Tag Archives: Urban Harvest

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.


  • 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.

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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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:  

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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October is the busiest month (in warm Houston)

As the October weather cools down (we deeply and sincerely hope), activities of interest to the Houston Transition community heat up.  Here is our mid-September update and look-ahead for your anticipatory pleasure.


Transition Houston October Meeting October 4
We are very fortunate to have a special guest speaker at our October meeting.  Richard Johnson is the Director of Sustainability at Rice University, in which role he coordinates, supports, leads, and provides technical assistance for a broad range of campus sustainability initiatives, including high-performance “green” building, recycling, energy conservation, and environmental education.  Richard gave a talk at My Houston 2040 a couple of months ago that spoke directly to the challenges and responses of the Transition Movement.  You won’t want to miss his talk.  Details of the meeting can be found at transitiontexas.ning.com/events/transition-houston-monthly-137.

Transition Houston October Meeting
Monday, October 4
Urban Harvest (2311 Canal St., Houston)
contact:  Mark Juedeman (mjuedeman at gmail dot com)


No Impact Project
Our annual Labor Day Potluck was excellent, again–we had a great group of people, great food, and–this year–a special movie screening of the No Impact Man Movie.  If you missed that opportunity to see the movie there is another screening on Tuesday, September 28, 7:30pm-9:30pm, at the Houston Arboretum.  This is all leading up to GreenWeek Houston, October 10-17, presented by USGBC Emerging Professionals, Houston Green Scene and the Last Organic Outpost.  Many of our Transition Houston members are involved in GreenWeek, and several are actually going to be facilitators for No Impact Experiment workshops.  One of the facilitators, Nancy Edwards, provides this tidbit:

The No Impact Project is coming to Houston, Oct. 11-15, the week after 10/10/10, the Workday for the Planet.

After you see the film you might be frightened and think, “I could never do that, even for a week.  That’s too hard.”  Also from the film you get the impression that Colin Beavan spent all his time on shopping at the Farmer’s Market and childcare.  Actually his child had a daycare provider and he went to The Writer’s Room, a co-op office, during the week and worked on his book.

But the point is not to do everything that he did.  The point is to use the impetus of the project to learn and implement new ways to lower your own impact.  It is also an opportunity to meet other people at the evening seminars who are working on the same experiment and learn from their trial and error as well as your own.  If you want to sneak a peek at what you will be doing go to 10/11 – 10/15: No Impact Experiment (Evening Workshops).

I hope to see you at New Living, the green building and home store (6111 Kirby Drive) where I, along with Matthias Jung, will hold seminars Monday through Thursday evening  from 6:30 to 8PM  (The seminars are not required).  Mary Schultz and Jan Tijmes will be at Taft Street Coffee, 2115 Taft Street (between Fairview and West Gray), holding seminars there also.

Nancy Edwards
needwards at comcast dot net


10-10-10 Permablitz(s)
Speaking of the 10/10/10 workdays–our Transition community will be at work with two Permablitz projects on October 10!  Please save the date to participate in whichever is most convenient for you:

Transition Houston will be Permablitzing in the Sharpstown area of Southwest Houston on the morning of October 10.

The Clear Lake Transition Initiative will be Permablitzing all day on October 10 at the community garden at St. Christopher Episcopal Church in League City.

Details for both will appear in the Transition Houston newsletter at the end of the month, but for now please clear your calendar on 10-10-10!


Solar Tour and Social, October 2
As you can already see, October is chock-full of activities and events that will be of great interest to the Transition Community.  Here is another that you won’t want to miss–The 2010 Houston Solar Tour and Social, chaired by Transition Houston’s own Matthias Jung:

Are you curious about how solar systems work?  Learn about solar system designs, the costs and how a solar energy system will reduce your electricity bill.

Come to the ASES Houston Solar Tour for a first-hand experience showing a variety of solar solutions. From commercial installations and residential projects to solar thermal hot water and pool heaters, don’t miss out on this opportunity to see renewable energy solutions. Meet homeowners with solar systems, plus learn why solar energy systems are becoming more and more popular.

This year’s Solar Social will take place at the University of Houston’s College of Architecture. Stop by between 9 am and noon to meet the city’s solar installers and other groups involved with our growing renewable energy industry.  Learn about the Green Building Component Program at U of H, and see student projects that are being developed as part of the green building movement.

Transition Houston will be represented at the Solar Social, but we need volunteers to be a contact and to staff the table during the social.  Can you help?  Please contact Mark Juedeman (mjuedeman at gmail dot com) and let him know you are available!


APTA Annual Meeting, San Antonio, October 3-6
For those of you with an interest in transportation policy–a key tool in managing energy descent in our Transition communities–you may wish to attend the American Public Transportation Association annual meeting in San Antonio October 3-6.  Michael Davies (also a member of Transition Houston) will be attending, and can provide more information (davies88 at gmail dot com).


Transition Class at Leisure Learning, October 18
But wait, there’s more!  October isn’t done yet–on the evening of Monday, October 18 Transition Houston will be presenting a class at Leisure Learning about the Transition movement and Transition Houston, followed by a visit on Saturday, October 23 to the Japhet Creek Transition community.  If you have family or friends who are curious about the Transition movement, what it is all about, and what it means for Houston please tell them about this class.  A portion of the class fee will go to Transition Houston for our projects.

Transition Houston–Strategies for the 21st Century
Monday, October 18 7-9:30pm (field trip on Saturday, October 23, 10am-noon)
Greenway Plaza Area: Richmond/Kirby


Training For Transition Class, January 2011?
There has been a good deal of interest amongst Transition Houston members about having another Training For Transition (T4T) class, following up on last November’s very successful course.  The class is useful for those who want to learn about the Transition movement as well as those who are already involved.  We have now also received interest from Transition Dallas folks who are starting up their Initiative now.

Given the lead time required to plan a class, and indications that early next year would work best for the Dallas people, we are tentatively thinking about having the class in mid-January of 2011.  We still don’t have enough people indicating their interest for this class to make it definite, so if you would like to attend please let Mark Juedeman know as soon as you can (mjuedeman at  gmail dot com).  The cost of the two-day class, including breakfast and lunch, Friday potluck, and optional garden tours, is likely to be around $200.  There will also be a few partial scholarships available.

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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 mjuedeman@gmail.com 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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