Tag Archives: H-GAC


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
$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)
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

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.


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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November is Transition Time too

It is very nice here at the beginning of November to have the return of cooler weather, but the farmer (and avoider-of-lawn-watering) in me is hoping for for some rain as well.  October certainly wasn’t a dry spell as far as events and activities of interest to our Transition community go, from our very interesting Transition Houston meeting with guest speaker Richard Johnson, to the Global Work Day on 10-10-10 in which so many of our members were involved including at Transition Houston and Clear Lake Transition Initiative’s Permablitzes, to the most excellent GreenWeek activities which engaged at No Impact Project workshops and the Green Fest at The Last Organic Outpost…what a month it has been!
Now here we are in November and our activities continue apace in learning from each other and from experts in our communities.  We hope that you might have time to participate in these many opportunities to learn about–and build–a resilient Houston area.

Transition Houston monthly meeting, Monday, November 1
It is hard for me to believe, but it is time for our November monthly meeting already!  We will have a special focus on Permablitzes at this meeting, with a recap of the 10-10-10 Permablitzes and discussion of upcoming ‘Blitzes including the one discussed below on November 13.  We will also have reports from neighborhood Transition Initiatives, Action Group reports, announcements, and our traditional time for snacks and conversation.

Transition Houston November Meeting
Monday, November 1
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Urban Harvest
2311 Canal St.
Houston  77003
for more details:  transitiontexas.ning.com/events/transition-houston-november

Pallet Building Workshop starts Monday, November 1
New Jura Natural Building owner and Transition Houston member David Reed is holding a free pallet building workshop near Waller starting on Monday, November 1.  Natural building techniques have much to recommend them during transition times, as they often recycle materials or use low-cost and low-embedded-carbon materials.  Says David:

We will be teaching YOU how to build a home out of the highly abundant waste material: PALLETS!  We will be insulating the pallet walls with slip straw and then plastering the inside and outside with an earthen plaster.  The roof will have a rainwater capture system and the home will have a grey water system.  We will be working on this pallet house until it is finished, hopefully in time for the cold to set in!
Please RSVP to Dude@newjurabuilding.info or call 832-775-3930.  Lunch will be provided, a $10 donation/person is suggested.

Clear Lake Transition Initiative meeting, Thursday, November 4
The Clear Lake Transition Initiative will be holding their monthly meeting on November 4.  Among the agenda items are Fall permablitzes, film screenings, and a Transition Town introduction.  Rob Williams from CLTI shares this:
Interested in having a suburban farm on your property? Maybe just harvesting and recycling water? Or maybe you just want to get involved. You won’t want to miss the next CLTI meeting on Thursday November 4th at 6:30-8:30 pm at the Coffee Oasis in Seabrook.
Call me at 281.705.4307 or email me at clearlaketransition@gmail.com for more information.

Clear Lake Transition Initiative Meeting
Thursday, November 4 ·
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Coffee Oasis
4650 Nasa Rd 1
Seabrook  77586

Transition Houston Permablitz #4, Saturday, November 13
Our next Permablitz promises to continue our tradition of excellent learning and community-creating opportunities while building resilience one bit of land at a time.  This one will be held in the Transition Japhet Creek community.  Current plans include driving a well, adding drip irrigation to existing garden beds, installing a rain barrel, planting an herb garden, and a cob building workshop which will result in a cob oven.  While most of the Permablitz will be finished around mid-day, the cob workshop will continue to 5pm.  As is our tradition, we will have a potluck after the morning portion of the Permablitz.

“Cob or cobb is a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements”.- Wikipedia

Preparation work for the cob oven will begin on the weekend before the Permablitz (November 6 or 7).  If you would like to participate in that as well please RSVP to Jim Ohmart (JMOhmart at AOL dot com or 713-674-2528).

David Reed of New Jura Natural Building (www.NewJuraBuilding.info) will teach the cob building workshop.  This workshop will cover the basics of mixing cob and plastering techniques involved in building a cob oven.  David also offers more advanced cob building classes for building larger structures including homes. You can learn about and sign up for those classes at this workshop.
The Japhet Creek Community is on the near-Eastside of Houston.  The hosts offer these directions:  If you’re coming US-59 exit I-10 East.   Once on I-10 East exit at the Waco St,  Exit 771-A, first exit past US-59.  At Waco St turn right (south) to the first stop light at Clinton Dr.  Turn Left (East) on Clinton to the second street on the right (Emile).  Turn Right (South) on Emile and go two blocks to Inman.  Turn in the next driveway on the left at the warehouses and park there.  Our house is 4510 Inman on the left.  Enter on through the gate on the right side of the house.  If you get lost call 713-674-2528.

Transition Houston Permablitz #4
Saturday, November 13
8:30 am – 5 pm
4510 Inman St.
Houston  77020
Please RSVP to Mark Juedeman (mjuedeman at gmail dot com)

Sustainability seminars and workshops
Members of Transition Houston have passed on word about several seminars/workshops coming up that will address sustainability issues:
Sustainability Pay$ – The Copenhagen Experience, Tuesday, November 9
The Royal Danish Embassy, the Royal Danish Consulate in Houston, the American Danish Business Council, and the Shell Center for Sustainability invite you to join us for this workshop which will present some of the best examples to reflect on the path Denmark has followed to make it the most energy efficient country in the EU.
The morning session presents a focus on the municipalities that are leading the way to carbon neutrality. In the afternoon we will present the business case and the technology to assist in implementing these practices to allow Denmark to reach its aggressive goals.

Sustainability Pay$ – The Copenhagen Experience
Tuesday, November 9
9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Shell Auditorium, McNair Hall
Rice University.
Please register at:

Houston-Galveston Area Council Fall Planning Workshop, Friday, November 12 
Join us for our annual fall planning workshop to learn how your community can plan for sustainable growth. This free workshop will feature presentations on encouraging conservation through development codes, integrating density and a mix of uses, revitalization, and sustainable economic development.
Topics of Discussion:
Establishing the Framework: Why Sustainable Growth?
Revitalization as an Economic Engine
Dealing with Density
Successful Strategies for Designing with Nature
Space is limited, so please reserve your place today.

Houston-Galveston Area Council Fall Planning Workshop
Friday, November 12
9:00 am – 12:30 pm
H-GAC Conference Room A, Second Floor
3555 Timmons Lane
Houston  77027

Houston Peace and Justice Center Awards Dinner, Friday, November 12 
Last, our friends at the Houston Peace and Justice Center (and good friends they are, acting as our fiscal sponsors and providing significant financial support for the May 1 Local Business Conference) are having their Annual Awards Dinner on Friday, November 12.  This really looks like an exciting event, as they will have as their guest speaker and honoree Dr. Helen Caldicott:

Dr. Helen Caldicott is our 2010 National Peacemaker Awardee.  She resides in Australia, but travels worldwide to promote peace, justice and protection of the environment.  Dr. Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her outstanding advocacy work over many years.   The Smithsonian Institute named Dr. Caldicott one of the most influential women of the 20th Century.   She is the subject of several films including “If You Love This Planet” which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in 1982.  She is author of several books which will be available at the dinner, and she hosts a radio show on KPFT Radio titled “If you Love this Planet”.   More information on Dr. Caldicott can be found on the HPJC website www.hpjc.org.

As the HPJC says, this is a wonderful opportunity to network with other people and promote our cause.  The dinner is a fundraiser for the Houston Peace and Justice Center, a 501(c)(3) organization, so that they can continue their vital work for peace and justice in the community.

Houston Peace and Justice Awards Dinner
Friday, November 12
6:00 pm
Marriott Houston West Loop
1750 West Loop South
Houston  77027
Go to the HPJC website www.hpjc.org, or call 832-288-4099 for more information

One amazing thing to me is that these activities all take us up only to mid-November!  The Transition Movement, and other organizations which share our concerns and values, are increasingly active in the Houston region.  While our challenges are tremendous, we continue to believe that these community-based efforts to raise awareness and build resilience are our best hope.

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