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


Charles Eisenstein to speak on Sacred Economics – Dec 18

Films of Vision and Hope
Sacred Economics Today

Announcing a special non-film opportunity: Films of Vison and Hope is sponsoring a special evening with Charles Eisenstein, author of The Ascent of Humanity, and Sacred Economics, and narrator of the widely-viewed video “Occupy Wall Street — The Revolution is Love” (

Sacred Economics Today

Learn about the changes happening today in the money system, how we can all active change agents, and how to change our own relationship with money.

  • How the financial system is falling apart, and what might come afterwards
  • How what’s happening now is part of a larger process
  • How the transition will affect our connection to ourselves, other beings and the planet
  • How can we better fulfill our life’s purpose
  • What constitutes true wealth and what love has to do with it

We’ll talk about how to apply the principles of Sacred Economics to our own lives, goals, and activism. We can indeed live in Sacred Economy today, seeding cultural rebirth through our words and actions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011
5:30 pm Community potluck
7:00-9:30 pm Talk

At WorldCentric, 2121 Staunton Ct., Palo Alto, CA 94306
FREE, suggested donation $15 to cover speaker-related costs

Register at

About the speaker: Charles is a teacher, speaker, and the author of numerous works, including The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics. His writing focuses on themes of holistic health, consciousness, economics, and civilization. His writings on the web magazine Reality Sandwich have generated a vast online following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events, and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts. His short online YouTube video “Occupy Wall Street — the Revolution is Love” received over 100,000 views in November. See the video at: . A Yale graduate in philosophy and mathematics, Mr. Eisenstein has served on faculty at Penn State’s Department of Science, Technology, and Society, and is currently on the faculty of Goddard College’s Health Arts and Sciences Program.

For other Bay Area Tour dates see:

Tour Co-Sponsors Acterra, Bay Area Community Exchange, Bay Localize, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Connection Action Project, Evolver Bay Area, Films of Vision and Hope, International Society for Ecology and Culture, Silicon Valley Action Network, Silicon Valley NVC, Transition Albany, Transition East Bay, Transition Palo Alto, Transition San Francisco, Transition Silicon Valley, Transition US

Transition newsletter – October 30, 2011

October 30, 2011


  • New book groups forming
  • New groups this month: Slow Money, Food, Chat, Gardening
  • New book – “Transition Companion” – discount copies available first week of November


  • Cecile Andrews on Sharing – Wed Nov 2
  • Community Food Conference in Oakland – Thurs Nov 5-8
  • Richard Heinberg at Kepler’s – Dec 8



New book groups forming

The Transition Handbook Probably the best way to get started with Transition is through a book group reading the Transition Handbook.

Two groups are forming now. Book Group 7 will be meeting Thursdays in the middle of the day, probably at a coffee shop. For details, contact . Or join tpa_book7.

A group will be forming soon to read “The Transition Companion,” the successor to the Handbook. (See description later in the newsletter). Book group 2 will probably be hosting the discssion. Cecile Andrews will be one of the co-facilitators. Contact Or join tpa_book2.

New groups this month: Slow Money, Food, Chat, Gardening

Interested in connecting with one of the groups active in Transition Palo Alto? Just sign up for the Yahoo group to get news of meetings, events, and discussions.

New in October:

Chat (tpa_chat): To cope with all the ideas and events, we’ve set up a new Yahoo group for announcements, news items and discussion … whatever is on your mind.

Food (tpa_food): Interested in where your food comes from? Finding out how to get local, organic, **delicious** food? Getting connected with local food activists? Peter Ruddock, who has been a leading activist in Slow Food, is facilitating this group.

Gardening (tpa_garden): Learn about local resources and opportunities for gardening. Facilitator is long-time Master Gardener Romola Georgia. You can write her to join: rgeorgia AT gmail DOT com

Slow Money (tpa_slow_money): Started up after we heard two exciting speakers from Slow Money at the Oct 28 potluck. Will deal with business, investing, money management — all with a Slow Money, Transition focus.

Current groups:
transitionpaloalto for the newsletter and occasional Transition-related posts of general interest. Open.
tpa_book2 Transition Book Group 2. Meets every two weeks on a variety of subjects. Open.
tpa_book4 Transition Book Group 4. Now sponsoring the Resilience Circle (tpa_resilience)
tpa_book6 Transition Book Group 6. Now reading the Transition Handbook.
tpa_book7 Transition Book Group 7. Will begin reading the Transition Handbook in November. Will probably meet Thursday in the daytime.
tpa_chat for ideas, events, discussion. Open.
tpa_conversation Conversation and community discussion group. Deals with group process. Open.
tpa_food Food-related topics.Open
tpa_garden Gardening-related topics.Open.
tpa_resilience Resilience Circle. Started recently. Meets every week. Still open.
tpa_reskilling Reskllling classes (learning hands-on skills). Open
tpa_slow_money Money topics, with emphasis on the local economy. Investing, money-management, business.

To join a Yahoo! Group:

  • Send an e-mail request (to: transitionpaloalto at gmail dotcom) We can add you directly to the group. OR
  • If you already have a Yahoo account, you can sign up by sending an email message to (where tpa_XXX is the name of the group).

New book – “Transition Companion” – discount copies available first week in November

Our bulk order for “The Transition Companion” by Rob Hopkins is scheduled to be delivered to us in the first week of November.

The book is a sequel to “The Transition Handbook,” and gives strategies and ideas It should be an important book.

If you are interested in reserving a copy, email Annette at annetteisaacson AT comcast DOT net.

List price is $29.95. We can offer it for $20.

A book group will probably form to read the book together. It’s more fun to read it that way. Book group 2 is talking about hosting the discussion. We usually meet alternate Wednesdays from 6:30 to about 9 p.m.

Rob Hopkins just wrote announcement for the book. He gives link to a free online version.

More (see links under “Additional Information” at right of this page)
PDF of excerpts:


Cecile Andrews on Sharing – Wednesday November 2

The New Simplicity: Community, Sharing, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Wednesday, November 2
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Peninsula Conservation Center
3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto
Cost: Free

In the past, simplicity was associated with deprivation and thrift. Its true meaning has always been about clarifying true happiness, and the biggest predictor of happiness is connection with people and the planet. We’re building a new culture that links happiness to community and sharing and we need to come together to learn new skills. (For those interested, we will start an ongoing sharing group.)

The presenter is Cecile Andrews. She is the author of Slow is Beautiful, Less is More, and Circle of Simplicity. She has her doctorate in education from Stanford. For more information about this event and to register, please contact Michael Closson at

Community Food Conference in Oakland – Nov 5 – 8

The topic of Food Justice has been in the air recently, so I suspect that a number of you will be interested in learning about the Community Food Conference 15 – happening in Oakland from November 5 to 8. It isn’t cheap, but if you’ve attended conferences lately, you’ll know that it’s reasonable compared to some. You get quite a lot for your money. Check it out at:

If you don’t want to attend the entire conference, you have the option of attending ONLY a field day on Saturday, November 5. These trips give people the opportunity to visit food programs and farms around the Bay Area, from West Marin to Salinas. They typically come not only with great information and opportunities to learn, but a lunch made from local, sustainable food.

One field trip in particular that I’d like to mention to you is near by. Collective Roots is hosting a field day, right here in East Palo Alto. Many of you know Collective Roots well, and probably don’t need an all day tour of their excellent projects and sites. But others of you who have heard about them might want to check this out. You’ll get to visit quite a number of places, including the amazing and beautiful EPACS garden, and get a lunch of local, sustainable food cooked by the graduates of their Cooking Matters program.

– Peter Ruddock

Richard Heinberg at Kepler’s – Thurs Dec 8

“The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality”
Thursday, December 8, 7:00 p.m.

Economists insist that recovery is at hand, yet unemployment remains high, real estate values continue to sink, and governments stagger under record deficits. The End of Growth proposes a startling diagnosis: humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in its economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits. Richard Heinberg’s latest landmark work goes to the heart of the ongoing financial crisis, explaining how and why it occurred, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes.

The End of Growth describes what policy makers, communities, and families can do to build a new economy that operates within Earth’s budget of energy and resources. We can thrive during the transition if we set goals that promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the now-unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP.

Richard Heinberg is the author of nine previous books including The Party’s Over, Peak Everything, and Blackout. He is a Senior Fellow of Post Carbon Institute, a think tank helping chart humanity’s transition from the brief, waning reign of fossil-fueled megatechnology to the dawning era of re-adaptation to nature’s limits. Widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators, Richard lectures widely and appears on radio, television, and in films.

Members get in FREE! General Admission requires purchase of event book OR a $10 gift card (admits 2).

Ongoing Events

alternate Tuesdays – Conversation, Community and Calling
alternate Wednesdays – Book group 2 continuing discussion, Reskilling group
Thursdays – Resilience Circle

2nd Sunday – Garden share at Common Ground
4th Sunday – Garden share at Full Circle Farm

Visit the website at for details

You can access the Calendar via:

Contact the Transition team
to get on or off the newsletter mailing list (the transitionpaloalto Yahoo Group) or to suggest events!

editor for this issue: Bart Anderson
normal editor: Rani

– 30 –

Transition Palo Alto sponsors Introduction to Resilience Circles

By Thomas Atwood

On a balmy September evening in the Bay Area, 27 people gather at World Centric in Palo Alto to learn about the resilience circle movement. Many are already participants in Transition Palo Alto, and bring a mature understanding of the ecological basis of our collective pain. Others come at the invitation of friends, or out of curiosity. They’ve come to learn about local consciousness raising groups that face economic stress together in a supportive setting. As the evening progresses, the group experiences the power of a primal ritual. Some might attend the same event and argue that a ritual never took place. But, like any good story, it always happens when humans tap into the collective wisdom of the faces around the fire.

Debbie Mytels recording "cultural messages."Debbie Mytels recording "cultural messages."

An opening reading from Meg Wheatley, Turning to One Another, sets the tone. Each voice contributes a line of the reading in turn, as though a Greek chorus had arrived just for the occasion. A round of introductions reveals a cast of characters that you might stereotype as comfortable, middle class residents of Silicon Valley, ground zero of American prosperity. The magic begins.

“What are the economic signs of the times?” facilitator Debbie Mytels asks. The room erupts with a familiar narrative. Small, local businesses are closing, and we’re seeing more empty storefronts. So many people don’t have health insurance, and six of them here in the circle. Adult children are living at home with their parents. Business people are running our education system. Worker productivity has increased over 40 years, but wages are stagnant. America has become an auctioning block of deep online discounts. Sailboats are going for a bargain at $2500. People who still have jobs are doing the work of three or more people. Employees of huge global enterprises are anxious, stressed, isolated, crying at their desks, and taking large doses of antidepressants.

The list goes on. A Stanford professor asked a student to lecture on dumpster diving. A technical writer with a PhD in English from Stanford couldn’t get a three-year supplemental employee contract renewed at a global software company. Another PhD had to go to Korea to find a job. People we know are internalizing the pain and blaming themselves, taking unhealthy solace in spectacle, illusion, and fast food. When the anesthesia wears off, the pain returns.

After an outburst of insights like these, the reading for Facing Economic Change simply cements in what’s already been said. Tough times lie ahead, and we are in a stage of fundamental transition. We won’t have more debt-fueled economic growth, and our economic model is not ecologically sustainable. A resilience circle is a place to support one another and prepare. The choir in the room wants to burst into song, but first the facilitators want to discuss cultural messages about the economy.

As more voices contribute to the circle, the burgeoning energy of the narrative takes on a life of its own. The media glorifies the wealthy and sets impossible standards, too many of us taking comfort in the hope that we’ll become “one of them.” Pundits foment fear. Talking heads scapegoat the poor, immigrants, feminists, gays, academics, the “elite liberal establishment”—anyone we don’t know well enough to hear their story. “You’re on your own.” “Be afraid.” “The world is divided into winners and losers, and losers shouldn’t get anything.” “The private sector and the invisible hand of the free market will fix everything.” “Go shopping.” “It’s your own damn fault.”

People are ready to talk about themselves, and the agenda opens the floodgates. The group breaks into pairs for a discussion question. “What are one or two ways that the economic crisis is touching you, or someone you love?” After ten minutes the group reconvenes to share back, and facilitator Thomas Atwood can’t write fast enough on his easel pad.

It starts with everyday frustrations, such as the distractions of an interrupt-driven lifestyle, hidden fees and penalties from banks, and 40 minutes on the phone trying to cancel a DSL service. It gets worse. Six people in the room have no health insurance, and one gave up in frustration trying to get through the process of comparing plans. A brother in law was laid off at age 65 just as he was asking for time off for surgery. One participant attributes a huge rent increase to a landlord trying to recoup his stock market losses. Another person had a 53% rent increase in January. A sister with a ten-year-old daughter has been homeless for three years, making her way through the shelter system and relying on the generosity of friends. Another woman volunteers for a rotating shelter at her church. After a series of job losses, a sister who started out as an Executive Director of a San Francisco non profit has given up on having a professional life in the US, and is now working in Afghanistan. A friend is living in a truck in the parking lot where someone works. Financial stress is forcing one woman to sell her house, which she characterizes as “her paradise.”

Mytels handles the logistics of next steps with a deftness born of years of experience as a community organizer. The group will take the seven-session curriculum from the national Resilience Circle Network together and finish by Thanksgiving. After working out the details, the group closes by standing in a circle and reading an excerpt from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: “… I am not yet discouraged about the future. Granted that the easygoing optimism of yesterday is impossible.”

As if leaving is difficult, many linger in the room for conversation and debriefing. By 3:41 AM, Bart Anderson (a Transition Palo Alto organizer) has set up a Yahoo Group for the new resilience circle, saying that “I was keyed up after the great meeting of the Resilience Circle, so I thought I would use some of that energy productively.”

“It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.”

From The Moon Is Always Female, by Marge Piercy

Thomas Atwood greeting people at Palo Alto's first Resilience Circle.“Author Thomas Atwood greeting people at Palo Alto's first Resilience Circle.”

From Thomas’s bio:

I believe that the role of the magician in society was more interesting in antiquity, and I occasionally revive the “trickster” role in the persona of my magician alter ego, Alfonzo the Conjuring Fool. Alfonzo is crazy about the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in San Francisco (See HIs magic tends to surprise him as much as it does anyone else, fostering awareness of mystery and of the real-world misdirection and shell games going on all around us.

Speaking of foolishness, I earn my living as a technical writer in Silicon Valley. My poetry envisions relationships among spiritual, psychological, and scientific perspectives on the human condition.

I am learning to be a community organizer, because local and regional relationships have the best chance of surviving the coming collapse of an unsustainable industrial civilization powered by cheap oil. So I work with friends to organize resilience circles and build hope for a soft landing.

An introduction to Resilience Circles – Sept 15

We’re in this Together!

An Introduction to Resilience Circles
September 15, 2011

The Great Recession is a scary time. Debt, foreclosure, unemployment, anxious employment, evaporating savings, rising costs, job insecurity, and environmental uncertainties.

Resilience circles are a positive way forward. A resilience circle is a small group of people that comes together to:

  • Face economic and ecological challenges
  • Learn about root causes
  • Discover non-financial resources
  • Build relationships that strengthen security
  • Take steps for mutual aid and shared action
  • Learn about helpful community projects
  • Rediscover what we have and the prospect of a brighter future
  • Become part of a larger effort to create a fair, healthy, sustainable economy for all

For those already involved in local Transition activities, resilience circles are a natural way to tie in our concerns about peak oil and climate change with the real economic and personal challenges that we face. It’s all part of the same picture!

Join us for an introduction to Resilience Circles

We’ll learn about the resilience circle movement and how resilience circles are helping people turn hardship into strengthened relationships and mutual support. We’ll also plan follow-on sessions for those who want to get involved.

September 15
6:30 meet and greet
7:00-9:00 Intro to Resilience Circles
World Centric
2121 Staunton Court
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Hosted by Transition Palo Alto book group 4

For more information about the event write to, or

For more information about the Resilience Circle movement, see