Join us to read The Transition Handbook

The Transition HandbookTransition Palo Alto is sponsoring our fourth book discussion group.  Join us to read The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins (founder of the Transition Movement). 

We will meet weekly for six weeks to learn about Transition and consider personal and community responses to the threats of peak oil and climate change.  The groups so far have inspired a vital interactive hands-on community of resourceful and talented people.

Our first meeting will be Thursday, January 20, 2011, from 7 to 9 PM.  If you are interested, please let us know by sending an e-mail message to Emily Rosen (mlerosen at jps dot net), and she will send out the details.

More information about the book is below.  Hope you can join us!

Description of  The Transition Handbook

Another useful, short introduction by Transition US:

Online version of The Transition Handbook (PDF):

An outline of The Transition Handbook

We will use a study guide (developed by Transition Seattle):

Craft swap a success

Our first attempt at a craft swap can likely be called a success!

We met at A Work of Heart, a beautiful, inspiring studio with drawings of fashion models and handmade paper dolls on the walls, pretty little supplies and trinkets for sale, and a room full of empty tables. They weren’t empty for long. Tamara brought hand-drawn signs made by her school typography students, labeling everything from paint to scrapbooking. The tables were soon filled with bits and baubles, fabric and yarn and stickers, and about ten of us loitered, shopping for free.

More than just the shopping, we traded craft ideas and tips, learned about upcoming events, and found local resources. We also found out about everyone’s hidden talents and unique skills.

Everyone had delightful supplies to donate: cards, scrapbook items and papers, stickers (a hit with the kids), beads, craft kits, magazines and books, tons of fabric (lovely brocade that walked away fast) and yarn, oil paints, gift wrap and bags, ribbon, markers, stamps, miscellaneous stuff (including pasta makers, trays and cork boards!) and so much more. We distributed about half the items, the rest awaiting the next swap (keep your eyes open for an announcement in February or March next year!).

Thanks to all for their support and helping make this exchange happen.


Got some extra crayons lying around? Are you a closet knitter with a room full of yarn? Scrapbooking, paper-making, jewelry-making, drawing, painting, sculpting, and more – whatever your craft is, you need supplies. Why not trade for them?

Come meet other crafters, share your extras and take home some goodies at our first CRAFT SWAP!

When: Sunday, November 14, 2010. 8:30-11am

Where: A Work of Heart, 2196 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, CA

What to bring: Arts and crafts supplies (no one empty-handed will be turned away), and an extra bag or basket to carry what you want.

You’ll bring in what you have, put it on the appropriate table, and go shopping for free.

Come join the fun! Questions? Email rani at bacraftswap at gmail dot com

Transition members pen visionary book, host discussion October 28

Burt Liebert Two events marked the lives of a Palo Alto couple, Burt and Marjorie Liebert, who are familar faces at Transition meetings and film series. First, the Lieberts just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Secondly, they published a novel, Out of the Cage, which reflects their long-time interest in sustainability and social justice. Not by chance, it also expresses the values of the Transition Movement.

On Thursday, October 28, Burt and Marjorie hosted a discussion based on the book. The free event, sponsored by World Centric, The Humanist Community, and Transition Palo Alto, took place at World Centric in Palo Alto.

Burt dramatically presented the case for a new society, after explaining how our thinking can trap us in old ideas (using the metaphor of a “cage”).  A little bit of awareness, and we can suddenly see new possibilities.

He described the current situation, in which, for example, we still rely on fossil fuels even though many understand the consequences.  Energy use is still rising in the US and especially in developing countries.

Green technologies are touted by many but hold limited promise.  They require a lot of materials and energy, and the big alternative sources of electricity are weather-dependent (varying with sun and wind).  They are not a magic solution.

Burt argued that human culture no longer sustains us.  Seemingly beyond our collective control, prosperity is depleting resources and changing the climate. 

He presented four scenarios for our future:

  • “Saved!” by a miraculous scientific breakthrough
  • “Out with a whimper”:  we continue to use up the earth’s resources, eventually dieing off from starvation or disease until the global population is much smaller
  • “Out with a bang”:  we suffer continual catastrophes, mass migrations, and wars over the remaining resources
  • “Out of the cage”:  we transform our society for sustainability, living lightly and requiring much less energy

In Out of the Cage, the population of the fictional nation of Civitas chose the fourth scenario.  The novel describes in some detail how they remade their culture, and their political and economic system, for a sustainable (and definitely modern) existence.  Their level of consumption is certainly different than ours; Civitans know that beyond a certain level of comfort, greater happiness does not come from more possessions.  The solution involves changing the way we think, not sacrifice and suffering.

A key is to realize that we don’t own the earth, we only lease it from our children.  Burt appealed to his audience, Let us put our human energies into the most constructive activities possible, not let the economy decide for us.

(For Transition, Burt compiled a list of a few interesting books.)

Out of the Cage: Cooling a Warming Planet
by Burt and Marjorie Liebert

Out of the Cage is a creative story of modern pioneers who set out to build a new society called Civitas, dedicated to establishing a more viable political, economic, and social system. Their goals are to eliminate global warming, relegate war to “a curious footnote in the history books,” and establish a new concept of human fellowship.

Through narrative, Out of the Cage suggests a pathway for you and me to build a more cooperative, ecologically sustainable world.

The book can be purchased from the Lieberts or from online bookstores. Contact Burt at burtmargie AT att DOT net

More about the Lieberts

Excerpts from Out of the Cage

Green Activities for Kids

Sunday, October 10, was a hot, sunny day, just ripe for a day of action and learning. We started off by setting up tables and signs at El Carmelo School, and then David Coale (left) assembled his work of art, The Oil Memorial, with assistance from Paul Heft (right).

At 1pm, the volunteers had arrived and the families started coming in.

Photos and highlights: Continue reading

October 10 – Time for an Oil Change – Green Activities for Parents and Kids

Time for an Oil Change flyer


Download the Time for an Oil Change Flyer for 10/10/10 (PDF)
Post it! – Give it to your friends!

See the Facebook Page for the event!


Time for an Oil Change:
Green Activities for Parents and Kids
October 10

Sunday, 10/10/10 (October 10, 2010) 1-4pm

Where: El Carmelo School, 3024 Bryant St at Loma Verde Ave, Palo Alto

Come out for an afternoon of fun, carbon-cutting activities for kids young and old. We’ll have lots of fun things to do, plus games, arts and crafts, and prizes and more.

Come learn:

1pm – Knitting, make Felt bags, Family yoga, Worm composting, games, Plant veggies, Art and drawing
2pm – Gather around the Oil Memorial to attach things we’ll have to give up when the oil is gone!
2:30 – A slide show presentation on Climate Change
3pm – A reading of the Lorax, Learn massage

We’ll also have a bike you can ride to light a bulb, and games to play. Pledge to walk or bike, cut your carbon footprint at the same time!

Plus, fill out your Green Passport to win prizes!

Walking or carpooling recommended.
Sponsored by Transition Palo Alto and the El Carmelo Green Team. Partners: Blossom Birth, Stanford Knit Wits
This event is a part of the Global Work Party to reduce carbon emissions.

10/10/10 Work Day: Sunday, October 10, 2010

It’s Time for an Oil Change:

Green Activities for Parents and Kids10/10/10 global work party

Get ready for 10/10/10! Transition Palo Alto has partnered with for this worldwide day of action to spread the word about peak oil and climate change, and all the ways you can cut your carbon emissions. We’re planning a big day of activities for kids, parents and all adults, including skills you may have forgotten or never learned, but which your grandparents likely knew.

Among the highlights:

  • We’ll be building an end-to-cheap-oil tower.
  • Activities include building a solar oven, knitting, creating arts and crafts, and many more (additional info here).
  • See a slide show on reducing your carbon footprint by one of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Thirty”, Axel Clavier.
  • Pledge to reduce your carbon and get your passport to a greener Palo Alto!

To sign up or to help out, go to and click on “RSVP”.

Friday Night Film Series: Food Issues

Free   Friday Night Film Series

at World Centric, 7:30 – 9:30 P.M.
2121 Staunton Ct., Palo Alto    (behind JJ&F Market)

  • May 14Power of Community   When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba couldn’t export its sugar or import oil . This film shows how Cuba weathered the crisis.  Powerful, insightful, and uplifting.  Don’t miss this one!  (Check out the post-film discussion “map” from Feb. 19, PDF)
  • May 21King Corn  – A feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. 
  • May 28 – Two Angry Moms  What’s wrong with school lunches? Strategies for overcoming roadblocks and getting healthy, good tasting, real food into school cafeterias.
  • June 4  – Establishing a Food Forest  – How to establish and maintain a food forest, one of the main sustainable systems that will allow us to inhabit this planet indefinitely.
  • June 11In Transition – How local communities, like ours, can respond to peak oil and global warming while building community and enjoying life.  (Check out the post-film discussion “map” from Mar. 12, PDF)
  • June 18 Potluck (Let’s share food that’s been grown within 100 miles !)

Lively discussions will follow each film.

Sponsored by Acterra, Silicon Valley Action Network, Slow Food South Bay, Transition Palo Alto, Transition Silicon Valley, and World Centric

Anaerobic digesters in Palo Alto?

Transition Palo Alto member David Coale writes:

I’d like to invite you to a presentation on the potential for anaerobic digestion to convert Palo Alto’s 60,000 tons/year of organic waste into green energy and high quality compost.

The presentation will be on Wednesday, March 24 at 7pm at World Centric, 2121 Staunton Court in Palo Alto.
World Centric is located behind JJ&F Market on the opposite corner.

Anaerobic digestion has the potential to save the City more than $1 million per year while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. It could generate $1.4 million worth of green energy, enough to power 1,400 homes. Retiring our sewage sludge incinerator would save $800,000 worth of energy and $200,000 in waste ash disposal. The compost would be worth $200,000 per year.

The only feasible location for an anaerobic digestion facility is at the entrance to the City landfill next to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, not far from where we currently compost. The challenge is that the landfill is scheduled to become part of the 126-acre Byxbee Park, and rezoning about eight acres (7%) for composting would require a vote of the people.

Come learn more about anaerobic digestion and how you can help make it a reality.

For more information, see the Anaerobic Digestion Factsheet (PDF) that David also sent.

Film series starts Feb 19

Films of Vision and Hope
Community, Connection and Sustainability

Dates:  Feb 19 – March 19.  Five Fridays.
Times: 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Place: Acterra
3921 E Bayshore Rd., Palo Alto

Feb 19:  The Power of Community  (post-film discussion “map”, PDF)
Feb 26: The Yes Men  (post-film discussion “map”, PDF)
March 5: What’s the Economy for, Anyway?  (post-film discussion “map”, PDF)
March 12:  In Transition  (post-film discussion “map”, PDF)
March 19: Follow-up (World Cafe discussion of themes from the movies, particularly around ideas of “community”.)

Click for more details.