June 30 Fifth Friday – To the Ends of the Earth – film and discussion


“To the Ends of the Earth” follows concerned citizens living at the frontiers of extreme oil and gas extraction, bearing witness to a global crossroads. They call for human ingenuity to rebuild society at the end of the fossil fuel era.

The people in the film are uniquely positioned to watch this global crossroads unfold. For example, the mayor of an Inuit village in Canada’s high Arctic who is concerned that seismic testing for oil in the ocean is blowing up the eardrums of the animals that the Inuit hunt to survive. Or the environmental lawyer who goes on a journey to areas that produce energy for the tar sands of Alberta — he learns of the massive inputs of energy that have to be put into this resource — and the reasons why the second largest oil project in the world is economically unsustainable. Or the river conservationist in Utah who fights to protect the Colorado River from oil shale projects that would disturb its headwaters.

“To the Ends of the Earth” brings forward the voices of those who not only denounce the rise of extreme energy, but also envision the new world that is taking shape in its stead: a future beyond the resource pyramid, a post-growth economy.

Friday June 30, 7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
FREE (donations appreciated)

to the ends of the earth1

Building fences – and bridges – at Phoenix Garden

It was a perfect spring morning May 20 for work and relaxation at Phoenix Garden in San Mateo. (For more on the garden, check out Kris Jensen’s TPA blog post.)

Volunteers helped erect deer fences to protect a new orchard and other designated planting areas. William Mutch demoed his smooth scything technique, and several folks got into the ‘swing’ of it. And a new sign was erected to show what the garden will like when all the areas are complete.

After work, relaxation. We gathered together as the South Bay Bioregional Hub for a potluck and brainstorm about how sustainability activists can help each other. It is a co-creation project where people meet every month at an interesting project site to combine work and bridge-building in the hope of making more and more sustainability and community projects successful. As one example, Chris Searles shared information about his BioIntegrity project, which connects potential donors to environmental stewardship and restoration opportunities. To help build more bridges outside of these gatherings, we use the CrossPollinators – a website where sustainability change makers can share knowledge about community organizations and projects. Also, check out this cool video about how the Cross Pollinators helped the Freedom Farmer’s Market develop a website and marketing materials within just a few hours, just by bringing the right people together.

To learn more, check out The CrossPollinators, including the South Bay Regional Hub section.

Phoenix Garden has a work day the third Saturday of every month. If you’d like to learn more, contact Kris Jensen (krisxjensen@gmail.com). You can also check your TPA email and newsletter for details about garden work days.

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The CrossPollinators is an open-source digital platform where you and other changemakers can share your knowledge of community organizations and projects to help regenerate the world.

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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Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – Biophilic Design, the Architecture of Life

Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development.

Come on a journey from our evolutionary past and the origins of architecture to the world’s most celebrated buildings in a search for the architecture of life. Together, we will encounter buildings that connect people and nature – hospitals where patients heal faster, schools where children’s test scores are higher, offices where workers are more productive, and communities where people know more of their neighbors and families thrive. See the trailer

Friday May 26, 7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
FREE (donations appreciated)

biophilic design



A Sad Farewell to Full Circle Farm

For the past 10 years, Full Circle Farm has welcomed the South Bay community back to the land. Through the annual summer camp and school programs, thousands of children have learned about the natural world, exercised the their bodies and minds, and enjoyed the delicious results. People of all ages have rolled up their sleeves to help plant, weed, and harvest, take care of the chickens, or just come out for some time in the sun.

Transition Palo Alto has partnered with the farm for the Sunnyvale Garden Share and many other events, including a Slow Money Farm Fest and several Earth Day celebrations, which together have attracted many thousands of people. 

So it’s with great sadness that we report that unless something happens to change the situation, the farm will close within the next few months. The Santa Clara Unified School District decided not to renew the farm’s lease, so the farm is due to close. The farm’s board of directors and parent organization Sustainable Community Gardens tried to work closely with the district to meet all of its requests and requirements, but ultimately, the district decided they did not want to renew the lease.

The Magic of Seeds

April Fourth Friday explored the magic of seeds, the grave threats they face, and the heroic efforts of seed enthusiasts to find, save, and share them for the benefit of life on earth. Attendees were treated to the compelling and visually stunning film – Seed: the Untold Story. Afterwards, organic farmer Grant Brians shared some of his organic farming experiences and displayed a variety of seeds.

Here’s what you can to do help.

Avoid buying GMO foods. We learned that the practices of Monsanto and other GMO seed Goliaths are destroying farmers who can no longer save seeds from year to year, but are forced to buy each year at exorbitant prices. And airborne seeds from GMO fields are contaminating neighboring organic fields, Buying organic and local are the best ways to say no to this system. Lots of websites have additional suggestions – here are a couple to check out:  Non GMO Foods (How to Avoid GMO Foods for Real), and How to avoid GMOs when you’re on a budget.

Help save endangered seeds. Hillie Salo from Silicon Valley Grows picks an endangered seed each year and asks for community involvement to increase the supply. Learn more at Silicon Valley Grows and from Slow Food South Bay.

March Against Monsanto. Join the March against Monsanto in San Jose on May 20.

Participate in seed share events. These seed share events are on tap for this year:

  • Sunday, July 23, 11am, Full Circle Farm/Sunnyvale
  • Saturday, October 14, 1pm, Rancho Rinconada/Cupertino

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Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope April 28 – Seed: The Untold Story

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshiped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds,farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. 

Seed the untold story

Friday April 28, 7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto

From Sea to Table

Fourth Friday attendees were treated to “Of the Sea,” a captivating, up-close look at the lives of people who make their living fishing off the California Coast.

Filmmaker Mischa Hedges described his motivation and experiences making the film, which profiles people who work tirelessly at sea to support their families, while also supporting efforts to sustain local fisheries for the next generation.

All of us can support the effort by making conscious decisions when buying seafood:

  • Follow guidelines, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines, which are available in print and as a smartphone app.
  • Purchase from local sources, whenever possible. Ask your seafood purveyor where the seafood comes from, and let them know that it matters to you.
  • Join a CSF (Community Supported Fish), such as Real Good Fish.

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Laugh therapy

Chris Selberg lead the Hearth and Soul group in a evening of Laughing Yoga March 20. As participants found, just the act of laughing (whether you’re reacting to something funny or not) gets the circulation flowing and raises the spirits.

Next month (April 17), Roy Kornbluh will be leading Hearth and Soulers in an evening of improvisation.  Newcomers of all ages are always welcome. For more information, please contact barbaraweinstein2@gmail.com.

Hearth and Soul was formed to create a safe and supportive home for self-exploration, finding common ground, mutual support – and FUN.

March 26 Share Faire

The Fermentation Share Faire is being postponed. Look for it a bit later in the year.

Instead, this Sunday March 26 we’ll have a smaller Spring Share Faire 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Cubberley Community Center in rooms A-6 and A-7.  We’ll have:

Good Share – bring your gently used goods to share with your neighbors – books, clothes, kitchen ware, games and toys and more.  Please be prepared to bring home that which does not find a new owner.

Garden Share – bring the produce of your garden, or the excess production tools of your garden, or anything remotely related to your garden to share with your fellow gardeners

Craftivism – we will create some new signage in the form of A-frames for use in future Share Faires.  Please bring scrap wood, tools, screws and nails, if you have them.  We will also work on creating material for the Transition Palo Alto table, most recently seen at Canopy’s Arbor Day Festival and soon to be seen at the Palo Alto May Fete, among other places.

You Share – bring yourself and share yourself with your neighbors.

Hope to see you Sunday!