Joanne Poyourow's blog

Gifts have the function of bonding communities together.  ...
If your entire life is nothing but money transactions, ... then you don't have community because you don't need anybody. 
-- Charles Eisenstein,

My dad just gave me a brand-new sawzall reciprocating saw.  Yesterday its maiden voyage helped to repair the rainwater harvesting tanks at the community garden.  In the spirit of gifting (in Maori they call it hau), with this “second giving” the sawzall entered into the gift economy.

Here are 7 things your group can do to further positive change.

Here is a link to a two-sided handout version (pdf) that I created in anticipation of a speaking engagement.  It was written for church communities and other organizations which are interested in participating in the Transition process.

If you would like to edit the handout for use in your local area (for instance if you want to substitute your local climate change impacts for L.A. ones), email me and I will send you the raw Word doc (MS Word 2010)

Local Dollars Local Sense BookI hastened to buy Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman, because I was attracted to the title and had high hopes for the emphasis on localization.  Shuman's book represents a small step in a needed direction, but I was yearning for much deeper.

The cover claims that it is "a Community Resilience Guide" -- I don't think so: not at face value, not without plenty of caveats and sidebar explanations to adapt Shuman's recommendations to a dramatically changing economic picture.  Certainly, Go Local.  But do so ready to adjust to the radically different landscape we now face.  This new era of economic contraction alters many long-held presumptions.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  --George Santayana

The virtual credit world we currently live in isn't an original creation.  Mankind has done this before, says anthropologist David Graeber, author of Debt, the First 5,000 Years.  Credit "is the original form of money.  In ancient Mesopotamia they were doing most things by credit.  Coinage was only invented 2,000 years after the first accounts we have."(1)

Throughout recorded history, Graeber tells us, we have alternated between a credit-based economy and a world where coins or some kind of metal or material object was used in everyday transactions.  But today, as we wrestle with the consequences of one burst credit bubble and await the bursting of another(2), there are some significant lessons to be learned from how credit was done in the past.

As a gardener, Winter Solstice holds much more meaning for me than the conventional new year marker of January 1.  Even here in Southern California's year-round growing season, we observe the slowing of plant growth into semi-dormancy as the Solstice approaches.  We witness the acceleration into new growth once the Solstice is past.  Animals know it too -- my chickens are resuming laying.  The Winter Solstice is the crossover point, the planet's annual marker of change.

Some years I join friends at a Winter Solstice fire at a local community garden.  As part of the evening we write down one thing we are releasing from the old year, and something we wish to bring alive in the new year.  Then we slip the paper with our intention into the fire pit together with some white sage leaves or perhaps some rosemary.  This beautiful ceremony always gets me thinking, at a rather early point in the season by conventional calendar terms, about my personal goals for the new year -- "Resolutions" if you will.

A multitude of seasonal reflections on compost, recipes, and cooking -- how these might change for a powerdown world.

In her visit to Los Angeles, Vandana Shiva reminded us how Gandhi had the symbolic actions -- sitting in protests -- but with that he also had the cotton -- the tangible actions.  Dr Shiva said that along with the protests, people need to grow food, to build connections within their communities, to make changes in their lives.

This weekend, in support of the folks at Occupy Wall Street and similar in other major financial centers (including Occupy LA here in Los Angeles), I put the full content of "Economic Resilience" online for free readership. This how-to document for building local community resilience has been freshly updated with new links and additional ideas.

Some other thoughts, specifically addressed to the #Occupy protesters and the themes that are recurring in signs and posters:

This Saturday, several of the Transition groups in the greater Los Angeles area will be hosting local sites for's latest international rally.  "Moving Planet" will focus attention on the need to move beyond fossil fuels.  Here's how we're doing it in my own local neighborhod, plus some resources offered to fellow organizers.

Here in my local neighborhood, we wanted to merge what we are doing locally with the Moving Planet theme.  We're focusing on solutions:  we're holding a bicycle ride between several of the community gardens which have been sprouting up in our neighborhood.  The ride ends up being approximately a 7 mile loop.  Since many of the gardens are in schools, including an elementary school, we mapped a route on bicycle-friendly streets, with only gentle hills so that full families might participate.

My name is Joanne and I am a knitter. (Yep, it's that serious)  For quite some time I have made excuses, telling myself that "knitting was one of those reskilling things" and it was a powerdown craft. But I got to thinking about it seriously this week.

Here, in the middle of urban Los Angeles, knitting is a pretty elitist hobby. It might be a "reskilling type of thing" good for necessary clothing-making somewhere out on a farm where there are plenty of goats and sheep. Or if I took to raising angora rabbits. Because when the serious hiccups in the economy come, when the darker transportation issues of peak oil set in, the boutique yarn stores I patronize today likely won't be around anymore.

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