Saturday, June 26, 2010

Training for Transition - Aug 21 and 22, 2010

Training for Transition

Building Resilient Communities for a Post-Carbon World

Saturday & Sunday, August 21st & 22nd 2010 from 9:00 - 5:00 pm

(Alternate dates: August 28th & 29, in Washington DC*)


21300 Heathcote Road, Freeland, MD 21053

The Transition movement is a vibrant, international, grassroots initiative that seeks to build sustainable community as we face the inevitable challenges of climate change, oil depletion, and economic instability. The Transition movement confronts the reality that these issues can only be resolved by eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels.

The heart of Transition is the belief that if we engage with enough imagination and ingenuity to unlock the collective genius of our communities, we can choose a future that is abundant, equitable and socially connected.

Participants in the training will:

  • Learn how to raise awareness about peak oil, climate change, and community resilience through public talks and events
  • Explore the opportunities for personal and social transformation
  • Learn the key concepts of the Transition model, including how to set up and foster successful Transition groups
  • Form connections with other local change leaders and other transition initiatives
  • Learn to initiate groups to develop local food, energy, transportation, economic, and health alternatives
  • Learn to establish a plan of action for yourself and your community to eventually launch a community defined and implemented “Energy Descent Action Plan”

*Visit:, call 410-357-9523 or email

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seven Sisters Work Weekend May 22 & 23, 2010

Seven Sisters work weekend is planned for this coming weekend, May 22nd and 23rd.

People can come on Saturday or Sunday and bring gloves, hats, an open heart, a smile, a song, and any other tools they may want to bring for ivy pulling, tree trimming, dirt shoveling, field clearing, yard/greenhouse work or roofing (hammers, etc.).

Folks are free to stay over Saturday evening (bring sleep gear) and, we will have dinner and a bonfire and or spirit trance dance as well as some star gazing.

Green drinks and sun tea will abound!

Namaste! Kim
Seven Sisters
428 Leaman Rd.
Cochranville, PA

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."
~Kahil Gibran

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Transition Towns Established in Centre County, Pennsylvania

State College and Bald Eagle Valley have become the 63rd and 64th official Transition Towns in the United States. The Bald Eagle Valley is home to the largest SoL land trust of 323 acres. Members of the SoL land trust communities have been very involved in establishing these two transition towns and serve on the steering committee.
The Transition Towns movement was founded in the United Kingdom in 2005; the US office opened in 2008. There is now a global network 300 TTs in sixteen countries. Each TT is independent. There are now four TTs in Pennsylvania. Our goal is to promote a greater public awareness and involvement in energy and climate change issues. We choose to join a dynamic network of like-minded folks to draw on the vast collective experience and mutual support available. Transition Towns (TTs) are launched when a group of people in a local community form around the goal of seeking a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel dependence in response to rising cost and depletion of these non-renewable resources and the effect they have on climate change.
The two new TTs have been meeting jointly, and have been hearing from a number of interested people in several other local communities who are part of our network, so we are expecting more TTs to be forming in the coming months. All interested people are invited to attend and learn about the mission and process of Transition.
Guidelines for forming and operating a TT are found in Rob Hopkin’s The Transition Handbook (ask your local book store if they have copies). More information is available at our web sites — and at You can contact us at

School of Living Supports Facilitation Workshop with Laird Schaub

The School of Living is supporting an intensive Integrative Facilitation Training Program with Laird Schaub. Details are below:

Every organization or business has meetings. Think about all the meetings you attend as part of your work – with board members, committees, staff, contractors, funders, clients, etc. We need meetings in order to get our work done. But often our meetings are not as productive as they should be.

Do you dream of meetings where the group feels energized, engaged, and solid decisions get made? Do you wish your group could work through conflicts to build positive relationships and make collaborative agreements? Help is on the way!

Laird Schaub and Ma’ikwe Ludwig have developed a proven program for making a quantum leap in your ability to run dynamic and effective meetings, and in understanding the nuances and challenges of how cooperative groups function. The training extends over two years, consisting of eight 3-day weekends, spaced about three months apart. You'll receive handouts, chances to practice the techniques and principles, and lots of hands-on experience facilitating live meetings.

The first weekend will be May 27-30, 2010, at Julian Woods Community in Julian, PA (near State College). $2800 for full two-year training program. Only $2400 if paid in full up front. $350 per weekend if paid quarterly. Audit individual weekends for $250 each.

To learn more about the program and register see:

About the Trainers:
Laird and Ma'ikwe are professional facilitators and have been involved in forming intentional communities and managing nonprofits. These experiences inform their unique, whole-person approach to meeting dynamics. Ma'ikwe has worked for 19 years as an organizer, director, teacher, and as a consultant. She has been working with consensus for 6 years. Laird has a national reputation in Integrative Facilitation, conflict management, and consensus. He has been a process consultant for 20 years and has worked extensively with cohousing groups across the country. For more information about his work visit

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reflections on Green Buddhism Talk by Bill Sharp

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Steve Kanji Ruhl on Green Buddhism at Ahimsa Village Community on December 12, 2009.

For those who may not know Kanji, allow me to draw briefly on his biography. Kanji, born and raised in Central Pennsylvania, has roots in this soil. His academic prowess was evident: He has a MA in Divinity from Harvard. He is a writer and poet. He is a lifelong Zen practioner who has trained in Japan, studied with John Daido Loori Roshi at Zen Mountain Monastery in New York, is a graduate of the Maezumi Institute's Zen House Seminary for Socially Engaged Buddhism and currently a novice minister training with Roshi Bernie Glassman of the Zen Peacemakers. He and Rosalind Jiko Kisan McIntosh opened the first Appalachian Zen House, based at Ahimsa Village last year.

It is impossible to give more than a glancing impression of the experience of his talk and I can do so only from the perspective of how it filtered through my own nervous system. Kanji gave a brief but concise history of Buddhism as it evolved across India, China and to Japan. He related the history of that tradition with that of the West and with our collective ancestor’s reverence for the Earth, trees and animals. I found this intriguing because, although I was brought up in a Christian faith, which is perhaps more focused on life after death than the experience of the real miracle of life between birth and death, I have always had a deep reverence for the Earth; perhaps as a result of growing up in a rural environment and due to my Celtic and Native American blood. But he also brought home the lessons I learned from the Japanese while once stationed in a remote area of Kyushu where I had my first direct encounter with both Buddhism and Shinto and my first real spiritual awakening.

Over my lifetime there has been a gradual, albeit limited, return to a more earthy religion. As Kanji pointed out, in the dim history of all our faiths, at the root of all of our civilizations, there were religious and spiritual traditions that reverences earth, air, fire and water and the flora and fauna that gave life to the world of matter and energy. As a longtime resident of the Southwest, and familiar with its Native cultures, I am reminded that the food we grow has been reverenced by our forbearers. Such traditions live, if barely, in forms such as Holy Communion where bread and wine are used as symbols of our deepest reverence. More and more people are returning to a sense of the sacred in growing, sharing and eating good foods.

Kanji talked about the spiritual people who retreated to the countryside in China and Japan, and also St. Francis. I’ve toured both Zen and Christian monasteries and marveled at the beauty and simplicity of life withdrawn from the bustle of city life. I find the best of the monastic traditions, both East and West in the times they were self-sufficient. Such highly disciplined and focused lives give the residents of these places an opportunity to sharpen their spiritual perceptions and may, I would hope, allow them to more completely focus on the here and now such as celebrated by the Buddhist.

Kanji talked about the Bodhisattva path, the deep compassion felt by great souls for all living things and the commitment by them to foregoing final enlightenment until all have been brought to fulfillment. He brought the spiritual dimensions of the environment movement up to date with examples of Green Buddhist leadership such as that of the Dali Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn but he also gave due credit to Pope Benedict, who just a couple of weeks ago denounced the world leader’s failure at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and mainstream Protestantism and Christian evangelicals such as Rick Warren and Jim Wallis. I have worked with faith-based groups for a number of years and I am delighted to see a resurgence of interest in spiritual stewardship which needs to be encouraged.

There are important lessons for us in Kanji’s talk and his mission. I believe we are experiencing one of those times in human history like those that gave rise to its great spiritual traditions. We need, I am convinced, to more deeply reflect on our reality and flame that spark of compassion that assures us not only of personal salvation but the well-being of all that lives on this Earth.

Bill Sharp lives in State College. He is retired from a career in education, public service and business. He is active in developing more sustainable communities, is affiliated with the Transition Towns movement and chairs the Garden Starters group that meets twice monthly at ClearWater Conservancy. Bill can be reached at

Monday, January 11, 2010

Design for Living, Home-Scale Permaculture Course offered at Heathcote Community

Heathcote Community, in Freeland Maryland, is offering a 7-day course in “Permaculture Design” with an additional 2-weekend Design Certificate option. Beginning February 14th, the course meets every other weekend through June 2010.

Ecologists and authors, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, from the University of Tasmania, created the concept of Permaculture to infer permanent culture, and permanent agriculture. The term implies a way a life that insures the survival of all earth’s species and natural resources. Mollison’s theories evolved from childhood observations of traditional stewardship behavior of the neighboring aboriginal community.

Using both ancient and modern knowledge, Permaculture Design mimics universal survival patterns found in nature. As both a theory and practice, it is a system of designing human-initiated ecosystems that relate food production to other human needs (such as shelter, water, and community), bioregional resource flow and conservation. Permaculture is a frame of reference for analyzing specific human habitats and finding sustainable solutions to their inherent problems or needs. A small-scale backyard, or large-scale farm, village or city, can be transformed into a healthy ecological human habitat. Permaculture principles provide basic criteria for ecologically informed decision-making, suggesting limits to land development, and individual independence.

This course will appeal to anyone interested in living a more community-reliant, environmentally responsible life-style. Class time will involve hands-on outdoor demonstrations, lecture and scale drawing (no experience necessary). Students will apply sustainable concepts of biological diversity, water harvesting, food production, renewable energy, natural building, ecological waste management, and wilderness conservation in a design exercise for a familiar property of their own choice.

Heathcote Community, a School of Living land trust, provides a focus for interdisciplinary study and research, illustrating practical applications of sustainable living. To register see

For more information call 410-357-9523 or email

Monday, January 4, 2010

Seed Conference - 3rd Annual, Lehigh Valley, PA

On Saturday and Sunday January 23 and 24 from 9am to 5pm ,on both days, the Alliance for Sustainable Communities-Lehigh Valley and the School of Living will be holding its third annual SEED Conference at the Fowler Center--The Northampton Community College South Bethlehem Campus on Third Street. A suggested donation will be on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. $10-25 for one day and $15-35 for both. The Conference will be co-sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Food Coop and the School of Living. The Lehigh Valley Food Coop will handle lunch and refreshments.[Lunch is not included in the donation] Registrants will get more detailed information on this. Several organizations will have information tables set up for educational purposes. Groups and individuals are welcome to bring old seeds or seeds thay have saved to exchange with other participants.

The Conference was begun in 2008 as a way to address Seed isues in local agriculture and food growing. We addressed food quality[organic vs nonorganic and GMO's], seed saving, seed catalogues, permaculture and general issues of the food supply. It has expanded into a gathering to cover a broad range of local food concerns.

The public can register by calling Steve Hoog at 610-756-6867, or emailing him at payment can be made at the door----please register by Weds. January 20.

Tentative schedule---subject to change

Saturday Jan.23
9am-Opening remarks--Steve Hoog
Comments on GMO"s, Monsanto, Obama and world agriculture
9:30-DVD-Power of Community----how Cuba respnded to their own peak oil situation when Russia reduced their oil shipments to the island country
10:45- Kelle Kersten-School of Living Board member and founding member of the Ahimsa Village near State College. PA.-----Planting Seeds of Compassion in the Hearts and Minds of Young People
12 Noon--Lunch
1 pm--Bill Mineo--LC'S Farm-near Reiglesville---Seeds for Sustainability--Heirloom seeds from around the world for use in the Lehigh Valley
2 pm-Karen Stupski--School of Living and member of the Heathcote Community in Maryland--Talk on basics of Permaculture,specific real world applications of it and opportunities for learning
3:30--Video--The Synergistic Garden--Based on the work of Masanobu Fukuoka, French Emelia Hazelip details her method of organic no-till gardening without fertilizers.
Another video will follow to be selected.
5pm--End of Saturday session

Sunday-January 24

9am--Opening remarks
9:30--Video or DVD---Urban Permaculture---followed by discussion and getting to know each other
10:45--School of Living Representative----Talk on Community Land Trusts
12 Noon- Lunch
1pm-Lou Cinquino--spokesman for the group Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley--Talk on Community Gardens--this group dedicated to helping local residents establish Community Gardens in their neighborhoods
2pm-Eve Minson-owner of new business called Just One Seed---Local Food Systems---There is a growing interest and demand for developing local food systems beyond the CSA model creating a need for local farm and garden educational programs for kids thru adults-she will review farm based educational programs in the NorthEast.
3:15--Video or DVD to be announced----followed by discussion and looking to the future
5pm -end of Sunday session

Stephen Hoog--Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Member of LV Food Coop
Board of School of Living