Sunday, April 5, 2009


Hi. I know I haven't been around for a good week and a half, or is it two weeks? We had a series of unfortunate events.

Blogger burped on me in the midst of the conference recap. I didn't lose what I had written up, but I had to move it off Blogger and haven't had a chance to get back to it...

Because my husband went out of town for a business trip and he never travels, so being a single parent for a week was a shock.

Currently, the baby is sick.

And I haven't slept in 2 days and spent last night in the ER with a minor, but annoying problem that is now on the mend thanks to antibiotics.

So. Sometimes life is bigger than me. I will be back as soon as I can. It may be a few days yet. My apologies.

We have had 2 events in the past 2 weeks that were lightly attended (and my hope is to recap those as well). One of the attendees was the person who started the farmers market at Stearns Homestead and I very much enjoyed talking/sharing with her.


Monday, March 23, 2009


Good morning! Hope Monday finds everyone hail and hearty and basking in the pre-Spring sunshine. I am still coasting on a post-conference high from this weekend's Leadership Summit and attempting to figure out how to condense the experience into mere words for you.

While I mull it over, I encourage you to peruse the Open Roads website. Much of conference will be available on their site and there are several speakers not to be missed; Catherine Austin Fitts talking about financial permaculture, Micheal Shuman on making local business competitive and sustainable, Debra Rowe on how to be a change agent (I am pretty sure no one has lived to tell Dr. Rowe no, she is a force of nature unto herself).

Also, if you haven't heard of City Fresh spend a minute on their website. Forget about being 'green' or reducing our carbon emissions, let's get real and talk about what counts, our wallets. Local food is of vital economic importance. If NE Ohioans spent 10% of their food budget on local food, that would keep $1 billion dollars in our local economy. For $24 a week during the growing season you can have enough fresh produce for a family of 4 and contribute to a vibrant and sustainable Ohio economy.

Lastly, I believe later this week the Sun paper will be running an interview with me about the upcoming roundtable on world food supply and how it affects Parma.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I am beyond delighted to announce that I will be attending the Leadership Summit: Community Organization for a Healthy Economy this weekend.  The agenda for the conference is here  and it was pure torture to pick just one breakout session to attend.

However, I believe I've settled on Green Jobs Guaranteed to Grow and Reinventing the Local Economy. I will post copious notes on everything I learn sometime next week.

If you are in Cleveland (or close enough to drive) note that the conference fee has been halved and there are still scholarships available. I was told they are interested in having the Transition Town perspective represented at the conference, so if you are TT consider attending.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This past weekend, the Ohio Environmental Council hosted a 'game' of Stabilization Wedges. Contrary to what the title might have some of you thinking, this did not involve fraternity style pantsing or whirlies in public toilets. I was relieved. The Greek system was not kind to me in college. One sorority rejected me because of the way I styled my bangs (never mind I wasn't pledging or thinking of pledging) and there was a fraternity hazing incident where a plebe flashed me. (My eyes! My eyes!)

Anyway...luckily the topic tow truck showed up and is ready to haul me out of the off-topic ditch I landed in.

The Stabilization Wedges were developed by Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Intiative and focuses on what we can do--in terms of known technology that is available today--to keep carbon emissions at current levels (detailed info at the link). The game comes into play when teams debate and select the most politically palatable combination of wedges to fight climate change. Think Model UN, but with climate.

Now, when I say 'we' I am not referring to the consumer level 'we' but the policy level 'we', which is actually one of the criticisms I have of the game. It gives a good sense of where the policy wonks and corporate interests are coming from, but it doesn't provide much of a takeaway for local or individual change/action.

Further, some of the 'wedges' are not long-term solutions and maybe not even medium-term solutions, meaning I found the game to be a bit short-sighted in terms of peak energy resources. It sounds great on paper to shift from dirty coal plants to cleaner natural gas plants for electricity generation, however, natural gas reserves are estimated to be a 60 year supply, less if we accelerate use. Given that we need to build 1440 natural gas plants to make up one wedge, the return on investment is prohibitive. We'd likely hit peak almost the second the last plant came online. Not the greatest bang for the environmental buck if you ask me. Nuclear power (another emission reduction wedge) has similar constraints in that the planet only has so much uranium available. So there are some limits that the game does not take into account (which I, personally, found problematic but they may not be an issue for other people).

In addition, one of the wedges seeks to reduce carbon emissions via natural carbon sinks (i.e. forests). Reforestation and land conservation sound like great ideas, but there is a downside. I happen to be reading the book Six Degrees which discusses the fact that stressed plants emit CO2 instead of absorbing it. During the 2003 heat wave, European forests emitted 1/12 of the world's total CO2 in just one short summer. With climate change, heat waves will be more common and more and more CO2 emissions will come from stressed vegetation. We can plant forests, but multiple and likely heat waves can easily make them a problem, not a solution.

Further, there is no wedge for the sum total impact of individual actions such as composting instead of throwing food waste into landfills, carpooling, improved community planning (i.e. new urbanism) etc... Maybe because it's hard to predict the impact. A power plant is a known quantity with proven math, whereas people are...well, weird and defy the laws of statistics quite regularly (witness my little Greek flashback or the idea that pants belted around the knees with one's underwear hanging out = high fashion in more than one person's opinion). However, I wish there was a wedge to show the cumulative effect of small actions as it would've provided important education and change incentive.

The big take home point for me was, forget inflation from printing money to deal with the financial crisis, energy prices are going to go through the ROOF on their own steam. The costs to build new plants and implement new technology such as carbon capture and sequestration will all be passed on to the consumer both in terms of our taxes and our energy costs. I suspect we will see a boom in home insulation and other energy renovations that cut heating and cooling costs. We will be doing anything and everything we can to NOT spend the equivalent of a very expensive car payment for heat and light.

Overall, I learned a lot, met some wonderful people, and have a better perspective of where we are going with environmental policy. The nitpicks mentioned here are more indicative of thought provocation than any fatal flaws in the game.

The wedge game would make a good educational activity for schools and other groups (here's a link to a teacher's guide). Although, I would like to adapt it a bit to address some of the issues I've noted here.

I believe the OEC plans to have additional events on the topic of climate change and the policy thereof. If you have time, I encourage you to try and attend. I plan to!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I'm here! I'm here! Sorry. We have relatives visiting so I have very little free time at the moment.

However, relatives = free babysitting so my husband and I did manage to sneak out to an event held by the Ohio Environmental Council (I think I have their name right).  I will do a proper write up in a few days.

Until I have a moment to breathe and fact check to be sure I'm not doing something stupid like Blue City Green Lake, please peruse the following links that I thought were salient and thought provoking. (NOTE: Thought provoking does not mean endorsement or agreement. I'm a broad reader and tend to look at ALL sides of an issue so please don't infer my views based on anything I link to. Sometimes people think I believe something simply because I have read up on it which is not true. Although I do think there's lots of good material here.)


Some thoughts on paradigm shift, which is what I think we are a facing.The writer and philosopher Laurens van der Post, in his memoir of his friendship with Carl Jung, said, "We live not only our own lives but, whether we know it or not, also the life of our time." We are actors in a moment of history, taking part in it, moving it this way or that as we move forward or back. The moment we are living now is a strange one, a disquieting one, a time that seems full of endings.

The End of Suburbia. 1 in 13 houses in Cleveland is empty.  

Op ed from The Boston Globe on 'Surviving the Great Collapse.'

Some truly scary news for the local food movement. Criminalizing seed banks sounds crazy as well as trying to regulate small farmers and markets out of business, but Congress is considering it--one among many anti-local food statues in bill HR875.  I know Sharon Astyk says not to panic, but I do think there is something to be concerned about here and I will be contacting my reps just as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Blue City Green Lake Green City Blue Lake has released their report on sustainability in Cleveland. Check it out here.  I'm still taking it all in. I'm amazed at how much they've done and how much they plan to do and astounded that I never heard of GCBL until I started becoming interested in doing something myself. I happened to find their website with a google search. Up until then, the only time I ever heard the phrase Blue City, Green Lake Green City, Blue Lake was in those Lube Stop commercials about recycling reclaimed oil.

Which I think is indicative of the wide, yawning gap of ignorance we need to bridge in order to bring about effective change. For example, I knew plastic water bottles were an environmental problem so I took steps to eliminate them from my consumption. Yet I had no idea about the environmental impact of the toilet paper industry. None. So I did nothing.

I'm beginning to believe that if someone like myself --who is actively trying to learn and 'green' my life-- can be missing out on key information, it must be that much worse for the people who aren't really paying attention. And the people who aren't paying attention are the ones we need to reach.

We need a broad spectrum marketing initiatives. Similar to what organizations like Peta do. Marketing is how we will reach critical mass in fostering sustainability on a local and global level.

Another example of how we are failing to market the 'green' message, mommy blogs. Per the Today Show this morning, there are something like 32 million moms online. 26 million of them use social media such as Facebook or Myspace or blogging. Currently, there is huge corporate interest in advertising with these moms. Companies whisk prominent mommy bloggers away for swag-filled spa weekends. They gift the moms with iphones and Wiis and free samples and advertising dollars. However, the thing I notice is the distinct lack of green perspective in both the content this demographic produces and from the advertisers.

Moms are not going green. At least not on any large scale I can discern. If you've read the 'big' mommy bloggers, tell me the last time they talked about the environment or vented about the lack of green products or in any way engaged the topic of sustainability? I can think of one 'big' mommy blogger who went to cloth diapers. There was a marketing push for the 'green' generation of household cleaners that distributed free samples, but lacking an overall theme of sustainability, the brand was marketed without the core message.

Being a mom myself, and, at times, a mommy blogger, I'm sort of confused as to why moms aren't pushing green. The future of our children is of immediate concern and instead of using our collective power (which is considerable) to do something about it, we decant our power into determining Advil's commercials are offensive. In other words, the politics of mommy bloggers tend to be, in my opinion, superficial and short term as opposed to focusing on the issues that matter.

Again, I think this all goes back to marketing and outreach. While going green tends not to rely on the mass consumerism driving most of mommy blogger advertising revunue, there are green products (like toilet paper!) that could be leveraged into a comprehensive green campaign to raise awareness and bring about change. So why isn't it being done?

Monday, March 9, 2009


Good morning, Parma! Hope Monday is treating everyone well. I have a hodge-podge of things to share today.

First, Earthbound Farm Organics is offering free lettuce seeds.  If you buy organic lettuce at the store, you are probably buying Earthbound's lettuce. The idea is to reuse the plastic container to grow your lettuce.

Second, did you know toilet paper is terrible for the environment? Apparently, they cut down lots of virgin forest to give us soft-on-the-tushie paper. I had no idea.  You can read more about it here.  And Greenpeace has an environmentally friendly toilet paper shopping guide here

According to Greenpeace Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family bought a roll of recycled toilet paper—just once.

Recycled tissue products help protect ancient forests, clean water, and wildlife habitat. It's easier on the Earth to make tissues from paper instead of trees.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Today was our first TT Parma event at the local library. We screened the documentary 'End of Suburbia' and discussed the implications of Peak Oil for Parma.

Unfortunately, when I say 'we' I refer to my father (the skeptic) and one other brave soul.

It was not quite the turnout I expected! However, onward and upward. I will be more vigorous in promoting events in the future. I sort of went at the schedule backwards; setting up events without really allowing for enough lead time for newspapers and whatnot.

Anyway, the documentary can be summed up thusly:  Suburbia is wholly dependent on cheap oil for its existence. Remove either cheap or oil from that equation and Suburbia, we have a problem.

Now, where things get interesting is when we look at Parma in the context of climate change and peak oil. You know, Parma is sometimes maligned. In High School, my Geography teacher used pictures of Parma to illustrate how souless the suburbs were. I remember being horrified at the houses lined up like soldiers and thinking I would never want to live in a cookie cutter.

And, well, here I am! Actually, Parma is a great place to live and I believe, in the context of Peak Oil and Climate Change, we are a diamond in the rough. Peak Oil means proximity to city centers is going to be important and Parma is the perfect distance from Cleveland. Climate change means water will be important and we have Lake Erie. Further, Cleveland will continue to be a vital juncture between Chicago and New York and thrive itself. Ohio, in general, is going to thrive post-peak simply because we have water.

I do not believe that we will see people fleeing from Parma. I think the opposite will occur, people will want to join our community.  The challenge will be in absorbing all the people who will flock to Parma and ramping up infrastructure (roads, older home upkeep) and city services to support an increased population. Street cars or a light rail system connecting Parma and Cleveland (in addition to the Brookpark station) will make Parma as close as you can get to a Post-Oil Utopia.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I am sometimes asked why I talk about the economy and the current financial situation in the same breath as Peak Oil. There is a perception that the economy and Peak Oil are not inter-related when they are actually in a lovely co-dependent relationship that would make Jerry Springer producers drool if the economy and Peak Oil were people. (I'll let you decide which one is cross-dressing and which one is from the trailer park*.)

The cost of gas became an issue for me personally a few years ago. At the time, I was driving to Brunswick for a second job, which is about 50 miles round trip. When gas hit $1.75 a gallon, I found that the price of gas didn't make the second job as profitable as I needed it to be. So I quit. Everyone was agog. It just did not compute that gas was too expensive to make it worth the drive.

Fast forward to the current economic crisis and tell me which came first; high gas prices or default on home mortgages? It was the high gas prices that hit our wallets first. In 2008, our SUVs became too expensive to drive.

The American Way for the last several decades has been to live paycheck-to-paycheck and use credit to fill the gap leaving very little breathing room in the budget. Compound this with houses built in areas dependent on cheap gas for access, plus the fact that many people probably couldn't really afford their suburban estates (but which lenders were only too happy to give them money for) and overnight--with just a switch of numbers on gas station marquees-- millions of people literally could not eke out an additional $200 or $300 or however many dollars it took to fill their tanks, heat their homes, and buy food.

Next thing everyone knew, people couldn't meet their bloated financial obligations and oh, hey, look at that, the stock market crashed. Whoops! While the financial crisis has its roots in poor management and while there are certainly other factors at play, I believe the tipping point was high gas prices. Putting gas in the tank ultimately cost people their homes.

Anecdotally, in the past year I have noticed lots of message board chatter from minimum wage families who can no longer afford to work. Gas priced them out of the labor market. They live far from their jobs and were counting on reliably cheap gas to enable their lifestyle.

Well, folks, cheap gas is gone. Probably never to return.

Even more alarming to realize is that gas is only going to become more expensive from here on out. I watched the Today Show this morning while a financial pundit advised we will see higher gas prices when the economy begins to recover. This is because an economic downturn also takes oil demand down with it. Meaning not as much oil will be pumped until demand goes up. Demand, of course, will go up before supply which will drive another price spike until the bottleneck is eased...or rather if the bottleneck can be eased as we may have very well reached world peak oil production in 2008.

The thing that is interesting to me about the Today Show segment is the acceptance of $1.75 or $1.99 per gallon gas like it is not already higher than the $1.29 or $1.19 we used to pay. There seems to be a gag order on the fact that gas prices have remained elevated, as if they are hoping we won't notice. Or that maybe consumers' wallets are made of elastic and we can absorb cost increase after cost increase without any impact on our other finances.

It makes me wonder if they noticed the reports their network did on how salaries, when adjusted for inflation, have gone down, not up. Or the reports on employees taking pay cuts in order to keep their jobs. Or the reports on employees forced into unpaid work furloughs or reduced working hours. Or the reports of price increases in foods and other basic necessities. Our elastic doesn't have far to go before it snaps.

How will we sustain an economic recovery if high gas prices wipe out our wallets faster than we can fill them with money? High oil prices started the economic ball rolling and seem intent on keeping it from going any other direction but down. This is why I talk about Peak Oil and the economic crisis in the same breath, because they are one and the same.

*No offense to cross-dressers or people living in trailer parks, those just seem to be the demographic riffs that Jerry Springer likes to play on.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


This morning I was researching some little green gizmos for door prizes at TT Parma events (first one this Saturday!) and was specifically looking at water conservation. I read site after site espousing all sorts of tips, one of which was all the ways you can water your lawn and conserve water.

But why do we water our lawns?

Oh, I know the standard answer: So it's green and verdant and soft on our toes (although I would bet most of us never really walk on our lawns barefoot). There are city codes and social standards and what the neighbors will think. I believe someone has even written a book about society and lawns. Green grass is that important.

Well, guess what? We never water our lawn. Never. And it looks just as good as the one maintained by our neighbor. A neighbor who agonizes to make every blade perfect. Who fertilizes other people's lawns (including mine) on our street because it is just that important to him to have beautiful grass as far as the eye can see.

He waters. We don't. Our lawns look the same. His is ready for a close up in Better Homes & Gardens while we have a few spots of crab grass and maybe ours browns first at the end of the season or during dry spells, but the overall effect is the same. Well, except for the caveat that we've probably given our neighbor a facial twitch with the way we don't keep up our lawn.

Why don't we water our lawn? Not because we are trying to conserve (which would be the right answer) but because we are lazy and cheap and don't care about our lawn. We water food growing plants or flowers (usually) and that's about it. So please don't think I'm talking from my green high horse here, I'm not. I am green on this issue purely through sheer sinful laziness.

Aside from the fact that you now know sloth is one of my sins, tell me, am I alone here? I googled 'no water lawn' and 'do I have to water my lawn' and all I got back were pages and pages of results with tips and techniques on how to water my lawn. I don't get it.

Do you water your lawn? Have you thought about seeing what would happen if you didn't? Or what if you watered your lawn or garden with harvested rain water? We haven't done the rain water thing yet, but plan to start this year since we will be attempting to really garden this season (versus killing plants by ummm...not watering them. Have I mentioned I'm lazy?).

Edited to add: I did find an article Greener Grass, Less Water on Science Daily that talks about the environmental impact of lawn upkeep. The advice, though, still involves watering grass. Be sure to watch the video accompanying the article which is interesting as well.  And, this is tangential, but I'd just like to say that every single public park I've been to in Arizona (which is, you know, a desert) violates every single one of the article's suggestions for water conversation which makes no sense to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


First, there's a good conversation going on over here regarding the New Scientist article I posted yesterday. Check it out if you have time.

As for today's topic...

In case you haven't noticed, it has been super cold in Cleveland this winter. Yesterday, I skipped my coat as I often do and regretted it about two seconds after I stepped outside. Being lazy (or as I like to think of it, an overwhelmed mom to a really active toddler and as long as she is wearing a coat, I figure I'm doing pretty well) I did without, but my hands were numb by the time I loaded the groceries in the car.

These cold temperatures mean I hear a chorus of 'What Global Warming' every time I bring up the topic of climate change. Whenever I hear that refrain, I picture a remake of those old 'Where's the beef' commercials Wendy's used to run.

However, one cold day does not refute all the data we have on climate change and Cleveland's own Micheal Scott, the Plain Dealer's environmental reporter, had a great article on this yesterday. If you don't have time to read the article, the picture below is worth a thousand worse. It's from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and shows that Cleveland is a cool spot in a world of unusally hot ones.

Monday, March 2, 2009


New Scientist has an article out on what the world will look like with a temperature rise of 4C.

The article is here.

The interactive map showing regional changes is here.

Hot weather never felt so chilling.  Look at who will potentially be growing food on the map vs. who won't. Look at who will be providing energy vs. who won't.  In the twilight of my lifetime and the prime of my daughter's the entire geopolitics of the world will change.In a hundred years it is likely that the US will no longer be the world's breadbasket. If we do not move forward with a green revolution and become green technology leaders, not only does the planet lose,but so does our nation.

In other news, the Dow is currently at 6800 and some change. I believe several financiers have shared their belief that 'bottom' is around 4000. From 14,000 to 4,000. Insane.

If you aren't outraged yet, watch this bit from 60 Minutes about the guy who warned the SEC that Maddoff smelled funny. And nothing was done. Nothing. 

Here is the video (in two parts) from You Tube (if it gets yanked, follow the link above to the 60 minutes site).

Sunday, March 1, 2009


From National Geographic and well worth a read.

Some salient excerpts... (emphasis mine)

The U.S. imports more oil from Canada than from any other nation, about 19 percent of its total foreign supply, and around half of that now comes from the oil sands. Anything that reduces our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, many Americans would say, is a good thing. But clawing and cooking a barrel of crude from the oil sands emits as much as three times more carbon dioxide than letting one gush from the ground in Saudi Arabia. 

The oil sands are still a tiny part of the world's carbon problem—they account for less than a tenth of one percent of global CO2 emissions—but to many environmentalists they are the thin end of the wedge, the first step along a path that could lead to other, even dirtier sources of oil: producing it from oil shale or coal. 

"Oil sands represent a decision point for North America and the world," says Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute, a moderate and widely respected Canadian environmental group. "Are we going to get serious about alternative energy, or are we going to go down the unconventional-oil track? The fact that we're willing to move four tons of earth for a single barrel really shows that the world is running out of easy oil."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I started distributing fliers for the Transition Town Parma events today. It was nerve-wracking as I was concerned people might want to debate the assertions that the Transition Town movement is based on (peak oil, climate change). I like a good debate, but not while herding a cranky toddler. If someone is unfamiliar with peak oil and climate change, I need more than a few minutes to explain it all and work through all the common 'what about this solution' buts.

Since people have asked, I've also been researching what it takes to formally establish Non-Profit status for TT Parma and we are a long ways away from being ready to file. First, we need more members. Currently our membership consists of one weary stay-at-home mom and a non verbal toddler. (Although I know there are active groups in Ohio. I'm not completely alone.) Once we have members, we need a mission statement, a constitution and money. So TT Parma won't be an official non-proft any time soon, but it is a long term goal.

If you are in the Parma area and looking for a cause, consider TT Parma. Get a copy of The Transition Handbook* and shoot me an email at parmapowerdown AT  The idea is to get a steering committee up and running while also working to create a dialogue within the community.

Beyond flier distribution, I sent a plea for free admission (in exchange for volunteering) to the Leadership Summit 2009. The goal of the Leadership Summit 2009 is to convene, inform, and engage a network of institutions and organizations committed to building sustainable communities. The keynote speakers are Names in sustainability circles and I could learn a lot from what they have to say. I'm crossing my fingers that they need someone to set up chairs and keep the coffee hot!

*A large excerpt of the TT Handbook is available online for free at

Friday, February 20, 2009


I do the best I can to engage people in dialogue on the economy, peak oil, and climate change with the intent of opening their minds to a different view. It's been a character building exercise as I learn patience and the ability to bite my tongue when I raise someone's ire. The goal, I remind myself, is to get people thinking not to 'win' an argument. I'm kind of used to 'winning' and I admit to having some rather extreme financial ideas. Such as, I don't want to invest in the stock market until I'm assured that it is well regulated and fraud is reliably ferreted out. Most people agree with my sentiment, yet continue to invest in a system that has proven to be flawed.

Why do they keep investing? Because their employer offers a match and because 'the stock market always recovers.' 

To which my response is, recovers to what? It's pretty clear that several thousand points on the Dow are due to the mortgage debacle and the risky credit default swaps it spawned.  Credit derivatives are characterized by Warren Buffet, a well respected and revered financier, as "financial weapons of mass destruction." They have the power to take world markets to dizzying new heights of profit...and to wipe out the entire global financial system. In order for the market to rebound any time soon we would be revisiting the fraud, lies, and cheating that took it too far in the first place.

If the stock market starts booming again, I believe, we should be deeply suspicious that the boom is unsustainable and predicated on poor business practices. Frankly, I find it unethical to profit from such a ponzi scheme. We need to face the truth that those thousands of points on the Dow aren't coming back any time soon.

Further, worse than the stock market booming on financial magic tricks, is the consequence of assuaging our fears and worries with the platitude of 'the stock market always recovers.'  During the Great Depression it took about ten years for the stock market to recover. In ten years I will be 45 and have ten fewer years to meaningfully save for retirement. (Actually, I think retirement is a thing of myth and legend, but, for now, let's pretend I'm going to actually going to be able to put up my feet and watch the world go by in my Golden Years.)

Even if the stock market comes back and is regulated enough that I'm willing to entrust my money to Wall St., the impact of the crash is life long.  Sure, I can sock away more money into my 401k once things are going better, but that will be at the expense of my discretionary spending. It's awfully hard to buy a new car or a fancy house or diamonds for a 25th wedding anniversary when you're stuffing twenty or thirty or forty percent of your income into a retirement account (and praying the return is high enough that you won't be the world's oldest Walmart greeter). In fact, it will be a challenge to keep a small roof over our heads and buy a decent used car.

The stock market may recover, but the little investor never will.


I spent about twenty minutes on the phone today explaining to the librarian what a Transition Town was and assuring them I was not using library space to turn a profit and that I had all the appropriate licenses to show  films. Phew. For a second there, I thought they were going to turn me down, but I was able to book two dates as follows. Plus, I have a roundtable planned at the Parmatown Mall.

Saturday March 7th at the Parma Snow Library (2121 Snow Rd.) at 2pm I will be showing 'The End of Suburbia' and moderating an open discussion after the film. 'The End of Suburbia' looks at the survivability of the suburbs and highlights challenges that will be faced as oil supplies dwindle.

Saturday March 21st at Parmatown Mall's Food Court 2pm I will be hosting a presentation on world food supply and local impact on Parma to be followed by open discussion. Our table will be marked with a Transition Town sign.

Saturday April 4th at the Parma Snow Library (2121 Snow Rd) at 2pm I will be showing 'Crude Awakening' and moderating open discussion after the film. The focus of 'Crude Awakening' is Peak Oil. What it is and what it means.

Please mark your calendars. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The Atlantic magazine has an interesting article about how the financial crash will affect the US. It's an interesting, if flawed, analysis. Flawed because, somehow, in a world of declining potable water, the Great Lakes Region is apparently worthless and will not flourish economically. Further, there is the additional conundrum of climate change, which it seems is now unavoidable. Still, it is a good read and there is much food for thought, just realize it is a myopic view failing to account for all variable.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Sorry to not post! I'm just super busy with a new job and having to develop a completely new routine and schedule that fits into my reduced free time. Further, my daughter has learned to climb the furniture without understanding how gravity works and thus, requires much more supervision than usual (even so, we still ended up with a fat, bloody lip!).

Normal posting will resume soon!

For now this is the text of what I want to include with the light bulb giveaway.


In your hand is a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) that could green the world. CFLs use less energy saving homeowners money and reducing carbon emissions. Why does this matter to you?

Well, who doesn’t want to save money? More money in our pockets is a good thing!

As for carbon emissions, Scientists believe that carbon emissions are causing all sorts of climate problems.From melting the polar ice caps, to hot summers and warmer winters (meaning more snow for Parma!), carbon emissions are changing the planet and not in a good way. Fortunately, there are some easy things you and I can do to fight climate change.

This light bulb is one of those easy things. If we all used CFLs, it would the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars (and their emissions) off the road. Plus, it would save enough energy to light 2.5 million homes. Saving energy is good because it means we use less oil and coal as well as reduce their emissions into the environment.

So please use this light bulb. Better yet, swap out all the light bulbs in your house for CFLs and buy just one extra to pass on to someone else along with this card.

Visit to tell us what you did with your light bulb and to learn more about how Parma is going green.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Anyone remember this blast from the past? I happened to stumble upon it on You Tube.

Also, there's a 'green' schoolhouse rock DVD called Earth coming out in March.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The other day, a parent polluted the ocean as a means of breaking their child's bad habit. I'm purposely being vague as I don't want to villify anyone, but I think their situation illustrates an important issue; what we do matters and, unlike previous generations, we will be around when our actions bear their ruinous fruit.

Unless something changes, by 2048 the fish populations of the ocean will collapse by 90%. On top of that, there is currently a marked decline in the population of phytoplankton. In case, unlike me, you aren't a wannabe marine biologist, phytoplankton is the base of the ocean's food pyramid. They are the alpha and omega of the ocean's food chain, without them the entire oceanic ecosystem will suffer. Between these two facts, you basically have an extinction level event in the oceans in our lifetime.

Yes, our lifetime. Lucky us, we're the generation that gets to see the outcome of decades of economic and industrial--not to mention our own individual-- choices. We no longer live on a planet that will absorb the consequences of our actions until we are long gone. The piper will come for payment before we are in our dotage. For parents, this is especially difficult because, not only do we know the problematic future our children face, we are going to have to answer their 'whys' about the situation.

I want to be able to look my daughter in the eye and honestly say I did everything possible to keep the oceans from dying, that I did my part to make her future bright. So reading that another parent made a different choice, well, it made me wince. I had to take deep breaths. I had to remind myself that, in the grand scheme of world pollution, what they did wasn't really a big deal.

But I wonder what they will tell their children in 2048.

It is so easy to let inertia take over. To put off the trip to Home Depot or Target or some other store to pick up the inexpensive items that save energy and conserve water. We can always turn down the thermostat tomorrow or the next day or next year. Next thing you know, you've done nothing and your children or your grandchildren or the neighbor's kids are looking up to you and asking you 'Why?'

What will you tell them?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Happy 2009! A new year has begun and I have resolved to continue the greening of my daily life. I'm actually on two different New Year resolution diets at the moment. The first many of you are probably familiar with, it's the usual holiday weight loss diet (if you see me at the Parmatown Y, come and say Hi!). However, my other diet is the one that's really important. I call it my 'Oil Diet.' I want to reduce my oil and energy use as well as reusing and recycling when I can.

Below are some of the changes I've made along with some tips so you can start your own Oil Diet.

1. Shop local. Support local and small businesses whenever possible. Parmatown is a better shopping choice compared to buying online or visiting other area malls. I know if I'd been shopping at the bookstores in Parmatown vs. ordering from that the Barnes & Noble bookstore might not be closing. (Yes, that's right, the B&N at Parmatown is closing its doors as of January 17th.) (And yes to the first, I could singlehandedly sustain a bookstore. Yes to the second, I am not perfect either. I have lots of room for improvement in my Oil Diet.)

2. Buy second-hand items. Not only does this save money and put money into the local community, it reduces waste and saves energy.

3.Eat locally grown food and in season produce. In our area this is easier said than done. There are CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Cleveland area, but most have waiting lists. At the very least, if you can't eat locally grown food, sign up for the CSA waiting lists and mark your calendar for the farmer's market at the Stearn's homestead in Parma. The market usually starts in July.

As for in season produce, those berries shipping in from Chile are rarely as good as they look. (I know because I've bought them and been disappointed.) Instead, look for citrus fruits grown in the US along with pears and apples.

4.Walk or bike instead of driving. This is a daunting task especially in winter, but it can be done. Just the other day, we took the baby and dogs on a walk to our local Rite Aid. I ran in with the baby to pick up a few essentials while my husband waited outside with the dogs. Being January, it was cold, but we had a good time regardless and stayed warm with extra layers under our coats.

5. Plan errands and activities to reduce the amount of gas used. I often park between Kohl's and Target and walk from store to store.  Sometimes I even walk to Pet Smart. Little efficiencies like that count.

6.Turn down the thermostat this winter. I'm a huge freeze baby, but, even so, just adding a sweater or shawl has been enough to keep me warm. I haven't bumped the heat up once since turning it down as part of my Oil Diet.
For a gradual change, decrease by 1 degree every 1-2 weeks and get in the habit of adding another layer of clothing before giving in to temptation to turn the heat up. Just 2 degrees down in the winter (and up in the summer) saves as much as 2000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. I just wish losing body fat was so simple!
7. Swap out old lightbulbs for energy friendly compact flourescent (CFL) ones. CFLS use 60% less energy than a regular bulb and save you money as well as 300 pounds of CO2 a year. In addition, if we all used CFL bulbs, we would conserve enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes and eliminates the equivalent emissions from 800,000 cars. Imagine, one little light bulb can be like taking almost a million cars off the road. Amazing!

8. Now that we've changed our light bulbs, the plan is to help someone else swap out their light bulbs. I'm putting together an information card to go with the light bulbs explaining all the benefits of CFLs. I'll do a post on the card I put together so you can copy it and  give out some light bulbs of your own.
9. Stop drinking bottled water. The plastic not only leaches nasty chemicals like BPA into the water, but the plastic itself is made out of oil. Instead, put a filter on the faucet and use a reusable bottle like the ones available from The bottles are available in several different designs. We use them and get tons of compliments about how pretty they are.

10.Grow some food this Spring. Raspberries are very easy to plant and cultivate. Strawberries are basically weeds with fruit; they will grow almost anywhere. (I am a champion plant killer myself and I even managed to grow several quarts of delectable strawberries.) Or plant a full garden. Size doesn't matter, big or small, just plant something you can eat this Spring.
Winter is the perfect time to find nurseries, seeds, and decide what you want to plant. This time of year, dedicated gardeners thumb through their seed catalogs and dream. Why not join them? I am!

Lastly, (and technically number eleven, but I'm trying to pretend that I only have ten tips) tell people about your Oil Diet and direct them to this blog. Share what worked for you, and, in a positive, non-judgmental way, encourage them to do the same.  

If this list seems overwhelming, take a deep breath and pick one thing to start with. You don't have to be a paragon of green perfection from day one. It's not about perfection, it's about change.


I just read The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins. You can read the most important, community action focused parts here and here. (Actually, if you spend enough time on the website pretty much 90% of the book is out there for free, but I have to say I like having it all bound into one ready resource.)

Yesterday I read the Handbook in its entirety and out of 200+ pages of information, the fact I can't escape is the global warming issue:

"If we break through the 1C barrier as now seems inevitable, we'll see a Mount Kilimanjaro completely bereft of ice, the almost complete collapse of the Great Barrier Reef, and a number of island nations submerged by rising sea levels. A 2C rise would cause dreadful heat waves and increased drought around the world.

The reality is that the carbon dioxide already released will continue to push up the temperature for years to come (a phenomenon known as thermal inertia) by at least 0.6C, meaning that we are already committed to a 1.4C rise whatever we choose to do now. The warming we are experiencing now is the result of greenhouse gasses emitted in the 1970s."

Just in case you think 1 or 2C is no big deal, 1C is roughly 33F and 2C is roughly 35F. Think of winters in Parma where the coldest temperature is 50F. My daughter is currently one year old and, at the rate of climate change today combined with the lack of a comprehensive plan to arrest it, she will see a 50F winter in her lifetime.

I don't know about you, but 50F for an average winter temperature sounds kind of nice. Especially as we experience a bitter cold front. Unfortunately, global warming does not mean we will all be drinking pina coladas under Ohio's first palm trees. No matter how much we might like palm trees, this kind of temperature increase is not benign. Our growing season will completely change and nature will be in a crisis of confusion as plants bloom before pollinators migrate.

Sadly, this is already happening.

For instance, the famous writer Henry Thoreau was also a devout naturalist and kept meticulous records on blooming dates for over 600 species of plants. His records are now being used to track how global climate change is impacting the life cycle of plants.

"[Scientists]Primack and Miller-Rushing compared three years of their results with those of Thoreau, focusing on the 43 plant species with the most complete records. They learned that some common plants, such as highbush blueberry and a species of sorrel, were flowering at least three weeks earlier than in Thoreaus's time. On average, they found spring flowers in Concord were blooming a full seven days earlier than in the 1850s--and their statistics clearly showed a close relationship between flowering times and rising winter and spring temperatures."

"Observations from Thoreau and other naturalists reveal that plants are reacting to temperature changes more dramatically than short-distance migratory birds, suggesting that climate change could divide plants from their pollinators. Spring's acceleration is far from orderly."

(Quoted from Smithsonian Magazine October 2007 issue)

So what can we in Parma do in the face of such overwhelming change? Well, it's helpful to keep in mind that big change is really made up of small changes. The old adage 'a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step' comes to mind. This blog is a small change, one tiny step toward a bigger change. If we take enough small steps, then the big ones will happen on their own.

More specifically, we can garden, we can learn about our local ecosystem and ways to support it in times of crisis. We can identify what plant and animal life is the most adaptable and foster that adaptation or limit it if necessary.

I am not powerless. You are not powerless. Together we can do much