PHOENIXVILLE AREA TRANSITION COMMUNITY
Sunday, October 7, 2018, 4:00-5:30 PM
Community Arts Phoenixville, 207 Bridge Street
Present: Amy Atlee, Lucille Balukian, Deb Sween-Beebee, Steve Beebee, Adrian Bowden, Shannon Chamberlain, Mark Connolly, Megan Connolly, Jane Dugdale (facilitator), Jean Flood, Wesley Frazier, Chris Goulian (note-taker), Melissa Greer, Gwynne Hagee, Peter Luborsky, Rodney Platt, Rick Rigutto.
Call to order, welcome, introductions, and announcements
Jane opened the meeting and asked each person present to introduce themselves and mention one Phoenixville Area organization with which they are affiliated. She then celebrated recent PATC-related events such as the Green Earth Festival (Green Team), Dialogue Circles (Diversity in Action), and Soltane’s 30th anniversary party). Jane also asked members to check the PATC calendar regularly at www.pat.community and send her notice of events to be posted. Then she announced upcoming events, including:
· Film, “Tomorrow,” on Monday, October 15 at the Colonial Theatre. Please see links from Mark Connolly at the end of these notes. Please share as you are able.
· Timebank’s Pasta Party on Saturday, October 13 at St. John’s Lutheran Church
· Israel-Palestine Seminar on Sunday, October 14 at St. Peter’s Church
· Diversity in Action’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 16
· Charlestown Playhouse Fall Sale, beginning on Wednesday, October 17
· Music For Everyone (Orion Communities fundraiser), Thursday, October 18 at the Colonial
· Mindfulness Yoga on Wednesday, October 24 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
· Transition US Online Summit on Saturday, October 27
More details and events are listed on the calendar on the PAT website.
Mark explained that he is framing the screening of “Tomorrow” as a sustainability “gathering,” so as to convey a more welcoming tone than “meeting.” The plan is to roll out conversation and highlight organizations during the screening of the film. Mark and Jane added that we need to promote this film actively and send text messages about the film to friends, who can then relay and customize those messages through subsequent texts. See links at the end to share, please.
Jane read the poem, “A Hopi Elder Speaks,” ending with the line, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” The group shared various insights into the message of the poem and how it applies to the work of Transition Towns.
Short film: “The Global Context: Why Transition?”
Jane presented a short film by Sally Ludwig, one of the facilitators of the Transition Launch training. After the film, members of the group shared their reactions to the film:
· Melissa: Startling to see how few companies own so much.
· Lucille: And how much I rely on those companies.
· Steve: Struck by consistent decline of unemployment, countered by the steady increase in the gap between the rich and the poor.
· Jane: unemployment figures do not show that most new jobs are low-paying.
· Megan: It would be interesting to map Phoenixville in terms of income inequality, especially over time, and highlight the impact such inequality has on businesses, schools, etc., so as to identify where there is specific need. How do we shift attention from the affluent to those in need?
· Chris: (related to Megan’s point) A recent New York Times article highlighted a study showing that where children live and grow up have a significant impact on determining their prosperity as adults.
· Jean: Struck by the issues surrounding housing and the shortage of affordable housing.
· Rodney: NPR presented a spot on disparities in Brooklyn on affordable housing.
· Mark: Altair (ecovillage in Kimberton) is not being built because of zoning issues. Affordable housing can only happen through favorable zoning. Ten thousand boomers are retiring each day (which also leads to misleading unemployment figures, as those same retirees choose to leave the work force early). Housing will be further impacted as these boomers move/downsize. Politics must shift to effect changes with affordable housing.
· Chris: What’s frustrating is that the cyclical nature of our political system does not allow for a comprehensive and lasting national strategic plan. Perhaps the work of Transition Towns can be scaled up by corporate coalitions and states like California, which can take the lead in effecting such change.
· Jane: perhaps some of our homework should be to read “Ten Stories of Transition” on the website www.transitionus.org
· Jean: An effective strategy used recently by the borough was busing people into downtown Phoenixville for the Food Truck Festival from the Giant parking lot.
· Steve: There has been a plan on the table for constructing a bypass loop highway around Phoenixville, which would reroute heavy vehicle traffic away from Bridge Street.
· Peter: Imagine if Bridge Street could be converted into a pedestrian walkway!
· Amy: Struck by the Joanna Macy quote on how to let all this information flow through us and not crush us. How do you change a paradigm? How do we move from “me” to “we” and balance the personal with the common good?
· Mark: School district bought 40 acres, thanks to Lisa Longo, with the goal of linking sustainability to the curriculum. The essential challenge is how to balance cost vs. value.
· Jane: Supporting such a model could be a PATC project.
· Jean: Concerned about power lines and wires and their state of dilapidation.
· Deb: There are some people (developers) in Phoenixville who are given carte blanche. Some of them are afraid of Lisa Longo, who isn’t afraid to confront them. How can we get them on board, and can she help us?
Some insights from Rick Rigutto and ensuing discussion
Jane invited Rick, an organic farmer, to share his perspective. Rick has been farming in the area for the past fifteen years and managing farms for the past ten. He sees issues through lens of agriculture. Are the current social, political, and economic structures in a position to allow sustainable agriculture to take place/root? Not right now. As we’ve transitioned from being citizens to consumers (Mark’s point), Rick pointed out that the essential question we need to ask ourselves is what does it mean to be human; what are our responsibilities as members of society?
Borrowing from terminology shared by Mark and used by the “Ready for 100%” campaign, Rick identified that a “stretch aspiration” for sustainable agriculture might be to build more community gardens and greenhouses so as to introduce and disseminate more beneficial plants into the community.* Mark translated that aspiration as having every home establish a garden, and such a practice of “collective consciousness” could serve to reframe the larger community. Amy pointed out that such an endeavor, and such a consciousness, must extend to basic awareness related to health and wellness, citing in particular the need to address pervasive use of pesticides and their impact on the environment. Building on that point, Melissa decried the recent detonation of “mosquito bombs” in the area, with no measures taken or time provided to warn the homeless and other constituents without access to notification. Moreover, such pesticides, which are declared safe to humans, are tested primarily on male lab animals, yet they pose a risk to women and children because of their endocrinological differences. We need to focus more on the common good and not just on our own individual interests. Rodney pointed out that each of us needs to be reminded daily that we have a part to play to effect change that leads to solutions. A possible project toward this end and for promoting collective consciousness in Phoenixville could be a campaign to eliminate plastic bags. What such a project entails, added Mark, is a mindset shift from being a consumer to being a constituent.
*see Transition Story #7 at www.transitionus.org about the Victory Garden Initiative
The meeting was adjourned for refreshments and conversation at 5:51. Conversation lasted around the food tables until 7 PM.
Next group meeting of Phoenixville Area Transition Community: Sunday, November 11, 4:00 – 5:30 PM at Community Arts Phoenixville, 207 Bridge St.
Note from Chris: I've pasted below the link to the NYTimes article I mentioned, along with links to two NPR spots (the second is the one Rodney mentioned) that both relate to the same study. There's also a link to the NYTime's article on the recent UN climate change report and a David Brooks column you might find interesting on a community problem-solving model that might be relevant to Transition Towns:
From Mark Connolly:
See below some links to the promotional efforts I've made on the numerous platforms that we use. Evolving the messaging to the film/ phone/ forum/ foam Gathering title. Don't know if it works, just trying to play with some kind of marketing angle that gets people reading any comments
Text Link for Smart Phone
Green Team Home Page
Green Team Forum Page