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

Transition Tap
Wednesday, May 4,  7-9 pm
Urban Growler, 2325 Endicott

Join kindred spirits to float sustainability ideas over a craft beer. Try a Maibock! Look for Allie, Kevin, and the the table with the Transition "T" sign. Check the patio first! 

Documentary: Dear President Obama
Thursday, May 5,  7-9 pm
St. Anthony Main, 115 SE Main Street, Mpls
Let's secure a true clean-energy legacy. Meet director Jon Bowermaster and Will Steger, whose Climate Generation group hosts this screening. Tickets and trailer .

Land Use Committee (SAPCC)
Thursday, May 5, 7:00 pm
Jennings Learning Ctr., 2455 University Ave.
All are welcome to this monthly meeting

Friends School 
Plant Sale
Friday - Sunday, May 6 - 8 
State Fairgrounds, at the Grandstand 

It may be the country's largest plant sale, and it's in our own back yard.  Huge variety of pollinator-friendly annuals, perennials, veggies, herbs, trees, shrubs, hanging baskets, and new specialties every year... all free of neonic pesticides.   It's Mother's Day: invite her along. Info here. Benefits Friends School of Minnesota .

Citizens' Climate Lobby monthly  meeting
Saturday, May 14
Visit Minnesota chapter site for details on this phone meeting.Guest speaker and discussion. 

TU Dance Concert
May 20-22,  Cowles Center, Minneapolis
This "leading voice in contemporary dance" is based here in our Creative Enterprise Zone, blending modern, ballet, African-based, and urban vernacular. Visit the website.

Fix-It Clinic
Saturday, May 21  noon-3 pm
Highland Park Library, 1974 Ford Parkway
Zero-waste heroes, unite! Bring your broken items and get help from skilled fixers. Ramsey County sponsors these clinics.   Details here .

Reflective Circle
Saturday, May 21, 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, May 25, 7-9 pm
Community Council offices
2395 University Ave., Suite 300E
All are welcome. This SAP Community Council committee leads service learning and "cleaning and greening" projects. 

Transition Town ASAP  planning group 
Thursday, May 26, 7:00-8:30 pm
At the Russelles' home, 1480 Chelmsford Ave.
Meets monthly for long-term planning and community collaborations. All are welcome; working with an action group first is a good idea. Come at 6:30 for social time. 

Sustainable St. Paul:
We're honored
Transition Town ASAP was one of 13 "Sustainable St. Paul" award winners this spring, chosen for the Sustainable Living category in an April 21 ceremony.  See a short video (we're at the 1:50 mark).

City councilor Russ Stark (left) and Mayor Chris Coleman (right) presented the award to Tim Wulling,  Allie Rykken, and Pat Thompson.

Poetry by Mimi Jennings

The Pencil Speaks

These aren't my words; they come 
from this pencil. I found her, white 
with road salt, on a cold 
early spring day, in the street 
in front of Alice's house. At first
I thought she was a stick. 
She happened, warm to the touch, 
into my hand: 

I am a made thing-- 
neither growth nor rot 
though I know them both 
now. They told me to tell you 
something vital 
(I believe that is the word). Use me
to take this down: 

I turned over my to-do list and wrote: 

Humans, the ground beneath the asphalt 


I heard the pulse--
there on the roadway--
of loam poisoned 
and paved over. Dirt 
is not dirty; it is sweet 
with forgotten nourishment. Language 
is poor-- a made thing, too. 
I need words 
for kin, for everywhere throb 
of life. I need to express 
grasp and flow. I need pronouns 
for beings within beings, reverent 
(is that how you say it?) phrases 
for the wild heart. But I ... 

 Her voice began to fade. 

... am done. There is more, but 
that is not my job. It is to you 
to go outside. Listen. 
on the ground.

_________ _____________________________

Youth summer opportunities

All in the Circle: 
Creative Arts and Nature Camp

August 1-5 and 8-12 for campers in first through eighth grade. Campers learn to care for each other and the earth through nature, puppetry, Orff instruments, singing, movement, crafts, and fun. Cosponsored by Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light and Prospect Park United Methodist Church.   Info here

Shakespeare in St. Anthony Park 

Led by Sam Bardwell. Info on Facebook page . (See slides of last summer's play!)

June 13-24:   Youth workshop, culminating in two performances of  The Two Gentlemen of Verona   June 23 and 24. 

June 27-30:   Scenes and Speeches from Shakespeare,  with performance June 30. 


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

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 July, submit by mid-June. 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.
Solar panels aloft at St. Anthony Park Lutheran
Above: Bundles of photovoltaic panels soared into place April 14 for rooftop installation at SAP Lutheran Church on Como Avenue. We'll keep you posted as the solar project progresses.
Let the sun cook your food
by Janet Dieterich

Solar panels are only one of the technologies that make direct use of the sun's energy. Mike and Martha Port have shown that low-tech, crockpot-like solar cookers can help citizens worldwide, particularly women, save time and resources with added health benefits. Founders of the Solar Oven Society, the Ports have made an outsized impact in Haiti, Cambodia, Kenya and other countries that face serious deforestation along with systemic poverty. They've taken their message of clean and cheap (free!) energy around the world. 

On Solavore's website,
 learn how
the Sport model works. 
A solar oven uses the energy of direct sunlight to cook food and, just as importantly where clean water is scarce, it acts as a sterilizer. Although large-scale cookers can feed hundreds, most "oven boxes" are about the size of a microwave, made of simple insulating materials with a top reflector to focus the sun's heat. Dark utensils and interiors help maintain temperature at about 150 degrees F, hot enough to cook most foods over a period of hours (the new Solarvore Sport oven can reach 200-plus). Although it helps to reposition the box as the sun's angle shifts, it's possible to put a meal into the cooker in the morning, point it to the sun's highest position in the sky, go about your business, and come home to a hot supper. In less developed countries, that helps free women from the backbreaking task of finding scarce wood for fuel. 

Even in the cold reaches of Minnesota, a solar oven placed strategically on a sunny winter day can cook up a tasty meal. And as we look forward to summer, think of it as a healthy outdoor cooking alternative-- instead of a grill, or alongside it. 
No longer a manufacturer, the Solar Oven Society now works with Solavore, on Pierce Butler Road.  For info, visit the website.

A longtime resident of St. Anthony Park, Janet Dieterich is a retired government relations coordinator.  She specialized in lobbying for regional parks and the victims of human trafficking.  She is a member of the planning group for Transition Town ASAP.

*   *   * 
Cambodia gets behind the solar oven 
by Mike and Martha Port

We recently returned from a solar oven training mission to Cambodia, a nation smaller than Minnesota but with triple the population: more than15 million. A largely agrarian society, Cambodia produces rice, vegetables, and fruits, as well as fish, chicken, and beef. But its deforestation rate is the third worst in the world. 

Fifteen Cambodians representing five provinces joined us for the training. That week, all of the food cooked and baked for the team was prepared in the Sport solar oven, designed by Persons Helping People and now manufactured by Solavore LLC. Government and agency guests attended a solar buffet. The week's biggest hits were pizza and cookie bars, neither easily made over open wood fires. (The flour was General Mills' Gold Medal, purchased locally.)  

The trainees soon became trainers at several functions. One of them, hosted by Ty Sokhun, secretary of state, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the royal government, was filmed for national TV. Solar energy-- free, clean, nonpolluting-- can be part of the solution here. And in rural areas, a system will allow solar ovens to be partly paid for in a special currency: replanted trees. 

Mike and Martha Port are the founders of the Solar Oven Society. As longtime (now former) Roseville residents, they keep close ties with St. Anthony Park.  

Behind the scenes at Eureka
by Brandon Sigrist

What happens to our commingled recycling? I recently had the pleasure of touring our local facility, Eureka Recycling, just across 280 in Minneapolis. 

Unlike the old days when we sorted cans, glass, and paper at home, now it all goes on the truck in one big pile. Once through Eureka's front door, the whole load is dropped into a complex infrastructure of chutes and conveyor belts that separate the big mess back into individual materials. The primary sorter picks out cans and bottles, crushing the glass as it goes, leaving paper and everything else on a fast-moving conveyor belt. There, h ardworking staff pull off anything that shouldn't be there: I saw car tires and batteries, garden hoses, shoes, and lots and lots of plastic bags, which can wrap around the sorter's rotors and cause major damage. Someone spends two hours a day pulling knots of plastic bags out of this machine.

Other belts whisk the stuff to other sorting areas, which use air, magnets, optical scanning, gravity, and more hands to remove contaminants and improve the quality of the end product. Eureka does it so well that only 3.5 percent of the material goes to landfill, much better than the national average of 10 percent.

Eureka sees the big picture
Eureka is more than a good recycler. It's dedicated to improving the community, finding nearby markets for 92% of its materials.  And unlike other recyclers that offer temporary minimum-wage jobs to their workers, Eureka pays a full-time living wage with benefits and a safe work environment.  It also supports reuse and waste reduction through programs such as the Twin Cities Free Market, Make Dirt Not Waste-- a home composting education program-- and Zero Waste Event services. In 2015 Eureka sponsored Minnesota's first annual Zero Waste Summit.

Speak up to support Eureka!
Eureka's contract is now up for renewal, but the city of St. Paul is considering other proposals too. If you like a nation-leading recycler that goes the extra mile for its community, speak up for Eureka. Email Samantha Henningson, aide to city council president Russ Stark (ward 4).  Want to learn more? Visit Eureka's website and watch the video The Story of a Cereal Box.     
Brandon Sigrist cancelled his trash service three years ago. Each week he and his wife produce less than a cubic foot of trash, which he returns to the trash cans of the stores that sold it. He leads our Zero Waste action group.
Drop-a-Car update:
Shifting from How can I get there?
to What can I do here? 
by Betty Lotterman

The last time I wrote, I was six months into my no-car experiment. Now I've survived the winter, and I want to give an update.  Earlier I mentioned some of the practical ways to thrive without a car, like using the GoTo card for public transit and the NextTrip app.  But I've also found that going carless has changed my way of thinking. 

At first, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to get from here to there. But several months into it, I realized there's an easier way: meeting my needs and wants here, where I am. In other words, I began to live locally in ways I hadn't thought of before. The challenge was to figure out how many of my needs and wants I could meet within walking or biking distance of my home.  I'm very lucky to live in Saint Anthony Park, home to so many diverse businesses, restaurants, a medical clinic, dental offices, yoga studios, and so on.  I printed out a large-scale map with my address in the middle. I find that anything within a mile and a half is an easy walk; anything within four miles is an easy bike ride. So I drew circles around my home with those distances. Then I began to explore what's available within those circles. Try it, using Google Maps or the Local app on your phone. 

I'm spending less time trying to "get there" and more time enjoying my own neighborhood. I've gotten to know more people. I feel more connected and invested in the place where I live. Spending my time and money here means I'm patronizing businesses that contribute to my neighborhood.   If you have any questions about how to survive without a car, drop me a line at The more people who start sharing this experience, the easier it will get. 

Betty Lotterman is a recently retired Spanish teacher who lives near Alden Square. 

Editor's note: We spotted Betty buying a barrowload of mulch at Speedy. Read her first Drop-a-Car report in our  January issue
Isaiah Scharen, local innovator
Reduce, reuse, and (literally!) re-cycle
by Pat Thompson

Isaiah Scharen must be easy to buy for when gift-giving times come around. Last Christmas, for instance, his parents gave him a wrecked minibike frame. And he was delighted. The Great River School senior has been taking apart things with wheels ever since he got his first workbench and toolkit at age 5. 

That frame is now on its way to becoming an electric minibike, thanks to careful planning and tinkering, plus welding tips from a person Isaiah found on the local list serve.  Isaiah's goal is a vehicle that will get him to school and  job inexpensively, with clean energy--  and with less  sweat than bicycling. The bike's range will be   around 10 miles, depending on the number and kind of batteries he uses: likely the type found in a lawnmower.

Next, he'll weld the brackets by the rear wheels (temporarily secured with duct tape), then repaint and add a leather seat to match the handle grips. The motor and battery will go on the wooden platform. 

What does Isaiah think about climate change? He finds it  terrifying, because so much is already set in stone (or carbon). But he's also excited that its global nature and imminence mean young people will have to bring innovation to how we travel and live. Toward that end, Isaiah plans to start a liberal arts - engineering program at either Oberlin or St. Olaf this fall. With his curiosity and his approach to problem solving, it sounds like a perfect fit.

Pat Thompson leads our Transportation action group. Another ongoing project is the Friends School Plant Sale (listed in the Bee column, above left). When she's not causing trouble, Pat can be found gardening in her yard.
Pollinator garden will bloom at Murray
by Steph Leonard

Students dug in, removing sod, then 
preparing the soil for native perennials. 
Students broke ground April 22 for a pollinator garden at Murray Middle School. In Tim Chase's Ecology Inquiry class this spring, they researched sites, soils, and flowers, proposed the project to school leaders and community members, and got a grant for supplies from the U's 
Monarch Lab. They'll plant in May and make a presentation to celebrate Minnesota's Schoolyard Garden Planting Week (May 23-27). 

In this project-based elective class, students choose and develop solutions to real environmental problems in the area. Past projects include designing a rain garden, choosing where to send vegetable garden harvests, biodiesel testing, and reducing car emissions.  For this garden, many partners are offering time, tools, and other resources: the Minnesota Green Schools Coalition (a program of the U.S. Green Building Council, Minnesota), the St. Paul Public Schools facilities department and board of ed, the Monarch Lab, the Mulch Store (compost), Sunbelt Rentals (sod cutter), and neighbor volunteers. 

Steph Leonard is a project manager for the U.S. Green Building Council based in Minnesota. She coordinates efforts of the MN Green Schools Coalition and leads other community engagement projects that connect people with healthy, sustainable options.
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.