Living in PA

I’ve lived in Palo Alto for 10 years now, the Bay Area for 18. Admittedly, this is not a very long time compared to some, but it’s longer than many of my neighbors, and by at least a decade, the longest I have lived in one place in my 40 years.

Still, as a one-and-a-half-generation East Indian, raised in the deep South, former scientist, eco-passionate stay-at-home-mom, sometimes I feel I don’t fit in. Other moms take kids to a plethora of museums miles away, know which is the hot new date night restaurant, bike miles and miles, attend pilates, and make homemade brownies in the same week. Instead, my days are peppered with conscious, difficult choices that juggle responsibility and mediocrity – we are late for school, so should we drive, bike, or walk? Shall I pick up that piece of trash? That one? That one? Can we let the dryer run – just this once? And those fruits – pick, let rot, or leave to wildlife? Pick up another orphaned mug I don’t really need, or leave it to fill a potential landfill? Let the kids wander while I cook, or play with them, watch them, and let dinner burn? Do they like to do yoga with me, or it is just an excuse for screen time?

These are the questions I ponder while I make that second batch of yogurt after the first failed (spent too long playing cards with my daughter), or pick apart moldy raspberries with my hands to save for freezer jam. There is joy in this – the not-knowing which way is right, exploring what works for us, fumbling our way to sustainability.

In my heart, I know it’s not enough, not nearly, not fast enough for what is coming, but this is the slow world of my choice, the one that lingers in vision. I wonder if others could see that being really intentionally in this world is a process that evolves even for the passionate, may they, too, might try. Maybe we can support each other as we dabble in the new, and take tiny steps towards giant leaps. All while the kids are watching.


May Fete Fair

Since my children were babies, we have been going to the Palo Alto May Fete Parade and Fair. This Children’s Parade has vintage automobiles, local school bands, floats from each school and local community organization, and children biking, scootering, riding strollers, and walking down the middle of University Avenue, as onlookers cheer and announcers describe each group – in short, it’s a testament to community in and around Palo Alto. This year’s theme was “Who is your hero?” – so there were plenty of superhero costumes and buttons that announced each person’s personal hero.

The parade is followed by a Fair in Heritage Park, where food trucks offer food, children and adults attend booths full of low-tech games and information about community resources, and prizes are offered. This is where we came in – my friend Priya and I hosted the Transition Palo Alto table (which was also strategically placed next to the Zero Waste table!).

We taped up a paper wall to be our garden, and the children wrote and drew on flowers and leaves, answering the prompt “I am a Planet Hero when I…” – answers ranged from biking and recycling to saving bees and planting trees. We filled our paper garden with ideas.

Priya and I also demoed her adventure, Pebble Pod, which is a subscription box that will have ideas for bringing families together around culture, community, and environment. We showed how to make a simple solar oven from the black box – using chopsticks, cling wrap, newspaper, foil, and tape. Kids were thrilled with the idea of making s’mores inside, and adult visitors were interested to learn that the temperature inside can get as high as 200oF!

I’ll be marching again with my children next year, albeit with a new school group, because this is what community is about.

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Spring Share Faire coming April 10

Share Faire - April 2016-v2Join us for the Spring Share Faire, where we share skills with small 30-minute classes, goods ranging from garden produce to household items, and stories. Our theme this Faire is Food and Garden, so expect refreshments, and bring family and friends!

We’ll be back at Cubberley Community Center, using their classrooms for protection from a possible, and hoped for, re-visit from El Nino.  So, mark your calendars for April 10, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM and plan to come join us.

Teachers wanted!  We want to learn the skills you have!  If you want to teach a 30-minute skill-share class aboutFood or Garden topics reply to this e-mail.

The focus for April at Transition Palo Alto is Seeds!  We have endorsed AB 1810, the California Seed Exchange Democracy Act (learn more and sign up for alerts here), we’re partnering with local organizations on April 17 forSeed Day in Cupertino (more info soon!), and our Fourth Friday film on April 22 will be Open Sesame:  The Story of Seeds.  So – seed oriented skill shares are particularly desired!

Volunteers wanted!  We continue to have great volunteers at our Share Faires.  We’ll be glad to have help setting up and cleaning up, greeting people and managing goods, and more.  You can sign up on line here.

And please print out and post our wonderful event flyer – courtesy of Herb Moore – to locations where you might find people who are interested in our event.


You can follow for updates on Facebook, our Meetup group, and on Twitter (@patransition). Details on all Share Faires are here.


Got books?  Got books you don’t want?  Want books?  Our friends at FOPAL hold a giant used book sale every 2nd Saturday and Sunday of the month at Cubberley Community Center (4000 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto).  In April, it will take place on the 9th and 10th – Hey, it’ll be going on at the same time as the Share Faire, so you get a two-fer!


We want to thank Zero Waste Palo Alto for being an event sponsor!  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost!

Share Faire February 14

Come celebrate Valentine’s day (or don’t!) with us at our first Share Faire of the year. We’re launching a new Share Faire schedule for the year – details are here – and starting off with a Faire that focuses on fabric and community organizing, organizing the fabric of our community!

We will be at Cubberley Community Center, rooms A7 and A3, onn Sunday, February 14th, 1pm to 3pm, with 30 minute classes in the rooms and goods sharing. Classes will include Community activism, lotion-making, knitting, and more! Visit the library sale at Cubberley and come by afterwards!

Creepy Crafts and Costumes at the Halloween Swap

In partnership with the Palo Alto Family YMCA, we hosted a Halloween Swap on Saturday, October 17th. The evening started calmly as we (myself, Peter Ruddock, William Mutch, Roy Kornbluh, and my two children) set up tables and put out the few meager costumes we had brought. We laid out our craft table: recycled containers, broken toys, yarn, tape, paper, scissors.

Then the flood of children arrived! They wandered to the cookie decorating table, the make-your-own-skeleton with ear buds booth, and then found us! Pretty dresses and ninja sets, animal costumes, shoes, capes, masks, and more changed hands, some vanishing as quickly as they appeared.

At our craft table, children were cutting, wrapping, contemplating, writing, collaborating, taping, choosing, assembling creations with such ghoulish signs as Death Rattle, Mummy Potion, de-Ogre-ant, Bat and Ghost Poop, Danger:Keep out, Pull here (Look out!) and Do Not Touch or You Will Turn Into a Zombie! We finally had to tell the remaining children it was time to clean up as they taped on the last few items. Smiles all around as they innocently asked, “Can I take this home?”

They would (and parents were reassured their masterpieces were recyclable). We packed up, sure to return to such a resounding success with more creepy craftivism next year. halloween-at-the-Y-1 halloween-at-the-Y-3 halloween-at-the-Y-2Image101720151845061Image101720151947591Image101720151852031Image101720151845211

Summer Share Faire June 21

On June 21st, we’ll be headed out to the Lucie Stern Patio once again for our quarterly Share Faire.

Sharing books, toys, clothes, garden produce, crafts? Check. Old, fun demos? Check. Some new and interesting ones? Check. Sunshine? Likely. Fun for the whole family? You know it. Cool people attending? Well, we have FoPAL, Neighbors helping neighbors, conversation circle, scrapophony, Fabmo, massage, and a few others, but it’ll be even cooler if you come!

If you haven’t yet had a chance to come out, check us out, join the fun, even if you’re empty-handed. If you have been before and love it, bring a friend. If you think it’s not for you, try it ou, or tell us what you’d like to see! Don’t have transportation? The VTA 35 bus gets there. Have a funny thing you’re not sure if you should bring? Ask us, or bring it anyway and take it home if no one grabs it (they just might!).

If you’d just like to slow down and enjoy the summer, start with the Share Faire. No obligation, no commitment, just being outdoors, building community, and helping make our world a little better.

Sunday, June 21st

11am to 1pm

Lucie Stern Community Center Patio (grassy area near parking lot)

1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

May Fete Fair Fun

Marching bands, walking bald eagles, aliens, children on parade…and Transition Palo Alto! On Saturday, May 2nd, we joined hundreds in Palo Alto as part of the May Fete Fair, which follows the (93rd) annual Children’s Parade. This year’s theme was No Space to Alienate – be Unique, be Free, be yOu (UFO), so of course there were aliens and spaceships everywhere!

After dodging closed streets, I and my kids unloaded boxes of recycled to-go containers and shiny plastic doodads rescued from the landfill, gathered generously by Trina. We marched (and rode a bike) in the parade with their respective schools, and we ended up at a table on the grass at the parade, where William Mutch was staffing a table where children were making UFOs and aliens out of those recyclables. We had a display of aliens and spaceships made at the Craft Night and artfully arranged by Trina. Using those as examples (or ignoring them entirely!), children braided yarn, stuck on tape, stuffed prescription bottles and ice cream containers, stuck stickers and bottle caps, and created amazing worlds of their own imagination. A few of the creatures and vehicles below. We were calling it Junkology (thanks, Elliot!) and having a blast of it.

Thanks to William Mutch, Roy Kornbluh, Peter Ruddock, Vanessa Warheit and Trina Lynn-Wilson for making this happen, and to all the children and parents for making this event out of this world!

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Holiday Share Faire coming to Cubberley Sunday December 14!

We were saddened by the closure of Common Ground, a place where we once shared stories and goods and ducked inside to say hi or buy a little something. Alas, no more, but we have a temporary home for our sharing expos – along with a new name.

The Holiday Share Faire will be at Cubberley Community Center this year, in room H6, on the side of the Charleston Shopping Center (Piazza’s) and in the back near the Friends of the Palo Alto Library booksale, right next door to the Cubberley Artists’ Open Studios. It will be a busy afternoon, starting at 1pm.

Food and beverages will be outside, along with fun demos like solar ovens and music. Massage, yoga, garden tips, succulents, wreath-making, kids’ area, storytime, and more are on the offering from local experts who will guide you through.

If you bring or need goods, stations will hold books, clothes, crafts, garden produce, toys, and holiday decorations as well. The whole family is welcome, and we recommend taking public transportation (bus 32, 35, 88, 104) or biking to this accessible place. Rain will not cancel the indoor and covered portions.

More information about this event and others, and sponsors at

Join us and share with us – just look up, there might be mistletoe on the door!

Fun and frenzy at the Fall Sharing Expo

You never can tell what might happen at a sharing expo! We have many planned events, but sometimes the less planned are wonderful surprises as well.

This fall’s Expo was no exception. Last Sunday (September 21), we gathered in the parking lot behind the Common Ground store for sharing skills, goods, and more. On the lineup were water-saving techniques and ideas for home and garden, plus kids’ activities, grain grinding, community organizers, and music.

We started with signage – a new banner made by those who attended Craft Night, along with signs and William Mutch’s handmade permanent wooden name tag. My son and daughter handed them out, along with regular name tags. In the meantime, Caryll-Lynn and David Neighbors Helping Neighbors had set up a tent of info and boxes for collecting extra food, Nick Turner of Deep Nature Gardens displayed beautiful pots that were mini ecosystems of themselves, Wendy Hediger from Zero Waste Palo Alto demonstrated green cleaning alternatives and Anna Ravenscroft pulled out her gleaming white grain grinder to demonstrate grinding wheat, corn, kamut, and even lentils. My ancient coffee-turned wheat grinder sat by its side looking a little sheepish.


Herb Moore had long since set up his music station – visitors were soon playing found items like tuna cans and mason jars. Willi Paul hung up a giant poster of the water cycle and childrenchildren, including mine, started right away coloring it in. Marianne Mueller was having animated discussions with her colorful and super low water plants for the garden. William Mutch was at the Permaculture cafe talking about ways to make gardens drought – resistant. All this was planned, and it was all lovely.

I sat down and decorated a few arms and hands with cooling henna designs. The goods share was going strong too – lamps and toys and books and clothes and plants came in and wandered off.


Then we had: surprise sweet and crunchy and savory snacks brought by Expo benefactors (with water served in Zero Waste Party Pack cups). Copies of Potter the Otter. Extra comfy chairs left out to use. William lead storytime for the kids with a leisurely reading of The Lorax. My children (were those mine?) were quiet and focused. Children sat together coloring. People shared their own fascinating stories and histories and asked how they could help.


A little after 3:30: Leftovers were donated and carried away. Tables put away. Last conversations dragged on and goodbyes were cheerful. Promises and hopes and enthusiasm for next time!