Tag Archives: houston

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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Thank You Marybeth

Marybeth Seligmann has been a cornerstone of Transition Houston since it was founded–actually, even before it was founded.  Marybeth was the first person with whom I shared my copy of the Transition Handbook after I read it (and was blown away by its exploration of climate change, peak oil, and community responses).  We were taking the Houston Permaculture Guild’s permaculture class together in the Fall of 2008, and her enthusiastic response to the book was the incentive to continue exploring what Transition might look like in Houston.  She was involved right from the beginning in that exploration, including planning our meetings, expanding our membership, getting the word out, facilitating meetings, and providing strategic direction as an original member of the Initiating group.  Marybeth has been the first to say that “we can do this” and she has always been right.
 
Further, she is also responsible for our Permablitzes, as her permaculture project was researching Permablitz history and application, and providing guidelines for implementation in Houston.  She has led the Permablitz planning committee (now the Permablitz Action Group) for much of its existence, and has been been the head, heart, and hands of the group.  I wish I had as much energy as Marybeth exhibits during the Permablitzes–or, for that matter, in any activity in which she is involved!
 
For the last year or so Marybeth has felt a call to move to the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville, and now the time has finally come for that call to be answered.  Thursday is Marybeth’s last day in Houston, and our Tuesday meeting will be her last, at least as a resident Houstonian.  Transition Houston’s loss will be Transition Asheville’s gain.  I am sure that Marybeth will be continuing her Transition education there and, we hope, sharing what she learns with us, but I also fully expect that Transition initiatives in North Carolina will be learning a lot from her!
 
Please join us at the Tuesday Transition Houston meeting to say goodbye to Marybeth, and express your appreciation for what she has done to make Houston a bit more resilient and a lot more hopeful.

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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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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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P Words

There were a few “P” words on my mind as last week’s cold weather approached.  With the surge of cold weather headed our way I was thinking about things like prediction, preparation, proactivity, and protection for our garden and fruit trees.  I was also thinking that through listening to the prediction for cold weather and preparing appropriately, I could expect a positive outcome. 
 
Isn’t that what we are all about in Transition Houston?  We’ve been listening to the scientists and analysts, and we know we have some enormous challenges coming our way.  We know that some challenges are at our doorstep now.  But because we are living in awareness we see the opportunity to make a better and more satisfying life while reducing our fossil fuel consumption, our carbon emissions, and our economic debt. 
 
We really don’t have all the answers.  But as a creative community, we think we can come up with some really good ones.

Transition Houston meeting, Tuesday, February 8
As you may know from previous newsletters and discussions at our monthly meetings, we are reviewing when and where to hold our monthly Transition Houston meetings.  It appears that the first Tuesday of each month may be a better day than the first Monday of the month, to avoid conflicts with other meetings of interest to our community.  With this in mind, we are shifting this month’s meeting to Tuesday, February 8.  The time and venue (7-9pm at Urban Harvest) stay the same, at least for now.
 
We are very excited to have as a guest speaker Tiffany Tyler, the Chair of the Board of Central City Co-Op, who will be talking to us about the mission of the Co-Op, the benefits of supporting the Co-Op, and how we might collaborate on issues of mutual interest.
 
We will also be discussing the upcoming Training for Transition class on February 19 and 20, and many other events of interest.

Transition Houston February Meeting
Tuesday, February 8
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Urban Harvest
2311 Canal St., Houston, TX  77003
More information and RSVP here. 

Soil Carbon Panel Discussion, Monday, February 14
Houston Urban Gardeners (HUG), Houston Food Policy Workgroup, Houston Climate Protection Alliance, Urban Harvest, and Transition Houston are cosponsoring a panel discussion regarding the role of healthy soils in sequestering carbon.  Among the topics of discussion will be building soil carbon through use of compost and biochar. 
 
The panelists are:
 
• Jason Aramburu, founder of Re:char, which will make biochar machines for small farmers, especially in the third world. Their two-minute video  is a fine introduction.
• John Ferguson of Nature’s Way, a composting company, and a director of the Organic Horticulture Business Alliance.
Bruce A. McCarl of Texas A&M. His specialty is agricultural economics and he has published information on soil sequestration and climate mitigation.

Soil Carbon Panel Discussion
Monday, February 14
6:30 pm
Houston Garden Center (Hermann Park by the Rose Garden)
1500 Hermann Dr., Houston, TX

Permablitzes
Transition Houston and Transition Old Sixth Ward had a great Permablitz (Transition Houston’s #5) this last Sunday, and I trust that Clear Lake Transition’s Permablitz (#3) on the same day was a great success as well.   Thank you to our Transition OSW hosts Karen and Stephen for such thorough preparation, great projects, and welcoming home, and to all of the attendees for their hard work, eagerness to learn, and excellent potluck.
 
The current plan is for our next Permablitz to be held on March 19, in the Westwood neighborhood (off of Stella Link south of South 610).  Please save the date; we really would like to see you all at the next ‘Blitz too!  As you may know, we are working toward the point where you must have had volunteered at three Permablitzes to be eligible for hosting one at your home (this is the criteria established by the Melbourne, Australia, Permablitz originators).  We have very many people who would be eligible under these criteria if they were to volunteer at two more, and a number who will be eligible with just one more ‘Blitz under their belt.

We look forward to seeing you at the Transition Houston meeting on Tuesday, and at all our other Transition events.

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On the rising side of the activity curve

It is only six days into the new year, but there is already a lot of activity on the Transition front!  Here is a quick synopsis of events in the Houston region to mark on your calendar.  Please especially note that we have confirmed that our January 10th Transition Houston meeting will be held at Urban Harvest.
 
Clear Lake Transition Initiative Monthly Meeting, Thursday, January 6
The Clear Lake Transition Initiative is holding their first meeting of the new year tonight!  Meet and network with your fellow Clear Lake Transition group members and enjoy some delicious healthy organic food as we plan our upcoming Permablitzes, movie nights, and other upcoming events.
 
The event will be held at Nature’s Garden in Friendswood, with a reservation under “Amanda.”  It should be easy to find the Transition meeting, since it is a very small restaurant!

Clear Lake Transition Initiative January Meeting 
Thursday, January 6
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Nature’s Garden Organic Market and Cafe (http://www.nagamaca.com/ or (281) 996-9596)
400 W. Parkwood Ave., Friendswood, TX
For more info: Rob at 281.705.4307, Amanda at 832-405-9160, or email clearlaketransitioninitiative at gmail dot com

Transition Old Sixth Ward Monthly Meeting, Sunday, January 9
Transition Old Sixth Ward meets on the second Sunday of each month.  This month’s meeting will be held on this Sunday, January 9.  Among the topics of discussion are the Permablitz coming up on February 6 and how Transition OSW can invite lots of people from our neighborhood to the ‘Blitz to see how much can be accomplished when a group like this gets together.

Transition OSW Regular Meeting
Sunday, January 9
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
For meeting location and more info please contact Stephen at crawfgames at earthlink dot net

Transition Houston Monthly Meeting, Monday, January 10
Transition Houston will be holding our January meeting on Monday, January 10, at Urban Harvest (2311 Canal Street).  Transition Houston’s first meeting of the year will have as its focus a discussion among its members to set the broad outlines of what we would like to achieve in 2011.  This includes events, training, permablitzes, monthly meetings (day of month and venue), film series, guest speakers, and more.  As always, we will close out the meeting with refreshments, conversation, and community!
 
We have confirmed that we will be meeting at Urban Harvest, in Room 124 (straight down the hall and on the right).

Transition Houston January Meeting
Monday, January 10
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Urban Harvest
2311 Canal St., Houston, TX  77003
For more information and RSVP:  transitiontexas.ning.com/events/transition-houston-january

Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale, Saturday, January 15
Fruit trees offer a great opportunity for abundant food with minimal effort, and can be a core element of personal resilience.  Fruit tree sale season is coming up early in the new year, with a number of organizations holding sale days.  One of the sales coming up very soon is the Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale.  This annual sale brings together far more types and varieties of fruit trees than can be found anywhere else in the greater Houston area  This year the sale is going to be held at Robertson Football Stadium, on the University of Houston Main Campus (Scott Street at Holman Street).

Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale
Saturday, January 15
9:00 am – 1:00 pm or until sold out
Robertson Football Stadium on the University of Houston campus Scott Street at Holman Street
For more information:  
www.urbanharvest.org/events/fruittreesales.html

Movie Screening:  Climate Refugees, Wednesday, January 26
As we mentioned in our mid-December newsletter, Transition Houston, the USGBC Emerging Professionals (EP), and the Rice Environmental Club are presenting the next film in our green film series on Wednesday, January 26.  The movie is Climate Refugees, a documentary film about “the human face of climate change.”  Information about the movie can be found at www.climaterefugees.com, including film trailers.

Climate Refugees film screening
Wednesday, January 26
6:30 pm
Rice University Media Center, corner of University Blvd and Stockton, entrance #8 on the Rice University Campus

Transition Houston Permablitz #5, Sunday, February 6
As mentioned above, our next Permablitz is scheduled for Sunday, February 6, in the Old Sixth Ward historic neighborhood.  We will have the scope of work and activities soon (planning is now underway), but for now please save the date!

Soil Carbon Panel Discussion, Monday, February 14
Houston Urban Gardeners (HUG), Houston Food Policy Workgroup, Houston Climate Protection Alliance, and Transition Houston are cosponsoring a panel discussion regarding the role of healthy soils in sequestering carbon.  Among the topics of discussion will be building soil carbon through use of compost and biochar.  More details to come, but for now also mark this date on your calendar!

Soil Carbon Panel Discussion
Monday, February 14
6:30 pm
Houston Garden Center (Hermann Park by the Rose Garden)
1500 Hermann Dr., Houston, TX

Training for Transition course, February 19-20 (tentative)
As we’ve discussed during the latter part of 2010, we would like to hold our second Training for Transition course in Houston early in 2011.  We are now tentatively planning to host the training on the weekend of February 19 and 20, although this will depend on venue and trainer availability.  We are also working to keep the cost as low as possible so that everyone who has an interest will be able to attend, and will be requesting volunteer help to make it both valuable and affordable.  Several of the people now actively involved in Transition Houston attended the course when we had it here in November 2009, and found it very useful and powerful.
 
This is a part of the class description, found on the Transition US Training page:

The T4T course is designed to give a detailed introduction to the most important skills necessary to successfully set up, develop, and run a Transition project in your locality. It is designed for people who are already in a group working to achieve this, or are thinking of creating such a group. The full curriculum for the T4T can be found here.
At the end of the course participants will:

  • Have a clear understanding of the context for Transition Initiatives, the current global situation and the transformational possibilities that arise from climate change, peak oil and the economic crisis.
  • Know what the Transition model is – including an in-depth look at the 12 steps, from inspiration, setting up the initiating group, all the way to having active and effective working groups.
  • Have experienced a joint visioning process.
  • Understand how to organize effective meetings such as public talks, open space days, and small theme working groups.
  • Understand the purpose and principles of an Energy Descent Action Plan.
  • Have the outline of an effective and inspiring talk on the Transition movement.
  • Have formed useful contacts with other Transition Initiatives and individuals interested in the Transition model.
  • Have a plan of action for themselves and their locality.

If you have not previously indicated an interest in the training (or are not sure if you have), or if you would like to be a part of the planning and logistics for the class, please let Mark know at mjuedeman at gmail dot com.

We trust that these events will help your new year to start out right, finding the antidote to anxiety and despair over the challenges of transition in our shared good work and good community.

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2011: Another year into the Transition

The beginning of our seasonal climb from the shortest day of the year towards the longest reminds me of the image (provided by Rob Hopkins, I believe) of the iconic peak-oil Hubbert Curve turned upside down.  In this more positive representation, we are swimming upwards from the depths of our oil dependency toward a satisfying and happy, albeit different, life.  Transition Houston has been exploring that future in small pieces with our awareness-raising, our community-forming, and manifestations of resiliency such as our permabiltzes.  During the new year we will continue that work, but also explicitly connect with other aligned organizations through our Action Groups, and progress toward a Great Unleashing.
 
There are several events of interest in the works for January 2011, including the Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale, screening of Climate Refugees, monthly meetings of Transition Houston, Transition Old Sixth Ward, and the Clear Lake Transition Initiative, and a Clear Lake permablitz.  More details will come soon regarding the monthly meetings and permablitz, but for now here is information about the fruit tree sale, a related volunteer opportunity, and the movie screening.

Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale, Saturday, January 15
Fruit trees offer a great opportunity for abundant food with minimal effort, and can be a core element of personal resilience.  Fruit tree sale season is coming up early in the new year, with a number of organizations holding sale days.  One of the sales coming up soon is the Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale.  This annual sale brings together far more types and varieties of fruit trees than can be found anywhere else in the greater Houston area  This year the sale is going to be held at Robertson Football Stadium, on the University of Houston Main Campus (Scott Street at Holman Street).

Event: Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale
Place: Robertson Football Stadium on the University of Houston campus Scott Street at Holman Street
Date: January 15, 2011
Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until sold out

Buy a tree or two from the largest one-day fruit tree sale in the U.S. and learn “the how to’s” at the presale talks:

Presale talks: Heidi Sheesley and Ray Sher
Place: United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Drive at Memorial Drive
Dates: Tuesday, January 4 (7 to 9:30 p.m.) and Saturday, January 8 (2 to 4:30 p.m.)
Learn more at www.urbanharvest.org

Volunteers needed for Fruit Tree Sale, January 13-15
The Urban Harvest sale can not happen without the contributions of volunteers, both for setup on Thursday and Friday, January 13 and 14, and on the actual day of the sale on Saturday, January 15.  You do not have to volunteer for every one of those days!  If you are interested please contact Bob Randall as soon as possible.  His contact email is baeb at comcast dot net.  This is a great opportunity to learn about the sorts of fruit and other productive trees and bushes which are well-suited for the Houston area, and to meet other interesting and like-minded people.

Movie Screening:  Climate Refugees, Wednesday, January 26
Transition Houston, the USGBC Emerging Professionals (EP), and the Rice Environmental Club are presenting the next film in our green film series on Wednesday, January 26.  The movie is Climate Refugees, a documentary film about “the human face of climate change.”  Information about the movie can be found at www.climaterefugees.com, including film trailers.  More details will come soon, but please save the date!

Climate Refugees film screening
Place:  Rice University Media Center, corner of University Blvd and Stockton, entrance #8 on the Rice University Campus
Date:  Wednesday, January 26
Time:  6:30pm

Transition Houston is looking forward to another great year of community, connection, relocalization, and resiliency in 2011.  We wish you a happy and joyful New Year!

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Welcome to Transition Houston!

Transition Houston is an optimistic and energetic response to the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil at the local level. The Transition Movement supports the transition from oil dependency to local resilience by equipping communities with creative adaptations in areas such as food, energy, health, education, spirit and economy to generate a road map towards sustainable living.

Transition Houston serves to build on the wisdom of the existing resources in Houston’s diverse community to inspire, network and train localized communities to consider and adapt Rob Hopkins’ transition model. Together we can unite pools of ingenuity and skills to unleash the collective genius of our own people in finding self-determined solutions.

 Transition takes action by:

  • Raising awareness of peak oil and climate change and related issues.
  • Building resilience across a wide range of areas and scales, and doing all we can to ensure general environmental resilience.
  • Providing access to good information in ways which are playful, articulate, accessible and engaging, and which will enable people to feel enthused and empowered rather than powerless.
  • Empowering communities with tools to relocalize its resources and reskill its members.

Transition Houston meets on the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at Urban Harvest, 2311 Canal St., Houston 77003.

For more information, please email us at transitionhouston@gmail.com or join our collaborative forum.

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