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

Live better together, one street at a time!

We’re rolling out the Transition Streets program in Charlottesville. After a successful pilot of the program, a revision of the handbook, and other new resources from the Transition US team, we’re ready to bring the program to your neighborhood.

Green Grannies Performance and Press Conference

9:30am Saturday, July 18 at Charlottesville City Market, 100 E Water St.

Program coordinators will introduce Transition Streets and explain how residents can get involved. The Green Grannies choir will sing environmental songs set to familiar tunes.

Launch Party

6pm-7:30pm Wednesday, July 29 at Ecovillage Charlottesville, 480 Rio Rd. E

Join us for refreshments, info, and fun. Meet new friends, explore the Transition Streets program, and leave with all the resources you need to start or join a group in your own neighborhood!

What is Transition Streets?

Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save money, 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.

Is your neighborhood ready for a change?

Join us on July 29th from 6:00PM – 7:30PM at Ecovillage Charlottesville for a launch party to learn more about the program and get the resources you’ll need to get started. You don’t need to have your other neighbors committed yet, just come out, enjoy some refreshments, learn about the program, and decide if you’re ready to start the transition.

More info

If you have any questions, or want to help us spread the word about this initiative email us at streets@transitioncville.org

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

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

 

Neighborhood Fun at the Transition Streets Pilot Project

By Logan Blanco and Ann Mercer

Transition Streets is a grassroots, community-based project to encourage and help individual households reduce energy use and consumption right here and now. Ann and I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Transition Streets USA Pilot Project, being one of 13 groups in the US. The idea is simple: We gathered a group of eight households in our neighborhood who were willing to meet seven times over the course of a few months to talk about consuming fewer resources, saving money, and building a sense of community. The content of each meeting was guided by a workbook which includes chapters on using less energy, waste reduction, sensible water use, transportation choices and eating locally.

The experience was better than we ever imagined. We call ourselves the Little Merri Woolie Jeffs. Many of us are already recycling, composting, and watching our water use. Half of us are commuter cyclists.  Some in our group had already invested in home solar panels. We all like growing veggies and herbs.

Little Merri Woolie Jeffs

During this Pilot Project, we each took turns hosting and facilitating. We talked, learned and shared information that wouldn’t be considered small talk by any means:

“Do you flush the toilet every time or when it’s yellow let it mellow?’

“Do you shower every day?”

“Do you throw out a perfectly good washing machine for an energy saving one or wait until it breaks and then switch over?”

“Did you know that walking to IY is an option?”

“Do you know how much energy a vacuum consumes? A toaster? “

Some of us catch the cold water that precedes the hot before doing dishes or showering and using that water to flush the toilet or for watering the house plants.

Some of us use the water from rain barrels for washing hair.

One person had lots of experience in setting up rain-barrels and offered to help others.

The revelations and ideas flowed non-stop. We all had something to offer and we all had something to learn.

Then we developed and shared our personal action plans:

“We’re going to check out getting attic insulation.”

“I’m definitely getting new lights on my bike.”

“We’ve started collecting food scraps from a couple of our neighbors who haven’t been composting.”

“Shawnee and I are going to check out new water-saving toilets and the city rebate program.”

“Next time I’m missing that one essential ingredient for a recipe, I’m going to try borrowing from a neighbor instead of jumping in the car to go to the store.”

The workbook often mentioned that the Transition Streets initiative was a means of saving money. But what our group experienced was something far more. We got excited about sharing ideas and helping each other. We loved seeing other people’s houses, sharing food, and playing together. We started using the word “community” a lot. AND we chose to open up our group to other neighbors and continue meeting monthly for various neighborhood activities like garden tours, project work, social events at our local eatery the Firefly (they serve locally sourced food), community meals, and even having speakers come and talk to use on topics such as advanced directives and community emergency response training.

The plan going forward, is to get more groups of friends and neighbours to do as we did.

We had a lot of fun doing this pilot project! We not only learned how to conserve energy and consume less, which is both good for the planet as well as our wallets. We also learned how to Doodle Meetings, stay in touch with each other through the Nextdoor social networking website, and how to create a more connected, resilient, and fun neighborhood!

Transition Streets is an initiative of the Transition movement, a world-wide, vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as climate change, resource depletion and economic instability.   www.transitionus.org

Transition Streets Charlottesville is being coordinated through Transition Cville, our local Transition Town organization offering monthly pot-luck gatherings, skill-sharing workshops, and a local Transition newsletter. www.transitioncville.org

Transition Streets is also one of several community partner involved in the Energize Charlottesville project: Charlottesville is one of 50 communities that have been selected to compete for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national $5 million competition to rethink the way American communities use energy. Let’s do it! www.energizecharlottesville.org

Transition Streets will launch soon in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Want to learn more? Please email streets@transitioncville.org.

Kudzu Foraging Adventure

For our secondKudzu tea foraging adventure, four intrepid Transitioners headed out to the jungle behind the Meadow Creek Community Gardens.  Turns out that most of that mass of green you see swallowing hapless trees is actually ivy or Oregon grape.  So, our band of seekers took a while to find some actual kudzu.  Once we located a limited number of vines, we harvested the younger, more tender leaves, along with some roots, which meant our harvest was somewhat wee.  Not to worry!  We happily headed back to S.’s apartment (with a pit stop for some ripe wine berries on a public street nearby) for our kudzu feast . . .

Turns out kudzu is pretty tough, and even after steaming it for quite some time, it didn’t really break down to the “spinach-like” consistency we’d been led to expect.  Luckily the kudzu tea was tasty (and the root tea has potential), so it was worth finding out more about this nutritious vine.

 

Review: Rebuilding the Foodshed

By Nancy Carpenter

On June 26, Philip Ackerman-Leist, author of Rebuilding the Foodshed, discussed his work in an online “Community Resilience Chat” from Transition US and the Post Carbon Institute.  The main themes were: defining the term “Rebuilding the FoodShed”; how specialization affects the foodshed; the idea of local; what issues to review when starting to rebuild the food system; the Transition background perspective and examples of successful foodshed rebuilds.

The idea of rebuilding the foodshed incorporates reclaiming, renaming and “unsaming” the existing foodshed.  Specialization, in and of itself, is not problematic.  It becomes problematic in a foodshed when it reduces diversity in agricultural production.  Reclaiming involves building diversity and resilience back into the food system.

rebuilding-the-food-shed-350A little bit of history about the term “foodshed”.  It was coined in 1929 by Walter Hedden in his book, “How Great Cities are Fed”.  Hedden described a ‘foodshed’ as the ‘dikes and dams’ guiding the flow of food from the producer to consumer.   Hedden contrasts foodsheds with watersheds by noting that “the barriers which deflect raindrops into one river basin rather than into another are natural land elevations, while the barriers which guide and control movements of foodstuffs are more often economic than physical.”

There was a discussion surrounding the idea that local food production has come to be seen as the end all be all of food production.  There is a purist notion that whatever is local can replace everything which is almost guaranteed to fail due to the complexities of a local food system.  The fact that local is nested in regional-national-global food systems can’t be ignored.  Even though local is the most beleaguered, it is the most trusted food system and can be the most transparent and accountable food system.

There are many issues to consider when rebuilding the local foodshed and understanding that local in one area may not be able to address issues in another area is one of the first ones.  There are many variables: what does the society look like; health issues (poverty, obesity, and diabetes rates); farm ownership (and the percentage of minority ownership); farm workers issues; and processing center employee issues.  The travesties of the past are resulting in injustices today.  If the people involved in the production of food cannot afford the product, it can create a quagmire.

There can be a Transition perspective in collaboration with rebuilding local foodsheds.  One has to think of a foodshed as having concentric circles.  Home can be the innermost circle where an individual can have the most influence for change.  The circles outside the home could be the porch/balcony, the backyard or the neighborhood.  Also initiate activities such as composting on a local scale, creating food co-ops, in areas of food deserts build a grocery store out of straw bales ( yes this has been done), have winter farmer’s markets, or even advocate for public schools to educate students about becoming local farmers.

The presentation identified many successful local food systems. Vermont is a leader in food systems and the “farm to plate” movement.  Athens, Ohio was mentioned as a mature, complete local food system.  Northeast Iowa’s Luther College was recognized for their efforts in rebuilding food systems.  The front range of Colorado food system maximized efficiencies with the scale of production by looking at whether to be hyperlocal or expand.  Besides food systems based on production of fruits and vegetable, other food production, such as seafood should be considered.  Ocracoke Fisheries in North Carolina is operated collectively by local fisherman whose product would not stay fresh for the trip to the mainland.  They needed this processing facility to be able to harvest local seafood and provide economic opportunity.

This presentation was uplifting as it provided very concrete examples of how a foodshed can be reclaimed, renamed, and unsamed.  We do not have to accept the status quo as it relates to food production.  We do not need to create food fiefdoms but work together within those concentric circles for the larger perspective, statewide and regional.

Listen to the complete webinar (103 minutes) at www.resilience.org.

Nancy Carpenter is a Scottsville, VA, resident and an activist for peace and social justice. She has recently applied to represent the community as interim supervisor on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

Foraging in Belmont

Free food is growing on our city streets! I went out on a forage walk for the first time this week, and it was truly amazing how many useful and edible plants seem to be offering their abundance.

Over the last couple of months I’ve had a few conversations with Christine from Blue Ridge Permaculture Network, Sarah from C’ville Foodscapes, Matt from The Bridge PAI, and assorted other friends about how to encourage urban permaculture and edible plantings in the city. One of the ideas that came up was to begin mapping urban edibles that already exist.

So we decided to get together and try it out! There are (at least) two online platforms available, NeighborhoodFruit.com and FallingFruit.org. Neighborhood Fruit also has a mobile app, Find Fruit. A few of us met at Jenny’s house in Belmont and went for a walk.

First stop was a huge mulberry tree overhanging and dropping its fruit all over the sidewalk just a block from where we started. We all stuffed our mouths and got a little juice-spotted before we ran out of low-hanging fruit.

mulberries

Next we meandered into the Belmont Lofts parking lot in search of some rumored serviceberries (also called Juneberries). Along the way, we spotted mulberry, ginko, mimosa, black locust, fig, burdock, garlic mustard, and wild grapes. We used the Leafsnap app to investigate a few shrubs. Finally we rounded a corner and there they were: about a dozen large Juneberry trees covered with fruit.

There was a lot of fruit on the ground, so we figured we wouldn’t be taking food from the Belmont Lofts’ residents if we went ahead and helped ourselves to a snack. If you live there, now you know: those berries are YUMMY.

juneberries

During & after the walk we talked about the pros & cons of online mapping. Adding public plantings to one of the online maps would definitely help new foragers find a place to start. Some folks said that sharing info by word-of-mouth can be a fun aspect of foraging, and they weren’t sure that would translate well to an online map. We talked about using MeetUp as a way to add social interaction and help form new foraging friendships. We also wanted to see forage mapping info made accessible offline – say, on posters at the neighborhood school, or in a sidewalk mural at the park.

Another dilemma was whether it’s OK to map fruit that’s growing on private property. General consensus was, it’s only appropriate if the fruit is overhanging the street and obviously going to waste – and it’s important to make a note on the map that the location is on private property. On the flip side, Neighborhood Fruit includes the very awesome option to register fruit that you’re willing to share. It would be truly fantastic for folks all over the city to plant an edible bush or tree near the street, and invite the neighbors to harvest!

We’re planning to organize some more social forage walks this summer. If you’re interested, please get in touch! You can reach me at annmarie (dot) hohenberger (at) gmail (dot) com. At this point it’s definitely an informal, bring-your-own-knowledge type of thing. The library has some foraging books; search the catalog for “wild food.” If you want a good recommendation (though it’s not a library book…yet), two people showed up for this week’s walk with copies of The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer.

mimosa