4/26 Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope: Teach me to be Wild


Friday April 26, 7:30-9:30pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
Free, donations appreciated.


This month we are screening the film “Teach Me To Be Wild” https://teachmetobewild.com/

The filmmakers Rajesh Krishnan and Anne Veh will be joining us for this very special evening. After the film John Malloy (featured in the film and Healing Circles) has offered to anchor a healing circle after the screening. The Film ends in naturally creating a safe space and it lends itself well for a circle of reflection. You can read more about their circle experiences here in the Daily Good article: http://www.dailygood.org/story/2258/holding-circles-of-healing-rajesh-krishnan-anne-veh/

Also learn more about John Malloy here:

“We Are All In This Together” A Conversation With John Malloy

John Malloy shares his life journey including his work over the last five decades with vulnerable communities in the Bay Area and his life mission of preserving and fostering the Native American Heritage.

“The Wisdom Of Circles” In Conversation With John Malloy 

In this intimate conversation with ServiceSpace anchors, John Malloy dives into the wisdom of circles, the role of anchors and facilitators, the nature of human groups, and different types of leadership.

Download and share flyer: Flier_11x17_A3_TransitionPaloAlto_Apr26_2019


Inner Transition April 15th

On April 15, 2019 the TPA Inner Transition Hearth & Soul group plans to meet at 6:30p. Location TBD. We will share a potluck at 6:30, listen to a Sounds True Waking up in the World presentation by Tara Brach PhD at 7p, followed by discussion at 8p. Details below for Session 2: Engage

Inner Transition  – New Group Continuing this Month

Tara Brach, PhD – Disarming Our Hearts: Letting Go of Blame

We have a deeply conditioned habit in our individual and collective psyches of making others wrong, fixating on “bad others.” For us to evolve and move toward a more peaceful and loving world, we need to release this trance of blame and bring a deep and caring presence to the vulnerability and intrinsic goodness in all beings. Through didactic presentation, stories, and reflections, this session explores how we get imprisoned in the habit of blame and the ways that the practices of mindfulness and compassion can free us. Highlights include:

  • The suffering of separation—how mistrust and fear are sustained by the habit of blame
  • Beginning to release the armoring around your heart
  • Learning to bring a compassionate presence to the unconscious, unmet needs that drive you
  • Freedom from trance—recognize the vulnerability and sacredness that lives in others and all beings

Oily Wells March!

March 16 -18
Palo Alto to San Francisco


TPA is joining with other social justice, environmental, and faith-based groups, led by 350 Silicon Valley, to march for action in March. The 3-day, 34-mile walk from Palo Alto to the Wells Fargo offices in San Francisco will protest Wells Fargo’s continued investment in disastrous climate projects, including tar sands, pipelines, and extreme condition extraction.

Learn more about the action…

From Victoria Armigo:

For those who want to act in the world, please consider attending some part of this 3-day Oily Wells march that TPA is cosponsoring.

This is an invitation to join me and 350 Silicon Valley as we ramp up a campaign to expose “Oily Wells” by participating in the March for Fossil Fuel Freedom, a 3-day, 34-mile march from Palo Alto to the bank’s San Francisco headquarters on March 16-18. The pilgrimage will offer a chance to meet other concerned folks (from partners such as Idle No More SF Bay and the Sierra Club) and act as a human billboard attesting to the rapidly deepening climate crisis and the prospect for sustainable solutions.

It would be great if participants would please  register online today (3/11).  We need to know how many delicious vegan meals and snacks to serve to how many people and where.

We will spend two nights in church and community halls, with food and support vehicles for carrying gear provided. At “stagecoach stops” along the way there will be educational presentations and performances (featuring Oily Wells himself). Learn more and register now at www.OilyWells.com.

Just having you there, at any point along the way, as a show of support means a lot.

Please RSVP today.

3/22 Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City

Friday March 22, 7:30-9:30pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
Free, donations appreciated.

Born in the California Gold Rush, Nevada City was once the scene of some of the most destructive environmental practices on earth. By the 1960s, the town was a backwater, its extractive industries dying. Then it was discovered by the “back to the land movement.” It was a second gold rush but with a different idea of gold based on nature, community and a sense of place.  Learn more…


See the trailer…

Heart and Home

It was dusk, and we sat at oblong tables laid for a meal- forks, knives, spoons, tablecloths, in a space I’m used to seeing filled with rows of folding chairs with an inspiring film playing in the dark. Instead, the space was lively and bright, with clusters of chatter and people going in and out. As people trickled in, food was heaped on plates from the buffet, and conversation began to flow.

Two hours earlier, a crew of five – Peter, Chris, Victoria, Diana, and Yon – had shopped, chopped, sautéed, tossed and simmered this bountiful menu at Victoria’s beautiful home: chicken stew, vegan vegetable stew, salad with dressing, two types of fruit salad,
mushrooms, brown and white rice, baguettes, and oranges. The food was carried over to the UUCPA church and served.

It sounds like an ordinary dinner or potluck, like so many we have had in Transition Palo Alto, but this one was different. This time we weren’t just cooking for ourselves, but for others, in particular for those who are less fortunate this winter.  Like other things in Transition, it was community-building for a greater purpose.

In partnership with Heart and Home Collaborative, we fed not our usual members but instead housed and unhoused members of the community, joining in on what they do every day. We mingled, listening wide-eyed at their struggles this winter, connecting eye to eye with neighbors, offering an ear and shoulder, being heard and seen ourselves.

Soon it was not just our bellies that were full, but also our hearts.

As I and my children headed home for bedtime, we reflected, grateful for all we have, for all we can offer, and the knowledge that if ever we, too, are in need, we have a loving circle who will feed us and welcome us with open arms.

Transition Café – Transition Town Questions

We had an energetic, vibrant film night, last Friday, which generated lively, engaged conversation well into the night. The film was on the life of David Fleming, author of Lean Logic, a highly influential pattern-language book. When the credits began to roll, nobody left. When the conversation started, nobody left. I had intended the small group conversations to run for 10 minutes or so, but the energy was still climbing at that point, so we went until the energy started to drop a bit, then joined back together in the larger group, then folks stuck around and talked for some time after the big group ended. What fun! Although we all seemed to enjoy the film, we didn’t necessarily agree with everything in it. Some questions which struck me, that y’all asked:

The folks in the film, and the demographic in the room, were primarily, but not entirely, White folks. Given that the Transition Town ideals appeal to a much more diverse audience than just upper-middle-class White folks, and there are lots of folks who are doing Transition Town work, whether they call it that or not, who are from widely diverse backgrounds–ethnic, cultural, economic, religious, generational…how do our meetings come to more represent that? Transition US is taking this question seriously, as we want our decision-makers and gatherings to resemble America in the most comprehensive ways possible. While we do hold that whoever shows up are the right people, we also hold the question: “Who is not here, who needs to be?” I have heard many responses to this question, what are yours?

Transition Towns, at their outset, took an approach of addressing peak oil and climate change through energy descent and relocalization. Peak oil was seen as an easier gateway, as it was certain to hit folks in their wallets, and inspire action sooner than climate change, which is likely to be a big, vague boogeyman until it is much too late to take action.

So far, we have been wrong about this. Peak oil has turned out to be more nebulous than we thought, oil companies did decide that tar sands and fracking were worth the costs, etc. In our area, we have found that local food systems have been a better gateway, but other regions have found things like urban gardens, social justice, disaster preparedness, community building, relocalizing, local money systems, etc, to be better conversation starters. What do you think? What speaks to you about Transition Towns?

Another question was, paraphrased: are there other local Transition Town initiatives, and where are they? Transition Palo Alto is a hub, in that it doesn’t just serve Palo Alto, but has representatives of other cities, as well: Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Saratoga, Casa de Fruita. Most of us lived in Palo Alto, at some point, but not all, but the name Transition Palo Alto stuck, Transition Silicon Valley did not. Do you want to start a Transition Town initiative in your area? What would it take to get that started? What would your initial focus be?

Lastly, energy descent is a big aspect of Transition Towns. This is the practice of decreasing your energy needs, not just by shifting them over to “clean tech” but actually decreasing the total amount of energy you use. So far, this has been a tough sell in technology-heavy and technology-aspiring cultures, but will need to be adopted, worldwide, if our life is going to continue on this planet, in any form we might recognize. How have you been incorporating this into your own life?

There were others, and we’ll probably visit each of those questions as individual topics in future Cafés, but those will do, for now.

I will likely miss next week’s conversation, on 8 March, but feel free to self-organize. I may send a prompt, anyway.

Transition Town Questions, this Friday, 1 March, 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, 1 March, 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: Consequences

Got too involved in the conversation, sorry!

Please join us on tpa_cafe, or tpa_chat, you can join at http://www.transitionpaloalto.org./

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

Halloween Scare Faire and Costume Swap

children holding firecrackers outdoors

For the fifth year, Transition Palo Alto hosts the Costume Swap – a chance to pass down old, outgrown, or simply unused costumes, wigs, and other Halloween wear for both children and adults. Then take home something new to you for this Halloween.

This year, we meet at the Museum of American Heritage, who have kindly hosted our Costume Swap and Halloween Scare Faire.

The Costume swap will include a drop-off period from 1pm to 1:20pm – those with costumes will get a number. At 1:20, we’ll admit those with numbers in order to pick up costumes.

That won’t be all – the line-up of Skill Shares is also scary fun:

  • A Story Circle to share scares and monster tales from wherever you’re from
  • Fabmo will bring fabric and offer a chance for a Costume Makeover
  • Face painting
  • Pumpkin decorating
  • Bike repair
  • Goods shares – garden produce, clothes, books, toys, crafts, and Halloween or Holiday decor

If you are able to help, please sign up here.

More details about our Share Faires is available here.

Join us for a Boo-tiful day of sharing and scaring!

When: Sunday, October 7, 1-3pm

Where: Museum of American Heritage, 351 Homer Ave, Palo Alto Map link


Transition Café – Heroes

There is a great graphic novel…sequential art piece…called Kingdom Come. The premise is that the Humans on Earth have become dependent on the superheroes–Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc, even though they complain about that dependence, hating and fearing the heroes. One day, the superheroes are called away to deal with some catastrophe somewhere else in the multiverse, and are not around when the Humans actually need them, and there are consequences. When they return, the Humans are enraged at the heroes for leaving to help all of creation instead of being around to meet the needs of the Humans who hate and fear them. The heroes are finally fed up, and retreat into their civilian identities, living out their lives unnoticed and unavailable to those who have such mixed feelings about them. Over time, new heroes emerge, with more consequences…

…leading to a pivotal crisis, leading the superheroes to wrestle with the question of whether or not to come back and take part, or just let the Humans deal with the consequences of their actions.

Barack Obama spoke in Illinois last week. Rarely have I been so relieved to hear the voice of a public figure, let alone a former President (although Berkeley Breathed and Bill Watterston come to mind). When he ran for office, he was completely clear that he could not…preside…alone, that he needed us on board, that we were a team. I heard him say that and understood completely. I had been in a similar position, myself. Not on anything like that scale, but in one fiefdom or another which could so easily have been a functional community of folks working together to create something amazing.

For all of that, when he revealed his humanity, making decisions I did not approve of, I turned away and let go of my good intentions to help him in his goals. Even so, when I heard him speak in those days, I really felt like he was one of us, someone I could easily go for a walk with, or talk with over tea, solving the problems of the world.

Hearing him speak last week, both at John McCain’s funeral (that seems so long ago), and in the longer speech in Illinois, it felt to me like a giant had awoken, a superhero had cast off their civilian garb and revealed themselves.

He is, of course, a Human (I assume), with all that that entails. He is saying similar things to what he said before: don’t wait for a hero, a savior–be that hero. Be the person who stands up and does the right thing because it is the right thing, because you’ll sleep better at night having done it, because you see in the eyes of that caged child the eyes of your own child, or maybe you see something of your own humanity in that little one.

It is being reported that Trump and Co. are working to build internment camps for children. Some are saying we have not done this since World War II, others that we never have, not solely for children. Is that the outrage which will stir us to action? Is it the appointment of a Supreme Court justice who seems to be actively perjuring himself? Is it enough to march, or do we need to do more?

I’ll leave it to you to learn the decisions of the heroes in Kingdom Come, but will offer a question…what would it take for us to be heroes, peaceful heroes, waking giants? Barack Obama is most certainly a hero, and his words are powerful and moving. He is also a Human, with weaknesses, foibles, ego, a desire to see his children succeed in their lives, to leave a legacy behind which will inspire them, and us, to remember him fondly. Progressives are creating what is being referred to as a “Rainbow Wave”, across the country. How do we help? Barack Obama speaking is important, what can the rest of us do? How do we co-lead, with them?

Who are your heroes? Why are they heroes, to you? What makes a hero?


Transition Café – What is a Transition Town?

We had a great first session of our course in Permaculture Design for home gardeners, at Veggielution. The link to sign up is here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summer-saturdays-veggielution-workshop-series-tickets-47241482546, if you want to join us, going forward. Come check it out, 10am-12:30pm, with an optional lunch.

A flock of Turkeys, 30+ individuals, have been regular visitors to the land, up here. Good to see them crowding around for drinks at the birdbaths, kind of funny watching groups teens, even the smallest of whom dwarfs any of the baths, trying to stand in them while drinking. They don’t seem to want water baths, though, as they all headed off to the mulch pile for dust baths, afterwards. Deer drink from the birdbaths, too. Perhaps a bigger water basin is needed?

Observation and Seeking feedback from the systems you are interacting with are practices dear to the heart of Permaculture Design. Turkeys drinking, and others drinking and bathing in birdbaths is strong feedback that this is a system that needs water. Dust baths in the mulch pile are also a big deal, especially given how quickly everyone headed over there when the call went out. Hummingbirds seem to have a strong preference for one feeder over another. Chickadees don’t drink from the birdbaths, so much, but will drain the water in the basins my plants sit in. *sigh* My best guess is that there are microbes in that water that are not in the frequently-replaced birdbath water.

In that vein, we are seeking feedback from our community, this week. We would love to know what Transition Towns are to you, what they mean to you. What would you like them to be, to mean? Some great thinkers have suggested that, if Humans are to survive as a species, movements like the Transition Towns and Permaculture Community are how that will happen. What do you think? How would that work? What would it look like?

Would we focus on emergency preparedness? Community building? Food systems? Education? Politics? Fun?

One of the goals of the Transition Town Community is to make the whole thing fun. Are we doing that? What could we do differently?

Transition Palo Alto is a hub, that is a focal point for Transitioners from all over the South Bay, from Casa de Fruita up to Palo Alto. We tried calling it Transition Silicon Valley, but that didn’t take, so we have the increasingly inaccurately-named Transition Palo Alto. Do you want other Transition Towns in the area? Do you want them enough to learn how to start one in your city?


Garden Share in San Diego

This was written by my mother, who, inspired by our TPA Garden Shares, began her own in Scripps Ranch, in San Diego:

by Suhasini Jayakumar

We’ve held our Garden share once a month, for over 5 years now.  We get together in our community center, where we share ideas, produce, and stories of successes and failures in our backyards. The main idea is to welcome neighbors and get to know them, building community. To that end, we bring snacks and tea or some cold drinks, sharing and communing with friends.
Gradually, we have also added things other than produce and home made snacks. These include books, household items, pots and planters, and even clothes.
During all this time, we have had one big Permaculture workshop, where about 25 people participated, building a grow box, and learning about Permaculture. The workshop was led by Alden, a local who helps run the Sky Mountain permaculture institute. [photos below]
We have also had a show and tell of tools used in the yards, notably a 3 in 1 tool that caught folks’ imagination.
Our latest event, on April 15th., called a Sustainability Hack, drew over 30 people, which we consider quite a success, especially for a first event  such as this. We had specialists talk about Bokashi, regular and worm composting; people showing videos and photos of their Native-plant yards, along with the edibles they are growing; one person showing people how to make small succulent planters out of corks; youngsters having a lot of fun with used, recyclable material; one girl making very cute and useful bags from old T-shirts; henna at one table; stringing of jasmine flowers at another, both of which drew curious and interested spectators. One person made smores in the solar oven, which came out ok despite the cloudy skies. We even had a demonstration of a small wood chipper, and shredder of cardboard for mulch.
Youngsters were interested in calculating their carbon footprint at a table, along with elders. The guess the fruit/vegetable table drew a lot of interest, along with the CO2e of different diets.
All in all, we all had a great time learning from each other, and sharing food and ideas. We will certainly do this again in a few months.