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.