Mendo Island Transition

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



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.

Growth Is the Problem…


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.

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


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?’

Transition: How Communities Can Invest in Solar Power…


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

Transition: The Permaculture Handbook…


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

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


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.”

Transition: Local Small-Scale Grains…


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.

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



~~

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
~~

Transition: Regarding George Monbiot’s announcement that ‘we were wrong on peak oil’


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

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


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.

Transition: The Greek Town that Already Opted Out of the Euro…


From STUART BRAMHALL
The Most Revolutionary Act

An interesting  BBC feature about a flourishing Greek town. They have plenty of money because they have their own local currency – the TEMS.

If video fails to play go to free link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9R0v96K48&feature=youtu.be

A Video About Greek Time Banks

A second BBC video about Greek time banks, where services are exchanged without money:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=dz1KQkUJPkA

From the Wall Street Journal

Also check out a fascinating article (from the Wall Street Journal Market Watch, no less) about all the countries (including the US) that are setting up barter systems and local currencies in their determination to alleviate the human misery causes by the global economic crisis:

“China, France, Ireland and other countries are seriously examining the feasibility of launching their own government sponsored barter systems. On December 8, 2011, The City of London released a report titled ‘Capacity Trade and Credit: Emerging Architectures for Commerce and Money’ with the goal of creating a barter hub of sorts for Europe in London. In the U.S. more than twelve states have legislation pending to create State currencies to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve and commercial banking system.” Link to Full Article

Re-introducing the Drachma as a Complementary Currency

And James Skinner’s  A dual-currency solution to the Greek debt crisis, with a a proposal to address Greece’s money shortage by keeping the euro and re-introducing the drachma as a complementary currency:

According to Skinner:

Transition: The New REconomy Website…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

Finally! It’s here! After what feels like years of hard graft (but was really only 9 months or so) the REconomy Project website is now live. What a relief, I can tell you. What started out as one of those conversations in the team that go “hmmm I think we need to build a totally new website of our own, so it does exactly what we want – I can knock up a wordpress template based site in a few days” has turned into something rather more labour intensive.  This is a bit like the thinking that went “we need a 5 minute video for the homepage, that will probably take a couple of hours” and then consumed over 27 hours of time! It’s been quite a learning curve for us. But we’re delighted with the result, and we hope you like it too.

The website provides the latest tools and resources that can help you build a local economy where you live. We have tried to organise them all in a logical way so you can find what you need. Trying to figure out the navigation of the website has taken more time than anything else, and led to the most heated arguments.

Here’s a linked picture of one of the webpages just to give you flavour of one of the many great posts.

Transition: Give Me That Doom Time Religion…


From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

[Previous articles from this conference posted recently here and here. -DS]

To deal with the scary bits of an economy facing collapse, a campground in the middle of the forest will put you in a different frame of mind than a hotel conference center.

I don’t usually think of people interested in peak oil, climate change and economic collapse as particularly religious. “Spiritual” maybe — Sufi dancing and Lakota Vision Quests are OK and agnosticism is better. But peak preppers are usually not the kind of folks you’d expect to see in the pews on Sunday at First Presbyterian.

The Age of Limits conference held at the end of May offered some new insights on how religion, as an organized institution, could play a key role in helping people deal with the collapse that the conference’s speakers think has already hit many parts of the world, including much of the US.

Though at this event, neither religion nor collapse were what they used to be.

The speakers, collapsitarians all — Dmitry Orlov, John Michael Greer, Gail Tverberg and Carolyn Baker — apparently weren’t born again while reading the Book of Job and didn’t hear the voice of God while fasting during Ramadan. As to the mother of all religious organizations, the Catholic Church came up only as the example of an institution that has outlasted the rise and fall of empires and nations and even today seems to enjoy great immunity from legal prosecution (pedophilia crisis, anyone?).

Transition: Emotional Resilience In Traumatic Times…



From CAROLYN BAKER
Age of Limits

In March, 2011, I returned from Northern California where residents there were profoundly anxious regarding the effects of radiation on the West Coast from Fukushima. How not, when on April 1, the San Francisco area newspaper, Bay Citizen, reported that “Radiation from Japan rained on Berkeley during recent storms at levels that exceeded drinking water standards by 181 times and has been detected in multiple milk samples, but the U.S. government has still not published any official data on nuclear fallout here from the Fukushima disaster”?

In typical American media fashion, out of sight, out of mind. Fewer and fewer stories of radiation realities in and issuing from Japan are being reported in mainstream news. An occasional comment surfaces, usually assuring us that we have nothing to fear. It’s all so benign. Apparently, we can now move on to “really important” stories like the 2012 election campaign.

And yet, whether explicitly stated or not, Americans and billions of other individuals throughout the world, are not only terrified about radiation but about their economic future—an economic future which will be inexorably more ruinous as a result of the Japan tragedy and its economic ripples globally. By that I do not mean that they feel mild anxiety about embellishing their stock portfolios, but rather, are feeling frightened about how they are going to feed their families, where they will live after losing their house in foreclosure, where they might find employment in a world

Transition: Sustainable Living as Religious Observance…


From DMITRY ORLOV
Club Orlov

I have spent the last few days at a conference organized by the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary near Artemas, Pennsylvania. Titled “The Age of Limits,” it was well attended and promises to be one of a series of annual conferences to address the waning of the industrial age and the social adaptation it makes necessary. This conference was quite different from all the others I have attended.

First, the venue is a campground; a beautiful one, consisting of lush meadows surrounded by an equally lush but passable forest girded on three sides by a fast-flowing creek of cold, clean water. This sanctuary is dedicated to nature spirituality, and includes a very impressive stone circle and a multitude of little shrines, altars, charms and amulets hung on trees. (Also included is an assortment of cheerful hippies skinny-dipping in the creek.) Second, spirituality was prominently featured in the presentations: the question of spiritual and emotional adaptation to fast-changing, unsettled times was very much on the agenda. Third, the campground is owned by a church; one of undefined denomination, theological bent or specific set of beliefs, but a church nevertheless. Lastly, the campground is run by a monastery that is at the heart of this church; the monks and nuns do not wear habits, do not seem to have taken any specific vows other than those of loyalty, poverty and obedience, but in substance not too different

Transition: How to Start a Tool Lending Library…


From DAVID LANG
MakeZine.com

David Lang, something of a reluctant maker, is on a journey, intensively immersing himself in maker culture and learning as many DIY skills as he can, in part through a generous arrangement with our pals at TechShop. He’s regularly chronicling his efforts in this column — what he’s learning, who he’s meeting, and what hurdles he’s clearing…

Throughout my Zero to Maker journey, I’ve prided myself on how much I’ve been able to accomplish without actually owning many of the tools I’ve needed. As someone with a tight budget and an even smaller studio apartment, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I can accomplish through collaborative outlets like TechShop and Noisebridge. However, last week, my strategy fell apart.

While working on building a standing desk in my room, the cheap, electric drill I was using totally gave out on me. I was building the desk out of large pieces of reclaimed wood, the drill was a critical part of the equation, and hauling the entire project to TechShop made no sense. If only there was an easy way to borrow a tool. Turns out, there is, but not for me because I live in San Francisco. If I lived across the Bay in Berkeley or Oakland, I could swing by the local Tool Lending Library and get what I needed.

Tool Lending Libraries work just like book lending libraries, except they allow the temporary use of tools instead of books. They allow a community to access the tools they need

James Lee: Local Money…


From JAMES LEE
Anderson Valley

‘Give me control of a nations money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws’ ~ Amschel Rothchilds

It is critical to understand when, how and why the privately owned, for profit, corporate Fed Reserve and their crony banksters plan to eliminate the dollar and convert us all in one fell swoop to a digital currency.

Less than 7% of all transactions are cash. Merchants, big and small, are now switching to the new Paypal Iphone swiping technology that attaches to YOUR iphone, as they undercut the 3% fee charged by the major credit card companies, making the conversion to a digital currency seamless.

“PayPal today launched a new device, called PayPal Here, in the US, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, that consists of a free, triangle shaped card reader and mobile phone application. The gadget connects into the top of iPhones and iPads allowing merchants to take payments on the go from any any of the four major credit cards (including American Express), PayPal accounts and even checks!”
http://www.business-opportunities.biz/2012/03/15/paypal-introduces-credit-card-swiping-iphone-device/

Spain, Italy and Greece have enacted strict (less than $1500 Euro) customer withdrawals of cash

Transition: Peak Money…


From SHAUN CHAMBERLIN
darkoptimism.org

[The Strongbow Bankers video below is priceless… -DS]

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” – Raymond Williams

Last month I was one of forty or so attendees of the Transition ‘Peak Money’ day. It was a great collection of people, from theorists to community activists, and an important opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing us all as the glaring errors at the heart of mainstream economics start to take their toll. This post is far more personal reflection than report, as Rob Hopkins has already done a great job on that front.

The key theme that seemed to run throughout the day was of ‘collapse’. Sadly, travel problems meant I was an hour late to the event, but the first sessions I witnessed were reports from Transitioners in Portugal, Ireland and Greece on the impacts of the economic problems there. The talk was of collapse having already happened for many there, with statistics quoted including an 89% increase in Greek unemployment in three years, and Irish suicides having doubled since 2007.

This part of the day pulled no punches. Most of us were left grey and shaken as the harsh reality on the frontlines of the crisis was relayed. For me, a defining memory of the day was watching alternative economists in attendance sitting listening to this – people who have spent decades warning of these outcomes and trying to head them off – their heads shaking sadly with lips pursed, hands involuntarily coming to their faces in dismay as their Cassandra curse unfolds. Of course, the statistics were not new to them, but hearing these stories in person

Transition: New Film Showing Tonight in Ukiah 5/21/12 at 6:30pm


TRANSITION UKIAH VALLEY
PRESENTS

In Transition 2.0
Trailer here

Join us and become inspired!

The Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak Street

Monday, May 21st
6:30 PM

$5-10 Donation requested

This film is an inspirational immersion into the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  You’ll hear about communities printing their own money, growing food, localizing their economies and setting up community power stations.  Here is a story of hope, responding to uncertain times with solutions and optimism.  Join us and learn how you can help prepare our own community for a more resilient 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:  707-462-9405

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

My Town in Transition: How to change the story of the place where you are…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[Click: Transition 2.0 Film Showing Next Monday Evening 5/21/12 in Ukiah -DS]

The video of this is here.

“Hello.  I want to tell you a story which pulls together a lot of what we’ve heard already and looks at what that might look like in the context of one place. And it’s a story which I think can change the world. It’s a story which already is changing the world. It’s the story of my town, Totnes, in Devon.  A town of about 8,500 people, midway between Exeter and Plymouth.   But before I can tell you the story what I really want to tell you about Totnes, I have to get another one out of the way first.

Totnes was once referred to as the “Capital of New Age Chic”, that’s ‘chic’ not ‘sheep’. The idea of a “Capital of New Age Sheep” is too horrible to imagine. The Western Morning News, the local paper, in an article which I’ll be coming back to later, once referred to the average resident of Totnes as a “sandal wearing, crystal gazing soap carver subsisting entirely on brown rice and organic parsnips”. And Matt Harvey, our local poet, says that when you’ve lived there too long your body starts to secrete a hormone called ‘Totnesterone’, where your masculine and feminine come into perfect balance with each other.

Transition: Seed Swap Ukiah Farmers Market Today Saturday 4/21/12 9:30am


Seed Swap in the Ozarks

Seed Swap 
Saturday 4/21/12
9:30am – Noon

Ukiah Farmers Market
Alex Thomas Plaza/School Street

Bring seeds in labeled envelopes
Vegetables, natives, flowers, herbs

Leave seeds at Mulligan Books beforehand
if you cannot attend…

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an
international localization movement
to build community resilience

~

 
From CAROLE BRODSKY
Ukiah Daily Journal

Peggy Backup, Scott Miller and partner Trudy Morgan sit at the couple’s kitchen table, eating dried pears gleaned from a local orchard and sorting seeds into small, labeled paper envelopes.

The trio and other members of Transition Ukiah Valley are preparing for a seed exchange event taking place Saturday, April 21 at the Ukiah Farmers Market.

The Transition Ukiah Valley group began meeting in 2011. The group is part of a worldwide transition movement that started in the United Kingdom in 2005 to address issues they believe are impacting local communities as the effects of climate change, skyrocketing oil prices

Transition: Which train would you rather be on?…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

I am really pleased today to be able to share with you some of the key outputs from Transition Streets, which I have written about here before.  Let’s start, for people who are new to the concept, with this short video which beautifully captures how Transition Streets worked in Totnes:

Transition Streets has already been rolled out in places other than Totnes, but in a few weeks, a whole supported programme will be coming out whereby you will be able to run it in your community (I’ll let you know). You can see the first section of the Transition Streets workbook here to get a flavour of it. It is a great example of the tool from ‘The Transition Companion’ called ‘Street-by-street behaviour change’.

The main output from Transition Streets is the ‘Final project report’, which “shares information about the Transition Streets project, funded by the previous government’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge funded: how it worked, what it achieved, what was learnt and where we are heading next”.  You can find a summary of its findings here.  It is a very thorough round-up of the project.

However, the most fascinating to me is “Social Impacts of Transition Together (SITT): Investigating the social impacts, benefits and sustainability of the Transition Together/Transition Streets initiative in Totnes“, which goes into the more qualitative aspects of Transition Streets, what motivated people to get involved, what changes people made

How Many Circles Does it Take to Make a Community?


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

Last evening I spent a couple of hours with three of my Bowen In Transition colleagues — Don Marshall, Rob Cairns and Robert Ballantyne — discussing what, if anything, we might do to start preparing our community (Bowen Island, off Vancouver BC, population 3800, area 20 sq. mi.) for the economic, energy and ecological crises — and perhaps even collapse — we expect to see in the coming decades.

Bowen in Transition, like many global Transition Initiative communities, is already doing several short-term small-step activities — learning about and (at a personal level) applying permaculture principles, obtaining and acting upon home energy audits, compiling a list of local experts in sustainable food, energy, building etc., holding awareness events etc. But as I noted in my recent Preparing for the Unimaginable post, I am concerned that we need to start thinking about longer-term, larger-scale, community-wide changes if we want to have a community sufficiently competent, self-sufficient and resilient enough to sustain ourselves through major and enduring crises.

I have read

Dave Smith: Transition — Clothes and Cars That Last Forever…


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

Old Levi didn’t last forever but his old blue jeans do. I still have a pair of Levi’s 501 denims I wore in high school 50 years ago… and they still fit! The style then was to roll up the leg hems once. The blue suede shoes from Junior High are long gone but those Levi’s still sit in storage in a foot locker and if we ever have a Sock Hop in Ukiah I’m gonna to put them on…

Pity old Levi. Walmart screws up his pants along with everything else they touch

Used to be there were cars that would last forever. In the 60s it was the Plymouth Valiant getting 500,000+ miles before collapsing… and only then because they had hung around so long people started pointing and hooting at the silly fin design and they slunk off to the junkyard on their own and died there of embarrassment …

In the 70s it was the Datsun 510. I know, I had one just like this…

Transition: 55 Real Things to Worry About If You Must…



We have other things to worry about right now…

From KATHY McMAHON
Peak Oil Blues

Peak Oil, Climate change and the Greater Depression will pose many challenges to our way of life but let’s get real, for a moment: Golden Hordes aren’t one of them. At least not now. Economic depression brings with it a host of serious problems, and I think you can say quite confidently, without being a chicken little, that most of the world is in a Greater Depression. But still, we’ve got a few years to go before we can say that the USA is no longer a viable culture, when no one wants to live in Paris or London, when potatoes no longer grow in Poland, and before donkey’s begin pulling our rusted-out cars. Bikers with shotguns; weaving socks from milk thistle; crashing waves drowning our cities; evacuating your house on a moments notice to house troops; the government coming to confiscate your precious metals; a mass exodus of cities as the violence and mayhem escalates to untolerable levelsall of these things should not be on the top of the list of what to prepared for.

So what should be?

1. Job loss is up there.

2. We’ve already seen retirement accounts deteriorate, leaving us less money to live on in our aging years.

3. Our elderly today, like that 93 year-old who froze to death in his kitchen, will face real challenges in keeping themselves medicated, warm and fed. It may be time to get concerned about the old folks who live on your street, and start having tea with them on alternating days.

4. The rising price of everything from food to fuel is likely to be a serious problem for a lot of us.

5. Food pantries won’t be able to feed all of the people who need resources from them, and people who used to give generously to those same pantries, might now be lining up for help.

6.Managing depression–emotional depression, that is, should be up there.

Transition: Taming the Zoning Monster…


From SHARON ASTYK
Casaubonsbook

For the last several years I’ve been working on the invention of “Urban and Suburban Right-to-Farm Laws” and have had some notable successes including a legal conference on the idea and a few municipalities that have implemented them. This is one of the reasons I think this is so incredibly important – zoning presumptions simply can’t be allowed to prevent people from using less and meeting their own needs.

Over the last 50 years, food and zoning laws have worked to minimize subsistence activities in populated areas. Not only have we lost the culture of subsistence, but we’ve instituted legal requirements that make it almost impossible for many people to engage in simple subsistence activities that cut their energy use, reduce their ecological impact, improve their food security and improve their communities. In some cases, these laws were instituted for fairly good reasons, in many cases, for bad ones that associate such activities with poverty.

Scratch most of the reasons for these things both for zoning laws and HOA policies, and you’ll find class issues under their surface in the name of “property values.” There are ostensible reasons for these things, but generally speaking, they derive from old senses of what constituted wealth They stem from the notion that what constituted wealth was essentially having things that don’t do anything

Transition: When they cut Social Security by 40%…


From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

As most of us already know, the Greek government is bankrupt.

So far, it has been forced to cut expenses by 34%.

That means they have already made deep cuts in pension payments, government employee incomes, and government employee headcount.  And they are just getting started.

The Greek economy is in free-fall and likely to set the record for the most severe depression in a modern country so far this Century.

Our collective problem is that the Greek experience will soon seem commonplaces. Almost all of the nations in the West are headed towards a Greek style bankruptcy given current trends. The US deficit alone is running at over a trillion a year with NO end in sight. So, eventual bankruptcy of the US and most of the EU isn’t a question of what is right or just or what could happen in a perfect world.  It’s what is likely to happen.

Given this, the question you should be asking yourself is:  What would happen if the US and the EU cut their budgets as deeply as Greece?  What if there was an across the board budget cut of 40%?

This is an important question since it is almost certain to happen and it will be ugly.  Why?  The number of people that…

  1. currently work for the government,
  2. get a government pension (or military pension),
  3. or get social security/medicare/income support payments

is very large.

So, for planning purposes

Transition: 10 Reasons for Financial Optimism (If You Invest Locally)


From MICHAEL SHUMAN
LivingEconomies.org

Even though these are tough times for tens of millions of Americans, there’s reason for hope.  That’s the message of my new book from Chelsea Green, Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, which showcases dozens of ways individuals, businesses and communities are reinvesting their money locally and creating new jobs.  To give you a little taste of what’s in the book, let me share my Top 10 Reasons for Optimism.

10.  Wall Street’s Decline – Fortune 500 companies have long enjoyed an unnatural competitive advantage as all of us have unquestioningly forked over some $30 trillion of our retirement funds into their stocks and bonds.  This lemming behavior is now coming to a close. Occupy Wall Street has been so effective that even Newt Gingrich is questioning our fealty to “vulture capitalism.”  My book documents that the long-term historic rate of return for U.S. stocks has been an astonishing 2.6% per year.  Against that record, all kinds of many local investment opportunities seem fabulous!

9.  Main Street’s Rise – Evidence continues to mount that local small businesses are the best job producers in the U.S. economy, at least as profitable as their global competitors, and becoming increasingly competitive (thanks in part to groups like BALLE).  Local investment can pay off, big time, if we can figure out how to create, pool, trade and evaluate local “securities” more efficiently.

8.  The Crowdfunding Revolution – The bad news is that archaic

A Day in the Life of a Transitioner…


From CHARLOTTE DU CANN
Transition Norwich

It was cold when I woke up last Sunday. The jackdaws were gathering in the fields and there was a hard frost on the ground. Ah, good I said to myself. Then I sighed, put on two large jumpers and went downstairs to put the kettle on for coffee and a hot water bottle. Switched on the computer and got down to work. It was 7am.

How has Transition changed my life? Utterly, completely, forever. This is not how I would have started a Sunday morning several years ago. I would not, for example, have known why the birds were feeding in the arable fields, I would not have rejoiced in and lamented the frost, thinking simultaneously of the vegetables and the fruit trees that need a winter to flourish and the shivering people in the Occupy encampments. I would not have put on two recycled jumpers or got down to write a blog at 7am. The central heating would have automatically warmed up the house, and I would be up around nine, thinking about my private world, lying in a hot bath.

I could go through each moment of that Sunday and every detail would form part of a Transition narrative: from my breakfast millet (Sustainable Bungay buying group) and apples (our Produce Swap day) to our neighbour’s car that we now share. But most of all it would show how that narrative is shaped by the times I go up to Norwich and my relationships with the people there.

Here I am at 11.30am talking to Kit at Occupy Norwich about Occupied Times in London. I’ve put some stuff in the kitchen, I tell him

Transition: Seeing Wendell Berry’s Wilderness Again…


From CHRIS CHANEY
Transition Voice

In the early ’90s I made the conscious decision to drop out of college. I distinctly remember the day I withdrew from classes and made the call to my parents. I remember thinking: “Now I’m a statistic.” College dropout.

I watched as the debt grew and my confidence in finding a suitable career faded. I made the decision to drop out based on the reality that I could avoid debt and simply work. I resolved to be satisfied with less. I broke my social contract outright.

Believe it or not, I had a plan.

No, I didn’t start up a software business. I didn’t pursue any entrepreneurial track to riches. My plan was simply to get any job I could and spend my free time exploring the Red River Gorge which is located near where I grew up in Eastern Kentucky. My plan had no long term component.

I don’t know when I first discovered Wendell Berry’s The Unforeseen Wilderness, but it was about this same time in my life. I wanted to read it, but as a poor college dropout with little cash to spend on books it remained out of my hands for a time.

One day I was out with a friend and saw it on a bargain table. I had no cash, but the friend, seeing my eagerness to read it, bought it for me. It was a fortunate encounter because the book changed the way I looked at the world, my life, and the landscape of my soul.

Transition: Building community resilience to cope with collapse…


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

In my previous article, I recapped and built upon Nicole Foss’ (Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth blog) presentation in Vancouver last week. The first part of her presentation, I noted, was about the current intractable economic (and specifically debt) problems we face at all levels (governments, corporations, individuals), and how neither of the most-supported top-down alternatives (austerity or stimulus) can hope to improve the situation or avoid total economic collapse.

The second part of Nicole’s presentation focused on what we can do, at the local community level, to prepare for and build resilience to cope with this collapse. There are a number of things, she said, we can do personally:

  • Get out of debt, so that our property cannot be foreclosed upon or repossessed when the situation worsens and we are unable to repay these debts.
  • Keep as much cash on hand (and not in the bank) as reasonably possible (enough to last several months).
  • Acquire useful, non-perishable hard assets (when the economy fails, so will trade, making many hard goods hard to obtain and expensive).
  • Do not depend on governments to do anything useful.
  • Be wary of banks (they may simply close when ‘runs’ begin, preventing you from accessing your money).
  • Be wary of insurance companies and plans (they will not be able to pay out when their investments collapse).
  • Find the right place to live and move there (in or near small towns near healthy agricultural areas; avoid suburbs).
  • Learn practical essential skills, both technical and non-technical (e.g. mediation, facilitation).

There was considerable discussion near the end of the presentation

Transition: New film being unveiled in England today…


From TRANSITION NETWORK

[New film series from Transition Ukiah Valley to be announced soon… -DS]

‘In Transition 2.0’ is nearly ready to be unveiled to the world! We are very excited about this inspiring new telling of the Transition story, and want to tell you more about it here, and about how it will be rolled out over the coming months. To get us started, because we are so excited about sharing this with you, here is the film’s trailer, directed by Caspar Walsh.

Hopefully that has sufficiently whet your appetite for what is a remarkable film. We describe it thus:

“In Transition 2.0 is an inspirational immersion in the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. You’ll hear about communities printing their own money, growing food everywhere, localising their economies and setting up community power stations. It’s an idea that has gone viral, a social experiment that is about responding to uncertain times with solutions and optimism. In a world that is awash with gloom, here is a story of hope, ingenuity and the power of growing vegetables in unexpected places”.

It has been produced by Emma Goude, with animation by Emilio Mula, photography by Beccy Strong and with stunning original music by Rebecca Mayes. They have drawn together stories from around the world showing Transition initiatives at the various stages of transitioning their communities. In order to be able to feature some of the stories from overseas

Occupy a Garden This Year: How to sow vegetable seeds directly into the soil…



Onion Seeds

From VERONICA HAWKINS
HowToDoThings.com

[See also Monsanto’s new seeds a dead end below… -DS]

If you have a patch of land that you are not making use of, why not consider planting vegetables?

Nowadays, people should be more practical in sourcing basic necessities such as food. Plant some vegetables in your garden and enjoy the freshness of your food while also saving money to purchase your other needs.

To know more about how you can sow vegetable seeds directly into your garden, read on.

  • Pick a spot. Make sure that the land in which you plan to plant is not covered with sand or rock beds. The soil should be conducive for the vegetables to grow on.
  • Purchase the materials you need. Go to the nearest gardening store to purchase all of the supplies you need for this project.
  • Pick the vegetables you want to plant. Be cautious about the type of vegetables that you want to plant. This will be very much dependent on the weather conditions of your area. Try to research online on what types of vegetables are suitable in your area and the type of soil and land area that you have.
  • Read the seed packaging instructions. Each seed will require a different way of planting. Read the instructions in the packaging to know how much depth you need to dig to plant and how much sunlight and water the seed needs in order to grow.
  • Set up your soil. Make sure that the area where you will plant is composed of suitable soil

What to do? Take Action! Build the new economy by generating alternatives…


From The Economics of Happiness

Across the world millions of people are actively resisting the process of corporate globalization while simultaneously creating viable local alternatives in the here and now. This powerful emerging movement represents a radical departure from ‘business as usual’. In place of the imposition of a single, global world economy, the new paradigm seeks ‘a world that embraces many worlds’ – an adapting biocultural mosaic rather than a global monoculture. Proponents of this approach call for ‘small scale on a large scale’ rather than one-size-fits-all, ‘too big to fail’ blueprints. In turn, the kind of solutions that are being generated flow from diversity, are attentive to the ecological particularities of place, are more responsive to social needs, and are often far more equitable, participatory and democratic.

Help create the new economy from the ground up!

Support local independent businesses, cooperatives & social enterprises…


Buy local first

Keeping money circulating locally will help reinvigorate the local economy and generate desperately needed jobs. If you are a business owner, source locally for your supplies and services whenever possible and engage in fair and sustainable (‘translocal’) trade for those goods that can’t be sourced locally.

The 3/50 Project

Local Multiplier Effect

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

Start or support a “Local First” campaign in your town or city

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies – Local First

The New Economic Foundation’s Local Multiplier 3

Civic Economics

Crossroads Resource Center

Join, start or support a local worker cooperative

Help create more equitable and democratic local economies…

Our time to come alive…


From DIANNE MONROE
Transition Voice

This is an amazing time to be alive!

“Yeah, right,” my inner cynic says, “crumbling economy, peak oil, peak everything, melting ice caps, mass extinctions…”

The list goes on and on, all woven together, I remind my cynic within, by the fact that we’re living in a time when the old is crumbling, which is when there’s the greatest opportunity to create something new.

And that is an amazing time to be alive!

If you’re alive today, you’re part of this Great Unraveling/ Great Turning, or whatever we choose to call it. If, like me, you’re middle aged or beyond, we’ve lived through the apex of a global empire now passed irrevocably into decline.

When exactly that point of turning was passed is the topic of many discussions. I’m not sure how important it is to know the precise point. We know that something big happened on the way down with the economic crisis of 2008, even if the mainstream economic pundits keep assuring us that prosperity is just around the corner.

We’re experiencing this great crumbling from within, and that’s a very good (if at times painful) thing. In times of crumbling, when the old way of being and doing can no longer hold itself, can no longer hold us in its grip, there’s greater fluidity, a greater opening. In times like these even small actions can reverberate widely into the future.

That makes it an amazing time to be alive.

The gift

Think about all the humans that have ever lived. They lived through times of joy and plenty, through wars, famines, natural disasters. They lived through the rise and crumbling of empires.

Transition: What it looks like when food grows everywhere…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture
Transition Ukiah Valley

Today I’d like to share a map with you (you can download a hi resolution pdf of it here — caution, it’s a big file), and I’m hugely grateful to Geri Smyth for giving me this.  It is a map of the town of Guildford (or Guldeford as it was then) in 1793.  Regular readers will know I love a good map, and I have spent a fair while poring over this one.  There are a couple of things I love about it.  Firstly, it is the most amazing piece of draughtsmanship.  It is a thing of extraordinary beauty in a way that Googlemaps can only dream of.  The way its laid out, the calligraphy, the attention to detail, are beautiful in a way very few people could recreate today.  But what is so extraordinary, upon closer inspection, is how it captures what it looks like when food grows everywhere. Think of it, if you like, as Incredible Edible Guildford, circa. 1739.

This is a Guildford before the car, before before shopping malls, before tarmac.  It is also clearly a Guildford with a much lower population than today, with far far lower living standards, and with a lot more mud on the soles of its shoes.  My reason for posting this beautiful artifact isn’t to romanticise times that were very different, and in many ways much harder, rather it is to marvel at what a really local food culture looks like in reality for those of us who have no living memory of such a thing.

We see, for example, that the hospital has its own vegetable garden. The Free School has its own orchard.  While many of the houses have their own gardens, others appear to have allotments out the back, large pieces of land divided into plots.  In the centre of the map is a cluster of coaching inns, each of which have yards full of vegetable gardens.  Behind every house, on every piece of ground, food is being grown.  It is an extraordinary snapshot of a time when food production was the principal form of urban land use after roads and buildings.

Transition and Walmart: Some thoughts from England about Big Box expansion and Being Local


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

“Another world is not only possible… she’s opening a bakery round the corner”. Reflections on the Portas Review.. “Local people”, she argues need to be seen “as co-creators not simply consumers”…

We have very little time to make this stuff happen, it needs to happen now…

[“High Street” in England means “Main Street” here… -DS]

I spent a fascinating afternoon on Monday at an ‘Economic Summit’ (nowhere near as glamorous as it sounds) for Members of South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council.  The meeting was called to update councillors on the strategic thinking within the councils in terms of the economic development of the area and to hear their views on it.  Three communities were invited to present to the councillors the work they were doing to regenerate their economies, and Totnes was one of them.  What I want to do in this post is two things simultaneously.  I want to give some reflections from that meeting, but also give a review of ‘The Portas Review’ (“an independent review into the future of our high streets”) which was published yesterday.  Together they give a sense of the two deeply different narratives that were on show at the Summit, the dangers that their incompatibility presents, as well as the opportunities that emerge.

Transition: How To Start Participatory Budgeting For Our Towns


From SHAREABLE

Have you noticed all the cuts being made to your city budget? To schools and libraries, fire fighters and social services, and other public spending? Think you could do a better job managing the budget? Soon, you may have that chance.

Through a process called “participatory budgeting”, residents of over 1,000 cities around the world are deciding how to spend taxpayer dollars. In October, four districts in New York City launched the second such process in the US. This article offers some initial tips for how you could start participatory budgeting in your city.

What is Participatory Budgeting?

In 1989, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre developed a new model of democratic participation, which has become known internationally as

Transition: Made By Hand Since 1879


From LINDSAY CURREN
Lindsay’s List

I’ve had a long time love of old school printing presses. I love the quality and the raw nature of the medium. I also love that it’s done by hand.

As a writer and graphic designer, I’ve long harbored the fantasy that when the world hits the skids after peak oil really delivers its coming wallop, that I would shift to printing on a local scale. Maybe I’d run a local newspaper. Or maybe, like Hatch Show Print, I’d do everything from cards to posters, art for display to whatever printed pieces my customers needed.

Of course, this depends on my getting all the equipment in advance, and learning to use it, so that when the economy does crash, and resources are scarce, I’m in place to do my local printing superhero thing.

Yet, here I am, typing away online. I’ve got an iPad but no printing press. That’s why it’s still a fantasy for me. Hey, a girl can dream.

But in Nashville, Tennessee, where Hatch Show Print lives, the hand-made print world is completely real. In continuous operation since 1879, Hatch Show Print still makes all their work by hand, from cutting plates to setting type to applying ink to cranking the rollers that print the job right there right then.

Transition: There’s No Place Like Liberty Tool


From THE ETSY BLOG

Located in the middle of the state of Maine, Liberty is not far from the capital, Augusta. The town is small (the most recent estimate is a population of 932) but charming. My parents bought a house there when I was seven years old, and I’ve visited in the summer for a week or two ever since. There are a grand total of two shops open on a daily basis: a store that sells T-shirts and the Liberty Tool Company.

As a child I couldn’t appreciate the unique nature of a place like Liberty Tool, which was started by H.G. “Skip” Brack in 1976 as an addition to his other stores operating under the Jonesport Wood Company umbrella. With its ageless tools, trinkets, and other bric-a-brac, what kid really can? I thought it was boring. I wanted to spend the summer hanging with my friends at the beach, devouring fast food, and eating candy. I put little stock in the quality of things and more so in the quantity. But, as I’ve grown older and more mature, I’ve found it necessary to ornament my life with items of real worth and value. The importance of this has become especially clear to me in the last decade or so, as the continued erosion of those things I once held dear — books and music records immediately come to mind — turns the world I inhabit digital. And that’s why Liberty Tool carved out such a special place in my life.