cable or satellite, you’ve heard this once or twice in the last four seconds.

Job creation and economic growth dominate the November election in the U.S. — perhaps more than any election in history. Campaign ads for local, state and national candidates all promise jobs. The presidential election this year has become a referendum on who can breathe new life into our economy.

News Flash: Neither presidential candidate will succeed.

What if our unexamined assumptions about the need and possibility of perpetual economic growth are wrong? What if robust economic growth is our civilization’s way of driving off a cliff? What if the planet is incapable of supporting continued increase in global economic throughput?

We’ll excuse almost anything if it happens in the name of jobs. At last count the U.S. Congress had passed 247 anti-environmental measures in its current term. The Republican Party wants to throw environmental regulations overboard because they throttle back the unfettered growth we must have. Across the aisle, many who normally exhibit a stronger environmental ethic are joining the massacre, so strong is the mandate to grow the economy and create jobs. More…

Transition Town Fujino goes for local energy independence…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 30, 2012 at 6:30 am

From RESILIENCE

Fujino Town in Sagamihara City in Japan’s northwestern Kanagawa Prefecture is a peaceful place with a population of about 10,000 people. Located in a valley and surrounded by abundant nature with mountains and lakes, though it is only one hour away from central Tokyo, it is known as an artists’ haven, promoting and displaying art works around town.

Fujino (officially renamed Midori Ward in 2010) is also home to a Transition Town initiative. As we have explained before on Our World 2.0, the Transition Town Movement is an international network of grassroots groups that form to apply the theory of permaculture to community revitalization. The concept of permaculture, which originated in Australia, is a practical approach to designing a lifestyle that will create sustainable human environments. The word “permaculture” comes from the combination of “permanent” and “agriculture”, later expanded to signify “culture”.

Working to build resilience in the face of climate change and peak oil, the Transition approach can be particularly instructive in demonstrating how to accomplish this shift using bottom-up rather than top-down methods (the top-down approach has been characteristic of most Japanese eco-towns). The Transition Movement promotes action at the local level and encourages communities to draw on their own creativity, building on existing regional resources.

The world’s first Transition Town was initiated in the fall of 2005 by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins in Totnes, a small town in England. Supporters promoted the movement across England and all over the world. Currently, there are around 450 official Transition Initiatives and another almost 600 communities preparing to become official, according to the Transition Network.

Going local in Fujino

Fujino is one of three fully functioning Transition Movement initiatives in Japan, although over twenty are in the works. Established in the fall of 2008, Transition Fujino (which we’ve featured on Our World a few times in the past) started up by sharing information on the core issues through events like briefings and film presentations.

Then a local currency, the Yorozuya (meaning “general store” in Japanese), was launched and began playing a major role in stimulating local networking. The Yorozuya project started with 15 members in 2009 and has now grown to include 150 households. Those participating can exchange goods and eat at restaurants using the currency. The network also thrives by targeting local needs, such as providing pet care, weeding vegetable gardens, and picking up children. It further serves to connect those in need with those who can give a hand. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the network displayed a great ability to support disaster-affected areas by collecting cash donations, gathering and sorting emergency relief supplies More…

Transition: Rethink the idea of “Jobs”…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 29, 2012 at 5:50 am

From ECONOMIC RESILIENCE

Becoming a jack of all trades and a master of one…

“Jobs” as we know them today — paychecks from large corporate employers — are a very recent phenomenon in human history. Within our new understanding of the future economy, this form of earning a living is not too likely to continue.

Even the idea of “green jobs” is deeply flawed. Many of the “green” jobs are completely dependent upon government funding. Some supposedly “green” jobs are in tech-centric industries, dependent upon oil, overseas manufacturing, and continued supply of trace elements, all of which will be difficult to sustain as we move deeper into the post-peak-everything era. Most “green” industries are built upon the presumption of economic growth, and depend on continued societal affluence to get the fledgling “green” industries off the ground. And many so-called “green” industries merely provide green-cast consumption, perpetuating the five-planets-worth-of-consumption which we have told each other is “normal.”

The role of “employee” of a giant facility controlled by corporate executives is part of the fading past. If we are to achieve The Great Redistribution, there will be a redistribution of ownership. As we Relocalize and powerdown, making a living is much more likely to be in the role of “proprietor,” rather than employee.

Income sources in the future are less likely to look like paychecks and far more likely to look like local businesses, home businesses, or barter businesses. These small businesses are likely to be providing some of the basic, core services that local community members need, such as food, water, basic shelter, basic clothing, low-input forms of health care, and human services such as psychological and spiritual help in coping with this vastly altered course of events. (more on this at Practical Tool #4) All those Reskilling classes we create within the Transition movement begin to look very different!

Remember that in the not-so-distant past, people thought not in terms of “jobs” but in terms of “trades.” A young boy was sent out to apprentice and learn a craft or a trade. Yes, some people did have jobs, but they were nothing like the massive oil-supported corporate structure we see today. People farmed food, people crafted everyday necessary tools, people made clothing, people nursed each other, all done locally. In a post-petroleum world, the globalized corporate structure is doomed. We will be left with a lot more community-level sufficiency. In our March 2009 economics session in Los Angeles, when we asked the audience the types of businesses we would need for greater resilience here in L.A., the list was extensive and inspiring.

Thus more likely possibilities for future livelihoods include small businesses in resilience-building industries, or working for a local businessman within a resilience-building industry. This becomes important not only for “how will I pay the rent” but also when we consider the messages we give our children More…

Transition Streets: A powerful tool for getting beyond the converted…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 25, 2012 at 9:40 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

I have written several times here about ‘Transition Streets’, the street-by-street behaviour change model created by Transition Town Totnes which was the winner of the 2011 Ashden Award for behaviour change.  There is a good evidence base now, showing how it enables a Transition (or other) group to reach the parts that other community engagement projects may not, becoming ‘green by accident’ by having a good time.  It is an approach to change which is self-propelling with tea.  It embodies the Transition commitment to self-organisation, the groups managing themselves and determining themselves once the project has been set running.  Here is a short video about it.

What I am delighted to announce today is that now Transition Streets (also known as ‘Streets-Wise’) is available for any group to run, anywhere.

So, award-winning community engagement project Transition Streets has done the legwork to create a tried-and-tested way to break down the barriers and bring people together to take action on energy – and a new Streets-wise programme is now available for community groups to adapt the project to their own area.

Transition Streets from Transition Town Totnes (TTT) has inspired over 550 households – who may not identify themselves as environmentalists – to make changes in their lives to help the environment (80% Totnes compared to 51% nationally, DECC LCCC baseline research, 2011). It has also increased TTT’s influence on local development. More…

Transition: We’re In a Slow Motion Collapse… Take Advantage of the Time Available…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

Our economic and political system is in collapse and there’s no way to fix it from inside the system.

It’s a systemic crisis. The systems we rely upon aren’t viable.

They haven’t been for a long time. Every year we are worse off than the year before.

A political fix, switch, or reform isn’t going to do the job.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that we didn’t see a wholesale collapse in 2008. When people lost faith in the financial sector. What prevented it?  At first, it was the US government’s ongoing bailout of the financial sector’s gambling debts.

Since then, it has been the ability of the US government to spend enough to keep 41% of the economy afloat.

As long as the US government continues to borrow at those levels, we’ll avoid a sudden economic collapse like Greece and Spain.

However, this spending won’t fix the system.  Far from it.  We’ll still be in a slow and steady collapse.

Why do I think this is good news?  Two reasons.

Firstly, many people are finally waking up to the fact that the old system isn’t viable anymore, and we need to create a new one.  A system that actually More…

Involuntary Enlightenment: Radical Simplicity and the Middle Class…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 9, 2012 at 6:00 am

From SAMUEL ALEXANDER
The Simplicity Institute

1. INTRODUCTION

How would the ordinary middle-class consumer – I should say middle-class citizen – deal with a lifestyle of radical simplicity? By radical simplicity I essentially mean a very low but biophysically sufficient material standard of living, a form of life that will be described in more detail below.1 In this essay I want to suggest that radical simplicity would not be as bad as it might first seem, provided we were ready for it and wisely negotiated its arrival, both as individuals and as communities. Indeed, I am tempted to suggest that radical simplicity is exactly what consumer cultures need to shake themselves awake from their comfortable slumber; that radical simplicity would be in our own, immediate, self-interests. In this essay, however, I will only defend the more modest thesis that radical simplicity simply would not be that bad. Establishing that thesis should be challenging enough.

Of course, if a radically lower material standard of living were to be imposed upon us suddenly by force of circumstances and without anticipation and some preparation, I acknowledge that most people would find such a dramatic change terrifying and painful – an existential disaster. Such a response would be quite natural and understandable. But I will argue that if such dramatic change were to be stoically anticipated and prepared for, it would not be that bad. More…

Transition: Building Resilient Local Economies through Local Investment…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 5, 2012 at 6:15 am

“Building Resilient Local Economies through Local Investment”
Presented by Michael Shuman, Fellow, Post Carbon Institute

In the face of multiple increasing global uncertainties – economic and environmental – the need to build the strength and resilience of our local economies has become very clear in the last few years. This forum addresses how we can work toward achieving that aim by encouraging entrepreneurship and cooperation between business and citizens locally and by harnessing local investment to support the start up and expansion of locally owned enterprises.

Produced for Transition Sydney and Energising Communities
Filmed at UTS, Sydney, September 2012
~~

Post Office in Mulligan Books
Downtown Ukiah
Now Open

Stamps, Postage, Mailing

Last Mail Pickup – 5pm
~~

Transition: California Homemade Food Act signed by the Governor…

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on October 4, 2012 at 7:14 am

What the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, will accomplish – a summary

Click here to download the final version of the bill.

The new law will go into effect in January. It creates a new category of food production called a cottage food operation, which, unlike other types of commercial food facilities, can be operated out of a home kitchen. The types of foods that a cottage food operation can sell are limited to “non-potentially hazardous foods,” which are foods that are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria or other toxic microorganisms at room temperature. The list of foods includes:

  • Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
  • Candy, such as brittle and toffee
  • Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried pasta
  • Dry baking mixes
  • Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
  • Granola, cereals, and trail mixes
  • Herb blends and dried mole paste
  • Honey and sweet sorghum syrup
  • Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Nut mixes and nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Vinegar and mustard
  • Roasted coffee and dried tea
  • Waffle cones and pizelles
  • More…

Transition: A write-up of the 2012 Transition Network Conference. The best yet…

In Mendo Island Transition on September 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

Transition folks from around the world gathered last weekend at Battersea Arts Centre for the 6th annual Transition Network conference.  In a week when the Arctic ice reached its smallest ever extent, scientists warned that the world’s weather could be on the verge of running amok and it was suggested that Saudi Arabia, always meant to be the ‘swing producer’ on whom the rest of the world could depend for reliable oil supplies, may become a net importer of oil by 2030, the theme of the conference was, appropriately, ‘Building resilience in extraordinary times’.  Unlike previous conferences which had spanned two, perhaps three days, this was, in effect, a 6 day ‘Festival of Transition’, and it turned out to be an extraordinary event which deeply affected those attending.

Friday

Thursday began with the first day of a Transition Thrive training, and Friday featured the second day of that training, attended by 35 people from around the world, as well as a Youth Symposium and the REconomy Day.  I arrived on Friday lunchtime, gave a short talk for the Youth event, and dipped into the REconomy day, so I can’t say much about either.  Fortunately, thanks to the various people who documented the event, you can see some great photos of the REconomy day here and read Jay Tompt’s reflections on it here, and here Caroline Jackson reflects on the Youth day.

More…

Transition: At Its Heart, The Localist Movement is About Love…

In Mendo Island Transition, Small Business Skills on September 27, 2012 at 5:00 am

From BALLE
Thanks to Mari Rodin

First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech this week has been described by many as unique in the world of politics. Political affiliations aside, what moved so many of us was her use of a particular word, used repeatedly, throughout her speech: Love.  Politicians don’t often talk about love, but it is a word we use at BALLE. And this week something happened that could be described as an outpouring of love in Bellingham, Washington, the community where I live.

A 15-year old natural foods store, Terra Organica/Public Market, put out a call for help on facebook last week. This is a BALLE business and a member of local business network Sustainable Connections. The owner, Stephen Trinkhaus admitted he’d taken some expansion risks the past year that had over-extended their business. He said that they were now on the brink of closing.

He said he had decided to ask for help because if they closed, 60 people would lose their jobs — and because he really believes in what he offers our community. If they closed, we would have fewer healthy, thoughtfully selected products and services. So he asked if we’d consider shopping there…a lot…in the next few weeks.

Within hours the Bellingham Herald had posted his letter on their website and by closing their sales had already increased by $2,000 for the day. The next day was their busiest day in all of 2012, and the following day was their busiest in fifteen years of doing business here.

A customer came in and offered a $1,000 check as a gift! Others contributed money as well. One person had the idea of buying extra food to give to the food bank, and through facebook, many others decided to do the same. Far away friends of friends on facebook sent in donations! A local citizen organized a “cash mob” to be held five days after the plea for help More…

Transition: Madness of the Mainstream…

In Mendo Island Transition on September 27, 2012 at 4:45 am

From TRANSITION VOICE

The following dialogue continues an on-going cyber-discussion between two cultural philosophers, Dr. Sherry Ackerman and Dr. Guy McPherson.

ACKERMAN: Wow! I don’t leave the homestead all that often. And, when I do, I don’t go that far. But, today I had occasion to venture out into mainstream culture for the afternoon and I was flabbergasted.

The mainstream has never been my thing, but, Guy, I’m telling you that it’s plunged even further into madness. Sheer madness. There’s nothing out there that has anything to do with real life. It’s an entirely constructed false culture.

I live here on the homestead and there’s life all around me.

There are living plants in the gardens, animals in the paddocks and active people working with the soil, trees, water and solar patterns. Everything’s connected in a very practical, necessary way. Kitchen garbage goes to the chickens who then give us eggs. Livestock manure is composted for the gardens that give us our food. Solar energy fuels our living quarters, heats our water, and cooks our food. If any part of the chain of life breaks down, we’re all impacted.

Conversely, mainstream culture is dead.

It’s packaged, sterile, predictable, isolated (perhaps alienated is closer to the truth), and lifeless.

People lack enthusiasm (which, by the way, in Greek, means “filled with the gods”), are unanimated (anima, in Latin, means “soul”), disconnected and stressed. Time, which is a manmade construct, governs mainstream culture’s machinations. Products are old, boasting incredible shelf-lives. Prices are high, and the proceeds go directly to The Man, instead of to any real person(s). Conversation is superficial; factory food proliferates; gas belching machines, with single occupancy, are everywhere; dumps are brimming More…

Transition: Manifesto for a post-growth economy…

In Books, Mendo Island Transition on September 25, 2012 at 5:45 am

America the Possible

From YES!
Transition Voice

Editor’s introduction: Gus Speth has been a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advisor to presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the head of the United Nations’ largest international assistance program, and Dean at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

“Right at the time I should be settling into a rosy retirement,” Speth says, “I find I am instead quite alarmed about the appalling future we’re on track to leave our grandchildren.” His new book, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, is about how transformative change can come to America, what life would be like in the attractive future that is still within our power to build, and what we need to do to realize it.

In this excerpt adapted from America the Possible, Speth takes on the tricky issue of post-growth prosperity. For more specific details about the policies under discussion here, check out the book.

We tend to see growth as an unalloyed good, but an expanding body of evidence is now telling us to think again. Economic growth may be the world’s secular religion, but for most it is a god that is failing—underperforming for most of the world’s people, and creating more problems than it solves for those in affluent societies.

Americans are substituting growth and ever more consumption for doing the things that would truly make us and our country better off. Psychologists have pointed out, for example, that while economic output per person in the United States rose sharply in recent decades, there has been no increase in life satisfaction. More…

Transition: GrowthBusters Showing Tonight Tuesday 9/18/12 in Ukiah…

In Mendo Island Transition on September 17, 2012 at 6:30 am

TRANSITION UKIAH VALLEY

PRESENTS

The Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse

107 S. Oak Street

Tuesday, September 18th

6:30 PM

$5-10 Donation requested

6 PM: Transition Town Presentation

Come early to find out about Transition Ukiah Valley and the Transition Town Movement.
~

“This is like a splash of cold water to the face. It’s a wake-up call. It’s to say, ‘Hey, you know, we are in that car speeding toward that cliff. Is that really what you want to do?’ But it’s also good news. It’s good news that if we can turn the wheel and put our foot on the brake that it opens up a great world of possibilities for us to actually have more enjoyable, more fulfilling lives.”– Dave Gardner, Producer/Director of GrowthBusters

Join us and learn how you can help prepare our own community for a more enjoyable, fulfilling future.

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an international localization movement to build community resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic instability.

Contact: 707-376-8846

www.transitionukiahvalley.org

A Fiscally Sponsored Program of the Cloud Forest Institute.TUV Film/Speaker Series Sponsored & Supported by S.A.C.


Transition: A new way to save the Net from Big Brother…

In Mendo Island Transition on September 13, 2012 at 6:30 am


Want to protect yourself from government spies tracking your activities online?
Download some software and join the movement.

From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

If you’re into “re-skilling” and urban homesteading activities like canning or raising backyard chickens, then you probably think that working outside in the fresh air is better than sitting at a computer and spending time online.

Since you’re reading this, you’re obviously not a total Luddite. But if you spend more than a couple hours online at a time, you may feel a bit guilty about it.

When it seems like the Net is just a time waster at best and a huge, self-deceiving ego-trip at worst (“hey, I got seven new likes on Facebook today!”), it’s easy to forget that the Web is also a powerful tool for truth-telling and political activism.

Whatever the traditional media claim, everybody knows that social media was crucial for the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Ever since, tyrants and paid liars alike have quaked at the power of the Net to expose well crafted deceptions and to quickly mobilize citizens into action.

Just think of the Internet petition that forced Bank of America to withdraw its hated $5 monthly fee on ATM cards.

The Internet is the best place to learn the real extent of the economic crisis and find other news free of the self-censorship practiced by the corporate-controlled media. And the Net allows ordinary citizens to connect across the boundaries of race, class and nationality that governments and rich people use to keep us apart.

Why Net freedom matters

Any threat to a free and open Internet is about more than your ability to rack up points on Farmville. A challenge to Net freedom is a challenge to your ability to connect with people of your choosing, to seek the information you want and to exercise your rights as a free citizen.

So when Orwellian legislation like SOPA and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allow governments to send their spy agencies online to monitor the activity of ordinary people to protect the copyright of big media companies or catch “terrorists,” we should all sit up and take notice. More…

Growth Is the Problem…

In !ACTION CENTER!, Mendo Island Transition on September 10, 2012 at 5:30 am

From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

["Growth" is over and it's not coming back, and that goes also for so-called "smart growth." (See The Myth of Smart Growth.) Dumb growth can be felt locally with:  the Ukiah City Council approval of an outside corporation "creatively destroying" (as one council member described it) a locally-owned downtown business, Incognito, that has been a downtown anchor store here for over 19 years; the foregone conclusion that many more locally-owned small businesses will be destroyed when Costco is also approved to open here; and the rumors of developers pushing to expand our town into the western hills.

The cult of endless growth has kept us from seeing clearly the choices in front of us. Freeing ourselves from this unsustainable path opens up a great world of possibilities for us to actually have more enjoyable, more fulfilling lives.

Transition Ukiah Valley will be showing Growthbusters on Tuesday, September 18th at The Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse 6:30 pm. Come early, 6pm, to find out about Transition Ukiah Valley and the Transition Town Movement. -DS]

The ceaseless expansion of economic exploitation, the engine of global capitalism, has come to an end. The futile and myopic effort to resurrect this expansion—a fallacy embraced by most economists—means that we respond to illusion rather than reality. We invest our efforts into bringing back what is gone forever. This strange twilight moment, in which our experts and systems managers squander resources in attempting to re-create an expanding economic system that is moribund, will inevitably lead to systems collapse. The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism. And very few of us are prepared.

“Our solution is our problem,” Richard Heinberg, the author of “The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality,” told me when I reached him by phone in California. “Its name is growth. But growth has become uneconomic. More…

Transition: ‘Something in your heart knows that this is what life is supposed to be about’…

In Mendo Island Transition on September 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[Follow up of previous Ukiah Blog posts on Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics here and here... -DS]

About 4 weeks ago, I had the honour of interviewing Charles Eisenstein, author of ‘Sacred Economics’ while he was in the UK visiting Schumacher College to teach a course there for a week.  I had to admit before we began the interview that I have yet to read his book, in spite of the number of people I know who have insisted that I really ought to.  I decided to see this as an opportunity though, given that most people who will be reading this won’t have read it either, thereby sharing my starting point of near-complete ignorance.  I think it kind of works.  He was charming and thoughtful, and you can either hear the podcast of the interview [embedded in original post], or read the transcript…

For people who are unfamiliar with your work on sacred economics, what is it? How would you describe it to people? What’s the main thrust of it?

The book is about how to make money as sacred as everything else in the universe. Some people think, well, everything’s sacred, and it should be, but if there’s one thing that isn’t today it’s money, and we experience that in our daily lives just making personal decisions. Like for me at least, my impulse is for generosity or to follow my passion, or to do something right even though it takes much longer.  Money seems to block these impulses and to reward the things I really don’t want to do, the things that are really hurting the planet, that might be convenient, or the things that my rational mind calculates will be better for my self-interest.

Money is on the side of those things and not on the side of the beautiful things that I want to do. On a social level, too, I look into almost any problem, any terrible thing, like the prison industrial complex or the war on drugs or deforestation and climate change and I say ‘why is that happening?’ More…

Transition: How Communities Can Invest in Solar Power…

In Mendo Island Transition on August 9, 2012 at 6:30 am

From SARAH LASKOW
Good

For many years, solar customers paid for their panels in the same way they might pay for a TV: upfront or in installments. But as the solar industry has grown, new opportunities for financing solar projects have emerging. Some draw lessons and inspiration from microfinance and peer-to-peer lending, making small-scale solar available to families and community organizations, like schools and nonprofits, that could not afford the purchase on their own.

Years ago, Dan Rosen tried to get solar panels installed on his high school and couldn’t find the financing. Now, Solar Mosaic, the Oakland-based company he cofounded, allows individual investors to fund just that sort of solar project. Investors can bankroll solar systems in increments of $100, represented as “tiles.” One of the company’s first big projects will power the Asian Resource Center, an Oakland community group. The project has 982 tiles, all of them funded.

The opportunity, as Rosen puts it More…

Transition: The Permaculture Handbook…

In Mendo Island Transition on August 6, 2012 at 4:00 am

From VICKI LIPSKI
Transition Voice

[Available from Mulligan Books. -DS]

Peter Bane’s handbook, while not quite encyclopedic, is nothing if not authoritative. I can honestly say, without fear of exaggeration, that I hold my head a little higher as I stride about my miniscule fiefdom, now that I’ve read The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.

The stones Bane leaves unturned are few and far between. Once you’ve digested the author’s ruminations on mapping, patterns, and garden elements, perennials, water, soil, plants, crops, seeds, and animal husbandry, not to mention his lists of plants and the jobs to which they are best suited, there’s little chance you’ll walk away dissatisfied.

Bane’s treatment of these various aspects of garden farming More…

Transition: In yourself right now is the only place you’ve got…

In Mendo Island Transition on August 3, 2012 at 7:04 am

row boat

From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

Most of my friends in the environmental community and the Transition movement are big fans of the value of interdependence. They’d surely agree with President Obama when he recently said, “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own… The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

Self-reliance, by contrast, seems more popular with the Chamber of Commerce types who have so vehemently disagreed with Obama, answering back that success comes from hard work and smarts. These conservatives take their cue from another president, Ronald Reagan: “A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and — above all — responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.”

More…

Transition: Local Small-Scale Grains…

In Mendo Island Transition on August 1, 2012 at 5:58 am

From RHEA KENNEDY
Grist
Thanks to Doug Mosel

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) households know the cries.

“So many sweet potatoes!”

“Tomatillos again?”

But “Oh, man — more whole wheat flour!”? Not so much. Yet that may be coming.

On the East Coast, Virginia’s Moutoux Orchards is growing and milling wheat and barley to nestle beside produce, dairy, eggs, and meat in its Full Diet CSA. To the west, Windborne Farm of northern California offers a grain CSA featuring not just wheat and barley, but also rare grains like teff and millet raised using a pair of draft horses.

All over the country, small grain farmers like these may soon place the last piece in the local-foods puzzle.

There is no question that fruits and vegetables have been the backbone of the locavore movement. The number of farmers markets in the U.S. More…

The Story of Change: Why Citizens (Not Shoppers) Hold The Key To A Better World…

In Mendo Island Transition on July 18, 2012 at 5:00 am


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What’s happening in the world of Transition…

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

Let’s start this month’s round-up in the UK, in Cheltenham.  Transition Town Cheltenham have been making some gorgeous short films recently.  In the last roundup we shared the one about Ken and his allotment.  This month, firstly, Ivor, Remi and Leon talk us through the chickens in their garden, and their 8-person cargo bike:

… and secondly, a short film about In Stitches, who held their The Big Knit event at the Global Footsteps Cafe. A beautiful film about the power of knitting to build community… Complete article here
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Transition: Regarding George Monbiot’s announcement that ‘we were wrong on peak oil’

In Mendo Island Transition on July 9, 2012 at 6:48 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

George Monbiot announced in the Guardian on Monday “We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all“, an article which concluded “peak oil hasn’t happened, and it’s unlikely to happen for a very long time”.  Several people have written, and even stopped me while I’ve been out shopping, to ask for my take on his piece, so here it is.  It has been a tricky thing to write, as in the time it took me to compose it, so many other interesting analyses of it have been posted, many of which I have tried to reference here.  In a nutshell, I think Monbiot’s piece swallows an over-optimistic take on peak oil, and there are things in his piece that I disagree with and things that I agree with, although I don’t for a moment consider myself a peak oil expert.  What he does prompt is a rethink in terms of how we present peak oil.  Let’s start with the things I disagree with.

Firstly I would question the idea that it is somehow news to anyone that there are a huge amount of as-yet-unexploited hydrocarbons in the world.  I first became interested in peak oil in 2004 when I met Dr. Colin Campbell More…

Transition: We’re optimistic in the face of tough times, but we are also real about the challenges…

In Mendo Island Transition on June 22, 2012 at 5:30 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture
England

Not many of us have lived at a time where we have seen the creation of a new newspaper.  I remember the launch of the Independent, and also of the rather rubbish and not-that-much-of-a-shame-it-went-out-of-business Today newspaper, and I guess I have, now I think about it, also witnessed the emergence of the Sun on Sunday.  Hmmm… this is already making me a bit depressed now I think about it, so on to the good news.  We have the great honour, ladies and gentlemen, of being alive at this time and being able to witness the emergence of Transition Free Press, a new national newspaper dedicated to the emergent marvel that is Transition.  How exciting is that?!

Transition Free Press will be a quarterly, 16 page, full colour, tabloid size newspaper, and is the creation of its core team, some of whom may be familiar to regular Transition Culture readers.  It is edited by Charlotte Du Cann, designed by Trucie Mitchell and Mihnea Damian, the news editor is Alexis Rowell, food and wellbeing editor is Tamzin Pinkerton, the subeditor is Mark Watson, Production Manager is Mike Grenville (who began the enterprise) and Jay Tompt is Business Manager who will take it forward.  What a team.

Here’s how they introduce the paper:

“You could say this is the worst and the best of times to be publishing in print. Worst because we are in a recession, at the tail end of an industrialised civilisation, where “growth at all costs” has begun to play out its consequences. Best because there is a whole new narrative out there, the happening story of Transition you might not see covered by mainstream media. That’s the story we’re aiming to tell. More…

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