Friday, May 28, 2010

Participatory budgeting at the local Government level

Participatory budgeting at the local Government level is a new idea being tried in the 49th ward of Chicago with excellent results. 
The local constituents decided how they would spend their Ward's budget allocation whether it was on bike paths, footpaths, community gardens- a whole range of ideas. 
Here is the link to see how it worked in the community
Could this happen in the Pullenvale Ward?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Awaken the Dreamer, Changing the Dream environmental symposium invitation‏

Later this year, Transition Kenmore will be helping run one of these locally but for anyone who can't wait here are the details of the next symposium this weekend.

"Many of us are likely to experience the effects of global climate disruption during our lifetime as well as be impacted by the economic consequences of dwindling resources consumed by our current way of life. What can we do? Well, there is exciting, grass roots, social/political/ecological movement gaining momentum around the world that you can participate in.

The Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium aims to help create an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just human presence on the planet by helping people learn more about the world, to come to grips with the very assumptions that underlie the way we see the world and what each of us can do, individually and cooperatively – to move the world in a new direction. It connects us into a global group of people who are informed and optimistic about creating a new possibility for our modern world and who are galvanised to take action for healthy and sustainable future. We do this not only for ourselves; we do it for present and future generations—for the benefit of all children, of all species."

The Symposium will be held on:
From 10am to 4.30pm
At the Brisbane Bridge Centre, 104 Frederick St, Annerley
(the old Annerley Bowls club in the Yeronga Memorial Park)

+/- More info, directions etc click to expand

"Using video clips from some of the world’s most respected thinkers, captivating short films, and dynamic group interactions, the Symposium guides participants in gaining new insights into the challenges we face and the opportunities we have to impact the direction of our future with our everyday choices and action.

I encourage you to come, to invite your family and friends, your co-workers. Come to be inspired and moved to action, come to be part of a community of deeply committed individuals worldwide who are actively engaged in helping people wake up and begin changing the dream of our modern industrial culture, or come to simply find out what its about.

There is plenty of free parking and it is also very convenient to public transport – either by bus along Ipswich road (there are several express buses from the city that stop about 400m away), or by train on the Beenleigh-Ferny Grove line, stopping at the Yeronga station about 700m away."

The cost is $20 per person, half price for full time students, unemployed and pensioners – and no one will be turned away – we simply ask that you make a small donation. Maximum cost per family is $50.

**** Please bring some food to share for lunch and morning and afternoon tea will be provided.

*** NOTE: We would appreciate if you could email either
Fiona – or
James – and advise how many are coming so we have an idea of numbers.
For more information, please see

The Symposium is run by Be the Change Australia.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Food Inc, The Movie in Brisbane

The movie Food Inc is in limited release in Australia and was not scheduled to be shown in Brisbane.
However, many folks from the local transition movement have successfully lobbied to have it shown.
This movie received 4 1/2 stars from Margaret Pomeranz and 4 stars from David Stratton on ABC's At The Movies.
It would be wonderful to have a full house on the opening night, so put June 24th in your diary to be at the Palace Centro.

There is a growing concern in the general population about the quality of our food and the viability of our farmers. This movie provides a firm basis for those concerns.

Says Margaret Pomeranz in her review
"It's a shocking indictment of an industry which has been taken over by greedy, litigious, multi-national corporations who not only want to put small farmers and food suppliers out of business, they want to keep quiet about the dangerous practices they use in the slaughtering of animals for food and other farming practices"

You can read the rest of her review here

See you at the movies....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book review blogging - David Archer - The Long Thaw

There are a lot of books written about climate change but this is surely one of the best.

I have just finished reading "The Long Thaw - How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate" by David Archer, Professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago.

Concise (at under 200 pages), compelling and understandable to a non scientist, Archer lays out how our release of fossil fuel C02 today will affect the climate for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.

Most discussion of climate change (and indeed IPCC predictions) tend to go only until 2100. Archer seeks to remedy this and in doing so takes us on a journey back through time to see how past climate changes played out, before showing how this knowledge allows us to predict what will happen in the future.

I've linked to the book on Amazon but you can also get it out from a BCC library. For those who are really keen David has put a whole course of lectures on youtube.

Note: Being a short focused book it doesn't cover all AWG topics. If you want to learn about the basics of the greenhouse effect, read in depth about climate change and the biosphere or about potential solutions then check out David Archer's - Understanding the Forecast, The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery and Our Choice - A plan to solve the climate crisis by Al Gore respectively.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jeremy Jackson: How we wrecked the ocean

Another great TED talk, this time from Coral Reef ecologist Jeremy Jackson. A professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jackson "lays out the shocking state of the ocean today: overfished, overheated, polluted, with indicators that things will get much worse"

To many of us oceans seem huge, mysterious and immune to human activities, but like any other ecosystem or natural resource it can be depleted and is currently facing a "perfect storm" of overfishing, pollution, warming and ocean acidification.

We can try protecting parts of it, fixing up certain areas, but the thing we really need to fix says Jackson "is ourselves"

Compelling viewing

Hat tip: Hot Topic

Note: One of the problems facing the oceans is excessive nutrient run off and pollution with toxic chemicals, both problems that can be at least partially tackled by solutions such as those provided by our last TTKD speaker Kevin Venville from H20 Pure Plus.
So it's not as though we don't have solutions, what we require is a change in mindset.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TTKD May Meeting: Water recycling with Kevin Venville from H20 Pure Plus

This month our speaker will be Kevin Venville, Managing Director and Founder of H2O Pure Plus.

"H2O PurePlus® is a unique non-chemical water treatment and reuse system that has worldwide domestic, community, commercial, agricultural and industrial applications".

This system achieves dramatic water savings by naturally cleaning both grey and black water for completely safe reuse inside and outside the home and work place and is approved by the Australian Governing bodies (see here for example).

To find out more and talk to this Brisbane innovator join us on:

Wednesday May 19th


Uniting Church Hall

982 Moggill Rd Kenmore

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Support Climate Crock of the Week

Climate Crock of the Week is currently leading (by a small margin) in votes for a $5000 grant. This is a great series of YouTubes, entertaining and a good response to the anti-science propaganda.

You can vote directly (sign-up required) and even better, after doing that, find my announcement at Twitter  and retweet. But hurry, there's only a few hours left. Voting closes at 11:59pm Saturday 15 May (US time zone).

Here’s an example in case you aren’t familiar with Peter Sinclair’s sterling work:

He also has a series Renewable Energy Solution of the Month, of which here is an example:


I don’t know how many readers of this article voted but someone must have because this project won. I wonder if we can get green-oriented business to sponsor a similar project fund?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Post Peak Living - Peak oil and what it might mean for all of us

Post peak living is a website dedicated to looking at what effects peak oil could have on the economy and our lifestyles and how best we can prepare and adapt to a future with a lot less oil.

The website by André Angelantoni, who also runs online courses on post peak living, contain several videos where André outlines the history of oil, rebuts what he sees as myths around the future supply of oil and also considers the enormous impact passing peak oil could have on our way of life and possible actions we can take.

Importantly our responses to peak oil and climate change are closely linked. A rapid response to climate change and a shift of the economy off fossil fuels would substantially blunt the impact of peak oil. However, since the world is not rapidly responding to either climate change or peak oil, André articulates that he believes we have left it too late to avoid substantial impacts on our economy and living standards.

Of course, even if he is correct, that doesn't mean we are helpless. Noticeably André has been promoting the Transition Movement as a positive way to build community resilience to a post peak world. A reminder to everyone involved in TTKD to keep up their efforts.

The videos Post Peak Living have created are informative and also challenge us to consider impacts of declining oil availability that normally we might not think about. If you have time, follow the link and have a look.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Food Connect - connecting you with farmers, to provide sustainable, local food

Many members of Transition Kenmore are part of an increasing number of people from around Brisbane using Food Connect to provide them with fresh local fruit and vegetables.

Food Connect makes it easy to support local farmers, cut down on "food miles", eat food that's fresh (not stored for months in a refrigerated warehouse), expand your fruit and veges horizons with their wide range of produce and much of the food is organic to boot.

Food connect does it by establishing relationships with local farmers and then, every week, brings their fresh produce to the city where it is packed into boxes and sent to each suburb for subscribers to collect. Food connect also guarantees farmers a fair price for their produce, while maintaining affordability for their subscribers.

Food connect are more than just food suppliers though, they also work hard to decrease the city/country divide by running farm tours and profiling many of the farmers they work with. They have a great website where you can learn all about them, their philosophy, sign up and manage your account.

So, if you want to spend less at the supermarket and more on fresh, local food, making the change is just a click away.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

ABC Catalyst special on Antarctica

Catalyst, the popular science show on the ABC, recently made a special program all about climate change and its effects on Antarctica .
Combining explanations of what is happening to Antarctic glaciers, icesheets and oceans with images of the ethereal beauty of the frozen (melting?) continent, this special is highly recommended.

Like much ABC content, you can watch the show via the net on the ABC website.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Free Electric Vehicles Forum

Picked up from the Sustainable Jamoboree mailing list…
Free Electric Vehicles Forum - 1pm, 22 May

1 – 3pm, Sat 22 May 2010
Repeated 2 – 4pm, Wed 26 May 2010
Veue: Mt Ommaney Library, Dandenong Road
RSVP: or phone 3375 7268
Speakers / panel
  • Dr Andrew Simpson, senior research fellow, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute. He has over 10 years experience in the hybrid/electric vehicle, electric power and renewable energy industries in Australia and North America, including two years most-recently at Tesla Motors in California.
  • Russell Austerberry, Australian Electric Vehicles Association, Brisbane.
  • Paul Martin, electric bicycles enthusiast
  • Allan Dow, - tbc

Looks interesting and worth going.

Clean energy options

There is an interesting collection of slide shows at the IEEE Spectrum web site.

While not much seems to be happening here – other than digging Australia deeper and deeper in to dependence on coal exports – alternative energy research is alive and well in the rest of the world. In the US and Europe, massive investment in new ideas is continuing, and China is spending in a big way too – even if they are also spending a lot on coal-based power.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Catherine Mohr - Building a truely green home - Another great TED talk

In her quickfire (6 minute) TED talk, Catherine Mohr explains how she is using embodied energy (the amount of energy required to make something) to guide her decisions in building a green house. You can find more info on her own blog.

In cutting through the waffle and examining the numbers Catherine shows how the places you can make the biggest savings might not be where you'd expect. And also answers the question, will building a new energy efficient home save energy in the long term or should I have kept my old place?
You'll have to watch it to find out.......

In the discussion on the TED site, Catherine also responds to questions about whether building the house cost more:

"The five main areas I identified as saving embodied energy turned out to be either cost neutral or cost savings over traditional. Deconstruction cost more in labor, but there were salvageable materials whose value offset the labor. High flyash concrete was cost neutral, the cellulose insulation was cheaper than either foam or fiberglass, the wood windows were cheaper than the vinyl (although maintenance will make that advantage disappear), and the wooden and concrete floor could be cost neutral to carpet, but I chose reclaimed wood for its beauty"

So I guess the answer is not really, if you do it right.

Monday, May 3, 2010

100% Renewable

A few of us got together on Sunday morning to support the 100% Renewable Community Campaign. It is more critical than ever that we make our voices heard given the government's lack of commitment to action.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Climate reality week - John Cook from Skeptical to speak at UQ

UQ Climate for Change is running several cool events for Climate Reality week. A nationwide event organised by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), this week aims to remind everyone that we cannot escape the realities of climate change by ignoring the problem, we need to take action.

On Friday May 7th, John Cook, author of the website Skeptical Science will be giving a lunch time talk at the University of Queensland about "The reality of climate change" and true scientific skepticism (map).

After John's talk there will be a panel discussion also featuring:

Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg - Director, Global Change Institute, UQ and expert on coral reefs and climate change
Jessie Wells - Oxfam Australia
Megan Evans - UQ Climate for Change

Click on the poster below for all the details

As mentioned by Philip in the comments, there is a free Skeptical Science iPhone App. All the science straight to your phone (very handy for dealing with your climate skeptic cousin when you see them at your next family get together).