Conversation with Asher Miller of Post Carbon Institute

On October 15, TPA had the pleasure of hosting Asher Miller, head of the Post Carbon Institute. In conversation with TPAer Bart Anderson, Asher talked about his roots in the Bay Area, his work at PCI, the connection between the Transition Town movement and Post Carbon, and the crises we’re now facing ecologically, politically, economically, and culturally.

By working with visionaries and thought leaders like Richard Heinberg, Bill McKibben, and Rob Hopkins and educating people through the resilience.org news and information site, PCI has been promoting social and cultural changes to make society more resilient and responsive. Asher wants to make sure that positive ideas and approaches are ready and available for people to grab and run with when they decide or are forced to act.

You can learn more about Asher Miller and the work on PCI by going to https://www.postcarbon.org/ and resilience.org.

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Roundtable wisdom

30 enthusiastic and thoughtful participants gathered for Fourth Friday’s election roundtable to crowdsource information and advice about the state and local ballot measures that are up for a vote in November.  The purpose was not to endorse any particular measures, but rather to look beneath the surface at what motivated the presence of each measure on the ballot and what the likely result of passage would be.

Hopefully, the following notes accurately reflect the conversation!

State ballot measures

Ballotpedia has a summary of all the measures with links to details.

State bond measures

There are several bond measures on the ballot this year. We had some general discussion about bond financing, with questions raised about reliance on bond financing instead of having the legislature simply appropriate money where needed. The explanation was that the legislature appropriates money on a year-by-year basis, which doesn’t work for long-term capital-intensive financing.

Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 address affordable housing, with Proposition 2 specifically addressing the nexus between mental health and homelessness. We learned about the complicated layers of funding required for affordable housing and how these bond measures are an essential piece of a larger puzzle. Most people who shared their views were in support of these measures.

Proposition 3 is a bit more complicated. It provides additional funds for water infrastructure but is opposed by groups such as the Sierra Club as a giveaway to Big Agriculture that may divert funds from climate funds and elsewhere. Some participants wanted to learn more about the measure, but the general feeling was that it should be opposed.

Proposition 4 would provide additional funding for children’s hospitals. Sentiment in the group leaned towards support, though it was noted that money to finance the initiative has been provided by all the major children’s hospitals in the state.

Other state measures

Proposition 5 allows homeowners who are 55 and over or severely disabled to buy another house anywhere in California without having their tax basis recalculated for property tax purposes. Current law allows a one-time transfer of property tax basis homeowners 55 and older, with restrictions as to the counties where they can move and keep the benefit.  Sentiment in the group was strongly against this proposition. The proposition places no limit on the number of times homeowners can get the benefit, so it could encourage house flipping, where people buy a house, add improvements, and then immediately sell at a higher price. It also could mean a significant reduction in property tax revenues for education and other services.

Proposition 6 would repeal the 2017 gas tax increase and make it much harder to impose future gas taxes for revenues and carbon reduction. The group expressed strong opposition.

Proposition 10 would make it easier for localities to implement rent stabilization by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Currently, rent stabilization policies, such as Mountain Views do conform to Costa-Hawkins, but there are constraints that could be relaxed if this passes. Participants expressed support for this measure.

Support was also expressed for Proposition 12, which would improve conditions for animals intended for food consumption.

Participants expressed opposition to Proposition 8 (dialysis clinics) and Proposition 11 (ambulance workers). Proposition 8 came across as a piecemeal proposal that is not best addressed by a proposition, while Proposition 11 came across as a giveaway to ambulance companies.

It was noted that Proposition 7 for year-round daylight savings time would have an effect only if the federal government allows the change AND the California legislative enacts it.

Local measures

We also discussed the local measures on the ballot in Palo Alto and Mountain View.

Palo Alto

Measure E would raise the hotel tax (transient occupancy tax) by 1.5% to help with general municipal funding. Raising the hotel tax to fund city services is often a popular thing to do because it doesn’t directly hit the pocketbooks of local residents.

There was no consensus on this measure, but it was noted that it would enable or continue projects that for which costs have increased since funding was last approved (the group wasn’t sure what specific projects would be involved).  And people wondered if the tax would apply to Air BNB rentals. According to my reading of the official resolution, it would (see section 2.33.010 of the resolution).

Measure F would get Palo Alto into the business of regulating health care costs. The consensus was that while keeping health care costs in line is highly desirable, it’s not an issue that can effectively or should be addressed at the municipal level.

Mountain View

Measure P would be a change to the business license tax. The new structure would be highly graduated with little change for small business but much higher rates paid by large businesses such as Google. The goal is to help improve transportation for the new developments that are planned north of Shoreline (on the Bay side of 101). Participants were in favor of this measure.

Measure Q is part of the city’s preparation for local retail cannabis sales, ensuring that a tax will be in place before any retail operations are opened. It would levy a 9% tax on gross receipts, which is in the range of rates that are already authorized by other local governments. Participants noted that this would not establish or enable any cannabis businesses, just garner revenue from ones that are established. Participants expressed support for this proposal.

Resources

There are lots of places to look for more information on the November ballot. Here are just a few. If you have information you’d like to share, please send email to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com. If your information is appropriate and helpful, we’ll add it to this post. Please remember, though that Transition Palo Altos is a non-partisan organization.

Indivisible CA Ballot Propositions Voter Guide. This is the guide that was passed out during the roundtable, prepared by the non-partisan Indivisible resistance group.

League of Women Voters. This page has links to various resources, including their ballot proposition pros and cons.

Ballotpedia very comprehensive place to go for almost all ballot information.

Sierra Club. This page has their statewide endorsements.

 

 

 

 

Transition US Online Summit Oct 27

October 27th, 9:45am to 3pm
RSVP to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com for location and details of the local gathering.

Transition US will host its first-ever national online summit, bringing together Transition US Community members and organizers from across the country for a day of education, inspiration, and celebration. The gathering will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Transition Movement with:

– Keynote sessions featuring international Transition Movement founder Rob Hopkins and world-renowned author, educator, and activist Margaret J. Wheatley.

– Engaging panel discussions focused on sharing some of the greatest success stories from our national network and deepening connections with the wider movement for community resilience.

– A live, interactive session with a talk by Transition US staff about the state of our movement and the presentation of several awards nominated by you, the community.

For more information and to participate in the local gathering, please RSVP to transitionpaloalto@gmail.com.

10/26 Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – Food for Change

October is National Co-op month, and Fourth Friday is joining other communities across the country to show Food for Change, an acclaimed documentary about food co-ops.

Food for Change tracks the ups and downs of cooperatives since the Great Depression through rare archival footage, animation, graphics, and interviews with co-op leaders. You’ll learn about the nation’s longest surviving alternative economic system, which is also a social movement based on principles of cooperation. Food co-ops introduced whole and organic foods to the American diet in the 1970s; today they are the champions of local food systems.

Filmmaker Steve Alves, who narrates the film, sees the story’s theme of cooperation as particularly relevant to today’s political climate. “It’s American history, from the Great Depression to the present, with co-ops as the protagonist,” says Alves.

“Across the U.S. we’re experiencing both a renaissance and a challenge to food co-ops,” says Sean Doyle, General Manager of the Seward Co-op. “As food co-ops have grown to be successful businesses with annual sales of over $2 billion, they are facing fierce competition from corporate chain stores in the natural foods market they created. We want the public to know our story and what we stand for.”  See the trailer…

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

Co-sponsored by Transition Palo Alto and the Green Sanctuary Committee of UUPCA.

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Special event: ‘Sustainability in the Age of Trump’ – Conversation with Asher Miller of the Post Carbon Institute

Monday October 15, 7:30-9pm
Main Hall, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
Free, please sign up at EventBrite

You’re invited for a bird’s-eye view of the sustainability movement in the age of Trump, including where we can and should go, with Asher Miller, head of the Post Carbon Institute.

Through Post-Cabon, Asher has connected the different parts of the sustainability movement.  He was instrumental in helping the Transition Movement get started in the United States. He’s supported the work of Richard Heinberg on energy and peak oil and brought together experts such as Bill McKibben (climate) and Rob Hopkins (Transition).

Post Carbon has published many books, articles, and videos on sustainability, and supports the news site Resilience.org. Transition Palo Alto member Bart Anderson is one of the resilience.org editors and has worked with Asher since 2008.

Bart says, “Asher is that rare combination of idealist and common sense. Working behind the scenes, he is a master at networking the different groups and individuals. I always value his thoughts on strategy. If you want to learn what’s really going on, listen to Asher!”

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September 28 Fourth Friday: California and Local Election Roundtable

Want to make sense of all the California ballot initiatives? Wonder what impact the local measures on the ballot might have on your values and priorities?

Come to the 2018 TPA election roundtable to find out what other folks have learned about the ballot measures. Sometimes there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Let’s crowdsource what we all know, keeping an open mind and welcoming other thoughtful perspectives.

September 28 7:30-9:00pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto

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Rising up for our climate

Check out these sites for details about the Climate Rise March Sept 8 and other grassroots actions for this month.

350.org – Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice
Sunshine Alliance – schedule of people’s climate actions Sept 2-15

Jerry Brown hopes to use the Global Climate Action Summit Sept 12-14 to cement his legacy as a climate leader. But Brown has refused to ban fracking and limit other oil production in the state. Non-violent civil disobedience actions are underway as a last push to encourage Brown to act – and to send a message to the next state administration. Victoria Armigo participated in an action in August and shared this link with information about an action on September 13.

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August 24 Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope Soft Vengeance – Film and Discussion

“An emotive film that recognizes the power and endurance of the human spirit at its best.” – The Guardian (UK)

SOFT VENGEANCE tells the story of Albie Sachs, lawyer, writer, art lover and freedom fighter, set against the dramatic events leading to the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa. His story provides a prism through which to view the challenges faced by those unable to tolerate a society founded on principles of slavery and disempowerment of South Africa’s majority black population.

As a young man, Albie defended those committed to ending apartheid in South Africa. For his actions, he was imprisoned and then forced into exile. In 1988, a car bomb by South African security forces in Mozambique cost him his right arm and the sight of one eye. Miraculously he survived and ultimately recovered. Returning to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela, Albie helped write the new Constitution and was then appointed as one of the first 11 judges to the new Constitutional Court.

Friday August 24 7:30-9:30pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
FREE, Donations appreciated.

Co-sponsored by Transition Palo Alto, the Green Sanctuary Committee of UUPCA, and Peninsula Peace and Justice Center.

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New Book Group Starting Up

–submitted by Victora Armigo
You are invited to join a new book group series focusing on Deepening Resilience. We’ll begin by featuring two books.

The first book will be Prosper! How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting 2nd Edition, by Chris Martenson  & Adam Taggart. The book is about how to build personal resilience by developing eight forms of capital (a concept taken from permaculture).

The next book will be Who Do We Choose To Be?: Facing Reality-Claiming Leadership-Restoring Sanity by Margaret J Wheatley. This book is about creating “islands of sanity” and what I see as building emotional and social capital.

I would like to see the first book group do a deep dive together on these 2 books. Space is limited, and everyone in the group should be committed to reading and participating.

My hope is that folks from the first group will lead subsequent book groups. So if you’re not accepted into the first group, you may be able to participate in a subsequent group.

We are thinking 1st,  3rd and 5th Tuesday evenings, beginning on 7/17/18 at 7p at Victoria Armigo’s home. Victoria, Barbara Weinstein, and Paul Heft are leaders of this book group.