About bart

I live in a small condominium in the San Francisco Bay Area. From 2004-2009, I was the main editor for the Energy Bulletin website (http://energybulletin.net). In previous lives I was a technical writer for Hewlett-Packard, a high school teacher and a newspaper reporter and editor.

Trading ‘the stuff of life’ (Palo Alto Weekly)

Nice article in the Palo Alto weekly about a Transition-tinged giveaway hosted by TPA-er Romola Georgia:

Trading ‘the stuff of life’
Barron Park FreeSale is hub for exchanging ideas and belongings

by Helen Carefoot

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On a small Barron Park street lined with patches of wildflowers and dandelions, rows of tables were piled high with items ranging from shawls as delicate as spider webs to stacks of vintage records and weathered books.

Neighbors at the Tippewango Court home of Romola Georgia pored over the myriad items Satuday, June 16, donating their own and taking another in return. But it wasn’t a garage sale; it was a “FreeSale.”

A FreeSale is a pseudo-yard sale in which participants exchange gently used items with their friends for free. Georgia said she hopes to use the event to promote sharing and re-purposing the “stuff of life.”

The tables in front of Georgia’s white picket fence created an appealing aisle of goods. Boxes of blooming sunflowers and fennel plants lured plant enthusiasts to the gardening table; a heap of X-Men trading cards from someone’s childhood was pile upon another. An elaborate six-CD changer stood out among the electronic offerings.

Many items displayed carried personal significance to their previous owners and elicited stories and nostalgia.

More at PA Weekly


Transition Palo Alto Garden Notes for May

Interested in gardening in the Palo Alto area? Get timely hints from the TPA Garden Notes compiled by Master Gardener Romola Georgia.   To get the newsletter and join the Garden Group contact transitionpaloalto AT gmail DOT com .

Below is the latest Garden Notes from Romola.   


Transition Palo Alto Garden Notes for May

I’ve been thinking this month about the gardener’s role in protecting and nurturing the soil ecosystem. In addition to the visible earthworms and sowbugs that decompose and shred, we must be mindful of the bacteria, fungi, and nematodes that we do not see, but are also hard at work improving the soil texture and nutrient availability. For growing vegetables in our area:

  1. Use compost to improve the soil structure and increase the availability of nutrients and water
  2. Use organic fertilizer to provide essential plant nutrients. Our gardens usually need nitrogen. Examples are alfalfa meal or pellets or composted manures which are mixed into the soil at planting time.
  3. Use mulch on your vegetable bedsto conserve water, suppress weeds, and encourage that biotic life in the soil as it heats up this month. Straw or unsifted compost works well to protect the soil from the hot sun.

May is heaven for gardeners in the Bay Area

  1. Plant out seedlingsof those summer crops you’ve been waiting for:tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. You can nip the lower leaves from your tomato seedlings and set the plant deeply into the soil. It will respond by developing a stronger root system and a healthier structure. Don’t forget to remove all the little buds and flowers from your peppers for the first 3 or 4 weeks. The pepper needs to develop a strong structure and good root system to support the fruits. I also remove any tomato flowers I see at planting time.
  2. Squash, beans, cucumbers and melons can be seeded directly in May. Think about the space they will need and any support structure you will offer.
  3. You can still directly seed arugula, carrots, beets, radishes, and chard.
  4. Flowers and herbs are wonderful for your cooking and also for the beneficial insects they sustain. This year try some basil, dill, parsley, borage, cosmos, marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers, or zinnias.

Fruit trees: Don’t forget to thin your fruit. Thinning is an important aspect of fruit tree care, promoting not only healthier fruit, but also avoiding alternate bearing syndrome (a lot of fruit one year and very little fruit the following year.) Apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots will benefit from reducing to one fruit per cluster or making sure that no two fruits touch each other. Stone fruit can be twisted off, but pome fruit should be clipped with your pruners. If you expect a large harvest or cannot use all your fruit, consider contacting Village Harvest http://www.villageharvest.org/ They will harvest your trees and donate a portion to the needy. They also have tips on managing your trees.

It’s feedback time. Transition Palo Alto has been sending this garden note for several months to the “garden interest” group. Please send me some feedback. What has been useful? What has been interesting? What would you like more of? What else would you like to see in the garden note Please send comments to:

Romola Georgia  (c/o transitionpaloalto@gmail.com )

The purpose of this group is to share information, resources, questions, and events about vegetable gardening. Our wonderful Mediterranean climate permits us to grow and eat from our own gardens in every month of the year.

To get the newsletter and join the Garden Group contact transitionpaloalto AT gmail DOT com .

Coming May 13th – Mother’s Day Garden-Craft-Bike-Music Share (reminder)


Neighbors sharing food, exchanging crafts, repairing bikes, and making music

Sunday, May 13 11am – noon FREE !
Common Ground Organic Garden Supply & Education Center

559 College Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Hop on your bikes with your favorite mother for this 4 Event Mother’s Day Share. Join us to share your garden and kitchen bounty, your extra arts and crafts supplies. Bring what you have to share; take home something you don’t. You’ll also learn to make homemade musical instruments and get a (or learn to do your own) bike tunup. Bring your bikes, homegrown fruit, vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, flowers, paints, markers, fabric, yarn, paper, patterns, books, garden/craft tools, kits and more. Be sure to bring a bag to take home the bounty!

Garden share photoLocal Garden Share – Bring extra bounty from the garden (produce, fruit, herbs, eggs, honey, flowers, plants in pots), things made in the kitchen from the things from the garden, seeds, seedlings, tools, utensils, books, magazines. Anything garden and food-related is welcome.

Craft swap photoCraft Share – Bring your arts and crafts supplies and tools, and even artistic creations to share. At 11:30, we’ll have demos on rose beads and packaging, homemade supplies and envelopes, and more, along with wind chimes and musical instruments (see Scrapaphony below).

Bicycle workshop imageBicycle workshop – Let’s work together to do minor maintenance and make minor adjustments to improve your bike for efficiency, safety and comfort, with Tom Kabat. He’ll help you with: Tire pressure, Oiling squeaky chains, Seat ergonomics, Adjusting bar position for good wristernomics, Adjusting gears, brakes and headsets. He can also coach you through fixing a flat tire!

ImageScrapaphony – Fun with Fun Sounds – a workshop in making musical instruments from scraps with Herb Moore. He’ll be sharing examples of simple homemade “instruments,” wind chimes from spare keys, a canning jar “water drum.” He’ll also share an approach to exploring sound with found objects.

Throughout the Bay Area, neighbors are coming together for sharing locally grown, fresh produce, as well as arts and crafts supplies, and other household items. Our Palo Alto sharing event is supported by a coalition of community ecological organizations and neighborhood groups including: Acterra, Barron Park Green Team, Midtown Green Team, Barron Park Garden Network, Barron Park Assn, Common Ground, City of Palo Alto Community Gardens, Slow Food South Bay, Transition Palo Alto and Transition Silicon Valley.

The Common Ground store is open during the event, so plan to stop in to get any supplies you need to continue your garden bounty or more. Also, the event is located only 3 blocks from the California Ave Farmers’ Market, which is open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. You will have time to shop or have lunch at the market after the event.

Garden Circle in latest PA Weekly

The Palo Alto Weekly ran a nice article about garden circles in its latest issue (May 4) on the front page of the Home & Real Estate section, page 45.

Several Transition people are mentioned, including Paul Heft, Debbie Mytels and Annette Isaacson. Several other Transitioners are past members of the circle.

Garden Circles combine several themes of Transtion — communtiy, good and DIY. And as the article makes clear, they are a lot of fun.

If you are interested in joining an existing garden circle or starting a new one, contact one of the members or transitionpaloalto AT gmail DOT com. There’s another garden circle that is centered in Barron Park.

They do know beans
Midtown gardeners share knowledge and bounty

Dexter Girton knows the best way to defend his hard-earned backyard bounty from even the craftiest squirrel.

“Loose netting, with no holes,” he said. “If the netting is too tight, the squirrels will crawl under the netting. Believe me; I’ve seen them do it.”

He should know; he’s been growing fruit and vegetables in his yard for 30 years and can offer invaluable advice ranging from fending off various pests to spacing one’s plants inside their gardens.

Girton now shares his knowledge and experience with the community through the Midtown Garden Circle.

“I was part of the California Rare Fruit Growers that meets in San Jose for many years, but I wanted to make contact with gardeners closer to home in Palo Alto. I also wanted to make additional gardener friends; that’s what it was really about,” he said.

“My partner Paul and I wanted to start growing our own food, but we didn’t have any prior experience,” member Annette Isaacson said. “Paul had done some research, but we thought it would be really nice to have some practical knowledge. The members of the circle were so supportive and nice, even though we were just beginners.”

Debbie Mytels originally came up with the idea of a support group in hopes of spurring a “movement” for local home food gardeners back in 2005.

“Small groups were the best way to reinforce new learning and behavior, and they also provided an outlet for new social connections within the community,” she said.

“The people and the friendships are the most important to me about the group,” Girton said. “I have developed many gardening friends through the group.”

Members also said that they would like to develop food sources closer to home. “Getting closer to the food supply is becoming even more beneficial for everyone due to the rising costs of gas,” Isaacson said. “People have also developed an interest in where their food is being grown.”


Living beneath your means – for fun and profit

Living beneath your means – for fun and profit

By Barbara Weinstein and Eitan Fenson, Transition Palo Alto

How are you making ends meet during these tough economic times?

Local Transitioners shared their ideas at the March 9 Transition Palo Alto 100 Mile Potluck. Cecile Andrews kicked off the discussion by asking folks to consider what they’re doing in three different areas:

  1. Transportation, travel,  food, and leisure
  2. Housing, furniture, clothing, cleaning, maintenance
  3. Kids, education, health and work

We then split into smaller groups to discuss each area in term, mixing up the groups each time before returning to the full group to share ideas that came up in the small group discussions.

So many creative ideas! Here are some of them. Continue reading

EVENTS for March

Events  – Transition Palo Alto – March 7

Palo Alto Weekly article on Transtion Palo Alto and the Craft Swap (March 2)

Group buys:
Slow Money book by Woody Tasch is available at a discount from Peter Ruddock

Group Facilitation cards should be available in a week for about $21

From previous bulk buys, we have a few copies of “Transition Companion,” “Local Food,” and “Local Housing”.(all from Transition)

Contact:  transitionpaloalto@gmail.com.

Questions?  See the TPA website http://transitionpaloalto.org  and calendar https://transitionpaloalto.org/events-2/

Send items for newsletter to  transitionpaloalto@gmail.com.

– Bart and Marina


March  9 – Friday  – Transition potluck dinner

Living beneath your means.  At our next 100 mile potluck, we’ll share good food and hear stories about what folks are doing to get the most out of life while living within tight budgets. Bring a dish to share, if possible, with some local ingredients – that’s where the 100 mile comes in!

7-9 pm
World Centric
2121 Staunton Ct, Palo Alto CA 94306

March 10-11  weekend  – Low Carbon Diet for families – STARTING THIS WEEKEND!

Open to all families with children
Four sessions in March
Exact dates to be determined
Location: Rani’s house in Midtown Palo Alto.
Contact Rani or transitionpaloalto@gmail.com if interested.

Using David Gershon’s book Low Carbon Diet, a “30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds”, you will learn how to significantly reduce your annual household CO2 output, while having fun sharing ideas with others.

March 11 – Sunday – Garden and produce share (Palo Alto)

Join us to share garden bounty. Bring what you have to share; take home something you don’t.  Think of it as a “free” backyard farmers’ market. Bring your homegrown fruit, vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, and flowers!

11 am- noon
Common Ground, 559 College Ave, Palo Alto


March 13 – Tuesday afternoon – Global Spirit Hikes Planning Meeting

Are you a global spirit?  Do you feel a deep connection with peoples of the world?

We are organizing a series of ‘global spirit hikes’ with Transition Palo Alto in which you can connect with fellow globally-oriented community members, ideally through a walk with a group particularly affected by a global issue.  Just as Transition is focused on local resilience, this focus is on building local multicultural partnerships/resilience in support of positive global partnerships.  A secondary hope is that it will cultivate our ‘global spirits’ in ways that encourage positive global participation as a complement to our local work.

For instance, we could invite people from island nations to walk with us as we discuss climate change, families from Michuachan, Mexico to be in solidarity with them and the horrible violence befalling their communities, or with Syrian-Americans whose relatives are under siege by Assad.   The goal is to help us stay connected in positive and heartfelt ways with the world and how we want to participate, and to strengthen community.
This effort was initiated by an initiative I have started called Globalicious, a series of efforts to encourage heartfelt participation in the world among people in the Bay Area.

Planning meeting:

March 13th, Le Boulanger
301 Main St  Los Altos
4:15 pm – 5:30 pm (it’s ok to come late)
We will carpool together to Community Conversation and Calling after the meeting for those who are interested.

– Mary Jane Marcus, Conversation Group, TPA; founder Globalicious

March 18 – Sunday – Craft swap (Palo Alto)

The craft swap continues, a chance to share your arts and crafts supplies, get some new-to-you goodies, and get to know other people in the area while keeping stuff out of the landfill!

1 – 2 pm
719 Colorado Avenue, Palo Alto
(at the corner of Middlefield and Colorado, behind 711 Colorado),

Wonderful article on the Craft Swap in the March 2 issue of the Palo Alto Weekly (page 53 in the paper copy):

March 20 – Tuesday Evenings – Mindful Interactions (10-week class)

Would you enjoy: being heard to your satisfaction, communicating without blame or judgment, deepening your important relationships, handling conflict with more confidence, transforming anger into energy for positive change, having a greater sense of inclusions and connection in your life?

If so, join us for Mindful Interactions!  This is a 10 week introductory class that meets Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 pm  starting March 20.  We will explore the basics of nonviolent communication, founded by Marshall Rosenberg.  If you already have NVC experience, you may want to join us for the NVC practice group that meets Monday evenings 7:00-9:00 starting March 19.

Please contact Bob Niederman, 650-857-0772, or bobniederman@comcast.net to find out more information!

Suggested by Karen S. of Transition PA

March 21 – Wednesday – Talk – The Causes of Climate Change: Separating Fact from Fiction

Nobel Prize winning climate scientist, Dr. Benjamin Santer, will discuss the true causes of climate change. Dr. Santer’s early research on the climatic effects of combined changes in greenhouse gases (GHGs) and sulfate aerosols contributed to the historic “discernible human influence” conclusion of the 1995 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Wednesday, March 21
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, Main Hall
505 East Charleston Road
Cost: Free

For more information about this event and to register, please email eventsignup@uucpa.org or call 650-494-0541. This event is co-sponsored by Acterra.

March 23-25 – Economics of Happiness conference – Berkeley

David Brower Center, Berkeley

Three day conference with many well known presenters, such as Vandana Shiva, Charles Eisenstein, Annie Leonard (“The Story of Stuff”), Richard Heinberg (“The Party’s Over”), Rob Hopkins (remote),



March through April – “Creating a Sustainable Enterprise” class

Acterra is teaming up with UC Santa Cruz Extension/Silicon Valley to offer a certificate program in Executive Leadership: “Creating a Sustainable Enterprise.”

Starting from the premise that successful executives in the 21st Century need to know how to operate in an era of resource limits, this course will integrate traditional themes about leadership training with a thorough understanding of the principles of sustainability (people, planet and prosperity).

The course starts Thursday, March 29 and run weekly until June 7, 2012.
Classes meet in Santa Clara at the UCSC Extension building from 1:00 until 8:00 pm, dinner included.

*** End ***

TPA’s homegrown “Peak Oil Coloring Book”

3 Folded and stapled

Transition Palo Alto offers a downloadable coloring book “What is Peak Oil and Why Should I Care?

In an easy to understand storyline and through great illustrations,  it describes where oil comes from, how dependent we have become on oil, how oil has gotten more and more difficult to collect, what exactly peak oil is, and what we can do to use less oil.

Annette Isaacson, member of Transition Palo Alto’s original steering committee, and her sister-in-law, Mimi Heft, wrote and illustrated the book based on Annette’s  travels up and down California between 1957 and 2010.

The book was  inspired by Rob Hopkins’ Transition Handbook.  It was written for 305.org’s 10/10/10 celebration.

The book is free for downloading (printing instructions).

Jan 26 – Films of Vision and Hope presents “The Last Crop”

Films of Vision and Hope Presents

The Last Crop

Join Transition Silicon Valley and World Centric for a special showing of a new film about agriculture in the Bay Area.

Filmmaker Chuck Schultz will be present for a showing of his film, The Last Crop. This is his story of farmers Jeff and Annie Main, their Good Humus Farm and how they are planning to preserve it as a working, organic farm for future generations. After the film, Chuck will lead a discussion about issues farmers encounter in staying on the land and what we can help them do about them.

THURSDAY, January 26, 2012
6:30 Meet and Greet
7:00 – 9:00 Film and Discussion
World Centric, 2121 Staunton Ct, Palo Alto CA 94306

“Sustainability is the big new catch phrase but what does that mean? Does it mean that we take care of our soil? Does it mean we take care of our water sources and our air? The true issue to me is sustaining farmers” – Annie Main, Good Humus Farm

Suggested Donation to help defray travel and film costs: $5.00 – $10.00

Trailer for film
Film website