One local food meal = one step toward reducing foreign oil dependence

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Community, Conservation, Consumption, Energy, Food and Drink, Local Economy, Locavore, Oklahoma City, Peak Oil, Resiliency, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition OKC | Posted on 14-04-2011

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A couple of weeks ago Transition OKC helped host a Local Food Meet and Greet. The Meet and Greet provided a host of folks passionate about growing a local food system the opportunity to network and get to know each other better. It was enthusiastically and well-attended, with more than 110 people coming on a sunny Saturday afternoon to IAO Gallery in Oklahoma City to nosh on locally produced food, wine and do a little “speed meeting.”

The event was organized by the “Going Locavore Group,” a loosely organized and growing grassroots coalition (or alliance) of several Oklahoma City organizations focused on catalyzing and transitioning our food system to a healthier, more sustainable and resilient one – and one strategy for doing so is to localize it. The team organizing the event was for the most part all-volunteer, and although we were scrambling up until the last minute to put all the details in place – we pulled it off – a total team effort if there ever was one. If you have any interest in networking with this group, or want more info, email us at localfoodokc@gmail.com

As one of the volunteers working on this event, part of my task was to put together a slide show about the reasons for transitioning to eating local food, and to provide a high-level overview of some of the initiatives in other states focused on growing regional and local food systems. As we researched, we discovered coalitions in New York City and Vermont have aggressive strategic plans for regional and localized food sheds and the body of work on this topic is growing exponentially — encouraging.

Above you’ll find one of the slides from the presentation and I’ll be sharing more of these in the coming days. Eventually will put the whole presentation online at ThinkLady and here on Fresh Greens as well Transition OKC’s website so if it is useful in any way to other local food efforts, it’s available for anyone to use and adapt.

In the meantime, given the high price of gas these days, the fact the era of cheap, easy-to-produce oil is over, and the growing production decline in one of the U.S.’s major suppliers of oil – Mexico — thought this slide might be a good one to start with. It illustrates one way we can begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports. Ebullient and grateful hat tip to Barbara Kingsolver and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, for helping us imagine a different way of eating in the world.

Imagine abundant local food. Imagine the jobs it will create and the ways it will strengthen our local economy. Envision the health it will bring to our school kids, our communities, the resilience it will give our communities. Imagine how much we can reduce our country’s oil addiction if we eat not just one, but two local food meals a week, three, five, etc. Imagine. And then try it. I think you’ll like it.

If you’d like info on how to get started eating locally head over to Transition OKC’s website where we have a page full of local food resources.

– post by Shauna Struby, this post originally appeared on ThinkLady 

Got Resiliency?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Resiliency, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Transition Movement, Transition Town | Posted on 29-04-2009

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby 

A resilient system is adaptable and diverse. It has some redundancy built in. A resilient perspective acknowledges that change is constant and prediction difficult in a world that is complex and dynamic. It understands that when you manipulate the individual pieces of a system, you change that system in unintended ways. Resilience thinking is a new lens for looking at the natural world we are embedded in and the man-made world we have imposed upon it.

 –Chip Ward,

Diesel-Driven Bee Slums and Impotent Turkeys: The Case for Resilience” 

Oklahoma’s storm season is upon us. We watch clouds boil and roil, hope and pray for rain versus hail and tornadoes, and while we may joke about Gary England’s drama, as anyone living in these here parts knows, the season is no joking matter.

When the tornado sirens blow, most of us know our take-cover routine like we know our own phone number. We head to hidey holes, closets, basements and storm shelters with family, friends, pets, memorabilia, emergency radios, flashlights, water and food in tow. We watch and listen to some of the best meteorologists in the nation track threatening weather in stunningly detailed Doppler radar. We know the meaning of wall clouds, hook clouds, vortexes, the difference between a tornado watch and a warning, and of course Oklahoma children learn the Fujita scale long before they have any idea about do-re-mi.

Yes siree. When it comes to tornado season, Oklahomans have the warning/planning thing down.

This friends, gives me hope for the future.

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Fruit trees build resilience in a community.

If we can plan and prepare this thoroughly for Mother Nature’s annual spring tantrums, I’m hoping we can apply the same can-do, innovative spirit to the broad and deep energy challenges we face. That means first thinking more deeply about what a community really needs and how those needs are met.

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement and author of The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependence to Local Resiliency, notes one of the key characteristics of healthy communities is resiliency. According to Hopkins resiliency is …

“ … the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks.”

The primary point here: a change or interruption in one part of a system doesn’t take down the whole. Resilient communities have food, transportation, shelter, water, health, cultural, and education systems that are self-sufficient enough to provide for essential needs regardless of boiling chaos. When you pair resiliency with sustainability, you have a community that’s ready to face the future. 

So what does resilience look like in real life? In communities and homes it refers to our ability to not collapse at the first sight of oil or food shortages, or in the case of the threat of a pandemic, like the current swine flu, to be able to respond with adaptability.

To help illustrate the concept, Hopkins does a little contrasting and comparing below. Note: Just because an activity doesn’t add resilience, doesn’t mean it should never happen; what Hopkins is suggesting is that we think beyond the norm, think beyond even sustainability, and add resilience to the planning equation.

Resilience chart  

So have you got resilience? What are your ideas for making your home and community more resilient and less vulnerable to abrupt change in an increasingly complex and volatile world?