February  2015                  Smaller footprint. Stronger community.             District 12, St. Paul, Minnesota
In This Issue:
  For a healthy planet, we need trees: Elementary science teacher Karen Christenson leads students in Langford Park. See the School Forests story.

It's a site to be seen!
Stay in touch with Transition Town-ASAP through our new website: news, slide shows, inspiration, and lots of ways to join your neighbors responding to climate change. Spread the word about it:

We built the site with grant funds from the St. Anthony Park Community Foundation and the ongoing support of the SAP Community Council. Many thanks.

Welcome to the Reflective Circle, Feb. 23 and Mar. 28
How is climate change changing our lives--inside and out?  Each month, the Reflective Circle offers a welcoming space for considering such questions together. 

In these facilitated groups, we reflect, discern, wonder, and find ways forward. "It's encouraging to talk with others who have feelings of concern, frustration, and anxiety about climate change," said Mike Blandford, who attended the January gathering. Diane Galvin was there too: her eco-friendly gardening business often brings her to the neighborhood. "I left my first Reflective Circle feeling like maybe I've found my tribe after years of feeling a lone wolf in the sustainability work," she said. Join us: once, twice, or regularly. Meetings alternate between South and North SAP. 

Mon. Feb. 23, 7-9 pm
Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, 2388 University Ave. (SW corner of Raymond Ave.)

Sat. Mar. 28, 12:30-2:30
St. Anthony Park Public Library, corner of Carter and Como

Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs Day at the Capitol
Mon. Feb. 2, 9:30-4
Join other Minnesotans calling on our legislators to speed solar and wind energy projects and boost the Renewable Energy Standard to 40% by 2030. Learn more.  

Morning: Speakers and training at Christ Lutheran Church, 105 University Ave. W., St. Paul.

Afternoon: Take action at the Capitol.


Transition Tap

Wed. Feb. 4, 7-9 pm

At this monthly pub get-together, kindred spirits meet and float their sustainability ideas over a craft brew. Bring friends! 

Urban Growler 

2325 Endicott, South St. Anthony Park

Look for Allie, Kevin, and the Transition "t" sign

Envision 2040 in St. Anthony Park

Wed. Feb. 11, 6:30-9 pm

See the "Envision" article above.

Luther Seminary, Northwestern Hall, 1501 Fulham

Living Smarter Fair

Sat. Feb. 21, 9-3  

Join Roseville neighbors for this popular home & garden sustainability fair. Workshops include Bee-Friendly Yards, Get Solar Working for You, Zero-Waste Home, and From Garbage to Gorgeous. Green remodeling, energy-saving plumbing, rain gardens, kids' activities, and more.

Fairview Community Center

1910 County Road B, Roseville


Community-Driven Clean Energy Conference

Tues. March 10, 8:30 am, through Wed. March 11, 1:30 pm

Minnesota's Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) holds this annual event connecting people and projects statewide. Exhibits, presenters, "lightning talks," and lots of cross-pollination. Learn more and register (early-bird rates before Feb. 7). Free bus service from Minneapolis.
River's Edge Convention Center, St. Cloud

Dine for Climate

Thurs. March 12

Partnering with the Will Steger Foundation, metro-area restaurants educate customers on food and climate and donate a portion of proceeds to the foundation. Details on the Steger website.

Lucia's, 1432 West 31st St, Minneapolis

Find your people!  Join a Transition Town action group
Use the links below to learn more, visit a meeting, and see if you'd like to join in. Or start a new group: email Michael Russelle to brainstorm.

Community solar

Home energy curtailment

Housing options

Reflective Circle

School liaison

Sustainable food and land use


Zero waste

Stay warm with "rice patties" 
What's the quickest way to shrink our carbon footprint? Use less energy--right now. Turning the heat way down at night saves a bundle. Here, Marilyn shows how to stay cozy. She sewed two potholder-sized bean bags, filled them loosely with raw rice, then stitched a few crosswise rows to keep the rice from shifting.  At bedtime, she heats her "rice patties" in the microwave for one minute.

Then she tucks them between the sheets, where they warm the bed deliciously. Jump in, and you'd never guess that the heat's set at 55.  

We're on a roll...

...and we're honored! Transition Town ASAP has been named to St. Paul's 2014 Neighborhood Honor Roll for District 12. 

Also named: Stephen Mastey, for leadership and elbow grease on Raymond Avenue, garage-sale superhero Rich Nelson, and Mary Beck, retiring chair of SAP Area Seniors. Right: scenes from the Honor Roll dinner on January 30. 

Transition Times ASAP 
welcomes your input.

Submit news stories or ideas, calendar items, photos, poetry, and more. Contact e-news and website editor Mindy Keskinen. 

Pat Thompson designed our Transition Times ASAP logo. Regula Russelle created the line drawings and the Transition "t."
Envision St. Anthony Park in 2040:
Add your voice Wednesday evening, Feb.11

Nothing we can do can change the past,
but everything we do changes the future.
-- Ashleigh Brilliant

Let's envision St. Anthony Park in 2040, right where we live. Join us at a community gathering to focus on changing the future -- of our neighborhood and, in a small but important way, the world. 

Wed. evening, February 11
6:30-9:00 pm 

Luther Seminary's Northwestern Hall
1501 Fulham Street (corner of Hendon)
6:30: Meet neighbors; enjoy snacks & conversation
7:00-9:00: We all share ideas about the future of our neighborhood

Need a ride? Let us know.

Free child care: Notify us in advance, or just bring your children along

There's no doubt that the climate is changing, and rapidly. There's also a broad, well-founded consensus among scientists that human activity-mostly burning fossil fuels-is causing these changes in air and deep soil temperature, ocean temperature and acidity, loss of continental ice, and more highly variable rainfall.

So what should we do about it? Let's put our heads together and decide what life in our neighborhood should be like in the future: 
  • contributing less to global climate change by reducing our "carbon footprint"
  • withstanding and avoiding disruptions from more severe weather
  • living more connected lives right here, with neighbors, businesses, everyone.

Big Ideas
Are Welcome
Making a
2040 Plan
What Others
Are Doing 

Ideas are coming in. Since December, many people have contributed visions for the Park in 2040, through email, conversations, and group chats over a meal. It's time to meet and begin agreeing on a few overarching statements.

After Feb. 11, our next steps will focus on milestones along this path and specific goals that help achieve the vision. Together, we'll write a plan that describes where we're going and how to get there. Join your friends, neighbors, business people, organizations, schools, and congregations in this creative imagining and decision-making.
-- Michael Russelle

For more background, see Michael's invitation in the Park Bugle

Step up to the challenge:
Let's think twice about car ownership


As the new year rolls along, the Transportation Action Group is launching a campaign urging neighbors to Drop a Car. Whether it's a larger family with three vehicles decreasing to two, a couple cutting down to one, or a single person deciding to go carless altogether... It all makes a difference.

If we all have fewer cars at our disposal, it will increase transit use, biking, and walking. We'll be healthier (transit users, for instance, are 81% more likely to be a healthy weight than car drivers). We'll become advocates for the Saint Paul bike plan, which promises to improve Como, Raymond, and Cleveland and connect Pierce Butler to Raymond and the Transit Way over the next 20 years but currently has no funding in sight. We'll make car-sharing services more successful, too. And, of course, fewer cars will need to be built in the first place (each car requires as much carbon to build as it does to operate) and we'll use less carbon-based fuel. 

Two neighbors who've made the switch are Transition Town supporters Brandon and Natascha. They moved to a house a block off Como Avenue in 2009. At the time, they had a small station wagon, a light truck, and a collector car. "Our house needed a lot of work," says Brandon, "and the truck came in handy hauling supplies, but most of the time I was driving around by myself getting groceries at 18 miles per gallon." Then, "It turns out St. Anthony Park has pretty good bus service, so Natascha decided to try busing to work and now she wouldn't go back. No freeway stress, and time to listen to podcasts. Between Hampden Co-op and Speedy Market, I could walk or bike for groceries, and all our cars sat in the driveway most of the time.

"We decided to trade the truck and wagon for a hybrid hatchback, despite some grumbling from in-laws who liked to borrow the truck for their chores. They got over it. I use a roof rack now to haul lumber, and Natascha made up a tarp for the back of the hatchback to haul mulch and other messy loads.

"We only drive the collector car in the summer, so for half the year we're a one-car family. We have a subscription to HourCar for the rare occasions when we both need a car at the same time in the winter. Our goal is to stay under 5,000 miles per year for the hatchback and 1,000 miles per year for the collector car, which altogether is half the national average of 12,000 miles per year."

The Transportation Action Group is working on plans to promote the campaign, including getting articles into the Bugle, creating short info sheets to post around the neighborhood, and possibly chalking the logo and relevant statistics on sidewalks. 


Let's get people thinking about the cars in their lives, and whether they can make the changes needed to drop one of them. 

-- Pat Thompson 


P.S. Brandon and Natascha have considered going carless, but "our 5,000 miles include going canoeing in the Boundary waters nearly every summer, plus weekend camping trips. If we rented a car for those trips, we'd be very close to what we pay for the hatchback." Services like HourCar or Car2Go leave a big opportunity for a car-sharing service that accommodates longer trips as well.


Two School Forests now enrich our neighborhood

"Fresh air," says Tim Chase, Murray Middle School science teacher, "even supersedes skills and knowledge base. It's my primary reason for taking on the School Forest program. We evolved in the natural world, so why wouldn't we learn best out there how to experience and observe?" It was late January, and Tim was celebrating Murray's brand-new designation as a School Forest by the state's Department of Natural Resources.


Meanwhile, at St. Anthony Park Elementary School, science teacher Karen Christenson is already steeped in the School Forest tradition.  In fact, she's been named a national Outstanding Educator in the Project Learning Tree program. "Part of the strength of the PLT curriculum is that it's fact-based, teaching students how to think, not what to think," she says. "Students develop a knowledge base about natural resources. The key is helping them develop their own environmental literacy and sense of stewardship." 


A School Forest is an outdoor classroom

Science means observing. Karen's students look closely: which birds and animals live in the habitats of Langford Park?

While mentorships and lesson plans are being shaped, students in Tim's and Karen's classes are already venturing out with clipboards, schoolyard safari-style, to take Nature's measure. As students connect to nature, they apply ideas from across the curriculum: science, math, art and language arts, social studies, and others, gaining life-long critical thinking skills. And trees, with their carbon-offsetting benefits, offer a great chance to discuss climate change. Other pluses for kids? Confidence and engagement in learning, community, and enjoyment of fresh air.


Since the passage of Minnesota's School Forest Law over 60 years ago, the DNR and schools across the state have coached students in land stewardship in more than 120 designated School Forests. Ranging from less than one acre to 300, they total over 7,200 acres, either school-owned or managed by Joint Powers Agreements. Last spring, teachers and principals from three St. Paul School Forests - Crossroads School site included - plus staff from the DNR and St. Paul Parks and Rec, drew up such an agreement. It has now won full approval.


It's a partnership

Using tools as "beaks," students mimic birds seeking food in various habitats.

The DNR offers an array of personnel and services to its designated Forest Schools: curriculum development, programs such as Project Learning Tree, site-committee visits, and site-specific workshops. A forester-mentor is assigned to each school: "It's such a rewarding aspect of my job," says DNR forester Barb Spears. 


Schools also get land management help, research and writing help for grants and partnerships, legal support, a website with program materials, and hundreds of lesson plans. A free conference brings teachers, site coordinators, and administrators together annually. In 2010, Karen spoke on using outdoor education to meet K-5 science standards.


Schools make a big commitment, with buy-in from teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. A site coordinator and School Forest committee oversee compliance with stewardship and sustainable land management practices.They also plan five special learning activities each year. An annual report is written; funding is secured for site activities and maintenance, transport, and teaching supplies; and consistent follow-through of education activities is assured. Our children, our teachers, our neighborhood, the wider population and Nature Herself are the richer and the rosier-cheeked. 

-- Mimi Jennings


School liaison Mimi Jennings stays in touch with the five schools in District 12: SAP Elementary, Murray, Como High, Avalon, and Jennings Learning Center. She's a former St. Paul Public School teacher herself. Want to join Mimi in supporting our schools' sustainability projects? Send her an email. 

Guiding lights Tim Wulling and Marilyn Benson
SAP Community Council's Suyapa Miranda (left), executive director, and Cailin Rogers, operations & outreach
The Transition Town - All Saint Anthony Park initiative grew from the Energy Resilience Group, a subcommittee of the Saint Anthony Park Community Council's Environment Committee.  Visit the  SAPCC website to learn more about Saint Paul's District 12 neighborhood projects, including the Creative Enterprise Zone.  Lend a hand!

Our purpose:
To raise our understanding in Saint Anthony Park of climate, the limits of fossil fuels, and the adaptation of our community that is possible and positive.

What's a Transition Town? 
It's a community starting the transition from a fossil-fueled, energy-intensive way of life to a more satisfying, locally oriented community with increased stability in disruptive times.