When one is not a lonely number

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Environment, Film, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Transition OKC | Posted on 10-06-2011

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Photo credit Julie Evans

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip screened last night at the deadCenter Film Festival and will screen again tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Harkins Theater, Oklahoma City. I couldn’t go last night but am getting very excited about the Saturday screening. Just in case you missed it, YERT was winner of the Audience Award at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival at Yale.

Today I’m hoping to snag some cool YERT swag at the Meet & Greet with Mark Dixon Transition OKC is hosting from 4-6 p.m., Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson. Come on down! First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

Couple of days ago on a conference call with Carolyne Stayton, executive director, Transition US, I mentioned YERT was screening here (Carolyne is interviewed in YERT), and boy, she really perked up. Her voice got all and happy and she said, “I love those guys. They are so much fun.” I can’t think of any better recommendation.

Final words.

And finally … the last installment of the Q&A email interview with Mark Dixon and Ben Evans, YERT’s producers and directors. A huge heartfelt Okie thanks to them for being so thoughtful in answering the questions and for taking so much time with this. Gotta say — these two guys are rich with insights – realistic and hopeful – a useful balance for all of us as we keep on transitioning. Be sure to read all the way to the end – they saved their best words for last.

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Q: What was the most inspiring thing you discovered on your journey?

A: Wes Jackson and the Land Institute in Salina, Kan., were particularly inspiring. He’s really addressing a number of problems simultaneously by rethinking the entire idea of agriculture.  His visionary concept of a perennial polyculture addresses soil erosion, water scarcity, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, fossil fuel use, pesticide use, biodiversity, and general ecological health in one fell swoop. t’s pretty amazing stuff. And once his work is done, he plans to give it away to humanity. Our children and grandchildren will be thanking him, big time.

Q: Most interesting?

A: In Idaho we found a guy with an idea to pave all the roads in the U.S. with solar panels. His invention, Solar Roadways (which is featured in the film), was one of the most interesting ideas we found all year – largely because it seems so outlandish and impossible on the face of it. But the more we dug into it, the more sense it made and the more brilliant it seemed. The short video we created to help get the word out about his invention has been our most watched video by far – amassing a million YouTube hits in the past ten months. So apparently, other people find it pretty interesting too.

Q: Most meaningful?

A: It’s hard to pin down a single most meaningful part of the trip.  Certainly WWOOFing in Wyoming was very meaningful – getting to dig in the dirt and really be a part of growing our own food. Visiting with Wes Jackson at the Land Institute was an incredibly profound and meaningful experience, as was our time spent with Joel Salatin on his farm in Virginia

Bob Berkebile’s story of turning personal tragedy and disaster into the inspiration for our modern green architecture movement and, by extension, a way to help others (like the people of Greensburg, Kan.) rebuild more wisely in the wake of their own disasters is an incredibly meaningful example of the power of one person to leverage their own pain in the service of humanity.

And of course, the unexpected pregnancy on the trip amplified the meaning of just about everything we encountered and served as a constant reminder of exactly what’s at stake as we navigate our way through these challenging times on planet earth.

Q: Most discouraging and/or darkest moment?

A: Covering mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining in West Virginia was probably the trip’s darkest hour. We all went into a depression after that – it was hard to wrap our heads around a country bombing itself in that way. While we had heard about MTR and knew that it was a problem well before we got to West Virginia, nothing could prepare us for seeing it up close and first hand from the air and from the ground. The complete and permanent devastation of an entire region of our country – one of the oldest and most bio-diverse regions on the planet and its uniquely American culture – in the name of a very marginal short-term increase in profits for a few coal barons is an almost unimaginable crime against humanity and nature. The insanity of this practice really hit us hard, and we hope that the film, in some small way, can help end this ongoing environmental and social tragedy once and for all.

Q: Happiest and most fulfilling moment?

A: As a self-professed sunset hound, Ben filmed a lot of sunsets all over the country on the trip which have been fun to relive on film, although Mark ended up filming perhaps the most memorable sunset from the back of a ferry leaving Alaska. The wonderful people that we met all along the way in every corner of the country and the tearful hugs and mutual inspiration that we shared with them has been one of the best things about the experience. And it was especially wonderful when we could use our journey to connect people from different walks of life or different parts of the country who needed each other (but perhaps didn’t know it yet) – something that happened a number of times on the trip.

Introducing people all around the country to the solutions and ideas that we’ve fallen in love with – like Earthships or Solar Roadways – and hearing them get excited and say they want to build an Earthship now or help make Solar Roadways a reality has really been fulfilling. And of course, the journey of the pregnancy and birth, while it was a lit
tle challenging for Mark to deal with at the time, has proven in the months and years since to have been one of the most fulfilling moments, not only for Julie and Ben, but of the trip itself in that it really gave the entire experience a new level of depth, meaning, and humanity that it might not have had otherwise. 

Q: What do you hope people will take away from the film?

A: We really hope people come away from the film recognizing that the most powerful solutions to the environmental challenges we face happen to also be the most satisfying, nourishing ways to live, and that people are joyfully exploring and sharing those solutions all around the country.

And we hope they recognize that they too have the power of "one" – that none of us has to be any smarter or prettier or richer than we are right now to have an enormous, immediate, and lasting positive impact on our own communities and on the larger world around us – as exemplified by the everyday heroes in the film. That’s a pretty empowering idea, when you tap into it.

Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on ThinkLady.

A 50-state environmental anti-depressant comes to Oklahoma

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Environment, Film, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Transition OKC | Posted on 10-06-2011

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YERTLogoTransparentMore YERT scoop is here! See below for part 2 of the Q&A email interview with Mark Dixon and Ben Evans, producers and directors of the documentary YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, a year-long eco-expedition through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in cheek, these daring filmmakers explored the landscape of environmental sustainability in America and found plenty of laughter, fun and innovation happening all along the way.

YERT is screening today and Saturday at the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City and was winner ofYERT_laurels_EFFY_Winner the Audience Award at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival  at Yale. And tomorrow, Transition OKC is hosting a Meet & Greet with Mark Dixon from 4-6 p.m. at Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson. First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

More YERT scoop tomorrow.

Come back for the third and final installment of our interview with Mark and Ben where we’ll find out what the YERT team discovered that inspired and depressed them, what was meaningful and made them very happy, and what they hope people will take away from the film.

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Photo credit: Erica Bowman

YERT email chat continued.

Q: How did you plan your routes and stops, and research and select those you interviewed along the way?

A: The first thing we did, way before we started the road trip, was to do a fair amount of research by meeting and listening to people at Green Festivals, the Bioneers conference, and also doing a fair amount of web-based research. That gave us a rough idea of the topics we wanted to cover, states where those topics might be most relevant, and which states held the most interesting interviews for those topics.

Then we jumped into the actual road trip route, and our goal there was to figure out how to hit the northern states in the summer, and the southern states in the winter — particularly hitting Alaska in the height of summer. We were ultimately trying to avoid driving in snowy conditions to make it easier on ourselves, our car and our schedule.Then we identified a few key events that we wanted to be sure we hit along the way — college reunions, San Francisco Green Festival, Bioneers, and holidays near home — and that led to a rough state-by-state itinerary.

Ben is a bit of a road-trip junky and map nut who had been to almost every state before the trip even started, so he really went to town solving the route puzzle and pinpointing key must-see spots while Mark, who is a spreadsheet guru and great contingency planner, dove into logistics and figuring out the perfect equipment and packing list that could keep the mission functioning on the road. 

With the itinerary in mind, we generally focused on the next couple of states in our planning efforts, setting up about 1/3 of the interviews in advance, and leaving plenty of room for fate (and a bit of luck) to guide us to the remaining 2/3. We often found that one interview would lead us to another interview, and so on, until our schedule forced us to leave a state. All throughout the trip we were hopelessly dependent on the Internet for research, e-mail, mapping and web-based communication with our audience.

Q: How did you handle conflict on your team during the trip and throughout the production process? 

A: Everybody on the team had their individual reasons for wanting to do the project, but ultimately we all wanted the trip to succeed and were motivated most by our collective desire to address the large-scale environmental problems facing us all – and we weren’t looking to get rich or famous from it. So from the beginning, we never needed to second guess the motives for anybody on the team. That said, we had no shortage of different ideas about how to best move things along, and we ultimately spent huge amounts of time in extremely thorough discussions of the smallest details. Generally, Mark was more conservative and interested in arriving early with extra time (turning down unique opportunities in order to get to places on-time, and to get enough sleep), while Ben was often interested in pushing the limits of what was humanly possible (embracing unique opportunities as they arose, trusting in providence to sort out the logistics, and ready to pull all-nighters to make them happen). More than anything, we handled conflict with patience and mutual respect, knowing that we had to solve most issues for the long-term, not just push them under the table for another day.

Q: Regarding conflict, any anecdotal incidents you’d care to share?

A: We had to work through a few tough spots – like Julie’s pregnancy in the face of our garbage challenge and the mostly healthy tension between Mark’s cautious risk aversion and desire to shoot less versus Ben’s intuitive risk taking and desire to shoot more freely. Generally, the fact that we were all doing this in the service of a much larger mission kept our egos in check and our foibles in perspective. Mark did eventually have a significant meltdown about halfway through the trip when Julie’s food needs from the pregnancy started to conflict with the garbage challenge — but, as a friend of Mark and the husband of Julie, Ben tried to function as a mostly-neutral sounding board and, ultimately, it wasn’t anything a little ice cream apology couldn’t solve.

– Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on ThinkLady.

Is it possible to laugh and help the planet at the same time?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Film, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition OKC | Posted on 07-06-2011

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Mark Dixon and Ben Evans shout out a resounding “Yes,” and they show you how they’re doing it in YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, a documentary screening not once, but twice, at Oklahoma City’s deadCENTER Film Festival this week. For screening locations and times click here.

The tagline describes the film like this:

50 states. 1 year. Zero waste. Three friends on an environmental road trip across America in search of extraordinary innovators tackling humanity’s greatest crises.

That intriguing sound bite and the film’s trailer convinced me that not only did I need to see this film, but that it’d be cool to find out more about this project straight from the filmmakers. Lucky for us Okies, Dixon, one of the filmmakers, will be on hand Fri., June 10, from 4-6 p.m. at Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson, in downtown Oklahoma City, to discuss the making of the film, which won the Audience Award at the Yale Environmental Film Festival. The informal Meet & Greet is organized by Transition OKC a program of Sustainable OKC. Coffee and snacks will be available to purchase from Elemental Coffee. yert

Giveaway alert.

First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

Advance chat.

As a lead-in to the screenings and Meet & Greet, I got to do a little early Q&A with Dixon and his colleague, Ben Evans, producers and directors of the film, and am featuring part one of that email interview here. Stay tuned for more.

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Photo credit: Rich Press

Q: How did the idea for this project develop – specifically from inception (the germ of the idea) – to actual “We’re going to make this happen” implementation? And what or who do you credit – in addition to yourselves — for encouraging, supporting, making the idea reality?

Group answer.

All three of us were really starting to get worried about the state of the planet and not feeling like we were doing enough about it in our respective careers. A video road trip to explore sustainability seemed like an interesting way to educate ourselves and others about all kinds of encouraging solutions to the urgent environmental problems facing humanity, a good way to discover hidden pockets hope and inspiration and share them quickly and widely. We weren’t sure what we’d find in all the nooks and crannies of the country, but we were determined to have fun finding it.

Ben’s more personal take.

I credit my mother for instilling in me a strong sense of environmental concern and a general interest in creative solutions to repairing humanity’s relationship with the planet. When she died from cancer in 2004, it really lit a fire under me to start living my beliefs more fully and focusing my life on issues of lasting importance. I’d been an actor in New York and Los Angeles for a number of years and had started kicking around ideas for a bunch of different environmental endeavors with a creative bent. I packed up my life in New York and co-created YERT with Mark as a way to marry my love of creative entertainment and performance with my long-standing concern for environmental issues. I really wanted to stop worrying and start doing something about the problems.

Mark’s more personal take.

I was a newbie to the environmental movement and was struggling to understand where I fit into a world faced with so many troubling ecological symptoms. I quit my job in an attempt to re-direct my life and lifestyle, but it wasn’t until halfway through a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat that the idea for a national road trip documentary project dropped into my head. I quickly checked the idea with friends and family (all of whom were very supportive– particularly my parents), and that’s when Ben jumped at the opportunity to help shape the adventure in its early form. A year later, after intensive planning, preparation and a few videos under our belts, we embarked on Your Environmental Road Trip – YERT.

Q: With all the environmental films and documentaries that seem to be hitting the market almost every day, why did you decide this project was worth pursuing?

A: There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there in traditional environmental organizations and films, and many of these issues have become needlessly politicized. We wanted to cut through all that with humor, visiting with regular people on the street, and by turning ourselves into guinea pigs on the trip. Really the project is an effort to personalize these issues in a way that can reach out to people who, for whatever reason, aren’t part of the conversation yet.

Q: When did you start and end the project and how old were you when you started?

A: It’s been almost five years from the first germ of the idea to the premiere. The idea germinated in summer 2006 and we prepped for a year before leaving on the trip in July 2007. The film premiered in April 2011. At the start of the trip on July 4, 2007, Mark was 32,  Ben was 37, and Julie was 38.

Q: How did you fund your trip and the year off for traveling and exploring?

A: We basically pooled our savings and begged friends and family for contributions. Ben and Julie had been working as stage actors in New York City and Mark had been working in Silicon Valley saving for a house and grad school in California at the time, so that provided the bulk of the funding. We’re all pretty much broke at this point, but hopefully screening at great festivals like deadCENTER will help start to change that.

More insider YERT scoop to come so check back soon.

– Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on Thinklady.

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 

EVOLVE presents The Local Food Challenge

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Food and Drink, Locavore, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition OKC | Posted on 07-04-2011

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Local Restaurants & Caterers Compete as part of EVOLVE Art Show

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lindsay Vidrine

405-802-5572

(Oklahoma City) April 7, 2011 – Sustainable OKC and Transition OKC are pleased to announce a Local Food Challenge on Sat., April 23 at 7 p.m. The challenge takes place at Individual Artists of Oklahoma (IAO) as part of EVOLVE, a juried art exhibit and collaborative fundraiser exploring sustainability, resilience & community. The fundraiser will benefit Sustainable OKC and IAO, and the local food challenge is organized by Transition OKC, a program of a Sustainable OKC.

Local Food Challenge participants include Chef Kurt Fleischfresser, Chef Kamala Gamble, Chef Ryan Parrott, Prairie Gypsies, The Wedge and 105Degrees. Contestants will be tasked with creating a signature appetizer or non-dessert finger food using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible.

Three prizes will be awarded, including the People’s Choice, a $500 juried grand prize and a runner-up prize of dinner for two at Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy. Judges for the challenge will be Carol Smaglinski of the Oklahoma Gazette, Chef Jonathon Stranger of Ludivine and caterer Linda Trippe.

Tickets for the EVOLVE art exhibit and local food challenge are $25 and can be purchased at www.sustainableokc.org. Sponsorships are also available online. 

Sustainable OKC is a non-profit, grassroots organization working at the crossroads of business, environment, and social justice in Oklahoma City. For more information visit www.sustainableokc.org or the community blog at freshgreens.typepad.com.  Event and community information are also shared through Facebook.com/SustainableOKC and Twitter.com/SustainableOKC.

Transition OKC is part of an internationally renowned movement and offers an ongoing slate of free or low-cost educational workshops, film screenings and events focused on catalyzing Oklahoma City’s transition to more sustainable, resilient communities. For more info visit www.goinglocalokc.org.

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Transition sweeps down the Oklahoma plains

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Christine Patton, Community, Education, Energy, Environment, Locavore, Oklahoma City, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Transition Movement | Posted on 30-07-2010

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logo with spaceTransition OKC, a project of Sustainable OKC, became the nation’s 27th official Transition initiative in May of 2009. The TOKC coordinating team took several months to lay the foundations of this project by discussing the “Transition Handbook,” hosting a Training for Transition, and setting principles, guidelines and a constitution in place (neatly stored in PVC-free binders, thanks to Shauna Struby). Once the team worked the consensus process and crafted a mission, vision, and goals, a tornado of creativity and energy was unleashed here on the Great Plains. Here’s the scoop! 

Going Locavore
Local food champions are very active here in Oklahoma City, but we don’t often have a chance to get together to discuss strategies, share updates and success stories, and plot ways to expand the local food market. Enter Transition OKC, which is now sponsoring Going Locavore happy hour potlucks so all these fabulous people can get together in the same room and share ideas. After one meeting and some intense brainstorming, the next meeting is slated to focus in on the most promising of the hundreds of ideas and start serving up some local food projects. Several members of the coordinating group are working on this project, but Christine Patton of the TOKC coordinating team has taken on the responsibility of pulling the meetings together for now. photo8

Sustainability Center
The indomitable Susie Shields, another TOKC coordinating team member, was so inspired by the "Hands" portion of Rob Hopkins’ “Transition Handbook,” she vowed to create a Sustainability Demonstration Community Center. She put together a diverse team of architects, sustainability pros, nonprofit, business and government folks to forge a way forward with this dream. Education and programming and site selection subcommittees are already hard at work brainstorming and researching.

Reskilling Videos
TOKC’s coordination team believes reskilling workshops (learning how to do things for ourselves again) are a fantastic way to help people transition. It’s learning valuable skills, education, sharing information on the challenges we face, networking, food and/or beer and wine – all rolled into one. Put all that learning on video and wow – that’s one way to spread reskilling beyond the 10 or 20 people that can make it to a workshop. Luckily Trey Parsons of Enersolve and Christine Patton, TOKC coordinating team members, are ready to take on the challenge of creating a set of short reskilling videos to share information about how to cook with local food, install a rainwater catchment system, weatherize a house, use a sun oven, grow a garden, make pesto and peach jam and sun-dried tomatoes, and more. Lots of excitement about this as it will give these two the chance to run around all over the metro area asking questions of interesting people and maybe learning a few things too.

Movie Night
Several TOKC team members – Vicki Rose, Marcy Roberts, and Susie Shields – are planning quarterly movies night at Oklahoma City University. Since movies raise awareness about environmental problems, economic crisis, our precarious energy situation, and climate change, they’re a great way to start a conversation and brainstorm on how to address the issues.

Permaculture Design Course
Randy Marks of Land+Form and Shauna Struby are in the early stages of working with Permaculture teachers to design a course for Oklahoma. Short courses on Permaculture design (Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human settlements) have photo1been held here in Oklahoma, but if people want the full course, they have to go out of state which makes the cost prohibitive for so many. By bringing a full-scale design course here, Randy and Shauna anticipate greater participation and lots more Transitioning. Interestingly enough, Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry just had a team train in Permaculture design before they headed to Afghanistan, and this helps folks here in Oklahoma make a connection to the potential of Permaculture design for our communities.

Wired and Connected
TOKC’s Going Local OKC website has been enhanced with new navigation, a new look and a lot of new content. Shauna, Trey and Christine redesigned it to be more user-friendly, timely and flexible. Plus, it needed to expand to be able to contain all the new info TOKC will be posting on various projects (see above), as well as the handy OKC Resource pages (six at last count). TOKC also ties continuously updated media, such as this collaborative Fresh Greens blog, Sustainable OKC Twitter feed, and the TOKC Facebook page, into the website. A big thank you to Transition OKC and Sustainable OKC volunteers for keeping the content fresh and updated.

Teaching and Listening 
One of the things TOKC often hears when out and about in Oklahoma City is there is a great need for more education and awareness about the challenges we face and possible solutions within the general population. TOKC has given many presentations and conducted workshops over the last few months and plans to not only continue with this work,but the project has made it a goal to increase the number of presentations as they go forward. Shauna, Marcy, Vicki, Adam and Christine are working together to make this happen. If you’d like to have TOKC make a presentation to your neighborhood, civic, church group or school, please email them at info@goinglocalokc.com.

But Wait, There’s More
Susie just created a Buy Fresh Buy Local Farmer’s Market guide and she and Marcy are working on a comprehensive eight-page "Big Book" guide to local food. Plus Transition OKC is planning to redesign printed materials such as brochures and offer a fall and winter gardening workshop.  photo2

So there you go. The whole TOKC coordinating team – Randy, Shauna, Christine, Vicki, Marcy, Susie, Trey, Adam, Jim, Chase and Joseph – have all been working hard. Whether you’re in Oklahoma City or elsewhere, you’re invited to join in the workshops, presentations, friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter! They’ll be sharing what they’re doing here, reading all about what everyone else is up to, and sharing that too as they keep on sweeping down the plains.

– Inspired by a post written by Christine Patton, TOKC team member, on her blog at Peak Oil Hausfrau; tweaked and reposted with Christine’s permission on “Fresh Greens” by Shauna Lawyer Struby, TOKC team member

Not just oil: US hit peak water in 1970 and nobody noticed

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Conservation, Rainwater harvesting, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Water | Posted on 25-05-2010

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"The concept of peak oil, where the inaccessibility of remaining deposits ensures that extraction rates start an irreversible decline, has been the subject of regular debate for decades. Although that argument still hasn't been settled—estimates range from the peak already having passed us to its arrival being 30 years in the future—having a better sense of when we're likely to hit it could prove invaluable when it comes to planning our energy economy. The general concept of peaking has also been valuable, as it applies to just about any finite resource. A new analysis suggests that it may be valuable to consider applying it to a renewable resource as well: the planet's water supply."

By John Timmer via arstechnica.com

We can probably all agree we take clean, bountiful water for granted. Don't know if anyone saw this, but last week read that Oklahoma City is aiming to bring water from Sardis Lake in southeast Oklahoma, although the Choctaw Tribe and surrounding community are protesting this possibility. Our mayor says we need to set in place water sources now or we won't have enough in 20 years given the current growth rate of the city. So .. wouldn't it be wise for us to put in place a comprehensive water conservation and rainwater harvesting program for Oklahoma City now rather than later?

Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby

Native Views On Sustainable Food

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Farming, Food and Drink, Indigenous culture, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability | Posted on 11-05-2010

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Paul Hawken, notable environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist and author
once wrote:

“A Native American taught me that the division between ecology and human
rights was an artificial one, that the environmental and social justice
movements addressed two sides of a larger dilemma. The way we harm the earth
affects all people, and how we treat one another is reflected in how we treat
the earth …
The movement has three basic roots: environmental
activism, social justice initiatives, and indigenous culture's resistance to
globalization, all of which have become intertwined."

Our fate will depend on how we understand and treat what is left of
the planet's surpluses — its lands, oceans, species diversity and people. The
quiet hub of the new
movement — its heart and soul — is indigenous
culture."

Paul
Hawken
, "Blessed Unrest: How the
Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming"

Indigenousfoods  Hawken tapped into a growing consciousness that America's Native people
not only have knowledge to share about sustainability and resilience, but about
how these interweave with social justice, the third leg of the sustainable stool
that doesn't get nearly as much attention as some of the other so-called green
topics. This post by Shawn Termin
from the National Museum of the American Indian blog
delves into this topic
a bit. Termin writes:

"For many New Yorkers, 'Green is the new black,' according to Johanna
Gorelick, Head of Education at the NMAI, Heye Center in New York City.  Green
markets have popped up in neighborhoods throughout the five NYC boroughs;
shoppers use reusable material totes instead of plastic and paper bags; and
dedicated, earth-centric citizens of the Big Apple are anxious to learn about
the many aspects of the sustainable food movement. This was evidenced by an
attendance of approximately 350 museum visitors who flocked to the recent Earth
Day program, Native Views on Sustainable Foods, at the NMAI, Heye Center in New
York on April 22, 2010. 

Three prominent speakers participated in the programming.  Winona LaDuke
(Anishinabe), Executive Director of Honor the Earth; Alex Sando (Jemez Pueblo),
representative of Native Seeds/SEARCH; and Kenneth Zontek, author of Buffalo
Nation:  American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison."

Termin goes on to describe what the various speakers discussed, primarily the
need for developing grassroots movements in Native communities that will support
efforts to reintroduce sustainable, healthy environments through the use of a
variety of organic and sustainable food production and practices.

Full post here.

Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby

Wayne Coyne’s house in the news and other assorted green stuff

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Food and Drink, Home and Garden, Locavore, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition Movement | Posted on 21-02-2010

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twitter3 We’re still in the Fresh Greens reorg phase. Yes we’re slow, a little like a turtle, but since the turtle symbolizes perseverance, patience and ancient wisdom, we’re hoping this will turn out to be a useful thing.

A few months ago Sustainable OKC joined the Twitter universe and you can follow us here. Our top ten tweets from the last few months:

  1. RT @TheGreenBuff: SustainableOKC workshop Feb 27 teaches how to start yr raised bed garden. Sign up @ http://ow.ly/18HC6.
  2. Wayne Coyne’s trippy house in OKC is not so weird, on Treehugger http://ow.ly/18TDa.
  3. Right on London! RT @transitiontowns: 2,012 community food growing spaces in London: funding for London food projects: http://bit.ly/5a6g1V.
  4. RT @OKAgritourism: Early birds will get a spot in Strawbale Construction Workshop @ Turtle Rock Farm, June 6-12. Space limtd.
  5. Training 4 Transition wrkshp to org your community to make Energy Transition Plans, on April 10,11. Details coming @ http://ow.ly/16tdk.
  6. RT @TheOilDrum: WSJ reports The Next Crisis: Prepare for Peak Oil. http://bit.ly/c03AYa.
  7. RT @transitionus: How to Start a Buy Local Campaign (PDF): http://bit.ly/ahQcDG.
  8. A certain number of number of deaths caused by dioxins released from incinerators are considered acceptable. http://bit.ly/6o82G1.
  9. RT @OKAgritourism: TGI Locavore Friday, Earth Elements Market & Bakery, makin’ the season bright wi/yummy OK food. http://bit.ly/4NOkHR.
  10. RT @sejorg: RT @theCIRESwire: New rprt: Climate chng acclrating beyond expectations, urgent emissions reductions reqrd. http://bit.ly/7sOsne.

Bigger Versus Better

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Endangered Species, John Cheek, Philosophy, Sustainability, the Madfarmer | Posted on 06-10-2009

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by John Cheek

 

49630_cowboys_titans_football Professor George Lakoff, a linguist at the University of California, Berkley, has argued that language is structured around an indeterminate set of conceptual metaphors. Some of these metaphors are common aphorisms such as, “Life is a journey,” while others, such as, “Form is motion,” are explicitly spoken less often but are still important in the way we think of things.

 

Imagine driving on a two-lane highway through a verdant stretch of Oklahoma wheat fields in early spring. You might describe the scene this way, “The dusty road ran fortuitously between newly green fields.” But wait, the road ran? Roads don't run; they don't move at all, (forgetting for the moment the chunks that have fallen out of the I-40 cross-town in recent years…) but it's not uncommon for us to describe the form of a static object in this way. In fact sometimes we would struggle to describe form at all if we were restricted from using the conceptual metaphor.

 

Another conceptual metaphor that affects not just our language but our psychology is, “Size equals significance.” Think about “big discoveries,” “huge developments,” or just the screens at Jerry's World in Arlington. Unfortunately, I think this conceptual metaphor is a danger to sustainable thinking/living. Here are a couple of places where I think we should be careful about letting the size of things decide there importance.

 

Last Tuesday the banner headline on the BBC homepage read “Giant fish 'verges on  extinction.'” The story reports that a three-year search for the Chinese paddlefish has failed _46444231_paddlefish1 to yield a single sighting, the last paddlefish having been spotted in 2003. Now, I think it is important and grave when any species is on the brink of perishing, but why does the paddlefish warrant a front page story? Because it's the largest fresh water fish in the world? Think of how the threat to polar bears has caught the public attention where the plight of smaller creatures is ignored or even mocked (I found a spotted owl last week. It was delicious.). Now, I'm not suggesting this isn't an important story, but given how crucial creatures as small as bacteria are to all of the biological processes that keep us alive, you'd think we'd have equal appreciation for the little guys.

 

Another area where bigger is often presumed better is in business. We are impressed by profits in the billions and international distribution. This isn't meant to be a screed against corporations or business in general, just an invocation to look to the little guys. Large companies serve an important purpose in our society to be sure. It's hard to imagine how any of us could participate in the blog without a few big corporations. That being said, small companies present some unique advantages.

 

Think about a trip to the grocery store. If you’re interested in sustainable living, then you likely look for products labeled “Organic” or “Fair-Trade.” Those labels inspire some confidence that the food you buy is produced in a healthy, sustainable, and just way, but that confidence is pretty weak compared to my confidence in the quality of the food I take home from the Mad Farmer's fields. When I buy locally, from a producer I know, I'm not just helping local economy and decreasing my carbon footprint, I know that what I'm getting is the very thing I set out to get, much more than any label could ever show me.

 

So, as we go about trying to decide what's important to a sustainable life or a sustainable community, remember that size isn't equal to significance. Some things may be “too big to fail,” but they might also be too big to succeed if quality and sustainability are the goals.