Transition Café – Hands

We did a big house project, a few weeks ago, painting the big bathroom. The ladies collaborated on the painting project, while I kept them fed, watered, tea-ed, music-ed…a general gopher. The bluegrass playing during the whole evening gave this air of a commune, which was lovely. The next day, another coat was painted by another housemate, with the final one put on that afternoon, by one of the painters from the night before. Cleanup was a shared job.

Transition Towns loosely divide our projects into Head, Heart and Hands emphases, with an overarching theme of building community and the strong foundation of Permaculture ethics and principles, the ethics being Care of the Earth, Care of the People, and Generate and Distribute a Surplus. We’ll probably talk about all of these, at some point, but I’m interested in Hands, in this writing.

Shared work has been a form of bonding and community building since forever, among Humans, but also in the Greater-Than-Human world. Our Transition Initiative has gone in and out of emphasizing Hands projects, versus Head and Heart. Most projects are a mix of emphases, like a bread-making skillshare, where we are using our hands to make bread, our heads and hands to learn the technique, and our hearts and heads in the conversation and bonding with each other, or a Transition Café, which has both head and heart aspects.

What sorts of Hands projects do you find bring folks together? Gardening? Cooking? Helping others? Building? Permablitzes? Protests? Marches? Blockadia? Other projects? Is there a duration that is ideal? Daylong? A couple of hours?

Who do you like to do these projects with? Friends? Family? Folks you’ve just met? Folks you may not see again?

Years ago, a group of Transitioners and other friends got together to help me move to this place. We have had our ups and downs, inside the house and outside of it. This current generation of housemates benefits from the work of generations of housemates before them, nearly four years worth. There have been times when I have had wondered if we would ever be in the place of doing a house project together, as a community, but here we are. Where will our Transition Town be, a few years hence? What will we do, to get it there?

Hands, this Friday, 17 May, at Red Rock. Sometimes we go to dinner afterwards, maybe we will this week, too.

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, 17 May, from ~6:15-7:45pm, 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,



Notes: What We’re Reading

Being Salmon, Being Human, Martin Lee Mueller

Nourishment, Fred Provenza

The World We Used to Live In, Vine deLoria
Lean Logic, David Fleming

The Great Pivot, Justine Burt
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
Watership Down, Richard Adams

Please join us on tpa_cafe, or tpa_chat, you can join at

Random and Useful Other Stuff:
Toby Hemenway’s (author of Gaia’s Garden and The Permaculture City) website:
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.


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