Newsletter 082, 16 September 2013

TOP STORY: So, What Are You Doing?

The Oil Drum / Nate Hagens / 02 September 2013
[TB: As The Oil Drum website (TOD) was winding down over the past few weeks, some of its key members made their final posts. This one comes from Nate Hagens. Nate has appeared on PBS, BBC, and NPR, and has lectured around the world. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers. The comment thread following his post is enlightening.]

For 8 years we read about what people think about energy related themes. I thought it would be a good idea to use this thread to highlight what people are actually doing in their lives given the knowledge they've gleaned from studying this topic, which really is more of a study of the future of society.

What do TOD members plan to do in the future? Herding goats, fixing potholes, creating web sites, switching careers, etc? I'll go first. Feel free to use my template or just inform others what you're doing. This might be interesting thread to check back on in a few/many years [...]

TB: Harvest Potluck Dinner

Transition Brockville invites anyone who is striving to achieve a sustainable lifestyle to our Harvest Potluck Dinner. Let's share the bounty from our gardens!

WHAT: Harvest Potluck Dinner
WHEN: Sunday, September 22, 4:00 pm
WHERE: St. Paul's Anglican Church Hall, 12 Pine Street, Brockville

TB/BPL: Upcoming Presentations

October 27: Ben Powless, Indigenous Environmental Network / Ecology Ottawa
November 24: Chris and Bob Stesky: Solar PV and net metering (without FIT/microFIT)
January 26: Alan Medcalf and Tim Webb: E-bikes

Please let us know what you'd like to hear about, or to hear more about, through this online form.

12 September 2013

Mayor, Councillors,

As you may know, for the past seven years Transition Brockville has been addressing our community's dependence on relatively cheap fossil fuels, and trying to encourage – at the local level – both mitigation of, and adaptation to, the predicament this dependency has left our big old planet in.

On the input side, this dependence is often discussed under the rubric of 'Peak Oil'. Only a few decades ago, producers were achieving energy-returns-on-energy-invested (EROEI) of around 100:1, whereas sources being developed today return as little as 5:1. These newer sources also entail much greater environmental risk and damage. Despite the ongoing global recession, oil prices remain about five times greater than they were 10 years ago. Oil prices continue to rise. This is arguably at the root of our global economic doldrums, and implies that a systemic brake is being increasingly applied on economic growth.

On the output side, our fossil fuel dependence is creating waste in the form of greenhouse gases which are rising to atmospheric concentrations unseen on this planet for 100,000 years. Extreme weather events such as droughts, wildfires and floods are now costing us billions of dollars, and in some cases broadly disrupting power systems, eg. dams without enough waterhead and nuclear plants either without cool enough water or at risk of flooding.

These input/output signals are a matter of public record. Their implications for all of us are pervasive. Why public policy continues to discount them is open to conjecture, but it seems there is societal preference for short term gain and longer term pain. This may well be the case for business, with its legal obligation to maximize annual profits for shareholders, and for politics, where any useful steps taken by incumbents are undermined and voters are offered unrealistic, sugar plum promises with the primary goal of winning elections.

Despite this reluctance to explicitly address the mounting issues, the actions of some governments are speaking more loudly than their words. [...]

Mountain biking is a fun and healthy activity that can last a lifetime. It provides excellent hand-eye coordination, arm and leg strength, core strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness that keeps you fit and helps out other sports. We have some of the best trails in the world right here in the area.

This autumn, Brockville cyclist Peter Meier is running an informal series of mountain bike rides to introduce kids to mountain biking. The location is the Brocktel Trails at the end of Central Avenue West. These trails are also called the 'Automatic (Electric) trails', 'SCI trails', 'Black and Decker trails', and maybe one day 'the School Board trails'. The trails are relatively easy in nature with some technical sections that can be walked.

All are welcome! There will be kids from 6 years old up to possibly teenagers, along with some parents out to take to the dirt. Riders will need a bike with multiple gears, helmet, water bottle. Biking gloves and bugspray are recommended. Please contact Peter at if you know of anyone who'd like to join in the fun!

Celebrating together with creative activities in a friendly environment: Expressive Arts with Willie Primeau of Artistically Moving Forward.

This free program is sponsored by St. Paul's Anglican Church and supported by a grant from Brockville and Area Community Foundation. Come on out on Wednesdays from 10:00 am - 11:30 am at St. Paul's Anglican Church Hall, 12 Pine Street, Brockville. Coffee and snacks provided. For more information contact Virginia at 613-345-2793.

Baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, cleansing cloths, cleaning and disinfectant wipes, as well as toilet bowl scrubbers and some heavy duty paper towels might be labeled as disposable or flushable but these items should not go down the drain or toilet. These products do not break down in the sewer system and can cause plugs in sewer pipes and pumps, resulting in sewer backups, costly cleanups and sewage plant equipment replacement which can result in rate increases.

What You Can Do To Help:
  1. Do not flush objects down the toilet such as wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, or dental floss.
  2. Dispose of these items in your trash receptacle.
  3. Inform those who clean your house or business of the proper disposal methods for these items.
  4. Tell your friends and family too!

For more information contact the Water Pollution Control Centre at 613-342-8772 ext 8305

EV Charging Stations at St. Lawrence College

SWITCH / Newsletter / 03 September 2013
St. Lawrence College has installed electric vehicle charging stations at each of its three campuses. The charging facilities are part of a research project investigating the Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) connection, installation and permitting processes and requirements and to share best practices and recommend a standard process [...]

Energy East pipeline retrofit "could cause natural gas shortages"

Ottawa Citizen / Vito Pilieci / 09 September 2013
The line is currently underused, TransCanada has said, and altering it to carry crude oil alongside natural gas will the allow the company to more fully use its existing infrastructure.

However according to a copy of the presentation Enbridge delivered to Moser and councillors Marianne Wilkinson, Doug Thompson and Eli El-Chantiry, "As it stands now for example, post conversion, Enbridge would be as much as 25 per cent short of capacity needed to serve the Ottawa area on the coldest days of winter.

"TransCanada is creating the impression that most or all of the pipe they are considering for re-deployment is excess capacity -- this is far from the case for the Eastern Triangle (east of North Bay)." [...]

Program plots out a future for fresh urban harvest

Ottawa Citizen / Laura Robin / 03 September 2013
If you walk into The Manx pub and order a salad off the specials board these days, you might be getting delicious fresh lettuce produced by an innovative program that's helping everyone from would-be farmers to street kids. Ottawa non-profit Just Food has started an urban farm on a 120-acre wedge of NCC land just west of Blackburn Hamlet. The Start-Up Farm Program has a dozen plots being tended by everyone from 20-year-old local-foodies to immigrants with farming experience but no land. [...]

Local Currency For Peterborough Area Is Launched

Transition Town Peterborough / 29 August 2013
Transition Town Peterborough (TTP) announced the introduction of the Kawartha Loon Currency today. The Kawartha Loon or KL is a way to keep wealth in the community, circulating among local businesses, increasing the economic multiplier effect and ultimately the number of local jobs.

This new local currency will be for sale beginning September 3rd at the Peterborough Community Credit Union and accepted by over 60 farming enterprises, and local businesses. It is a key step supporting economic development through localizing more of the Peterborough area economy.

Doug Wilson, a TTP Director and Chair of the Board Of Governors of the Kawartha Loon Exchange formed by Transition Town to manages the currency, explained how the Kawartha Loon (KL) "was created here in Peterborough by TTP volunteers. Initial support by local farmers and businesses has exceeded our Business Plan objectives." [...]

Draft FIT 3 Program Documents Available for Comment

OPA / Press Release / 04 September 2013
To prepare for the opening of the next FIT application period in fall 2013, the OPA is making draft versions of the FIT 3 Program Rules, Contract and Standard Definitions available for comment. The OPA also expects to post draft versions of the prescribed forms for comment during the second week of September. Feedback on the draft documents will be accepted until September 20, 2013. [...]

Ontario Supporting Local Energy Planning in Municipalities

Ministry of Energy / Press Release / 21 August 2013
Ontario is supporting local energy planning through the new Municipal Energy Plans and Aboriginal Community Energy Plans programs.

The programs will help small and medium-sized municipalities and Aboriginal communities develop energy plans that focus on increasing conservation and help identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community. Energy plans help municipalities and Aboriginal communities:
  • Assess its energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Identify opportunities to conserve, improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions
  • Consider impact of future growth and options for local clean energy generation
  • Support economic development by better meeting local energy needs
Engaging municipalities and Aboriginal communities is part of the new Ontario government's plan to build strong communities, powered by clean, reliable and affordable energy. [...]

Ontario's Cycling Strategy Released

Government of Ontario / Press Release / 30 August 2013
Ontario's Cycling Strategy looks ahead 20 years and outlines what needs to be done to promote cycling across the province as a viable mode of transportation. More and more people are choosing cycling as their preferred way to get around. Ontario's Cycling Strategy provides a route map to support and encourage this growth in cycling over the next 20 years. [...]

Less Is More: Energy Conservation Is Common Sense

Blue Green Canada / Keith Brooks / 22 August 2013
We all conserve energy every day, but we can do much more to save more. And to do so, we need government to lead. That's why in our report released today, we're calling for Ontario to embrace a bold but achievable plan to cut energy use by 25 per cent by 2025, a plan we're calling "25 by 25."

According to economic analysis we commissioned, achieving "25 by 25" would deliver all the benefits mentioned above: 25,000 new jobs, $3.7 billion more in GDP, lower deficits for both the federal and provincial governments and a nine per cent reduction in carbon emissions. Sounds like common sense to us. [...]

Metis nation set to take on commercial green energy projects

Ottawa Sun / Chris Hofley / 22 August 2013
Metis people in Ottawa and throughout Ontario are set to take on a number of commercial green energy projects.

Of the 951 Small Feed-in Tariff (FIT) renewable energy contracts offered in the province by the Ontario Power Authority, the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO) -- through a partnership with BrightRoof Solar, will be offered 36 FIT project contracts to create green energy.

Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli made the announcement Thursday during the AMO's annual general meeting at the Delta Hotel [...] Chiarelli said the province has received more than 400 submissions for the project contracts from community groups, industry associations, municipalities and energy partners, as well as aboriginal communities. [...]

Plastic particles discovered in Great Lakes

CBC News / AP / 30 August 2013
Scientists have found tiny plastic particles in all of the Great Lakes. They had previously discovered them in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie last year and new summer research uncovered small concentrations also in Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario.

Mary Balcer, director of the Lake Superior Research Institute at UW-Superior, who has studied more traditional Great Lakes threats such as zebra mussels, said plastics are a new culprit on the list of Great Lakes ecological troubles.

"The accumulation of plastic particles is a great threat to our natural ecosystem and to the humans who use Lake Superior for our drinking water supply," Balcer said Thursday. [...]

NY: Storm damage impacts property tax revenues

Albany Times-Union / Rick Karlin / 15 August 2013
Upstate communities saw more than their homes, roads and bridges wash away with Tropical Storm Irene two years ago. They also lost millions of dollars in property tax revenue as the value of storm-damaged homes and businesses declined -- and in some cases disappeared. [...]

Colorado's "Biblical" Flood in Line with Climate Trends

Climate Central / Andrew Freedman / 13 September 2013
[National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini] said that this event will be the new historical high water mark for many affected rivers and streams. In a technical discussion on Thursday, the NWS described the rainfall amounts as “biblical.”

On average, Boulder gets about 1.7 inches of rain during September, based on the 1981-2010 average. So far this month, Boulder has received 12.3 inches of rain. This smashes the record for the wettest month ever in Boulder, which was set in May 1995 when 9.59 inches of precipitation fell -- and September isn't even half over! Not only that, but the average yearly rainfall in Boulder is 20.68 inches. This means that Boulder picked up well over half its annual precipitation in just a couple of days. [...]

Telling The Truth About Germany's Clean Energy Rush

EarthTechling / Amory B Lovins / 19 August 2013
I recently wrote about -- and debunked -- the renewables "disinformation campaign" that spreads misinformed and falsely negative stories about the growth of renewable energy. A special focus of such disinformation has been reportage on Germany's efficiency-and-renewables revolution. The impressive success so far of the German Energiewende (energy turnaround) is an important existence proof for the world, because Germany is cloudy, high-latitude, heavily industrialized, highly competitive (it rivals America's merchandise exports with one-fourth its population), and the world's fourth-biggest economy.

Perhaps because German success would therefore belie the supposed necessity of fossil-fuel and nuclear energy, some media regularly report the Energiewende's failure or supposed impossibility. As I highlighted, Germany's renewables revolution is in fact highly successful and strong as ever, but that hasn't stopped three myths from gaining traction in the media: 1) Germany's supposed turn back to coal, 2) how renewables undermine grid reliability, and 3) how renewables subsidies are cratering the German economy. None of those are true, and here's why. [...]

Ocean Heat Content as an Indicator of Global Warming / 09 September 2013
Global warming does not just take into account the land-surface temperature changes, but also the ocean temperature changes. The ratio of global heating going into the oceans versus the land, atmosphere and ice has steadily increased over the past 40 years. Keep in mind, the oceans make up 71 percent of the Earth's surface and a vast majority of the recent warming has been going into the oceans. [...]

Acidifying oceans will heat the planet more

New Scientist / Michael Marshall / 25 August 2013
What goes around comes around. Our greenhouse gas emissions don't just warm the planet, they also acidify the oceans. Now it turns out that the change in ocean chemistry they cause will feed back into the climate, further driving up temperatures.

Ocean acidification poses a threat to many marine organisms such as corals - the shells of some marine snails are already dissolving. Until now it seemed like this was strictly a problem for marine organisms and the people who depend on them: climate scientists consider the carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the ocean to be stored and unable to affect the climate.

But research now suggests that the acidification it causes will rebound on the entire planet, by acting on tiny marine plants called phytoplankton. [...]

Web of life unravelling, wildlife biologist says

Oceanside Star / Brian Wilford / 29 August 2013
Wildlife biologist Neil Dawe says he wouldn't be surprised if the generation after him witnesses the extinction of humanity. All around him, even in a place as beautiful as the Little Qualicum River estuary, his office for 30 years as a biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service, he sees the unravelling of "the web of life." "It's happening very quickly," he says. [...]

Extreme Climate Events Release 11 Billion Tons Of CO2 Yearly

Climate Progress / Joe Romm / 28 August 2013
A major new study in Nature, "Climate extremes and the carbon cycle" (subs. req'd), points to yet another significant carbon cycle feedback ignored by climate models. The news release sums up the key finding of this 18-author paper: Researchers "have discovered that terrestrial ecosystems absorb approximately 11 billion tons less carbon dioxide every year as the result of the extreme climate events than they could if the events did not occur. That is equivalent to approximately a third of global CO2 emissions per year." [...]

Geoengineering: Climate Change's Silver Bullet?

Climate Progress / Ari Phillips / 06 September 2013
In all of the debates over how to address climate change, climate engineering -- or geoengineering -- is among the most contentious. It involves large-scale manipulation of the Earth's climate using grand technological interventions, such as fertilizing the oceans with iron to absorb carbon dioxide or releasing sulfur into the atmosphere to reduce radiation. While its proponents call geoengineering a silver bullet for our climate woes, its skeptics are far more critical. Joe Romm, for one, likens geoengineering to a dangerous course of chemotherapy and radiation to treat a condition curable through diet and exercise -- or, in this case, emissions reduction.

According to the cover of Hamilton's new book, "The potential risks are enormous. It is messing with nature on a scale we've never seen before, and it's attracting a flood of interest from scientists, venture capitalists and oil companies." [...]

Why Hasn't the Free Market Solved Climate Change?

Huffington Post / David Ravensbergen / 01 September 2013
From Joseph Schumpeter's description of "creative destruction" to the fabled entrepreneurial powers of innovators like Steve Jobs, we're accustomed to thinking that capitalism provides the social and economic framework that best nurtures human creativity and fosters technological innovation.

But with atmospheric concentrations of CO2 sailing past 400ppm and scientists warning of a global environmental catastrophe caused by the breaching of the nine planetary boundaries, the forces of the market are curiously silent. [...]

Why do political and economic leaders deny Peak Oil and Climate Change?

Energy Skeptic / Alice Friedemann / 10 February 2012
Since there's nothing that can be done about climate change, because there's no scalable alternative to fossil fuels, I've always wondered why politicians and other leaders, who clearly know better, feel compelled to deny it. I think it's for exactly the same reasons you don't hear them talking about preparing for Peak Oil.

1) Our leaders have known since the 1970s energy crises that there's no comparable alternative energy ready to replace fossil fuels. To extend the oil age as long as possible, the USA went the military path rather than a "Manhattan Project" of research and building up grid infrastructure, railroads, sustainable agriculture, increasing home and car fuel efficiency, and other obvious actions. [...]

Electricity Utilities Must Evolve or Die: Are They Up to the Task?

The Energy Collective / Jesse Jenkins / 19 August 2013
Europe's aggressive suite of energy policies, from renewable energy incentives and climate mitigation efforts to energy efficiency and smart grid roll-out targets are driving or at least accelerating many of the forces described above. It's tempting then to dismiss Europe's struggling utilities as the casualties of fast-moving policy measures.

Yet Europe is not all that unique.

A majority of U.S. states have implemented renewable portfolio standards or targets driving the increasing uptake of new renewable energy sources. Federal and state incentives further encourage solar and other renewables, electric vehicle adoption, and smart meter installations. While the United States may lag Europe in some regards, the EU may be more a bellwether of things to come than an unique outlier. [...]

Healthcare Needs to Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

Live Science / Gary Cohen / 27 August 2013
In this unfolding crisis, the healthcare sector occupies a unique position in society to admit its contribution to the problem, and to lead the fight against climate change.

First, healthcare is just as addicted to fossil fuels as any other industry, if not more so. Hospitals use twice as much energy per square foot as schools and offices, partly because of the intensity of the business, partly because of a lack of focus to be less wasteful. Healthcare is a major polluter. [...]

Reaching "peak bashing" of peak oil

Environmental Research Web / Carey W King / 27 August 2013
The discussion of the death of peak oil has ramped up along with the increased hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling into tight sands and formations across North Dakota and Texas. In fact, even people that think peak oil will correlate to significant problems for society shy away from the term. But just as it is becoming more difficult to define what "oil" is in energy databases (it is now popular to report "liquids" that have vastly different life cycles and energy densities), the definition of "peak oil" seems to be in the context of the penholder (or typist). Since I'm writing this blog, I of course get to define it for myself here, in what is a simple manner:

Peak oil: the concept that someday the rate of oil production for a country, region, or the world will reach a value that will never be exceeded.[...]

Professor Albert A. Bartlett has passed away

The Oil Drums / massagran / 10 September 2013
The Colorado University professor Al Bartlett passed away on September 7th at the age of 90. I first watched his lecture on "Arithmetic, Population and Energy" about 9 years ago, while doing my physics PhD. I had never heard of Bartlett before but I discovered a fascinating biography and a great compelling speaker using teaching skills to convey what seemed like an urgent message: Humanity's biggest shortcoming is our inability to comprehend the exponential function. [...]

Do solar panels use more energy than they generate?

Mother Nature Network / / 28 August 2013
Researchers Sally Benson and Michael Dale took a look at the industry's energy needs and overall energy production for Environmental Science & Technology and published a paper detailing their findings. What they found will probably allow you to breathe a sigh of relief: solar panels generate more energy than they use, overall, and have been doing so since at least 2010.

These findings can be attributed to changes in solar technology, the growth of the industry, and more awareness when it comes to energy use in panel production. The industry has reached a tipping point, and these findings are also in line with what the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found when it's looked into solar panels and whether they truly offer energy benefits.

They specifically delved into what's known as "payback": how many years of operation does it take for a solar panel to generate as much energy as was used in its manufacture? They found that depending on the technology used, it takes one to four years for solar panels to earn out on their energy debt. Consider that most panels are projected to last 20 to 25 years with proper maintenance and normal use, and you can see that there's a net energy gain here that's rather significant. [...]

Wind turbines don't hurt property values

Grist / John Upton / 28 August 2013
This was the largest study of its kind, but it was not the first. Studies published by the same laboratory in 2009 and 2011 reached the same conclusions.

"Although there have been claims of significant property value impacts near operating wind turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local communities, strong evidence to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the major U.S. studies conducted thus far," said lead researcher Ben Hoen. [...]

The New Economy in 20 Enterprises

REconomy Project / 25 July 2013
Welcome to the UK's top twenty 'Transition oriented' social enterprises. Combined these enterprises have a turnover of £3.5 million and provide paid employment for more than 100 people. We think they're rather brilliant examples of people just doing stuff. [...]

Making Solar Energy Available To Those Who Can't Afford It

Climate Progress / Katie Valentine / 22 August 2013
California-based GRID Alternatives installs solar systems on low income households in California, Colorado and soon, in New York and New Jersey. The organization has installed 3,500 solar systems in California so far, projects that according to the organization have saved the homeowners $80 million in energy costs and will result in the reduction of 250,000 tons of greenhouse gasses over their lifetimes.

Once the solar system is installed, the homeowner pays GRID two cents for every kilowatt-hour that the solar panels produce, which typically results in energy bill savings of 80 percent. If the system produces all the household's energy, a homeowner in Colorado would pay just $13 per month to GRID, compared to the state's average $75.67 electricity bill. [...]

European Union's SAIL consortium: bringing on the future / Jan Lundberg / 23 August 2013
The nations and waters of the North Sea comprise the modern world's most intensive sail transport environment. For those readers and sailors who have cheered on the Tres Hombres schooner-brig, and noted the creation of numerous sail transport projects here and there, the big eye-opener in terms of united international resolve can now be revealed: The European Union's SAIL project, part of the North Sea Region Program whose theme is "Investing in the future." SAIL's mission is to bring about the construction and operation of the first Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion (WASP) large cargo ship.

A 3.4-million euro fund is being put to use by transport specialists, port officials, academics, consultants and sailors to achieve this historic breakthrough in scale for large, technologically sophisticated wind-powered ships. Managed by Holland's province of Friesland, the home of the tall ship race in Harlingen, the SAIL project is well on its way to becoming a consortium as planned. At present seven nations are represented by 17 organizations. [...]

Community Food Centres Canada provides ideas, resources and a proven approach to partner organizations across Canada so they can establish responsive, financially stable Community Food Centres. These centres work to bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food. With our partners and communities, we are working toward a healthy and fair food system.

We're proud to give you our inaugural Progress Report, which features milestones from our first year, stories and impacts from our partner Community Food Centres, profiles of our new CFCs and tons of great photos! Download a PDF of the report from our website to find out what we've been up to! [...]

Farm to Fuel Biomethane Guide

SWITCH / Newsletter / 10 September 2013
The Biogas Association has published a new guide to help farmers take advantage of a new market for biogas. Farm to Fuel: Developers' Guide to Biomethane as a Vehicle Fuel was developed to help farmers determine if this emerging opportunity is a good fit for their farm operations. [...]

Grow Your Best Fall Garden Vegetables: What, When and How

Mother Earth News / Barbara Pleasant / August/September 2009
Right now, before you forget, put a rubber band around your wrist to remind you of one gardening task that cannot be postponed: Planting seeds for fall garden vegetables. As summer draws to a close, gardens everywhere can morph into a tapestry of delicious greens, from [...]

Choose Fermented Foods for Health and Flavor

Mother Earth News / Sandor Katz / August/September 2013
Like artisanal cheeses? Surely you've enjoyed a hand-crafted wine and a fine loaf of whole-grain bread. Cheese, beer, wine and bread are all fermented foods -- as is a range of other foods. Fermentation serves a variety of purposes in food, as people discovered thousands of years ago. One is functional: Fermenting preserves foods. Another purpose is to improve or change food's flavor. Less obvious, however, is that fermented foods contribute to good health. Following is an article about this age-old technique by Sandor Katz, one of the world's leading fermentation experts. [...]

Pressure Canning Basics: Fearless Food Preservation

Mother Earth News / Tabitha Alterman / June/July 2013
Some of us were lucky to learn food preservation skills at home, on long, hot summer days that now exist as fond memories. Many of us weren't so lucky. Pressure canning in particular is a source of anxiety for new food preservers. The equipment may seem foreign, and if you aren't careful, you can end up with food that's unsafe to eat. Do respect food safety guidelines, but do not fear the useful technology that is pressure canning. [...]

How to Preserve Tomatoes: From Aspic to Salsa

Mother Earth News / Sherri Brooks Vinton / 08 May 2013
Locally grown tomatoes taste different from those found in the supermarket. Unlike the fruits in the mega-mart, which are picked while they're still unripe and hard enough to withstand shipping, fresh-grown tomatoes ripen on the vine, so they're full of flavor. Many independent farmers grow heirloom tomato varieties, which can be traced back for generations. Yellow, orange, purple, black, green, and, of course, red heirlooms come in a wide range of shades and varieties. These tomatoes have more complex flavors and are often less acidic than commercially grown tomatoes. Whichever kind of tomatoes you get, their peak season is short, so get them while the getting's good. [...]

Cooking Ingredient Substitutions
Preparing a recipe that calls for an ingredient that you're out of or consider too expensive to buy? Then, check out this list of ingredient substitutions.

New in Media

Climate Change 2013: Greenland Ice Sheet and the Jet Stream (video)
New climate change science explained by Peter Sinclair, just back from a scientific expedition to the Greenland Ice Sheet. Sinclair explains the feedback effects of melting ice, and the impacts on the northern polar jet stream and mean sea level.

Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy (book)
Making the case for adopting more sustainable modes of transportation, this engaging reference explores the economic benefits of bicycling.

The Sweetness of a Simple Life (book)
[Diana Beresford-Kroeger], author of The Global Forest - an international bestseller and a classic upon publication, beloved by readers around the world - gives us her tips and advice for achieving better health and peace of mind, with frugality, simplicity and pleasure not far behind.

EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want (book)
Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, [author Frances Moore Lappé] argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn't our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers or other calamities. Rather, it's our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power.

Jo Dyantyi's Food Forest Garden (video)

Upcoming Events in the Area

Events currently showing on the Transition Brockville Event Calendar
WHAT: Harvest Sharing
WHEN: Tuesday, September 17, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Country Roads Community Health Centre, 4319 Cove Rd, Portland, ON
Bring some of your harvest to share. Sample local goods. Find out what's growing in your community. OPEN TO EVERYONE. To register, contact Kate at 613-272-3302 (x237), 1-888-998-9927 ext 237 or

WHAT: Energy East Information Event
WHEN: Wednesday, September 18, 7:00 pm
WHERE: North Grenville Municipal Centre, Kemptville, ON
Join Sustainable North Grenville to learn more about the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline that would flow through North Grenville and the Rideau River. More info:

WHAT: Brockville Community Treasure Hunt
WHEN: Saturday, September 21, 9:00 am
WHERE: The curb in front of your house
Leave any unwanted but still useful items at the curb in front of yourhouse by 9:00 am on the scheduled date. Remove any uncollected treasures from your curb that evening. Residents who fail to remove uncollected treasures from the curb will be subject to fines of $70 to $5,000. Treasure Hunters: Take items placed at the curb only. Do not take any items from the lawn. All treasures claimed in an "as is" condition. The City provides this event as a public service and assumes no responsibility for the treasures collected.

WHAT: Local Flavours, Local Friends
WHEN: Saturday, September 21, 4:30 pm
WHERE: The Firehall Theatre, 185 South South, Gananoque, ON
Join us at our annual fundraiser for a buffet style tasting of local produce and items created by local chefs, paired with locally created wines. Along with delicious food and drinks, there will be entertainment, a silent auction, and a live auction. Tickets: $55 Local Flavours Admission only, $85 includes No Great Mischief play ticket. Reserve your tickets at the Box Office: 613-382-7020. More info:

WHAT: Green Building: Benefits and Opportunities For Growth
WHEN: Tuesday, September 24, 9:00 am
WHERE: Innovation Park, Kingston, ON
We spend more than 90% of our lives in buildings and buildings account for 40% of worldwide energy use. Green building practices can increase a building's appraised value and net operating income, lead to higher occupancy rates and sale prices, and improve the health and productivity of building users. Gain a better understanding of green trends impacting the building sector and how your company can benefit from them. Learn more about national and regional green building programs while gaining a greater understanding of green building benefits and their marketing potential. Price: $25 for SWITCH Members, $50 for Non-Members. More info:

WHAT: Webinar: Financing a Co-op
WHEN: Wednesday, September 25, 12 noon
WHERE: Online
Peter Hough will lead interested participants through a session on Financing Cooperatives. Peter shares 25 years of experience as a member, manager or director of worker and consumer co-operatives. He has assisted with many co-operative start-ups, developing bylaws, conducting training programs, completing feasibility studies and business plans and providing post start-up mentoring. Peter is currently the principal of Affinity Consulting, a practice engaged in co-operative development, research, training, and management. He is also the Financial Officer of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation and the Fund Manager of "Tenacity Works" the CWCF's revolving loan fund. He recently completed a project for the Canadian Co-operative Association on financing programs available to developing co-operatives across Canada. Registration: ID=1777&EID=15646

WHAT: New Zoning By-law Public Open House
WHEN: Wednesday, September 25, 6:00 pm
WHERE: Memorial Centre Community Hall, 100 Magedoma Blvd., Brockville, ON
The City of Brockville will be hosting a public open house to describe the purpose of the study, present the types of issues that may be addressed through this study, and obtain your input into the issues that should be addressed. Participants are encouraged to read the Draft Discussion Paper, which provides a preliminary summary and discussion of the key issues to be addressed through this project. More info:

WHAT: Green Energy Doors Open 2013
WHEN: Saturday, October 5
WHERE: Ontario-wide
We are looking for event hosts and sponsors! In 2011, OSEA hosted the first Green Energy Field Day to create awareness for sustainable energy and efficiency, as well as our gains through the Green Energy and Economy Act and Feed-in Tariff programs. Fast-forward to 2013 and we have rebranded the event into Green Energy Doors Open, OSEA's annual, single-day showcase of the province-wide green energy economy. This is an opportunity to provide free-of-charge access to individual, community, public and commercial sustainable energy projects, businesses, manufacturing sites, education programs and other related initiatives. We encourage all users, producers and advocates of sustainable energy to open their doors in order to raise awareness, understanding and support for sustainable energy by providing people with the opportunity to visit, see, touch and talk about the projects in their own communities. With the help of our OSEA partners and event sponsors, we will be rolling out a complete package of materials and services to help our host organizers create the best possible events in their own communities. Register as a host or sponsor today! To register as a sponsor please contact Michel Fortin at or 416-977-4441 ext 2. To register as a host or for general inquiries please contact Nik Spohr at or 416-977-4441 ext 3

WHAT: Webinar: The SmartWay to Transport Goods
WHEN: Tuesday, October 8, 1:00 pm
WHERE: Online
Does your company need to ship goods or is part of a green sustainable supply chain? The SmartWay Transport Partnership is the smarter way to ship goods. With enhanced tools and user-friendly reporting systems, the SmartWay program can help your company put its best foot forward to save fuel, save money and reduce your carbon footprint. This innovative public-private collaboration helps your company measure, benchmark and report on your freight transport use, giving you the information to increase your operational efficiency and to gain a competitive edge. Also, SmartWay provides resources and technical assistance to help you improve the fuel efficiency of your fleet. Take advantage of learning about how your company can benefit from a North American network that helps it move more goods, more kilometres with lower fuel costs and how it can gain a business advantage. More info: Francis Charette at 613-996-7744 or

WHAT: Canadian Co-op Week
WHEN: October 13 to 19
WHERE: Country-wide
In these times of economic uncertainty, many Canadians are looking for alternatives to traditional business models. They want to see businesses that are sustainable, democratic, socially-conscious and rooted in their communities. They want businesses that put people first and are guided by values and principles, not just profits. And they want businesses that contribute to creating better communities, a better Canada and a better world. In short, they want a better way to do business. That's why the theme of Co-op Week 2013 is A Better Way. From October 13-19, co-operators across the country will be highlighting the many ways in which co-operatives make things better,both here in Canada and around the world.

WHAT: Sauerkraut Workshop
WHEN: Tuesday, October 15, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Country Roads Community Health Centre, 4319 Cove Rd, Portland, ON
Learn about a traditional method of pickling called "lacto-fermentation". OPEN TO EVERYONE. To register, contact Kate at 613-272-3302 ext 237, 1-888-998-9927 ext 237, or

It is not the strongest of the species that survives... nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.