Simple Living Archive


Chelsea Green Authors Named Finalists for Three National Awards

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Chelsea Green is proud to announce that two of its authors have been named finalists for major book awards, while a third is a finalist for a readers’ choice award.

The news of these three authors comes on the heels of essayist Edward Hoagland being named the 2012 winner of the John Burroughs Medal, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for environmental essay writing, for his book Sex and the River Styx. He will be awarded the medal at a ceremony in April.

This trio of authors addresses everything from the impact of the decades-old wars fought in Afghanistan, cooking seasonally for both flavor and health from homegrown and wild herbs and edibles, and gardening for resiliency and community.

The authors are:

Ed Girardet is one of five finalists to receive the 2012 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism for his memoir, Killing the Cranes. Girardet’s memoir reflects on his more than three decades of experience covering war-torn Afghanistan, and the impact this has had on Afghani people. Established in 1987, the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism is given annually to a journalist whose work has brought public attention to important issues and includes a $15,000 cash prize. The winner will be announced on June 5.

Didi Emmons is a finalist for this year’s International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook awards for her book Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm, which offers wide-ranging recipes that reflect the shifting seasonal harvest but also show us how wild edibles and cultivated herbs add flavor to our food and improve our health. IACP is considered the gold standard among cookbook awards, and has been presenting its awards for more than 25 years. Winners will be announced on April 2.

Carol Deppe has been selected as a finalist in the 2012 About.com Readers’ Choice Awards for “Best New Gardening Book Since 2010” for her book The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. Deppe’s book demonstrates how resilient gardeners and their gardens can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive and thrive through everything that comes their way — from tomorrow through the next thousand years About.com — which is owned by the New York Times Company — is a consumer-focused website that offers expert advice and reviews on a wide variety of topics. Winners will be announced March 30 (voting runs from Feb. 22 to March 21).

Carol has also launched a new seed catalog, which editor Ben Watson wrote about here.

Now Available: The Transition Companion!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

In 2008, the best-selling Transition Handbook suggested a model for a community-led response to peak oil and climate change. Since then, the Transition idea has gone viral across the globe, from Italian villages and Brazilian favelas to universities and London neighborhoods. In contrast to the ever-worsening stream of information about climate change, the economy, and resource depletion, Transition focuses on solutions, on community-scale responses, on meeting new people, and on having fun.

The Transition Companion picks up the story today, drawing on the experience of one of the most fascinating experiments under way in the world. It tells inspiring tales of communities working for a future where local economies are valued and nurtured; where lower energy use is seen as a benefit; and where enterprise, creativity, and the building of resilience have become cornerstones of a new economy.

The book is now available here in the United States from our bookstore, and we’d like to share the foreword, written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, to whet your appetite!

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“Observing the growth of the Transition movement over the past five years has been inspiring in so many ways. While governments and big business struggle (to put it politely) to tackle the enormous environmental issues that face us, this movement has forged ahead with its collective bid to find a creative, passionate response to the question ‘where do we go from here?’

Spreading outwards from its inception in the towns of Kinsale and Totnes, Transition has become a remarkable network with global reach. There are now practical projects under way on the ground all over the UK, and beyond. They demonstrate beyond doubt that the strengthening and diversification of local economies, underpinned by a commitment not to squander the Earth’s finite resources, is a highly effective strategy for the uncertain times we live in. They help take the fear out of the future, while offering people a renewed sense of belonging; of shared experience and goals; of a life that makes sense again.

Four years after the publication of The Transition Handbook, Rob Hopkins has now completed this second volume. The former explored the theory of Transition, and asked what an international movement based on it might look like. This new book draws on five years of practical experience that go a long way towards answering that question. Here, Rob sets out an exciting, much-expanded idea of what Transition is and could become; one that is rich with hard-won insights and practical advice. It’s a work full of bold answers, inspirational ideas and daring solutions. Although profoundly serious at heart, it’s never sombre. In fact, it’s a great deal of fun, frequently demonstrating how Transition is a highly creative, stimulating and even playful process.

I am struck by the way Rob describes each Transition undertaking as unique – like the community in which it thrives. While always rooted in a set of crucial principles, every example will reflect the specific needs and qualities of an individual place. It’s rather like giving a great cake recipe to a dozen different cooks and watching how their particular ingredients, techniques and creative ideas produce subtly different results. Rob argues that a Transition community never will, or should, look quite the same twice – and in that flexibility lies the strength of this movement. He makes the wholly convincing point that community strategies to tackle peak oil, climate change and all the other pressing environmental issues that face us should emerge organically from the community itself, rather than being imposed from the top down. It’s a vital insight of the movement that this kind of bottom-up process is far more likely to result in real change that is rooted in local knowledge, creativity and passion. It’s what gives Transition its enduring resonance and relevance.

My first experience of Transition came in 2008, when I travelled to Totnes to film a sequence about Garden Share, a project that matched people who wanted to grow food but had nowhere to do it with people who had unused or under-used gardens around the town. It was a brilliantly simple initiative, and above all a practical one that was getting a great response. It inspired me, and colleagues from the production company, to set up our online Landshare scheme, which aims to match would-be growers with land and garden ‘donors’ all over the country. There’s no question that we owe the success of Landshare to that inspiring day I spent in Totnes, among Transition pioneers.

Pretty much everything I do, as a writer and broadcaster, is predicated on the idea that families and communities can gain huge pleasure and satisfaction from taking more responsibility for the food they eat, and sourcing it closer to home. Rob holds to the same faith, expanding this nourishing self- and community-reliance to all aspects of our lives. His view is that an extraordinary and historic shift in how this country feeds, powers and houses itself is on the horizon, and we can all play a part in it. It will be a shift, or transition, that future generations will remember and celebrate.

The practical aspects of this – the solar panels, the vegetable beds, the low-carbon buildings – are the easy bit. As Rob says, “If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late; if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little; but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”  It is the working together, rediscovering how to build community and to support each other, that is the harder thing to get right. That is where The Transition Companion comes in. It offers an extraordinarily rich yet highly accessible model for drawing together the people around you, and describes the tools needed to start an economic and social renaissance in the place you live. It’s a book that is unashamedly ambitious and far-reaching in its scope and vision. But, if we are to successfully navigate what’s coming towards us, and hold on to our identity, our community and our shared optimism for the future, that is exactly what we need.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage, May 2011
To find out more about Hugh’s latest project, energyshare, click here.

Join The Transition Companion Twitter Launch!

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Are you inspired by the Transition movement? Do you have a burning question for its founder, Rob Hopkins? Or do you simply want to find out more?

Join us for a Twitter launch with Rob Hopkins on Thursday, October 13, 2011. Rob will be available to answer questions about himself and the Transition movement between 9am and 12pm EST (that’s 2pm – 5pm local time for Rob in the UK). All you have to do to take part is follow the hashtag #TTComp on Twitter, and include it in your own tweets to post a comment or question.

Rob’s new book, The Transition Companion, will be available exclusively through www.transitionculture.org from this date until the official publication date of 27 October. You can even order your pre-publication copy and then pop over to Twitter to ask Rob to sign it for you!

Can’t make it? Don’t worry! You can still use the hash tag #TTComp to post your questions any time. Rob will be answering the questions during the session, and then we will share a transcript of the entire thing, to make sure that nobody misses out.

Date(s):  Thursday 13th October 2011
Time: 9am to Noon EST (2pm to 5pm Totnes Time)
Contributor:  Rob Hopkins
Location:  Twitter @robintransition , #TTComp

Exploring The Ingredients For Transition with Rob Hopkins

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Are you inspired by the Transition movement? Do you have a burning  question for the Transition movement founder, Rob Hopkins? Or do you simply want to find out more? Join the folks at Transition US for a talk with Rob Hopkins, author of The Transition Handbook and the upcoming Transition Companion! You can tune in online Monday morning.

Register here.

Date:

Monday, September 12, 2011 – 8:00am – 9:00am PT (11:00am ET)

Descripton:Join us for an insightful conversation with Rob Hopkins, author, Permaculturist and founder of the Transition Towns Movement.

In this conversation we will be asking Rob to go more deeply into the “ingredients of Transition” as well as answering questions supplied by participants. Transition US board member, author and visionary Vicki Robin will be the host for this call.

In July our call with Rob, hosted by Richard Heinberg has been listened to by well over 1,000 people in just a few short weeks. If you have not heard that yet – listen to a recording of our last call with Rob here >>

In case you can’t make this talk, mark your calendar for the next exciting event in the Transition universe, a book launch!

Join Green Books, UK and Chelsea Green for a Twitter launch with Rob Hopkins on Thursday 13 October 2011. Rob will be available to answer questions about himself, his new book The Transition Companion and the Transition movement between 2pm and 5pm. All you have to do to take part is use the  hash tag #TTComp on Twitter to post your comment or question.

Rob will be answering the questions during the session and then we will post a transcript of the entire session, to  make sure that no-one misses out.

Date:  Thursday 13th October 2011
Time: 2pm – 5pm (UK GMT)
Contributor:  Rob Hopkins
Location:  Twitter @robintransition, #TTComp

Managing the gray tsunami

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

It is of no value to live twenty- or thirty-plus years beyond retirement and mostly just exist or worse yet, be waiting to die.
– Dr. Allan S. Teel

My parents died within two years of each other nearly thirty years ago, leaving me and my brother in that odd status of adult orphan. They were both in their late fifties, and as time marched on, I looked around at friends dealing with their elderly parents and decided we dodged a bullet.

Thus, I may not be the best person to review Teel’s book,  Alone and Invisible No More, which describes how to stop warehousing “elders,” as he calls them. Except for this: in thirty years or so, I’ll be the one whose family is trying figure out what to do with Mamo Duncan.

Teel’s book describes a future for elders that anyone could envy—non-institutional, living at home, and at less cost.

If it could only happen.

Tidal wave wall?

In the opening, Teel warns of a “gray tsunami,” some 76-79 million baby boomers needing geriatric care. Unfortunately, it’s not a new warning. Dr. Ken Dychtwald warned about this coming flood in his 1989 book, The Age Wave: How The Most Important Trend Of Our Time Can Change Your Future.

But where Dychtwald merely waved red flags, Teel offers a possible solution.

Teel began his medical practice in a Maine town with several senior care facilities ranging from nursing homes to assisted living. His book describes how he developed a theory of better treatment from this experience.

From his patients, Teel learned a key element in elder care: “each successfully aging person [needs] a purpose in his or her life.”

He saw too many vital and vibrant elders relegated to nursing homes or assisted living by distant families who had decided they were too difficult to have around. This came full circle when his ninety-three year old grandmother moved near him after a fall in her Brooklyn home.

What is “care?”

Unlike what the rest of his family suggested, Teel didn’t institutionalize her—and he considers assisted living facilities and home help just other forms of institutionalization. He put her in an apartment close to his home, got her involved in local activities, found her a new circle of friends, made sure his children got to know her, and checked on her regularly. In this way, she lived happily and healthily for several more years—he believes far more years than if he’d put her in any of the facilities near his home.

From this experience and from using his patients as focus groups, he developed a new type of assisted care he called the Eldercare Network, with facilities that were more “home-like” than existing assisted living places. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go into much detail describing how Eldercare Network was an improvement. Rather, he cites anecdotes from residents about how wonderful living there was. Frankly, from what detail he did provide, I didn’t see much of a difference between his Eldercare Network and a typical assisted living facility like Greenspring Village in Springfield, VA.

Eldercare Network was smaller in scale. Unlike Greenspring, it took in those who could not afford private assisted living and provided care at a cheaper rate.

That economy, in fact, led to the State of Maine providing Eldercare Network even more funds to take in its indigent elderly. State funds meant following state regulations on paperwork and state requirements for senior care, which Teel found tedious and distasteful. After a dispute with the state over some unintentional paperwork mistakes, Teel concluded that when it comes to care of elders, we need to “…separate the bureaucrats from the process…”

But does he understand what that would mean?

I certainly, in a few decades, don’t want to be someplace where the bureaucracy has been separated from overseeing that facility.

Eldercare Network eventually failed for lack of funds, though not completely from bad management. When private assisted care institutions had exhausted their residents’ funds, they kicked them out into Eldercare Network. The state could no longer afford the $2,500 per patient it paid Eldercare Network.

The Maine Approach

But the experiment with Eldercare Network led Teel to develop a better concept, which he calls the “Maine Approach.”

At its simplest, the Maine Approach is virtual assisted living from the elder’s own home coupled with a broad social network which emphasizes adjusting the level of care provided to the individual’s need. Also, the elder gets to determine the level of care and independence, not just the elder’s immediate family. They are involved, of course, but the elder’s wishes take precedence.

The Maine Approach involves a volunteer network of care providers and non-medical volunteers who drop in to check on a person, engage them in volunteer work, or run errands. The aim is to keep the elder in his or her own home for as long as possible using this volunteer system, video monitoring, regular check-in phone calls, panic buttons, and home doctor visits. For elders who can no longer drive, a transportation and errand service is provided.

Teel suggests the Maine Approach works best on a community by community basis rather than as a large, state or multi-state system.

Very technology-dependent, the Maine Approach uses Skype, video-conferencing, broadband Internet, and WiFi to allow home-bound elders to virtually attend club meetings, interact with family living far away, or consult with healthcare providers.

Teel has worked out deals with cable Internet providers and other ISP’s for reduced-cost contracts. Equipment such as computers, web cams, and other technology are covered by the cost of the package of individualized elder care services. Training, based on the elder’s level of technology awareness, is also provided. Teel maintains that even given equipment, wiring homes, and other factors, that costs are considerably less than regular at-home care, assisted living, or nursing homes.

Cradle to grave

Teel is right when he says that warehousing our elders in nursing homes and assisted living facilities deprives us of a tremendous source of knowledge, experience, and skills.

Seniors have knowledge that could help in a post-oil world. Skills such as canning, curing meats, sewing, farming and in-person community organizing come to mind. They also have a font of knowledge in their memories, sometimes more detailed than any history book.

By shutting elders away in nursing homes, the insular assisted living, or home care where they are alone most of the time, Teel says we not only rob ourselves of that knowledge, but we probably hasten their demise. Consequently, part of the Maine Approach is to set a schedule of activities each month for the individual, which includes volunteering at schools, day care, or looking in on other elders. The schedule is adjusted and developed according to the elder’s cognitive abilities. Teel accepts that in many cases dementia is inevitable. But, he claims, again anecdotally, that the Maine Approach allows elders many more productive years before that unavoidable decline.

Teel also believes the Maine Approach could address our health-care costs in this country. In the communities in Maine which have adopted Teel’s approach, the cost for the community per elder is around $300 a month, compared to $10,000 a month for people in hospitals or nursing homes.

Rah-rah us!

The book closes on a plug for money for Teel’s organization, Full Circle America, which provides communities with the information they would need to use the Maine Approach in other states.

Teel’s vision is an admirable one, but now it’s also more of a utopia than reality, especially with its emphasis on technologies and transportation that are not alternative-fuel based. However, it’s community-based nature, i.e., grassroots, is certainly evocative of the philosophy of mutual care and benefit in the Transition Movement. The book is a worthwhile read because if enough of us believe in that vision, it could become a reality.

–Maggie Duncan

This article was reposted from Transition Voice.

Listen to Dr. Teel speak about the Maine Approach on Frankie Boyer’s podcast.

The End of Cheap Oil: An Opportunity to Create a Better World

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Here at Chelsea Green we spend half our time worrying about what’s going to happen when the resources our society depends upon become so scarce we can’t afford them anymore…and the other half getting excited about the unreal opportunity that kind of scarcity represents! Authors like Rob Hopkins of the Transition movement are favorites because of their realistic optimism. Blogger Christine over at 350 or Bust feels the same way. From a recent post:

As a species with the creativity, adaptability and opposable thumbs that enabled us to create an Oil Age in the first place, we can be pretty certain that there will be life beyond it. Similarly, we may be able to prevent the worst excesses of climate change, and indeed the measures needed would almost certainly make the world a far better place. However, the point is that the world and our lifestyles will look very different from the present. It is worth remembering that it takes a lot of cheap energy to maintain the levels of social inequality we see today, the levels of obesity, the record levels of indebtedness, the high levels of car use and alienating urban landscapes. Only a culture awash with cheap oil could become de-skilled on the monumental scale that we have, to the extent that some young people I have met are lucky to emerge from cutting a slice of bread with all their fingers intact. It is no exaggeration to say that we in the West are the single most useless generation (in terms of practical skills) to which this planet has ever played host. However, the first step to the creation of a localized, low-energy-abundant future is actually visioning its possibility.”

So writes Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement and author of “The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience.” I’m halfway through this inspiring and practical book about how to embrace climate change and peak oil as the impetus to creating a better, healthier, more community-oriented way of being on this planet. The changes that Hopkins is talking about are not simple changes, like deciding to recycle; they are significant changes in thinking and in “business as usual”. But as he (and many others) point out, inevitable and profound changes are ahead, whether we are prepared for them or not. What Hopkins, and the Transition Movement, do is to provide a roadmap for navigating those changes. As Hopkins writes:

I do not have a crystal ball. I don’t know how the twin crises of peak oil and climate change will unfold – nobody does. I don’t know the exact date of peak oil, and again, nobody does. Similarly, I don’t know if and when we will exceed the 2 degree climate threshold, and what will happen if we do.

What I am certain of is that we are going to see extraordinary levels of change in every aspect of our lives. Indeed we have to see extraordinary levels of change if we are to navigate our societies away from dependence on cheap oil in such a way that they will be able to retain their social and ecological coherence and stabillity, and also live in a world with a relatively stable climate. In terms of looking forward, many people have set out different scenarios for what the future might hold. I have trawled through a lots of these for insights as to how life beyond the peak might be.

 Read the rest of Christine’s thoughts here.

Rob has written a new book for the Transition community, The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times, which hits our shelves this October. Check it out!

The Transition Movement – Preparing for a World After Peak Oil

Monday, July 18th, 2011

The article  below appeared originally online at ThomasNet News about The Transition Movement.  Make sure to check out Rob Hopkins’ – co-founder of the Transition Network – book The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience.

 

How will the world function if fossil fuels become scarcer and their consumption becomes increasingly regulated to fight climate change? How will people live with less oil? What will communities be like?

The advocates of a social movement called Transition think the world is now entering just such an environment of oil-scarcity. Transition organizers think the time is ripe to create new systems to make communities more locally self-sufficient and less dependent on long-range transportation, a globalized economy, non-renewable energy, and industries that damage the environment.

According toTransition Network, a support body for the movement based in Totnes, Dover, UK, the number of official Transition Initiatives worldwide has grown during about the past five years to 374 as of this writing (mid-2011). Most initiatives are operating in Europe (particularly the UK), North America, and Australia. (Photo: Local foods, Transition Town High Wycombe. Credit: VidyaRangayyan)

Local transition groups take on a range of activities, from simple projects such as workshops teaching people to grow their own food or arranging clothing swaps, to more complex undertakings, such as developing a local currency or devising a long-term community transition plan called an Energy Descent Action Plan, a road-map toward local energy independence (see Totnes’ example here).

The concepts of peak oil, climate change, and permaculture are critical to an understanding of the deeper motivations of the Transition Movement. Widespread concerns about climate change have been discussed extensively in the public forum (for an overview of public attitudes, see our story “Does the Public Really Believe Humans Are Causing Climate Change?”  However, peak oil and permaculture are less well understood, so let me explain those ideas.

 

Peak Oil: Are We on the Downward Slope?

Peak oil refers to the point of maximum worldwide extraction of petroleum, which would be followed by an environment of increasing scarcity and cost. Some researchers think the world has already reached that point, some think it will come in the near future, and some critics say it will take a long time or might never come at all. (Photo: Offshore oil platform. Credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird)

Many observers think peak oil could result in large-scale economic disruption. Dire predictions abound. While admittedly speculative, the 2010 “United States Joint Forces Command Joint Operating Environment” (JOE) report warns in its section on peak oil that

 

A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment.

For an entertaining and accessible explanation of peak oil, integrated with a frightening overview of economics, see Chris Martenson’s “Crash Course.”

The Transition movement asks, What does peak oil mean for people’s lifestyles and local communities? What changes does it require, and what can individuals and communities do now to prepare for and cope with a world of declining oil?

In an interview with Global Public Media in 2007 (audio interview here), Andrew McNamara, then newly-appointed Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change, and Innovation in Queensland, Australia, gave his thinking about the appropriate response to oil depletion, sounding very much like a Transition advocate:

There’s no question whatsoever that community-driven local solutions will be essential. That’s where government will certainly have a role to play in assisting and encouraging local networks, who can assist with local supplies of food and fuel and water and jobs and the things we need from shops. It was one of my contentions in the first speech I made on this issue in February of 2005… that we will see a relocalization of the way in which we live that will remind us of not last century, but the one before that. And that’s not a bad thing. Undoubtedly one of the cheaper responses that will be very effective is promoting local consumption, local production, local distribution.

In a 2008 video, Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Network and Transition Town Totnes, says peak oil makes populations very vulnerable. As an example, during a 2000 lorry-drivers’ strike in the UK, he says, “we were about two days away from a food crisis in this country. It became clear that we’ve dismantled a lot of the resilience that has underpinned our food system up until now and replaced it with very fragile and long supply chains.”

Transition helps to restore that resilience, Hopkins asserts:

Resilience is an idea which emerges from the study of ecology, which is that a system, whether it be an ecosystem, a community or a town, when it experiences a shock from the outside, it doesn’t just fall to pieces. It has built into it the ability to adapt and change to its new circumstances.

Hopkins describes a Transition initiative as “a process which acts as a catalyst within a community to get people to explore themselves, [to respond] to peak oil and climate change,” helping community members “develop a really attractive, enticing vision of how the town could be beyond its current dependence on oil and fossil fuels.”

Permaculture: Designing Sustainable Human Habitats

Permaculture is a methodology for designing sustainable human habitats, modeling them after natural ecosystems. The permaculture model emphasizes a move away from industrial agriculture toward a small-scale, diversified, and localized system of food production. In “The Essence of Permaculture,” David Holmgren, one of the originators of the concept, defines permaculture as

Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organize themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.

(Photo: Permaculture project, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Credit:planet a.)

More precisely, though, Holmgren sees permaculture as “the use of systems thinking and design principles that provide the organizing framework” to implement that vision, so that

… permaculture is not the landscape, or even the skills of organic gardening, sustainable farming, energy efficient building or eco-village development as such, but it can be used to design, establish, manage, and improve these and all other efforts made by individuals, households, and communities towards a sustainable future.

The Transition movement grew in part from Rob Hopkins’ permaculture teaching activities. On his Transition Culture blog, Hopkins writes that a key tool for success in Transition is “the ability to embed good design thinking” in the effort. He believes that “permaculture design offers the clearest and most practical tool for doing so.” Thus permaculture design should underpin the thinking and planning behind a Transition project and any hands-on activities. He cautions that

Although many people associate permaculture design purely with local food initiatives, it ought to be seen as central to the larger process of strategic thinking which the initiative is building up to.

Hopkins likens permaculture to a glue, “a ‘design glue’ if you like, which is used to stick together all the elements that will make up a truly sustainable and resilient culture.” He continues,

If you think of the ingredients that such a culture will depend on, such as local food production, energy generation, skillful management of water, meaningful employment as well as many other elements, what permaculture brings is the ability to assemble those things in the most skillful and beneficial way possible. It has also been described by someone else far more succinct than me as “the art of maximizing beneficial relationships.”

Hopkins thinks that “having at least one person in a Transition group who is steeped in permaculture can make a huge difference to the group… Make sure that some members of your core group have done a Permaculture Design course, and try, where possible, to weave permaculture training and principles through the work of your Transition group.”

Transition Town Totnes, started in 2005, is one of the oldest and most developed Transition efforts. The organization supports nine groups organized along such themes as Building and Housing, Business and Livelihoods, Energy, Food, and Transport. Nearly 40 projects are underway in Totnes, many focused on food, housing, and energy. As an example, one project aims to make Totnes the “Nut Tree Capital of Britain,” says Hopkins in the video mentioned previously. A project group is “planting nut trees within the urban fabric of the town, both as an awareness-raising issue and as a food security project.” (Photo: Permaculture Herb Spiral. Credit:Samuel Mann)

Join an Online Conversation with Transition Co-Founder Rob Hopkins

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Join Rob Hopkins for a conversation on Monday, July 18th. Rob needs no introduction, but if you are new to the concept of ‘Transition,’ then this is a great opportunity to learn from the source of this important movement to build community resilience in the face of major societal challenges confronting usfrom climate change and shrinking supplies of affordable, clean energy. Rob is the author of The Transition Handbook and co-founder of the Transition Network. Join us for this special event!

 

Monday, July 18,  - 11:00am - 12:15pm EST

Please register online, and mark your calendar.

 

Rob Hopkins is the originator of the Transition concept and co-founder of the Transition Network. He spent many years teaching permaculture and cob building, mostly when living in Ireland. Now based in the UK town of Totnes, he is a member of Transition Town Totnes, works part time for Transition Network, publishes www.transitionculture.org, is author of the ‘Transition Handbook’ and generally spends far too much time thinking about Transition stuff. He is also a Trustee of the Soil Association, the UK organization campaigning for planet-friendly food and farming.

 

We’re delighted that Richard Heinberg, author and Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute, will be hosting this call.

 

 

 

Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome.These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities that will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials. If your town is not a transition town, this upbeat guide offers you the tools for starting the process.

 

Rob’s newest book  – The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times – is coming out soon and available for preorder.

VIDEO: Rob Hopkins Recipes for Resilience

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The following video appeared on the Post Carbon Institute website featuring Rob Hopkins.

Post Carbon Fellow Rob Hopkins explains how doing transition is like baking a cake. The author of the now best selling Transition Handbook gives an update on this now global movement. There are hundreds of transition initiatives in 30 countries, all redesigning a lower-energy future.

To see the original post go here: http://www.postcarbon.org/video/367604-rob-hopkins-recipes-for-resilience

New Summer Releases On Sale

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

It is officially summer! In celebration of sunnny days, afternoons in the garden, and curling up to a book in the sun, we are putting all our new releases on sale for 25% off.

 

Check out the collection below: 

 

 

 

Just off the presses, Slow Gardening offers a practical yet philosophical approach to gardeningone that will help you slow down, take stock of your yard, and follow your own creative whimsy in the garden. Slow Gardening will inspire you slip into the rhythm of the seasons, take it easy, and get more enjoyment out of your garden, all at the same time.

 

In  Alone and Invisible No More, physician Allan S. Teel, MD, describes a community-and technology-based approach to overhauling our eldercare system. Based on his own efforts to create humane, affordable alternatives in Maine, Teel’s program harnesses both staff and volunteers to help people remain in their homes and communities. It offers assistance with everyday challenges and highlights technology to keep older people connected to each other and their families and stay safe.
Don’t like spending money in garden centers? Think you can make it yourself for a fraction of the price or find a cheaper option? In, Grow Your Food for Free, Dave Hamilton shows you how. By recycling and reusing materials creatively and making the most of what you have, you can gather all you need to grow your food on a budget. From money-saving tips for every season to step-by-step instructions with easy-to-follow diagrams, this how to book is a must-have for everyone.

 

Permaculture is much more than organic gardening. Arguably, it is one of Australia’s greatest intellectual exports, having helped people worldwide to design ecologically sustainable strategies for their homes, gardens, farms, and communities. Permaculture Pioneers charts a history of the first three decades of permaculture through the personal stories of Australian permaculturists. It invites each of us, permaculturists or not, to embrace our power in designing our world out of the best in ourselves, for the benefit of the whole earth community.

 

Seed Savers Exchange, the nation’s premier nonprofit seed-saving organization, began humbly as a simple exchange of seeds among passionate gardeners who sought to preserve the rich gardening heritage their ancestors had brought to this country.  In Gathering, Ott Whealy’s down-to-earth narrative traces her fascinating journey from Oregon to Kansas to Missouri and then back home to Iowa. Her heartwarming story captures what is best in the American spirit: the ability to dream and, through hard work and perseverance, inspire others to contribute their efforts to a cause.

 

A Taste of Tagore  illustrates the writing of Rabindranath Tagore, India’s first Nobel Laureate, are contemplations in our daily lives. These extracts are taken from his many writings about the environment, education, the arts, politics, travel, and humanism. The book is divided into Poetry, Prose, and Prayers. Evident in these writings, Tagore’s lifestyle embraced simplicity, moderation in consumption, the practice of arts in daily life, cohesion and harmony between religions, cultures, and countries. A Taste of Tagore brings to the reader the diversity, depth, and spirituality of his writings in one book.
Emergency Sandbag Shelter is not only a comprehensive “how-to” manual for use in disaster response, but will also be of interest to anyone who wants to build their own simple, cost effective and low-impact structures.  Now for the first time, this book is made available to people around the world by its inventor, award-winning architect Nader Khalili (1932-2008), who dedicated his life to teaching others how to build shelter for humanity.This book, with over 700 photos and illustrations, shows how to use sandbags and barbed wire, the materials of war, for peaceful purposes as the new invention known as Superadobe or earth-bag, which can shelter millions of people around the globe as a temporary as well as permanent housing solution.

 

If you’ve never opened a seed packet before and want to grow your food but don’t know where or when to start, this book is for you. With advice for the new gardener, covering everything from how to plant seeds, when to pull up the carrot, and how to harvest potatoes, How to Grow Your Food will guide you–whether you have a balcony, bare concrete, a patio, or a larger patch of ground
Winter and early spring require a different kind of gardening than the summer months; not a lot grows at this time, but a well-planned plot may nonetheless be quite full. Through winter, soil is cool and transforms the plot into a large outdoor larder where many vegetables keep healthy and alive, ready for harvesting when needed. How to Grow Winter Vegetables explains how to have plenty of both stored and fresh vegetables to eat during the lean winter months.

 

E.F. Schumacher was a key figure in the development of environmentalism in the 20th century, and has left an enduring legacy. A profound thinker who was admired by Keynes, Beveridge and Cripps, he was for many years economic adviser to the Coal Board, and later put his ideas into practice by setting up the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action) and becoming involved with the Soil Association. He was the inspiration for many other organizations that continue to this day, including the New Economics Foundation and Schumacher College.

 

 


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