Welcome to Transition!

Help us build a vibrant and resilient society for people and the planet.

Coming up:

Friday January 26 Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – ‘Inhabit’ film and discussion 7:30-9:30pm  UUCPA, 505 E Charleston, Palo Alto. Scroll down for details
Friday February 23 –  SAVE THE DATE for a special Feb Fourth Friday, ‘Look and See’ film and discussion 7:30-9:30pm  Scroll down for details
Wednesdays NOTE NEW TIME– Permaculture Cafe, 6:00-7:30pm, Red Rock Cafe, Castro St, Mountain View.
Fridays – Transition Cafe, 6:10-8pm, Red Rock Cafe, Castro St, Mountain ViewMore about the cafe
4th Sunday each month Sunnyvale Garden Share, 11-12 noon. Usually at Charles St garden, 433 Charles St, Sunnyvale.
For up-to-date info, join the Google group at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/garden-share-sunnyvale

To get involved, check out these links: How to get involved! and What you can do about climate change. And sign up for our spam-free mailing list for information about important activities and events. And want to get in touch? Send a message to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com.

mailing list Meetup Group/Facebook group

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Transition Café – Threat and Community

I took a sick day from Tracking Club, this Sunday, and was drinking tea and making breakfast, watching the array of Birds in the yard, when a Coyote walked through, along the edge of the “lawn”, leisurely sniffing and peering into the Juniper bushes. I was the only one who was startled. Everyone else-Quail, Sparrows, Juncos, etc, while they were clearly aware of the Coyote, just kept doing their thing, moving aside to let the Coyote pass, without alarm or even apparent hurry.

I am used to usually having advance notice of when predators are active in the area, because the Birds are aware, and respond in ways that anyone paying attention can pick up on and usually figure out what kind of predator is coming/present. In some situations, certain Birds (and other critters) will recruit aware Humans (and other critters) to assist with problems that are beyond them. These Birds, multiple species, were behaving as if this Coyote were a Deer (yes, I know Deer will eat Birds if given the need and opportunity, but, anecdotally at least, that seems rare).

This Coyote is male, and seems to have a scar on the left side of his face. He was soon joined by a female with a heavy left ear, and another whose gender I couldn’t figure out. We have seven Coyotes who are regulars on the land, up here, maybe related, maybe not. I have watched them frolic and wrestle with each other within feet of a day-bedded buck, who seemed interested, but unalarmed. These three were interested in an old Deer leg which one of my housemates had found in the Oaks and brought up into the garden, with one or another running around with it and chewing old hide and muscle off of it. It was like watching Domestic Dogs wrestling over a bone.

Why no alarms sounded about the Coyote? Was he offering body language, scent, pheromones, or something else, indicating he was not hunting? Was he clearly hunting Rodents or Lagomorphs, instead of Birds? More study needed. We are told, of course, that the lives of Birds, and others, depend on being able to tell when predators are hunting, versus not, so they get out of the way at the appropriate time, but don’t stay in a constant state of agitation, burning precious calories, when predators are either absent or not a threat.

Of course, a predator’s life depends on being able to think like their prey, and also convince prey that they are not hunting or non-dangerous. I have watched Sparrows fade into the underbrush, repeatedly, exactly two minutes before a Hawk flew over (after watching this a couple of times, I started timing them), but have also seen another Hawk fly low over feeding Sparrows without striking or them reacting in any way that was obvious to me. (I have also heard a Sparrow sound an alarm at a Turkey Vulture, but that only happened once, and I assume was an adolescent Sparrow.)

Many authors currently writing about community building among Humans talk about the necessity, even urgency, to be able to identify Human predators and parasites, as they will erode or even detonate a community. They refer to the “Dark Triad” although some are suggesting that it should be the “Dark Tetrad”, adding in another personality type, but these are basically folks who are wounded, angry, needy, etc. in ways which even extremely healthy communities have a hard time providing a container for.

Each of us, obviously, has wounds, and some of us “self-medicate” those wounds with one behavior or addiction or another, or treat them as “sacred wounds” which drive and inform our passion for self-healing (as opposed to self-medicating) and being of service to the world. Some of us use those wounds as a reason to hurt others, either the folks who hurt us, to hurt ourselves, or to hurt folks who remind us of either the folks who hurt us or of ourselves when we were hurt. Many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, probably shift through those different solutions, over the course of our lives, or maybe even over the course of a day. Most of us have a default setting, though, which we return to when we are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, dehydrated, etc. We refer to this as “Life”.

If this is as crucial as many suggest, then how do we identify Human predators and parasites? Some are so good at mimicking healthy folks that they are practically invisible, but their effects on a community are not. Like icebergs, destructive behavior patterns and personalities leave ripples around themselves. “Traditional” cultures would have identified a Donald Trump or an Evita Peron well before they had amassed a fortune or a strong group of followers. The consequences of failing to identify and deal with them would have been well-represented in the oral traditions, and the elders would have been constantly vigilant.

Who has that job, in our culture? Who educates the young on how to tell the predators from the ones the predators are mimicking? We do as much of disservice to our children, of course, if we mistake a non-predator for a predator, as the other way around. That is sometimes called “Friendly Fire”. The first job of the predator, of course, is to take out anyone in the community who can identify them or stop them. They generally act by destroying their reputation and getting the community to turn away from or exile them, but sometimes by other means, like isolating and controlling them, or simply killing them.

Grim topics, and ones which Good People don’t discuss, or even spend time thinking about. Best to go back to our reality shows and celebrity gossip. After all, why worry about something that hasn’t happened yet? Why prepare for something which Can’t Happen Here? The Gazelles who insist that that Cheetah is actually just another Gazelle don’t live much longer than the Monkey who thinks the Snake is a log. But, if Gazelles think all the other Gazelles are Cheetahs, they isolate themselves from their allies, and can fall prey to the very ones they were trying to protect themselves from. Good thing that Can’t Happen Here!

So…back to the reality shows, or…join us, if you dare, for heretical conversations on Threat and Community, at Red Rock Coffee, this Friday, 19 January. We often go to dinner afterwards, maybe we will this week, too.

Please familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with the Guidelines, below, and come join us!

The Guidelines are below. Read ’em, learn ’em, bring a copy if you think yer gonna forget ’em.

Venue information is below the Guidelines, and check out the random and useful other stuff below the notes section. Feel free to forward this widely.

Transition Café Guidelines:

– Whoever shows up are the right people
Whenever it starts is the right time
Speak when you are moved to speak
The conversation gets to go where it wants to go
– Pauses in conversation are good, they allow information to sink in, thoughts to happen, and quieter people to have a chance to speak
– Silent listening is fine, you do not need to speak if you do not wish to
– The “Law of Mobility”: if you feel like you are neither learning nor contributing, you may use your mobility to find a place in which you are doing so
Bring friends, if we overpopulate the venue, we’ll figure something else out
If you are able, please buy stuff from the venues. We’re trying to support local businesses!
– Anyone can host a Café! All you need is an hour or two, an independent

café you like, this list of guidelines, and a starting subject. Bring something to read while you wait for folks to show up (see the first guideline).

Please note venue changes:

This week, we will be meeting on Friday, 19 January, from ~6:10-7:45pm, at Red Rock Coffee, in Mountain View.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting the venues by buying stuff while we’re there!

See you at the Café,

William

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Notes: Webs of Connections
This was a fast-moving and involved conversation, and notes didn’t happen. Sorry!

Random and Useful Other Stuff:

Toby Hemenway’s (author of Gaia’s Garden)

website: http://www.patternliteracy.com/

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, by Gary Paul Nabhan
Thinking in Systems, a primer, by Donella H. Meadows
Masterminds and Wingmen, Rosalind Wiseman
Queen Bees and Wannabees, Rosalind Wiseman

I’ll post other links and readings in this space, as they occur to me.

Please join us on tpa_cafe, or tpa_chat, you can join at http://www.transitionpaloalto.org./

SAVE THE DATE! Special February Fourth Friday – ‘Look & See’

TPA is pleased to welcome Peninsula Open Space Trust as a co-sponsor for this special Fourth Friday screening of LOOK & SEE.

look and see

As I see, the farmer standing in his field, is not isolated as simply a component of a production machine. He stands where lots of lines cross – cultural lines. The traditional farmer, that is the farmer who was first independent, who first fed himself off his farm and then fed other people, who farmed with his family and who passed the land on down to people who knew it and had the best reasons to take care of it… that farmer stood at the convergence of traditional values… our values.”
— Wendell Berry, Author, Activist and Farmer

LOOK & SEE revolves around the divergent stories of several residents of Henry County, Kentucky who each face difficult choices that will dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community.

In 1965, Wendell Berry returned home to Henry County, where he bought a small farm house and began a life of farming, writing and teaching.  This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings. A half century later Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt – all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities. Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a forty-paned window, Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one of its most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.

Filmed across four seasons in the farming cycle, LOOK & SEE blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape.  Thus, in the spirit of Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself emerges as a character in the film – a place and a landscape that is deeply interdependent with the people that inhabit it.

RSVPs via EventBrite are required. Click for the official announcement, where you can scroll down to register.

Friday February 23, 7:30-9:30pm
Main Hall, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto,
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

 

January Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – ‘Inhabit’

Join us for a close look at permaculture, the transformative approach to agriculture, economics, society, and governance, that inspired the Transition movement and much more.

Inhabit introduces permaculture projects, concepts, and people to help everyone understand what permaculture is all about

Inhabit film.png

If you’re already familiar with permaculture, you’ll get a glimpse into what’s possible – what kind of projects and solutions are already underway and what actions you might want to take.

If you’re not familiar with permaculture, you’ll learn about this revolutionary way relating to the Earth.

For everyone, it will be a reminder that humans are capable of helping to heal our planet.

Filmmakers Costa Boutsikaris and Emmett Brennan documented more than 20 sites in a range of rural, suburban, and urban environments. They explored responses to local and global challenges, ranging from issues of food, water, and medicine, to governance, economy, and culture.  Come learn what they found out and share your own experience, ideas, and perspective. See the trailer…

Friday January 26, 7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto,
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

Sharing the Holidays

The Share Faire took place this December at Cubberley Community Center once again. We shared holiday decorations, goods, books, garden plants and persimmons, vinyl records, clothes, fabrics, toys, and so much more.

Inside the two rooms, A6 and A7, we had two themes: homemade holidays, and garden/making. Kids of all ages were busy making colorful rolled beeswax candles with Lori, who also showed how to make melted ones (and left some candle wax to take home). We got a chance to make salt dough creations – menorahs and ornaments – with Joyce – and she showed how to color them gently, and displayed an heirloom handmade menorah. Peggy shared her expertise with worms to hold and answered questions on home composting. Peter demonstrated a simple and unique applesauce recipe that was flavorful and delicious. Barbara and Herb led the sessions on storytelling – everyone regaling each other with tales from holidays past.

Click through the slideshow below:

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Transition Café – Giving Thanks

Submitted by William Mutch:
I had a few ideas for this week’s Transition Café, but we missed last week, and I’d really like to have a giving of thanks. This has been a shocking week, on top of a shocking year, to the degree that it is beginning to be difficult to be shocked by what is coming out of Washington, D.C. Last night, after the Permaculture Café, I got to explain across a language barrier why I have a safety pin on my coat. It took a bit, but we got there, and the fear and rage the woman expressed at the week’s issuances from our President caught me off guard. Again, I’m surprised at myself for being surprised at this. She asked if the Safety Pin-Wearers are an organization, I said we are a loose one.

One of the things I am thankful for is that we are not going down without a fight, and possibly not at all. There are so many good people doing what they can to help and support each other through this parade of “it-can’t-happen-here” scenarios, I feel as inspired by them/us as I feel shocked, outraged, and saddened by what we have unleashed upon ourselves.

Also, the Permaculture Café was on fire, last night. The conversation gloriously bounced all over the Permaculture spectrum, and spent no little time on Holistic Management, then on to Darren Doherty and Geoff Lawton. Thanks to everyone who showed up, so glad to have you! You’ll probably hear about this again in the announcement for that Café, shortly.

Lastly (not really), so very thankful for the inclination and ability to continually learn and teach new skills. I’m teaching a tool sharpening and care class this Saturday, and in preparing for that I’m looking at the fabulous web of skills attached to that one, and the ones which led me to it. Wonderful memories of those learning edges.

And…thanks to all of you who follow these e-mails (in the old days we might have called them “columns”), and who write in and/or chat with me about your reactions and ideas for our Café conversations. I realize that our “virtual Transition Café” community has grown, over the years, and seems huge, at this point. This is happening in the Permaculture Café, too, where folks in the “virtual Café” are following along, reading the books along with us, and either writing in or talking to me about them in person.

 

 

 

Fun and Games

A fine time was had by all at the first ever TPA Games Night.  Folks showed up with games, snacks, and a spirit of humor and adventure. Although Pictionary enthusiasts had trouble illustrating ‘ban’ and ‘unconscious,’ no one minded. And the Forbidden Island team did manage to get off the island successfully.

If you missed the evening, not to worry, we’ll do it again in the new year!

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Holiday Share Faire 12/10 – Save the date

Our Holiday Share Faire is around the corner on Sunday, December 10th, at 1-3pm. We’ll occupy two rooms on the A-block again this year at Cubberley Community Center, and fill them with all things holiday.

Some things slated to be offered by skilled TPA volunteers and regulars:

  • Garden Share! While the Palo Alto Garden Share lacks a permanent home, we’ll have a chance to share the bounty of our gardens at the Faire. Bring your produce, plants, seeds, and garden books and tools to share.
  • Telling stories. We’ll share stories about this season – of darkness and light. How does it impact your traditions? We’d also love to share tales of best and worst gifts given and received over the years. Read an article here by Mas Masumoto (of Masumoto Farms) on how and why our stories are so important to share, especially in these times.
  • Peter Ruddock will share a favorite holiday recipe with details on how to make it. Yum.
  • Lori Stoia will teach us how to make candles – and you’ll have a chance to make a simple beeswax candle of your own to take home.
  • Let’s gather together and make homemade decorations, garlands, menorahs, ornaments and more from natural materials, foods, and dyes. Joyce Beattie and Barbara Weinstein will teach us how.
  • Peggy Prendergast offers her skills as a Master Gardener on composting for the winter.

We’ll also share Holiday decor, cards, and our usual goods share.

Looking to demo something else or help out? Contact us. We’re always happy to get more volunteers :  set-up, organization, greeters and more.  If you’d like to participate, please sign up here.

Please put the date on your calendars and join us in this joyous season!

More at transitionpaloalto.org/sharing-expos/

 

Transition Café – Stuff

Friday, 10 November, 6:10-7:45pm, at Red Rock Coffee, in Mountain View.
–Posted by William Mutch
We have Dusky-Footed Woodrats (Packrats) in the garage, many of them, and they are disassembling our Human objects and collections of objects and reassembling them as their own homes. Going into the garage at night is interesting, as they will rattle their tails and/or stamp their feet to convince me to leave and alert others of their kind to my presence. We have already pushed them out of the engines of our cars, the dryer vent, and the drainpipes. Some of us have so much Stuff crammed into the garage, though, that the Woodrats are able to do their thing and be pretty much unassailable, without the Humans pulling lots of Stuff out. Not that the folks whose Stuff it is weren’t comprehensively warned about the situation. Still…

Speaking of Stuff, we’re coming up on the Holidays, and the great giving of Stuff. There was a time in my life when I felt I needed to give Stuff to people on holidays, etc. Even dated a woman, once, who was not interested in something well thought-out and relevant to her life, she just really wanted a Thing to indicate that I had spent money on her on the Day in Question.

How many of us are like that, though? Many business seem to think that rather a lot of us are. Myself, I’ve gone through the phases of giving, and preferring to receive, gifts which are relevant and useful, to preferring money that the person receiving it can use to supply themselves with things I could not imagine them wanting. Not always sure how that is received, though, as some folks see it as a Test of the Relationship to find a Thing which would be the most useful to them.

What do you do with all of your Stuff? How many of us rent storage for our Stuff? Storage for our Storage? How many of us wish we had,after seeing what the Woodrats have done with it? What kind of Stuff do you have? I have weaknesses for things which are practical and educational: books, pottery, tools, cool storage doodads. I really dislike clutter, although you wouldn’t know it, to look at my bedroom, at the moment.

How much Stuff do you need? Is it the same for everyone? Is it appropriate for one person to judge another’s Pile of Stuff? Some folks seem much more at home where there is not just clutter, but actual filth: weeks worth of unwashed dishes, food smears on surfaces, unemptied garbage and compost, and a certain smell about the place…and that is home, for them. Raccoons spring to mind, certain types of Rodents, some Humans. Think Freshman dorms…So easy, though, to look at someone else’s Stuff and see trash, and our own to see treasure. There might even be a saying, about that…

In an atmosphere where we have shows pillorying Hoarders, inspiring ordinary folks to spy on their neighbors to find out if they have *gasp* a Hoarder in their neighborhood, how could anyone possibly know how much is too much, or what is right for them?

Of course, the more Stuff you have, the more you have to defend, and sometimes you have to defend against folks who are born to hoard (see above).

Stuff (and maybe some nonsense)at Red Rock Coffee, this Friday. Dinner often happens, afterwards, maybe it will this week, too.

 

 

 

 

Wasting no time

Barbara O’Reilly sent this message after seeing Wasted! at October Fourth Friday:

Thank you for the Transition PA movie/educational evening. I just wanted you to know that it inspired a couple of actions. 

I stopped to talk with the manager when I went to shop at Trader Joe’s the next day. Indeed, he knew about the importance of not just tossing less than perfect food.  (See photo below.  Perhaps a note to their HQ would encourage all their stores to update their signs or write a story about their efforts for their newsletter.

The other photos below result from my investigation of my own fridge. I rearranged and added a shoebox to house the items I need to use soon.  I removed the items that needed to be used ASAP and listed & weighed those that needed to be tossed.  The photo shows 2 1/2 lbs waste: tomato soup, moldy cheese chunks & spread, 1 cooked beet gone soft, 4 oz. dates – package dated 2002!  An unopened can of anchovies dated 2012 I dug into the garden where veggies will grow next spring. I then started a soup stock which used up the almost expired zucchini, crookneck and kale. 

Waste & Recycling have been a passion (obsession) or mine for many years.  A friend and I spent each Thursday at Los Altos Farmers Market sorting the aftermath of waste from the food vending booths.  Those vendors are required to buy compostable containers/plates but all was then being collected in the black/opaque trash bags that in our town go directly to landfill.

By setting up and “wo-maning” 3 three bin stations (big bins for recycling and compostables, small one for trash) we found significant improvement and with our added step of relocating items using our grab sticks we went from 35 black bags/week to 1/2 garbage bin; 3 compostable and 2 recycling bins filled each week.   

Now that theFarmer’s  Market is closed I am working on a better waste system at our Senior Center and then on to other public buildings and events in Los Altos.

Sarah from Zero Waste had a good display  at Fourth Friday for encouraging people to think before tossing and the audience certainly had plenty of questions for her…a good addition to the evening.

oreilly from wasted 1