Joanne Poyourow's blog

This past weekend, one of the Transition groups in our greater Los Angeles area offered a Cluck Trek: a tour of local chicken coops.

Chickens are the happening thing in the city -- as evidenced by the fact that the event was highlighted by the Los Angeles Times (none of our Transition events have ever made it past the editors of this giant paper before).  There aren't too many people who have chickens here, but there is LOTS of interest.

Local currencies are, in effect, "mindful money." - Rob Hopkins, from the Foreward

I was very excited to get a copy of Peter North’s new book, Local Money.  Here in Los Angeles our local Transition group just piloted a LETSystem, so the financial and currency discussions were fresh in my mind.  I wish I had Peter North’s book back in January when we were trying to figure all these things out!

Local Money: How To Make it Happen in Your Community takes a panoramic view of noteworthy local money from around the world (including some historical systems) and provides a vignette of each one.  There are also vignettes of LETS and time banking, even though these aren’t technically money. 

Along the way, Local Money teaches about the lack of resilience in our national currency, regardless of whether that be pound, dollar, or peso.  The book gives a basic introduction to “what is money” – helpful since most of us really don’t understand this.  North briefly touches on alternative financial institutions, and –oh yes-- he does mention how to set up a local currency.

The 12 Ingredients for Transition encourage us to "build a bridge to local government." I used to think that "building bridges" was lovely British poetic language, but recently I'm learning how that pretty phrase brings with it some fairly serious guidance.

Building a bridge across a river is quite different than trying to merge the two banks.  That pretty British poetry reminds us that Transition Initiatives need to be lead by the people, the citizens, the neighbors -- not by politicians, government, or any political party.

In the Transition Primer, (page 36-38 of Version 26 currently online) there is a nice piece on "the role of local government."  This piece gives some of what has worked/didn't work about Transition Initiatives and government.  It offers the idea that the role of local government should best be "supporting, not driving."

Here's an idea that combines the Transition movement's drive to rebuild our local foodsheds with its drive to build new economic structures

In our local neighborhood in Los Angeles, for the third year running, we are hosting a group purchase of bare root fruit trees.  It started on a whim.  I was ordering bare root fruit trees for my own yard, and thought perhaps a few others might wish to piggyback on my order.  I posted it on our local Transition email loops and suddenly my order had exploded to 21 trees!  We qualified for extra volume discounts at the supplier, and the box that arrived on my doorstep the following January was so big that it could easily have contained one of the Lakers basketball players! 

We repeated the fruit tree group purchase project a year later, and brought 28 additional fruit trees to our neighborhood (TWO Lakers-size boxes!).  It was such a successful model that we subsequently did a group purchase of rain water harvesting barrels.

To the 1Sky board of directors:

In your open letter to all people and organizations working to combat global warming, you ask how to move forward with urgency and clarity of purpose.

1)  Understand the full scope of the problem.

Global warming is not a standalone issue.  At the same time as we are trying to decarbonize our entire society and cope with the erratic weather events of early climate change, we are simultaneously being hit with peak oil and economic contraction.

Eat/Pray/Love movie advertisements are now appearing all over my local part of Los Angeles.  I haven't read the book or seen the movie and I'm not planning to.  But the stark graphics of the advertising campaign pump the words EAT - PRAY - LOVE into my head on a regular basis.

According to online reviews, the Eat/Pray/Love book is a travel log, "a story about a girl who thought everything ... she wanted, would bring her happiness. It didn't. It didn't for her, and possibly not for many other women."  It sounds like it begins as a story of disenchantment with life in our current society. 

Skipping over Gilbert's subsequent decision to burn vast amounts of fossil fuels with corresponding greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. travel the world) in order to consume Italian cuisine, gain 23 pounds, and (if the online reviews are to be believed) superficially consume ashram spirituality and friends' donation money; my intent here isn't to review either book or movie.  Instead ...

Most of us have them -- dusty piles of unused clothes in the back of the closet.  They looked good at one point, but now they (a) don't fit, (b) have a stain, (c) aren't in style anymore, but we can't bring ourselves to get rid of them so they linger in the dingy corners.  People at Transition Mar Vista (TMV) are turning their old clothes into something new.

This past weekend, Transition Mar Vista (part of the Transition action in the greater Los Angeles area) held a "Repurposing old clothing" workshop.  Everyone was invited to bring a few articles of old clothing -- tshirts, dresses, skirts, etc. -- as well as sewing notions, buttons, ribbons, and trims. 

The workshop was lead by Gaia Waters, the high-school-aged granddaughter of one of the TMV steering group members.  Gaia, an aspiring fashion designer, was visiting from England and TMV certainly made the most of her presence.  Gaia had plenty of help from TMV members who have an eye for design and color.

This post is a continuation of "Transition in the Big City," a description of how Transition ideas are being applied in Los Angeles.  Part I discussed issues of scale, the formation of the city hub and pods, and the structure we use today.

OPERATIONS

At this point Transition in Los Angeles consists of 6 pods which offer regular public meetings:  Transition San Fernando Valley*, Transition Mar Vista, Transition Culver City*, Inglewood, the Environmental Change-Makers in the Westchester/LA area, and Transition South Bay LA.  The two starred ones are now official TIs with the Transition Network, as is the Transition Los Angeles city hub.  We have two additional areas which are just beginning to hold Transition-type public meetings, Whittier and Rancho Palos Verdes.

The Transition movement coaches us to "begin in your own backyard."  But what if your backyard happens to be one of the biggest megacities in the world?

CAN IT BE DONE?

From the very beginning -- even before the December 2008 Open Space circle that resulted in the formation of our Transition Los Angeles city hub, and even from people who really ought to know better -- I have heard the doubts.  Los Angeles is too big.  You can't hope to fix it.  It can't be done. 

But at the same time, there's that old adage about "a journey of a thousand miles ..."  And the basic necessity of it: what else are we supposed to do, simply do NOTHING?

To those of you who are reading this who also live in big cities, I say: carry on.  Keep on working for change.  Any bit of progress helps.  As a personal survival mechanism, it helps to ignore the nay-sayers.  Believe it can be done, begin the baby steps, allow progress to build, celebrate victories no matter how small.  Yes, do look at the big picture, but don't let it get you down.  Don't think too hard about how very big it is, just get positive progress started.

And with that attitude, we in Los Angeles have accomplished quite a lot in a very short period of time!

On this Independence Day, I'm celebrating the ways my family's lifestyle is becoming more independent from the mainstream.  This means our lifestyle is becoming more independent from oil for long-distance transport of goods, more independent from carbon emissions, more independent from the Industrial Growth Paradigm, demanding less earth resources, and thus much more resilient.

VEGETABLES & FRUITS

My family is independent from those lifeless items in the supermarket produce aisle.  We are gradually becoming independent from industrialized agribusiness.  We buy mostly all of our produce fresh from the local farmer's market, and when I am there, I buy predominantly from two vendors whose farms are 45 miles and 125 miles from my home respectively (here in Los Angeles, that's pretty close!).  A considerable portion of our leafy greens are homegrown, and in some summer months, 100% of our fruit.  I no longer purchase thyme, oregano, bay leaf, mint, rosemary, basil, cilantro, because I grow our year's supply.  I'm working on tea herbs next, so that we can declare our independence in that arena.  And our team of gardeners is working to grow the number of food gardens in our local area.

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