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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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

Third Friday Games Night

Time to take a break from work, other responsibilities, and the seemingly endless barrage of news about natural disasters and human-caused craziness.

Join us for the first ever Third Friday Games Night

Let’s celebrate what brings us all together, and have some fun!

Bring your favorite board game, card game, or other fun activity – or just show up and play along with what others have brought.

All ages are welcome. Please feel free to bring a light snack to share if you’d like.

Friday November 17, 2017   7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto,
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE

games night


More on Wasted!

Do you know that 1/3 of all food that’s produced is wasted? That waste happens at every step of the food chain, from fields to supermarkets, to restaurants and home? That 90% of unused food in the US goes into landfills where it decomposes slowing, releasing methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2? That the ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates on packaged food are set with the goal of selling more, not keeping food safe? That ignoring the dates and using the your nose instead makes much more sense?That significantly reducing waste could help eliminate hunger and have a major impact on mitigating climate change?

Fourth Friday attendees learned all of this and more. And they got a glimpse at some creative solutions. Much waste in farms and fisheries occurs because people (enabled by supermarkets and restaurants) have an overly narrow view of what’s good to eat. People eat only the heads of broccoli and cauliflower although the stems and leaves are healthy and delicious. They stay steer clear of certain seafood just because they haven’t heard of it. And that’s only the start. The ‘good’ is harvested, and the rest is dumped.

The people in Wasted! want to change all that. The film featured chefs and others who are changing perceptions about what is good food. They’re renaming foods and creating delicious gourmet dishes from food that has been considered undesirable.

A common misunderstanding is that stores are restaurants aren’t allowed to donate unsold food. Not true! Good Samaritan laws in California and the US protect those who donate in good faith. This blurb from LA County gives some good guidelines on food donation as does this statement from the California Dept of Education. Also, check out this Huff Post article.

Because the waste problem happens at every stage in the food supply chain, everyone can have an impact. You can control how you interact with the businesses that sell you food, consider what you buy, plan your meals, and dispose of any unavoidable waste responsibly.

More ideas from the audience:

  • Village Harvest volunteers harvest fruit from people’s backyards to help people in need.
  • You can donate excess produce from your garden to your local food bank or soup kitchen.
  • You can also list food you’d like to give away on NextDoor or other neighborhood lists.
  • We can all help spread the word to others about food waste and each of us can have an impact.

Last but not least, a warm thank you to Zero Waste Palo Alto, which sponsored the film, and to Sarah Fitzgerald from Zero Waste, who brought a display on how to sort your waste and answered lots of questions from the crowd.

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Sittin’ by the side of the bay…Oct 12

Submitted by William Mutch and Rani Jayakumar:

Some of us will be doing a sunset sit at the Baylands, on Thursday, October 12th.  We’ll be gathering at the picnic tables by the Ranger Station, then finding a comfortable spot (but not too comfortable), to sit and admire the sunset.  We’ll meet at 5:45-6:30pm to chat and meet each other, with a formal silent sitting meditation from 6:30-7ish, and a more formal chat and maybe walk afterwards, thinking about meditation and how it fits into the work we do, as well as some observations from our sit, until the park closes around 7:30pm.  Bring layers, as temperatures vary widely, something comfortable to sit on (but not too comfortable), and a flashlight if you need it, but use it sparingly, to respect the darkness and the folks who depend on it. 

To get there, take Embarcadero Road out to the Baylands. Turn left at the T and head towards the Ranger Station and Interpretive Center.  Park across from the Interpretive Center, and walk back across the bridge to the Ranger Station. RSVPs are appreciated, so we know how many to expect.

See you then!
William and Rani



October Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – Wasted!

Transition Palo Alto is pleased to join with Zero Waste Palo Alto for a special showing of WASTED! The Story of Food Waste.

WASTED! sheds a light on the pressing issue of food waste. Every year 80% of the world’s water, 40% of the world’s land, and 10% of the world’s energy is dedicated to growing the food we eat, yet each year 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown out. That’s a third of all food grown around the world.

Produced by author and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, WASTED! explores the problem and offers solutions like reorienting consumer perspectives on the food  normally cast aside, and changes we can make to our food production chain to create a more sustainable food system.

Wasted 1

You’ll meet forward-thinking chefs and thought leaders like Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Danny Bowien, and Massimo Bottura, who offer creative, often mouth-watering solutions. Determined individuals and organizations are already influencing the future of food recovery and demonstrating how eating can empower people in the fight to solve one of the world’s most vexing dilemmas.

Friday October 27, 2017   7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto,
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, donations enouraged

Sponsored by Transition Palo Alto, Green Sanctuary Committee of Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, and Zero Waste Palo Alto


A Visit to Valley Verde

TPAers and folks from the South Bay Bioregional Hub joined in for a work day and get-together at Valley Verde in San Jose on September 30.  Valley Verde helps low-income families in San Jose start organic gardening at their own homes. The organization provides training to participants, and those who complete the training get raised beds, soil, help with irrigation, and seedlings each year.

There were plenty of volunteers, so the preparation of beds happened quickly, and plenty of time was left for a Bioregional Hub meeting. The hub’s goal is to help leaders in sustainability and resilience around the bay area connect with one another to learn about what everyone is doing and bring projects closer together.

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More on Sept Fourth Friday – East of Salinas

Fourth Friday attendees got a heartwarming and heartbreaking introduction to the harsh live of migrant worker and their families in the Salinas Valley. The film featured Jose Ansaldo, a young son of migrant workers, who loves school (especially math) and dreams of being a teacher or engineer. Unfortunately, the economic realities for his family are harsh, with frequent moves and sometimes not enough to eat. And because Jose is undocumented, his prospects for building the kind of life he would like are not promising.  But Jose is encouraged and introduced to new experiences by his third grade teacher, Oscar Ramos, also the son of migrants to dedicates himself to making a difference in the lives of Jose and other children.

Some follow-up from our conversation after the film:

You can read more about Jose Ansaldo on his Facebook page. And here is 7-minute short video update on Jose filmed this year.

Thomas Atwood spoke about the work of Fools Mission, which builds friendships with the local Latino community and accompanies members of the community as they deal with the challenges of the ‘system.’ Check out Fools Mission here. As Thomas would say, more Fools are always welcome!

Natalie Elephant mentioned ‘10 Books a Home,’ a project she’s been involved with to help preschoolers from families like Jose’s to get a better start in school. Learn more: