Rooms Available in Permaculture House

–Submitted by William Mutch
We have two vacancies coming up in April in the house on the land that I steward.  This is the house and land I write about often in the Transition Café announcements.  We are on ~four acres on a gentle hill above a neighborhood near the Saratoga/Cupertino border, covered in mixed Oaks and Grasses, and various wildflowers in Spring.  We’re building contour beds which will be home to various edibles, including Fruit and Nut Trees, Cane Berries, perennial Grasses, and much more.  The plan is to be harvesting loads of atmospheric carbon, storing lots of water in the soil, and creating habitat and food for humans and other critters.  One of the rooms could be excellent for a couple, another may be a good commuter room or studio.  Please forward our ad to any person or organization you think might be interested in hearing about it.  Craigs List ad
Thank you!
saratogahouseonhill@gmail.com
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A Letter from Cornwall

Last month, Transition Palo Alto received the most wonderful letter from Christine Sefton, a member of the Eden Project Communities Team in Cornwall, UK.  She wanted to let us know about their Share Fairs, and how similar they are to our own Share Faires.  We have responded, of course, and are beginning what should be a great conversation around the simultaneous development of great ideas across a vast ocean.  We thought we would share Christine’s letter with you – with her blessing – for your own inspiration:

Hello,

My colleague sent me a link to your November 2017 Share Faire event because she knew I’d be massively interested…which I am.  It seems we have come to the same conclusion and created the same community project.

I am based in Cornwall, UK at the Eden Project and am part of the Eden Project Communities Team. For the last 18 months I’ve been developing Share Fairs (which sound very similar, if not exactly the same as, your own). So far there have been piloted 25 Share Fair events across England and Northern Island, engaging approximately 2,000 people and four of our pilot Share Fairs are set to continue into 2018. Some of these events have been stand-alone, others have been part of bigger carnivals or festivals. We’ve held Share Fairs in town centres, village greens and council parks. Many have been big community events with 100s attending, others have been more intimate – all have been positive.

We describe Share Fairs as social events a bit like an old-fashioned market or village fete but instead of buying and selling, people swap and share in a pop-up, money-free zone. Alongside sharing and swapping items such as clothes and books, people also share skills, stories, ideas, information and above all company. Instead of making financial capital, a Share Fair is about building community and creating social capital.

A Share Fair is also a process of empowerment. For community spirit to thrive, communities need to come together and enjoy regular, positive, shared experiences. Equally important, is the collaborative effort that goes into creating and developing these shared experiences. So Share Fairs are more than just the event on the day – they are the opportunity for communities to work collaboratively all year round, to be the vehicle by which new community groups are formed, individuals gain confidence and skills, and service providers co-ordinate. Share Fair events provide the focus, but the collaborative effort that goes into developing the event, is why Share Fairs have the potential to create enduring positive change and the opportunity for communities to tell new and positive stories about themselves.

Our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ mksharefair/ and our twitter account is @SHAREeFAIR and here are some films we made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=mjZeoG2ENHo&feature=youtu.be

https://youtu.be/x69SYw7OGsc

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=E4AKzFlzIQs&feature=youtu.be

 

What I shall be doing next is gathering evidence about Share Fairs and exploring how to gain the necessary funding to support more communities to start Share Fairs.

 

I’m really interested in your Share Faire story and hope you can let me know all about your project and ambitions.

All the very best.

Christine

Transitioners at EcoFarm 2018

Razia Mianoor

I would like to share my recent EcoFarm attendance at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA.

This was my first conference as a beginner farmer and landowner of 20 acres of organic land, located in Gilroy.  I attended workshops that were designed to help understand regulation, soil, and management of bee hives on farms. I was very impressed by the speakers and the workshop leaders to share their knowledge and answer questions and provide guidance in making selections.  The marketplace was informative with vendors displaying their products and showing new products that are available to improve farming methods.

Overall, the planning committee put in a lot of effort selecting a good variety of speakers and organizing the workshops.  The conference grounds are very easily accessible and comfortable, the staff was friendly and helpful.  I would recommend the EcoFarm conference to new members like myself to learn and share the experience.

 

Peter Ruddock

This January I attended my eighth EcoFarm Conference.  When I first attended in 2011, I wondered how welcome a food advocate would be at a farmer conference.  By 2014, I had joined the conference planning committee, one of a number of advocates with different points of view who was working to support the food system and, in particular, ecological farming (farming that is sustainable, regenerative, organic and more).  By 2016, I was helping co-found EcoFarm’s Diversity Advisory Group, whose mission is to increase the diversity of the conference to more closely match the demographic make-up of California.  We want to include people of all backgrounds and experiences, and to make everyone feel that they are a welcome, integral and important part of the conference, an effort which in its first to years has had some gratifying initial success.  So, yes, I felt welcome – and I guess that I am all in at this point.

Each year sees more programming that would be of interest to Transition members.  From urban agriculture to school gardens to permaculture, programming is growing to include more than production farmers, though production farming will always be the core of EcoFarm.  Transition Palo Alto members are increasingly paying attention – one friend spent much of January talking himself into going, and by the last day of the conference he was telling me what he is going to do differently next year.  It is obviously a way to learn.  But it is also a way to give back, a way to help build the resilient, local food system that is a key component to Transition’s vision for the future.

Curious?  Consider attending in 2019.  Check out the conference web-site.  If a three-day commitment is too much for you, come for a single day.  Do plan to eat there – the food, sourced from local farms like Full Belly Farm, is very good.  Asilomar is a stunningly beautiful place to confer.  Fun is had by all – music, films and more supplement the conference sessions.  And the people who attend are folks that you will want to meet.  See you at EcoFarm next year!

Transition Café – Self Care

Submitted by William Mutch Feb 2, 2018
A Chestnut-Backed Chickadee flew into the house, this morning. I waited until he or she had worn themselves out with the window thing, then picked them up and carried them outside, getting some bites in the process, although once my guest figured out what was going on they settled down, some, but with attitude. Earlier in the week, I put up some birdhouses, one for Bluebirds, one for Wrens, and another for Chickadees. Of course, those specifications only apply if the Birds have been reading the same books I have, which is not always the case.

I was part of a difficult conversation, last night, and lives were changed, and will continue to be, as a result. These things don’t always go the way you think they will, and sometimes, doing the thing that is clearly best for everyone doesn’t feel the way it seems like it should, so…not much sleep afterwards. Sitting with this, this morning, I learned that an old friend had passed, about a week ago. She and I hadn’t been close close, but we had shared some adventures, in the early days when I was starting out in the Permaculture and Nature Awareness communities. The nature of those communities breeds close connections quickly, which remain so, over the years. She has been a strong and needed voice for keeping space for non-binary gender diversity, among other things. She was within a couple of years of my age. I have a complicated relationship with Death, as mentioned in many a past Transition Café newsletter, but it still involves a change in our relationship. So…a surreal few days, accentuated with the historically beautiful moon performance. Oh, and of course the insane $#!^-show that is the news, right now.

But, sometimes, life is just like that…you get to help a Chickadee through a major event in their life while working out major events in yours, while your culture and even your planet work out major events in theirs.

So, I have to ask again about self-care…

As activists, we often run ourselves even more ragged than the rest of everyone, and in Silicon Valley that is saying something. We frequently have a very hard time taking a break and setting down the burden, from time to time, until we pick it up again. So important, though, to rest and care for ourselves, so we can come back refreshed and recharged, to fight the good fight, another day. If we burn out, we can end up walking away from this work that is so important to so many.

What do you do to care for yourself? Do you take sensible breaks during the day, the week, per month, per year? Do you eat well, sleep well, get enough exercise, drink enough water, meditate, take regular news-fasts? Are you using your work to self-medicate something else? If you were, would you know it? What is that frantic hard-work ethic keeping us from feeling? What happens to you, when you slow down? Can you slow down enough to meet the Wall of Grief, before it catches up to you? Are you responsibly sitting with that grief, so you don’t act it out on the people and environments you are trying to be an ally for?

 

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

Bringing Permaculture to Life

Permaculture is a design framework that brings systems thinking and an ethical sensibility to the creation of environments that are not just sustainable, but also regenerative. Permaculturists start by observing how nature operates in forests and other natural settings, and then design environments that incorporate the natural patterns and relationships.

On January 26, Fourth Friday attendees were introduced to the diverse and inspiring world of permaculture. The film ‘Inhabit’ featured living permaculture projects on farms, in cities, in suburbs – ranging from a rooftop garden in the middle of New York City to an idyllic rural spread of many acres.

After the film, permaculturist and TPA steering committee member William Mutch answered questions and shared his own perspective on permaculture.  He explained that permaculture is based on ethics and principles — not a step-by-step process — and emphasized the importance of beginning with patient observation.

William also hosts the Permaculture Cafe, a weekly gathering of people who are interested in learning more about permaculture. The cafe is held every Wednesday 6-7:30pm at Red Rock Cafe in Mountain View.  If you’re on the TPA mailing list, you’ll get an announcement each week.

And to start learning more now about permaculture principles, ethics, and practices, you can go to permacultureprinciples.com.

 

Transition Café – Threat and Community

Cafe notes from William Mutch, January 19, 2018.
I took a sick day from Tracking Club, this Sunday, and was drinking tea and making breakfast, watching the array of Birds in the yard, when a Coyote walked through, along the edge of the “lawn”, leisurely sniffing and peering into the Juniper bushes. I was the only one who was startled. Everyone else-Quail, Sparrows, Juncos, etc, while they were clearly aware of the Coyote, just kept doing their thing, moving aside to let the Coyote pass, without alarm or even apparent hurry.

I am used to usually having advance notice of when predators are active in the area, because the Birds are aware, and respond in ways that anyone paying attention can pick up on and usually figure out what kind of predator is coming/present. In some situations, certain Birds (and other critters) will recruit aware Humans (and other critters) to assist with problems that are beyond them. These Birds, multiple species, were behaving as if this Coyote were a Deer (yes, I know Deer will eat Birds if given the need and opportunity, but, anecdotally at least, that seems rare).

This Coyote is male, and seems to have a scar on the left side of his face. He was soon joined by a female with a heavy left ear, and another whose gender I couldn’t figure out. We have seven Coyotes who are regulars on the land, up here, maybe related, maybe not. I have watched them frolic and wrestle with each other within feet of a day-bedded buck, who seemed interested, but unalarmed. These three were interested in an old Deer leg which one of my housemates had found in the Oaks and brought up into the garden, with one or another running around with it and chewing old hide and muscle off of it. It was like watching Domestic Dogs wrestling over a bone.

Why no alarms sounded about the Coyote? Was he offering body language, scent, pheromones, or something else, indicating he was not hunting? Was he clearly hunting Rodents or Lagomorphs, instead of Birds? More study needed. We are told, of course, that the lives of Birds, and others, depend on being able to tell when predators are hunting, versus not, so they get out of the way at the appropriate time, but don’t stay in a constant state of agitation, burning precious calories, when predators are either absent or not a threat.

Of course, a predator’s life depends on being able to think like their prey, and also convince prey that they are not hunting or non-dangerous. I have watched Sparrows fade into the underbrush, repeatedly, exactly two minutes before a Hawk flew over (after watching this a couple of times, I started timing them), but have also seen another Hawk fly low over feeding Sparrows without striking or them reacting in any way that was obvious to me. (I have also heard a Sparrow sound an alarm at a Turkey Vulture, but that only happened once, and I assume was an adolescent Sparrow.)

Many authors currently writing about community building among Humans talk about the necessity, even urgency, to be able to identify Human predators and parasites, as they will erode or even detonate a community. They refer to the “Dark Triad” although some are suggesting that it should be the “Dark Tetrad”, adding in another personality type, but these are basically folks who are wounded, angry, needy, etc. in ways which even extremely healthy communities have a hard time providing a container for.

Each of us, obviously, has wounds, and some of us “self-medicate” those wounds with one behavior or addiction or another, or treat them as “sacred wounds” which drive and inform our passion for self-healing (as opposed to self-medicating) and being of service to the world. Some of us use those wounds as a reason to hurt others, either the folks who hurt us, to hurt ourselves, or to hurt folks who remind us of either the folks who hurt us or of ourselves when we were hurt. Many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, probably shift through those different solutions, over the course of our lives, or maybe even over the course of a day. Most of us have a default setting, though, which we return to when we are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, dehydrated, etc. We refer to this as “Life”.

If this is as crucial as many suggest, then how do we identify Human predators and parasites? Some are so good at mimicking healthy folks that they are practically invisible, but their effects on a community are not. Like icebergs, destructive behavior patterns and personalities leave ripples around themselves. “Traditional” cultures would have identified a Donald Trump or an Evita Peron well before they had amassed a fortune or a strong group of followers. The consequences of failing to identify and deal with them would have been well-represented in the oral traditions, and the elders would have been constantly vigilant.

Who has that job, in our culture? Who educates the young on how to tell the predators from the ones the predators are mimicking? We do as much of disservice to our children, of course, if we mistake a non-predator for a predator, as the other way around. That is sometimes called “Friendly Fire”. The first job of the predator, of course, is to take out anyone in the community who can identify them or stop them. They generally act by destroying their reputation and getting the community to turn away from or exile them, but sometimes by other means, like isolating and controlling them, or simply killing them.

Grim topics, and ones which Good People don’t discuss, or even spend time thinking about. Best to go back to our reality shows and celebrity gossip. After all, why worry about something that hasn’t happened yet? Why prepare for something which Can’t Happen Here? The Gazelles who insist that that Cheetah is actually just another Gazelle don’t live much longer than the Monkey who thinks the Snake is a log. But, if Gazelles think all the other Gazelles are Cheetahs, they isolate themselves from their allies, and can fall prey to the very ones they were trying to protect themselves from. Good thing that Can’t Happen Here!

Special February Fourth Friday – ‘Look & See’

We are pleased to welcome Peninsula Open Space Trust as a co-sponsor for this special Fourth Friday screening of LOOK & SEE.

look and see

As I see, the farmer standing in his field, is not isolated as simply a component of a production machine. He stands where lots of lines cross – cultural lines. The traditional farmer, that is the farmer who was first independent, who first fed himself off his farm and then fed other people, who farmed with his family and who passed the land on down to people who knew it and had the best reasons to take care of it… that farmer stood at the convergence of traditional values… our values.”
— Wendell Berry, Author, Activist and Farmer

LOOK & SEE revolves around the divergent stories of several residents of Henry County, Kentucky who each face difficult choices that will dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community.

In 1965, Wendell Berry returned home to Henry County, where he bought a small farm house and began a life of farming, writing and teaching.  This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings. A half century later Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt – all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities. Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a forty-paned window, Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one of its most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.

Filmed across four seasons in the farming cycle, LOOK & SEE blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape.  Thus, in the spirit of Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself emerges as a character in the film – a place and a landscape that is deeply interdependent with the people that inhabit it.

RSVPs via EventBrite are required. Click for the official announcement, where you can scroll down to register.

Friday February 23, 7:30-9:30pm
Main Hall, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto,
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

Sponsored by Transition Palo Alto, Green Sanctuary Committee of UUCPA, and Peninsula Open Space Trust.

 

January Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope – ‘Inhabit’

Join us for a close look at permaculture, the transformative approach to agriculture, economics, society, and governance, that inspired the Transition movement and much more.

Inhabit introduces permaculture projects, concepts, and people to help everyone understand what permaculture is all about.

Inhabit film.png

If you’re already familiar with permaculture, you’ll get a glimpse into what’s possible – what kind of projects and solutions are already underway and what actions you might want to take.

If you’re not familiar with permaculture, you’ll learn about this revolutionary way relating to the Earth.

For everyone, it will be a reminder that humans are capable of helping to heal our planet.

Filmmakers Costa Boutsikaris and Emmett Brennan documented more than 20 sites in a range of rural, suburban, and urban environments. They explored responses to local and global challenges, ranging from issues of food, water, and medicine, to governance, economy, and culture.  Come learn what they found out and share your own experience, ideas, and perspective. See the trailer…

Friday January 26, 7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto,
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

Sharing the Holidays

The Share Faire took place this December at Cubberley Community Center once again. We shared holiday decorations, goods, books, garden plants and persimmons, vinyl records, clothes, fabrics, toys, and so much more.

Inside the two rooms, A6 and A7, we had two themes: homemade holidays, and garden/making. Kids of all ages were busy making colorful rolled beeswax candles with Lori, who also showed how to make melted ones (and left some candle wax to take home). We got a chance to make salt dough creations – menorahs and ornaments – with Joyce – and she showed how to color them gently, and displayed an heirloom handmade menorah. Peggy shared her expertise with worms to hold and answered questions on home composting. Peter demonstrated a simple and unique applesauce recipe that was flavorful and delicious. Barbara and Herb led the sessions on storytelling – everyone regaling each other with tales from holidays past.

Click through the slideshow below:

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