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.

2016 is the year of engagement!

It’s a critical year for our planet and for democracy, and we want to challenge everyone in our community to do something more to be involved, especially in the areas of climate change, democracy, social justice, and community building. Check these TPA blog posts for ideas on getting involved: 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 we want to hear from you! What are you doing this year to be involved? Send a message to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com.

Coming up:

  • October Fourth Friday October 28, 7:30pm- California and Local Election Roundtable Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. Scroll down for details.
  • Garden Shares 
    The Palo Alto Garden Share is now part of the Share Faire. Stay tuned for information about the next Share Faire.
    Fourth Sunday of each month, 11am-12, Full Circle Farm, Sunnyvale
  • Transition Cafes – Most Fridays, 6-8pm, Red Rock Cafe, Mountain View. Check your email each week (by Thursday) for the topic and details.

mailing list Meetup Group/Facebook group

All set for Halloween

Thanks to the October Share Faire and Costume Swap, local kids of all ages are now ready for Halloween. It’s the sharing community at its best – kids who want to look their best (or scariest) on Halloween matched up with grandparents cleaning out their old stashes of costumes and families with kids who’ve outgrown their garb from previous years.

Kids also got a chance to exercise their creative spirit by making masks at the craft table.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


October Fourth Friday – Election is coming!

It’s a BIG election coming up. With all the attention on the presidential race, many folks don’t realize that the California ballot will be packed with 17 initiatives on critical issues that range from corporate power to plastic bags, the death penalty, taxes, marijuana, and more. Local measures affecting land use and housing are also on the ballot.

Come to Fourth Friday October 28 for a roundtable on the issues and how you can help inform others. We’ll share more details a bit later in the month.

And click here for some local and state ballot measure recommendations by some other organizations with Transition-like values. We’ll be updating the list as we get more information during this month. Last updated 10/16/2016.

And please don’t forget to VOTE! Every vote matters!


Fourth Friday, October 28, 7:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E Charleston, Palo Alto

Breathing new life into old computers

Bart Anderson has been a big part of the local Transition community since the beginning.  He helped start TPA, has served on the steering committee, and continues to help manage the website and mailing lists. In recent months, Bart has started to refurbish old computers as a way to help others while reducing waste and saving resources.

Bart writes:
I have Eitan Fenson to blame for the piles of old laptops littering our living room.  He’s the one who  started me on a voyage of discovery about how to reduce the environmental impact of computers.  And how to get unwanted computers into the hands of people who can use them.

Two years ago, he told me how he used dozens of old laptops to set up a phone bank for a local political group (the name of which begins with “D”).  Most of us think that a computer built five years ago is “old,” but Eitan showed me that even computers 10 years old have a lot of life left in them.

When I showed interest, Eitan gave me a sample laptop – a Dell D620, a business laptop from 2006. As a former computer tech writer, I was impressed with how well it was built. Not only was it solid as a tank, but it ran flawlessly and was easy to fix.

In the Transition spirit, I began refurbishing laptops myself, converting our dining room table into a workshop.

So far I’ve saved 39 laptops from the landfill and given them to individuals and groups. Many more units are in the pipeline.

Here’s the story of an old duffer who’s been an inspiration to me … and he seems to be having fun too:

Keeping old computers alive is good for the environment. As Jim Lynch of Tech Soup (San Francisco) points out, extending the life of a computer saves 5 to 20 times more energy than recycling it. (“Environmental Case for Refurbished IT Equipment” http://forums.techsoup.org/cs/community/b/tsblog/archive/2009/02/04/environmental-case-for-refurbished-it-equipment.aspx)

For more background, see this video by Annie Leonard (“Story of Stuff”):

You can drastically reduce the impact of computers by making them last as long as possible.  Taking care of your computer means protecting it from liquid spills, physical impacts and, above all, HEAT!  Periodically clean the dust from inside your computer, and avoid putting your laptop on fabrics which will restrict  the air intake.


When you are finished with your computer, try to pass it on to someone who will use it. Consider giving it away, reselling it, or donating it to someone who will refurbish it.

As a last resort, recycle it. Palo Altans are lucky because electronics can be recycled by putting devices in a recycle bin. Whatever you do, don’t put it in the trash. Electronic devices are full of toxins.

There are many other ways we can make a difference. I hope to be writing more about them in the future. For example:

  • Computer self-help groups. We’ve been floating ideas about a computer Google group, or evening computer clinics
  • Linux and “free” software. These make it possible to keep old computers alive. Also, learning about Linux is a big step away from being a passive consumer, and taking control of your computing life.
  • If anyone is interested in the details of refurbishing or a refurbishing program, contact me. Free Geek, headquartered in Portland, is a source of inspiration for community-based programs.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSFOmYPeBqE

Navy technician Latarsha Young displays one of many computers damaged by floodwaters in Millington, Tenn. (2010)

David Herron of TPA also refurbishes computers – in his case, MacBook Pros. See his article “Save money and the planet, repair/upgrade your old MacBook Pro rather than tossing it to buy a new one.”


Spotlight on inequality

Excellent film and discussion at the September 30 UNAFF cafe showing of Inequality for All at the Los Altos Library. United Nations Association Film Festival founder, Jasmina Bojic, stopped by to talk about the film and the festival, while everyone munched cookies and watched the show. Afterwards, attendees reflected on how the film made them feel, how they would describe it to others, and how to turn the sobering message of the film into positive action.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Expanding our housing toolkit

Come to this special event, organized by Palo Alto Forward and co-sponsored by TPA.

Soaring property values, displacement, and homelessness require new solutions to providing sustainable housing for every member of society. Join us for a presentation and conversation on how communities can expand their housing toolkit.

Alternatives to traditional affordable housing approaches can include community land trusts, real estate investment cooperatives and permanent real estate cooperatives, as well as creative ways to finance these projects. These alternatives can also ensure long-term affordability and empower residents by ensuring residents have democratic control over their land and housing. Examples of how cities can support these models of sustainable housing development will be provided.

RSVP: https://expandingourhousingtoolkit.eventbrite.com

with Sara Stephens + Cameron Rhudy
of the Sustainable Economies Law Center
WED. SEPTEMBER 7, 2016 6-8P
1001 Emerson Street (enter on Addison)
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Co-sponsored by: Palo Alto Forward, League of Women Voters of Palo Alto, Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action (PICA), Transition Palo Alto

September Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – Dream On

In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where anyone could climb the ladder of economic opportunity. Following in the Frenchman’s footsteps, Fugelsang speaks with fast-food workers and retirees, prisoners and entrepreneurs, undocumented immigrants and community organizers about their hopes, dreams, and daily struggles. Dream On explores whether the optimistic spirit of the American Dream that Tocqueville observed is alive and well in the twenty-first century, or whether George Carlin was right when he famously quipped “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” View the trailer…

September 23, Meet and greet, 7pm, film starts at 7:30, conversation follows the film
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E Charleston, Palo Alto

Dream on



UN Association Film Festival Cafe Inequality for All – Sept 30

TPA is delighted to be a partner this year for the United Nations Association Film Festival. Join us on Friday, September 30 for a FREE Festival Cafe at the Los Altos Public Library. We’ll be showing “Inequality for All,” Robert Reich’s award-winning film about the widening income and wealth gap, the problems it causes, and what we need to do about it.

Until we can take a step back and understand the big picture, we can’t do anything to get ourselves out of this mess. Our democracy as we know it depends on it. I’m an educator. I love the classroom. But I also write books, appear on television and on the radio, and do everything else I can do to help people understand the economic truth. It’s my life’s work and it’s more important than ever. One of the best ways to help people understand the challenges we face, is with a movie that can grab an audience and move them to action.
–Robert Reich, Economist, UC Berkeley Professor, and former US Secretary of Labor

inequality for al big posted

The film was shown last year at the 18th UNAFF.
Click for a flyer that you can share or post.

Please register at EventBrite so we know how many people to expect.
Gather for cookies at 7pm, film starts promptly at 7:30, followed by conversation.
Friday September 30
Los Altos Public Library, 13 S. San Antonio, Los Altos

The film was first screened at the UNAFF 2105 festival (http://www.unaff.org/).

Conceived in 1998 at Stanford University by film critic and educator Jasmina Bojic in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) screens documentaries by international filmmakers dealing with topics such as human rights, environmental themes, women’s issues, children, refugee protection, homelessness, racism, disease control, universal education, war and peace. By bringing together filmmakers, the academic community and the general public, UNAFF offers a unique opportunity for creative exchange and education among groups and individuals often separated by geography, ethnicity and economic constraints. For more details please visit http://www.unaff.org