August 28, 2010. My first impression upon entering Cecile Andrews' cheery house is that simplicity doesn't mean deprivation. The author of Circle of Simplicity, Less is More and Slow is Beautiful, Cecile lives in a spacious Seattle house brightened with colorful dishes and artwork, beaming cut sunflowers, and inviting book-filled walls.

Here is a guest blog from David Johnson…(also posted on - see also recordings and notes from the sessions.

This past weekend, Transition Los Angeles had a small table of information at the Renewal LA event.  Our initiating group, Environmental Change-Makers (ECM), is relatively well-known within the Southern California Interfaith Power and Light circles.  ECM co-founder, the Rev. Peter Rood, is an Episcopal priest who is active in interfaith dialog groups.  In fact, Peter gave the Welcome for the Renewal LA event.

For tabling at Renewal LA, we brought some of the handouts that we have developed specifically for faith communities, such as "Environmental Suggestions for Large Events,"


This past weekend, I attended "Renewal LA," an interfaith gathering here in Los Angeles which included sections of the documentary film "Renewal" by filmmakers Marty Ostrow and Terry Kay Rockefeller.  The event offered speakers such as Mary Nichols of the California Air Resources Board, and it featured renowned environmentalist and founder Bill McKibben.

Renewal LA was hosted in an Episcopal cathedral.  The opening blessing was given by representatives of the B'hai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Later Day Saints, Moslem, and Unitarian traditions (listed here in alphabetical order).  It was amazing to see all these religious leaders standing shoulder-to-shoulder, reading pieces from their individual traditions -- so many paths toward the same end, that of humanity living more gently upon the earth.

I came to this event in the wierd capacity of both outside observer and insider.  While I consider myself fairly spiritual, I'm not a participant in any particular religious tradition.  I have the unique opportunity, however, to participate in many events which explore the crossover of religion and environmentalism because I am the co-founder of the Environmental Change-Makers community group (which became the initiating group for Transition Los Angeles).  My co-founder at ECM is the Reverend Peter H. Rood, Jr., an Episcopal priest.  I often refer to myself as the "secular environmentalist" part of the partnership.  Because of Peter's connections and charisma, we are frequent speakers at religious communities in Southern California.

As Transition US explores the topic of diversity, and proposes setting up a working group for Transition and faith communities, there has been a lot of interest in Peter's and my work.  In today's post I want to share with you a bit about the Renewal LA event, and in a future post, some reflections about Transition issues and faith communities.

Money doesn't grow on treesMyrto wrote about Raising Funds for Transition.  Several months ago, here in Los Angeles, we were discussing similar issues.  But thoughts which began with "how do we get money" soon ventured into a different realm:  "What does a sustainable service organization look like in this powerdown era and time of economic contraction?"

Here in the Transition movement, we understand that with the end of cheap oil, we will experience an inevitable (and likely severe) economic contraction.  In our Transition Trainings we discuss the fallacies of the Industrial Growth Complex.  We know what lies ahead:  simpler times, less affluent times, less cash available, and necessarily more community participation in every single aspect of life.

Nonprofit organizations won't be immune.  Already, most nonprofits are struggling for funding, and the fun's just beginning.  Just like the energy surplus which is disappearing with the end of cheap oil, the cash surplus which used to fund nonprofits is disappearing with the credit/banking/economic crunch.  We have witnessed "peak nonprofit." 


The enticing fragrance of fresh yeasty bread beckoned us into Jen Ownbey's converted-garage bakeshop in Olympia, Washington. A huge variety of loaves graced her shelves: yeast breads, regular and gluten-free; quick breads with mixtures of grains; sweet treats. While we chatted, she whipped up a batch of quick bread made with locally-grown zucchini — without using a recipe!

Ever feel like you're zipping through the fast-paced hours of your day, the crowded pages of your calendar, like you're on a swiftly moving sidewalk? 

Then you learn about alternative lifestyles, other ways of living and pacing one's life.  As you learn about the Transition movement, perhaps you get caught up in community events and activities within this other way of viewing life. 

It begins to feel like you've hopped off that swiftly moving business-as-usual sidewalk onto a second moving sidewalk -- one that isn't necessarily headed in the same direction as the first one.

This image of two moving sidewalks -- each headed in a different direction -- was posed by Sophy Banks in our Training for Transition in Los Angeles in December 2008.  The image has stuck with me, and come back to me many times since.


August 24, 2010.

This coming weekend, one of our local Transition groups in Los Angeles will offer a Vegetable / Herb Seed Swap.  We've held several seed swaps before -- one each spring and one each autumn for our year-round Southern California growing season.

Seed swaps are lots of fun.  People gather to exchange seeds, but at the same time they swap garden stories, garden tips, and generally connect with each other around food gardening.

We call ours a VEGETABLE / HERB seed swap so that we are making it clear from the very start that this garden event isn't about ornamental flowers.  Our group sets out to encourage people to grow food.


A conversation with three co-editors of Squat Birth Journal wasn't on my original taping schedule. But when they contacted me, I thought it'd be a great topic for a show. Natural child birth, birthing without interventions and drugs, is about as sustainable an alternative (to the medical system) as it gets.

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