Monthly Archives: July 2010

More Edge

On his website, David Holmgren (one of the founders of the Permaculture movement) provides icons and descriptions of Permaculture principles.  It is probably no surprise, given my previous discussions of the subject, that one of the principles that has impressed me most is use edges and value the marginal.  Holmgren says “The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place, these are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.”   As this is true in microbiology and ecology (can we call that macrobiology?), it is also true in our community ecologies.  Our Transition Houston hub has an edge–an interface–with Houston, and each of us are that edge. 
As we talk with others, discuss the resource depletion and climate threats and the Transition response, and build small-scale manifestations of resilience we create even more edge through our engagement.  Even if they don’t become an active member of our Transition initiatives, our discussions with others can reverberate in ways that are not immediately clear to us.  Perhaps in a different way of looking at things, or a life lived in greater awareness, or in actual changes to lifestyle.
Sometimes even more dramatic results are seen.  It is exciting to see new neighborhood Transition Initiatives being seeded by our members, and our to see our Hub play its important role of supporting the new Initiatives.  In this way our edge expands further, becomes more complex, and more opportunities for interaction are created.  Since we formed (just last year!) we have seen the start of Transition neighborhoods in the Heights, Westbury, the Japhet Creek community, Rice neighborhoods, the Woodlands and North Houston.  Last month we saw creative energies released in the Clear Lake Transition Initiative.  Just this last week Stephen Crawford brought together a group of neighbors to start a Transition Initiative in the Old Sixth Ward historic district.  The exciting thing to me about all these initiatives is that each will be an experiment from which the others can learn, and the rate of transformation accelerated.
Here is a way to expose yourself to the edge, and become the edge:  our August Transition Houston meeting is coming up this next Monday; among the topics to be discussed are partnering for a film series, neighborhood initiative reports, Transition classes, outreach opportunities, and much more.
Transition Houston monthly meeting
Monday, August 2
7:00 to 9:00pm
Room 124 at Urban Harvest
2311 Canal St., Houston

The Clear Lake Transition Initiative also has their August meeting this week:
Clear Lake Transition Initiative monthly meeting
Thursday, August 5
Coffee Oasis
4650 NASA Road 1, Seabrook
call Rob at 281-705-4307 for more information
And the Transition Old Sixth Ward will be having their second meeting next Sunday:
Transition Old Sixth Ward second organizational meeting
Sunday, August 8
Please contact Stephen Crawford ( for location and details.
Finally, don’t miss Saturday’s screening of Fresh at Georgia’s Farm to Market!
FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity.  Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.
Saturday, July 31
Georgia’s Farm to Market
12171 Katy Freeway, Houston  77079


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An Active Season, in the Gulf and elsewhere

I am sorry to admit that I am unprepared for a hurricane.
In the usual measures of preparedness my family is in good shape.  We have enough water for many days, and a good supply of food laid in the pantry.  Our car has its tank topped-off, and we even have plans on where we would go if we had to leave Houston.
Unfortunately I don’t think we are doing so well in terms of resiliency, especially in that all-important area of community.  We know our neighbors well enough to say hello, but do we know them well enough to work together in the aftermath of a disaster (natural or otherwise)?  We haven’t had get-togethers or potlucks with other folks on our block.  We haven’t really begun to build trust, haven’t done enough good things–voluntarily–for our neighbors, haven’t established our credibility as a family who can be counted on when needed.
A storm in the Gulf with uncertain trajectory and potential for significant intensification focuses the mind terribly.  One point that becomes particularly clear is that the natural level of Transition is not at the City of Houston level, but at a neighborhood level.  Transition Houston exists as a Transition Hub so that we can help connect concerned people with other concerned people, do things that are most effectively done (at least to start) for the entire area, and to provide support for neighborhood initiatives as they start.
And so it is a thing to celebrate when a community Transition Initiative emerges.  The Clear Lake community is providing our newest reason for celebration, as they are taking the first steps toward bringing neighbors together in the Clear Lake Transition Initiative.  If you live in the Clear Lake area you have an opportunity to not only celebrate, but also to be a part of this beginning at an introductory meeting on Tuesday, July 7, at 6:30 in the evening.
Clear Lake Transition Initiative introductory meeting
Tuesday, July 7
6:30 PM

Coffee Oasis
4650 Nasa Road 1
Seabrook, TX
Phone: 281-532-1439

Please RSVP by calling Rob Williams at 281-705-4307, as space is limited!
There has been a lot going on within the Transition Houston hub, such as the ongoing work by members of our Local Economy Action Group and others to establish a Buy Local business alliance, initial discussions between our Local Food Action Group and Berry Elementary Environmental Magnet school to see how we might work together, and our Permablitz Action Group’s most recent and extremely successful Permablitz.  We will be talking about these and other items at our July 12 meeting at Urban Harvest, 2311 Canal St., from 7 to 9PM (note that this is a date change from our usual first Monday of the month meeting date).
One thing we want to do at the meeting is to draw host names for our Fall and Winter Permablitzes.  The summer is a good time to plan for our cool-weather locations and schedule.  If you are interested in hosting a Permablitz and aren’t on the list to be considered (or don’t know if you are on the list) please email me at so that we can be sure to include you.  It would also be helpful if you could attend the meeting on July 12 so that we can answer questions you might have about Permablitzes or the planning process.
Transition Houston July meeting
Monday, July 12
Urban Harvest
2311 Canal St.
Houston 77003
As the 4th of July holiday approaches we are hearing many calls for energy independence, triggered by the ongoing tragedy in the Gulf but (I hope) sustained by a realization of the depth of our fossil fuel addiction and the consequences of our dependency. 

To my mind, the Transition Movement is the best and most comprehensive response to this call.

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