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:, 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?



New Book Group Starting Up

–submitted by Victora Armigo
You are invited to join a new book group series focusing on Deepening Resilience. We’ll begin by featuring two books.

The first book will be Prosper! How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting 2nd Edition, by Chris Martenson  & Adam Taggart. The book is about how to build personal resilience by developing eight forms of capital (a concept taken from permaculture).

The next book will be Who Do We Choose To Be?: Facing Reality-Claiming Leadership-Restoring Sanity by Margaret J Wheatley. This book is about creating “islands of sanity” and what I see as building emotional and social capital.

I would like to see the first book group do a deep dive together on these 2 books. Space is limited, and everyone in the group should be committed to reading and participating.

My hope is that folks from the first group will lead subsequent book groups. So if you’re not accepted into the first group, you may be able to participate in a subsequent group.

We are thinking 1st,  3rd and 5th Tuesday evenings, beginning on 7/17/18 at 7p at Victoria Armigo’s home. Victoria, Barbara Weinstein, and Paul Heft are leaders of this book group.


TPA at the re:Maker Fair

On a very hot summer day, Transition Palo Alto joined other local organizations at the Mitchell Park Community Center for the re:Maker Fair.  The Fair, sponsored by the Palo Alto Library, brought together skill shares and information tables in the spirit of a Maker Fair, but with a twist:  we all showed people how to make things out of things that might other wise have gone to waste, hence re:Maker.

Transition Palo Alto’s table was dedicated to the use of food scraps that might otherwise have been tossed.  The centerpiece of our simple table was a guessing game, where we had put different food scraps in brown paper bags.  We were amused that some people were nervous to reach into the bags! – did they think we put sharp objects in there?  The bags actually contained onion skins, potato peals, carrot tops and celery leaves, and few people guessed them all.  Having guessed the contents or not, people were then made aware of what produce we had and were asked what to do with all of them together.  The answer, of course, was to add water and to make Vegetable Broth.

We offered them some tips, which we now offer to you:

  • Do you know which vegetables and scraps to use in broth?  Jennifer’s Kitchen offers a great list of vegetables and suggested uses.  For example, onion skins add color, but if you want a nice onion-y flavor, do add a piece of the onion flesh as well.  And don’t overdo the carrot tops or you’ll make the broth too bitter.
  • The Crisper Whisperer adds yet more tips.  Potato peels, and potato of course, make a thicker broth.

We also suggested an easy method of production which had light bulbs turning on over heads:

  • Keep a container in your freezer for raw scraps and add to them as you chop your veggies.
  • Take out what scraps you need for the dish you are making, balanced for taste – but make a bigger batch than you need for that dish.
  • Put the unneeded broth in ice cube trays and freeze them.  Dump the ice cubes into a labelled container if you wish.  This way you will have small amounts of broth for flavoring side dishes, such as rice.

Of course, when you strain the broth, you will still have scraps for your compost pile.  Just fewer of them and with much of the taste and nutrition extracted for your broth.

We had a great time with the Library and hope to join them again at community events in the future.  And/or have them join us at their cousin events, our Share Faires.


May Transition Palo Alto Community Council

On Tuesday, May 22, Transition Palo Alto’s Community Council met for the second time.  Six intrepid souls met at the Prolific Oven in downtown Palo Alto to hash through the business of Transition.


We first set our mind to considering the pending election and the question set by the Steering Committee in the May TPA Newsletter:  should we endorse local propositions.  The group decided, after much soul searching, that we should not endorse propositions in the name of Transition Palo Alto.  TPA is not a membership organization, nor a registered 501(c)3 – or other- non-profit.  The assembled group thought that in order to use Transition Palo Alto’s name on an endorsement, TPA ought to have a more formal structure and a publicly defined process for endorsements, such that all members could become involved, whatever membership then entailed.  This might seem less than satisfying, but in fact it was very satisfying:  we had a group of supporters, with inclusion beyond the steering committee, come out with a well thought through position.


We did come up with our own opinions, which are those of the assembled group only.  We agreed that we supported Proposition 68 and that we opposed Proposition 70.  We decided that since none of us were residents of San Jose, we were not going to take a position on Measure B.  (Spoiler:  in yesterday’s election 68 passed, while 70 and B were both defeated.)


We talked about the City of Palo Alto’s draft Zero Waste Plan.  Most people hadn’t read it.  It is a significant document, running to about 50 pages, including charts and appendices.  Those who skimmed it were impressed by its vision, short term and long.  We decided that it was indeed something which Transition Palo Alto should comment on and kicked off a committee to make comments.  If you would like to participate, send us a message.


We ran out of time before returning to our Resource Map conversation.  One thing we’re learning is that these conversations are deep and take time.  We’ll want to put multiple items on the agenda, but order them for urgency in case we run out of time.  We’ll want to return to the Resource Map conversation soon, and if we don’t have time to finish it in the Community Council, then it may just have to kick off its own separate project.


Look to join us in Council some time.

Dolores – June Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope

June 22 7:30-9:30pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

“Exuberantly inspiring… makes you want to march and dance.” — San Francisco Chronicle


What makes a consummate activist? What does it take to be someone who dedicates their life and liberty to advancing social, economic, and environmental justice?

This month we’ll take a close look at Dolores Huerta, one of the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change. See the trailer…

Co-sponsored by Transition Palo Alto, the Green Sanctuary Committee of UUPCA, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, and Fools Mission.

Spring Share Faire June 10

Mitchell Park Bowl
3700 East Meadow Dr
Palo Alto, CA 94303 [MAP]
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00 – 3:00 PM

Don’t miss the Transition Palo Alto Spring/Summer Share Faire this Sunday afternoon. We’ve got an awesome batch of skillshares lined up:
Improv Techniques with Roy
Cockadoodle Do’s and Don’ts with Victoria
Tool Care with William
Science Experiments with Hamsa
Lace making with Suzanne
Food prep with Diane

We’ll also share goods – garden and clothing, books and household items, toys and more.  And we’ll share each other’s good company while building a stronger community.

Please plan to join us.  If you’d like to volunteer as a greeter, for set-up or clean-up, or for whatever, send email to
2018 spring share faire flyer

Trash Dance – May Fourth Friday/Films of Vision and Hope

“Inspired and inspiring…Not to be missed!” – Paste Magazine

We all know what a problem waste is, and previous Fourth Friday films have focused on how to reduce it. But what about all the people who work tirelessly to pick up, process, and dispose of our waste? They’re mostly invisible to us, yet they perform an essential service that most of us would never want to do.

Trash Dance introduces us to some of these people, adding an amazing and inspiring twist. Choreographer Allison Orr rides along with Austin, Texas sanitation workers on their daily routes to observe and later convince them to perform a most unlikely spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks deliver — for one night only — a stunningly beautiful and moving performance, in front of an audience of thousands.

May 25 7:30-9:30pm 
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
All ages welcome! FREE, Donations appreciated.

trash dance

Thanks to Zero Waste Palo Alto for providing the film and for being a great TPA partner!