Transition Streets: How to Get Started

What is Transition Streets?

Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save energy and waste right here and now. Program participants meet with their neighbors for seven sessions over a period of several months to build a sense of community on their street, and learn fun and easy ways to practice sustainable habits.

Each session is guided by a chapter of the Transition Streets Handbook. The handbook details actions, tips, and facts to empower you and your neighbors to increase your energy efficiency, cut down on waste, eat fresh and local, save money, and build a stronger community.

Want to see a Transition Streets group on your street? Awesome! Transition Streets is initiated and run by neighbors, so neighborhood leaders like you are the key to “living better together, one street at a time.”

Transition Charlottesville Albemarle has a small team of dedicated volunteers who will help you join or organize a group and get off to a good start. We can help by:

  • Publicizing Transition Streets all over town
  • Providing sample flyers, resources, and a printed handbook for each group
  • Connecting you with a volunteer Transition Street [TS] Facilitator who will answer your questions, cheer you on, and attend your first and last group meetings

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Email streets@TransitionCville.org and tell us what neighborhood you live in. We’ll connect you with a TS Facilitator who can help with the next steps.
  2. Click here if you want to download a printable version of this Get Started guide
  3. Recruit a friend to help you organize! There’s a bit of work to do, and it’s easier with a team. If we’ve heard from someone else in your neighborhood, we’ll help you link up.
  4. Download the Transition Streets Handbook: Go to http://handbook.transitionstreets.org/get-the-handbook-transition-initiatives. For “Your Official Transition Initiative’s Name” enter Transition Charlottesville Albemarle. Your TS Facilitator will provide your group with one printed copy of the handbook.
  5. Start reaching out to your neighbors. You want a group of about 6-8 households. (See below for specific ideas.)
  6. When you have enough people ready to start, set a date for your first meeting. If folks have busy schedules, try using www.Doodle.com to send a quick survey and pick the best meeting date. Be sure to include your TS Facilitator!

transitionLaunch

How to Get Neighbors to Join Your Transition Streets Group

Pound the pavement:

  • Knock on doors and distribute flyers (Click here to download a sample flyer)
  • Talk to your neighbors! (talking points below)
  • Put up a poster on your neighborhood bulletin board
  • Get on the agenda of a neighborhood association/HOA meeting
  • Ask for a story in your neighborhood newsletter or blog
  • Distribute flyers to grocery stores, libraries, community centers, etc.
  • Distribute flyers at street fairs, farmers’ markets or other community events
  • Contact institutions with local programs (e.g. churches, senior centers)

Use social media:

  • Send invitations to neighbors that you’ve friended on Facebook
  • Try out Nextdoor.com, a private online social network for neighbors (many people in Charlottesville are already using this network)

Don’t try to do it alone:

  • Ask a friend or community leader for help
  • Recruit “block captains” to be responsible for recruiting their block
  • Ask neighbors (personally) to ask their next door neighbors
  • Host a sign-up party, barbecue, or potluck with the help of people already interested

Transition Streets Talking Points

  • Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save money, conserve energy and consume fewer resources right here and now.
  • Transition Streets has been tried and tested in over 600 households in the UK & USA.
  • Transition Streets is a community partner of Energize!Charlottesville, the City’s two-year campaign to save energy as a community and win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.
  • Program participants meet with their neighbors for seven sessions over a period of several months to build a sense of community on their street, and learn fun and easy ways to practice sustainable habits.
  • Each session is guided by a chapter of the Transition Streets Handbook. The handbook details actions, tips, and facts to empower you and your neighbors to increase your energy efficiency, cut down on waste, eat fresh and local, save money, and build a stronger community.
  • Households save an average of $900/year on bills and expenses and reduce their household carbon emissions by an average of 1.3 tons!
  • But, the best part is getting to know your neighbors and building a more vibrant, connected, resilient and fun neighborhood!

More info

If you have any questions, or want to help us spread the word about this initiative, email us at streets@transitioncville.org or call our committee contact person Logan Blanco at 434-327-3571.

More info from Transition United States: http://transitionstreets.org/

Watch the Transition Streets video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=S94Owhn2fIM

A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water

Report: As coal declines, efficiency on the rise

Efficiency appears to be the only way for us to win the battle of keeping our planet from getting too hot! We do not appear to be able to convince our local power companies to develop clean energy, even though the costs are about the same as the costs of using coal.

More information can be found here:
http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/07/10/report-as-coal-declines-efficiency-on-the-rise/
 

 

We are paying more for climate change than education!

“It is in effect a climate disruption tax, equivalent to a 2.7 percentage point increase in what Americans paid in taxes last year.” Says Daniel Lashof, director of the NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Program and co-author of the report.

We spent nearly $100 billion in 2012 on drought-related crop insurance, storms like Hurricane Sandy, floods and wildfires. By comparison the nation spent $95 billion on education last year and just $91 billion on transportation.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=whos-paying-the-price-for-global-wa-13-05-19

Trouble Ahead For Thermal Sector In Europe

Looks like the clean energy folks in Europe are doing such a great job that it is causing problems for the coal fired power plants to borrow money. Hope this problem comes to the USA soon! We could all live “off of the grid”.

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/10/moodys-renewable-energy-report-for-europe/

Sacred Economics and Conscious Community

By Ben Coe

Most of my life I’ve been involved with creating events – events with the purpose of bringing people together in celebration, contemplation, and spiritual deepening.  After my first visit to Burning Man in 2003 I saw how profound an event could be.

Events have a way of bringing people out of their every day experience and dropping them into a lower mental operating frequency.  The concerns of the week wash away under the influence of music, friends, and drugs of any sort.  People come alive and it’s a beautiful site to behold.  Burning Man elevates the social possibilities by operating on a gift economy and a mantra of “participate.”  Imagine being inside a theatrical play where all 50,000 participants are actively engaged in creating the experience and expressing their gift.  There is nothing else like it on planet earth.  It’s a window into what could be in our society.

After that first Burning Man, I spent a lot of time considering what “it” was that united all the different people at Burning Man.  Ultimately I came to the conclusion that people there are engaged in creating what I called at the time “Conscious Community.”  These are people who want to create a better world, and who want to be aware of their impact.  At the same time in my life I came to the conclusion that something was flawed with our money system (not money per se, but the system that manages it) though I wasn’t sure what.

SacredEconomicsFast forward several years and I find that the idea of conscious community and the money system stem from the same source.  This is how I see it.  When you meditate, take psychedelic drugs, spend time in nature, surf, rock climb, or improvisational jam with other musicians, among other things, you enter a space where time slows down and the life force of the world opens up.  In that space it is clear that all is one. There is a connection between all of life – your inner self, those around you, and nature.

Our money system, and our society at large, does not share this view.  We live in an individualistic society where each person is considered separate from all of life: every man for himself.  Rather than thinking (like they do at Burning Man) about how to express your gift for all the other citizens of the world, we instead focus on fearfully collecting enough money to retire.  The idea that we are separate from the rest of life is also what allows us to plunder the earth for our own means rather than consider it part of ourselves.

What I see at Burning Man is a city of people actively trying to create a world based on the idea of connectivity; participate, go deeper, live from your source.  If you can live from your source, that means your barriers are down.   If your barriers are down then you’ll recognize that you are one with all.  And when you’re one with all you’ll see that the money system reinforces the idea that you are separate and in competition with every single other person on the planet.

Charles Eisenstein’s book, Sacred Economics, came into my life right as I was discovering all of these ideas.  I first read a couple pieces he wrote for YES! Magazine and I was blown away by how astute his observations were and how eloquently and efficiently he was able to describe “problems” and solutions.   I learned he had this book, Sacred Economics, so I immediately bought it.  The name alone captured its contents perfectly.

CharlesEisenstein

Charles Eisenstein

In his book Charles first discusses the Economics of Separation (what we have now) and then discusses the Economics of Reunion (how we get there).  He doesn’t skimp on down and dirty economics theory and practice either.  If you like technical economics then this books shouldn’t disappoint you.  And if you’re not into that but you’re searching for solutions to all of our dilemmas from a social perspective then it will still be great for you.  In the end he brings the book to a close by discussing how we can live the new economy.  The beauty of this book is that it illustrates the problems, gives large-scale solutions, but also gives you individual “change the world from where you sit” kind of solutions too.  I’ve read plenty of books that speak to the idea of creating a Deep World where our society would reflect the “new” values of connection but none hit the heart of the matter like this one.  Changing our money system is most critical for creating a sustainable and thriving society.  If you want to know how to change the world for good, this is a must read book.

**

Post-note: I loved this book so much that I sought out Charles and scheduled him to come visit us here in Charlottesville.  Please consider joining me for an Evening Talk with Charles Eisenstein on Friday, August 2 and/or a full-day workshop with Charles on Saturday, August 3.  It’s going to be awesome. Visit Deeply.Be to register.

Ben Coe is an architect of deep experiences based in Charlottesville, VA. He started Deeply.Be to foster and develop those on the leading edge of the cultural movement toward a deep world: a culture that deeply feels the connection to all of life (self, nature, and others) and a civilization that promotes the flourishing of the natural environment and all of humanity. Read more of his blogs at www.BenCoe.com.

Local Fibers at The Textile Place

Handmade textiles at The Textile Place

Handmade textiles at The Textile Place

The Textile Place is Charlottesville’s new home for local fibers. From restyling thrift store finds to raising sheep for wool, this cooperative business aims to promote locally produced textiles, teach textile skills, and help local artisans find a market for their work.

Visit the shop during open hours – currently every Saturday, 11am-3pm – to check out beautifully made products from our own “fibershed.” Located just inside Random Row Bookstore on West Main St. near the Downtown Mall, The Textile Place joins City Clay and Community: An Artists Collective to form a little neighborhood of artisans. They’ll be open for you to visit on First Fridays.

Donna Carty and Joanie Freeman won a start-up grant of $1,045 when they presented their idea for a fiber arts cooperative at the very first Charlottesville SOUP, a fundraising event for local arts projects. They used the grant to purchase a loom and a business license.

The Textile Place is a membership cooperative. For $25 per year, co-op members can place retail items in the shop, use equipment like looms and sewing machines, and offer classes. Donna said there’s no other place in the area where fiber artisans can sell their goods and pay only a 25% commission. Look for a class schedule to develop this spring. Many of the members and prospective members were busy with new baby sheep when The Textile Place opened, so they will be adding their input soon!

Merian Burkett of Lagniappe Farm Alpacas

Merian Burkett of Lagniappe Farm Alpacas works on her inventory

In addition to helping fiber artisans make a living, Donna and Joanie aim to encourage cottage industry for local residents who need to supplement their income. Because textile work can be done at home and during small chunks of time if needed, it’s accessible for people who can’t work full-time for a variety of reasons. One of Donna’s dreams is to inspire young people to join the fashion industry in a local, sustainable way by designing with local fibers and second-hand garments.

The Textile Place is Joanie’s second cooperative business venture in Charlottesville; she also helped launch the Vinegar Hill Canning Cooperative. Joanie believes cooperative businesses are the best path to a sustainable livelihood for low-income families, and she’s working to develop a cooperative business center that will provide skills training and business support for independent member-owners.

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

Imagine this: There is no state sales tax on junk food. But consumption of foods with minimal sugar and fat content is taxed at five cents on the dollar. The money raised by such a tax is used to cover the additional health-care costs associated with the nation’s obesity epidemic.

In addition, imagine that people who eat organic, locally produced foods have to pay a $100 annual special consumption tax, the proceeds of which become rebates to farmers who buy pesticides and herbicides.

That imaginary scenario offers a metaphorical snapshot into the strange – but, alas, very real – transportation bill recently passed in the name of “we the people” by our enlightened representatives at the General Assembly in Richmond.

Read full article

Viral Video Shows the Extent of U.S. Wealth Inequality

This is a reality check on the wealth in the United States. It is a video so sit back and check this out. What are you thinking about where you sit in the wealth of our county? Does this picture feel right, fair and sustainable for the future of our country?

http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/