I applied to Transition US to become an official Transition Town. We were accepted! Our BUD ( Transition Town Glassboro - 5 members) met Tuesday to discuss where to go next. We decided that for our first official action, we were going to try and set up a Time Bank. We are in the process of learning how to set it up, and how to pay for it. (The other websites we were using for this info used to be free apparently, and are no longer free) Prior to becoming official, in the past year or so, we:
- set up a page on Facebook
- set up regular once a month BUD meetings
- hosted a couple of potlucks
- hosted a game night
- developed a Vision statement
- took Transition Launch trainings with Transition US (maybe 12 hours of webinars for me, and a weekend for our other Seed - last year)
- compiled short bios to submit with our Transition US application
Several of our members have joined the town's Green Team, and as part of that we are working on getting Sustainable NJ certification for our town. As part of the Green Team, I re-wrote our Complete Streets resolution, in order to meet the newer more rigorous Sustainable Jersey requirements set by the state (5+hours of work) and the town council passed it this month! I also assisted with a number of other miscellaneous data collection and file uploading tasks required for this certification. We are pending approval by the state at the moment.
Recently, I've been researching the Citizen's Climate Lobby. Last Wednesday, (on the 4th of July) I took part in a one hour introduction session for Citizen's Climate Lobby, online. Citizen's Climate Lobby is trying to find a way to reduce consumption of oil. They have come up with "The fee and dividend model" which would tax oil at the point of extraction and then the money is refunded equally to all households. The idea is, those who consume less oil pay less tax, and would come out ahead, while those who use more oil pay more tax and would be economically penalized. In this way, the fee and dividend policy would encourage consumers to choose products that use less oil because those products would be cheaper. According to this plan, low income households would come out ahead because they purchase fewer products, and proportionally, the dividend would be a larger share of their monthly income. I urge other people to get involved with this organization. To do this, sign up for their Wednesday Informational Sessions.
When I first started keeping sheep on this farm, I realized right away that sheep will kill trees. Early on, the sheep killed off most of the evergreens in their pastures as well as many shrubs. But as time went on, I realized they didn't kill off all of the trees. In fact, some trees continued to have seedlings sprout, grow and become young saplings even though the sheep had full, continuous access to them for periods of time. I started observing how different trees, at different stages of growth, were affected by the sheep.
Some trees are unappetizing to the sheep, who will avoid grazing on those varieties of trees. Hickory and sugar maples are examples of trees sheep don't like, that grow here. Other trees are highly desirable to the sheep, and tend to be tolerant of limited grazing by the sheep. These trees include willow, sumac, and box elder. The sheep can graze on them in limited amounts and they tend to recover. Bushes like elderberry and dogwood are also somewhat tolerant of being grazed by sheep. As time went on, I noticed how growth patterns by graze tolerant trees helped the tree to protect itself from the sheep. When a tree sent up multiple shoots from an injured trunk, each of the shoots tended to protect part of the trunk portion of at least one other shoot, preventing the sheep from ringing the other shoots.. When many shoots sprouted, they tended to provide each other more protection than when only one or two shoots grew.
Ideas came to me regarding how trees could be planted to enhance the trees abilities to defend itself against grazing, that I seemed to observe. Being a small farmer, machines to plant, harvest and move hay are out of my budget. All of the food crops grown here are grown by hand. So I started thinking about ways I could grow food for the sheep. Food during the summer months is plentiful. It is the winter months that determine whether or not I can sustain sheep here, so some way to grow a quantity of winter feed for the sheep using no mechanization would be extremely helpful. An additional consideration is the seasonal abundance of water during the spring, especially during the snow melt of spring thaw. A means of retaining that water would be a valuable resource for the farm and could possibly be used to provide the winter feed for the sheep. The idea of using graze tolerant, water loving trees to both retain some of the water, and use it to enhance growth that could provide graze for the sheep during winter months started to develop.
The one big expense for implementing the experiment was the cost of fencing. Fencing would be needed to be able to control the sheep's access to the planting, so that the trees could have time to recover and respond to grazing without being destroyed by it. For several years I tried to raise the money to purchase the required fencing needed to implement my experiment. This spring, I received $83.00 from The Transition, and with some additional money, was able to purchase a roll of fencing for $105.45. The fencing was purchased from Nuzum's, a local company, rather than a large corporation. Nuzum's offered free delivery, if I were willing to wait until they had other deliveries close by my location. I agreed to wait. It took about a week before the fencing was delivered, which has had no affect on the project.
In addition to the fencing, T-posts, used to support the fencing will be needed. There are T-posts here on the farm that were once used to support cattle panels, but are no longer being used for that. Those T-posts can be salvaged for this project, so purchasing T-posts will not be necessary. With the fencing, I plan to enclose an area 20 ft x 20 ft, This will be cut in half horizontally along the hillside, rather than up and down the hill. I have single strands of strong wire that I will install so that the wire goes up and down the hill within the square, to further cut the area into quarters, so that each quarter can be opened to the sheep, one at a time, and then closed again to prevent over grazing. Planting trees in this manner has potentially many benefits. Water retention is one of these benefits. To enhance water retention, hydrophilic trees have been selected. The planting will include willow and dogwood. To reduce costs, the root stock for the trees was obtained from other trees on the farm, rather than being purchased. In addition, I am hoping to obtain box elder seeds to plant in within the square. Other trees and shrubs may be included, if plant material can be scavenged from elsewhere on the farm.
I have been a political cheerleader since high school. For the student council election students were divided into two parties. cheerleaders were chosen and each party got half the school band. I was head cheerleader and our purpose was to entertain students so they would listen to the candidates speeches.
In the early 80’s I made a joke getting ready to go to a rock show. I said I was going to start a Political Party… the Rock’n’Roll Party! Being a man of my word, I started the Rock’n’Roll Party. Complete with ‘Rules and Reggae’.
Campaigning was partying hard. It turns out nobody can have that much fun and survive.
So the next twenty five years consisted of 12 step recovery with personal therapy, followed by many years in a men’s group, with personal therapy. I worked and paid my bills while creating a shop where we recycled construction cut off and prefabbed specialty parts for new houses. I called it TC’s world of plenty.
In 2011 I was disabled and have been on resisted activity ever since. Still when Bernie Sanders ran for President I got on board.
When Bernie was pushed out I still felt the bern. I felt like I was wasting my time posting on Facebook. What could I do to effect what is happening politically? I started thinking about reviving the Rock’n’Roll Party again, when I met a young man that wanted to start a political party, but didn’t know how. I told him about the Rock’n’Roll Party. We collaborated on a new name, New Progressive’s Party of America. Our purpose was to join all progressives together; left and right, both major parties, anybody with an open mind. It has been 6 months and we had 140 likes. I was posting on Facebook and feeling kinda useless…
It doesn't really feel like I've done anything. I tried to find other people in this area who would be interested in creating an intentional community, but have had no luck so far. I posted on local FB groups, looking for people in this area, but while I did meet new people, I didn't find any who would be interested in creating a new IC. My farm may be small, but trying to maintain it alone is extremely challenging. Considering the amount of land - 13 acres - and the climate, this farm could support at least another 5 people. Alone, I feel uneasy just opening the doors to anyone who happens to wander by, as there is no one to back me up if things go badly.
Several years ago friends suggested I try WOOFERs organization to find people enthusiastic about staying or living on an organic farm. I finally scrapped together the membership fee and completed the application for WOOFERs over this past winter. So far, two people have contacted me through WOOFERs, wanting to schedule visits to the farm. I am hoping to engage people in the tree planting project I'm working on, or in enlarging the vegetable gardens, with emphasis on perennials. I'm hoping that by enlarging the gardens, and the number of perennial garden plants growing will further enhance the farm's ability to support more people, for longer periods of time. Several long time friends have expressed interest in coming here. I spent several years living on the streets as a runaway as a teen, and the friends contacting me now are people I met back then. Each of them has significant emotional issues which has made living with them in the past very difficult. Now, these people are pretty much homeless once again, living in motor homes, buses and RV's. They want to come and stay here on this farm, as I have the space for their transient homes to rest for a while, plus access to electricity, water and food.
One such friend, I referred to The Transition, asking her and her current boyfriend to sign up and do Your Action Plan. She did sign up, but I don't think she's done much else afterward. I agreed to let her and plus one stay for a short, provisional visit, to see how things would work out. They are currently living in an old school bus. At first she said she'd only want to stay overnight, but as we talked, it became clear they are looking for a semi-permanent place to park - they're looking for a new home. We have talked briefly about expectations of each other and have agreed on a short trial visit, with the possibility they would return a few weeks later for a longer stay. Another old friend who is living in an old motor home asked to stay here. It breaks my heart to do it, but I had to turn her down, for the time being. I know this woman has significant mental health issues and, quite frankly, I would be afraid to have her stay here with me, me being alone with her. She does irrational things, and becomes quite stubborn about doing them. I would be afraid to leave her alone here, even for an few minutes - like to go out and do the chores I have to do to keep the farm running. In order to have her stay, I would need a much larger group of people who could support both her and myself, to keep an eye on her, to ensure she doesn't hurt herself, others or do damage to the physical buildings of the farm. I grieve not being able to help her when she has asked for my help and clearly needs it. But for my own well being and to ensure this farm is an active resource, I have to admit I am not in a position to give this woman the support she requires. Trying to do so anyway could result in harming both her, me and the farm - as an on going asset.
I originally came to this way of thinking through Peter Joseph's film Zeitgeist Addendum. Through the film I learned about The Venus Project like many others have. Since neither organization provided a clear idea of what the transitional process to a Resource Based Economy would look like I sought out answers elsewhere. Through Google searches I discovered the Transition Network and the concept of Transition Towns. Accidentally in trying to find their material again I discovered The Transition. In the beginning I will admit I did piss and moan about "having to do" Your Action Plan because I wanted to meet people right away. I certainly fought the almost overwhelming desire to fuss about the seemingly unending network of links and sub links in The Transition site and the elusive Phase II review. However, now that I have digested the material I truly am better armed when I encounter a question.
Once I reached Phase II I was able to connect and meet key players in the movement and from there I realized I needed to start my own BUD. We are living the dream as we transition from a monetary based economy to a resource based economy through the Hybrid RBE System. We have chosen Walsenburg, Colorado as our point of entry into the new paradigm we are fashioning here. We truly are creating our own reality as we work together in community to create a life we can all enjoy. During that time I came to learn of the Ubuntu Movement's One Small Town proposal and decided to host a Zeitgeist Addendum movie screening in my own town with that focus in mind as a viable solution. Many people that attended that screening were receptive to the message I was offering and through that event I was able to get more involved with the local city government. I was given a job to deal with the removal of asbestos from properties in my community, which gave me the opportunity to get to know local city officials on a more personal level. Through those relationships and the notoriety I gained from drawing so many community members together through the screening I was offered another community role this time with our local community garden.
We are now a 501 C3 nonprofit known as The Universal Alliance of Communities, Inc. and have just acquired the deed for what will eventually house up to 15 community members. We now house 6 community members and numerous guests and supporters. We have dubbed this endeavor The Transition House Walsenburg. We are funding this using the hybrid money system and the UBUNTU One Small Town 1/3-1/3-1/3 system and are creating three agreements as we speak to initiate handy man services, IT Services through our in-house affiliation with the Lost Boys Network. And finally, we are in contractual negotiations to manage a large warehouse in downtown Walsenburg to centralize food distribution to the area fresh markets. We have begun modification to a 5,000-sq. ft. area to provide hydroponic / aquaponic food delivery right to the fresh market distribution level above. We are in with local agencies that support and participate. We are extremely active in local volunteer services and are easily recognized in the community as Transition House Community members. We are living in community within a community and it is awesome. Since we have garnered so much support for what we are doing we believe it is feasible to groom multiple community members to run for local office and hopefully move our town in the direction of an RBE. We have many other projects in mind as well and continue to work towards achieving those dreams one day at a time. We look forward to others following in our footsteps and finding success like this in their own communities as well.
I support The Transition as it is the most structurally sound road map I have been presented with and the resources are seemingly endless. Special thanks to the team for putting this resource together for us.
At the start of pioneering the Herland project, Lucie, Kate and I traveled around the United States for a couple of months, doing various things that would be necessary before heading south. A lot of that time was spent in the southwest, in the states of Arizona and New Mexico, but a trip to Texas was eventually required in order for us to get some paperwork done for a VISA to one of the countries we planned on going through.
We were on our way there and had made updates saying we were going to a specific place in Texas. Nicole asked us more specifically where we were going, and it turned out that Nicole’s home was on our way there, and she invited us to stay there overnight. We parked our truck with a camper on top (as well as our towed-along trailer) on her lawn, brought out some chairs and snacks and started talking. Hours went on and we went through many subjects, intentional communities and activism were among them.
We ended up staying for two more nights. The second evening carried on in the same spirit as the first one, while on the third Nicole had to focus more on her work online. The stay was great and we were able to rest and regain our energy. Nicole provided us with water for our water tanks, a wifi connection and a good boost of morale from the intellectual discussions and positive encouragement.
Less than a month after leaving Nicole’s we were in Mexico, and right around Christmas of 2016 we arrived at the Mexican RV Park, called San Juan Del Lago (which is still under construction). The owner, Arturo, was really nice to us and drove us around and showed us where to go to get various things in the surrounding towns. Both Kate and I had to go to doctors during our stay, and they had excellent medical facilities. It was cheap, you were given care fast, and the doctors really seemed to know what they were talking about. Arturo came along each time to help with translating.
After being at Arturo’s RV park for a while we continued our travels to the location we had in mind for the Ecovillage. We are now pretty much "here", we are just looking for the perfect spot on which to build the Ecovillage.