Blogs

Mike Hatfield gave us an engaging education about rocket cook stoves at Aprovecho Research Center. Tucked away in Cottage Grove Oregon, this is an offshoot of the Aprovecho center, which has been working on numerous appropriate technologies, including rocket stoves, since the 1970s.

When we drove into the long roadway approaching Scott and Kaela McGuire’s new homestead, I was struck by the solo sunflower greeting us like a towering beacon. Scott said it was a volunteer, probably from their previous garden where we’d taped “An Experiment in Backyard Sustainability” in 2006.

5 pm Monday night August 2nd. Our friend Mary Nelson sent us off with a colorful paper flower bouquet at our three-person mini-departure party at the Rough and Ready park-and-ride.

Most of us have them -- dusty piles of unused clothes in the back of the closet.  They looked good at one point, but now they (a) don't fit, (b) have a stain, (c) aren't in style anymore, but we can't bring ourselves to get rid of them so they linger in the dingy corners.  People at Transition Mar Vista (TMV) are turning their old clothes into something new.

This past weekend, Transition Mar Vista (part of the Transition action in the greater Los Angeles area) held a "Repurposing old clothing" workshop.  Everyone was invited to bring a few articles of old clothing -- tshirts, dresses, skirts, etc. -- as well as sewing notions, buttons, ribbons, and trims. 

The workshop was lead by Gaia Waters, the high-school-aged granddaughter of one of the TMV steering group members.  Gaia, an aspiring fashion designer, was visiting from England and TMV certainly made the most of her presence.  Gaia had plenty of help from TMV members who have an eye for design and color.

Here's the schedule of programs we'll be taping in our 2010 Pacific Northwest Tour. I plan to blog each taping. Join us! Click the RSS icon on Janaia's journal to get email notice when a new blog is up.

August

This post is a continuation of "Transition in the Big City," a description of how Transition ideas are being applied in Los Angeles.  Part I discussed issues of scale, the formation of the city hub and pods, and the structure we use today.

OPERATIONS

At this point Transition in Los Angeles consists of 6 pods which offer regular public meetings:  Transition San Fernando Valley*, Transition Mar Vista, Transition Culver City*, Inglewood, the Environmental Change-Makers in the Westchester/LA area, and Transition South Bay LA.  The two starred ones are now official TIs with the Transition Network, as is the Transition Los Angeles city hub.  We have two additional areas which are just beginning to hold Transition-type public meetings, Whittier and Rancho Palos Verdes.

The Transition movement coaches us to "begin in your own backyard."  But what if your backyard happens to be one of the biggest megacities in the world?

CAN IT BE DONE?

From the very beginning -- even before the December 2008 Open Space circle that resulted in the formation of our Transition Los Angeles city hub, and even from people who really ought to know better -- I have heard the doubts.  Los Angeles is too big.  You can't hope to fix it.  It can't be done. 

But at the same time, there's that old adage about "a journey of a thousand miles ..."  And the basic necessity of it: what else are we supposed to do, simply do NOTHING?

To those of you who are reading this who also live in big cities, I say: carry on.  Keep on working for change.  Any bit of progress helps.  As a personal survival mechanism, it helps to ignore the nay-sayers.  Believe it can be done, begin the baby steps, allow progress to build, celebrate victories no matter how small.  Yes, do look at the big picture, but don't let it get you down.  Don't think too hard about how very big it is, just get positive progress started.

And with that attitude, we in Los Angeles have accomplished quite a lot in a very short period of time!

Fourth of July is a big day here in the US. It marks the day in 1776 when the Americans threw off the Brits, and declared independence. Parades, fireworks, barbecues, family reunions, fairs, and all manner of festivities take place, in celebration of the unique history and culture that is America.

On this Independence Day, I'm celebrating the ways my family's lifestyle is becoming more independent from the mainstream.  This means our lifestyle is becoming more independent from oil for long-distance transport of goods, more independent from carbon emissions, more independent from the Industrial Growth Paradigm, demanding less earth resources, and thus much more resilient.

VEGETABLES & FRUITS

My family is independent from those lifeless items in the supermarket produce aisle.  We are gradually becoming independent from industrialized agribusiness.  We buy mostly all of our produce fresh from the local farmer's market, and when I am there, I buy predominantly from two vendors whose farms are 45 miles and 125 miles from my home respectively (here in Los Angeles, that's pretty close!).  A considerable portion of our leafy greens are homegrown, and in some summer months, 100% of our fruit.  I no longer purchase thyme, oregano, bay leaf, mint, rosemary, basil, cilantro, because I grow our year's supply.  I'm working on tea herbs next, so that we can declare our independence in that arena.  And our team of gardeners is working to grow the number of food gardens in our local area.

The New York Times ran an article last month, Imagining Life Without Oil, and Being Ready which gave a rather poor account of the Transition Movement. I was particularly perturbed to see that an hour talking on the phone with reporter John Leland, did not contribute greatly to his understanding of Transition US, nor the wider Transition movement.

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