Welcome to Transition!

We’re part of a world-wide grassroots movement to build local resilience and connections close to home. Since 2010, we’ve been mounting creative and thoughtful responses to the challenges of resource depletion, climate change, and economic instability. Help us unleash the power and creative genius of people and communities to create a vibrant future for generations to come.

Scroll down for our recent activities blog.

Coming up:

  • Halloween is coming! Come to Halloween at the Y Saturday Oct 25, 6 to 8 p.m. The event is sponsored by Transition Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Family YMCA. The spooky, family-friendly event at 3412 Ross Road, Palo Alto features a mystery maze, movie showing, face painting, cookie decorating and Halloween Swap where participants can bring gently used Halloween costumes, decorations, goodie bags and other holiday-themed items to trade.

  • Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope  –  New Fall Fourth Friday / Films of Vision and Hope series, “Finding Meaning in an Uncertain World,” continues October 24 with “One Day on Earth” film and discussion. Details
  • Garden and produce shares:
    Second Sunday of each month. 11am-12, Common Ground, 559 College Ave, Palo Alto (map)
    Fourth Sunday of each month, 11am-12, Full Circle Farm, 1055 Dunford Way, Sunnyvale, CA (map)
  • Transition Cafes are also happening almost every week. For info, sign up for the Transition Palo Alto mailing list, and you’ll get the weekly notices. Go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transitionpaloalto/ to sign up.

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Fun with Fermentation

From the science of sauerkraut to kefir  and kimchi, with some pickling thrown in for good measure, there was plenty to learn about, sample, and try out at the first Transition Palo Alto Fermentation Fest. Gary Fleeman gave a snap course in fermentation chemistry and the joys and health benefits of real fermented sauerkraft. Victoria Armigo showed how to make kefir, and even shared some starters for people to take home and try. Then it was all hands-on – pickling beets and peppers, and preparing a big batch of kimchi.



Sewing, sketching, strumming, and splashing

TPA crafters gathered September 30 for the now-monthly get-together for those who have something to make – or just want to hang out and have fun.

Inspired by the sign painting event at the Common Ground demonstration garden on Sept. 13th (scroll down for the event post), Trina and Michelle painted colorful signs for the back garden.

Monica sewed cloth napkins, Roy and Barbara sketched and cut out letters for the new Transition Palo Alto banner, Emily sewed cloth heat pads (to be filled with rice), William experimented with knots, and Herb supplied mellow background music.

If you have a craft you like to do, want to learn crafts, or just want to come and join with what others are doing, come to the next craft night in late October. Details will be sent to the transitionpaloalto@yahoogroups.com mailing list.



Fun and frenzy at the Fall Sharing Expo

You never can tell what might happen at a sharing expo! We have many planned events, but sometimes the less planned are wonderful surprises as well.

This fall’s Expo was no exception. Last Sunday (September 21), we gathered in the parking lot behind the Common Ground store for sharing skills, goods, and more. On the lineup were water-saving techniques and ideas for home and garden, plus kids’ activities, grain grinding, community organizers, and music.

We started with signage – a new banner made by those who attended Craft Night, along with signs and William Mutch’s handmade permanent wooden name tag. My son and daughter handed them out, along with regular name tags. In the meantime, Caryll-Lynn and David Neighbors Helping Neighbors had set up a tent of info and boxes for collecting extra food, Nick Turner of Deep Nature Gardens displayed beautiful pots that were mini ecosystems of themselves, Wendy Hediger from Zero Waste Palo Alto demonstrated green cleaning alternatives and Anna Ravenscroft pulled out her gleaming white grain grinder to demonstrate grinding wheat, corn, kamut, and even lentils. My ancient coffee-turned wheat grinder sat by its side looking a little sheepish.


Herb Moore had long since set up his music station – visitors were soon playing found items like tuna cans and mason jars. Willi Paul hung up a giant poster of the water cycle and childrenchildren, including mine, started right away coloring it in. Marianne Mueller was having animated discussions with her colorful and super low water plants for the garden. William Mutch was at the Permaculture cafe talking about ways to make gardens drought – resistant. All this was planned, and it was all lovely.

I sat down and decorated a few arms and hands with cooling henna designs. The goods share was going strong too – lamps and toys and books and clothes and plants came in and wandered off.


Then we had: surprise sweet and crunchy and savory snacks brought by Expo benefactors (with water served in Zero Waste Party Pack cups). Copies of Potter the Otter. Extra comfy chairs left out to use. William lead storytime for the kids with a leisurely reading of The Lorax. My children (were those mine?) were quiet and focused. Children sat together coloring. People shared their own fascinating stories and histories and asked how they could help.


A little after 3:30: Leftovers were donated and carried away. Tables put away. Last conversations dragged on and goodbyes were cheerful. Promises and hopes and enthusiasm for next time!

Seasons of Change

by Debbie Mytels, September 25, 2014

As the Earth’s cycle turns to autumn, many cultures – and our educational systems – consider it the beginning of a “new year.” So as the leaves turn brown and fall, it’s an important time to reflect on what’s been accomplished during the past and what can be done differently in the time to come.  So a dozen enthusiastic members of the Transition Palo Alto/Silicon Valley Steering Committee — along with reps from Heart Beat Earth, Sunnyvale Cool, Move to Amend, the Fools Mission and the Palo Alto Unitarian Church Green Sanctuary Committee — organized an evening workshop on “Seasons of Change” on September 10 led by Menlo Park author and career counselor Carol McClelland, Ph.D.

Carol developed the workshop from ideas in her 1998 book, “Seasons of Change: Using Nature’s Wisdom to Grow Through Life’s Inevitable Ups and Downs.”  This inspiring book analyzes the process of personal change.  It start with the “autumn” feeling that “something needs to change,” then moves into the “early winter” of confusion and questioning, and then to the dark solstice of despair – and the search for “sparks of light.”  Out of this darkness in “late winter” some new seeds of possible choices develop – and by spring they can burst into bloom with new energy for some new growth and initiatives.  By summer the changes are thriving and you feel the full enjoyment of life.  And then, perhaps, the process will continue to cycle again.  For those of us who have gone through some deep personal changes, this pattern rings very true and we’ve learned to look towards the natural world for reassurance and wisdom — in both dark times and in abundance.

In her current work, Carol is now exploring how these “Seasons of Change” apply not only to individuals going through the cycles of their lives, but also how these seasons occur in the life of organizations, social movements, and society as a whole.  The goal of the September 10 workshop was to introduce Transition activists to the Seasons of Change concepts, giving us all a common language – and a roadmap of sorts – for examining the effectiveness of the work we are doing and setting a course for the future.

When applying these concepts to organizational life, Carol also pointed out some of the pitfalls that can happen as an organization grows through the cycles.  One obvious challenge is that a group fails to notice “the signs of fall” – and keeps doing the same things while declining in vitality and effectiveness.  Another pitfall is failing to stop for reflection, allowing for a period of dark solistice resting, questioning, waiting . . .  Still a third mistake is to jump too quickly to solutions, rushing into action without being prepared for its consequences or planning for follow through. Embedding the Seasons of Change metaphor into its organizational culture can help a group become more vital and to weather the storms of change both internal and external.

As our local Transition movement and its friends who attended the workshop continue to evolve, we will all be enriched by the deep Earth wisdom that Carol shared with us!

If you are a part of a group that would like to experience one of Carol’s workshops, you can contact Carol via her Green Career Central website:  www.greencareercentral.com

Craftivism – Sign Painting! at Common Ground Demonstration Garden

by Peter Ruddock

A small group of Transition Palo Alto’s craftiest people congregated at Common Ground Demonstration Garden on the morning of September 13. They met to engage in an act of Craftivism – that is, activism through crafts. In this case, they painted plant names signs for the garden, so that visitors can know what the wonderful edible plants they are looking at are called. Painting was an activity that allowed for a very social morning, which concluded with a very tasty potluck lunch.

There is still some work to do. The new signs need to be attached to uprights and then planted in the proper places. Stay tuned to Transition Palo Alto’s newsletter and Yahoo Group for information on that activity. It would be great to have you join us.



Fourth Friday Films of Vision and Hope Series – Finding Meaning in an Uncertain World

2014 fall series banner



 What does it mean to be human in today’s uncertain world – to survive, live among others, and find meaning and happiness? We’ll explore these questions and more in our Fall film series.

Surviving Progress

Friday September 26 7-9PM – Note time change just for this evening

Human advancement is awe-inspiring and double-edged, but we’re running the 21st century’s software — our know-how — on the ancient hardware of our 50,000 year old primate brains. With rich imagery and an immersive soundtrack, this film launches us on a journey to contemplate our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers. It leaves us with a challenge: prove that making apes smarter was not an evolutionary dead-end.

One Day on Earth

Friday October 24 7:30-9:30pm

It’s the first film made in every country of the world on the same day: 10/10/2010. You’ll be fascinated by this window into the daily lives, joys, sorrows, and hopes of humanity, filmed by a diverse group of volunteer filmmakers from around the world. Experience how the world is interconnected, enormous, perilous, and wonderful.


November 7:30-9:30pm – DATE to be confirmed

What makes you happy? Work? Money? Kids and family? Do you live in a world that values and promotes happiness and well-being? Are we in the midst of a happiness revolution? To answer these questions and more, “Happy” goes from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the villages of Okinawa.

Holiday Potluck

December 7:00-9:30pm – DATE to be confirmed

Come to share fun, food, and reflections on the file series and holiday season.


Fireside room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E Charleston Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Sep 7-9pm film/discussion
Oct 7pm meet and greet, 7:30-9:30 film/discussion
Nov 7pm meet and greet, 7:30-9:30 film/discussion
Dec 7-9pm potluck and holiday celebration

Sponsored by Transition Silicon Valley, Transition Palo Alto, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto.

Fall sharing expo coming soon!

Our fall sharing expo is coming soon with a busy lineup of fun things to see, do, and learn.

Come join us to share garden produce, arts and crafts supplies, books, toys, and clothes.

We’ll also have some cool skills to share this fall. Our demos include a Permaculture Cafe, grain grinding, henna painting, water saving tips, and activities for kids – they can color the water cycle, do some scrapophony, and all can join in on more fun. We’ll have a special class on drought-proofing your garden and more.

Come meet your neighbors and learn something new in the parking lot at Common Ground, Sunday, September 21, from 1 to 3pm! 

More details here