Monthly Archives: February 2011

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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Training for Transition Early Registration Closes February 12!

Transition Houston is hosting a Training for Transition course in Houston on Saturday and Sunday, February 19 and 20, at the Houston Mennonite Church, 1231 Wirt Rd. (north of I-10 just outside West Loop 610).
  
Whether you are starting a Transition initiative in your neighborhood, would like to start an initiative, want to be more effective within an existing Transition group, would like to know more about Transition, or would just like to meet fun and interesting people in a great educational setting, this course is for you. Especially exciting are the two excellent trainers from Transition US who will be facilitating the training. David Johnson and Maggie Seeley both have deep and broad experience in Transition and Transition initiatives.
 
A more complete description of the training, including a detailed course curriculum, can be found on the Transition US website’s training page.  Attendees from the 2009 Training for Transition in Houston will tell you that this is an course not to be missed!
 
Transition Houston will also be offering an optional and free event to course registrants on Friday, February 18. The last time Transition Houston hosted the T4T course we offered urban garden tours and a lunch seminar at Rice University, but plans for this year are still being finalized. There will be a kick-off potluck on Friday evening, which enrollees are encouraged to attend.
 
Venue details have not been finalized yet, but there will also be a special event on Thursday evening, February 17.  The movie In Transition (the Transition movie) will be screened, followed by a panel discussion which will include Maggie Seeley.  This event is the February screening of the Green Film Series sponsored by the Emerging Professionals of the USGBC, Rice Environmental Club, and Transition Houston.  It will also be free (although donations will be welcome!) and open to the public, so please save the date and plan to attend–and feel free to invite friends too!  Details about time and place will be posted here soon.
 
For course registration and more information please go to our Eventbrite registration page, or to the event on the Transition US training calendar.  Transition Houston has worked hard to significantly reduce the cost of the course (to almost half the price in 2009) if you register early by February 12, so please sign up soon.
 
This is a really excellent opportunity to gain a detailed knowledge of Transition and how to make it work in your community, as well as a chance to connect with others who share the same vision.  Transition trainings happen rarely in Texas–you are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity now!

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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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