Welcome to the Transition Book Club: About Us

Some books are hard to read alone.  Titles like “Collapse,” “EAARTH,” “The Long Descent,” and “The Coming Famine” rest on our bookshelves, but don’t always get read.

A picture of our book clubSo, six of us came together to form a “transition book club” to read both nonfiction and fiction to inform and inspire our community transition organizing. We meet for breakfast once a month –which means good snacks and plenty of hot tea. One of our first meetings was at Andree’s cozy zero-carbon “JP Greenhouse” where we could bask in the heat of a candle.

We’re all involved in different dimensions of the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, our local transition organizing effort in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Mass USA.

We will all contribute to this blog, as we’re inspired.  We’ll write about the books we’re reading as a group –as well as individual readings and reflections.  See our BOOK LIST below and suggest readings for us.  Most of us have read the classics: James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency; Richard Heinberg’s Peak Everything, and of course, Rob Hopkins, The Transition Handbook.


Who We Are

Andrée Collier Zaleska is the co-founder of the JP Green House , a zero-carbon demonstration home and urban mini-farm in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Her time is divided between community organizing, climate activism, parenting two sons, composting, planting, and writing witticisms on Facebook. She has degrees from Smith and Harvard, speaks fluent Czech, and is now trying to acquire useful skills! Her Transition Book Club friends are some of the people she feels she can talk to about reality.

Chuck Collins has been inspired by fellow book club member Andree and the transition movement and is expanding his cold frames to grow lettuce in December.  He’s a father, radical cyclist, and an avid reader and who works at the Institute for Policy Studies where he coordinates their work on inequality and fair taxation.  He specialty is corn muffins for the meetings.

Dakota Butterfield currently consults as a trainer and facilitation coach with the Common Security Club Network, and is co-facilitating a new local circle in Jamaica Plain.  Eager to expand her urban homesteading skills, she’s looking forward to the launch of a chicken-keeping venture in her backyard.  She’s also keen on supporting the development of a regional Transition hub in New England.  For her, participation in the Transition Book Club is a key source of sunlight illuminating a path over sometimes dark and rocky terrain. 

Orion Kriegman splits his days between the Institute for Policy Studies, where he consults to the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition; the Tellus Institute, where he serves as Coordinator of the Great Transition Initiative; and with Pueblo community land trust, which is creating a community orchard in his neighborhood.

Sarah Byrnes is the coordinator of the Resilience Circle Network (also called Common Security Club Network).  She is very grateful for the Transition book club as a place to grapple with new and big ideas. Her background includes working for economic justice with Americans for Financial Reform, Americans for Fairness in Lending, the Thomas Merton Center, and the Center of Concern, and she has degrees from Boston College and Harvard Divinity School.  When not working for justice, Sarah enjoys chasing her toddler son around and trying to learn how to garden.

Alexa Bradley is an organizer with On the Commons, helping to expand our understanding of “all that we share.”  She just moved to Brooklyn, but we’ve been Skyping her in for our meetings. She is happily composting, experimenting with growing herbs and vegetables in her very urban backyard and using her car less and public transportation more in wonderful Brooklyn.  The book club is a source of encouragement and inspiration to face the future creatively and in community.



Transition Book Club Reading List



  • Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (Grand Central, 1993)
  • Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise In Disaster (Viking, 2009)
  • Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing
  • Julian Cribbs, The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It (University of California Press, 2010)
  • Ben Hewitt, The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food (Rodale Press, 2009)
  • John Michael Greer, The Long Descent: The Users Guide to the End of the Industrial Age(New Society Press, 2008)



  • David Orr, Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
  • James Kunstler, World Made By Hand





  • John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath  (Penguin, 1939)
  • David Lozell Martin, Our American King (Simon and Schuster, 2007).



  • Margaret Wheatley, Walk on, Walk Off
  • Sharon Astyk, Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front (New Society Press, 2008)
  • Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging (Berrett-Koehler, 2008)
  • Richard Register, EcoCities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature (New Society, 2006)
  • Mark Hertzgaard, Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years On Earth (Houghton Mifflin, 2011)
  • Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch, editors, Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises (Watershed Press, 2010)
  • Matt Taibbi, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America (Random House, 2010).
  • Dianne Dumanoski, The Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth (Three Rivers Press, 2009)
  • Tim Egan, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Mariner Books, 2006)
  • Bill McKibben, EAARTH: Making a Life on A Tough New Planet (Times Books, 2010)
  • Gunter Panli, Blue Economy
  • Johanna Macy, Coming Back to Life.
  • David Holgrum, Permaculture (at textbook)
  • Diane Leaf Christian, Creating Life Together
  • Pat Murphy, Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change (New Society Press, 2008)
  • G. Dyer. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats. Canada: Random House, 2010. M. Klare, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. New York: Holt, 2008.
  • Robert Reich. Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future. New York: Random House, 2010.
  • Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. London: Earthscan, 2009.
  • J. Gus Speth. The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
  • Peter Victor. Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2008.

  • Juliet Schor. Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. New York: Penguin, 2010.

  • Gar Alperovitz and his colleagues underscore the policy opportunities in Making a Place for Community. New York: Routledge, 2003.


(Photo: flickr/creativecommons/Horia Varlan)

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