Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Transition Economics

Transition Economics: Rural Community Targets Relocalization
(seen in the Summer 2009 Permaculture Activist)
By Jennifer Dauksha-English

The small town of Hohenwald Tennessee, population of around 4000 people, is taking small steps at greening up the community and region. Since 2006 a group of dedicated volunteers have been hosting events building on Hohenwald’s efforts to make Lewis County, population of around 12,000 people, greener, safer, and more economically viable. This group, the Sonnenschein Green Initiative (SGI), focuses on proactively supporting local economic and community development strategies (LECD). SGI strives to support the following areas: local business owners, farmers, artisans and service providers; the creation of quality and long-term local employment; community networking opportunities and social events; creating an economy that has a total and sustainable economic return; and increasing goods and services exported rather than imported. SGI also focuses on ‘green’ development, as we see that creating a ‘green’ economy and ‘greening up’ our production and consumption will be the quickest and most effective way to achieve sustainable economic and community development. To SGI the word ‘green’ equals efficiency and less waste.

What does LECD have to do with energy efficiency? Every time an average US citizen consumes 1 lb. or resources, it took 15 times that amount of resources to produce that 1 lb. On average goods travel thousands of miles to get to your home. By localizing production of goods and services, communities can cut down on their power drain. The less traveling for consumers and employees and less freight shipping for producers means that we don’t need to be such energy hogs.

The growing trend toward localization of food, energy, goods & services, and entire economies, away from a dependency on a teetering, global non-renewable energy based economy, exemplifies the transition culture’s response to massive resource depletion, global energy crises, rising fuel and food prices, plummeting markets, and the threat of global climate change. Towns, organizations, and entire governments are finding that localization is a “win” for the economy, environment, community development, and for quality of life. The Transition Town Movement-- one example of localization -- was founded in 2005, in Kinsale, Ireland and then Totnes England; and has since spread throughout Europe, and into the Americas. Towns across the world are asking questions related to energy decent planning and transitioning away from a centralized petroleum-and other non-renewable energy based economy. Our community of Hohenwald, TN began similar conversations in 2006.

The Making of Transition Town Hohenwald
Being a rural community, we found that the best way to communicate with local residents about energy efficiency was to talk about economics. We’re trying to invent or grow something locally that’s positive and within the existing boundaries. People have enough problems already and this makes them sensitive to talking outside their boundaries. The 2009 unemployment rate of Hohenwald and Lewis County is above 17% and our neighbor, Perry County has above 25%. With unemployment so high, people within our current cultural context, don’t want to talk about protecting ecosystems, they want to talk about jobs and saving money.

The Earth had become a dirty word over the past decades. As Permaculture Designer Stefan Geyer in his Spring 2009 Permaculture Activist article Permaculture in Business points out, “Permacultures potential applications in business have largely been passed over due … to its gems hidden under the dirty fingernails of radical tree huggers.” Hohenwald’s Vice Mayor Dustin Flowers, an active supporter of SGI and LECD recently spoke at a local Transition Town meeting, he shared, “In the past, green tended to cause fear. Green meant taking away our toys and telling us what to do. “Now,” he said, “Green equals gold.” Flowers believes that there are a number of opportunities for green economic development. He stated, “We are not the first to realize the beauty of a marriage of a sustained environment with the boost of opportunities from a green economy. We as a city realize these opportunities and those are a few reasons why the City supports becoming a Transition Town. Our first true step is renaming an industrial park on Swan Avenue the Hohenwald Eco-Industrial Park . . . In a green economy we’re all doing the right thing.” SGI is supporting the City and County in their efforts to target new green industries to our city and county industrial parks.

SGI would rather that green businesses seed from within the community, but the City and County are already focused on attracting outside businesses. SGI being proactive, tries to work with existing infrastructure and aims to have a three tiered approach to local business development: 1. Green existing businesses, 2. Educate and support locals in starting new green businesses, 3. Attract new green jobs to the area. To accomplish these three goals SGI in partnership with the Financial Permaculture Institute offers monthly green educational gatherings, quarterly green business tradeshows and an annual green business summit that focuses on participatory learning through business design charettes. SGI is also working with the local Tennessee Technology Center and Tennessee Career Center to create a Green Jobs Technical Training Program for residents of Southern Middle Tennessee. SGI is also partnering with the local Chamber of Commerce to green-up existing businesses.

Mark Graves, Chamber President and City Recorder gave his support and encouragement for the local Government and Chamber to partner with SGI in developing a local green economy. Graves, as Chamber President, recently formed a Green Business Development Committee for the Chamber. The goal of this new Development Committee is to educate current businesses to capitalize on green energy and efficiency. Graves stated, “Our current environmental situation can become our greatest economic opportunity, if we seize the moment.” He shared that his definition of Green equaled efficiency, hope, invention, ingenuity, entrepreneurialism, capital markets, commerce and profit. “There is a global investment to reinvent most of the things we do to become more efficient,” Graves said. He added words of encouragement: “ My hope is that the Chamber of Commerce become a key force in inspiring Lewis County to embrace a new, exciting and prosperous economic environment and not be afraid of it.”

The most effective and energy efficient strategy or “right thing” for SGI’s transition initiative has been to marry Permaculture with financial and economic literacy. Permaculture design and system thinking is at the core of SGI’s transition strategy. Our project development incorporates Permaculture design principles and ethics of earth care, people care and fair share. Over the years we’ve accessed and have shared a wealth of information on ecological design principles and community development tools, but found a lack of information on sustainable financial and economic development. In 2008, SGI through the Center for Holistic Ecology (CHE) and a partnership with Solari Inc. and other local organizations gave birth to the Financial Permaculture Institute (FPI).

Through FPI we’re both discovering and creating language, tools and design models towards transition economics or what I also like to call whole ecosystem economics. We’re using our home, Hohenwald as our base camp and grounds for proactive experimentation. While SGI is our local face, FPI is our international face. FPI aims to create and add value to existing templates for community economic development. Right now we’re working on some crosscutting mapping of the financial ecosystem of Lewis County and surrounding region. We’ll be holding the second Financial Permaculture Green Business Summit in Hohenwald September 22-26, 2009 where we will have trainings and then break out sessions on food and farming, building and housing, energy and fuel, solid waste and recycling, green business, community development and on mapping financial ecosystems.

The two greatest success of the 2008 Summit were that it: 1. Ignited the interest of our local residents, thus catalyzing our transition efforts, and 2. Brought together an interdisciplinary coalition of individuals from the government, business, non-profit and education sectors. Some useful catalysts were that we firstly, had about 14 local residents, aside from the organizers, attend the Summit and that we secondly, did well in our documentation of the event and post event process. This was like a mycelium effect. As these 14 people went back into the community, just two months later the word Permaculture and Transition Towns had permeated the culture and my friend heard people using the words as she got her hair cut at the local beauty salon. Overhearing conversations like these are a telltale sign of cross-pollination.

On documentation, we had about 12 people live blogging the Summit, Byron Palmer graciously volunteered to make a 30 minute documentary about the event and after the Summit I and others have been blogging about our local Transition efforts. This documentation toolbox has really helped catalyze our local transition efforts. We’ve given about 200 copies of the documentary to local residents and have shown it several times at public events. The documentary, which can be viewed on www.financialpermaculture.com has been like a huge business card or portfolio that locals are using to gauge our worth. The results are in and folks who see the documentary generally want to either get involved or find out more. The blogging on www.financialpermaculture.org has been really useful also because we’ve seen our blogs connected to several local links. Some of the links are positive and some negative. On the negative, a few people view our efforts as trying to take over the government. For their own reasons, they are aggravated and restimulated. Even negative input on our efforts is useful as it creates opportunities for conversations and educational moments.

We had a team of people organizing a course on complimentary currency and this provoked a number of local residents and city officials. Rather than force something that wasn’t ready to fit, we simply removed that project from the table and put it on the shelf. Our goal is to be effective community organizers and that means that we may need to occasionally reprioritize our projects due to community opinion. There are so many possible projects that we’ve learned to stack functions, be opportunistic and go with the flow to get the highest yield (long term sustainability) with the least waste of our efforts (total economic return).

We know that many people have different opinions on core issues like politics, religion, climate change and the economy. To us, diversity of opinion is very welcome and encouraged. We appreciate working with diverse demographics of age, gender, level of education and income – plus a wide dissimilarity in our shades of green. Our aim is to collaborate with as many types of people as possible. We also seek to bring as many conversations to the table as needed to move forward with our own unique transition efforts, while looking for key crosscutting patterns applicable to other communities. Our goal for Hohenwald is not to mimic other successful communities, but to learn about working solutions and adapt our findings to our own unique circumstances. This process of design from pattern to detail moves us forward, with occasional trials and errors. With every problem that we encounter we strive to find a useful solution. To stay proactive and effective, we regularly check in with the local group to discuss our core vision, objectives and to evaluate our process.

In March and April of 2009 SGI created a Transition Proclamation. The County and City Government and the local Chamber signed the Proclamation. The Proclamation has had both its high’s and lows. The high is that there are now key community leaders who consider themselves engaged and supportive of our LECD initiative. It has also motivated a lot of formally uninvolved ‘green’ folks to get active. On the low, getting the government involved now means that our initiative is in the political arena. Once something gets in the arena it’s a thing to take sides on and judge. Again, being proactive, we’re looking for opportunities to arise out of any and all challenges. We hope to share the ups and downs of our learning journey. This transition effort is a life long process and we want the community to embrace and feel empowered by change. Following are some tips that we’ve found useful in our transition efforts:

1. Become familiar with what is already being accomplished in the community and familiarize yourself with local history, plus it’s strengths and weaknesses;
2. Look to what people really need and want, and then match your actions and language to implement strategies that meet both their needs and yours. Remember we all share the same innate needs;
3. Find a common language that you can assist you in communicating with diverse groups of people;
4. Empower people to come up with their own answers and create opportunities for them to use their own voice at meetings, in writing, during interviews and at public events;
5. Identify the community stakeholders and survey their potential risks and opportunities. Figure out ways to engage or cooperate with potential stakeholders by identifying how they could benefit from involvement, let them know how they can get involved or how you can add value to one of their existing projects or goals;
6. Collaboratively identify your core vision for your initiative and your desired public image. Be sure that other members of the group can express this. Best to keep it simple and short or in easy to remember bullet points;
7. Be inclusive and identify many portals of entry into your initiative. Integrate rather than segregate and do not discernment. Every member of a community can be a potential collaborator. Avoid creating a separation between them and us. One thing I’ve learned is that for the most part, we all share a similar core set of values – we just often have different totems, thus we have different languages and actions around the messages we stand behind, or signs we carry and platforms we preach on. We’re all more a like than I’ve ever imagined;
8. Identify the skill sets and resources with in the active group and utilize them wisely, also become aware of people’s overall vision and purpose for being part of the group – be sure that they’re getting their needs met;
9. Be proactive – focus on working solutions and opportunities: Don’t tell people that what they’re doing is wrong, instead find something that they’re doing well and help them do it even better and stack functions by helping existing groups organize around these accomplishments;
10. Utilize non-violent communication;
11. Listen closely to the communities context and needs: be willing to reprioritize your projects and be ready to jump on new opportunities as they arise;
12. Value diversity but avoid taking political or religious positions – that way more people will be comfortable being a part of the initiative;
13. Hold frequent public social events where people can learn about and discuss topics related to your initiative;
14. Encourage and train up leaders within the initiative so that each project has a leader and an engaged support group;
15. Give attention to only those projects and tasks that have a clear working group;
16. Allow participants the opportunity to frequently evaluate group process;
17. Don’t throw around words like Permaculture and Transition Towns until people are ready to hear them – in the meanwhile talk in their language – and you’ll find that all combined people already have a lot of the answers and knowledge. It took us 2 years of outreach before we used our own language.

On June 6th, 2009 Hohenwald held a Transition Celebration. Hohenwald, Lewis County, TN is now the 25th official Transition Town in the United States. To find out more about the US Transition Network visit www.transitionus.org and for further information on Hohenwald’s transition efforts visit www.sonnenscheingreentn.org. The 10th Continental Bioregional Congress will be held at The Farm Community in Lewis County, 22 miles from Transition Town Hohenwald, check out www.bioregional-congress.org.



A Proclamation:
-- To Establish Our City as a TRANSITION TOWN --

WHEREAS, in order to make the economies of our city and county locally sustainable, the people of Hohenwald, Lewis County, TN, desire to build upon our industrious and conservative heritage, and recognize the importance of moving toward a more energy-efficient, beneficial and localized living arrangement, by making our businesses more productive, our educational system more effective, and by protecting and wisely utilizing our natural resources;

WHEREAS, we recognize that individuals are ultimately responsible for their actions -- collectively, we can set common goals that secure the localization of food, energy, production of goods and services, and proper waste management;

WHEREAS, irresponsibility and a lack of commitment for the wise stewardship of our natural resources can result in an increasing number of undesirable social, financial, and economic consequences to individuals, families, and to this city and county, as a whole;

WHEREAS, there is need for more positive educational and productive Permaculture initiatives among our citizens and young people, to produce a change in behavior for our future prosperity and welfare;

WHEREAS, if citizens pro-actively develop positive, forward-thinking permacultural preferences for the use of our resources; and forego dysfunctional, reactive options for same, the health, safety, and welfare of our people are better provided for and maintained, resulting in less financial burden on taxpayers;

WHEREAS, encouragement of our citizens to recognize the potential for cultivating home gardens, rebuilding local agriculture, rediscovering local building materials, localizing energy production, reconsidering preventative healthcare, and re-thinking how we manage waste, can result in increased local sustainability and local profits, and therefore, heightened local morale; and

WHEREAS, the emphasis of local sustainability in every sector of society can only occur as individuals commit themselves to exemplifying those practices in their personal lives, and inspiring others to do the same;

THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED, that the people of this city and county pledge our commitment to the responsible transition to local sustainability; doing all in our power to become a TRANSITION TOWN, by promoting sincere efforts toward the development of local food, energy, the production of goods and services, and to responsible waste management in our schools, businesses, homes, local government, media, and community groups. We urge the leaders of each of these jurisdictions to do likewise.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seventh Transition Update

Summer 2009, an abundance of rainfall to report. All catchment systems full. This is the true and real analogy for my work with local green business development. In this report I'm going to cover the cornucopia of new action: Transition Hohenwald, New Green Staff and Interns, Permaculture Certification Series, Green Evening Cafe, New Local Green Businesses, New Green Youth Training and New Green Jobs Technical Training Program! All of this is happening right here in Hohenwald, TN!

TRANSITION HOHENWALD: In early June, Hohenwald became the 25th Transition Town in the USA. Hohenwald was featured in the June US Transition Network Newsletter.

NEW GREEN STAFF AND INTERNS: That same week, the Center for Holistic Ecology took on three new staff and 9 interns. We managed this through the Lewis County Hire Youth Program and the Perry County Recovery Package. Governor Phil Bredesen approved a program for residents of Perry County using federal dollars provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

PERMACULTURE CERTIFICATION SERIES: During the last week of June, the Center for Holistic Ecology, through the Sonnenschein Green Initiative (SGI) began hosting its first local Permaculture Certification Course. The course is being offered as a weekend summer Permaculture series, held over 4 weekends in June-July. Over 28 participants enrolled in the training and 17 of them are from local Lewis or Perry Counties. Since 2004 the Center has been sub contracting under the Global Village Institute, offering Permaculture Certification programs in Summertown, TN. Over the years few TN residents attended these trainings. 75% of attendees were from outside TN and 20% were from outside the USA. We're very thrilled to be training local residents. We're even more excited about the blog site for the summer series. Click here to check out the amazing 'social experiment' in blogging now!

GREEN EVENING CAFE: Also in June, SGI hosted the Sixth Green Evening Cafe and presented the third Green Business Award to Alan Graf for becoming a First Generation Partner with TVA.

NEW GREEN BUSINESS: In July, Whol'eco (Whole Ecosystem Designs) started Access Consulting. The business idea draws on the Green Business Incubation Design formulated during the 2008 Financial Permaculture Course. Access Consulting now offers a number of business services that may support local economic development in the City of Hohenwald, and in Lewis and surrounding counties. The consulting services provide clients with varying levels of support with accessing grants, loans, tax incentives, subsidies, professional business certifications and technical trainings. Access's services also include basic business incubation support such as: marketing, start-up projections and green business designs. Access also helps green–up events and existing businesses. The goal is to assist small businesses and communities by providing access to prosperous and sustainable economic development opportunities. Access Consulting offers a full line of services ranging from providing clients with tools and tips, identifying funding opportunities, designing projects, writing and filing applications, administering paperwork, project management, and connecting clients with our professional network of existing green businesses, service providers, technicians and builders.

NEW GREEN INDUSTRY: In April of 2009, the City of Hohenwald renamed an Industrial Park the Eco-Industrial Park. The City and Industrial Board recruited their first occupant of that park, Mantria. The new company recently announced to the local paper that they're hiring 19 people to work at the new BioChar plant.

NEW GREEN YOUTH TRAINING: Also in July, we've been notified that the General Assembly Academy in Hohenwald is now offering an Environmental Science class to 15 or more youth. The Academy intends to teach the youth about Permaculture design strategies.

NEW GREEN JOBS TECHNICAL TRAINING: Also related to education, the Tennessee Technology Center in Hohenwald just announced that they are moving forward with a Green Jobs Technical Training Program. In the Spring they had contracted with Jennifer Dauksha-English to devise a 1290 hour curriculum. The curriculum created includes training in Permaculture, Financial Permaculture, Advanced Permaculture, Bioregionalism, New Green Construction, Green Retrofits, LEED Certification, Passive Solar Design, Solar Installation, Solar Hot Water, Geothermal, Biofuels, Food and Farming Industries and Advanced Training in Green Business Design. Participants will receive a diploma and multiple certifications. The Technology Center is in the process of accepting applications for this new, innovative Green Jobs Technical Training Program. This program will offer one year of education and training in a diverse range of “green” education studies and will educate students in current initiatives in green technology and power. Enrollment is scheduled to begin September 1, 2009. Contact TTC Hohenwald at 931-796-5351 for more information and an application.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Transition Town Hohenwald

Transition Town Hohenwald: Rural Community Targets Energy Efficiency

On June 6th, 2009 Hohenwald held a Transition Celebration. Hohenwald is now the 25th official Transition Town in the United States. The event featured local food and music. Global Village Institute Director Albert Bates, Vice Mayor Dustin Flowers, State Representative Joey Hensley and Chamber President Elect Debbie Landers spoke on Green Business and the local Transition Initiative. To find out more about the US Transition Network visit www.transitionus.org and for further information on Hohenwald’s transition efforts visit www.sonnenscheingreentn.org.

Click here to read an article by Jennifer Dauksha-English on Transition Town Hohenwald that also appeared in the Green Living Journal.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gearing up for the next Financial Permaculture Summit

The Financial Permaculture Institute is gearing up for the next Financial Permaculture Summit to be held in Hohenwald, TN September 22-26, 2009. Registration for the event is now up and running on www.financialpermaculture.com.

Just like last year, we're making our preparation a participatory community process. For the past four months the Sonnenschein Green Initiative has held bi-monthly meetings with 20-60 minutes at each meeting devoted to break out groups on local economic development. We've been harvesting these conversations and those from our monthly Green Evening Cafes to determine the focus of the next Summit.

On Tuesday May 26 the Financial Permaculture Institute Team met for our monthly design day. We've decided that we'll likely have the following threads throughout the September Summit: food and farming, building and housing, energy and fuel, solid waste and recycling, green business, community development and mapping financial ecosystems.

Later that day, we had a Green Evening Cafe on Green Business. At the Cafe we did a short breakout on topics for the September Summit. We asked people what instructors they would most likely want to have attend and what conversations they would like to have - click here to read a full report.

Our goal is to continue this conversation with local residents and have our content instructors confirmed and proposed itinerary released on www.financialpermaculture.com by the end of June. We'll spend the rest of the summer preparing content and organizing the Financial Permaculture Certificate and Green Business Degree Pathway.

Reflecting on the 2008 Summit:
The two greatest success of the 2008 Summit were that it: 1. Ignited the interest of our local residents, thus catalyzing our transition efforts, and 2. Brought together an interdisciplinary coalition of individuals from the government, business, non-profit and education sectors.

Local catalysts: Firstly, we had about 14 local residents, aside from the organizers, attend the Summit and that we secondly, did well in our documentation of the event and post event process. This was like a mycelium effect. As these 14 people went back into the community, just two months later the word Permaculture and Transition Towns had permeated the culture and my friend heard people using the words as she got her hair cut at the local beauty salon. Overhearing conversations like these are a telltale sign of cross-pollination. On documentation, we had about 12 people live blogging the Summit, Byron Palmer graciously volunteered to make a 30 minute documentary about the event and after the Summit I and others have been blogging about our local Transition efforts. This documentation toolbox has really helped catalyze our local transition efforts. We’ve given about 200 copies of the documentary to local residents and have shown it several times at public events. The documentary which can be viewed on www.financialpermaculture.com has been like a huge business card or portfolio that locals are using to gauge our worth. The results are in and folks who see the documentary generally want to either get involved or find out more.

Interdisciplinary Coalition: We know that many people have different opinions on core issues like politics, religion, climate change and the economy. To us, diversity of opinion is very welcome and encouraged. We appreciate working with diverse demographics of age, gender, level of education and income – plus a wide dissimilarity in our shades of green. Our aim is to collaborate with as many types of people as possible. We also seek to bring as many conversations to the table as needed to move forward with our own unique transition efforts, while looking for key crosscutting patterns applicable to other communities. We are very humbled by the diversity in the people who attended our last Summit and who are involved with our local initiative. I always tell people that this is one of the most rewarding aspects to our work - bringing diverse people together who may not usually share conversations. I love the dynamics when green meets business and business meets green! I'm certain that we will continue to bring together an interdisciplinary coalition of individuals from the government, business, non-profit and education sectors and people from the full spectrum - representing the different shades of green.

It continues to be a very exciting participatory process and we hope that you'll get involved!

Financial Permaculture from Greg Landua on Vimeo.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Regional Sustainability Forum

Green Business Expo, Speakers, Forums,
Music, Arts & Crafts

Sonnenschein Regional
Sustainability Forum

June 5-7, 2009

June Forum Schedule
Friday, June 5 - Participate in a tour of The Farm Community Green Businesses, Community Dinner and an Evening Talk about the future of Eco-Entrepreneurialism and Bioregionalism.
Location: The Farm Community Center, Summertown, TN

5-6:30 Tour of Farm Businesses with Doug Stevenson of Village Media
- Donations Welcome, Must pre-register by contacting Doug at 931-964-2590 or Douglas@villagemedia.com
6:30-7:30 Dinner at Farm Community Center - meal by Roberta Kachinsky - MEAL $8
7:30-8:30 Green Business and Bioregionalism
8:30-9:30 Continental Bioregional Congress

Saturday, June 6
Join us for a Green Business Exhibition, presentations and forum discussions on important
issues related to the environment and economy of Middle Tennessee. Free - Donations Welcome!
Location: Lewis County Middle School, Hohenwald, TN

9-9:15 am Welcome - by Mayor Don Jones on Faith
Overview of Sustianability Forum by Debbie Landers

9:15-10:00 Fuel and Energy
Chris Gibson of Green Driving Solutions and Erik Daugherty or other member of E3 Innovate

10:15-11:00 Food and Farming
Tim Bodner of Avalon Acres and Bethann Easterly of Middle TN Food Security Partners

11:15-12:00 Building and Housing
Jerry Risner of Buffalo Valley and Fred Lawrence of Lawrence Brothers LLC

12:00-3:00
Lunch on your own, Music, Exhibitors, Kids Play shop, Auction
Silent Auction: 9 am - 3 pm - You may pick up auction items between 4-6 pm
Live Auction 2:30-3 pm

3-3:15 pm Forum Overview with John McFadden of Tennessee Environmental Council
Faith and Sustianability with Dodd Gallbreath of Lipscomb University

3:15-3:35 Solid Waste and Recycling
Van Ward of Lewis County Solid Waste

3:50-4:45 Green Business
Catherine Austin Fitts of Solari Inc. and Dodd Gallbreath of Lipscomb University

5:00-6:00 Break Out in Classrooms
- Fuel and Energy
- Food and Farming
- Building and Housing
- Solid Waste and Recycling
- Green Business
- Faith

Saturday - TRANSITION CELEBRATION - Join residents of Hohenwald, TN at the Emporium Cafe in downtown Hohenwald to celebrate their unleashing as a Transition Town. Hohenwald will join hundreds of other towns across the world in this Movement towards Re-Localized Economies. The event will feature local food and music, and will be aired live on-line. Dinning space is limited so please reserve dinner reservations 3-5 days before the event by calling 931-796-6965. Dinner and Music will be $15. There will be standing room and possibly extra tables for those interested in attending the celebration who do not want to eat dinner.

6:00-7:30 Transition Dinner, Music and Networking - Dinner and Music $15, Reservations Required
7:30-8:30 Speakers, Awards, Celebration - Free and open to the public without reservations.

Sunday, June 7 -- Sonnenschein's Sunny Sunday
Tour of Alternative Homes 9 am - 5 pm - View off-grid and grid-tie Solar Electric Homes, Passive Solar Designs, Windmills, Solar Hot Water Heaters, Natural Buildings, Permaculture Landscapes and more! Tour 5-7 homes, start location TBA. You can register and find out about the start location at the Saturday Sonnenschein Information Booth or by calling 888-878-2434 x5 or e-mailing info@holisticecology.org. You must pre-register by 6 pm Saturday, June 6. The tour is a caravan. There will be two start times at different locations to accommodate people who can only attend a partial tour.

GENERAL OVERVIEW
Exhibitors set up by 9 am and take down after 6 pm.

LOCATIONS:
Friday - Meet at the Farm Community in Summertown, TN
http://maps.google.com/maps?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hl=en&tab=wl
Saturday - Lewis County Middle School - Park Ave South, Hohenwald, 38462 - http://maps.google.com/maps?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hl=en&tab=wl)
Sunday - Start location in Lewis County to be announced - must contact 931-796-4874 or get information at Sonnenscehin information booth Saturday June 6.


Contact for event details:
931-796-4874 or 888-878-2434 x 5 or info@holisticecology.org

Contact for exhibitor details:
931-729-3694 or jmiller312@gmail.com

Contact for sponsorship and donation details:
931-628-1953 or sharprealtor@yahoo.com

Contact Information:
Friday events - contact:
Douglas Stevenson, 931-964-2590, Douglas@villagemedia.com and visit www.thefarmcommunity.com
Saturday and Sunday events - contact:
Jennifer Dauskha-English, 888-878-2434 x5, info@holisticecology.org and visit www.sonnenscheingreentn.org

This event is co-sponsored by:
Tennessee Environmental Council,
Greener Tennessee,
Cumberland Green Bioregional Council
and Tennessee Conservation Voters

Get Involved

Interested in getting involved with the Sonnenschein Green Initiative?
All that we ask of you, is that you sincerely care about supporting local economic and community development and that you have an open mind to diverse opinions around ‘green’ strategies and the integrity to follow through with volunteered tasks. We also encourage you to be proactive. We prefer to focus on opportunities and solutions rather than problems.

What is local economic and community development? This means that we strive to support the following areas: local business owners, farmers, artisans and service providers; the creation of quality and long-term local employment opportunities; community networking opportunities and social events; creating an economy that has a total and sustainable economic return; and increasing our goods and services exported rather than imported. We also focus on ‘green’ development, as we see that creating a ‘green’ economy and ‘greening up’ our production and consumption will be the quickest and most effective way to achieve sustainable economic and community development. To us the word ‘green’ equals efficiency and less waste.

Here’s how the Sonnenschein meetings function: The working group leaders report about their group’s progress at bi-monthly meetings. Whenever a group is active on a project they get included on the agenda. These working groups all meet separately, some meet monthly, bimonthly, weekly or as needed. After project updates, the group usually breaks out into planning and development sessions. The group decides which topics they want to discuss. Sometimes these discussions are very significant in creating new projects and other times they are useful conversations about a particular topic.

The group makes decisions by a combination of consensus and majority voting. Most decisions are made at the level of working group. All of our meetings are open to the public. We respect the voice and opinions of all who attend our meetings. Any ideas expressed by a new attendee are placed on a contemplanda. We do this so that new attendees have a few weeks or months to find out about existing projects before we create new ones. Once a new attendee has been to 5 meetings or primary events they are considered part of the group or working group. As part of the group they can help make decisions, start new projects, request support and funding from the group. Any new idea that supports local economic and community development and brings life to the group - could become a potential project or think tank. We like having multiple working groups and projects because they provide numerous portals of entry for new community members to become active.

We know that many people in our group have different opinions on core issues like politics, religion, climate change and the economy. To us, diversity of opinion is very welcome and encouraged in our group. We also appreciate diverse demographics of age, gender, level of education and income – plus a wide difference in our shades of green. Our aim is to collaborate with as many types of people as possible. We also seek to bring as many conversations to the table as needed to move forward with our own unique transition efforts. This said, we often look at tools and models used by successful communities from around the world. Our goal is not to mimic other communities, but to learn about working solutions and adapt our findings to our own unique circumstances. This process of design from pattern to detail moves us forward, with occasional trials and errors. With every problem that we encounter we strive to find a useful solution. To stay proactive and effective, we regularly check in with the group to discuss our core vision, objectives and to evaluate our process.

We encourage you to attend one of our meetings or events. We also welcome your feedback and ideas in the form of typed informal proposals. If you have a project you’re interested in initiating or some positive or constructive ideas for how we should move forward – then please send us a 100-700 word proposal to info@holisticecology.org or give us a printed copy at one of our meetings. We hope that there is some way that our efforts can serve your family or business.

6th Transition Update

Public meetings were held on Wednesdays April 15, 29 and May 13. Items discussed:
Transition Initiative
Food and Farming
Building and Housing
Technical Trainings
Green Business Development
Leadership Training
Stalled Projects
Completed or Upcoming Projects
Upcoming Events

Transition Initiative
On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the Sonnenschein Green Initiative hosted the 4th Green Evening Cafe. The public event was held from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Emporium. Transition Town Hohenwald was the theme for the April Green Evening. Speakers at the event included: Former Sonnenschein Chair and current Editor of the Lewis County Herald, Becky Newbold, Chamber President Mark Graves, City Vice Mayor Dustin Flowers and others.
Please click here to read the full report.

On Friday May 8, 2009 we received official acceptance into the Transition Town Network. We were granted approval from the network to do our Transition Unleashing on June 6, 2009. Please click here to read more.

Food and Farming
The Food and Farming Working Group has been meeting twice a month. There main project is the development of a Community Garden.

Click here to read about their ground breaking event and to read about Community Gardens.

The Food and Farming Group is looking for donations of the following items for their garden:
mulching materials: newspapers, cardboard, shredded paper; framing materials for beds; peat moss; vermiculite; natural fertilizers; wood chips for paths - Contact Bob Ogden at zoldfartz@yahoo.com

Lastly, an update on the Farmer's Market and Community Kitchen: There were about 4 meeting held regarding the development of a Farmer's Market. There were two other initiatives within the community also discussing different types of markets, all complimentary to our ideas. The Sonnenschein group decided in early May to table this project for two reasons. First - the group wanted to focus their attention on the Community Garden and second, the group saw that the other initiatives were moving forward and we hope to give our support to those efforts.

On the community kitchen front - we're moving slowly in finding funds for such a project. We have a few ideas about locations for the kitchen.

Building and Housing
Jerry and John Risner of Buffalo Valley Inc., have given several presentations to the group on a new green home that Buffalo Valley with support form Sonnenschein, is building on the corner of Walnut and Second Street. Construction may begin as early as this month. The building will incorporate energy efficient materials, solar hot water, water catchment and a Permaculture designed landscape. Click here to read more. Jerry is also applying for grants that would potentially enable green retrofitting in Middle Tennessee.

Technical Trainings
The Tennessee Technology Center at Hohenwald has partnered with the Sonnenschein Green Initiative in the development of a grant for a Green Jobs Technical Training Program. If the training is funded it will hopefully begin in September of 2009 and run through August 2010. The curriculum would include technical trainings in Permaculture, Agroforestry, Sustainable Design, Energy Analysis, Green Building, Weaterization, Solar Hot Water Installation, Photovoltaic Installation, Geothermal Installation, BioChar, Vehicle Conversions to Electric and Vegetable Oil, Ethanol, Biodiesel, Green Business and Career Development.

Green Business Development
One of the primary goals of the Sonnenschein Initiative is Green Business. We hope to help green existing businesses and to develop or attract new businesses. To this aim, Sonnenschein is gearing up for the second Financial Permaculture Course and Green Business Summit to be held September 22-26 in Hohenwald, TN. At the course in 2008, local stakeholders helped design business plans for ethanol production, a green incubator, a green marketplace and several farming initiatives. To prepare for the 2009 Summit, we're creating allies with potential green business stakeholders in the community. Keeping the same themes from 2008: food and farming, building and housing, fuel and energy and green business - we hope to identify opportunities within the community to either build on last years designs or to create effective designs that support he interests of potential local stakeholders. Once we determine our needs, we'll look to invite national experts in that field to attend the event as content instructors. We hope that the community will help guide us in preparing for the Summit. The next Green Evening Cafe on May 26 will partially focus on what green businesses Hohenwald and Lewis County could most benefit from.

Also, related to Business Development, Mark Graves, as Chamber President, recently formed a Green Business Development Committee for the Chamber, as a result of a recent Chamber retreat and strategic planning with the state of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The goal of this new Development Committee is to educate current businesses to capitalize on green energy and efficiency. There first meeting will be June 4. City Vice Mayor, Dustin Flowers stated that the city realizes the opportunities for a green economy and that is why the City supports becoming a Transition Town. Their first true step in support of this effort is renaming the industrial park on Swan Avenue the Hohenwald Eco-Industrial Park and in targeting new Green Industry.

Leadership Training
Our group decides that we wanted some leadership training at each of our meetings. We asked Debbie Landers, alumni and instructor during our local Leadership Lewis Trainings has been giving 10-15 minute presentations on leadership development during each of our public meetings. It is our aim to train up leaders within this initiative. So far we have received very positive feedback from the group regarding these presentations.

On a slightly different note, our group has put together a statement on purpose and decision making processes. Here is what we've come up with so far. Click here for details.

Stalled Projects
Green Sewage Treatment Facility: We found out in early May that the proposal for the constructed wetlands for the new Sewage Treatment Facility in Hohenwald were presented to the facility engineers. It was said that they liked the idea but did not approve the design because they feared that it would stall or impede the flow of federal and state funds into the project. The city has decided to table the 'green' design and move forward on the original design and time line proposed by the engineer. The City Recorder, Mark Graves stated that the city was still interested in potential 'green' designs once the facility is constructed. He noted that there may be additional grants available specifically for constructed wetlands or other green projects that could be applied to the Sewage Treatment facility in the future.

Complimentary Currency: In 2008 the local Chamber of Commerce started a complimentary currency called a Chamber Buck. Similar programs are being run elsewhere in the state of TN, in the city of Lebanon for example. Click here to read a previous post about Chamber Bucks.

There was so much interest in the program that the Sonnenschein group decided to have a few conversations about it during our bi-monthly meetings. Every time it got brought up people were very interested in learning more about the topic and the useful success stories from other towns and cities using complimentary currencies around the world. To find out more you can do a search for Ithica, New York, Totnes England, Damanhur Ireland. There are many many more but these are the ones I've personally experienced or read about. As Sonnenschein started learning about these successful case studies we decided to arrange a more formal discussion around the topic by organizing a 3-day Complimentary Currency workshop in September. The goal for the course was at the very least to educate the public about these successful case studies and to make the local Chamber Bucks program more effective in creating a local multiplier effect.

As word spread through the community about our interest in having this conversation around increasing local wealth through a local complimentary currency, a number of people in the community and some in political office immediately opposed the pursuit of any such effort. Comments ranged from fear of socialism to fear of isolation from the global market and concern over replacing the federal note system. In our research (and by no means do we consider ourselves well educated on the subject), we have not found anything suggesting that these concerns are valid - on the contrary we found that complimentary currencies are just that - complimentary, and that they have most often added value to and stimulated local economies. Although our group is still interested in finding out more about working solutions from around the world, we've decided to table the 2009 Complimentary Currency Course and also the Complimentary Currency working group. Our main focus right now is Local Economic and Community Development, Green Business Development and Outreach Education and we have enough to work on right now to keep us very busy. We don't see it strategic or effective for our group to be working on something that has caused such controversy in the community.

Completed Projects
The Lewis County Green Guide was printed and distributed. Please click here to read more.

The Sonnenschein Initiative has a new website this week.
Please visit www.sonnenschiengreentn.org.

Upcoming Events
May 26 - Green Evening Cafe on Green Business Development.
June 5-7 Sustainability Forum - Please click here to read about the Forum
June 13 - Start of Summer Permaculture Series - Please click here for details.

4th Green Evening Cafe

As reported in the Lewis County Herald by Jennifer Dauksha English:

On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the Sonnenschein Green Initiative hosted the 4th Green Evening Cafe. The public event was held from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Emporium. Transition Town Hohenwald was the theme for the April Green Evening.

To start the evening, former Sonnenschein Chair, Becky Newbold, gave an overview of how Sonnenschein started in 2006 and how the group felt that the green portion of the Sonnenschein festival was the most successful and beneficial to the community. Just after the June 2008 Sonnenschein Festival, the group had organized a Green Chamber Mini Conference. It was at this conference, Newbold pointed out, that the Sonnenschein group decided to move forward with its current green initiative. Newbold expressed that the group had been discussing giving out Green Awards for several years and that she was happy to finally be moving forward on the project. Newbold presented the McDonald Farm with the first Sonnenschein Award. The award was signed by City Mayor Don Jones, Chamber President Mark Graves and Newbold. The McDonald Farm, a free range chicken farm located just outside Honewald, noted in a previous interview that they were implementing many green strategies on their farm.

After the award, Graves gave his support and encouragement for the local Government and Chamber to partner with the Sonnenschein Green initiative in developing a local green economy. Graves, as Chamber President, recently formed a Green Business Development Committee for the Chamber, as a result of a recent Chamber retreat and strategic planning with the state of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The goal of this new Development Committee is to educate current businesses to capitalize on green energy and efficiency. Graves stated, “Our current environmental situation can become our greatest economic opportunity, if we seize the moment.” He shared that his definition of Green equaled efficiency, hope, invention, ingenuity, entrepreneurialism, capital markets, commerce and profit. “There is a global investment to reinvent most of the things we do to become more efficient,” Graves said. He ended with words of encouragement: “ My hope is that the Chamber of Commerce become a key force in inspiring Lewis County to embrace a new, exciting and prosperous economic environment and not be afraid of it.”

Vice Mayor Dustin Flowers spoke next. Flowers also shared his excitement to be part of the green initiative. “In the past, green tended to cause fear. Green meant taking away our toys and telling us what to do. “Now,” he said, “Green equals gold.” Flowers shared a number of opportunities for economic development, concluding, “strategies for municipal and ultimately global sustainablity require addressing our current unsustainable forms of energy and industrial processes by technical innovations that shifts us to renewable energy - in short, now environmental sustainability also equals economic sustainability - go green to make green.” Auto-makers, Ben and Jerry’s, GE, McDonalds, Sony, Phillips, Sanyo and Wal-Mart are all benefiting from green opportunities. Flowers stated, “We are not the first to realize the beauty of a marriage of a sustained environment with the boost of opportunities from a green economy. We as a city realize these opportunities and those are a few reasons why the City supports becoming a Transition Town. Our first true step is renaming the industrial park on Swan Avenue the Hohenwald Eco-Industrial Park . . . In a green economy we’re all doing the right thing.”

Next, Debbie Landers gave an update on the Transition Initiative. Landers said that she liked to break things down so they were simple. To her, transitioning meant identifying local business: the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Landers explained that the Transition Initiative, a world-wide initiative, started in Ireland and England in 2005. There are hundreds of Transition Initiatives in Europe. It has since spread to the USA, where there are now 24 transition towns: Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Berea Kentucky, Portland and Ashland Oregon and Sandpoint Idaho, to name some. On June 6, 2009, Hohenwald will become the 25th Transition Town in the USA. The Emporium will host a Transition Celebration from 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday June 6.

Jennifer English, chair of the Sonnenschein Green Initiative, shared in a recent report that transitioning supports local economic and community development. The initiative strives to support the following areas: local business owners, farmers, artisans and service providers; the creation of quality and long-term local employment opportunities; community networking opportunities and social events; creating an economy that has a total and sustainable economic return; and increasing our goods and services exported rather than imported. English states, “We also focus on ‘green’ development, as we see that creating a ‘green’ economy and ‘greening up’ our production and consumption will be the quickest and most effective way to achieve sustainable economic and community development. To us the word ‘green’ equals efficiency and less waste. We appreciate a wide difference in our shades of green among the group and within the community. “The Initiative aims to collaborate with as many types of people as possible. We also seek to bring as many conversations to the table as needed to move forward with our own unique transition efforts. This said, we often look at tools and models used by other successful communities. Our goal is not to mimic other communities, but to learn about working solutions and adapt our findings to our own unique circumstances.”

During the Green Evening Cafe, Connie Sharp also gave a brief overview on the current projects on which the Sonnenschein Initiative is working. She gave a report on the Community Garden, the recently printed Lewis County Green Guide, the Summer Permaculture Series that begins June 13, 2009 and the June 5-7 Sustainability Forum. Sharp explained that the June Forum will consist of tours of sustainable homes and businesses in Lewis County Friday and Sunday, and that Saturday’s event will be held at the Lewis County Middle School. Saturday will contain speakers on food, farming, energy, fuel, green building, green business, solid waste and faith. The day will also have music, arts, crafts, a green business exhibition, auction and kids craft session. John Risner of Buffalo Valley Inc., sponsor of the Green Evening Cafe, gave a presentation to the group on a new green home that Buffalo Valley is building on the corner of Walnut and Second Street. Construction may begin as early as this month. The building will incorporate energy efficient materials, solar hot water, water catchment and a permaculture designed landscape.

At 7:30, there was a showing of the 30-minute Hohenwald Financial Permaculture documentary. English and Landers announced that the next Green Evening Cafe will be held May 26, 2009 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Emporium Cafe. The topic has been changed from Complimentary Currency to Green Business Development. English stated, “Since the Chamber of Commerce started the Chamber Bucks program in 2007, there are a number of people excited about having conversations on Complimentary Currencies. There are also a few people in the community who feel as though that is not where our group should be placing its attention. As we are so proactive, we want to put our energy where it is most needed and effective. Thus we changed the topic, also because our priority is to gear up for the September Green Business Summit. ‘We hope that the community will help guide us in preparing for the Summit. The next Green Evening Cafe will partially focus on what green businesses Hohenwald and Lewis County could most benefit from.”

The public is encouraged to attend these planned series of free, once-a-month evening events building on Hohenwald’s efforts to make Lewis County greener, safer, and more economically viable. The Green Evening Cafe series will be the last Tuesday of every month. Call 931-796-4874 or e-mail info@holisticecology.org for more details. The community is also welcome to attend the Sonnenschein Green Initiative public meetings, held every other Wednesday. The next public meeting will be May 27, 2009 at the Career Center, located on Smith Street, from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fifth Transition Update

On Tuesday April 7, 2009 the Hohenwald City Council and the Hohenwald Lewis County Chamber of Commerce signed the Sonnenschein Green Initiative's Transition Proclamation. Two days later the Lewis County Herald reported:
"As a Transition Town, Hohenwald recognizes the industrious and conservative heritage of the people in the community and the importance to move toward energy efficiency, wise use of natural resources, and waste management. Included in a Transition Town are Permaculture Initiatives as they relate to rebuilding local agriculture and food production, localizing energy production, rethinking preventative health care, rediscovering local building materials and rethinking waste management. "An emphasis on local sustainability can assist citizens in developing positive behavior changes to produce future prosperity and welfare at the local level, the proclamation indicated. Simply put, investment on Main Street instead of Wall Street could make more sense in rural communities..." "Declaring Hohenwald a Transition Town does not mean thinking regionally, nationally or even globally will be ignored. But it does mean recognizing and acting on the potential for growth in rural area, such as Hohenwald, Lewis County (TN), is the first step in rebuilding America's economy", Chamber of Commerce President, Becky Newbold stated for the paper.

The City also passed a resolution to name the industrial park on Swan Avenue - the Hohenwald Eco-Industrial Park. The Lewis County Herald reported that a new business called Hohenwald Recycling, which cleans, refurbishes and resells used automobile parts will be the first occupant at the site. The City Council pledged that they will recruit environmentally efficient businesses.

Attached here is the signed Proclamation and a picture of front from left - City Councilman Mike Hinson, Vice-Mayor Dustin Flowers, Mayor Don Jones, City Councilman Bill Lawson, City Councilman Don Barber and back row - Chamber President Becky Newbold, and Sonnenschein Green Initiative Steering Committee members Debbie Landers, Connie Sharp and Jennifer Dauksha-English.

This same Proclamation was signed by County Commissioners, the County Mayor and the local Economic Development Director on March 16, 2009. The Sonnenschein Green Initiative, or SGI now has the support of the County, City Hall, the local Chamber of Commerce and more than 50 local businesses in declaring Hohenwald and Lewis County part of the international Transition Initiative. The SGI steering committee has decided to stick with their original plan and postpone the actual national public unleashing of Transition Town Hohenwald. The group has a celebratory unleashing planned for June 6, 2009. In the meantime, SGI will be doing all that they can to educate the local and regional public about the Transition Initiative and they will be inviting local and state legislatures to attend the June celebration. There is a Transition Green Evening planned for April 28 from 6-8:30 pm at the Emporium in downtown, Hohenwald. The SGI organizers hope that many people will attend this public event to find out more about the initiative and to get involved in conversations about local economic and community development.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Food and Farming Updates

Bob Ogden sent me the following e-mails:

March 28:
Hi Jennifer, Just wanted to update you on the progress of the community garden. I met with Don Jones, City Mayor a few days ago and he is glad to help us get started. He agreed to have the city install a water meter, a water line running the length of the site, and several faucets for our use, at no cost to the group. We will however, be responsible for the water bill. We need to think about fund raising in the very near future to cover expenses.

The first meeting of the people interested in the community garden was held last night at the Senior Center. On very short notice, we had a small, but motivated group of people who had a lot of great ideas. We decided to call the group Sonnenschein Community Garden. We are looking for someone to plow up part of the site (after the water lines are put in) for the start up beds, and the rest to sow in a cover crop for green manure for use as we expand. We talked about open pollinated seeds, heirloom varieties and the dangers of genetically modified seed. We will meet again on the night of April 2nd at 6pm at the Senior Center. I will meet with the mayor Monday afternoon to talk with him and the water supervisor, Bobby McCann about putting in the water system.

PS: We ordered a copy of the film, "The Future Of Food" today. We are anxious to share it with the group. We will let you know when it comes in, so you can check it out.

Anyway, we are on our way to really having a community garden in Hohenwald!
Talk to you later, Bob & Sara Ogden and Leila Oertel

March 14:
Just wanted to bring you up to date on what's going on with the Community Garden project. Terry Bunch, the Director for the Housing Authority, has offered us the use of a two acre lot. It is located next to the Highland Retreat Academy, across from the Ambulatory Care Center. The Academy has a greenhouse right next door and the Principal, June Defoe, seemed excited to help us and said we may be able to start seedlings in their greenhouse. It is likely that we'll get the kids involved with the garden. The land is level, has roads on two sides, water is available by setting a meter. Bob will contact the city about that Monday. Terry also took us out to see another piece of land behind the housing project on the other end of town, back east of High Forest Hardware that is available. Jerry Risner of Buffalo Valley also donated some land that we could use for another garden site. We personally thought the property next to the Highland Retreat Academy is perfect for our project, but it is always nice to have more options. Check it out and let us know what you think.

We are meeting with John Mast, an organic farmer and some of his friends, along with David Mitzel and Leila Oertel Tuesday night at 6pm at the school house by the Yoder Market to discuss a Farmers Market for Hohenwald. If anyone from the group wants to join us, we would be happy to have their input. Things seem to be starting to click for the project, so we are hopeful.

Next week, we will be making phone calls to scout out a place for the Community Garden group to meet and brainstorm ideas. We were thinking about the Senior Citizen Center because the Garden Club meets there already, and they also have a nice big kitchen area that would work well for the Community Kitchen projects. Bob just got off the phone with Mike Sheth, who is very enthusiastic about the Community Garden. He said that he wouldn't be able to physically participate in the garden, but that he would like to help out financially to get it started.

We will be at the County Commissioners meeting Monday night to show support for the proclamation put before the commissioners.

Talk to you soon, Bob & Sara Ogden and Leila Oertel.

Lewis County Green Guide

On Friday March 27 the Lewis County Green Guide was printed. The Guide was put together by Jennifer Daukhsa-English and the Sonnenschein Green Initiative. The eight page guide is loaded with GREEN events and projects for 2009, local businesses that support the Initiative, contact information for all the working groups and their mission and goals. The Green guide will be distributed throughout the city of Hohenwald, Lewis County and the surrounding Middle Tennessee region. It is hoped that the guide will serve to educate residents about local initiatives and that it will increase tourism to the area. Click here to download a copy of the Green Guide.

Green Evening Cafe with a Seed and Plant Exchange

The Sonnenschein Green Initiative hosted the third Green Evening Cafe on Tuesday, March 24, 6-8:30 pm at the Emporium Cafe, downtown, Hohenwald. Food and Farming was the theme for the March Green Evening. Fifty seven people attended the evening, which began and ended with a seed and plant exchange. Cassandra and Tom Warner of Cane Creek Nature Works Farm sponsored the event. Cassandra spoke on the benefits of gardening. Matthew English of Ecological Artisans spoke about applying Permaculture to your gardens, orchards and landscapes.

The Sonnenschein Food and Farming working group also gave a presentation on the development of food and farming businesses such as a local farmers market, community kitchen and community gardens. After the presentations Jennifer Dauksha-English led a World Cafe on Food and Farming. She explained that the cafe process was a cross pollination of ideas and that folks needed to remember that there were no right answers. The process is like an invention room - where all ideas are accepted.

Following is a small sampling of ideas that were harvested through the cafe conversations:
Hold harvest dinners and potlucks; Host garden and farm tours with fun activities for kids; Contact your local farmers and get them to grow just what you need; Start a Freecycle; Incorporate crafts and art into plans for a new Farmers Market; Educate children through 4-H, Future Farmers of America and other unique activities; Need Market to have perfect location and lot's of participants; Co-op market and surplus taken to Nashville; Need a central person to disseminate information about initiative and tips; Support local farmers and businesses; Buy bulk produce from Amish and then sell at market; Give out awards for growing food at local fair.

Jennifer ended the cafe with a think and listen to give people the opportunity to discuss next steps. Although there were no specific plans to adopt any of these new ideas immediately, the evening was a great success as it is a great building block and networking opportunity. Throughout the event 15 door prizes were handed out, more than half of them were plants. On leaving, several event participants stated that they had a lot of fun and that the evening was wonderful for the community. Please join us for these planned series of free, once-a-month evening events building on Hohenwald's efforts to make Lewis County greener, safer, and more economically viable. The Green Evening Cafe series will be the fourth Tuesday of every month. Call 931-796-4874, 888-878-2434 x 5 or e-mail info@holisticecology.org for more details.

Below is a list of Green Evenings:
January 17 - Green Talk and Trade Show Join us for a Green Home Products Trade Show with an evening presentation by Lawrence Brothers Construction.

February 19 - Recession To Sustainability - Getting From Here to There, by Adam Turtle of Earth Advocates Research Farm. Discuss the development of appropriate cooperative local trade.


March 24 - Food and Farming
Join us for a Green Evening World Cafe to discuss the development of food and farming enterprises. A seed and plant exchange will take place.

April 28 - Transition Towns
Join us for a Green Evening World Cafe with discussions on the making of Transition Town Hohenwald and Lewis County!

May 26 - Complimentary Currency
Join us for presentations and discussions on appropriate cooperative trade and regional currencies.

June 23 - Home Grown Fuel
We'll hear presentations on fuel efficiency and alternative fuels, and then discuss the development of local alternative fuel and energy enterprises.

July 28 - Green Business Incubation
Join us for a Green Evening World Cafe on the development of green enterprises and economic development strategies.

August 25 - The Built Environment
Join us for a Green Evening presentation, view a home energy and money saving video called Kilowatt Ours and then discuss the development of green building enterprises.

The series will continue the fourth Tuesday of each month September - December, 2009.

Fourth Transition Update

Transition Proclamation Signed

On Monday, March 16 the Sonnenschein Green Initiative presented a Transition Proclamation to County Lawmakers. Connie Sharp, Debbie Landers and Jennifer Dauksha-English stood before County Commissioners, the County Mayor, the County Executive Director of Economic Development, and the public, explaining the proclamation. In summary, they stated that Lewis County and the City of Hohenwald proclaim to be a community interested in relocalizing its economy through energy conservation, applying Permaculture designs, and through the creation of more green businesses. The proclamation will build on Hohenwald and Lewis County's efforts to make the town and county greener, safer and more economically viable. Members of the County Government gave an unexpected standing ovation after Ms. Sharp, Ms. Landers and Ms. English finished their presentation. A photo was taken of the County Government just before they signed the Proclamation. Attached here is the photo along with the signatory document. Click here to read Proclamation.



On Wednesday, March 18 the Sonnenschein Green Initiative held it's bimonthly meeting. There were 34 attendees to the meeting. Everyone applauded their own work and the success of the Proclamation. During the meeting we spoke about our plans for debuting ourselves as a Trainsition Town. We agreed to continue to wait. We began discussing moving forward with our plans to form a Resolution. Other items on the agenda for this meeting: plans for upcoming Green Evening Cafe's, completion of the Green Guide and new Sonnenschein website, exhibiting at upcoming green events and the Food and Farming Group gave a presentation.

On Thursday, March 19 the Lewis County Herald printed the following on the front page of the newspaper: Lewis County Government Supports Transition T
own Declaration. County Lawmakers Monday Evening signed a document declaring their support in naming Hohenwald (and Lewis County) a part of the Transition Town movement.

The Sonnenschein Green Initiative has not yet declared itself a Transition Town or County despite the signed Proclamation. The group plans to go before the Hohenwald City Officials and the Hohenwald, Lewis County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors seeking support for the Proclamation during the month of April, 2009. A celebratory event has been planned for June 6, 2009 to unleash Hohenwald as a Transition Town. A date was also set for September of 2009 to unleash Lewis County as a Transition County. The process is moving much quicker than the Sonnenschein Green Initiative organizers had predicted, when they started writing the Proclamation back in December of 2008. When they began the process the committee agreed that they wanted the community at large to embrace the transition initiative before any public declaration was unleashed. Although this process is not at all a required step in transitioning, the organizers wanted to ensure that the support for transitioning came from the residents and that the community leaders were provided the courtesy of having a voice in the declaration.

Aside from the County Government support received on March 16, more than 65 businesses and organizations have declared their support for SGI, during the month of March. The Initiative has about forty active individuals who attend meetings and/or are involved with one of the Sonnenschein projects. To gain even more public support and understanding, on April 26, SGI will host a Transition Town Green Evening Cafe open to the public. During the evening a presentation will be given on the history of the world wide Transition Movement and our local process, there will be a viewing of the Financial Permaculture Documentary about Hohenwald and the evening will end with a World Cafe on Transitioning.