Archive for November, 2009
Wednesday, Nov. 18 Pat Benson spoke to spoke about the Transitions movement. Transitions recognizes the combined effects of unsustainable carbon based energy policies, growing word energy demand, heavy reliance on foreign sources of energy, and the effect this can have on our economy, environment and human well-being. To achieve a change, or “transition”, away from such dependency starts with people’s awareness. Awareness can create a sence of urgency and that can lead to a two-pronged approach of public policy and market demand changes. Policy changes alone, can lead to unpopular and less effective unfunded mandates. The Transitions process encourages creation of local solutions through grass-roots movement. This includes the formation and use of some “closed loop” local systems. This preparation avoids, or mitigates, waiting for unfunded mandates, or market volatility, causing undesirable consequences to our local economy human well-being and environment. This is particularly important in the midwest. As a result wide temperature variations, agriculture production, and most of our energy coming from coal and tar sand oil, we have among the highest carbon reliance per capita in the nation.
Part of creating market local demand includes visioning (coming up with ideas) linking local capabilities to local needs. This is important for local economic development (small business create %80 of US employment.) Pat had us engaged in an Open Source visioning, or ideas generating, process. First the group, of 13 local citizens, listed the areas of needs and problems in our community. Then the same group listed the attributes of an ideal community. Then people put individual steps, to address the problems and work toward the ideal, on post-it notes and stuck them to the wall. We then sorted out the ideas into categories with similarities.
We came up with three major categories of ideas to address to move us towards our goals. These included: 1) creating more involvement of community and schools, 2) recycling and waste reduction, and 3) growing, selling and distribution of food. Other groupings included mass transit, local arts and entertainment, and small business accommodation and growth.
Participants formed groups around the major category that they could bring or provide the most interest and experience. From those groups came ways to put the ideas into practice. From group 1) creating more involvement of community and schools, came:
Continue to engage and expand participation a diversity of people with emphasis on force multipliers or leaders than can bring the issue or message back to their organization.
Invite people to the table.
From group 2) recycling and waste reduction, came:
Create “Stuff Swap” blog as part of the VSTF web site.
More public information about existing programs for household waste/recycling/composting/chemical-free homes/ green product (utilizing existing resources such as St.Louis County, the MPCA, and the extension service.)
From group 3) growing, selling and distribution of food, came:
Establish community gardens in Olcott Park.
Establish a local garden products exchange.
Pat brought a lot of information and introduced us to the “Open Source” process. If you want to learn more about it visit: http://www.transitionus.org
A home energy audit is a tool to make your investments efficient, reaping savings for years to come. The VSTF is funding three home energy audits that will be distributed though a lottery (an approximate $300 value each). If you want to enter this lottery, available to residential home owners in Virginia, simply put your name, address and telephone number on a 3″ x 5″ piece of paper and mail it to: VSTF home energy audit lottery, c/o Robin Raplinger, 916 17th St. N., Virginia, MN, 55792. Entries must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2009. Only one entry per household please. The drawing will take place soon afterwards and winners will be notified. All that the VSTF asks is that winners fill out a questionnaire a year after the audit is completed, relating what actions were taken by the homeowner and outcomes obtained as a result of the energy audit.
Election Day in Virginia is this Tuesday, November 3. VSTF asked your city council candidates to respond to several questions about sustainability, and here are their answers. Keep these in mind when you head to the polls on Tuesday!