Archive for May, 2012


See you at the Fair!

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

If you’re heading to the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington this weekend, be sure to stop by our booth and say hello!

Authors Gianaclis Caldwell, Peg Schafer, and Mat Stein will be presenting workshops, and Communications Director Shay Totten and Web Content Editor Jennifer McCharen will be manning the booth.

Mother Earth News Fairs are fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle events. The Puyallup FAIR features practical, hands-on demos and workshops on:

  • Renewable energy;
  • Small-scale agriculture;
  • Gardening;
  • Green building, and more.

Mother Earth News hand-selects local and national exhibitors to bring you the best in:

  • Organic food and drink;
  • Books and magazines;
  • Tools and seeds;
  • Clothing, and more.

The Puyallup Fairgrounds is the site of Washington’s largest single attraction: the Puyallup Fair. The Fairgrounds are located 35 miles south of Seattle and 10 miles east of Tacoma in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/fair/Puyallup.aspx#ixzz1wTY0WPa5

James McCommons: The Great Escape

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

originally appeared in Audubon magazine, the September-October 2010 issue. Summer is a great time to take to the rails and see the country without the stress and hassle of driving, or the extreme disconnect of rocketing 30,000 feet above the landscape in a jet.  In that spirit we revisit McCommons’ list of the ten best trips.

Traveling by train might sound old-fashioned, but it remains one of the best, most environment-friendly ways to see some of America’s wildest places. Here are 10 trips of a lifetime.

There was a time when the railroad ran through most towns in America, when a trip to the seashore, mountains, or desert, even the wilderness, began aboard a train. Today trains can still take you to natural places where the wonders of a national or state park, a bike path, or a river are just steps away from the tracks.

Riding the rails and leaving your car at home is an environmental choice. Per passenger mile, trains are 24 percent more fuel efficient than automobiles, 17 percent more than airplanes. For the final leg of your trip, you may have to rent a car, or you might consider bringing a bike, using public transportation, if available, or simply walking.

Whether you hop aboard a short-distance tourist railroad, a commuter line, or Amtrak—the only intercity passenger railroad left in America—the following 10 routes cross some of the country’s most iconic landscapes. On long-distance trips, reclining coach seats can be comfortable enough for sleeping, or you can pay extra for a sleeper compartment, which includes meals in the dining car. Ticket and sleeper prices vary. Best advice: Do some research online, check for discounts, and plan ahead.

Click on the thumbnail images below for a downloadable PDF of the spotting scopes guide.

The Empire Builder
(Amtrak)
This train runs the “Hi-Line” route, on tracks owned by BNSF Railway, across the country’s northern tier between Chicago and Seattle/Portland. Passengers may glimpse pintail ducks, blue wing teal, and many grassland birds in North Dakota’s prairie pothole region; pronghorn antelope on Montana’s high plains; and mule deer and elk in the Cascades.

In the Rockies the train crosses the continental divide at Marias Pass and follows the southern border of Glacier National Park, where railroad history runs deep. The Great Northern Railway pushed hard for the park’s establishment in 1910 and built hotels and chalets to lure tourists to what was advertised as the American Alps. Amtrak stops at East Glacier and West Glacier, where you can catch a 1930s era “Jammer” touring coach to a nearby hotel or campground. At the park’s Essex Junction stop, you can stay at the Izaak Walton Inn, formerly a railroad barracks. Glacier Park is a 30-hour ride from Chicago and about 16 hours from Seattle.

For information: Amtrak; Glacier National Park; Izaak Walton Inn

The Algoma Central Railway
(Canada)
Pack a canoe onto a railroad baggage car. (It’s true—this train will carry snowmobiles and even boats.) Ride the rails into boreal forests of moose and muskeg, and step into the wilderness. Then, after paddling through lakes and rivers, head back to the tracks and flag down the next train. Just wave your arms for the Algoma Central Railway, which runs for 296 miles between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario.

Wilderness seekers head for the Chapleau Game Preserve, a 2,700-square-mile region of Crown Land (acreage owned by the British royalty and open to the public), where animals are protected from hunting and trapping. Between mileposts 184 and 245, passengers can step off directly into the preserve and embark on their backcountry trips.

Or you can get off at Fraser (Milepost 102) or Eaton (Milepost 120) to visit Lake Superior Provincial Park. If you’re just looking for a day trip, take a ride to Agawa Canyon. The canyon, which formed 1.2 billion years ago, is explorable only by train and five short hiking trails.

For information: Algoma Central Railway; Chapleau Game Preserve

The Grand Canyon Railway
(Arizona)
In the early 1900s the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway built a 65-mile spur from Williams, Arizona, to the canyon and erected the El Tovar Hotel on the south rim. The spur closed in 1968 but was resurrected in the late 1980s as a tourist railway. Year-round the Grand Canyon Railway operates a daily train of vintage passenger cars.

Leaving Williams, the train mostly steers clear of the highways and runs through the Colorado Plateau’s open desert, where blue-black mountain ranges serrate the horizon, and prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, golden eagles, and red-tailed hawks abound in the scrub brush and dry grasslands. As the route climbs higher, the desert gives way to picturesque ponderosa pine forest near the canyon. The Southwest Chief, an Amtrak long-distance train, stops at Williams, so it’s possible to switch to the canyon train and reach the rim by rail from Chicago (32 hours to Williams) or Los Angeles (nine hours).

For information: Grand Canyon Railway; Grand Canyon National Park

The Sunset Limited
(Amtrak)
Running just three days a week between Houston and Los Angeles, the Sunset passes through the sparsely inhabited Chihuahuan Desert and the ancient volcanic mountains of southwest Texas.

The jumping-off point is Alpine, a small town established to provide water to steam locomotives. Alpine is a 23-hour ride from Los Angeles, 16 hours from Houston. You’ll need to rent a car in Alpine to go exploring because there is no public transportation to nearby parks. To the south, 98 miles away, sprawls Big Bend National Park, 800,000 acres of desert, 7,000-foot mountains, and the Rio Grande. Here’s a place to see roadrunners, javelinas, jackrabbits, and kangaroo rats while hiking through rock-strewn landscapes dotted with agave. The region’s diverse habitats make Big Bend a phenomenal birding destination.

Learn about the flora and fauna at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, 26 miles north of Alpine at Fort Davis. Continue north to 3,000-acre Davis Mountains State Park to hike backcountry trails through the Limpia Canyon Primitive Area. If you don’t want to camp, stay at the park’s Indian Lodge, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

For more information: Big Bend National Park; Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center; Davis Mountains State Park

Hudson River Line/Metro-North Railroad
(New York)
Commuter trains that carry workers into New York City on weekdays also provide doorstep access on weekends for people hiking the rocky Hudson Highlands along the Hudson River.

Hikers can board at Grand Central Terminal and disembark less than two hours later and 46 miles north at the Breakneck Ridge station. The aptly named Breakneck Ridge Trail gains 1,250 feet in less than the first mile before reaching a series of exposed summits with stunning views of the river and the surrounding plateau. The trail ends 4.6 miles later at a fire tower on South Beacon Mountain; on clear days it’s possible to see the skyscrapers of Manhattan from the peak.

Weekend trains also stop at the Manitou station, just a short walk from Bear Mountain State Park. Even the regular stops of Beacon and Cold Springs provide fairly easy biking or walking access to the state parks in the highlands.

For information: MTA Metro-North Railroad; Bear Mountain State Park; Breakneck Ridge Trail

Maryland Area Regional Commuter
(MARC)
Each evening two trains run the Brunswick Line between Washington’s Union Station and West Virginia. The tracks follow the Potomac River to Harpers Ferry, where John Brown’s 1859 raid on the federal armory struck the spark that helped touch off the Civil War. The trip takes two and a half hours from Washington’s Union Station.

The Appalachian Trail passes just 300 yards from the Harpers Ferry train station. Hikers cross a bridge to Maryland Heights and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where they gain extraordinary views of the river valley below. Watch for peregrine falcons; since 2001 a dozen young falcons have been released in the Heights.

Consider bringing a bike to ride the towpath along the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which runs 184.5 miles from Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., through Harpers Ferry to Cumberland, Maryland. Begun in 1828 to connect the Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River, the C&O Canal was never finished because of the coming of the railroad. Today it’s a linear national historic park marked by old farms and patches of woods dotted with trillium, dogwood, serviceberry, and rhododendron.

For information: Harpers Ferry National Historic Park; Maryland Transit Administration

The Denali Star
(Alaska)
The train is a spectacular way to reach Denali National Park and Preserve. It takes about eight hours from Anchorage and four hours from Fairbanks. Running May to September, the Denali Star is popular with backpackers, rail fans, and wildlife watchers. When the weather is right, riders get impressive views of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) and typically see dall sheep, beaver, moose, wolves, and sometimes grizzlies. Caribou migrate across the tracks in fall. If you pay for an upgrade on the route from Anchorage to Fairbanks, you can get the GoldStar Service, with plush seating in custom-made observation cars that feature outdoor decks.

The Alaskan Railroad, owned by the state since 1985, is for more than tourists. It hauls freight and supplies to people living in roadless country. Anyone wanting to board can simply wave down the train.

For information: Alaskan Railroad; Denali National Park

The Adirondack
(Amtrak)
Running daily between New York City and Montreal, this train skirts the eastern edge of six-million-acre Adirondack Park, the largest tract of land protected by a U.S. state. The Adirondack makes six stops at communities in the park’s eastern region. The trip takes about six hours from Montreal and five hours from New York.

Local transit shuttles at the Fort Edward and Westport stations run to Glens Falls, Lake George, and Lake Placid. At Port Kent passengers can board the seasonal ferry to Vermont, a passage popular with bikers along Lake Champlain. Motorcoach connections are possible at other stops, although you’ll need to taxi over to the local bus station. Otherwise, you may want to consider renting a car to tour the park.

You can find cappuccino and gourmet coffee on the road, and dine at grand old hunting lodges—all the while stopping at trailheads for hikes into big tracts of roadless country. As the land has healed from logging, extirpated species, including moose, fisher, beaver, marten, osprey, and lynx, are making comebacks.

If you prefer to stay on the train and enjoy the scenery, onboard docents, working in partnership with the National Park Service, narrate the journey with tidbits about nature and the region’s Revolutionary War/War of 1812 history. In the fall foliage season, Amtrak adds a vintage domed observation car, which allows passengers stunning 360-degree views.

For information: Amtrak; Adirondack Park

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
(Alaska and Canada)
Starting in Skagway, Alaska, at sea level, this train climbs 2,865 feet in 20 miles up steep grades to reach its high point at White Pass in the Canadian Yukon. This was the route of the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, hailed by miners as the “last great adventure.” The railroad isn’t long—just 110 miles to Whitehorse—but the route leads through dense old-growth forests, glacier fields, and a colorful past. At first the miners hiked to the gold fields carrying their provisions on their backs. A railroad was needed, but such rugged country required a narrower gauge of track, tunnels, trestles, and carving the roadbed out of sheer mountains. Today the picturesque ride takes about three hours one way.

 For day hikes, trekkers can get off at two locations, Laughton trailhead and Denver Glacier, where the U.S. Forest Service has renovated an old caboose into a cabin for overnight stays. Follow in the footsteps of gold rushers with a challenging hike on the 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail, which begins near Skagway and ends up at Lake Bennett, where you can catch the train back down.

For information: White Pass & Yukon Route Railway; Tongass National Forest

The Cardinal
(Amtrak)
Three days a week the Cardinal runs a circuitous route from New York to Chicago via Washington, D.C. The train is so named because six states—Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—it passes through have designated the Northern cardinal as their state bird.

The Cardinal is a mom-and-pop sort of train with just one sleeping car (shared with the crew) and a single server/cook in the diner. Passengers often board at unstaffed stations and buy their tickets from the conductor.

The West Virginia portion of the route runs along the New River Gorge National River, a linear national park that protects 70,000 acres of land and 53 river miles. The rugged gorge is as much as 1,000 feet deeper than the surrounding Appalachian Plateau. Hikers and birders can detrain at Hinton, Prince, and Thurmond. The latter is about a seven-hour ride from Washington. Within a short distance are primitive campgrounds, trails for hikers and bikers, and whitewater for rafters and kayakers.

For information: Amtrak; New River Gorge National River

 

James McCommons is the author of Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service—A Year Spent Riding Across America.

Chelsea Green Books are Nautilus Award Winners!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The Nautilus Awards recognize Books and Audio Books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living & positive social change, while at the same time stimulating the imagination and offering the reader new possibilities for a better life and a better world.

This year we are the proud recipients of two Gold awards and two Silver awards!

Taking home the Gold are:

The Transition Companion by Rob Hopkins in the Social Change category, and Wild Flavors in the Food / Cooking / Healthy Eating category.

See the whole list of Gold winners here.

Our Silver winners are Alone and Invisible No More by Allan Teel, MD in the Aging Gracefully category, and Diary of an Eco-Outlaw by Diane Wilson in the Memoir / Personal Journey category.

See the rest of the Silver winners here.

Why We Need to Invest in Family Care – Madeleine Kunin on AARP Radio

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Last week, Madeleine M. Kunin was featured on AARP radio.

From AARP.org:

More American women are attending medical and law schools now than ever before. The two-income family is the standard for the modern American family. And the role of women in society has changed drastically for the better. With all of these changes, however, the social support system for working women and their families has improved very little.

Madeleine Kunin, the former governor of Vermont, examines how America has — and has not — progressed in gender equality at home and in the workplace. She also advocates major changes for how we invest in family care, as well as women increasing their role in politics, in her book, The New Feminist Agenda.

 Listen to the show.

Be sure to follow Madeleine on Facebook and Twitter to hear about her upcoming events.

“The End of the American Dream” – Anya Kamenetz on Thom Hartmann

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Anya Kamenetz talks to Thom Hartmann about the problems of rapidly rising college tuition costs and student loan debt.

Anya is the author of Generation Debt and, most recently, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. She is also a staff writer for Fast Company magazine.

Thom asks Anya to delve into the subject of DIY U with the question: as the costs of higher education continue to soar, what innovative and alternative ways are there for Americans to obtain a quality education at an affordable price?

Watch the show, and find out why Thom thinks the situation in higher education represents “the end of the American Dream.”

Harvey Ussery Says ‘Brooding Chicks Is Easy If You Learn From The Experts’

Friday, May 25th, 2012

In this recent article in Backyard Poultry, author Harvey Ussery isn’t crowing about his own extensive knowledge about brooding chicks. He’s far too humble for that.

No, Ussery would like to direct your attention to the real experts at raising baby birdies — mother birdies! Hens, in this case. 

To become an expert at brooding just-hatched chicks, learn from an expert: Spend some time watching a mother hen to see how efficiently she provides for all her babies’ needs. The chicks’ down doesn’t insulate them as well as their eventual feathers, so—should it get breezy—the hen calls them to huddle under her breast and wings for some on-the-spot warming. If a rain shower blows up, she finds dry shelter. She spends most of her time finding high-quality natural feeds for her chicks, ensuring rapid growth and excellent health. Finally, the hen will defend them from predators looking for a meal. (I have seen one of my Old English Game hens thrash a Cooper’s hawk trying to grab one of her chicks. When that whirlwind of fury hit, the hawk’s only concern was finding something to do somewhere else—anywhere else.)

Those lessons from a pro mostly sum up all we need to know about brooding chicks until they are well feathered, less vulnerable, and ready to take care of themselves: Keep them warm and dry. Protect them from predators. And feed them as diverse an array of live, natural feeds as you can, from day one. If your brooder and your management meet these requirements, brooding chicks is easy and success is virtually certain.

The Brooder

I will assume that you’re brooding at the home scale, say somewhere between 25 and 100 chicks at a time. For brooding at this scale, set-up can be simple indeed. Most home flocksters do not maintain a permanent, dedicated brooder, but simply set up a temporary one for the three or four weeks needed. We brooded our first batch of 25 chicks, for example, in the carton in which a new refrigerator had been delivered, parked temporarily in our shop. (Do note, though, that by the end of the brooding period there was a coating of dust everywhere in the shop!)

Most flocksters use electricity to warm the brooder, so a convenient outlet is a better option than a long set of extension cords, which creates hazards.

A basic layout:

A friend of mine simply blocks off the end of a small tool shed with a thin plywood barrier as a temporary brooder space. Another blocks off a corner of a horse stall in her barn using straw or hay bales, and tops it off with a mesh gate to keep the chicks inside and protect them from intruders.

It is essential that the brooder be well ventilated, to allow for constant air exchange. At the same time, a direct air draft on the chicks can chill them dangerously. The compromise between the two needs is ensuring there is no draft at floor level where the chicks are, but providing plenty of air flow above them. Abundant ventilation is not only necessary to ensure constant fresh air for the chicks—it helps as well keep the brooder dry, preventing health problems related to damp conditions.

Many flocksters employ a “draft shield” to block drafts at floor level, perhaps a long strip of cardboard 12 to 18 inches high, set in a circle around the space under the heat source, or a long strip of metal flashing which gets rolled up and stored until the next batch of chicks. In either case, the draft shield should be expanded as the chicks grow and need more space.

In addition to blocking drafts, a draft shield prevents right-angle corners in the brooder in which chicks can “pile up” if cold, frightened, or otherwise stressed, leading to suffocation in the worst case. Avoiding sources of stress is better than providing solutions, of course. I have never used such a circular shield and have never had a problem with piling up.

The usual source of heat for the chicks is either an electric heating element or heat lamps, suspended overhead. Heating elements with a rheostat for dialing temperature up or down are readily available from poultry supply houses. If you rely on lamps, it’s better to use two, so heat remains available even if one burns out.

My farm co-op offers both 150-watt flood lamps and 250-watt heat lamps, either of which screws into the same shiny metal reflector hood with porcelain base. Some flocksters prefer an infrared heat lamp, others opt for heat lamps with ordinary clear light. I’ve used both and have seen little difference in performance.

Whether suspended or clipped to a handy anchor, the lamp must be securely attached to prevent falling onto a combustible surface. Heat lamps (250 watts) should be no closer than 18 inches, 125- or 150-watt lamps no closer than 13 inches, from a flammable surface underneath. There should be no danger of accidental wetting of bulbs, sockets, or plugs.

Read the rest of the article for detailed information on how to raise chicks.

Apocalypse Soon? Scientific American Looks at 2052

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?

In a recent article, Scientific American magazine asks this question, as many have asked it for years. The magazine takes a look back at the conclusions drawn about the future of human resource use and possible collapse by the infamously controversial Limits to Growth study — and looks for further guidance to 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, a new book by Jorgen Randers, one of the authors of Limits to Growth.

From the article:

“Remember how Wile E. Coyote, in his obsessive pursuit of the Road Runner, would fall off a cliff? The hapless predator ran straight out off the edge, stopped in midair as only an animated character could, looked beneath him in an eye-popping moment of truth, and plummeted straight down into a puff of dust. Splat!…Don’t look now but we are running in midair, a new book asserts. In 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (Chelsea Green Publishing), Jorgen Randers of the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, and one of the original [Limits to Growth] modelers, argues that the second half of the 21st century will bring us near apocalypse in the form of severe global warming.

“Although there is an urban legend that the world will end this year based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, some researchers think a 40-year-old computer program that predicts a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human population in this century may be on target.”

“Randers’s ideas most closely resemble a World3 scenario in which energy efficiency and renewable energy stave off the worst effects of climate change until after 2050. For the coming few decades, Randers predicts, life on Earth will carry on more or less as before. Wealthy economies will continue to grow, albeit more slowly as investment will need to be diverted to deal with resource constraints and environmental problems, which thereby will leave less capital for creating goods for consumption. Food production will improve: increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause plants to grow faster, and warming will open up new areas such as Siberia to cultivation. Population will increase, albeit slowly, to a maximum of about eight billion near 2040. Eventually, however, floods and desertification will start reducing farmland and therefore the availability of grain. Despite humanity’s efforts to ameliorate climate change, Randers predicts that its effects will become devastating sometime after mid-century, when global warming will reinforce itself by, for instance, igniting fires that turn forests into net emitters rather than absorbers of carbon. ‘Very likely, we will have war long before we get there,’ Randers adds grimly. He expects that mass migration from lands rendered unlivable will lead to localized armed conflicts.”

Read the entire article over at Scientific American to hear what another Limits to Growth author, Dennis Meadows, has to say about the future.

Plastic? Problematic. An Excerpt from The Natural Building Companion?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Article reposted from Natural Home & Garden magazine.

Design, craftsmanship and environmental impact are important to Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton, authors of The Natural Building Companion (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012). This comprehensive guide to integrative design and construction focuses on natural building materials that leave a gentler footprint than current practices. While the industrial development of plastic in many ways made life easier, plastic production impacts every phase of the life cycle. Learn about the harmful effects of plastic on human health and the environment in this excerpt from chapter 2, “Ecology.”

Harmful Effects of Plastic

A sea change in building technology arrived in the 1950s with the “Age of Plastic.” Industrial development of fossil fuels into a wide array of plastics changed formulations in everything from insulation to mechanicals to paint, and plastic is still a ubiquitous component of every building assembly. Unfortunately, the impacts of plastic production in its many forms are heavy in every phase of its life cycle. While there is a common general understanding that plastics have negative ecological associations, a closer understanding of what types of plastics create what types of impacts will empower us to improve the toxic footprint of our buildings.

Plastics are not inherently bad, and they have many redeeming ecological features; in fact, many of the techniques we utilize in our designs involve targeted use of plastic products. Their durability and low maintenance reduce material replacement, their light weight reduces shipping energy, their formulation into glue products allows for the creation of engineered lumber and sheet products from recycled wood, and their formulation into superior insulation and sealant products improves the energy performance of our structures.

The feedstock of plastic is primarily petroleum- or natural-gas-derived, although bio-plastics are making inroads in the overall market share of plastic products. Obvious issues emerge regarding the finite amount of available petroleum resources, as well as the pollution associated with oil extraction and refinement; the massive Gulf Coast oil spill of 2010 is only one of the more notorious of the many ecologically devastating accidents that are not frequently considered in addition to the standard pollution impacts of extraction and refinement, which are extensive.

Read more: http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/green-living/health/harmful-effects-of-plastic-ze0z1205zsch.aspx#ixzz1vYGQUuXg

Read the entirety of Chapter Two here.

The Natural Building Companion is available in our bookstore.

Listen to Sandor Katz on The Splendid Table

Monday, May 21st, 2012

In case you missed it live this weekend, Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation was featured on the fun, informative food and cooking show The Splendid Table.

Hop on over to The Splendid Table’s website where you can listen to the show.

The site is also featuring a tasty excerpt from the new book, The Art of Fermentation, on brewing your own kombucha. Is it a cure-all wonder drink, or a potentially noxious blend of scary fungi? Sandor explains it all in the excerpt, but if you’re familiar at all with his inspired tone and love of all things fermented you probably know he falls somewhere in the happy middle ground when answering the question of how healthy kombucha is.

Katz’s balance of enthusiasm and experiential knowledge about fermenting foods has drawn readers and experimenting eaters to his books and workshops for years. If you’re new to the fermentation fan club, the show will certainly be a warm welcome.

Rob Hopkins at TEDx Exeter

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The problems of peak oil and climate change are complex, global, and impossibly daunting. It’s easy to take a long, hard look at them and quickly throw your hands up in despair over ever finding a solution that will help our species avoid the disruption of our post-industrial way of life, and some sort of catastrophic decline at the point resources become critically scarce.

Back in 2008, Rob Hopkins wrote a little book about one way to do it — to look at the problem dead on and find a way around it. The Transition Handbook introduced the idea of intentional community effort toward increasing resilience, or the ability of the community to bounce back if something bad happens. Since then, the Transition Towns movement has spread around the world, from the British town of Totnes where it began, to Brazil, and the United States — all over.

Where does the movement stand today? What sorts of things have communities tackled on their quest to relocalize their resource footprint? What do the successes look like, what about the communities who didn’t succeed?

In The Transition Companion, a new book by Hopkins, we get to take a tour through the world of Transition Towns and find out. The book is arranged almost like a cookbook, albeit one with a single giant recipe. The elements that have worked for various communities are outlined as “ingredients,” with pictures, examples, and input from the people who have put them to work.

Just last week we got to see a TEDx talk with Rob Hopkins, in which he tells the story of Transition Town Totnes himself. It’s an inspiring tale indeed.

In case you’d rather read than watch, here’s a transcript of the talk.

Truthout recently published an interview with Hopkins and Editor Brianne Goodspeed:

Brianne Goodspeed: The Transition movement began in Totnes, England, and has, in four short years, spread to thirty-four countries and nearly one hundred cities and towns across the US. But it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. For those who haven’t heard of Transition – in a nutshell, what is it?

Rob Hopkins: It is about what you and I – and whomever we can also get involved – can do to make the place we live more resilient, more robust and imaginative, in increasingly uncertain times. As our economies continue to slide, as cheap energy becomes a thing of the past and as the need to actually do something meaningful about climate change grows in urgency, Transition suggests that a large part of the solution needs to come from the community level. It is about creating new food systems, energy systems, new financial models and institutions, in short, it’s about seeing the inevitable shift to living with less energy and less “stuff” as the opportunity for huge creativity, innovation and enterprise.

As Hopkins says in the interview, “we don’t need to ask permission,” to do this work of transforming our cities and towns toward a more resilient and hopeful future. We just need courage, hard work, and most of all we need each other.


Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com