Welcome to Transition!

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

Coming up:

Friday May 25 May Fourth Friday, 7:30-9:30pm. ‘Trash Dance’ film and discussion. Scroll down for details, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto.
Sunday June 10 Spring Share Faire, 1-3pm. Mitchell Park Bowl, Palo Alto. Scroll down for details.
Second Tuesdays each month Games Night, 7:00-9:00pm. Palo Alto. Please RSVP to transitionpaloalto@googlegroups.com for address and other details.
Fourth Tuesdays each month TPA Community Council, 7-9pm, Palo Alto. Check your TPA email for location and details later in the month.
Wednesdays Permaculture Cafe, 6:00-7:30pm, Red Rock Cafe, Castro St, Mountain View.
Fridays, except fourth Friday Transition Cafe, 6:10-8pm, Red Rock Cafe, Castro St, Mountain ViewMore about the cafe
Weekends Garden Shares:
First Saturday: Mountain View Garden Share,
12 noon-1pm, Heritage Park in Mountain View.
Fourth Saturday: Portola Valley Garden Share,
1-2pm, Portola Valley Town Center.
Fourth Sunday: Sunnyvale Garden Share,
11am-noon, Charles St. Garden, Sunnyvale.
Every other Sunday, starting 5/6: Redwood City Garden Share, 1266 Connecticut Drive, Redwood City. Contact rhamsa14@yahoo.com for updates.

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.

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Transition Café – Markings

–William Mutch

Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…near them in the sand
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive stamped on these lifeless things.
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing else remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

I have been admiring the markings of Coyotes on the land I live on and steward, of late, scrapes and scats. At least, I believe the markings to have come from Coyotes. Scat placed carefully, to draw attention to it, either visually or through scent. One pile placed exactingly in the center of the intersection of three driveways on our hill, another in the center of the path down from the house onto the rest of the hill, in a similar placement to multiple scrapes which have shown up, lately, a couple of which I watched being scratched into the mulch of the path. The second pile is placed in such a way that the scent is barely noticeable near it, but it fills the living room, powerfully.

Some of the furred peoples are somewhat more particular about where they place their scat than others, leaving it carefully in places where it will communicate clear messages to others of their species, or to other species alert to such relationships. Ephemeral, not intended to be anything but, yet with their own beauty, to those with attention which takes in such things.

How dare I associate Coyote scat with a sonnet of an English Romantic poet? I will leave you to your own feelings on that, but will ask…what markings do you leave on the world? All of us leave tracks of some kind, of course: footprints in mud, dust, or sand…or in relationships or social groups…or the fabric of history…

These things are ephemeral, at best, fading quickly or slowly, but not always predictably. Footprints made in clay can be clear for far longer than a statue of a long-forgotten king or queen, or even their descendants or culture. Thought forms can be around for long, as well, though, and some say that they bubble up from a dynamic ground of being, somehow, long after they have been forgotten by mortal memories (not just in Star Wars, although that was neat how they did that!).

What markings do you leave upon the world? Are they the same as the markings you think you leave, that you want to leave? What are the shape of the footprints you leave on your relationships with those who love you, those who do not love you, those who may feel completely differently about you someday than they do today? It is easy to think that we will not be remembered, after we are gone, or that we will be remembered long into the future, but who knows? Perhaps your journal, your mad musings, ends up in a cave somewhere, to be found by the survivors of whatever our generation has wrought, and will be interpreted as the words of whatever divinity a future society worships (or else they would not have survived for so long). Archaeologists and anthropologists learn a great deal from analyzing toilets, latrines, and scat piles. What do yours say? About you? About your culture?

How would you feel if your great sonnet were to end up in an essay with a couple of piles of scat? How about if your carefully-considered, exquisitely-placed scat piles were to end up in an essay with a sonnet composed by someone so crass as to consign your artistic medium to an outhouse or toilet?

Who knows? What do you want to happen? Is it ever too late to change that? What if it isn’t too late, however old you are, however close to the end of your mortal life? A good friend of mine left her physical form behind a few years ago, and the ripples of her state change have created benevolence, understanding, and good works in the world that she likely did not anticipate, in her time as a mortal. Still, she lived a life that many of us would envy, and folks are realizing that they could emulate. She certainly would have had a less-pleasant side, too, most of us do, but folks aren’t talking about that. No monuments, no vast and trunkless legs of stone, just ripples of good will, stirring hearts long past her mortal life, and perhaps long past our mortal memories of her.

 

 

 

 

Spring Share Faire June 10

Mitchell Park Bowl
3700 East Meadow Dr
Palo Alto, CA 94303 [MAP]
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00 – 3:00 PM

Transition Palo Alto‘s Spring Share Faire will take over the Mitchell Park Bowl from 1-3 PM on the afternoon of Sunday, June 10.

We’ll have skills to share, at tables and as classes.  Already lined up for you, we have Chicken Care and Improv, Science and Crafts, and Tool Care.  We’re looking for a few more skills teachers – if you have a skill you’d like to share, please respond to this e-mail with your idea.

As always, we’ll have goods to share, including garden, clothing, household, books and more.

And we’ll share each other’s good company while building a stronger community.

Please plan to join us.  If you’d like to volunteer as a greeter, for set-up or clean-up, or for whatever, send email to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com.
2018 spring share faire flyer

Trash Dance – May Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope

“Inspired and inspiring…Not to be missed!” – Paste Magazine

We all know what a problem waste is, and previous Fourth Friday films have focused on how to reduce it. But what about all the people who work tirelessly to pick up, process, and dispose of our waste? They’re mostly invisible to us, yet they perform an essential service that most of us would never want to do.

Trash Dance introduces us to some of these people, adding an amazing and inspiring twist. Choreographer Allison Orr rides along with Austin, Texas sanitation workers on their daily routes to observe and later convince them to perform a most unlikely spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks deliver — for one night only — a stunningly beautiful and moving performance, in front of an audience of thousands.

May 25 7:30-9:30pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

trash dance

Thanks to Zero Waste Palo Alto for providing the film and for being a great TPA partner!

Garden Share in San Diego

This was written by my mother, who, inspired by our TPA Garden Shares, began her own in Scripps Ranch, in San Diego:

by Suhasini Jayakumar

We’ve held our Garden share once a month, for over 5 years now.  We get together in our community center, where we share ideas, produce, and stories of successes and failures in our backyards. The main idea is to welcome neighbors and get to know them, building community. To that end, we bring snacks and tea or some cold drinks, sharing and communing with friends.
Gradually, we have also added things other than produce and home made snacks. These include books, household items, pots and planters, and even clothes.
During all this time, we have had one big Permaculture workshop, where about 25 people participated, building a grow box, and learning about Permaculture. The workshop was led by Alden, a local who helps run the Sky Mountain permaculture institute. [photos below]
We have also had a show and tell of tools used in the yards, notably a 3 in 1 tool that caught folks’ imagination.
Our latest event, on April 15th., called a Sustainability Hack, drew over 30 people, which we consider quite a success, especially for a first event  such as this. We had specialists talk about Bokashi, regular and worm composting; people showing videos and photos of their Native-plant yards, along with the edibles they are growing; one person showing people how to make small succulent planters out of corks; youngsters having a lot of fun with used, recyclable material; one girl making very cute and useful bags from old T-shirts; henna at one table; stringing of jasmine flowers at another, both of which drew curious and interested spectators. One person made smores in the solar oven, which came out ok despite the cloudy skies. We even had a demonstration of a small wood chipper, and shredder of cardboard for mulch.
Youngsters were interested in calculating their carbon footprint at a table, along with elders. The guess the fruit/vegetable table drew a lot of interest, along with the CO2e of different diets.
All in all, we all had a great time learning from each other, and sharing food and ideas. We will certainly do this again in a few months.

When the World is Mad….

“When the word is mad, only the mad are sane.” Akira Kurosawa

This thought came to mind as I watched ‘The Reluctant Radical’ with the Fourth Friday audience April 27. When Ken Ward, a former mainstream environmentalist realizes that business-as-usual actions aren’t waking the powers that be up to the severity of the climate threat, he starts steps in up with creative and often quixotic acts of civil disobedience. These culminated in a major action with other activists that temporarily shut down all the major oil pipelines entering the US from Canada in 2016.

The film encouraged participants to think about who is sane and who is crazy in our mad world, what kinds of actions might make a difference, and the personal and moral choices that we all face. The film also illustrated the power of social connections and mutual support among activists, as Ken evolved from a lone crusader to part of the larger group that together planned and executed the major pipeline action.

Filmmaker Ralph King introduced a second short film, ‘Arrestable’, which profiles a group of 350.org activists preparing to engage in civil disobedience to encourage banks in Seattle to divest from fossil fuels.  Arrestable brings the planning and decisions about engaging in civil disobedience closer to what some of us might actually do. In the film, activists are trained on what to do and what to expect, and each decides whether to risk arrest or remain in a supporting role.

Much food for thought and action!

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Transition Café – Convenience

Transition Cafe notes from William Mutch…

In setting up Bird feeders and houses on the land I’m stewarding, I have been trying to balance having a consistent, convenient food supply with wanting the Birds to have to work for their food, so they don’t take it for granted and unlearn their foraging skills. The goal, here, is not to create domesticated, tame cultures of the formerly-wild, but to supplement their diet, replacing what my people have damaged and destroyed, until such time as the land is teaming with food for the wild folks, again. Work in progress…

Convenience, of course, is a major issue in Human culture, as well, especially in the age of amazon.com and the internet. We Humans have been grappling with our own domestication for at least as long as the rise of grocery stores and convenience stores, which offered to remove the burden of growing and preparing food, as well as making needed products and goods. How many skills did we let go, along the way? I discover new ones, constantly. How many things used to be done by hand, in the home, village, or city, that are now outsourced to slaves-Human, Machine, or otherwise?

It is hard to have a privileged class, if everyone is making things for themselves and helping each other out, and hard to motivate people to go to work to make money for themselves and widgets for others if they don’t have a life of privilege to look forward to, hopefully with enough of their life left to enjoy it. Convenience stores supply, among other things, a sense of ease and affluence which was formerly available to a very few.

Online convenience stores seem to be the next big iteration of that. Why trouble yourself to walk a few blocks, or bike into town, when you can click on a picture of something you think you want and have it appear on your doorstep soon thereafter? I have heard that there are even houses which have amazon.com-based security systems, which allow for your stuff to be dropped off inside your house by the people whose job it is to do so, eliminating even one more step in the accumulation of stuff, and you never even have to see them or talk to them. There are even, the rumors say, houses which are completely controlled by a computer system contained within the home. This must be an internet legend, of course, as surely folks see the potential issues with that. Have we not seen enough sci-fi to be concerned?

What is the cost of all of this? Is money the only metric we should be using, here? Has all of this really improved our “quality of life”? Why, or why not?

How many of you, reading this, still go into your bank and speak to the tellers behind the counter? Can you recall their names? Do you know anything about their families? How many of you prepare your own food, as opposed to having food prepared for you? What are the ingredients of your food? What are the names of the folks who got your food to your table? Are they all still alive at the time you are consuming it? Why, or why not? That thing you ordered online-who made it? What are their names? Why would you care, if it’s not Convenient to do so?

I hear, over and over, via articles, studies, and friends who experience this themselves, that many many people in this world relate to each other via their computers, and are near-phobic of personal interactions, having spent so much time at, or even growing up with, computer-mediated interactions. But then, why sacrifice the convenience of an e-mail blast for the messiness of in-person relationships? What would you learn about those around you, if you did so?

 

 

First TPA Community Council

We had our first Transition Palo Alto Community Council at Palo Alto Cafe this Tuesday.  Attendance was modest, but it is bound to grow as people discover the opportunity to get more involved with setting priorities, creating events and participating in the operations of Transition Palo Alto.

 

We made a good (re-)start on the idea of a Transition Palo Alto Resource Map.  We realized that there are many issues to be discussed before we have a map, including at least:
  • What makes a place a Transition Resource?  Criteria need to be grounded in Transition values.
  • What area will we cover?  It must be broad enough to be accessible to our members, but narrow enough to cover responsibly with limited volunteer power?.
  • Should we have grades?  Not all resources will have all Transition values, but some which have a good representation of values should be noted anyway.
  • Maintenance of the map was not discussed but will have to be.  New businesses appear, while old ones disappear, and some may cease to follow Transition values while remaining in business.
We spent some times considering Grocery Stores as our first category of businesses to be included on the Map.  We do expect that we will want to discuss this for a few months, at the level of the map and criteria, and at the level of the grocery store before we produce our first map.  This is a complex process that demands serious thought and research.

 

We also came up with a good plan for the Palo Alto Library’s re:Maker Fair, which will take place on June 23.  We will follow up on March’s Shop Your Fridge Potluck and the interest in decreasing food waste and show people what to do with odd-bits and leftovers.  At the least, we will talk about saving craps, peels and tops for veggie stock, either made immediately in small amounts, or later with bits saved in the freezer in bigger batches.  There are lots of little tips and techniques to include in such a demo.  We would also like to run the Dan Barber video about squash bits on a laptop.  A team will form to put together a detailed presentation/table over time.  Reach out to us if you are interested in participating.

 

Make sure to join us in May.  Look for an announcement with time, place and other details.

Transition Café – Nostalgia for Oil?

Transition Cafe notes from William Mutch

I arrived home, the other night, at the beginning of a concert. The players were just warming up, gathering, tuning their instruments, figuring out where they could play to best advantage. I was sitting in my car, in the driveway, when I felt like I should walk around the house. When I arrived at the front of the house, my headlamp picked out eyeshine, in the dark between the clothesline and the big Cork Oak. Probably seven individuals, glowing eyes bobbing and weaving as they checked me out, then they disappeared toward my neighbors’ place. I circled back around, encountering them again on the little road that runs up the hill, still checking me out. Then the concert began, Coyotes bursting into full voice.

If you’ve never experienced being near Coyotes howling in large numbers, it is something. I’d only been close to it a couple of times, before moving onto this land. My first Coyote song was scary to me, actually. I couldn’t figure out what it was, and the alien, not-Dog-ness of it had me jumpy. It didn’t help that I was one of two Humans designated to scout the Dark and figure out what on Earth that sound was… The second close experience had me right in the middle of a howling pack. I still don’t know how they felt, having me there, but I was close enough to feel the compression waves as their voices hit the air between us, and it took my breath away.

The current concert seemed to involve three packs, or three sizeable subsets of the same pack. The music swirled around, for awhile, then moved down the driveway and across the hill. I was right in the middle of it for around…awhile…which was probably shorter than it felt…

The first time I heard a Coyote, I couldn’t sleep through the night for worrying about what it might be. On a recent campout, I apparently slept right through a great chorus. I usually find it soothing, for reasons contemplated in the Transition Café archives. Not that I’m advocating for standing in the Dark, in the middle of a pack of howling omnivores…do be safe out there…

It’s funny, living in the Age of Convenience. We think nothing of traveling great distances to see things we can’t see around these parts, visit relatives who live far away, but so close via powered vehicles, order stuff from all over the globe. So much I will miss about this, when it all goes away, not least of which being the access to books, tools, and seeds I haven’t heard of. And it will, of course. I love being able to “easily” visit my sister in the North Bay, friends in the East Bay, places I love, like Mendocino, Ashland, Corvallis…things which will be so much farther away, when the cheap oil disappears. So many things we take for granted, that won’t be available anymore, at least not at a price most of us can afford. Mostly I probably miss the innocent ignorance of the early and mid-era.

 

Transition Café – Superstition

The Guru and the Cat

Once upon a time, there was a certain guru. During meditation, the temple’s resident Cat would wind around amongst the meditators, meowing loudly and making it hard to concentrate on anything other than her. So, the guru ordered that the Cat be tied up outside the the meditation hall. In due course, the guru departed the physical realm for more ethereal pursuits, and the students continued to tie the Cat up outside the hall, although few had been with the temple long enough at that point to remember why. Time passed, and the Cat eventually joined the guru. So…the students procured a new Cat, who they duly tied up outside the meditation hall, while they were sitting. Centuries later, scholars would write learned treatises on the importance of having a Cat tied up outside the room in which one is meditating.

-Source unknown, but possibly fictional…

Kind of a silly story, and a trap which, in these enlightened times, none of us would ever fall into. Or…would we? How many of us have habits which we adopted so long ago that we have forgotten why we do them? How many of those habits were consciously adopted, long ago, and now are so far from consciousness that we would deny doing them if asked? How many of those habits have stories wrapped around them to justify their existence, even though they don’t make sense? How many of us make a habit of questioning those habits, when they show up, or even of seeking them out, when they don’t? For instance…how many of us refer to making an auditory duplicate of an event as “taping” it? How long has it been since that term made sense? How about the ring or wristwatch (remember wristwatches?) you no longer wear, but keep adjusting, anyway?

So, to, with Superstitions. Some make sense, sometimes called “constructive paranoia”. In other words, the behaviors do not objectively make sense, but, given the life history of the individual, not only make sense, but their life without them wouldn’t make sense. Habits like going back to check the stove, even if you know you didn’t turn it on, which drive your friends and relatives crazy, might make sense in someone who had lived in a situation where stoves were routinely left on when housemate(s!) had left for work. Others, like a dread of the number 13, might have historic or cultural roots that simply don’t make sense in the current age.

There are also funny ones, like a practice which had become Superstition, bleeding Humans with Leeches, and which, for a long time, was synonymous with barbaric medicinal practices, is now recognized to have valid medical applications. Superstitions around certain Plants being poisonous or medicinal, which turn out not to be (The Milkweed Effect).

What Superstitions are active in your life? Why do you believe them? Are they constructive, destructive, neutral? Do they make sense to you, but to nobody else? Are they cultural? Familial? Personal? Do you remember the moment you were taught one, or when you started to believe one? Is it only a Superstition if it is active in the life of someone who is not you?

Superstitions, at Red Rock Coffee, this Friday, 13 April. We often go to dinner afterwards, maybe we will this week, too.

April Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – ‘The Reluctant Radical’ and ‘Arrestable’

April 27, 7:15-9:30pm NOTE TIME CHANGE
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

April Fourth Friday will take a close look at direct climate action — how activists are putting themselves on the line and turning up the heat to fight climate change.

  • THE RELUCTANT RADICAL is a documentary about climate activist Ken Ward, who turned to civil disobedience after working within environmental organizations for many years. (Scroll down for more about the film and for a link to the trailer.)
  • ARRESTABLE is a short video that follows activists in Seattle as they prepare for civil disobedience to urge local banks to stop funding fossil fuel companies.

We’re pleased to welcome the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and 350 Silicon Valley as co-sponsors. We’ll include some time to discuss the films and share experiences and ideas about stepping up the climate fight.

reluctant radical

More about THE RELUCTANT RADICAL:
The film follows activist Ken Ward as he confronts his fears and puts himself in the direct path of the fossil fuel industry to combat climate change. After twenty years leading environmental organizations, Ken became increasingly alarmed by the scientific evidence of climate change and the repercussions for civilization. He now embraces direct action civil disobedience as the most effective political tool to deal with catastrophic circumstances.

The film follows Ken for a year and a half through a series of direct actions, culminating with his participation in the coordinated action that shut down all the U.S. tar sands oil pipelines on October 11, 2016. The film reveals both the personal costs and also the fulfillment that comes from following one’s moral calling- even if that means breaking the law. Ken Ward has no regrets, and his certainty leaves the audience to consider if he is out of touch with reality, or if it is the rest of society that is delusional for not acting when faced with the unsettling evidence that we are collectively destroying our world.

Director Lindsey Grayzel, co-producer Deia Schlosberg and cinematographer Carl Davis were three of four independent filmmakers to be arrested and charged with crimes for filming the activists on October 11, 2016. Their charges have been dropped, and they have joined forces to tell Ken’s story through this film. See the trailer

Sponsored by Transition Palo Alto, the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, 350 Silicon Valley, and the Green Sanctuary Committee of UUCPA.