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:

  • Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope  –  NOTE DATE CHANGE FOR NOVEMBER – THIRD FRIDAY. Films of Vision and Hope series, “Finding Meaning in an Uncertain World,” continues November 21 with “Happy” film and discussion. Scroll down for details.

  • Garden and produce shares:
    Second Sunday of each month. Location TBD
    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.

Sign up for our Yahoo group mailing list
Calendar of Events/Facebook group

This changes everything

Naomi Klein’s new book, “This Changes Everything,” argues that the challenge of climate change illuminates the failures of uncontrolled free-market capitalism and that climate activism can be a “galvanizing force for humanity…,”  leading us to a more resilient and humane economy.

Transitioners and others have started gathering to discuss the book and its implications. It will be an ongoing discussion. If you’d like to learn more, send email to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com, or join the tpa_chat online discussion group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/tpa_chat/info.


Squish Squash – Celebrating the season

It was the third annual Transition Squash party, with delicious varieties of squash to cook, eat, and enjoy. We plan to do it again next year, so look for the invitation next November!

THIRD Friday, Films of Vision and Hope – “Happy” film and discussion

Continuing our Films of Vision and Hope series on Finding Meaning in an Uncertain World



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.


   Discussion after the film.

   When:  November 21, 7:30 pm (come at 7:15 for social time)

Fireside room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E Charleston Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Goodbye, Common Ground

Submitted by Peter Ruddock

After 43 years, Common Ground Organic Garden Supply and Education Center has closed its doors. It is a sad story of a confluence of problems: increasing rents in Palo Alto, gardeners cutting back due to the drought, competition from chain stores and on-line retailers, and finally the property across the street, which used to include our friends at World Centric, becoming a construction zone, bringing noise and dust, and making it difficult to get to the store. In the end, it was just too much.

43 years. I haven’t known Common Ground nearly that long, despite having been a resident of the Peninsula for much of that time, for more than 30 of those years. You see, for most of that time I wasn’t a gardener. I’m sure that I heard rumors of the store, but I am equally sure that I never had reason to patronize it. An institution was born, had a long life, sold organic products to the public before they were mainstream, taught classes, held events, had a very loyal following. But there was nothing in it for me. Until about six years ago, when I decided to become a gardener, in order to grow some of my own food organically. After taking a class at the Palo Alto Adult School, I decided to check out that rumor and visited the store. I liked it, but I can’t say I was a regular customer, because gardener that I wanted to be, I lived in an apartment and had to garden in the few containers that would fit on my patio.

Two years later something changed. Slow Food USA ran a campaign called Dig-In, where each chapter was encouraged to start a new project on a given weekend. Slow Food South Bay, of which I was at the time Chapter Chair, chose to create a Food Swap, whereby gardeners and cooks would swap the produce of their yards and kitchens with each other, creating community and decreasing waste. It was recommended that I visit Common Ground to see if they wanted to be our host. That was when I first met Patricia Becker, who was in fact delighted to host such an event. More than that, she introduced me to her visitor, Herb Moore, and suggested that he might like to provide music for the event. He did like the idea.

And so an event was born – a series of events, to be more precise. After a rocky start, and a change of hands – Slow Food South Bay was not interested in running the events for the long term, but Transition Palo Alto was – the newly renamed Garden Share began to take hold. Nearly every month for the last four years, gardeners and other local food advocates have met in the parking lot of Common Ground, exchanging produce and other things, becoming friends, building community, often with music by Herb and his friends. More than that, the original Garden Share spawned new series, including Garden Shares at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale and at the Portola Valley Town Hall. When it was suggested that a new event, an expansion of the Garden Share that would include sharing not only other goods, but also skills, be created, Common Ground was amenable to hosting that as well. And so over the last four years, some members of Transition Palo Alto and the public have met behind the Common Ground store many dozens of times. Over that period, Common Ground was a real partner, letting us borrow equipment, helping us promote, cheering on our efforts at grass-roots community building.

And now there is a hole. The Garden Shares and Sharing Expos will go on. Transition Palo Alto will find a new home for these events and a new partner. But we will miss Common Ground. Over the years it became more than a partner. It – its staff and volunteers, most especially Patricia, its newsletters and classes, the store and even, perhaps especially, the parking lot – became a friend. Common Ground will be missed.

Eyeballs of Lizard, Dragon Take-out, and costumes

Ghoulish fun reigned October 25 at the Ross Rd YMCA “Halloween at the Y .” Kids of all ages (and their parents) flocked to the Transition Palo Alto costume swap, bringing their old costumes to share with others and finding new ones to don for this year.  Thanks to everyone who came to share, 50-100 costumes found new homes.

While all the costume bringing, taking and trying on was going on, creativity positively oozed at the recycled crafts table. Armed with nothing but old containers, scraps of packing peanuts, fabric, yarn, hole punchers, and markers, kids created disgusting delicacies perfect for the season: Eyeballs of lizard (yum!), dragon take-out, dragon intestines, crabs’ claws, and even some ghost poop. One father reminded his son that their family is vegetarian, so he won’t be able to put the crabs’ claws on his peanut butter sandwich. But they looked so delicious!

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.