-submitted by David Ryan
Went to a Transition LakeCo potluck in Middletown yesterday, and the word inspiring is really an understatement.
Even though our county is something like 2x as economically depressed as much of the country and certainly the state, the amount of and more importantly the quality of community events, the direction they are headed, and the warm hearts and generosity that they spring from was a true beautiful thing.
I will try and summarize: I did a rough count and figure there were 60-70 people - 1/3rd or more 1st timers.
First the ‘potluck’ title hardly did justice to the amazing dishes, vegetarian and not, not lots of carbs either! very nice salads galore, some with oranges [my personal fav], some with flowers, some with avo and nuts, and a nice purple cabbage on too! Pasta, Soups, a whole baked chicken, gallon of cider and someone’s spring water… just really lovely all around.
Then there were the mini-presentations:
Nils did a very inspiring job of reminding us the purpose of Transistion is to help our community become more resilient in the face of the 1% financial war being waged against us[big paraphrase, though resilient is his word]. Short, collected and inspiring.
Then he introduced the pastor of the Methodist Church where it was held, and I think everyone was humbled by the serious amount of work the Church does [inspired by this very remarkable open-hearted non non-sense pastor [remindfed me of Bonnie Mae Simpkins in Otherland] a ‘muscular’ Chrisitan. lol They have a day each week for food distribution and something she pointedly did not call a soup kitchen, 3 days a week and were spreading the love out to Clearlake in the North. This is a mid-sized Church in very small town mind you.
She also spoke about Portland’s lack of parks and the spontaneous citizen movement that started creating neighborhood ‘parks around various intersections with street murals and cobb benches, that are now the center of block parties and neighborhood get togethers. A Woman who had lived in Portland till a few years ago confirmed there happy addition to the community and spoke on how the did indeed bring the neighbors close together with food and drink and music and dancing. Plans being made to import this excellent model.
Then came a [sorry I did not get names] a woman who has an Organic/Heirloom Seed lending bank. You ‘check out’ a few grow them and give some back with an account of how well they did and hopefully a next years batch for you and the bank.
www.movetoamend.org had a speaker, who talked about the absolute need to overthrow the evil Citizens United supreme court debacle with a nation-wide ballot initiative that will morph into a constitutional amendment after ground swelling reaches critical political mass. IF YOU HAVE NOT SIGNED THIS PLEASE DO! [yes I raised my evoice to tell you that ;-)]
Then [in no certain order now]:
a nature sanctuary offering to host kids nature walks on their 90 acre, spring-fed, mossy boulders under the old trees land was given a great intro, emphasizing the needs our kids have to balance their digital lives with nature. Oh so crucial!!!
Occupy had a brief mention as did a progressive running against a backward thinking good ol boy in on our County Board of Supes. Victoria Brandon [the new challenger] got the loudest applause of the evening, as the 3-2 good ol’ boy networks help keep this county hamstrung the underdeveloped old 1% control most everything model.
Lake Counties very own Open University was announced with the first ‘college’ a K’ville based ‘Center of Traditional Learning’ offering in depthtraining and even Certification in Tai-Chi, Chi-Gung, Spiritual Psychology and the Gurdjieff relaxation, centering and 3-centered balanced being meditations, along with classes planned for Homeopathy and herbalsim for 1st Aid, Emergencies and Family Medicine for the future. It as emphasized that the open college model is for folks with no money issues, folks willing to barter and those who need full scholarships. With this model, classroms are not needed, parks and community open spaces are used.
Friends of Rattlesnake Island our local native American Pomo tribes ancestral capital inhabited continuously till the 50’s for 5-12,000 years is now being developed by the Nady [of wireless microphone fame] and have managed to dodge [thanks to the good ol’ boy network - again] doing the legally required Environmental/Cultural impact review, and are now being sued by the Friends of R.I. to do what the law requires and see if as everyone not involved in the ‘development’ thinks that every square foot of the island is full of remains, artifacts and the the [hitherto] unmolested cultural heritage of the oldest known tribe in North America. No Kidding. Lisa Kaplan was the speaker.
She also gave a shout out to the grades 1-6 charter school across the street from the church [where both my daughters went for 5 years]. Lake County International Charter School - LCICS].
And one inspired woman who wanted to see all the food serving/poor folks helping distribution groups get a central co-ordination effort going. He told a wonderful story of a group of NoVa woods dwelling hippies who started a food redistribution group in DC, and within 6 weeks it was being run by D.C. locals who completely took over the contacts, pick-ups etc, and ran it all. Presumably letting the hippies return, happy and satisfied to their sylvan pursuits…should asked…;-)
I am sure I am leaving some great folks and their work out but maybe this will share it’s way around lake co and others can fill in the missing details.
And our counties sole Naturopath Steven West offered his radio show slot[mon 5pmon KPFZ 88.1] to host an hour for any of the groups etc, to come on and share in more depth.
In summary if you made it this far all I can say is if you putt off attending these transition potlucks and meetings you should very very seriously re-consider. Big shout out to Nils Palsson for brining not just the transition model and movement to lake county but to selflessly keeping it going till it truly gained a very healthy and unique life of it’s own.
It is not often I feel so glad and even proud to live in LakeCo, but even that is in transition. :-)
-submitted by Thurston Williams, www.gefreelake.org
American agriculture has been described as the conversion of fossil fuel into food. In fact it takes on the average of 10 oil and natural gas calories to produce just one food calorie. The math has never been close to sustainable. But as we know, the party is ending. Transition is beginning and with it our concern about how we will feed ourselves in the post carbon era. Locally grown food sounds good, tastes even better. Everyone acknowledges that we are a long way from being sustained by a local food shed. Our farmers are too few and too near retirement. What will we need going forward to feed the population of the Clearlake region with a local agriculture. That is a tall order which I hope to address in a series of future articles here in The Shift.
To begin with I want to talk about legacy. What are some of the ecological lessons and challenges inherited from a history of pioneer agriculture through the conventional pear, grape and walnut plantings of today? In the last 10 years we have seen many pear and walnut orchards torn out. Some land has been replanted to grapes, but much remains as abandoned fields. What has years of conventional farming left behind? Unfortunately, heavy metal and other pesticide contamination remains as the legacy of chemical farming. DDT and its relatives remain detectible. Annual use of synthetic fossil fuel based fertilizers has left the soils low in organic matter, the only sustainable source of plant nutrition. Before this ample acreage of fallow land can join our food shed of the future it will require bioremediation to make it suitable for vegetable production. Fortunately, with patience and a new attitude toward the land that sustains us, abused land can be made sustainably fertile again.
Beyond chemical contamination there remains one more potential barrier to building a local agriculture. There is a new type of contamination that threatens Lake County, the genetic contamination brought by planting patented genetically engineered crops, also referred to as GMO seeds. The very nature of these “frankenfoods” is to spread their genes to non-GE crops and disturb the ecology of the soil. The massive use of herbicides that accompanies these “herbicide tolerant” plants has already created over 130 super weeds in parts of the country where these plants are extensively grown. After farmers stop planting the GE crops, the super weeds remain as part of the legacy of the foolish adoption of a technology that should have never left the laboratory.
As part of the Transitions movement, the GE Free people want to limit the damage current agriculture can inflict before the reality of peak oil brings them to a halt. Any region that can remain GE Free during the transition will be that much further along the road to launching a new and vital local agriculture.
Check out the short video below, chronicling the birth of Cobb Mountain Community Garden.
For more info on the still-active garden, located at the corner of Bottle Rock and Rainbow Road in Cobb,
visit their Facebook page, or email Nicole at
(reprinted from the Harbin Quarterly, Spring 2011)
Transition Town Middletown: Thinking Globally and Acting Locally
-by Rebecca Rees, Transition Lake County
The Transition Movement for local resilience, which originated in 2005 in an Irish college permaculture course, is one of the fastest-growing grassroots movements on the planet. And Middletown, the last little town (population 1,000, elevation 1,110 the sign says) you come through on your way to Harbin Hot Springs, just took its first step to joining the global Transition Network, with a screening at Middletown Methodist Church of the film “The Turning Point.”
“As you watch this film of Transition Towns in Scotland, we invite you to consider these two essential Transition questions: What do you envision for our community? And what are you willing to create?” said the speaker introducing the Transition Town film to the Middletown audience.
The film features an international conference at the Findhorn Community Eco-Village. Long time lovers of intentional community will remember this now-venerable New Age community, founded on a trailer park off a windswept Scottish beach and famous for its magnificent Findhorn Garden nourished by seaweed and co-operation with the “nature devas” of each plant. The Middletown Methodist church sanctuary was packed, and members of the audience included, of course, many Harbinites, who have been practicing ecological living and building local community for decades.
In fact, the first Re-Skilling class for Transition Lake County was a home workshop offered back in December by a Harbina: a class on acorn-gathering and preparation taught by “Acorn Annie,” Harbin Quarterly Editor Ann Prehn. “I just want to teach people not to be afraid of acorns!” Ann said at the workshop, her face beaming as she served up her savory hot acorn loaf made from the Valley Oak acorns which were once the winter staple of the local Pomo people.In the Transition film, the Findhorn Eco-Village embodies the movement vision of “Going Local” to build community resilience in the face of the three challenges of our time: Peak Oil, disastrous climate change, and a failing global economy. Set against a background of green Scottish hills, this inspiring film shows a windmill park producing all the community’s energy, local businesses of bakery and dairy producing yummy-looking bread and great wheels of cheese, local currency, car clubs, greywater processing, Community- Supported-Agriculture farms plowed by massive draft horses, and a permaculture garden foraged by a self-described “Feral Elder.” The film is enhanced by interviews with pink-cheeked locals speaking with a strong Scottish burr, as well as with Buddhist activist Joanna Macy and Transition founder Rob Hopkins.
After the film the Middletown audience was addressed by representatives of local workgroups: Local Food Middletown, Re-Skilling, and the Lake County Energy Co-op, as well as by a local Grange president, also a Transitioner. Members of the Harbin community joined our Transition workgroups. The face of one Harbina lit up as she described her investigation into local energy co-ops and offered to share her knowledge with our Local Energy group. Watch out, PG&E! Here comes LCEC!
More information about the local and national Transition movement may be found at www.transitionlakecounty.org and www.transitionus.org. Find or found your local Transition Town!
-submitted by Catherine Hammond
The great thing about gardening is that you always have a chance to correct earlier mistakes. Each season is another chance to do it right. And there’s plenty of people around to help us out if we ask. It actually took me three years to get the hang of it; to allow the whole experience to seep into my bones.
Gradually, I began to realize that the turning over the clay soil, feeding it amendments, waiting for the cold and rain and then the heat and sun to have their effect on the earth and plants, was opening my awareness to the eternal turning of the seasons. This process was reconnecting me to the great repetitive cycles of time and nature. But most importantly, it was reconnecting me to the vast web of life of plants and animals and to our human belonging within it.
Gardening can bring us home to this earth where we belong…
The first year was particularly rough; I lost half of my veggie and flower plantings from improper water and heat balance. But, what seems to do best here are squashes, salvias, day lillies, tomatoes, sunflowers and herbs. Lots of herbs.
And, I learned to keep the so-called weeds that volunteered here; medicinal calendula, plantain, California poppy, and of course, dandelion. During the backbreaking work of pulling out half an acre of 3 - 4 foot high weeds, I decided to create a medicine wheel; To pray over this depleted and neglected patch of dirt until it came alive again. It only took 30 days…
Well, a medicine wheel needs medicine, so the idea of teaching the process of basic herbal gardening came forth. I asked my wonderful herbal teacher, Donna d’Terra from Willits to give the class on my land. But, she didn’t have time as she is starting her yearly women’s herbal apprenticeship program… So, she encouraged me, even as a beginner, to give the class myself. So, I am and it feels great.
We’ll have handouts and we will talk about each of ten healing hers. Then, after lunch, we will plant all the seedlings I’ve started into the medicine wheel after praying over them to send them into the earth and light. And finally, each participant will have a plant to take home and a lot of basic information to start your own medicine garden.
The dates for the all day classes in the medicine wheel are Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, June 12, 2011.
The class is by donation this first time and bring a notebook, a lunch to share, and wear loose clothing and bring a sun hat. We’ll have fun! My phone is 707-994-2872 in the mornings, for directions to my house. Thank you to TLC for giving us a chance to express our skills and learning…
Click here for photos --> Earth Day - Yuba College, Clearlake, a photo set by Veggie Lori on Flickr.
CLEARLAKE, California - April 21, 2011: What a lovely spring day to be on this nice campus, spreading ideas and good words on how to make our footprints smaller on this planet Earth we call Home. Good spirit abounded and much information disseminated. Ann Card gave a blessing, solar oven baked cookies were given out, and people learned about local resources to make it all happen. Fun and good conversation had by all.
Featured presentations by TLC, Lake Co-Op, GE-Free Lake County, Roteract and more!
More photos here: Earth Day - Yuba College, Clearlake
-submitted by Lindsey Dailey
WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?
In a world out of balance, we are all looking for solutions to:
Permaculture principles, like any really good design principles, can be applied across any biosphere, any property, any landscape, any city. You can incorporate permaculture principles and design philosophy to present an integrated design for your urban home, backyard, business, community, rural homestead, or broad-acre farm.
submitted by Lonnie Caldwell
What an incredible word…
Form a mental image of something that is not present or that is not the case;
“Can you conceive of him as the president?” (You mean Bush!?)
Think: expect, believe, or suppose… wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
There is nothing more powerful than the human imagination when its owner is free to create and be happy. When we sing and dance and play, we humans are miraculous beings; full of love and laughter and joy.
In 1971 John Lennon challenged the whole world to “Imagine” a place without war or violence because of politics and religion, to imagine a happy place, a peaceful place, a place of love and light and community. Many scoffed when they heard John’s “fantasy” song about a world that could “never exist” this side of “heaven” or “Utopia” “Nirvana”. But some heard his challenge and held the dream in their hearts and now John’s vision is coming to fruition.
All over the planet people are reaching out to their neighbors and taking the time to hear their words and understand their hearts. When this happens a beautiful thing begins…peace. Yeah it is just that simple. All you have to do is put down the weapons step away from the emotional baggage and use the creative genius you posses to create a world that everyone can co-exist in.
by Lindsay Dailey
Originally published by the Permaculture Research of Australia, hereLake County, California, is a rural area on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area. Though it’s surrounded by extremely wealthy areas, Lake County is unique; it is one of the least densely populated counties in the state of California, with one of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment. The agricultural industries that once thrived in the area are mostly gone, and most people struggle to earn a livelihood.
eave it to the permaculturalists to find opportunity in this seemingly barren edge! And there is indeed permaculture activity on the rise, in the most unlikely of places… the county government.
County Supervisor Denise Rushingcompleted her PDC in 2005 and was hooked, excited about the applicability of permacultural principles to the “invisible structures” that we all function within — like our local government.
“To me, the greatest gift of permaculture was seeing problems as opportunities and aligning myself and my actions with natural forces and energies to create greater abundance.” A farmer and owner of an organic walnut orchard, Rushing joined the Board of Supervisors and has been working hard to integrate permaculture into her day job as a county supervisor, and create opportunities for Lake County residents to transform their community utilizing permaculture principles.
One such opportunity has evolved into the Clarks Island Sustainability Initiative. Clarks Island is a small island on Clear Lake that is owned by the local Redevelopment Agency. With the county’s support, the island is being transformed by volunteers into a center for the environment and sustainability, with the goals of promoting ecotourism — showcasing new ecological restoration techniques and working with the county to preserve and protect Clear Lake. Components include natural earth building, native plantings, and bioremediation of the lake, whose ecology has been destroyed by pollution and runoff from surrounding areas.
A unique element of the Island includes a demonstration area of “floating islands” made from recycled plastic bottles. A BioHaven Floating Island is made of 100 percent recycled PET plastic, derived from recycled drinking bottles and certified non-toxic. After the plastic undergoes a recycling and spinning process, it is then turned into a “matrix” of fibers composed of layers of a durable synthetic mesh. The matrix design resembles a pot-scrub or loofah, which is important as it serves as a water filtration design. By mimicking natural floating wetland systems, the manmade islands create a huge amount of edge to support diversity and aid in algae reduction and create wildlife habitat. Floating islands can remove pollutants from a waterway, provide critical riparian edge habitat (new land mass for use by all kinds of creatures, from microbes to humans), mine nutrient loads from any waterway and thus reduce algae blooms, sequester carbon and other greenhouse gases, and provide wave mitigation and erosion control while beautifying a waterscape with floating gardens.
The purpose of the floating islands near Clarks Island is to test their impact on nutrient uptake and algae remediation. To test their effectiveness and get baseline readings, the Habematolel Pomo, the Native American tribe local to the area, has offered to pay for the first year of testing.
To showcase the Island, dozens of community members pitched in to build an entryway and bench that demonstrate natural building techniques with local clay. Many hands make light work, and volunteers — ranging in age from 4 to 78 years — joined together to build the beautiful cob and adobe structures with the leadership of Bay Area natural builder Massey Burke. Rushing sees that the ripples are beginning to spread. The natural building project has won awards and gained attention from the University of San Francisco, whose architecture department is interested in working with Burke in Lake County to study the structural integrity of earthen building. “Small scale solutions offer key benefits in a time of change. Permaculture solutions can be developed and spread on a local scale, by local people empowered with tools and knowledge.”
Within the next month, Rushing will be publishing a book entitled: Tending the Soul’s Garden: Permaculture as a Way Forward in Difficult Times. To spread the principles and practical skills of permaculture further within her community, Denise Rushing is hosting a Permaculture Design Certificate course at her orchard this spring to train local folks. Watch out Lake County, a herd of permies are about to be let loose!