Monday, October 19, 2009

Transition Town Weekend

I read a short piece in the Corcoran Neighborhood News: “Mutual Self-Reliance Group Begins.” There was a subhead about being handy and wanting to share my skills. My skills are such a grab bag of personal fads that I didn’t read the piece first time through. Who cares if you can juggle four balls or double-clutch a bus. Barbara asked me if I read it, and I went, “Huh?” Then she told me I probably should.

The magic words were “transition town stuff.” Transition towns were an idea cooked up in Ireland for adapting to a world with expensive fuel and unpredictable climate. It came out of the permaculture movement, and the idea is to reduce oil use and implement strategies for local self reliance.

The get-together was at the Midtown Farmers’ Market Saturday. Midtown won fourth place in the Care2/Local Harvest “Love Your Farmers’ Market” contest, and claimed a thousand dollars.

It was a cool, sunny day. The sun felt good, but I drank too much coffee keeping warm. There may have been as many as fifteen people there, but several of them just checked in and moved on. Kim and Tom from across the street were there, as was Anne from down the alley. The core group (the ones who sat down and stayed) were about ten. Joe Hesla, who put the note in the paper facilitated, and we went around the circle quickly three times, coming up with a list of interesting projects.

We thought of organizing the following:

Canning parties, probably at a church kitchen;

Neighborhood weatherization projects (we insulated our walls in the early nineties, but I’d be interested in seeing an infrared photo);

Get togethers with musical instruments;

Tool sharing (Later I thought of a neighborhood permaculture library);

Raingarden building;

Outreach to minorities (Everybody was white and grown up, with mean and median ages both around forty-five, but this is probably a noblesse oblige kind of enterprise);

A Facebook page.

We will be meeting again in pot luck, at the quarterly Corcoran Neighborhood meeting on November 9.

I staffed Barsy’s booth for a while, giving Jason a bathroom-and-cigarette break. He said he felt sheepish taking off for a smoke because so many people who shop at farmers’ markets are non-smokers. When he got back, I took the train up to Franklin and hoofed it the mile or so to the Seward Co-op for a mushroom-cultivating class.

The Seward moved last winter, to a remodeled former supermarket. They have meeting rooms upstairs, with kitchens and big flat-screen AV systems.

The presenters, Ron Spinoza and Ty Allchin ran through a brief history of mushroom cultivation -- which has a recent history that reminded me of what Sam’s told me about home brewing -- and a survey of commonly eaten edible and medicinal mushrooms. This included an injunction not to grow psilcybe cubensis because it’s illegal. Then we got down to business: how to grow oyster mushrooms on toilet paper, the entry-level mushroom project. I left with a healthy lid of oyster-inoculated grain, and a petri dish with an oyster-mushroom culture. Sunday, I cleared a set of plastic shelves and wiped them down with chlorine bleach. Now there are two plastic bags there, each containing a soggy roll of toilet paper and spawn, with more to come.

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