March  2016       Smaller footprint. Stronger community.      District 12, St. Paul, Minnesota
In this issue:

Transition Town's community-woven rug is at Micawber's Books' new location. Story below.

Transition Tap
Wednesday, March 2,  7-9 pm
Urban Growler, 2325 Endicott
At this monthly meetup, kindred spirits float sustainability ideas over a craft beer. Try a Maple California Common or a Cowbell Cream Ale. Look for Allie, Kevin, and the T sign. 

Solar Power Hour - Roseville
Wednesday, March 2,  7-8 pm
Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Avenue
A fast intro to small-scale solar. Details here . (See April 5 below for an SAP Power Hour.) 

News from Paris: Deciphering the UN Conference on Climate Change
Thursday, March 3,  7:00 pm
U of M's Continuing Education & Conference Center, St. Paul Campus
Gain insight into the opportunities--and the gaps--of the agreement. Led by Jessica Hellman, director of the U's Institute on the Environment. Tickets onsite or online  ($20).

Land Use Committee (SAPCC)
Thursday, March 3, 7:00 pm
Jennings Community Learning Center
2455 University Avenue
All are welcome to this monthly meeting

Transportation Committee (SAPCC)
Monday, March 7, 6:30-8:30 pm
St. Anthony Park Community Council offices, 2395 University Avenue, Suite 300E 
All are welcome at this monthly meeting. (Note: The same goes for our own our Transportation action group, April 13, 7 pm, Finnish Bistro.) 

People for Pollinators
Tuesday, March 8, 8:30-4:30
Dakota Lodge, Dakota County Park 
1200 Stassen Lane, West St. Paul
At this inspiring symposium, learn about pollinators in relation to birds and wildlife, biodiversity, farm and urban habitats, pesticides, and more. Led by Jim Riddle and other experts. Details here; registration $60, includes lunch. 

SAP Garden Club
Neonics and Bees--What's the Truth about Systemic Pesticides?
Tuesday, March 8, 7:30 pm
St. Matthew's Episcopal, Fellowship Hall
2136 Carter Ave. (entrance on Chelmsford)
Speaker : U of M entomologist Dr. Vera Krischik. Come early at 7 for snacks and chat. Free.

Sustainable Food and Land
action group 
Friday, March 11, 7 pm
At Kit's, 2362 Carter Avenue
Join planning for seed-starting workshops, pollinator-friendly yards, food preserving sessions, and more. A great entry point into Transition Town ASAP. 

Apply for a Community Garden plot 
Due date: Friday, March 11
Forms at Hampden Park Co-op or at sapcc.o rg.
Demand usually exceeds supply for these plots in the SAP community garden on Robbins (just west of Raymond). Apply by March 11, and you'll be in the lottery for a plot for the season. 

Citizens' Climate Lobby monthly  meeting
Saturday, March 12
Visit Minnesota chapter site for details on this phone meeting. Guest speaker: US Rep Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), co-founder of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House.

Reflective Circle
Saturday, March 19, 12:30-2:30 pm
SAP Public Library, 2245 Como Avenue
This is a welcoming space for the inner work of our climate crisis. We take turns responding to simple but thought-provoking questions about the natural and human systems we live in, finding new ways forward. A great first step into these issues. Details on the web page.

Environment Committee (SAPCC)
Wednesday, March 23, 7-9 pm
Community Council offices
2395 University Ave., Suite 300E
All are welcome. The SAP Community Council's environment committee leads service learning and "cleaning and greening" projects. 

Beekeeping in Northern Climates
Saturday, March 26
U of Minnesota St. Paul campus
Session added by popular demand! One-day workshop for beginnera. Details and registration here ($135); see "Beekeeping 101" below.

Transition Social: Sing-along  
Wednesday, March 30, 6:30 pm
Minnehaha Free Space, 3747 Mhaha Ave. S.
Transition Longfellow is joining the Free Space group sing-along and they're broadening the invitation. Bring the Rise Up Singing songbook if you have it. 

Transition Town ASAP  planning group 
Thursday, March 31, 7:30-9:00 pm
At Mimi and Len's, 2222 Hillside Avenue
Meets monthly for long-term planning and community collaborations. All are welcome; those with action group experience may find it most rewarding. Come at 7 for social time. 

Solar Power Hour - St. Anthony Park
Tuesday, April 5,  7-8 pm
Jennings Community Learning Center
 2455 University Avenue
A fast intro to small-scale solar. Details here .

Zero Waste action group
Tuesday, April 12, 7 pm
At Brandon's, 2236 Commonwealth Ave.
For details, see the article "Zero Waste action group kickoff," top right.

Transportation action group
Wednesday, April 13, 7 pm
Finnish Bistro, corner of Carter & Como
Topics include bike racks, coordinated trash hauling, Raymond improvements, Drop a Car, traffic calming, and Open Streets. A great intro to Transition. Visit  the  web page.  

"Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has ." 

-- Margaret Mead


Join an action group
Visit "Action Groups" at our website, email the leaders listed here, and drop in on a meeting. You'll likely find kindred spirits.  Or start a new group: email Michael Russelle to brainstorm.

Community solar:  Steve YetterBarry Riesch
Home energy curtailment:   Tim Wulling
Housing options:   Phil Broussard
Reflective Circle:  Marilyn Benson  
School liaison:   Mimi Jennings
Sustainable food:  Kit Canright Lois Braun
Transportation:  Pat Thompson
Zero waste:  Brandon Sigrist,  Gary Carlson

Beekeeping 101
by Peter Hendrickson

In late February two members of the University of Minnesota's "Bee Squad," professors Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter, led a one-day course for beginning beekeepers. Another session will be held Saturday, March 26: info here. The course covered the varieties of bees, anatomy, habits, and social structure; how to build a hive and use the equipment; and how to keep bees healthy.

Marla Spivak explains hive construction 

The Beez Kneez use a pedal-powered honey extractor

Fuel for the  smoker: Gary Reuter discusses the bee-calming effects of smoke

I learned so many things, some surprising to me: for example, that bees travel up to two miles from their hive to forage for nectar. And that one disease-infected hive could contaminate another miles away. There's a lot of responsibility in keeping a hive healthy enough to thrive and produce honey.   

Future beekeeper Peter Hendrickson  (with hive smoker) is director of
choral activities at
Augsburg College. 


"We must be willing to let go 
of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life
that is waiting for us." 

-- E. M. Forster


News & notes
The metro-area Transition groups are now better connected, thanks to a project led by Leslie Mackenzie of Transition Longfellow. Prospect Park and Powderhorn are mulling the idea, too. Visit the new  Transition Twin Cities website.

On KFAI radio's "Wave Project"  hour on Feb. 28, members of the SAP, Longfellow, and North Twin Cities groups discussed Transition. Kudos!

The carbon fee and dividend  idea is growing, thanks to Citizens' Climate Lobby: Revenues from fossil fuel users would go to households, speeding conversion to renewables. 

Weigh in on organized trash collection for St. Paul: the city is gathering public input. 

On Feb. 24, our city council passed the   Fossil-Free St. Paul Resolution  barring itself from investing public money in fossil-fuel companies: a mostly symbolic decision, but laudable. 

Both Twin Cities rank near the top of a national
Climate Disruption Index  sponsored by the Weather Channel and climate scientists. 

A recent CEZ mixer featured Alchemy Architects, home of 
the weeHouse and other
energy-efficient designs.
(image courtesy Alchemy)


Join us on social media

Visit our Facebook page

At, stay up to date with events, photos, and news.


Join our Facebook group:

At, find Transition ASAP, click on "Request to join," then join in.


Follow us on Twitter:

At @transitionasap1, stay current and track some events live.



We welcome your ideas
Submit news, story ideas, calendar items, reviews, photos, poetry, art, cartoons-- anything on a "smaller footprint, stronger community." 

Transition Times ASAP  is published six times a year: in January, March, May, July, September, and November. Recent issues are on our
website. For May, submit by mid-April. The Transition Bee is our biweekly e-calendar. 

For submissions or to join our email list:
contact  Mindy Keskinen , editor (

Pat Thompson designed our Transition Times ASAP logo, and  Regula Russelle created the Transition "t" and the Transition Bee logo.
Shop local-- it's good for the soul
Micawber's Books has a new home
... and it's right around the corner. Step down to the Milton Square courtyard, admiring the refurbished sign (left), and into our neighborhood's treasured independent bookstore. Owner Tom Bielenberg needed rugs for t he tile floors, and our ten-foot community-woven rag rug fit the bill. Using castoff textiles--Zero Waste!--it was made on a portable loom last summer by dozens of people, starting at the Art Fair in June and ending on Raymond & University in August. Come see it and browse the outstanding selection of books. Check out the children's nook!
                                                               --Mindy Keskinen  
Zero Waste action group kickoff
by Brandon Sigrist

What's the current waste situation in the USA? We throw away more "trash" (i.e., resources) than any other nation, with each of us producing 102 tons over our lifetime. Even if we need only one cemetery plot when we die, we'd need the space of 1,100 graves to bury the stuff each of us has discarded. Much of that is food waste, which decays in landfills and produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. (Statistics from Edward Humes' excellent 2013 book Garbology .) 

The good news is that most of this waste legacy is under our direct control. We can choose not to buy products that can't be reused or recycled, or are wastefully packaged. By voting with our dollars, we urge manufacturers to make better design and packaging choices. And we can compost at home or take our food scraps to the county drop-off site. 

Transition Town ASAP's Zero Waste group has some more ideas for local action: from  going digital to reduce space and resources used on print materials to downsizing household waste so we can share a trashcan with a neighbor.  At our kickoff meeting in February, common themes were sharing, reducing, and being mindful of our consumption, and we targeted a few ideas to explore.
  • Zero Waste blog or series of articles with tips and stores to inspire each of us to reduce our own waste footprint
  • Sharing Action Group to build a sharing economy in St. Anthony Park.  People can share time--to help with child care or seniors' home chores, for example; information-a local grapevine for skills and surplus resources, and materials-options like tool and toy libraries or a downsizing center.
  • a Clothing Action Group to help minimize our textile footprint. The textile industry's negative impacts range from water and chemical use to labor exploitation.
  • a compost collection team could compost for those who don't have the time, energy, or space. Citywide curbside food waste pickup may be in the future, but we don't have to wait to take individual action!
We also had a show-and-tell on repeat offenders, those nonrecyclables that always turn up in the bin: black plastic jugs and TV dinner trays, #3 and 6 plastics, chocolate bar wrappers with foil and metallic inks, bubble wrap, styrofoam, vinyl bags for bed linens, the perfectly good partners of lost socks, and more. How can we use these creatively?   

To join us, please come to our next meeting Tuesday, April 12, 7 pm, at 2236 Commonweath Avenue. For more details, send me an email .

Brandon Sigrist cancelled his trash service two years ago. Each week he and his wife produce less than a cubic foot of trash, which he returns to the trashcans of the stores that sold it.  
Neighbor profile
Jo Anne Rohricht: Living the Values
by Pat Thompson

Long before the Transition Town movement started, St. Anthony Park was a place of community involvement. We take inspiration from that example as we try to make a more resilient, connected place to live.

One neighbor who has been living the values of Transition Town before it had a name is Jo Anne Rohricht. She moved here with her husband, Tom, and children in 1972, after seven years in Roseville. Originally from North Carolina, Jo Anne says she was inspired by her professors at Duke in the mid-1950s to be part of the community and to work for social justice. 

While parenting two children and

At the SAP Community Foundation annual meeting last November,
Jo Anne (right)  shared ideas 
with Regula Russelle during the
Transition Town breakout session.
managing a household, Jo Anne got involved right away with the board of the just-formed Park Bugle and was soon elected chair. Then she joined District 12's Human Services Committee and later chaired that too. 

That committee was where the Block Nurse Program got started in the early 1980s. When Jo Anne interviewed Ida Martinson, a professor of nursing, for the Bugle, Martinson described the need for nurses to check on people who were aging in place (before we even had that term). Soon, Jo Anne gathered Martinson, Ann Wynia (then our state senator), and Ann Copeland from the District 12 staff to discuss possibilities. Not long after, on a flight, Martinson was seated next to the owner of HB Fuller Company, then located on Como Avenue. By the time they landed, he'd offered her $7000 in startup money.

The Block Nurse Program was unique not just locally but nationally. The local Program's services expanded over the years and in 2011 its name was changed to St. Anthony Park Area Seniors  to reflect its broadened focus.

After more than a decade volunteering as a Block Nurse leader, Jo Anne felt the call of environmental issues and found the Land Stewardship Project spoke to her most strongly. "I attended a meeting about factory hog farms in Iowa," she recalls. "I started buying pork from local farms and I thought, I'll speak to Speedy Market about the pork they were getting from Iowa." For a while Speedy bought pork from a farmer group she had connected them with.

Soon Jo Anne was on the Land Stewardship board. She says, "They wanted urban people who cared. How we use our land to grow food is one of the biggest environmental issues. Water gets involved as well." A few years later she was chairing the board. "There were probably four farmers on the board, so I visited them to see what they were doing as stewards of the land," she recalls. "I learned about community supported agriculture, so Tom and I

Jo Anne and housemate
Bryani at last week's SAP Progressive Dinner
became a drop site for Common Harvest Farm, in Osceola, Wisconsin. And that has continued now for more than a dozen years."

Reflecting on our interdependence, Jo Anne says, "I have appreciated the importance of community... We need each other. I have experienced that as a neighbor in just everyday living, and especially with Tom's illness." (Now deceased, Tom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2002.) "The neighborhood and the church have been sources of support for me all along. I appreciate that reality and hope for it for others." 

With her children now grown, Jo Anne shares her home with an international exchange student as she waits to downsize into an apartment in the neighborhood. This summer will be the first in a decade or more without the CSA drop-off on the back porch. But Jo Anne keeps attending life-long learner classes, making music, and being part of this community that has gained so much from her work.

She's an inspiration and a model for anyone who wants to help make the world a better place. 

Pat Thompson leads Transition Town ASAP's Transportation action group. Another ongoing project is the Friends School Plant Sale, held every May. When she's not causing trouble, Pat can be found gardening in her yard.

Indoor growing: Salad greens for now ...
by Kit Canright

Green shoots magically bursting forth, vying to reach the sunlight and filling trays that will transform into a delicious dinner. Such was the result of the Indoor Salad Gardening workshop in January. About 30 of us gathered to learn how to grow food in the winter--with no greenhouse or even special lighting. This simple ten-day method is easily learned. Locally grown? The next room is about as local as you can get!   If you missed it, read Peter Burke's Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening. It's at the library, and supplies are easy to find locally: seeds at EggPlant Urban Farm Supply on Selby and Seward and Wedge Co-ops in Minneapolis; soil and fertilizer at garden supply stores.
Kit Canright is a leader in the Sustainable Food & Land action group. She plans workshops on canning, pickling & fermenting, composting, and other topics.  
... and garden plants for later
by Natascha Weiner

It's fun and easy to buy a tray of vegetable or flower starts at a plant sale or garden store. So why start seeds yourself? Lots of reasons-- some just for your taste buds, and some that reflect Transition Town goals: 
  • You'll know that your plants are bee-friendly and toxin-free.
  • It can be energy-efficient--especially if you fill your grow-light area to capacity (it's like waiting to run the dishwasher until it's full).
  • It increases self-sufficiency and knowledge.
  • It can save a good deal of money.
  • You can test lots of varieties and split your seed packets with neighbors.
  • It's a delight to tend a tiny garden at home as early as February!
Here are some tips from my Seed-Starting Workshop, held last winter.  

Seeds. Use organic seed; I recommend Seed Savers Exchange, available at Hampden Park Co-op. Seeds are generally viable for about 5 years, so don't be afraid to use last year's, although the germination rate may be lower. Start them when the packet instructions recommend. Starting too soon can result in root-bound plants or plants that outgrow the space available. 

Dirt. Use a fine, moisture-retaining sterile medium formulated for seed starting, such as finely ground coir. Garden and hardware stores sell it by the bag or block. (Stay away from peat: it's harvested by draining acres of living peat bog and strip mining it six feet down. I know-- it's hard to believe it's legal.) Avoid using reusing last year's soil; it may have pathogens or fungus.

Containers. You can plant seeds in just about any container provided it's clean and has drainage holes. Yogurt cups with holes punched in the bottom, newspaper rolled into cup shapes, last year's seedling containers (scrubbed clean)...use what you can. You can also buy containers made for the purpose.

Moisture. It's the only thing most seeds need to germinate-- most don't even need light. Water gently, keep them evenly moist, and don't let them dry out. Keeping them under a clear plastic cover helps, but take it off as soon as they sprout. Don't let the seeds sit in water, or they'll rot instead of germinate. 

Heat for germination. Most vegetable seeds like soil at about 70 degrees for sprouting. The moist soil in your containers won't be as warm as your room temperature, so find a warm place or use a special warming mat (although these can be spendy). Check your seeds often. Most seed packets will tell you how long germination will take. Then be ready to move them to the light right away-- and take off any covering, otherwise they'll cook instead of grow.

Light. To grow sturdy and not be leggy, a seedling needs at least 16 hours of strong light each day. Use a grow light! Even a super-sunny window just won't be enough at our latitude. A 2- or 4-foot florescent works fine, either a full-spectrum, or one warm and one cold bulb. Keep the light 2 to 5 inches above the seedlings, raising it as they grow. Grow-light setups can be expensive, although Mother Earth Gardens (two Minneapolis

At the workshop, the "Mr. Stripey" tomato seeds  were popular.
locations) has more affordable ones with easy add-ons to adjust height. Or you can DYI it at the hardware store and get a basic fixture and pulleys or chain to adjust it. There's nothing magic about the commercial ones-- I pulled my grow light out of a construction site throw pile (with permission, of course). Avoid very old bulbs: plants know when they're too dim. 

Starting tomatoes in a window. Exception to the rule: you can get away with starting tomatoes in a very sunny window. They'll be leggy, but you can transplant them deep and they'll form new roots around the stem. 

Fertilizer. After the seedlings have put on their first set of true leaves (rather than seed leaves), you can use a ΒΌ-strength vegetable fertilizer. Just use your favorite bee-friendly brand, watered down. 

Potting-up and hardening-off. You may need to "pot up" your seedlings to larger containers so they don't get root-bound. And before you move your babies outside, you'll need to slowly introduce them to the real sun, so they don't get burnt. Put them out for a half-hour one day, an hour the next, and so forth-- as much as you have patience for. I often forget them outside one day, and then I discover if they made it or not! 

Resources: I recommend Ann Reilly's Starting Seeds Indoors, Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Starting from Seed, and The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving edited by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Siegel. 

Natascha Weiner is in her ninth year of seed starting and third year of serious seed saving and gardening since her mom sent her out to weed the garden at a young age. She's also a historical architect at the Minnesota Historical Society, advising people on how to save and care for historic buildings-- that is, she's a chronic saver and preserver of plants and places. 

Fix-It Clinics: Repair, restore, repurpose
tby Diane Galvin

When I heard about the Fix-It Clinic hosted by the city of Lauderdale in January, my first thought was, "It's right in my neighborhood and on a day I can go! Cool!!" My second thought was, "What I should take? I have plenty of stuff lying around that needs fixing. It has to be something I can carry, otherwise I drive five blocks and that'd be weird & kinda against T-Town and Eco Logic principles." 

My gloves needed fixing, that's for sure. Why?  
  • They were expensive: it's hard to find warm gloves that fit me and hold up to three-mile dog walks.
  • They'd still be usable if repaired-- one finger was ripped and lots of the stitching was unraveling.
  • Another arctic cold spell was coming, but stores were mostly done with winter clothes, so no new gloves until next fall.
  • I figured my "volunteer fixer" at the clinic probably wouldn't need special tools or supplies-- just sewing know-how. 

My left glove was
pretty far gone.
So on clinic day I walked up the street with my torn gloves. I was met at the door, given a short form to fill out, and introduced to Lezlie, my fix-er. As we chatted, we learned we were neighbors. She'd just retired from the legal field and taken up sewing & repairs as a gig. So we were a good pair, she a first-time fix-er and me a first-time fix-ee. 

Lacking the right materials, Lezlie wasn't confident about repairing the gloves. She offered to take them home, fix them & call me later. I agreed. On my way out, I filled out a feedback form and talked to the organizers. I learned that they measure a clinic's success by the weight of the items: how much gets repaired and kept out of landfills versus what doesn't get fixed. 

Locally, the clinic idea was started in Hennepin County. The main goal is to reduce our waste stream and also save space in our garages, basements, and closets. A secondary goal is getting folks out to meet their neighbors. The idea spread to Ramsey County through early volunteers from the east metro, and now both counties support their own programs. Ramsey aims for one clinic a month somewhere in the county. A couple of days later, I found out that 39 items from 40 fix-ees had been repaired at Lauderdale, so 290 pounds of stuff didn't get tossed because 14 fix-ers were there to help. 

Oh, and the gloves... well, they needed more than just a fix. Not to be defeated, Lezlie and I came up with a new plan. I found another pair at Goodwill and gave them to Lezlie. Two days later, she called saying she'd taken parts from both sets and rebuilt to make a new pair. So now I have warm dog-walking gloves and parts for future repairs, I've met another neighbor, and I've added to my list of small sustainably focused businesses in Lauderdale. 

Next clinic: Saturday, March 26, Merriam Park Library, 12:30-3:30. Volunteer fixers welcome. Info here. 

Diane Galvin, aka Eco Logic, is a professional gardener and sustainable living coach who works in Lauderdale, St. Anthony Park, and other mid-metro communities. Like Transition Town, her mission is to nudge people toward sustainability until what we now call green becomes simply normal. You might recognize her and Scamper from their walks around SAP, where they enjoy the architecture and gardens.                                                        
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.