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 http://SOSAsheville.wordpress.com/. 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 climatecrisis.net 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.