Keep on reeling in the green world

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Consumption, Current Affairs, Energy, Environment, Farming, Film, Food and Drink, Home and Garden, Sustainability, Sustainable OKC, Transition Town | Posted on 11-09-2009

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Sustainable OKC, the Cimarron Chapter of Sierra Club, and Slow Food OKC are sponsoring a film series, “Sustainability on Film,” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Wed., Sept 15 – Sun., Sept 20, with a panel discussion following the Sunday film.

The films highlight a complex array of the challenges facing us. Film Curator Brian Hearn describes the series:

As our economic, social and environmental activities become increasingly integrated on a global scale, the human species faces unprecedented challenges. In the wake of the groundbreaking documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” filmmakers have been examining the complex issues facing our species and planet: climate change, dwindling natural resources, population growth, economic crises and political conflict. Along the way humans are finding innovative, simple solutions from growing their own food, to green building, to developing new forms of renewable energy. These films explore how we meet our needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

Films

Wed., Sept. 16 – “Fresh” & “Food for Thought”

Thurs., Sept. 17 – “The Great Squeeze: Surviving the Human Project” & “Greening in the Heartland”

Fri., Sept 18 – “The Greening of Southie” and “Food, Inc.”

Sat., Sept. 19 – “The Garden” and “No Impact Man

Sun., Sept. 20 – “Earth Days

Join us Sunday after the final screening for a panel discussion, “Sustainability in Oklahoma: Where Do We Go from Here?” with local experts on how Oklahomans are dealing with the global issue of sustainability. Panelists for the discussion following Sunday’s film:

Bruce Edwards, Director, Urban Harvest at the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank

Kenneth Fitzsimmons, architect, U.S. Green Building Council, Oklahoma Chapter

Stephanie Jordan, Sierra Club Conservation Committee / Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Oklahoma

Jim Roth, attorney and Chair of the Alternative “Green” Energy practice group, Phillips Murrah P.C.

Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainable OKC / Transition Town OKC

Jonathan Willner, Professor of Economics, Oklahoma City University

Complete listing of films, screening times and summaries of each film available here.

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.

A reel green thing at the deadCenter Film Festival

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Current Affairs, Film, Food and Drink, Social Justice, Transition Town | Posted on 05-06-2009

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Now in its ninth year, the merry, amazing, ever-growing deadCenter Film Festival has a reel green thing going on this year with an entire block of four films devoted to sustainability, Sat., June 13, 1 p.m. at the Kerr Auditorium, Oklahoma City. Click here for details. Of course the whole festival is worth checking into for a few days of creative immersion, but if you can’t make if for the full film

enchilada, then at least save time for the sustainability slice.

Here’s what’s reeling in the deadCenter green world:

Chase the Can | DEQ | An aluminum can makes an unexpected journey in this wind-powered video from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

Soil in Good Heart | Deborah Koons Garcia | Soil In Good Heart is a taste of a documentary currently in production by Deborah Koons Garcia, director of The Future of Food (2004). The importance of understanding, preserving and rebuilding this essential resource is the foundation of sustainable agriculture. We are all part of the soil community and we ignore this at our peril.

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?

Infinity and Beyond

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Energy, Public Works, Shauna Lawyer Struby, State Government, Transition Town | Posted on 27-02-2009

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by Shauna Lawyer Struby

I love Buzz Lightyear. His optimism in the face of reality (believing he can fly on pop-up wings), makes this diminutive Toy Story hero full of geeky bravura and sincerity incredibly endearing. But it is his mouse-sized roar of, “To infinity and beyond!” that makes him my way cool, sustainable hero.

You’ve probably noticed energy discussions are as ubiquitous as chewing gum these days. The growing awareness we’ve got to do something has folks from cowpokes to CEOs grappling with their “holy electricity switch” moment, that dark point in time they realize cheap, easy energy days are floating away like so many plastic Wal-Mart bags in a sweeping prairie wind.

But start talking about designing sustainable energy systems and things get considerably dicier. While just about everyone supports being energy independent, the notion that the equivalent of Star Trek’s dilithium crystals will be found to satisfy our energy addiction is so deeply embedded in our psyche that some of our elected leaders tend to grasp at any energy solution like desperate junkies in need of a fix. 

The recent deceptive blathering about nuclear power in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives is a perfect case in point. Two bills were approved by the House Energy and Utility Regulation Committee Feb. 17 after nuclear energy advocates manipulated the fear factor that other energy sources alone such as solar, wind and geothermal, will not be enough to meet future power needs.

While there are many reasons nuclear energy is not a sustainable option (and reasons why other truly clean renewable energies like wind and solar are), one of the most under discussed reasons for axing nuclear energy out of any future energy mix is this — nuclear energy production is totally dependent on yet another finite resource — uranium. Dr. David Fleming, author of “The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy” estimates if the entire world’s electricity were generated by nuclear power, we’d have around three years of uranium left and writes:

“Shortages of uranium — and the lack of realistic alternatives — leading to interruptions in supply, can be expected to start in the middle years of the decade 2010-2019, and to deepen thereafter.”

Clearly nuclear energy is not a Buzz Lightyear, “infinity and beyond” option. And even more obviously, we need to dig deep into proposed energy solutions and thoroughly evaluate them with a stringent list of sustainable criteria.

A few thoughts on the criteria:

  • What is the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) for the resource? Energyreturnonenergyinvested_edited-1
  • What is the carbon footprint of the energy source? Carbonfootprintenergysources_edited-1
  • What is the water footprint of the energy source?
  • What is the waste footprint of the energy source?
  • With all environmental, waste, water, infrastructure and production costs factored in, how much does the energy cost per kilowatt hour?
  • Since taxpayers subsidize our energy systems, who will profit and how much, i.e. what are the CEO and executive staff salaries, perks and bonuses of the energy producing company, and what is the anticipated return to shareholders on new infrastructure?
  • Are the energy company’s middle and lower-level employees sustainably and equitably compensated with living wages and adequate benefits?
  • How will the proposed energy source impact the area where production is located, the people, non-human animals, eco-system and general environment?
  • What other factors do we need to be thinking about?

As Rob Hopkins notes in “The Transition Handbook” a future with less energy is inevitable. Richard Heinberg extensively covers many of the various pros and cons of a variety of energy sources in his latest Museletter, which beautifully illustrates the depths of the challenges facing us and the urgent need for massive energy conservation programs.

The Transition Movement, founded by Hopkins, takes these realities and helps us see them as opportunities for creatively rethinking how we live in the world and how we use energy, to envision something better, something hopeful, less toxic to ourselves, to our fellow species and congruent with this amazing planet we call home. The first Transition Town initiative in Oklahoma, Transition Town OKC, launched last month, aims to enhance opportunities for our communities to imagine, envision and implement this energy transition together, to capture the power of every person's creativity and move us together toward a positive future.

We know reducing energy consumption will go a long way toward solving the energy puzzle, as will investment in energy technology and clean, truly renewable energy resources, but every energy technology and resource needs adequate and thorough vetting using sustainable criteria. And that means thinking not just about the next 10, 20 or even 50 years, but in Buzz Lightyear speak, “To Infinity and beyond!”

Bob Waldrop Elected Mayor Of OKC

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Energy, Local Government, Local News, Oklahoma City, Peak Oil, Peak Oil Hausfrau, Politics, Transition Town | Posted on 16-02-2009

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by Peak Oil Hausfrau

Featured here is the first post of the Envision 2020 blog,
which imagines the events in Oklahoma City as we transition from the
present, a time of abundant and cheap energy, to the future, a time
of declining and expensive energy…

(OKLAHOMA CITY) Mar. 7, 2014 — Bob Waldrop, local social justice
activist and founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, was elected
mayor of Oklahoma City in a landslide election yesterday evening.

"I
am proud my fellow citizens have embraced my platform of 'Local Food,
Energy and Economy,'" Mayor-elect Waldrop told Peak Oil Hausfrau today.
"It shows that our city is ready to tackle the enormous challenges
facing us and take responsibility for our future. When we are willing
to work together, we can create great things as a community."

Opponents
tried to paint Waldrop as a radical, calling him a "sad old Hobbit
hippie," "permaculturist" and "local foodie fanatic." These attacks did
not resonate with a population weary of years of recession and the
lingering effects of the financial crash of 2009. Local groups banded
together in a swell of grassroots support to knock on over 54,000 doors
in a massive volunteer campaign.

First on Waldrop's agenda: Restoring
granaries within city limits. Mayor-elect Waldrop explained, "This step
will provide local food security in the face of another oil shock like
the one of 2011. We will have grain and beans on hand to provide a
two-week basic minimum diet for our most vulnerable citizens. But I
encourage everyone to have three months of their own food storage if at
all possible."

The oil crisis of 2011 laid the foundations for
Mr. Waldrop's campaign of "Local Food, Energy and Economy." While not
entirely unprepared due to the efforts of local group Transition Town OKC,
Oklahoma City nonetheless endured great stress from the effects of the
oil supply crisis. Without constant deliveries of food, grocery shelves
were emptied within three days of the Ras Tanura refinery bombing in
Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2011. Highways and roads became deserted, and
basic city services stopped. Luckily, the crisis lasted only two weeks
before the federal government began rationing gasoline and released oil
from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure coal and food
deliveries. Still, the economy was at a standstill, and without regular
paychecks, many people could not even afford to buy the food that was
available.

Leading
citizens, business and spiritual leaders from all walks and parties
endorsed Waldrop, including many that had opposed him in the past.

"After
the Crisis of '11, the Federation of Churches realized that we needed a
city that would prepare for the future of oil depletion, not be stuck
in the past of oil dependence. We decided to mobilize and make sure
that the city had a plan. Our church was very excited to support Bob's
campaign, which had a great, innovative focus on preparedness,
resilience, and localization," said John Franks, minister, Faith and
Hope Community Church.

Mayor-elect Waldrop will celebrate his election with a
"Local Food Extravaganza," and invites all citizens to an open-air
potluck festival downtown to be held directly after his inauguration.
"We look forward to bringing all our citizens back into the democratic
process," he remarked. "My administration will be one of inclusiveness
and responsibility and will offer a new vision for the future–one of
energy efficiency, local food and economy, shared transport and
renewable energy. Our hope is that everyone will participate."