November  2014                     Smaller footprint. Stronger community.                  District 12, St. Paul, Minnesota
In This Issue:

Obama's science advisor takes climate questions

Got questions about climate change? Ask John Holdren, using the hashtag #AskDrH on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. He'll answer some of them on camera. Keep your eye on the White House climate blog, too.
Transition Resources
Browse and learn, starting with these websites:

Transition Twin Cities: Learn about initiatives in the metro area. 

Transition United States:  The "Transition 101" section of this site offers a good intro. 

Transition Network: This nonprofit supports initiatives worldwide and serves as a registry. It's based in England, where several of the earliest Transition towns evolved, partly through the efforts of Rob Hopkins. Take a look at his books:
  • The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience
  • The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times
Other books of interest include:
  • Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg
  • Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change by Pat Murphy
  • The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crisis, edited by Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch
Why not hold a potluck and video screening for neighbors this winter? Some choices to prompt discussion: 
  • Years of Living Dangerously, an Emmy Award-winning multi-episode TV series
  • Peak Oil: Imposed by Nature
  • The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
  • Passive House: A Building Revolution
  • In Transition 2.0: A Story of Resilience and Hope in Extraordinary Times
  • Voices of Transition: A Documentary "Action" Movie for Community-Led Food Production
Many of these are at the SAP public library; some are also in a special Transition Town display, available for checkout. Ask a librarian to point you there.

"If we wait for the politicians,
it may be too late.
If we work as individuals,
it won't be enough.
But if we work as communities,
it might be just enough,
just in time."


-- Transition US


Lift a glass at
Transition Tap!

We're branching into the taproom scene with a brand-new action group. Transition Tap offers a casual environment for people to learn what
TT-ASAP is all about,
ask questions, discuss sustainability and energy resilience strategies in our neighborhood, and brainstorm on how to get involved. 

The Transition movement is spreading quickly. There are many veins to explore and create! But as a newcomer to SAP, I found it a little tricky to navigate at first. I wanted to help others explore different ways to contribute, as it will take everyone's communal effort to lower our carbon footprint. That, and I do love to support a good local craft brewery! 

We kicked off our first Transition Tap in November at the Urban Growler, with great attendance: TT supporters, folks coming in for a post-workout beer, groups reuniting after foreign travels, a favorite mother, and even neighbors we didn't know were neighbors! 

So spread the word: the beer and conversation are flowing! Join us next time, and invite your neighbors. The more the merrier!


Allie Rykken

Next Tap: 
Wed. Dec. 3, 7 to 9 pm

Urban Growler, 2325 Endicott, South SAP 

Look for: Allie, Kevin & the "Transition T"
How do I join an action group?

So far nine action groups have formed. What's your favorite area of sustainable living? Learn more from these people: 

Community Solar 
Barry Riesch (
Google site:

Home Energy Curtailment 
Tim Wulling,

Land Use Efficiency 
Phil Broussard,

Reflective Circle 
Ranae Hanson,

School Liaison 
Mimi Jennings,

Sustainable Food and Land

Transition Tap

Pat Thompson,

Zero Waste 
Gary Carlson,

Want to start a new action group or join the Transition Town planning group? Contact Tim Wulling or Michael Russelle. The planning group meets every fourth Thursday at 7:30 pm; we'lll let you know the location of our next meeting. 

"Whatever you can do,
or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power,
and magic in it.


-- Goethe

Coming up! 
Film: Antarctica on the Edge
Explore this fast-changing region by sailboat, sea kayak, foot, small plane, and dive gear. Private screening of a new 40-minute film: to attend, call the Will Steger Foundation office, 612-278-7147.

Wed. Dec. 3,  6 to 8 pm (RSVP required)

St. Anthony Main Theater

115 Main Street SE, Minneapolis


MCTC Climate Empowerment Fair
Learn about climate issues across continents and cultures. Meet students in ecofeminism, global studies, and environmental literature. (See story at right, "Where climate and ethnic justice meet.")

Wed. Dec. 3, noon to 6

Thurs. Dec. 4, 10 to 6 

Minneapolis Community & Technical College, T building, 2nd floor,

downtown Minneapolis. Free.


Annual "State of the Park" Forum and Nonprofit Fair

"Planning for the Best: Demographics, Design and Development" is the theme of this year's forum hosted by the SAP Community Foundation. TT-ASAP will have a presence there!

Thurs. Dec. 4, 6:30 - 8:30 pm 

SAP Elementary School. Free.


Food and Climate talk

Learn how even subtle temperature changes can affect agriculture and food supply. Talk by Bill Mosely, chair of Macalester's Dept. of Geography and director of African Studies. 

Mon. Dec. 8, 4 - 5:30 pm 
Edina Library, 5280 Grandview Square, Edina. Free.

Dine for Climate!

Partnering with the Steger Foundation, metro-area restaurants educate customers on food and climate and donate a portion of proceeds to the foundation. Visit the calendar at MN-350 for more info.

Thurs. Dec. 11
French Meadow Bakery & Cafe (two locations) and Bluestem Bar

Recent events 
Transitioners spread the word at Sustainability Fair 

Dozens of displays--renewed acquaintances--learning--inspiration. That's what the Sustainability Fair provided on Nov. 20 in St. Anthony Village. Metro nonprofits, U of M students, and Transition Towners all shared their latest efforts. 

Visitors heard from the mayors of all three sponsoring towns: St. Anthony Village, Lauderdale, and Falcon Heights. Other sponsors included the Three Rivers Park District and the U of M's Sustainability Education program at the Institute on Environment. 

Transition ideas were well represented by
Citizens for Sustainability (based in St. Anthony Village), Transition Northeast (Minneapolis) and our own TT-ASAP. Several attendees from other towns revealed that nascent Transition aspirations can be found in most neighborhoods.  They're poised to coalesce.
-- Tim Wulling

Future First Women's Congress features MCTC students

Envision a future where people value the interconnectedness of all things: a future that shifts attitudes and behaviors from those centered in individualism and consumption to behaviors that care for the Earth and attend to the intricate balance of all living things. That is the vision of Future First, which held its Second Women's Congress in the Twin Cities Nov. 7-9. Workshops included topics such as Protecting the Legacy of a Healthy Commons, Having Money Conversations that Foster Our Well-Being, and Community Solar.

 The guest of honor:
Mother Earth.  

photo: Minnesota Women's Press

Another workshop was facilitated by Ranae Hanson featuring her students at Minneapolis Technical & Community College, offering their views on the work ahead. Other programs focused on bees, butterflies, birds, mining, fracking, economics and more, offering small group conversations for individual and group actions. A culmination was the Caucus of All Waters and the drafting of a Bill of Rights for All Water. The website for Future First has a Field Guide with information and tools for activism. 
-- Kathy Magnuson

Editor's note: Read more about the event in the current Minnesota Women's Press, a far-reaching publication based in SAP.

Transition Times ASAP 
welcomes your input.

Submit brief news stories or ideas, calendar items, photos, poetry, and more. 
Contact editor Mindy Keskinen at

Pat Thompson designed our Transition Times ASAP logo, and Regula Russelle created the "Transition T."
Transition Town movement grows
Support is reaching critical mass in Saint Anthony Park

We're living in transitional times, and many people in our neighborhood are joining hands to seek a positive, local response to climate change. We've been learning from the worldwide Transition movement (see resources at left), and support is growing to call our effort Transition Town - All Saint Anthony Park. That's
for short. "ASAP" reminds us that the climate issue is urgent, and that we're all in this together. "All Saint Anthony Park" means south and north; renters and homeowners; temporary residents and long-timers. It means business owners, industry, and employees, students and seniors; faith groups, youth groups, nonprofits ... everyone. We all play a part in mitigating, and adapting to, climate change. In honor of that effort, we've given this e-newsletter (formerly ERG Enumerates) a new name: Transition Times ASAP.

Community Solar leaders John Seppanen (right) and Barry Riesch carried the banner last July 4. 

A vote of confidence

We've been working with Transition ideas for several years. But now the wider community has given us a big boost. After a neighborhood vote last summer, the SAP Community Foundation granted us $15,000 to enrich our array of climate-mitigating and community-building activities, and to add capacity for more.

Tim Wulling reports that we've also been awarded some "rapid assistance" from Metro CERT: the local Clean Energy Resource Team. "They'll help us think about how to involve a wide range of people when we start work in the new year on creating a neighborhood action plan for large reductions in fossil fuel use."  


What exactly is a Transition Town? 

We're learning from a worldwide network of cities, towns, and neighborhoods that, under the Transition banner, are informally but methodically finding their own paths toward sustainability. Some of these are nearby--for example, Minneapolis' Corcoran and Longfellow neighborhoods, and the cities of Northfield and Mankato. 


Transition from what to what? From a fossil-fuel based way of life to a more satisfying, community-oriented one. The "Transition US" umbrella group puts it this way:  "The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis...engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience." By sharing organizing tools and ideas, communities can more quickly rise to the challenge.  For more resources, see the list at left.


Strengthening our grassroots

With our grant funds, we'll keep widening our sustainability efforts. We'll reach out to community groups, including youth, offering opportunities (some paid) to organizer-interns who want to inspire and involve their groups. Faith groups, nonprofits . . . we need everyone's input.  We especially hope for groups with international links-- people who can help teach about the global effects of our local habits. If you're interested in interning, or mentoring someone in this role, contact Mimi Jennings.


We'll also host two more Transition Festivals, one this spring: stay tuned for the date. At our last festival in 2013, we showcased our action groups, from Transportation to Home Energy Curtailment to Sustainable Food & Land. (See the full list of groups, below left.)  We shared ideas over videos and displays, and we celebrated with arts, puppets, and creative games. Expect all that and more at the next festival!


Among the Festival musicians: Michael Keyes on banjo and Nick Jordan, guitar.
Lots to discuss: jitneys, electric cars, bikeways and signage to the Green Line, single-hauler trash service...


We're also using the grant funds to enhance our web presence.  A website will be launched in January, and we're upping our game in social media.  Read on! 

-- Mindy Keskinen

Like us on Facebook!

 "Like" our brand-new Facebook page: you'll find it at Check often for news, opportunities, and inspiration. Until now, our only Facebook presence has been a group (Transition ASAP), which we're now considering retiring. Or does that group still have a role to play?  Email e-news editor Mindy Keskinen if you have an opinion.

Thinking together: Imagine 2040


Winter's a good season for thinking, dreaming, and planning. In these transitional times, we're planning a community forum--midwinter date to be announced--to look ahead and discuss our hopes for the neighborhood one generation from now. For more details, see Michael Russelle's Invitation to envision a community roadmap in the December Park Bugle.

We're keeping these three goals in mind: 

  • To plan our "energy descent"-- reducing our carbon footprint, the root cause of climate change;
  • To build resilience against severe weather, power outages, and other climate-related effects;
  • To strengthen our social bonds -- good for our souls and our security

Solar panels and Carter & Como As a neighborhood, could SAP aim for energy independence-- or even a positive net energy goal? What kinds of housing and streetscapes do we want? Maybe we'll see solar panels on some of our landmark buildings. What's our local economy like--businesses, industry, jobs? How do we get around, and where do we gather? How about food production? Sharing tools and other resources? This is a chance to see what "thinking together" can do.

As shared goals emerge, over the coming months, we'll try "backcasting" to outline what steps might get us there.  Although this process is nonbinding, some aspects of the planning may be incorporated into the SAP Community Council's ten-year District 12 plan, which will be completed by the end of 2015.

If you'd like to help plan the "Envision 2040" process, welcome! Contact Michael Russelle or Ranae Hanson. In any case, stay tuned and join the process each step of the way. We'll announce those steps here, on Facebook, and on our website.


Line drawing by Regula Russelle

School news

How are SAP schools building a community prepared for the future?

Through teacher Karen Christenson, who studied at the World Forestry International Educator Institute last June, Saint Anthony Park Elementary has been designated a School Forest/Outdoor Learning site by the St. Paul school board. Karen and colleague Susan Fredrickson are taking first planning steps with their classes and hope to work with Transition Town ASAP. 


This week, students in Tim Chase's environmental science class at Murray Middle School presented a detailed proposal for a school-sited rain garden to a community panel. The project has already spanned a year. After studying several sloping areas around the building, students have analyzed data on soil types, percolation rates, underground utilities, and rainwater runoff, as well as considering the "curb appeal" of a rain garden. The goal is to help rainfall return to groundwater instead of draining into the storm system.  We'll keep track of their progress here!

Fall 2013:
Teams of Murray students mapped the
school site and developed several options for rain garden sites and designs. A community panel offered early feedback.
One year later: Students merged the best features of all the plans. In the library at Murray, they showed the resulting proposal to district reps, consultants, and a community panel.


At Avalon High School, Lauren Leith's physics students are planning to reduce the school's fuel use via insulation and LED lighting. This spring they'll build solar-powered boats and gauge possible solar energy use at the school. They're seeking venues to share their successes with the community . . . Avalon student Maddy Sagarsky has begun her senior project -- a long-standing interest -- researching bees and becoming a beekeeper. She's looking for someone willing to take part in her project, to find resources and mentor her. If interested, contact Mimi Jennings at the email address below.


At Como High, a small but committed Green group is installing energy-saving "VendMisers" on two of the school's water vending machines and raising funds to retrofit a water-bottle re-filler to a drinking fountain. They hope to eliminate at least one of the bottled-water vending machines, and, working from the other end, they will recycle/repurpose the plastic bottles.   


* * *


Teachers: Make use of your Transition Town! We're available to help local schools with all kinds of green projects. As a showcase resource, we can provide beyond-the-classroom venues for students to communicate the goal of "smaller footprint, stronger community." We can help students set up displays, tout their projects, sing the praises of public transit -- or question its merits -- whatever they, and you, choose. And submit material for the Transition Times ASAP e-newsletter, too. We're broadening its subscription list and invite writers to contribute news, fiction, opinion, poetry, photos -- anything on a green theme. Budding writers or artists in SAP schools might like to contribute. Input from parents and teachers is also welcome. 

-- Mimi Jennings


Now in her second year as Transition Town ASAP's school liaison, Mimi Jennings stays in touch with District 12's three public schools and the two charter schools within our boundaries. Mimi is a former SPPS teacher herself (French at Central High). She can talk with teachers by phone, or visit one-on-one, in group meetings, or in classrooms, in any way that fits. Start by sending her an email at

Where climate and ethnic justice meet...

Ranae with ecofeminism students  

... Ranae Hanson makes a place.

In Ranae Hanson's ecofeminism class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, students speak freely--and they listen, too.  


Overheard during a wide-ranging discussion the day after the midterm elections:

"I went to vote, and everybody there was white! And nobody was young!
I voted, then got my mother-in-law to go vote, too."

"When I was looking at the candidates, I thought, 'I wish I could talk to Ranae.'"

"How can we talk about climate change without having people say,
'Don't be a downer'?"

"My mother says, 'God didn't make the world to last forever.' How do I answer that?"

"Once you learn about climate change, it's hard to ignore."

"My mom had nine children. I was thinking of five. Now I may just have
one and adopt the rest."


In over 20 years on the MCTC faculty, Ranae has engaged students in questions like these, linking world events to their own lives. She's taught ethics, women's studies, history, world religions, and developmental English. "These students have powerful stories," she says, whether they're from our own cities and Native communities, or from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia. Ranae often helps them find their voices and pinpoint the stories they may be uniquely positioned to tell.


Vietnamese student panelists with Ranae She also finds them platforms for telling those stories.

At the national Global Learning Conference here in October, her students led talks on the economics of climate change, communication between African and African-American students, and other topics. 

A few weeks later at the Future First Women's Congress, Ranae moderated a student panel that included three Vietnamese students (right). Listeners were also moved by an Ethiopian student's story: she'd first learned about global warming from her own grandmother in her home country. Although illiterate, her grandmother was well aware of the climate trends, and of the need to work together to adapt.


 "Climate change disproportionately affects people of color--in every country," says Ranae. For a poster show last spring, her Global Studies students researched those trends: deforestation in Somalia, for example. Michael Russelle saw the show. "What impressed me most was their deep compassion for people and ecosystems they may not know first-hand," he said. "They presented a compelling case for curbing greenhouse gas emissions." 


Ranae tells her students: "Every week, take an hour-long walk in your ecosystem." Her own ecosystem is a pleasantly tangled yard behind her home in South St. Anthony Park. When we wandered through the yard in October, I discovered a rain garden, a vegetable patch, and a deep stone-edged pond, dug by her son Josiah. Ranae is thinking of raising tilapia in it. Eat local! We strolled past the salvaged-stone patio (also Josiah's handiwork) and down to the garage tucked into the hillside. A tiny solar panel powers the garage-door opener, but inside .... nothing! Ranae recently went carless. When her daughter Mia moved to Los Angeles last summer, Ranae sent the family car with her. Since then, she's been walking, biking, using public transport, and occasionally booking a Car2Go.  


"Think globally, act locally": Ranae works both sides of that formula vigorously. A former chair of the SAP Community Council, she's still a behind-the-scenes bridge-builder on many neighborhood issues. Last spring she served on a community panel with current council member Wanjiro Mugo (left).  And one Saturday this fall she put on an apron to can applesauce in a church basement with TT-ASAP's Sustainable Food & Land group. 


Ranae often takes a global view of what seems like a local debate: for example, the proposed PolyMet mine on the Iron Range, her own home ground. Last Canning applesauce with friends January, her Star Tribune op-ed  noted the environmental effects of similar mines in Russia and South Africa. And then she asked some tough questions. Although we may not want such mines in Minnesota, aren't we better equipped than those nations to mitigate their effects? And what about the demand side of the equation? "I cannot respect myself if I protect my own lake while using a catalytic converter that destroys someone else's life and homeland," she wrote.  More recently, in the Range's HomeTown Focus, she explained a new method for reducing the sulfates that already taint the area's waters. She's a Renaissance woman on a mission.


But public issues also touch us personally. As an early member of the Energy Resilience Group, Ranae started a small monthly gathering known as the Reflective Circle "to address the personal impacts of climate change, too," she said. Another member, John Wallace, described their purpose: "When we commit ourselves to think about climate change, we also commit ourselves to accept feelings of fear, of guilt, of frustration with self and others. The Circle provides a safe space to work through these feelings," he said. "The depth of Ranae's commitment, her tirelessness, her compassion and capacity to listen are an inspiration." The group now wants to broaden the Reflective Circle to others: stay tuned.

MCTC ecofeminism students gathered around Ranae.

When did climate change first hit home for Ranae?  In 1989, a long drought weakened many trees in Minnesota, making them vulnerable to disease. For Ranae, it was a clear lesson in how climate-related effects can mount up quickly. Soon after, she joined the MCTC faculty, and since then she's been working "at the confluence of climate and ethnic justice," as she puts it.   


"In many schools, 'global education' means studying abroad," says Ranae. "But clearly, global education can take place right here, right now." 

-- Mindy Keskinen

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.