Tag Archives: Houston Tomorrow

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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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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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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In Transition 1.0 Movie Screening and Panel! Tonight, February 17!

Please remember the Green Film Series screening of the movie about the Transition movement, In Transition 1.0, at the University of St. Thomas Thursday, February 17, evening.  This will be a really great event, with an entertaining movie and an excellent panel to discuss and answer questions.
 
Green Film Series:  In Transition 1.0 (the Transition movie), Thursday, February 17
 The Emerging Professionals of the USGBC Houston Chapter, Houston Tomorrow, Rice Environmental Club, and Transition Houston are screening the movie In Transition 1.0 on Thursday evening, February 17.  The movie will be shown in Room 213 of the Robertson Science Building, on the University of St. Thomas campus.
 
In Transition 1.0 is the first detailed film about the Transition movement, filmed by those that know it best, those who are making it happen on the ground. In the film you’ll see stories of communities creating their own local currencies, setting up their own pubs, planting trees, growing food, celebrating localness, caring, sharing. You’ll see neighbors sharing their land with neighbors that have none, local authorities getting behind their local Transition initiatives, schoolchildren making news in 2030, and you’ll get a sense of the scale of this emerging movement. It is a story of hope, and it is a call to action, and we think you will like it very much. It is also quite funny in places.
 
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A to address the issues raised by the movie and answer audience questions about the Transition movement.  The panelists will include Lisa Slappey (English and Environmental Studies, Rice University), Steve Stelzer (Program Director, Green Building Resource Center), and Maggie Seeley (Transition US).  Maggie is one of our trainers for the Training for Transition class we are hosting this weekend.

We will gather for conversation and refreshments at 6:30, introduce our sponsors at 6:50, start the movie at 7:00, and begin our panel discussion at 8:00.
  
This event is be free and open to the public, so please plan to attend–and feel free to invite friends too!  Robertson 213 is building #43 on this interactive map (http://www.stthom.edu/Visitors_Community/Maps/Index.aqf) of the University of St. Thomas campus.  Directions to the University of St. Thomas are here:  http://www.stthom.edu/Visitors_Community/Maps/Directions.aqf.  Parking is available on campus in the Moran Center Parking Garage (building #26) for $2 (please make sure to have exact change), or you can usually find on-street parking nearby.

Green Film Series:  In Transition 1.0
Thursday, February 17
6:30 pm: Meet, Greet, and refreshments
7:00pm: Featured Film: In Transition 1.0
8:00pm: Panel Discussion
Robertson 213, University of St. Thomas
More details and requested RSVP on Ning or Facebook

See you there!

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