TELL US HOW YOU'VE BEEN HELPING
Thanks for helping make a difference in your community.
How did you help out The Transition, on a grassroots level, in your community?
- Volunteered at a local event
- Helped friends and family get involved
- Shared your story
- Wrote a letter to a local paper
- Shared a story on Twitter or Facebook
- Helping the Transition Team to work on the website
- Something else?
Be sure to include how many hours of your time you contributed as well!
Take a few minutes to tell us which activities you took part in, and let us know how it went.
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Transition Town Glassboro (now an official Transition US initiative and a 501c4 non-profit) attempted to do a waste reduction program involving Rowan University students living off campus in Glassboro. In an effort to reduce the considerable usable waste left on the curb after graduation, we partnered with the university’s office of volunteerism to send out an email notice which notified the students of a location date time and contact number to drop off materials they wanted to get rid of but could not take with them. One student called to inquire about the program, and suggested that she was going to drop off items that day, however, nobody came by to drop anything off during the posted hours. I don’t know what happened. The university has recycle bins on campus, but these are horribly misused, as one of our former members noted while biking past – a recycling container had packaged meat in it. Perhaps she placed her items in these bins instead of driving to our location. We had 3 people on staff at all times to handle drop off and sorting and transport of donated items, all Transition Town volunteers. Two community members stopped by to see if any of the items we had were items they could use. We had to turn them away since we had nothing. We had applied for a mini grant. We did not get the mini grant. We spent $150 on this project and achieved nothing. Now we are faced with a money shortage, and a low morale. Every project we have started has failed to grow our organization, and we have experienced attrition in our membership – we are down to 3. We seem to be ill equipped to handle implementing the projects and ideas we have in abundance.
The location we had our recycling event at was an underused community center, badly in need of repairs. We liked the location and see a lot of potential in it, but don’t have any money to do anything with it. However, we discussed donating some labor to their cause and painting the doors and/or the floor both of which need a lot of work. After speaking with the owner of the facility, we found that she would like to paint the doors, but a bigger problem she has is the lack of insulation in the building, which is a concrete block construction. I don’t know anything about it, but I intend to bring up her concern at our next BUD meeting next week, and try and get some input from our more handy members. Ideally if we can cultivate a relationship with her organization, maybe we can get the use of the building at a reduced price.
There is a community fair next month and we intend to have a table at this event to try and spread information about the Transition. However, people are unlikely to stop by our table to chat unless we have something to give away. It’s just how people are. We are not certain what to do about that, as homemade food has liability issues associated with it, we have no money to purchase trinkets (and no desire to add to the waste problem that will follow). We would like to recruit people to do a “fixit clinic” or “repair cafe” type event, but this event is not likely to gain us many people. We need to contact people directly and we just don’t have contacts. Cold calling businesses for this is a daunting prospect for our members and a sample script if anyone has one would be appreciated.
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. Elderberry grows wild here, is highly sought after by the sheep, and grows well in wet areas, so is therefore another possibility.
Water filtration is another expected benefit since water flowing into the proposed area is some of the dirtiest water flowing on this farm. It comes from water washing off of the highway into the ditch running along the highway at the highest points of the ridge, then flowing through four pastures before reaching the coulee. Flowing through the stand of trees should remove some of the pollutants carried off the roadway by the water.This will reduce pollutants flowing to other parts of the farm, as well as reduce pollutants flowing off the farm. In this way, this project should benefit all who use this water downstream.
Planting these trees should add in retaining soil and create more resistance to erosion on the site, and hopefully, further downstream as well, as water is slowed in its flow by the trees. Furthermore, this planting should sequester more carbon and provide more wildlife habitat than is currently being done on the site. Planting a stand of trees like this should also provide some small amount of temperature moderation as trees provide more shade, cooling the area in the summer, and provide wind screen, reducing wind chill in the winter.
Beyond the above benefits, there I am hoping to realize a direct cost reduction due to being able to graze the sheep on trees during winter. If the stand of trees can provide as little as one week’s worth of fodder, even if that is spread out over the course of the winter rather than 7 consecutive days, it would reduce hay costs by roughly $40 to $80.
This is because about one small round bale of hay is needed to feed the number of sheep that live here currently for one week A small round bale of hay usually costs between $40 to $80, depending on the availability and quality of hay in a given year. So if this project replaces one bale, or one week’s worth of hay with alternative winter fodder, it would save the cost of one small bale – between $40 to $80 Substituting hay with trees for winter fodder could also reduce transportation costs, both in dollar amount and in terms of the green house gas emissions resulting from fossil fuels being used for transportation. I am hoping to realize the cost of the fencing in actual dollar savings within a five year period, or sooner. Then, this cost savings should be seen every year there after. The savings may even grow as the stand of trees matures and can produce more winter food for the sheep, without causing serious damage to the trees.
Because the fencing is not consumed within this time period, it is expected that the fencing will be able to be reused after the trees have reached the point of maturity where they no longer need fencing to protect themselves from the sheep, and are able to rely on their own natural defense instead. At that point, this project could be repeated, or the fencing could be reused to implement a different type of project. Similar fencing purchased 10 yrs ago is still in use on the farm and is expected to be usable for at least another 5 yrs. There are 2 more pastures where water flows and could benefit in a similar manner from a similar planting of trees, with similar potential cost savings due to winter grazing, on this farm. Since the trees needed for planting can be obtained from mature trees already growing on the farm, the only current limitation is the availability of fencing.
Reducing reliance on hay, even by small amounts could have dramatic impacts beyond simply the cost of the hay. Currently the need for hay to overwinter sheep creates an imperative to breed the adult sheep to produce lambs for slaughter in order to raise the money to buy the hay, which supports the breeding stock overwinter. If the need for hay is reduced, so is the need to breed adult ewes in order to produce lambs for sale. Thus it becomes more economically feasible to reduce the number of lambs produced each year. This means that the farm has much more control over when and how many lambs are produced, such that the farm is much less susceptible to market conditions that previously would compel farmers to over produce lambs, and sell them at low rates. This becomes a vicious cycle and usually ends with farms going out of business. By reducing dependence on hay, it should result in a more stable financial position, more immune to outside market conditions.
By reducing reliance on hay, and using perennial trees to supplement winter fodder, worker exposure to molds, pollen and dust, which cause respiratory problems during winter months. Reducing reliance on hay should also reduce hours of labor, transporting, storing and feeding hay to sheep.j The reduction in both of these should improve worker health.
While it was briefly mentioned above, it bears repeating that reducing reliance on hay reduces reliance on fossil fuels, as currently hay fed overwinter is either produced on the farm, which requires large, expensive machinery that – runs on, was manufactured with, and transported with – fossil fuels. If the hay is purchased, it then needs to be transported from the farm where it was produced to the farm where it will be consumed, requiring more fossil fuels, and more costs.
In conclusion, the expectation of this project is to reduce hay costs sufficiently to be able to repay The Transition for their support within a 5 years or less, and see additional multiple benefits both on the farm as well as the farm’s impact on the world at large.
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 their action plans. 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.
You’ve left out the best. http://thetransition.org/about
Perhaps I can volunteer to help with the animals, or help start a garden, or use a spare room to practice non-violent communication. Or maybe there is a way I can learn carpentry skills or solar power skills. Maybe if I help them raise funds for their projects. We might be able to discuss having tiny houses on the farm acreage. I’ll let you know when someone responds to my email, or phone call.
We have filed articles of incorporation with the state of Arizona for our intentional community, which is structured as a 501(d).
Brian Fey joined us for the first time.
Both Brian and Robert did not see the point in having meetings. We decided to continue with contacts in facebook messenger There were a number of items of information that we wanted to exchange. Both of them also did not want to invite more people to join until they see the point of the group. Hopefully after some items of information are exchanged they will see the value of adding more people.
I sent the minutes of the last meeting to Nicole. Maybe she will be able to help us . We are also waiting for the promised gathering of those who are on the third level of their action plan.
I’d like to mention a special fb group that I founded as an attempt to make a bud. It’s called Bud for Intimacy . I would like to invite people who are working with the Transition AND are also interested in intimacy. Robert Howes started with me, but it seems that he’s too busy to participate. I am talking to another person about coming in. I hope that she will help.
Nicole mentioned that she might start a sjupport grojup for thnose whno are in phase 3. That might also help. Of coourse I’m telling people about it and inviting them FIRST to join the Transition.
I am also a contributor (part of phase 2 and a requirement before forming a seed).
Anyone interested in helping out (in this groujp or in any of the others)?