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

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.

Your Future, Your Ideas, Your Story

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Community, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Transition Movement, Transition Town | Posted on 28-07-2009

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby

In a recent bit of news, Rob Hopkins, author of the Transition Handbook and co-founder of the Transition Network, was invited to give a TED talk. About this rather intimidating invite, Hopkins wrote:

 If you are unfamiliar with TED, they give you 18 minutes, an audience of very successful thinkers, inventors, geeks and business people, and ask you to give the talk of your life, which they film in HD and put online where it is viewed by millions of people.

Ttokclogo In his usual humble and playful way, Hopkins got to talk about the ideas making up the Transition model and process, about the inspiring way this movement is spreading around the globe, and about harnessing the creative power of people everywhere to help solve the many exceptional and urgent challenges we face.

Rob opened his talk with this declaration (to read more notes from his talk, excellent stuff, go here):

Two of the important stories we tell ourselves are either that someone else will sort it all out for us, or that we are all doomed. I’d like to share with you a very different story, and like all stories it has a beginning.

At a recent brainstorming session in Oklahoma City for Transition Town OKC, we talked a great deal about the stories of our current culture and about what an energy secure, food secure, shelter secure, abundant future without fossil fuel dependence might look like. It was an empowering, inspiring session that gave people a safe place to express vision, fears, hopes and dreams as well as a means of taking control of their lives and telling a different story.

Again and again we circled back to the current stories society tells about the meaning of success, wealth, abundance, growth and happiness. And in imagining new stories, like Rob Hopkins, we found many joyful ideas, we found hope, we found inspiration.

And now it's your turn:

  • What are the stories you hear every day about the meaning of success, wealth and happiness?
  • How do these stories affect your daily life?
  • Do you find yourself fearful, worried or hopeful, or some combination of all three and more when you think about the future?
  • Do you have an idea of what an abundant, joyful future without fossil fuel dependence might look like?
Start at the beginning and share your story, thoughts, ideas and perspectives. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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.

Mail 

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?