Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone!

This year I am setting some "SMART" goals, that is goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible.

Assess my starting point:

  1. Calculate my ecological footprint for 2006 (using calculators here, here and here.)
  2. Measure the killowatts my appliances consume using the Kill-a-Watt meter.

Set targets for reducing my footprint in 2007:

  1. Honor my pledge to reduce my fossil fuel consumptions by 2.6% based on the recommendations of the Oil Depletion Protocol.
  2. Find out what the recommendations are for reducing my carbon footprint to prevent global warming.
  3. Meet that goal with a combination of emissions reduction and offsets.

Set up a way to track my progress:

  1. Make a spreadsheet with all the variables.
  2. Set up a timetable for when to measure my results.
  3. Track cumulative numbers and percentages to see if I am on target.

Be accountable:

  1. Post my goals (in terms of percentages).
  2. Post my progress (in terms of percentages).
  3. Network with other people who are doing the same and offer my support.

I invite you to join me! Together we can make a difference.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gifts for the adults on your list (Cross posted on Groovy Green)

Groovy Green's 12 Days of Christmas
"Green Gifts for the Adults on Your List"
by Liz Logan

Okay. It's December 17th. Hanukkah has started, Christmas is in eight days, which puts the Solstice at four days from now and Kwanza at nine. No matter how you slice it, you are running out of shopping time.

Of course your ideal would be to buy local and not spend precious fuel to ship to loved ones far away. All the better if you can take public transit to shop!

But if you have to ship, you can ease your conscious by shopping on line with green vendors. But where to start? Never fear! Your intrepid Groovy Green personal shopper, Liz Logan, has done a bit of surfing and has rounded up some green selections for you. As Bo Derek put it: "Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping."
Let's get right to the point:

For Him—always the hardest on the list, right? But I've got you covered.

Does he travel? Live in a dorm? Or does he spend the night at his girlfriend/boyfriend's apartment? Then check out BTC Elements' men's toiletries kit, made out of recycled billboards.

You know that vague disappointed feeling when you open up a "container" gift and there is nothing in it but tissue paper? So to avoid that, fill it with this: Grass Roots organic Druide Travel Kit .

Want to keep him stylishly warm and cozy? Then check out the totally cool fleece hats made out of recycled plastic from Cagoule Fleece.

And for the party animal in him, how about a organic beer sampler from Eco Express? Cheers!

But If he's a teetotaler, then check out the organic tea at Diamond Organics.

For Her—we'll start with the jewelry, as that is my personal favorite:

If you're going in circles you're on the right track. Circles are THE fashion motif this year! Add Chakra gemstones plus a 15% discount and you can't go wrong! At Shanti Boutique.

Romance on your mind? Maybe even planning to pop the question? How about gemstones with a conscious: Leber Jeweler, Inc.

Does she keep that beautiful body in shape with yoga? Show your appreciation with this colorful batiked yoga bag from Global Mamas to carry her mat in.

Nurture your special woman with the "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" holiday gift pack, available through Hope for Women until December 20th.

For the Couple—two birds with one stone!

Everybody can use compact fluorescent light bulbs; and don't just look for them at your big box stores, lots of local businesses are starting to carry them as well. On your card, tell the recipients that they will be saving 10 to 15 times the energy of an incandescent bulb. As "light" is the theme for both Hanukkah and Christmas, you have a great excuse to increase the energy efficiency in their homes!

For rechargeable batteries of all types, check out Green Batteries.

You're the practical type? Give them green household necessities. Check out this option at Green Home.

Everybody could use these economical grocery bags form Abundant Earth. Get some for yourself while you are at it!

Have they recently combined households? Gotten hitched? Looking for a hostess gift? Consider this selection of recycled Holiday glassware at Green Glass.

Do you know their taste, and want to get them the perfect object d'art? Check out National Geographic's Novica site. It might take a couple of weeks to get your item, however.

Haven't a clue about what they'd like? Here are some sure fire winners:

· Romantic Dinner for Two from Eco Express
· Organic Wine from the Organic Wine Company.
· Rainforest Munch from Eco Express.
· Organic Herbal Wreath from Eco Express.

For Anybody:

For the person who has everything: give him or her their own private ecosystem! The EcoSphere from Abundant Earth.

Hip & Zen has a lot of cool stuff, but check out this organic neck hugger that warms you neck and smells good.

And there is a great selection of Organic Gift Baskets from Diamond Organics.

And if all else fails, you can't go wrong with organic flowers from Organic Bouquet, or California Organic Flowers, Great sites to bookmark for year-round giving!

Okay, if you STILL haven't found something, then check out these gift guides and directories:

· Green Gift Guide has lots of ideas.
· The Green Guide has several free articles.
· Novica gift guide for beautiful Fair Trade items.
· Local Harvest store has lots of goodies.
· Greenpeople Directory which allows you to search different categories by your location.

Thanks for helping to make this a Green Holiday Season!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

How can we assess "sustainability?"

On Friday, December 1st I went to Southface's monthly breakfast roundtable and learned how organizations are designing and implementing sustainability principles.

So what do I mean when I say something is "sustainable?" I like the definition which says it is a practice which could be continued indefinitely without any degradation to the environment or future generations. In Native American tradition, for example, every decision would be weighed based on its impact on the next seven generations.

The first speaker, Susan Garrett, told us about The Natural Step. She has studied it extensively in Sweden, where it originated. The Natural Step is a methodology for assessing the sustainability of something. The criteria were developed over a period of 15 years by scientists who kept refining what they call the "system conditions"--the conditions that are necessary for a society to be sustainable.

She gave an example of how she was applying the principles to an upcoming conference. It is being held at a major hotel. She focused on how they were going to feed everybody. Ideally, it would be with local, organic, and affordable food. So the first thing that she did was call Georgia Organics. The farmers told here that there wasn't a lot of surplus crops available in March--but she could have all the kale she wanted. So that was the first "aha." Gatherings mean mouths to feed, and so there is a reason to pay attention to the seasons. The second aha came when she explained what the farmers said about the animals. 100 pork loins means slaughtering 50 pigs. Couldn't they use the whole animal? But of course the kitchen wasn't set up for that.

One of the goals of doing this assessment is to figure out how to "build capacity" for the future when you come up against such systemic blocks. So in this case, it would mean rethinking the scheduling and the food processing. What would it take for the chefs to create a menu that used the whole animal? And to change the expectations of the diners, as well?

The second speaker, Paula Vaughn, shared what her architectural firm, Perkins + Will have done towards their goal of becoming the greenest design firm on the planet. She gave us a brief tour of their Green Operations Plan, which covers:
  • transportation (both commute and company fleet)
  • office water use
  • office energy use
  • office consumables
  • indoor air quality
  • office renovations and new construction

They did away with most of their fleet, and have mandated buying hybrids in the future. They are replacing all of their plumbing fixtures with low-flow models, and have made substantial savings. Energy use starts with educating people--for example, turn of the computers, turn off the overhead lights, turn on the task lights.

Office consumables has been their biggest challenge. They still use a lot of paper, but now print everything they can on both sides, and make that a criteria for any new printers and plotters. They bought a tester for indoor air quality, and the results of that will drive their decisions in the future. And finally, the same principles they apply to their clients' projects, they will apply to their own.

In the Q&A afterwards, somebody said that when they compared the impact of a ceramic cup to a consumable cup, they discovered that you would have to use the cup over a thousand times before it "broke even." Vaughn said that they had many points of view in this category, but that they did do things like include the dishwasher, detergent and hot water in their calculations. Garrett pointed out that if you used the Natural Step criteria, anything that put pollutants out (like manufacturing Styrofoam) would be automatically discarded.

So my understanding of "what is sustainable?" has gotten bigger and more complex. I am starting to understand that there are no absolutes, that each choice has to be weighed. And this of course includes the human systems, both external and internal.

I am grateful for this opportunity to hear what others are doing, and am excited about learning how to apply these principles to my own life.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Now that I've gotten through most of my grief about peak oil, I have discovered a quality of poignancy in my life. Almost every night, as I snuggle under the covers, I give thanks for my warm house, for my meds, and for the power that turns on the TV, phone, and computers. I am grateful for my car and the gasoline to drive it, the food in the grocery store, and the roads that enable me to get there.

I believe that a time will come when I won't have such luxuries, so I try to appreciate them as much as possible while I have them.

Then when the accouterments of civilization are gone, what will we have left? Each other.

In the mean time, I am so grateful for the peak oil community, that I am slowly getting to know. I am grateful for the oil professionals that put their careers on the line so that we would learn about the problem. I am grateful for the people that took this understanding and have made it their life's work to educate the public and support us in preparing for it. I am grateful for the grass-roots activists who are making changes. I am grateful for you.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Strategic Planning

Hi everyone,

I have been in action mode, but I hope to start capturing what I am learning and sharing it here. I have a lot to tell about our big event, hosting Richard Heinberg October 11th, but the first thing I want to do with that is to write up a "best practices" document so that we (and others) can benefit from our experience.

My latest activities have been related to our oil awareness Meetup group, Atlanta Beyond Oil. I have been preparing for our Heinberg event debrief meeting, our "new members" meeting, and in the process of that, have done some strategic planning. I wrote out my thinking so that I could get clearer about it, and also so I could talk to other people who know more about Atlanta and Georgia and politics and environmental groups, etc. and get feedback. So this is just a first draft.

Out basic goal is to get the Peak Oil message out, and so far we have considered three audiences: state and local government officials, environmental groups, and the general public. There is also the realm of education, K through 12 and beyond. And then there are the powers behind everything else, the corporations. But I wasn't ready to tackle those yet.

Ultimately we want an "energy literate" government and society.


Specifically, mayors, city councils, county commissioners, state representatives, state senate, the governor, and all the relevant committees associated with these.

• Pass peak oil resolutions as they did in San Francisco and Portland (but de-emphasize that it's a West Coast thing)
• Start committees to do assessment on energy needs, food needs, transportation needs (including citizens)
• Produce reports about these with recommendations
• Draft policies, lobby for them, get them passed (unless we go the 501 (c)(3) route, in which case we can't lobby and would partner with a lobbying group)
• Have town hall meetings to raise consciousness about, plan for, and implement preparedness for the coming energy transition
. Develop tax credits, system benefits plan, economic development plans that support preparedness

• Educate local officials
• Find sponsors who will champion our cause
• Hold Open Space Technology meetings for citizens and/or officials to develop areas of focus, groups who will work on them, and action plans
• Use templates to develop plans for assessment (Powerdown Project, Kinsale, Willits, new PCI book, etc.)
• Develop teams that can write policy recommendations (partner with local groups and take advantage of national resouces)
• Get public support for these policies
. Work with GEFA
. Work with GDOT

• Develop ABO team to work in this area
• Continue to lobby contacts we have made so far
• Develop speakers bureau
• Make presentations to committees, etc
• Track GA Energy Strategy Plan and input when possible
• Join the Relocalization Network
• Get advice from folks in other groups who are working on this
• For generating public support, see that category


Specifically: (at this point I don't want to mention our target groups by name)

• Have peak oil be a part of the discourse (especially along with climate change)
• Build an Energy Transition Coalition (both climate change and peak oil require us to make a transition to non-fossil fuel energy)
• Have ratifying the Oil Depletion Protocol be part of the agenda

• Get buy in on the idea that peak oil must be addressed when climate change issues are addressed
. Develop partnerships with other groups
• Invite groups to come to an OST on energy transition
• Invite groups to co-sponsor an OST on energy transition
• Invite groups to join the coalition

• Join GEC
. Do a needs-gap analysis
. Identify target groups, starting with those concerned with climate change
• Identify key contacts
• Meet with key contacts
• Explain how peak oil relates to climate change, especially the coal issue
• Explain how the ODP compliments the Kyoto Protocol
• Develop presentations and materials for environmental groups
. Swap presentations
• Distribute ODP book and Oil Poster


• Vote for peak oil aware officials
• Support their officials to make peak oil preparedness policies
• Form committees to do assessments, plan, and take action for preparedness
• Take action for personal preparedness
• Participate in community-wide preparedness actions
• Have many groups like ours throughout the metro area and state wide
• Reduce energy use by 2.5% per year
• Participate in local food production
• Etc.

• Let the public know which officials are peak oil aware
• Campaign for policies
• Share resources and how to prepare on our website
• Have OST meetings for people to come together, create teams, and work on preparedness
• Have seminars where they can learn what other communities are doing
• Have seminars where they can learn how to personally prepare
• Tell them how to do assessments of their own energy consumption or who to hire
• Promote the ODP

• Have showings of End of Suburbia and the Cuba film (Kilowatt Ours too?)
• Bring in name speakers (partner with other environmental groups)
• Participate in events (Bioneers , Earth Day, etc)
• Work with “candidate scorecard” groups to have their criteria include peak oil aware
• Develop education, training, and PR materials
• Create a marketing plan
• Work with other PO groups to develop resources (“how to” manuals, etc)
• Join the Relocalization Network
• Network with Green professionals to develop a resources list


Specifically, leadership, core group, casual members, non-participating members, committees (standing and ad hoc)

• Clear purpose
• Clear leadership
• Clear vision
• Clear community
• Clear management
• Clear goals
• Enough active members to sustain projects without burn out
• Standing committees
• Community events

• Schedule gathering(s) to explore purpose, leadership, vision, community and management
• Promote our group
• Ask members for feedback on what they want
• Have internal OST to create committees and action plans
• Capture what we learned from the Heinberg event (write “best practices” document)
• Develop leadership skills of each member

• Have additional meetings on the weekends
• Advertise meetings
• Develop website
• Develop identity
• Create data base of members
• Take a survey
• Debrief Heinberg

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Introducing Richard Heinberg: Atlanta October 11th, 2006

Welcome to Peak Oil: Challenges and Opportunities at the end of Cheap Petroleum--a presentation by Richard Heinberg. My name is Liz Logan, and I am the Organizer for Atlanta Beyond Oil.

If you would have told me eighteen months ago that I would be standing here introducing Richard Heinberg, I would have said you were crazy. When my friends first told me about peak oil, I stuck my fingers in my ears and said "la, la, la, I can't hear you!" I was totally resistant to the idea.

Since I started my peak oil journey, I discovered that people had all kinds of crazy reactions. People told me that they sat at the computer for months reading everything they could find about it, or they began to obsessively make lists of all the supplies that they would need to stock up on.

As we shared our stories, something became obvious to us. Learning about peak oil can have a profound effect on your life. It requires you to rethink things that you may have taken for granted.

It is not a comfortable process. For some of us it meant dusting off our critical thinking skills and learning to read graphs and get comfortable with numbers. For others it meant going through an emotional upheaval.

And ultimately, we are all faced with the question: what can we do to prepare for the energy transition?

No matter where you are in your journey, whether this is your first introduction or you have been grappling with this for a while, you will get something out of Richard's presentation tonight. He will explain the problem, but also offer a solution.

Richard has dedicated his life to increasing the energy literacy of our nation. He has written seven books that have been translated into seven languages. We are offering three of them for sale. They include:

1 The Party's Over: War and the Fate of Industrial Societies. This gives some scientific background about peak oil. The latest edition has been substantially revised.

2 Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, which lays out the paths that are before us and the consequences of each choice. It is his most political book.

3 His latest book is The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism, and Economic Collapse. It explains the Oil Depletion Protocol, which he will tell you about tonight.

Richard is not only an author, he is also a journalist, educator, editor, lecturer and a Core Faculty member of New College of California. He teaches a course on "Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community."

He is featured in the film The End of Suburbia, which is many people's introduction to peak oil. He's appeared on national radio and television in eight countries, and has been quoted in Time Magazine, Reuters, and the Associated press. Last month, in a profile in the New Yorker, Bill Clinton told the reporter that he was reading Richard's book The Party's Over.

Richard is also my hero. We are thrilled to have him here and delighted that you could attend.

Please join me in welcoming--Richard Heinberg.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Report on the Energy Transition Summit in CA

I have a report from someone who went to the recent Energy Transition Summit. She is relatively new to the information about peak oil, so looks at this event with fresh eyes. She writes:

I learned from your blog that your group in Atlanta, GA is sponsoring a speech by Richard Heinberg, so I attended an event to hear him.

On Friday, Sep 29th Richard Heinberg was the keynote speaker at the Energy Transition Summit in Santa Rosa, CA. His speech was well illustrated on the screen and seamlessly presented. He simplified a complex subject and made a concise presentation in a clear and articulate manner which saved me many hours of reading and study. His presentation was factual, but his concluding statements about the dire consequences to ourselves and the planet were passionate and motivating. He received a standing ovation.

There were about 150 people in the audience who spoke to each other in interactive dyads and who submitted written questions to the panel. There were many sponsors. Some were vendors and had informational tables.

Lead Sponsors:

  • Energy Transition Team
  • Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, ,
  • Sonoma County Climate Protection Campaign,
  • PG&E,
  • the Livability Project, and
  • Whole Foods.

The panelist had good information about what each of their groups is doing. They encouraged others to get people involved by being positive, to be enthusiastic, and to tell people how much fun it is to work with a wonderful group of new friends.

I personally think that's all good, rather than scaring people, which is probably a turn off, but hardly anyone I know knows what Peak Oil means and the titles of events, books, organizations, committees and groups don't help to explain. The names and titles are meaningful to people already involved, but are cryptic to others. We need a few catchy words to capture the imagination of those not in the know so they will attend an Energy Transition Summits like the one in Santa Rosa and hear Peak Oil explained by Richard Heinberg and the other participants.

~Sonja B.

Thanks very much Sonja B. ! And she brings up a good point--how do we communicate what we are about in just a few words? We need to bridge the gap between jargon and mainstream.

Heinberg on Peak Oil: Challenges and Opportunities at the End of Cheap Petroleum

Modern civilization is dependent on cheap, plentiful energy. But we now face a critical moment in human history: Peak Oil, where global petroleum production enters an irreversible decline, even as demand soars. Dwindling resources and increasing international competition for the remaining supplies have led many experts to issue disturbing warnings about the coming decade.

Richard Heinberg, widely regarded as America’s foremost Peak Oil educator, will share the most up-to-date research on the timing and consequences of global peak oil, and the crucial preparations that must be undertaken, both locally and internationally. His new book, The Oil Depletion Protocol, outlines a practical, humane strategy for addressing petroleum’s inevitable decline.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
7:30 pm
Trinity United Methodist Church
265 Washington Street SW, Atlanta
(opposite City Hall)
Map Directions
$5 suggested donation
($3 for students/seniors)

Richard Heinberg is a journalist, educator, editor, lecturer and a core faculty member at New College of California in San Francisco, where he teaches courses on Energy and Society and Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community.

His six books include:

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism and Economic Collapse

Heinberg’s essays and articles have appeared in many journals and he has given over 200 lectures on oil depletion to a wide variety of audiences. He appears prominently in the documentary The End of Suburbia.

This event is sponsored by Atlanta Beyond Oil,a local organization dedicated to preparing for a changed energy world.
For information, email
Checkout our Meetup website.

Bicycling, public transportation or walking to this event is encouraged!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Feeling-based learning

I am back from my training with the Genuine Contact program. It was one of those experiences that altered the way I percieve the world in fundamental ways. I changed the way I perceive myself, organizations and meetings. We worked with material that I had encountered before as I got trained to be an adult educator, but I got it at a deeper level. When I have taken learning style or personality type assessment, I tended to test out at a "feeler/intuitive/emotional" type of person. But there are three other orientations as well: the watcher, thinker, and doer.

In the workshop we broke out into groups with people that had a similar orientation to us. Not surprisingly I met with the woman that I had felt most connected to at the workshop. Our assignment was to note what we needed from a facilitator or teacher coming from the perspec tive of our learning style, and we were very excited about having the opportunity to express the experiences of the feeling-based person.

This perspective is not articulated very often, and certainly not in a business context. Feeling-based processes are not usually welcomed. This is a shame because there is a lot of value in getting in touch with one's feelings. With this comes intuition, opening space, "critical feeling," and attending to how things feel. In its broadest application, it is a quality of life issue.

Below are the things that we were able to capture on paper. The minimum requirements that we need from a facilitator/educator:
  • Invite feelings into the process. Make it okay to have and express them. Articulate this explicitly. Say it with authenticity.
  • Don't be reactive or judgmental when feelings are expressed. Of course if you do have reactions or judgments and then supress them, we will be able to feel that. So if you do have these reactions, it is better to acknowledge and own them. They are not wrong. It is okay. It helps us if they are out on the table.
  • Express your acceptance for the feeling side of the spectrum with your body language (nods, eye contact, open posture, etc.)
  • Accept your OWN feelings. This is the key to accepting someone else's.
Icing on the cake would be to understand the process of emotional learning.

  • I need to stop and feel in order to learn and remember. It may take me some time to process. I may need to go away from the learning environment and digest what has been presented to me before I can open to more.
  • Learning evokes strong emotions in me sometimes.
  • There is a continuous flow of emotions that goes along with the material I am being presented with.

This is not a problem for us, as long as it is not a problem with you. As Jewel wrote "I'm sensitive, and I want to stay that way."

We are very sensitive to the "energy field" of the meeting.

  • disturbances in the energy field (denial, judgements) flood us with "distracting" feelings
  • we have a hard time attending to learning content if there are funky interpersonal dynamics in the room
  • if other people are having an emotional reaction, we usually have an emotional response to that that we need to process

We are sensitive to the fact that emotions and especially their expression do not have a lot of acceptance in many contexts

  • we are upset about this, and when this is blatant it triggers our feelings about having our way of being rejected
  • we have a lot of energy going into self-monitoring to check our expression so that we will be accepted
  • we are very sensitive to whether the emotional orientation has acceptance or not
  • situtaions where the people are closed to our orientation can trigger feelings of anger, dispair, self-doubt about our value, guilt about wanting to have acceptance, and on and on
  • it is very scary to express our feelings about this

After we posted our flip chart paper we sat on the couch with a blanket over our heads. We felt extremely vulnerable to bring this forward. But it was also very exhilerating to do so.

We also got to learn about the needs of folks with other orientations. That was extremely valuable. I got a better sense of the implications of orientation when designing meetings or lesson plans that included everybody in the room. I need to give time for the watchers to reflect on their experiences. I need to provide data for the thinkers. I need to give the doers something to do.

So what does all of this have to do with the intersection of community and sustainability? For me, everything. These issues/topics have a strong emotional content for me. I want a community that includes emotional processes. I want to allow for emotional responses to the issues that come up when we consider sustainability.

I also want to open space for myself to broaden the content area of my blog. I am feeling more confident that I can simply come from my own point of view and add it to the collective pool of knowledge. That is the beauty of blogs. They provide so many points of view, and when someone is writing from their own place, I learn about theirs and can include it in my holding of the world. I can even broaden my own opint of view.

As an emotionally-based person I often have to go through a range of emotions to get to that magic place of acceptance. I may have to cry, rage, tremble... but this is the healing process, and I am dedicated to following that.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I have exciting news! Atlanta Beyond Oil (the new name for our Meetup group) will be hosting Richard Heinberg in Atlanta on Wednesday, October 11, 2006. I'll update you as we get the details nailed down.

So that has been what I've been working on instead of blogging. And I won't be blogging for two more weeks, as I am going to get more facilitation training in the Genuine Contact program. I am really looking forward to working with folks who value the whole person--the intellect and intuition, the mind and emotion, the rational and non-rational sides of us.

Which reminds me, have you seen the Peak Oil Blues website? I think its wonderful that the emotional aspect of confronting Peak Oil is being attended to.

When I get back from this series of workshops I won't be traveling for a while (thank goodness!) so I will be able to get back into my posting groove. I'll talk to you then!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Conversations with other Peakers

Our Atlanta Oil Awareness Meetup Group has been having interesting conversations about coming up with our new name, and in the process we are realizing we need to clarify our goals and purpose. Here is my latest contribution to the dialogue: (Plus its an easy post while I am out of town taking care of Dear Great Aunt Lou's stuff. Q: how many margarine containers can one person have? A: I didn't count, but I bet its close to 100!!!)

Here's how I look at this... We have a big problem. What are we going to do about this? And so that begs the question... Who is the "we" that I am talking about? And here are the possibilities...

1) We can respond on the global level, which is doing things like having many nations signing the Oil Depletion Protocol. So how can I as an individual or small group affect this change? It is hard to do much. Each of us can sign the protocol. We can write to our national leaders and ask them to do it. We can ask other individuals to do the same.

2) We can respond on the national level, which is doing things like take the "Apollo Program" approach... Make it a national priority to address this problem, provide the resources, mandate programs, wage a propaganda campaign, etc. So how can I as an individual or small group affect this change? Lobby national leaders. Take it upon ourselves to educate the public. Encourage them to lobby, vote for people who will support that, etc.

3) We can respond on the regional level, which is doing things like convening bioregional conferences, summits, Mayor's initiatives, etc. We can support events that are already happening or start one of our own. On the individual level/small group level? Participate, volunteer, or be part of a team that puts one on.

4) We can respond on the state level, which is working with state government, lobbying, and all that political jazz that I don't know too much about. On an individual/small group level we can network with our government, political machines, advocacy organizations that have a Georgia chapter, etc. On the individual small group level, get involved in state politics and advocacy groups, volunteer, do fundraising, etc.

5) We can respond on a metro level (metro Atlanta) which involves learning about the plethora (is that a word?) of organizations doing regional planning, events (Bioneers for example), etc. Individuals and small groups have a lot of leverage here.

6) We can respond on the local level, (cities and towns) getting involved at the city council level, hold home showings of EOS and the Cuba film, etc. Individuals and small groups have lots of leverage here as well.

Another thing to consider is that we are a metro-level group. We do not yet have the membership to break down into smaller constituencies or build up to the state level. So it makes sense to me to work at the scale that we are at: on the Metro scale. This is where we will have the most effect on the world.

An additional bang for the buck is this is the level where the rubber will meet the road in terms of peak oil preparedness planning. We can't count on the larger scale governmental systems to respond adequately (see Katrina).

The other issues is that in the more dire possibilities, we will ONLY be able to deal with things on the local level because it will be too expensive to have a regional, national or global economy (transportation costs).

So to me, this points to the level of our efforts: the metro level.

One could argue that we could be a group of people who are supporting each other to react on a purely individual level (i.e. survival or head to the hills options) but I don't think that is where this group is at.

This is why I think a focus on "relocalization" is so important and why I want to join the Relocalization Network.

I see us as a small group working on the local (metro) level and networked with other groups working on their local levels. And we need to keep in mind that "relocalization" means different things depending on the scope of the region you are talking about: village, town, city, metro, etc.


So that is my current thinking on the issue. Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Atlanta Oil Awareness

I have been working on several projects for my Atlanta Oil Awareness Meetup Group. I will tell you more about them when we have things a little more solid. But one of the things we are doing is producing a tabletop display. My friend from eleven design is doing our design work.

I have been thinking and reading about branding. If you have checked out the group listing at, you know that there are many takes on the concept of an oil awareness group. I think that "Sustainabile Atlanta" is probably too broad for us right now. I'm leaning towards the simple and straightforward "Atlanta Peak Oil." The folks at Sidney Peak Oil tried to initiate a campaign to get all of the groups to follow that format, but it didn't work. Everyone did their own thing.

Other titles in the running include Atlanta Powerdown, Atlanta Post Carbon Solutions, and Atlanta After Oil. If you have any feedback, ideas or suggestions I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Well I am back from my out-of-town adventures, but I will be leaving again soon. Great Aunt Lou is ready to sell her house, so Mom, Dad, Aunt and I are going back to Chicago to help her dispose of her stuff.

A week after that I will be going to another series of workshops, so my blogging will continue to be slow.

In the meantime I want to announce the inception of a friend's blog: The Unseen Role of Denial. It is quite eclectic, ranging from esoteric spiritual philosophizing to left wing political rants. He had been writing long responses to other folk's blogs, so I encouraged him to start his own. Check in on him from time to time to see what he is up to.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Eldercare, Part Two

Whew! I am back home, and we got Great Aunt Lou placed in an assisted living retirement community. As miserable as she was at home, she didn't want to go. I meant "the end of the road" for her, and she had a very difficult time confronting this. I can't say I blame her, but we encouraged her to reframe it as a transition rather than a funeral. Thank God she has enough money to be in a place where they will spoil her. I would hate to have to leave her somewhere that was awful. Its all because of compound interest. She just lived long enough for it to accrue.

It was the first time I was involved in the care of an elder. It was an eye-opening experience. And a very valuable one. I really saw how our decisions and habits create our future. By her own admission she was not very flexible. She hadn't moved in 50 years. She said everything was so much harder when you are 92. She had no sense of how fortunate she is. She is healthy, can hear and see and walk and had a network of friends and neighbors looking after her. They are the ones that called us and said we needed to intervene.

This got me thinking about community. What an amazing thing to have neighbors looking in on her every day! Frankly, her community was appalled that her family had not stepped in already. But we had been trying to convince her to move to a retirement community for 20 years. What can you do when they say no?

It probably helped that there was two of us. We played "good cop, bad cop." I got to be good cop since I hadn't been dealing with her all my life. I didn't have a backlog of frustration to deal with. But by then end of our visit, when she said we were kicking her out of her house, I reached the end of my patience. We were doing everything in our power to protect her, but she couldn't see that.

It brought home the importance of getting my will, living will, trusts, power of attorney, etc. together. Fortunately these were all in place. One less hurdle to cross when the time comes.

She is a Depression baby. It is really hard for her to spend money on herself. But what was she saving it for? She is 92 for Heaven's sake!

She was a natural recycler. She saved all of the plastic packaging she encountered. On the one had I wanted to toss it all (we stuffed it in recycle bags) and on the other hand I appreciated her valuing of the durable things (plastics, especially) that we throw away. They are so over engineered. A grocery bag is used once, but will live 1000 years. Crazy.

She lived in the neighborhood for 50 years. She new some of her neighbors before they were born. Out of that comes a certain loyalty. One of her neighbors cried when we told her she was gone.

I am pretty much exhausted. Was on the road for 15 hours today. I am going to the beach in Florida for a week to recuperate. Then I'm off to Minnesoota to visit Mr. Logan's family. So please excuse me if I don't post much. I will do what I can until life settles down again.

Monday, July 10, 2006


My great aunt is 92 and doesn't have any kids of her own, so helping her out falls upon my mom, her sister, and me. All four of us live in different states, so we are in the process of sorting out who can do what. Right now I am on the road, making my way to Chicago with my aunt. We would like to get her moved into an assisted living situation, as she is starting to have paranoid delusions. It might be dementia, or it might just be that she is dehydrated. But in any case, if she continues to call the police every day they might have her taken to the hospital, evaluated, and then declared incompetent and placed in care that someone else chooses.

So our goal is to convince her to exercise her choice while she still can.

I keep imagining myself in her shoes. What would it be like to give up your home of 50 years, and go live in an institution? What would it be like to know that you are never coming home again?

None of my grandparents needed this kind of care. They all died at home. So it is new territory for my family.

We did find a great resource for you to file away in case you might need it some day. It was put together by the National Institute on Aging, which is a part of the National institute on Health. It is specifically for those giving
long distance care. It offers a helpful perspective for those of us who don't live in community with our elders.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Comparing the Scenarios about Peak Oil

I've had this link in my "future blog topics" file for a while. presents the range of assumptions about our oil situation and their corresponding predictions about our future.
This site provides a general introduction to the peak oil debate by providing an overview of five general scenarios for the future of oil and, in the minds of many, scenarios for the future of our society!
The author divides the continuum into five categories: Pollyanna, Optimistic, Plateau, Pessimistic, and Head for the Hills. As I read through them, I realized that I fell into the Pessimistic category, and should probably disclose that somewhere on my blog. If I examined my fears, they would fall into the Head for the Hills category, but I don't have the energy or stamina for that, so I am just crossing my fingers and hoping that a Pessimistic attitude is realistic enough.

Actually if I look at my behavior in terms of preparedness, I am acting like a Pollyannist. Hmm. I guess that is a question for everybody: are you congruent between your point of view and your actions? And if you are not, what kind of support do you need to get yourself where you want to be?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sustainability Open Space Asheville

June 26th Chris Weaver opened the space for a new network to form for those who felt called to come together to discuss sustainability from the Asheville, NC area. He sponsored an Open Spaces Technology workshop with the theme of "Transforming ourselves and our Culture to Dynamic Sustainability."

In an open space meeting the folks that show up set the agenda. There was a wide range of topics, including:

  • collaborative art, art activism, beauty
  • nuclear transport
  • educating and integrating the poor
  • water catchment and conservation, urban homesteading
  • growing medicinal plants, making a living on the land in the city
  • transforming the public school system, sustainable regional transportation
  • green burial
  • creating an event in Asheville like Portland's City Repair
  • using cloth grocery bags
  • creating an Asheville intentional community group
  • preparing for peak oil
  • teen pregnancy
  • meaningful inclusion of the racial and ethnic experience

People went to break out sessions that they were drawn to and had discussions that were recorded and then bound into a book of proceedings. Now everyone has a record of what went on, who was where, and how to get in touch with them. We gathered in a large Circle at openings and closings, passed the talking stick, and danced the spiral dance. Through intensive listening and inspired speaking a community was born.

Chris envisions SOS Asheville to be a space for community people and organizations to connect, supported by a Council of Leaders. If all goes well, this group could be a prototype for other SOS Community regional groups. Maybe we will see on in Atlanta.

The group will have a web presence at Keep an eye on them as I predict good things will be happening!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Open Space Technology

Next week I will be in training again, this time to learn how to facilitate Open Space workshops. Open Space Technology is great for large diverse groups who have complex problems to solve. It allows people to set their own agendas, take responsibility for the areas they feel passionate about, and if enough time can be set aside, begin to develop their action plan. The workshops are self-organizing, and it is very empowering for people to see that they do not need formal leaders to get things done. They can do it themselves.

I think it would be a perfect fit with my goal of helping communities relocalize their resources. I am very excited about it.

My trainers will be Chris Weaver of Springbranch and Birgitt Williams of Dalar International Consultantcy. During the course of the workshop we will be running a 1.5 day Open Space gathering on the topic of Sustainability. If you are in the Asheville, SC area come on down and join us!

As usual, I will give you a report when I get back.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Groovy Green

Groovy Green is a new on-line magazine that started covering Ithica, NY and has expanded to discuss broader green concerns. They are particularly supportive of their readership taking action.

This is the time for taking action in our lives. We will be expanding our focus to include ways that you can become more self-sufficient, as well as challenging ourselves at GG as a way of inspiring others.
They are expanding their base of contributors (including Yours Truely) as they are striving to become a "People's Green Magazine." They have pictures and fun videos and a blog. They're your one-stop shop for all your Green desires. Check them out!

photo by benjamin wagner

Friday, June 09, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Wow--I just came back from the opening night of An Inconvenient Truth in Atlanta. Our showing was sold out, and from the looks of things, so were other showings. I commend the theatre for having booths in their lobby from local organizations. I snuck my Oil Awareness Meetup Group's fliers on the community table.

There was a palpable buzz in the audience--it reminded me of the excitement before a rock show. We sat through lots of previews targeted for our demographic segment.

So the main thing I want to say about it is--go see it. It is very well done. You'll learn about Al Gore (although I got a little tired of all the close up profile shots of him being thoughtful) and see him in action with his high tech global warming show.

He has given his show over 1000 times, so it is very well developed. He says he has tried to get inside his audiences' heads, to understand their objections, and to answer to them. So he confronts everything you have ever heard about global warming head on, and with excellent graphics, uses data to let you draw your own conclusions.

It was wonderful to be in an audience that boo'd and hissed when the Bushes where on. There were many moments when the film audience joined in the applause of the studio audience. I think the line that got the biggest response was: "Political will is a renewable resource." We have to let our representatives know, not matter what our affiliation, that this issue is important and will determine our vote.

The website includes and extensive list of actions that we can take to make a difference. They are virtually the same actions to take to prepare for peak oil. These issues are not really separate. In fact our peak oil group has started to climate change in our focus.

This week I pledge to change the air filters in my a/c and check the pressure of my tires. Its the least I can do for the planet.

Have a peak at the list for yourself. Anything you've been meaning to get around to? Now's the time.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Power of Community DVD

My parents and I watched Community Solution's The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil tonight. We liked it, but before I review it I need to set up the background.

I'm visiting my folks in between Summits and Workshops and the last few nights we have been talking about the possibility of us moving back to California. During this discussion, I have brought up my concerns about sustainability, the quality of life and even survivability in the face of oil depletion. So we got to sharing our future scenarios from a half-full, or half-empty perspective. Mom has a grim view and felt somewhat hopeless about the whole thing. Dad felt that people would rally in the face of adversity. I was just plain getting depressed. Then I remembered that I had brought the Cuba DVD, and this was the perfect occasion for it. So I invited them to join me in watching it.

We all liked it a lot. Dad was impressed with the production values. He said it well-crafted, with a good balance of talking heads, graphs and action shots. It explained the problem concisely, without being overblown. It was very matter of fact and presented in digestible segments. Once it got to the part about how the Cubans dealt with their situation we were rooting for them. It presented their struggles and solutions in a human scale. It was inspiring.

Mom thought it clearly explained the problems and solutions and she liked the way they used an outline to help us follow along with where they were in the presentation. She thought it was hopeful and upbeat even if she wasn't sure how their solutions would translate to her community.

I have a background in independent feature film production, so I am pretty critical. But I found nothing that detracted from the people or the message. It was seamless in its delivery. The folks they interviewed were very articulate and I learned a lot. We are not Cuba, but it was helpful to see that people pulled together to solve their problems and made progress in a matter of a few years.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Post Carbon Relocalization Network Meeting

On Saturday May 20th the Bay Area Outposts of the Post Carbon Institute got together to share what they have been doing. The mission of Post Carbon Institute is to assist communities in the effort to Relocalize and adapt to an energy constrained world. One way they do this is to support the individual Outposts and help them network with each other.

Eventually, as each Outpost learns from working with it's community, it will pass this information back up to PCI, who will compile these into "best practices" which they will then disseminate back to the Outposts. They hope to use the technology of the internet to assist people in joining forces and ultimately having face to face meetings.

Julian Darley, the founder of PCI, explained that they will focus and filter the information they gather because time is of the essence now, and we can't afford to miss any piece. They are upgrading their software, so keep check their website to see what they are offering. New services will roll out soon.

We heard from organizers from Willits to Ventura. Not surprisingly, California has the most Outposts of any state. Each gave a short presentation about their group. Here are some highlights:
  • Folks in Pacific Grove (Sustainable Monterey) have found that talking about the economy was a way for people to understand the impact that peak oil will have. They will be inviting folks to come to a "visioning" to discuss what they would like to see in the future.
  • Let's Live Local has three goals: to reduce their dependence on fuel (propane bills are as much as $500 a month in the winter); to reduce their dependence of fuel for transportation (car co-ops, ride share, buses); to promote sustainable ways of living (greenhouses, a community garden). They found that people in their community had a high interest in alternative energy.
  • Bay Area Relocalize produced a Strategy Summit with business, non profits and officials to connect the community groups with each other. The folks that participated in this have started their own projects. BAR has written "Building a Resiliant Bay Area Economy" which will be distributed soon. They plan on working with a neighborhood and doing an in depth assessment of it.
  • Big Sur has had to relocalize. When there are mud slides on Hwy 1 they are cut off for months at a time. They hosted their first event with speakers and a film, and had 70 people come. At their next event they will have committees set up for people to join based on what people wrote that they could contribute after the first event.
  • The Powerdown Project is being developed by Richard Heinberg's students at New College of California. They are developing a relocalizing template and will offer themselves as interns to cities when it is complete. They will have a website up at in a couple of weeks.
  • One member shared what he learned working in Marin County and going to every city council meeting. He said a big issue was getting past the gate keepers. Politics are complicated even on the local level. Cultivate connections and try to learn the internal dynamics. The city councils plan their agenda months in advance, but there is usually time to allow the public to speak up about their concerns. They can't comment in response because it is not on their agenda for that meeting.
  • APPLE (Alliance for Post Petroleum Local Economy) had a big event that they did a major media campaign for. They had 300 people show up. They found that folks were willing to give up an evening, where day long events don't have as much of a draw. They are starting an every other month film and speaker series. The group gets together to work on alternate months. They encourage members to follow their passion.
  • Peak Moment is a local public access television series. They hope to take it on the road.
  • The San Francisco Oil Awareness Group presented a film about their development. (I sure could relate to the part when people come to one meeting and then never come back.) For more about their biggest accomplishment, see below.
  • The San Francisco Post-Carbon Outpost has produced The Oil Poster, which has been distributed to every member of the US Congress. Thanks to folks purchasing the poster, they have been able to give away 2000 of them to educators. They also supported the creation of a college course about peak oil that they hope to adapt to teach to the general public and officials. The students were so excited that they went to the Washington DC conference during Spring Break.
  • In the Santa Clara Valley they are working on projects to do outreach to the public and local government, including making speakers available and producing a DVD to hand out. They want to offer workshops in gardening, food storage, etc. They also are fighting to keep 17 acres from being developed. We need the acreage to produce food.
  • In Santa Cruz the city council is co-sponsoring a participatory town hall meeting in September.
  • The new Diablo Post Carbon Study Group is starting to take action. They have an inventory project and do screenings of the End of Suburbia and the Power of Community (the "Cuba" film).
  • The Livability Project is disseminating preparedness information. Every month they take a new theme. They also sponsor a Community Feast at a local cafe.
  • There is a "social ecovillage" in Oakland that produces a monthly calendar of events. People focus on making connections. It's been going on for eight years.

After that we had a Q&A with the San Francisco group about how they got their board of supervisors to pass a peak oil resolution. They emphasized the importance of knowing the inner workings, working with aids, inviting the council members to panels, and chance meetings. Apparently words like peak oil, localization, relocalization, even local are hot buttons that may backfire. "Energy vulnerability" seems to be a neutral term (so far.)

Then we had break out sessions. I talked with another member about getting folks to come to meetings. I need to do some more outreach. And our group needs to decide on a project to take on jointly.

We decided to meet quarterly. I hope I can come back for the next one. It was totally inspiring.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Report on the Energy Vulnerability Summit

I am inspired. The Energy Vulnerabilty Summit in Petaluma. CA was perhaps the first time in history when local government officials have gotten together to learn about and discuss peak oil. It was, by all accounts, very successful. Here is my diary of the day:

Up at 5:00 AM: For some reason the stove won't light. Are we out of propane? Harbingers of the future. I have toast instead of eggs. And lots of coffee.

7:15 AM: I join the gang at the Petaluma Community Center. I am put to work folding napkins for lunch. Our event has been "greened" by Green Mary. We use real plates and compost our food. I chat with Daniel Lerch. He is down here from Portland. He brought a white paper he wrote for the Metro Council on "how Metro may approach the possibility of future uncertainty in the supply and price of oil." He found that framing peak oil as "uncertainty" enabled municipalities to tap into the problem with their "risk management" paradigm. I munch on poppyseed muffins. To heck with the diet. And drink more coffee.

8:30 AM: People are starting to register. They expect about 40 local elected and appointed officials. Less than they want, but more than they feared.

9:00 AM: Tanya Narath welcomes us. She is the executive Director for the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy that runs a once-a-month training program about public policy and sustainability issues. She introduces our first keynote speaker, Richard Heinberg, author of Powerdown and The Party's Over and core faculty member at the New College of California.

9:15 AM: Richard leads us through a very skillful introduction to our energy vulnerability (the non-confrontational way to say "peak oil" to municipalities). You can practically see the light bulbs turning on over the participant's heads. Much of it is probably familiar ground to most readers, but I did hear a statistic that is new to me. By 2010 we'll need 30 Mb/day in addition to our current production globally, but we only have 16.5 Mb/day coming on line. So we can plan on being 14.5 Mb/day short in four short years.

He also pointed out the Hirsch reports use of the word "unprecedented" in their report.
Another fact that hasn't gotten any press is about the demand destruction of natural gas. $15/1000 sq Ft costs forced companies to relocate overseas where NG is cheaper. And 100 chemical plants have shut down in the last six months, loosing 100,000 jobs.

His final message was that our primary strategy must be to reduce demand, and secondarily to find alternatives.

10:00 AM: We have a lively Q&A. One theme was the folly of investing in infrastructure for LNG or coal or even uranium because at some point, and in some cases very soon, we will run out of cheap LNG and coal and uranium.

A petroleum engineer said that the decline is not speculation--it is well known and based on thousands of wells and how they decline. She also added that we won't find another giant--they know where the fields are, and the technology to find fields is quite mature.

Richard said that retired oil executives come up to him all the time after his talks and validate peak oil. He even met the guy who did Chevron's "will you join us" campaign. He said that Chevron's CEO wanted to get the word out to people without panicking them.

10:45 AM: After a break, the participants met in groups to discuss the question "what are the vulnerabilities, challenges and obstacles faced by your jurisdiction?" I don't want to violate the confidentiality of the participants by writing about it here, but suffice to say that people began to grapple with the issues that they will face trying to fulfill their responsibilities to provide services with expensive, scarce oil and an eroding tax base.

11:45 AM: We had a yummy lunch catered by Whole Foods. I enjoyed getting to know community leaders who were (now) concerned about peak oil. I switched to decaf.

12:30 PM: Tanya introduced our second keynote speaker, Julian Darley, the founder of the Global Public Media and the Post Carbon Institute and author of High Noon for Natural Gas.
He emphasized the importance of working with local officials--how they are the ones who have the power, and are the ones who are going to be feeling the crunch. The lesson of Katrina is YOYO (you're on your own!)

He shared a survey of what municipalities are doing around the world to deal with their energy vulnerability. I won't go into detail here, but will list them in case you want to do follow up research:

  • San Francisco, California
  • Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Kinsale, Ireland
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia
  • Franklin, New York
  • Sweden
  • Sebastopol, California
  • Willits, California
  • Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

He is working on a new book with Richard called Relocalize Now!

1:15 PM: Another Q&A session. Julian pointed out that the European carbon trading market has collapsed in the last few weeks. They gave away rights to the companies which set up an inflation pattern. This was probably the result of industry pressures. So he says learn from their mistakes.

He felt that for car co-ops, the best option was public ownership via municipalities. Most co-ops have about 20 cars per person. He pointed out that when we start to share, we immediately get a factor of 10 energy demand reduction instantly.

He explained that many European cities, know for their walkability, were laid out pre-petroleum. The ones that survived were a cluster of people surrounded by farmland. If we want to farm for our energy needs, without petroleum inputs, we need to do careful planning and start early as it takes time.

He also addressed the problem of the absurd amount of regulation we have around thing like getting permits for a vertical wind turbine--it can take $100,000 to go through the permitting process for a $1000 turbine.

1:45 PM: Another break out session, with the question "Discuss specific, actionable ideas that will enable you and your jurisdictions to successfully navigate the vulnerabilities, challenges and opportunities that you identified this morning." Switch from decaf to regular.

2:45 PM: Report back from the groups. My personal favorite actionable idea was that in each suburban tract the city would commandeer a house every half a mile to become the neighborhood store.

My personal commitment is to get a forum going (probably at Post Carbon) for peak oil facilitators/educators. I discovered that this "niche" that I had figured out is one coveted by several other people. I hope we can work together and support each other.

3:15 PM: Close. We had a lovely poem and Tanya thanked the sponsors and volunteers.

I was so pleased that I had the opportunity to participate. They are planning on having another summit the last weekend in September that is open to the public and I hope that I can come to that one as well.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Energy Vulnerability Summit in California

I am heading back to California to further my education, so will be off line for a short while. I will be assisting at an energy summit. Here is the blurb from the Post Carbon Institute newsletter about it:

Energy Vulnerability Summit: Can Local Public Policy Support a Competitive and Sustainable Economy in the Face of Rising Energy Costs?
–May 19 – 8:30-3:30 – Petaluma Community Center – Petaluma, California

The Energy Vulnerability Summit will provide a forum for North Bay elected and appointed officials to explore the local implications of rising energy costs. Richard Heinberg will discuss the main factors influencing energy costs and supplies and Julian Darley will give examples of on how other communities are preparing to diversify their local energy supplies through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. This first session is limited to
elected and appointed officials only, but a follow-up summit is planned for September 29 that will include business leaders and the public. For further information contact or (707) 578-9133

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Action Needed to Safeguard Organic Standards

From my inbox today:

Action Needed to Safeguard Organic Standards

May 10, 2006

It’s time to act fast!

The USDA has announced a very short public comment period (ends May 12, 2006) on a proposal to amend the National Organic Program (read the proposal here) in a manner that would weaken organic standards. The USDA's actions were requested by a very small handful of members of Congress. Take action now and tell the USDA you support strong organic standards!

This legislative backroom deal was born in November 2005 during a late-night, Republican-only session consisting of a few conference committee members who voted to adopt the proposed amendment after congressional negotiators from both sides had adjourned.

In 2006, the amendment resurfaced as a last-minute attachment to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, thereby avoiding full congressional debate on the content of the amendment. The Appropriations Bill, along with its riders, passed despite over 350,000 letters and phone calls from consumers, farmers, retailers, processors, and other concerned citizens and organizations to their congressional representatives. At the time of its passage, a number of Congressional representatives made statements condemning both the undemocratic process and substance of this change to the organic law.

After 35 years of hard work, the U.S. organic community has built a multi-billion dollar alternative to industrial agriculture.

Now the USDA is proposing to amend the National Organic Program regulations to reflect these legislative changes made in Congress – with very little time allowed for public comment.

The USDA proposal could allow:

Young dairy cows to be treated with antibiotics and fed genetically engineered feed prior to being converted to organic production.

Numerous synthetic substances, including over 500 food contact substances, to be used in organic foods without public review and approval by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).


"Congress voted to weaken the national organic standards that consumers count on to preserve the integrity of the organic label," said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association. "The process was profoundly undemocratic and the end result is a serious setback for the multi billion dollar alternative food and farming system that the organic community has so painstakingly built up over the past 35 years.

It’s easy to take action. Click on one or all of these links for streamlined action links and more information.

Organic Consumers Association: has fill-in action link

The Center for Food Safety: has fill-in action link

Consumers Union: has fill-in action link Additional in-depth background and report on the issues, and comment information: National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture: has “click here” action link.


Georgia Organics
phone: 678.702.0400

Action Needed to Safeguard Organic Standards

From my inbox today:

Action Needed to Safeguard Organic Standards

May 10, 2006

It’s time to act fast!

The USDA has announced a very short public comment period (ends May 12, 2006) on a proposal to amend the National Organic Program (read the proposal here) in a manner that would weaken organic standards. The USDA's actions were requested by a very small handful of members of Congress. Take action now and tell the USDA you support strong organic standards!

This legislative backroom deal was born in November 2005 during a late-night, Republican-only session consisting of a few conference committee members who voted to adopt the proposed amendment after congressional negotiators from both sides had adjourned.

In 2006, the amendment resurfaced as a last-minute attachment to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, thereby avoiding full congressional debate on the content of the amendment. The Appropriations Bill, along with its riders, passed despite over 350,000 letters and phone calls from consumers, farmers, retailers, processors, and other concerned citizens and organizations to their congressional representatives. At the time of its passage, a number of Congressional representatives made statements condemning both the undemocratic process and substance of this change to the organic law.

After 35 years of hard work, the U.S. organic community has built a multi-billion dollar alternative to industrial agriculture.

Now the USDA is proposing to amend the National Organic Program regulations to reflect these legislative changes made in Congress – with very little time allowed for public comment.

The USDA proposal could allow:

Young dairy cows to be treated with antibiotics and fed genetically engineered feed prior to being converted to organic production.

Numerous synthetic substances, including over 500 food contact substances, to be used in organic foods without public review and approval by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).


"Congress voted to weaken the national organic standards that consumers count on to preserve the integrity of the organic label," said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association. "The process was profoundly undemocratic and the end result is a serious setback for the multi billion dollar alternative food and farming system that the organic community has so painstakingly built up over the past 35 years.

It’s easy to take action. Click on one or all of these links for streamlined action links and more information.

Organic Consumers Association: has fill-in action link

The Center for Food Safety: has fill-in action link

Consumers Union: has fill-in action link Additional in-depth background and report on the issues, and comment information: National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture: has “click here” action link.


Georgia Organics
phone: 678.702.0400

Monday, May 08, 2006

A query

Mr. Logan and I have been discussing the question of how to inform people about peak oil. I have been of the opinion that people don't want to hear bad news which leads to resistance. He thinks another factor may be coming into play. It is illustrated by a CNN poll released today:

A total of 61 percent blamed "unethical behavior" by people involved in the production of oil and gas for the price increases, which have driven the average U.S. price for self-serve regular gasoline to nearly $3 a gallon.

Another 26 percent said the market forces of supply and demand were responsible.
Mr. Logan explained that there is a point of view that says we do not have a real shortage of oil, the oil companies are manipulating supply in order to get the biggest profits. Along this line of thinking Matthew Simmon's position as an industry insider becomes a liability to his credibility instead of an asset, as he would be supporting the view that there is a shortage because he would gain from it.

The argument that has worked for me is that the oil companies don't want to say there is a shortage to their stockholders, so they would minimize this.

What do you say to people who think it's a conspiracy?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Women and Peak Oil

There are few women's voices in the Peak Oil movement. I have to admit, dear reader, that this has intimidated me somewhat. In writing this blog and finding my own voice I have struggled to give myself permission to have my own point of view, value it, and share it. And I have a long way to go. I rarely write opinion pieces as I am still trying to grasp the facts. Economic, political, social, and scientific analysis eludes me, as much as I admire and appreciate it.

But I do have a feel for things in the realm of communication, group process and emotional expression. These are the areas where I have spent my personal and professional energy. And I have come to believe these arenas are going to be just as important as permaculture, bicycle repair and defense. I am counting on this in fact.

I hope to develop a career that will span pre-, during-, and post- collapse if there could be such a thing. I hope to become and educator and facilitator for communities concerned about peak oil, and relocalizing their energy, economic and food sources. That is why I am educating myself about peak oil and going to workshops about facilitation. I have a long way to go but I feel this is my calling.

My journey went something like this: read peak oil bulletin boards. Get totally overwhelmed. Try to figure out what I should do to prepare. Read threads about jobs skills that will be valuable in the future. Totally freak out because I am not cut out to be a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. Have an aha moment based on I what I learned from What Color is your Parachute? People have skills with ideas, with things, and with animals/people. Me, I'm squarely in the people skills category. But none of the jobs that were being described were people skills!

I was stumped by this. My first thought was OMG! My skills won't be needed. They will be a luxury we can't afford. I am going to have to do work I don't like. Misery, etc.

Then I had another aha from my feminist days. The idea that women's work is basically unpaid labor. I thought--these folks are assuming that their mothers, sisters, daughters are going to take care of the people stuff "for free." That they will just give, without expecting to be compensated, and that they will have to do work in addition to this in order to survive.

(I don't mean to imply that men aren't expected to do uncompensated work, I am just explaining my process.)

Somehow this realization enabled me to assert the value of the people skills. Given the stresses that communities will be under, they will probably be more important in the future. So how could I be helpful here? Given that I don't have a lot of experience in close-proximity community living, how could I make this my vocation?

That's when I began my adventures exploring the realm of intentional communities, and one thing led to another and now I am taking facilitation workshops emphasizing cohousing issues.

What brought this whole topic up for me, and gave me the courage to write about it, is a post by Paula Hay on her adaptation zine. (She also has a blog.) She talks about being a woman at the Local Solutions conference woman at the Local Solutions conference in NYC this last weekend.
One of the "real stories" of the Local Solutions conference, from my perspective, was a surprising theme that kept cropping up among the people with whom I spoke. It seems that among the Peak Oil grassroots--or at least among folks at the Local Solutions conference--there is a desire to hear from more women working on Peak Oil and Relocalization. I heard more comments about this than about nearly any other issue, I assume because I am one of the few women engaged in publishing Peak Oil-related information.
This is an emerging theme and I (and Paula) would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, April 24, 2006

DC Petrocollapse Conference

With speakers from Global Ecovillage Network, Energy

Preparedness, & Community Solution;
Richard Heinberg, "Powerdown: Options and Actions for a

Post-Carbon World;" Joel Salatin, organic
farmer & author of "You Can Farm;"

music, films & much more
A conference
all people
should attend!!

The DC Petrocollapse

Surviving Peak Oil: Economic Doom or


Culture Change and

Sustainable Living

Saturday May 6 * 9 am - 7 pm

All Souls Church * 16th
Harvard Streets, NW
Washington DC
near Adams Morgan (Red) or

Columbia Heights (Green) Metro Stations * Directions


Register now to attend!

The sudden effects of perpetual oil shortage are likely to strike
within the next three years. Are we prepared? Sponsored by Culture
Change, the DC PetroCollapse Conference will present the facts behind
the hype about Peak Oil, explore the root factors of our present
"oil-addicted" condition, and envision the strategies that we need to
bypass unhelpful institutional barriers and achieve post-Peak Oil
economic sustainability.

Experts on peak oil and the geological depletion of oil reserves, and
advocates for small-scale agriculture, alternative energy and local
sustainable economics will discuss "petrocollapse," the imminent
failure of the petroleum infrastructure to continue to provide the
myriad goods and services that our consumer economy has grown
accustomed to. Multimedia presentations and multiple films will
demonstrate solutions to
the audience.

Albert Bates,
Global Ecovillage Network

Diana Leafe Christian, Communities Magazine
Richard Heinberg,

Powerdown: Options and

Actions for a Post-Carbon World
Jan Lundberg,

Mark Rabinowitz, Permatopia
Michael Kane,
From the Wilderness
Joel Salatin, PolyFace Farms

You Can Farm

Faith Morgan & Pat Murphy,
Community Solution

David Room,
Energy Preparedness

John Darnell, PhD Energy Advisor
Jenna Orkin, Moderator


World Trade Center Environmental Organization


Register online via PayPal at

Registration cost of $100 pays for lunch
and attendance at special noontime press conference.

Scholarships, work exchange arrangements, and "sliding scale" discounts are available

for students, activists, and others. Everyone will be accomodated! Send
us an email with details of your situation, and/or what time or energy
you may have for volunteer activity for the conference. Send to

Contact conference coordinator Ethan Genauer if you have any problems registering OR for more details by email at :

For more info, see