Tag Archives: events

Permaculture goes mainstream, hope rises

Sometimes little things give hope that progress is possible, and that maybe “if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time,” to quote the Cheerful Disclaimer.  This last week the little thing for me was the discovery of permaculture by the New York Times.  Now, I’m not so naive to believe that seeing permaculture in the mainstream press is going to make a lot of difference immediately, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see a surge of interest in permie classes across the country with long-term benefits to both participants and the environment (FYI, classes are offered here in Houston by the Permaculture Guild of Houston, through Urban Harvest).

I think the important point is that awareness is growing in our country:  awareness of our ecosystem impacts, awareness of the lack of sustainability in our lifestyles and economy, and also awareness of that which is missing in our lives–community, connection, purpose.  Permaculture is a positive response to that growing awareness, as is the permaculture-based Transition movement.

There are a couple of opportunities to join with others in our Transition Houston community this week and next.  Please avail yourself of these options to increase your awareness and find connection with a community of folks working for a resilient Houston region.

Transition Houston Hub meeting, Tuesday, August 2, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Green Film Series Presents Blue Gold: World Water Wars, Tuesday, August 9, 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Transition Houston Hub meeting, Tuesday, August 2, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
We hope to see you at Tuesday’s Transition Houston meeting, which will feature a guest speaker in addition to news from the Transition Neighborhoods and Action Groups.

We are very fortunate to have Peter Wang, League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor, as our guest speaker.  Peter is considered a local biking expert.  He’s everywhere as a go-to guy for media interviews about bikes, and has been involved in a lot of bicycle issues.  He is risk-averse–exactly the kind of guy you would want to help you practice being safer!–and has taught a lot of these safety classes.

Peter will present a video screening followed by a discussion. The video is Enjoy The Ride, about essential bicycling skills.  It will provide straightforward instruction for checking over your bike, bike-handling skills, and riding confidently in traffic.   The video is based on principles of the BikeEd curriculum developed by the League of American Bicyclists.

TOPICS COVERED

  • pre-ride checklist
  • bicycle handling skills
  • riding in traffic
  • identifying & avoiding hazards
  • riding in all conditions (night, rain, hills)

We will also have updates from our Neighborhood Initiatives and Action Groups.

As is our tradition, the business program will end at 8:30 and the time for refreshments, conversation, and community will begin.

Parking:  If the Church lot is full, parking is available in the parking lot of the Rice Village Animal Hospital just across Rice Blvd. on the northwest corner of Rice and Greenbriar.  Another option is the Rice University parking lot across Greenbriar from the Church ($1).  Bicycle parking is in the greenspace within the church parking lot.

Transition Houston Hub Meeting
Tuesday, August 2 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Christ The King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX 77005
For more information and RSVP: Ning or Facebook

Green Film Series Presents Blue Gold: World Water Wars, Tuesday, August 9, 6:30pm to 9:00pm
The Rice University Environmental Club, Houston Tomorrow, the Emerging Professionals of the Houston USGBC, and Transition Houston present the August film in our Houston Green Film Series–Blue Gold: World Water Wars.

Based on the ground-breaking book by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, Blue Gold: World Water Wars sheds light on the world’s rapidly approaching water crisis and suggests that wars of the future will be fought over water (as they are today over oil) as the source of all life enters the global marketplace and political arena.

Following the movie, we will highlight the local non-profit Living Water International that is working to solve global water issues.

Schedule:
6:30 Meet and Greet
7:00 Featured Film
8:00 Water Non-Profit Showcase

Refreshments will be served.   A $5 donation is suggested and greatly appreciated.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars
Tuesday, August 9
6:30pm to 9:00pm
Rice University Media Center
2030 University, Houston, TX  77005
For more information and RSVP:  Facebook

Looking forward to seeing you at these events!

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I don’t know if you have noticed, but it is hot out there.  And dry!  One might think that we would all just retreat to the indoors and the AC, but our Transition communities find that there is always much work to be done (and fun to be had).  We have a lot going on over the next several weeks–despite the drought–and would especially like to share the many events that we and/or our friends are scheduling.

But first, a public service announcement shared by Linda Foss on the Transition Houston ning group:

NPR interviewed Trees for Houston who said that we are now in an exceptional drought and trees will begin dying if it doesn’t change or people don’t water them. Trees for Houston can’t keep up with all the trees they’ve planted and are encouraging people to water trees in esplanades and other public spaces near them.  I’ve forwarded this to the neighborhood associations around me.

He (the Trees for Houston representative) advised:

“Punch a small hole in a 5-gallon bucket. Fill it up, put it by your tree and it drips out. You’ll get more water percolating right where you need it in a more efficient way, than a broad lawn sprinkler system.”

Thank you Linda for taking the time to share this information with our community.  Here’s hoping that the rain we need will be coming this week, and that exceptional events like this one will prompt people to consider climate challenges and resilient community responses.

Transition Heights Initiating Meeting, Thursday, June 23, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Website Poll closes Friday, June 24, Midnight

Energy Action Group Solar Ovens and Pallet Building, Saturday, June 25, 10:00am to 12:00 noon

Save the Date:  Transition Houston Hub meeting, Tuesday, July 5, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Save the Date:  Green Film Series presents The Power of Community, Tuesday, July 12, 6:30pm

A Conversation with Rob Hopkins, Monday, July 18, 10:00am to 11:15am

Transition Heights Initiating Meeting, Thursday, June 23, 7:00pm
As a group of neighborhoods with a historic core, the Heights has many of the qualities that would make for an easier transition, such as walkability, pre-AC housing stock, and local and independent businesses.   Many of our Transition Houston members live in the Heights, perhaps many more than we are aware.  If you do live in the Heights, you may be very interested to know that a group of Transition Houston members are getting together this week on Thursday to initiate a Heights Transition neighborhood.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Jan by email (jankindel at aol dot com) for location and directions.

Transition Heights Initiating Meeting
Thursday, June 23
7:00pm
For location/information:  jankindel at aol dot com

Website Poll closes Friday, June 24, Midnight
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Transition Houston Media Action Group has previewed three web page designs and are leaving it up to our membership to help make the final decision.  Whichever design gets the most votes will become Transition  Houston’s new website design.

Voting for the new design closes this Friday, June 24, at midnight, so please vote now!

Using the link below, you will have the chance to view functional designs which have dummy text and images.  Be sure to click around beyond the first page to see examples of other content pages, text treatments, popdown menus, etc.

For those of you who are concerned that the page may become stale if we are not be able to keep the fancy elements updated, such as slideshows and images, please note that all page content including menus, navigation, and slideshows are optional. Basically, any of the content you see in the samples can be  removed from displaying on the page.

Please take a moment to vote using this link:  http://www.transitionhouston.org/survey/webdesign

Energy Action Group Solar Ovens and Pallet Building, Saturday, June 25, 10:00am to 12:00 noon
The Energy Action Group of Transition Houston has a great event scheduled for this next Saturday, June 25.  Hosted at the City of Houston ReUse Warehouse, there will be two items of interest: solar oven field tests and a pallet reuse demonstration with David Reed of Texas Natural Builders.

Says Theresa of the Energy Action Group:  Join us for warm solar cookies and cold drinks. And leave with enough pallets to make your own quick and easy compost bin and the knowledge to harness the sun’s energy with reclaimed material.

If you’ve never been to the Warehouse, this would be a great chance to check out what’s available for your Transition projects.

Energy Action Group Solar Ovens and Pallet Building
Saturday, June 25
10:00 am to 12:00 noon
City of Houston Building Materials Reuse Warehouse
9003 N. Main., Houston, TX  77022
For more information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook

Save the Date:  Transition Houston Hub meeting, Tuesday, July 5, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
We are still putting the program together for the July meeting, but we expect to have another excellent guest speaker, hear from our neighborhood initiatives and action groups, and find out which design won out for the new look to our www.transitionhouston.org website.

As is our tradition, the business program will end at 8:30 and the time for refreshments, conversation, and community will begin.

Transition Houston Hub Meeting
Tuesday, July 5
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Christ The King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX  77005
For more information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook

Save the Date:  Green Film Series presents The Power of Community, Tuesday, July 12, 6:30pm
The Houston Green Film Series partners (Rice University Environmental Club, USGBC Emerging Professionals of the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, Transition Houston, and Houston Tomorrow) present The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, on Tuesday, July 12.  Please save the date for this movie, and for the panel discussion which will follow.

The Power of Community is a documentary on how Cuba, an isolated island nation, rebuilt its quality of life following the collapse of cheap oil which had been supplied by the former Soviet Union. This film shows how communities pulled together, created solutions, and ultimately thrived in spite of their decreased dependence on imported energy.  The showing will take place on July 12th at 6:30pm at Talento Bilingue de Houston, 333 S. Jensen.

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Tuesday, July 12
6:30pm
Talento Bilingue de Houston
333 S. Jensen Dr., Houston, TX  77003

New Thinking in the Transition Movement:  A Conversation with Rob Hopkins, Monday, July 18, 10:00am to 11:15am
Transition US has arranged for an opportunity for all Transition members to join in a conversation with Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement!  Dial in and join the live conversation on Monday, July 18:

Rob needs no introduction really but if you are new to the concept of Transition then this is a great opportunity to learn from the source.  Rob Hopkins is the originator of the Transition concept and co-founder of the Transition Network. He spent many years teaching permaculture and cob building, mostly when living in Ireland. Now based in Totnes, he is a member of Transition Town Totnes, works part time for the Transition Network, publishes www.transitionculture.org, is author of the ‘Transition Handbook’ and generally spends far too much time thinking about Transition stuff. He is also a Trustee of the Soil Association (the UK’s premier organic farming and gardening organization).

Rob will be exploring new and emerging ideas from the Transition Movement, and there will be opportunities to:

  • ask questions about Transition
  • hear new ideas from around the world
  • discuss how Transition is taking shape specifically in the United States
  • get updates on the follow up to the Transition Handbook & the film ‘In Transition 2.0′ along with much more

Especially exciting is that the conversation will be hosted by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute.

Please click here to register online.

A Conversation with Rob Hopkins
Monday, July 18
10:00am to 11:15am CDT
via Telephone
Registration: Click here to register online

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In the face of adversity, community

Sometimes the challenges we are up against express themselves subtly, and other times they are as in your face as historic droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events increasing in frequency.  Or as in your face as the earliest 100 degree high in Houston history, or even the water bills I’ve been receiving to keep my plants alive.
 
And sometimes I might be tempted to despair at the magnitude of the challenges, and my insignificance in scale.  Such despair would be warranted, except that it isn’t any one of us alone against climate change or peak oil or economic instability.  It is all of us together, a community of the smartest, most creative, and hardest-working people that I have ever been privileged to work with. 
 
Better yet, it also isn’t just Transition Houston and our Transition Neighborhoods alone, but also us partnering with the many other organizations that are already here and on the ground working to raise awareness, create walkable and bikeable communities, relocalize our food and economy, weatherize our homes, and build distributed energy systems.
 
I’ve often said that one of the things that attracted me to Transition was the humility of the Cheerful Disclaimer:

Just in case you were under the impression that Transition is a process defined by people who have all the answers, you need to be aware of a key fact.

We truly don’t know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.

What we are convinced of is this:

  • If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late
  • If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little
  • But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.

Please join us for these upcoming events, to act as a community and do the work that needs to be done.  We especially hope to see you at the Transition Houston Hub meeting next Tuesday to hear about the very interesting and creative work that David Reed is doing in natural building and DIY energy.

People Powered Parade for Complete Streets, Saturday, June 4, 9:00am to 11:00am
The People Powered Parade for Complete Streets is for Houstonians seeking balanced transportation policies to ensure our roads and communities are safer, more livable, and welcoming for all, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper.
 
We will gather at Tranquility Park starting at 9am and head off on the parade at 10am, with the last of the parade reaching Taft and Allen Parkway around 11am, at the main entrance to Free Press Summerfest.
 
Teams are encouraged, including banners and shirts, and all modes of transportation that are directly human powered are welcome.
 
Petition for Complete Streets for the Houston Region:  http://petition.houstontomorrow.org/
 
More on Complete Streets in general:  http://www.completestreets.org/
 
More on Ciclovías:  http://www.streetfilms.org/ciclovia-express-version/
 
For information or anything, please contact Jay Blazek Crossley at 713-523-5757 or jay.crossley@houstontomorrow.org.

People Powered Parade for Complete Streets
Saturday, June 4
9:00am to 11:00am
Tranquility Park
400 Rusk St., Houston, TX  77002
Information and RSVP:  Facebook or Website

 

Transition Houston Hub Meeting, Tuesday, June 7, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Transition Houston meets on the first Tuesday of each month, at Christ the King Lutheran Church at the corner of Greenbriar and Rice Blvd. (near Rice Village).
 
Our featured speaker for this month’s meeting is David Reed from Texas Natural Builders.  He will be providing an overview of alternative building methods including Strawbale and Cob (as for instance in cob ovens), and also DIY solar heating, hot water, and cooking.  Thank you to the Energy Action Group for arranging to have David speak to our group!
 
As is our tradition, the business program will end at 8:30 and the time for refreshments, conversation, and community will begin.
 
Parking:  If the Church lot is full, parking is available in the parking lot of the Rice Village Animal Hospital just across Rice Blvd. on the northwest corner of Rice and Greenbriar.  Another option is the Rice University parking lot across Greenbriar from the Church ($1).

Transition Houston Hub Meeting
Tuesday, June 7
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Christ The King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX  77005
Information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook

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Busy May

Transition Houston and allied organizations have a lot of interesting events coming up over the next couple of weeks.  We especially hope that you will be able to attend our Hub meeting on Tuesday, as it will feature a guest speaker–arranged by the Transportation Action Group–who will be providing timely information about choosing a bicycle and accessories for safe and comfortable commuting.
 
Also please note the films that Transition Houston and Clear Lake Transition are sponsoring.  There has been much good press about The Economics of Happiness, as well as SRO screenings in many cities.  This will be the Houston premiere of the movie, and we encourage you to come see the movie and stay for the panel discussion featuring leaders in the local economy.
 
 
Transition Houston Hub Meeting, Tuesday, May 3, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
 
Transportation Action Group meeting, Tuesday, May 3, 6:15pm to 7:00pm
  
Houston Green Film Series:  The Economics of Happiness, Tuesday, May 10, 6:30pm to 9:00pm
 
Clear Lake Transition Film Series:  Vanishing of the Bees, Friday, May 13, 7:00pm to 9:30pm
 
Houston Peace Festival, Saturday, May 14, 1:00pm to 7:00pm
 
 
Transition Houston Hub Meeting, Tuesday, May 3, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Please remember the new Day and Location for our Transition Houston general meetings! We are now meeting on the first Tuesday of each month, at Christ the King Lutheran Church at the corner of Greenbriar and Rice Blvd. (near Rice Village). 
 
Desmond Startin is our special guest speaker at the May meeting, and he will be talking about gearing up for bicycle commuting with a focus on affordability. Desmond has been riding bikes for 16 years, and now commutes between his work, Performance Bicycles at Voss and Westheimer, and his home in the Heights.
 
We will also be reflecting on our very special Permablitz at the church (come early if you would like a tour), announcing the next event in the Houston Green Film Series, and hearing about all of the activity in our Action Groups and Neighborhood Initiatives.
 
As is our tradition, the business program will end at 8:30 and the time for refreshments, conversation, and community will begin.
 
Parking: If the Church lot is full, parking is available in the parking lot of the Rice Village Animal Hospital just across Rice Blvd. on the northwest corner of Rice and Greenbriar. Another option is the Rice University parking lot across Greenbriar from the Church ($1). Biike parking is on the median in the church parking lot (although somewhat limited).

Transition Houston Hub Meeting
Tuesday, May 3
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Christ The King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX  77005
Information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook

 

Transportation Action Group meeting, Tuesday, May 3, 6:15pm to 7:00pm
Also, the Transportation Action Group will be meeting immediately before our Transition Houston Hub meeting next Tuesday evening, May 3. You are welcome to attend if you have an interest in transportation issues, especially transit, bicycle, and pedestrian access.  We will meet at 6:15 in the courtyard of Christ the King Lutheran church. Among the topics of discussion will be plans for a series of talks and workshops to enable citizens to select, safely ride, and repair commuter bikes.

Transition Houston Transportation Action Group Meeting
Tuesday, May 3
6:15pm to 7:00pm
Christ The King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX  77005
Information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook

 

Houston Green Film Series:  The Economics of Happiness, Tuesday, May 10, 6:30pm to 9:00pm
Rice University Environmental Club, Emerging Professionals of the Houston USGBC, Transition Houston, and Houston Tomorrow present the next film in our Green Film Series.  You won’t want to miss this one, as it has had excellent reviews and several standing-room-only screenings across the US.  This will be the Houston premiere of The Economics of Happiness.
 
Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.
 
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.
 
More information about the movie, including the trailer, can be found here:  http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/.
 
Following the movie there will be an expert panel representing leaders in Houston’s economic relocalization to discuss how a new local economy is being developed here.
 
Schedule:
6:30 meet and greet
7:00 featured film
8:00 expert panel
 
A $5 donation is requested, but no one will be turned away.

Houston Green Film Series:  The Economics of Happiness
Tuesday, May 10
6:30pm to 9:00pm
Rice University Media Center
2030 University Blvd. (Entrance #8, Stockton and University), Houston, TX  77005
For more information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook

 

Clear Lake Transition Film Series:  Vanishing of the Bees, Friday, May 13, 7:00pm to 9:30pm
The Clear Lake Transition Community is presenting another great movie at their really excellent outdoor venue.  It is worth a (carpooled) trip to League City to check it out, and the movie is both interesting and important.  Learn more about Vanishing of the Bees and watch the trailer at www.vanishingofthebees.com.

Clear Lake Transition Film Series:  Vanishing of the Bees
Friday, May 13
7:00pm to 9:30pm
Three Oaks Wine Bar Outdoor Movie Venue
601 E. Main St
League City TX 77573
For more information and RSVP:  Facebook

 

Houston Peace Festival, Saturday, May 14, 1:00pm to 7:00pm
Transition Houston will be tabling at the Houston Peace Festival, and we invite you to attend as well!  The mission of the Houston Peace Festival is to provide a day of celebration, information, and networking with local and national organizations whose work to improve our community and world aligns with Quaker values.  And, we are told, to provide awesome local music! 
 
Among the groups performing are Edmund Evans (Folk/Pop), Poopy Lungstuffing, Ben & Ciaran (Folk/Punk), Zwee (Funk/Jam Band/Soul), Zin (Conscious Rap), Brandon West and the Black Hats (Funk/Rock/Soul), Young Mammals (Indie/Rock) and a dance performance by the Erin Reck Dance Project.  Also featured will be a variety of food and kids’ activities (but please leave alcoholic beverages at home).

Houston Peace Festival
Saturday, May 14
1:00pm to 7:00pm
Live Oak Friends Meeting
1318 W 26Th St., Houston, TX
For more information:  Website or  Facebook

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Spring, sprung

It feels to me like Transition Houston has a lot of momentum, especially recently.  Since the recent Training for Transition in Houston (story here) a lot has been happening.  We’ve had a successful move of meeting location to a new evening and venue, another excellent Permablitz (pictures here–thanks and photo credit to Charlie Lindahl!), and another well-attended Green Film Series screening with EP and Rice Environmental Club.  I understand a lot is going on in our neighborhood initiatives too, from the Clear Lake Transition Initiative with their seed swaps, Permablitzes, and movies, to Transition Midtown with rumors of a community garden and more!
 
One of the things that is really exciting to me is that several of our Action Groups are hitting the ground running with thought and creativity.  You will see below that the Energy Action Group has an event coming up this weekend on Sunday, at which you are invited to see solar cookers in action as well as help determine the path the Energy group takes.  Several people who have volunteered to facilitate the Transportation Action Group have also met recently, and have already excellent ideas for reskilling workshops related to bikes.  The Housing Action Group is also taking first steps, with initial investigations into a very special field trip (more details soon).
 
All of this activity is associated with the planned demise of the Initiating Group and its evolution into the Core Group, comprised of representatives of our Neighborhood Initiatives and Action Groups.  The Core Group meets the last Tuesday of each month (a week before the following months Transition Houston Hub Meeting), and you are welcome to participate especially as a representative of a neighborhood or Action group.
 
We have much to do, but it feels like we are now well on our way.  Please join us at our Hub meeting on Tuesday, April 5, to learn more and find out how you can participate!

Energy Action Group Planning Meeting and Solar Cooking Demo, Sunday, April 3
The Energy Action Group will be holding a second meeting which looks to be both fun and informative!  Solar cookers (and their products!) will be demonstrated, followed by a meeting to plan the path of the Action Group.
 
Among the topics on the agenda are the solar cooker demo, planning a Solar Cook Off, and discussing and drafting longer-term goals of the Energy AG such as sharing knowledge internally and externally about energy efficiency and conservation or reskilling seminars with energy experts.  Anyone and Everyone is welcome to this planning meeting–or, if you just want to buzz by, check out a solar oven, then take the kids to the zoo, then please do.  There will be drinks and snacks and a solar cookie with your name on it!

Energy Action Group Meeting and Solar Cooking Demo
Sunday, April 3
3:00 p.m. – If you have a Solar Oven you would like to demo & set up
4:00 p.m. – Meeting (while solar oven(s) are cooking in the background
Hermann Park (Between the Reflection Pool and Miller Outdoor Theater)
For more information and RSVP:   Ning or Facebook.

If you have questions please call Theresa, 832-433-3570

Transition Houston Hub general meeting, Tuesday, April 5
Please remember the new day and location for our Transition Houston general meetings!  We are now meeting on the first Tuesday of each month, at Christ the King Lutheran Church at the corner of Greenbriar and Rice Blvd. (near Rice Village). 
 
We will be reflecting on our last Permablitz, planning for the next, discussing our participation in the Transition US 350 Home and Garden Challenge, announcing the next event in the Houston Green Film Series, and hearing about all of the activity in our Action Groups and Neighborhood Initiatives.
 
As is our tradition, the business program will end at 8:30, and the time for refreshments, conversation, and community will begin. 
 
Regarding parking:  If the Church lot is full, parking is available in the parking lot of the Rice Village Animal Hospital just across Rice Blvd. on the northwest corner of Rice and Greenbriar.  Another option is the Rice University parking lot across Greenbriar from the Church ($1).  If you bicycle, there is a small bike rack on the central island of the Church parking lot.

Transition Houston April Meeting
Tuesday, April 5
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Christ the King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX  77005
For more information and RSVP:  Ning or Facebook. 

Looking forward to seeing you at these events!

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Reflections from a northern state

I’ve had ample opportunity during the last couple of weeks in Montana to consider a broad range of transition (with a small “t”) issues:  From first-hand experience on the producer end of the food system to watching grain and cattle prices rise.  From feeling the effects of an enhanced Arctic Oscillation, with temperatures only now moving above freezing, to watching the Weather Channel report the results of increased atmospheric moisture load as intense storms and heavy precipitation.  From watching oil prices rise (along with rhetoric about responses with no hope of addressing the fundamental issue of resource depletion) to watching my father’s 10-kW Bergey wind turbine continuing to crank out the clean kilowatt-hours–more than 46,000 of them in the five years since it was installed. 
 
Those challenges that Transition (with a capital “t”) emerged to address are here-and-now; we are not preparing for a distant future but are here to build a resilient and satisfying life in the present.  We are indeed fortunate to have found each other in this community, and fortunate as well that every one of you bring so much in knowledge, skills, experience, and passion.
 
There are always so much going on in the Houston Transition and Transition-related community, but this week we would like to highlight two upcoming opportunities for you to learn and connect.

Transition Houston Permablitz #6, Saturday, March 19
Our next Permablitz is coming up in just a week and a half, and like all of the others this looks like it is going to be a lot of fun and educational too!  Please join us as we build resilience one backyard at a time, with projects and experiences including:

  • Wildflower identification (great for the kids)
  • Build a 3 compartment compost bin
  • Build and plant two 4’x8′ raised bed vegetable gardens
  • Rebuild a snag (for wildlife habitat)
  • Plant a variety of fruit trees
  • Build a permeable front walk
  • And more!

As is the Permablitz tradition, breakfast will be provided.  We will have a potluck at the conclusion of the morning’s activities–please bring a labeled (name and possible allergens) dish.  It would also be helpful and consistent with our values if you could bring whatever plates, cups, and utensils you need.

Transition Houston Permablitz #6
Saturday, March 19
Start time at 8:30am
Lunch at 1:00pm
4021 Woodfin St.
Houston, TX  77025
for information and RSVP: Facebook or Ning

Houston Green Film Series: ScrapHouse, Tuesday, March 29
The Emerging Professionals of the USGBC Houston chapter, Transition Houston, and the Rice Environmental Club present the March film in our Green Film Series on Tuesday, March 29th.
 
ScrapHouse is a 44min documentary following the ScrapHouse build in San Francisco. It is directed by Emmy Award-winning director Anna Fitch and it aired in The National Geographic Channel in 2006.  The San Francisco Chronicle said of the film:

Forget about “Snakes on a Plane.” If you want to see a thrilling nail-biter of a film, check out the documentary “ScrapHouse.” It tells the story of how a team of architects, builders, structural engineers and scrap artists came together last year to build a house entirely out of garbage. No, not the green materials everyone is talking about, something greener than that — real and true garbage plucked straight from the waste stream.

The trailer for the movie can be viewed at www.scraphouse.org/Documentary.

We are again fortunate to have an expert panel available to discuss the film and answer questions after the screening.  The schedule for the evening is:
 
6:30pm Meet and Greet
6:50pm Meet the Sponsors
7:00pm Featured Film: ScrapHouse
7:45pm Expert Panel

Houston Green Film Series: ScrapHouse
Tuesday, March 29
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Rice university Media Center
6100 Main Street, Entrance 8 (on University Blvd.)
Houston, TX  77005
For information and RSVP: Facebook or Ning

I hope to see you at these excellent events!

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leash/unleash

I really like the word unleashing.  One might think I would associate the word more with phrases like “unleashing the power of the atom” or “gasoline unleashing the power of your engine,” but in reality I think more of what I assume to be its origin:  unleashing dogs.  I imagine dogs straining at their leash, muscles tensed, rear paws digging in, front legs off the ground, ready to surge forward at the release, the very picture of potential energy.  And then at the moment of unleashing, that energy becomes kinetic and the dogs are off.
 
There is a lot of talk about unleashing in Transition.  One of the original 12 steps or ingredients of Transition is the “Great Unleashing,” where a Transition Initiative makes its presence known in the community.  I understand that now many communities decide to bypass the Great Unleashing, and indeed that may turn out to be our course for the Transition Houston Hub.
 
Right now, though, the unleashing that interests me is “unleashing the collective genius of our communities.”  I saw that in action this last weekend, as members of communities from Austin, Dallas, and our greater Houston area came together for a Training for Transition class.  The creative energy that was released was phenomenal!  I think we will see the shock waves of the unleashed creative energy reverberate in our communities for some time to come.
 
Come to our March Transition Houston meeting and hear about what was learned at the Training, and also about the many opportunities coming up to unleash our collective genius.

Transition Houston Hub general meeting, Tuesday, March 1
Please note the new Day and Location for our Transition Houston general meetings!  We are now meeting on the first Tuesday of each month, at Christ the King Lutheran Church at the corner of Greenbriar and Rice Blvd. (near Rice Village).  If you can, come at 6:30 on this first meeting so that we can look at how we can install native and/or food plantings in the Church green space in exchange for the use of the meeting space.

The neighborhood initiatives are ramping up, and we will hear what has been accomplished as well as what is coming up.  We will also recap the Training for Transition experience, hear what was done at the February Permablitz, and find out what is planned for the March ‘Blitz.

As is our tradition, the business program will end at 8:30, and the time for refreshments, conversation, and community will begin.

Transition Houston March Meeting
Tuesday, March 1
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Christ the King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX  77005
For more information and RSVP see our event listing on Ning

Neighborhood Initiative Meetings
Our Neighborhood Transition Initiatives are really taking off!  Here are currently-scheduled monthly meetings, for three very active Initiatives.  If you have meetings scheduled for your neighborhood initiative, or if you would like to start up regular meetings, please contact Mark at mjuedeman@gmail.com or 832-655-5104.

Transition Midtown Dinner meeting
Wednesday, February 23
7:00pm
$3 contribution 

 
Transition Midtown Regular meetings
Third Wednesdays of the month
12:00pm to 1:30 pm
transitionhouston@gmail.com for details
 
Clear Lake Transition Initiative
Thursday, March 3
6:30pm to 8:00pm
Coffee Oasis
4650 Nasa Road 1 (at Kirby)
Seabrook, TX
For more information:  clearlaketransition@gmail.com or 281.705.4307
 
Transition Old Sixth Ward
Sunday, March 13 (2nd Sunday of the month)
6:00pm
transitionhouston@gmail.com for details


Roy Zimmerman House Concert, Friday, February 25
Friends from KPFT remind us that there will be a house concert in support of the local public radio station on Friday, February 25. 
 
Bob and Nancy Hentschel are hosting a house concert with Roy Zimmerman on February 25th.  He is a brilliant comedian/singer/songwriter who writes and performs “Funny Songs About Ignorance, War and Greed.”  For additional information and to listen to some of his music you can go to his website at http://www.royzimmerman.com/.  Reservations are required, and there is a suggested honorarium of $18 in advance, $20 at the door.  All contributions go to the performer and KPFT Public Radio (which, by the way, has been very supportive of Transition Houston).

Roy Zimmerman House Concert
Friday, Feb. 25th
Concert at 8:00 pm; 7:00 pm – potluck dinner and wine
Home of Bob and Nancy Hentschel
6610 Kendall Creek Drive, Sugar Land, TX 77479
To purchase tickets or make reservations call Nancy Hentschel 832-228-7642

Focus The Nation, Monday, February 28
The University of St. Thomas (UST) was very kind to let us screen In Transition 1.0 (the Transition movie) and hold an excellent panel discussion in one of their classrooms last Thursday.  Now there is an opportunity for us to attend a Focus the Nation event at the University of St. Thomas, and join them and the greater community to navigate the challenges and solutions to a clean energy economy and sustainable transportation. UST is holding a Focus the Nation Clean Energy Forum to educate the public on the innovative approaches our community is taking to make Houston a more sustainable place to live.
 
The forum will begin with a Meet and Greet period with sponsors and other community organizations. The presentations will commence at 5:30 with talks from Kevin Conlin, Sun-Stop Solar Service Stations; Ralph Parrott, Alternative Power Solutions; Katherine Warren, Boxley Group Energy Practice. A panel discussion will follow. This discussion will focus on identifying clean energy roadblocks and solutions. Panelists include all mentioned speakers as well as other community organizations. From this discussion, we hope to become more aware of steps that can be taken to advance, promote, and implement alternative energy technologies.
 
Parking for the event will be available in the Moran Parking Garage (corner of W. Alabama and Graustark) for $2. Please register for the event online at www.focusthenation.org/forums. (Preregistration is not required but appreciated).

Focus the Nation
Monday, February 28
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
University of St. Thomas
Scanlan Conference Room (Upstairs in the Jerabeck Athletic Center)
4000 Mt. Vernon
Houston, TX 77006
www.focusthenation.org/forums

Two Workshops, Saturday, March 5
We have many opportunities for workshop education coming up in the next few weeks.  After seeing Dean Cook and others speak at the Soil Carbon panel discussion held last week, I am especially interested in Dean and Nell Wheeler’s upcoming workshop on making and using biochar.  Doubly so, after seeing during our pre-Transition Training tours last Friday what an excellent urban homestead they have established.

During the workshop Nell and Dean will use their clean burning charcoal stove to prepare a meal while simultaneously making more charcoal.  You will learn how to turn that charcoal into biochar, and how to apply it to the soil.  Biochar increases the biological activity of the soil, which increases the soil’s fertility and its ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere (in addition to sequestering the stable carbon in the biochar). There is a small fee for the workshop.  For more information please contact Dean at 832-618-2032.

Biochar Workshop
Saturday, March 5
1:00pm to 4:00pm
Nell and Dean’s backyard
6181 Elbert St.
Houston, TX  77028
Space is limited – please RSVP to: nell.dean@rocketmail.com

Transition Woodlands and Greater North Houston’s Priyanka Johri is also offering a rain barrel workshop on March 5.  This one is earlier in the day, so you have a chance to attend both!
 
A rain barrel is a container that collects otherwise potentially wasted rain water from your downspout. An average house may shed over 30,000 gallons of water a year or over 300 gallons in just one rainfall event.  If allowed to run off, the water may carry with it fertilizers and pesticides which causes pollution in our water system.  By harvesting the soft water from rain and using it for irrigation you not only help your plants, but you also save money on your water bill and help the environment.
 
Participants will construct a 55 gallon Rain Barrel from a recycled plastic food grade container, and will be able to take it home with them for immediate use.

Build a Rain Barrel Workshop
Saturday, March 5
10:00am to 11:30am
Indus Valley Sustainable Living Institute
2463 Bill Smith Rd

Conroe, TX  77384
For more information contact Priyanka at 832-277-3577

Transition Houston Permablitz #6, Saturday, March 19
Please save the date for our sixth Transition Houston Permablitz, on the morning of Saturday, March 19.  This ‘Blitz will be held in the Westwood neighborhood, near Stella Link and South Loop 610.  Details of work scope and learning opportunities are still being developed, so please check our event listing here for updates.

Reductions in green infrastructure investment?
Finally, I would like to bring to your attention a matter of personal concern to me, and one that I think may likewise be of concern to other members of the Houston Transition community.
 
Jay Crossley, of Houston Tomorrow and also Transition Midtown, shares the news that:

The H-GAC Transportation Policy Council is set to vote on a measure to cut some bike, walk, transit, and livability spending from the 2011 TIP, which would further push our region’s transportation spending out of alignment with the priorities of the citizens of the region, as expressed in studies such as the Houston Area Survey.
 
Projects that are slated for cutting include walkability projects the likes of which many of us have been working on for many years, such as investing in sidewalks on the East Side to provide the neighborhood better access to the coming East Side Light Rail Line, thus encouraging small, walkable businesses, healthy lifestyles, and a more vibrant quality of life.  These projects would provide real quality of life, economic, and environmental benefits in ways that we have not really seen in the Houston region.
 
We have created a petition to enable citizens of the Houston region to show their strong support spending more of our scarce transportation funds on walkability, livability, bike infrastructure, and better transit.  Please click the following link to sign the petition.

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6239/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5685

These projects are the sort that I personally believe are necessary to support our transition from oil dependency.  If you likewise are concerned please take action as you see appropriate.

 

So, here we are, straining against our constraints.  Let’s unleash, and release our collective genius!

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