Here are the most recent blog posts for Sustainable Together. Enjoy!

Transitioning Together ~ This Week!

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in Education, Featured, Neighbors, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Transitioning Together ~ This Week!

Transitioning Together ~ This Week!

Get ready for community conversations on greater resiliency — starting tonight!

Tina Clarke, an internationally known community resilience consultant and Transition Trainer from Boston, will lead a special series of public events June 16-20, 2015, in Port Townsend that are hosted by Local 20/20 and Collective Impact, and co-sponsored by the City of Port Townsend, Firefly Academy Preschool and Thunderbull Productions.

“[T]he foundation of resilience is our relationships with the people in our community,” Clarke asserts.

This is why she has traveled to more than 120 communities in North America and Europe to facilitate conversations about how neighbors can come together to create a stronger community, improve economic well-being, reduce oil dependency, and increase local food production, local energy, local jobs, mutual support, and security—which are all elements of the Transition Towns model.

“Transitioning Together”—as the week of community conversations in Jefferson County is called—promises to be full of imaginative and inspiring ways to engage in your community, and will delve into both the theory and practice of Transition that is helping thousands of communities in the U.S. and around the world. (See below for schedule of events.)

TinaClarke_action_web_croppedClarke is one of four international trainers for the Transition Network, a charitable organization that connects, supports and trains communities as they self-organize around the Transition model.

NOTE:  My family is hosting Tina during her stay, and I had the good fortune to attend an all-day workshop with her on Sunday, so I have some background to tell you she’s a dynamo!

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet her, be inspired, connect with your neighbors, and have fun during “Transitioning Together” week.


Creating a healthy human culture

Ultimately it’s about creating a healthy human culture, one that meets our needs for community, livelihoods and fun. In the face of multiple, complex challenges and change, the grassroots Transition movement is a positive, thoughtful, engaging and effective response that helps people work together to improve their quality of life.

In 2012, Local 20/20 officially joined this network, and Jefferson County’s “Transition Initiative” became No. 111 in the nation and No. 416 in the world. (See my post on this milestone.)

Clarke is certified for consensus decision-making facilitation. With an M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago, she has directed Greenpeace USA’s national citizen Activist Network as well as the Veterans Education Project, and has worked as a consultant with and the Sustainability Institute.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Tina in residence,” says Judy Alexander, one of the Local 20/20 organizers who, along with Kevin Clark, made the initial outreach to Tina Clarke. “Her visit is especially timely because both our City and County are engaged in mandatory updates of our Comprehensive Plans. It is so auspicious that we’re having these ‘town meetings’ with Tina where people can address what they want for our community’s future.” (Read Judy’s June 10 perspective in the Leader.)

The City of Port Townsend is co-sponsoring these events to provide residents with an additional avenue to give input for the ongoing Comprehensive Plan review process.


The week’s schedule

Clarke facilitates all four events, which will be held at the Port Townsend Community Center (620 Tyler St.), except for Wednesday’s session at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (2333 San Juan Ave.). Anyone wanting to help transition their community to greater resilience and gain mutual support is encouraged to attend.

All events are open to the public, with donations gratefully accepted at the door to cover costs. Childcare inquiries should be emailed in advance to

Learn more at, and get updates on the schedule of events at


On Saturday, gleaning coordinator Karen Kastel wants to connect with others who are passionate about food, through the Open Space Marketplace of Ideas.

On Saturday, gleaning coordinator Karen Kastel wants to connect with others who are passionate about food, through the Open Space Marketplace of Ideas.

Tues., June 16, 5:30 p.m., “INTERGENERATIONAL SUMMIT: Envisioning our Future Together.” Bringing together people of all ages who want to connect deeply around creating the community well-being and resilience we want for our future, as we address the likely environmental and economic stressors ahead of us. We will have the opportunity to speak and listen to each other about our concerns, our hopes, and our plans to realize the future community we desire to create together.

Wed., June 17, 6:30 p.m., “How Can Religious and Education Institutions participate in Community Resilience?” All religious traditions and educational groups are welcome, as well as the general public. Held at QUUF, with childcare available onsite.

Thur., June 18, 7:00 p.m., “The Interface between Public Policy and Grassroots Participation.” Join in a conversation to explore ways that citizens, grassroots organizations and local elected officials can work together in a spirit of true democracy to create a community vision and strategies for a more self-reliant and resilient future.

 Sat., June 20, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m., “COMMUNITY SUMMIT: Strengthening Well-Being, Increasing Resilience, and Supporting Quality of Life in Jefferson County.” Together we will identify ways to increase community well-being and resilience in Jefferson County, and to expand community conversation and action using an Open Space Marketplace of Ideas. Note: Local organizations will have information tables set up from 1-2 p.m. and the workshop will start promptly at 2 p.m.

See you there!



Students for Sustainability to spend spring break lobbying for climate change solutions

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Education, Featured, Neighbors, Transportation | 3 comments

Students for Sustainability to spend spring break lobbying for climate change solutions

Students at Port Townsend High School intent on devoting their spring break to lobbying officials in “the other Washington” to take action on climate change solutions first had to answer a troubling question:

How to get there?

It’s approximately 3,000 miles from the Olympic Peninsula to Washington, D.C. Anyway you slice it, the trip will produce carbon emissions. The ethical answer was to travel by public transportation. That means bus and ferry to Seattle’s Amtrak station, and from there a round trip to D.C. by train.

And so, 15 students from our “little town that could” depart March 27 for a 10-day adventure that is sure to shape their own lives, if not public policy.

But I am hopeful—as are they—that by adding their young voices to the choir, the swelling crowds become too noisy for the President and Congress to ignore.

As the students say: “Climate change is the issue of our generation. We are traveling 3,000 miles by public transportation to urge our leaders to act NOW because our future matters.”

The cost per student is $1,500, and they’re still fundraising. I’ve donated; I hope you’ll consider it, too.


Going Sustainable Together

This is a story I’ve been following for some time, cheering on the Students for Sustainability (SFS) club members I’ve met at Local 20/20 functions, and in particular two students who attend our UU fellowship. (Both work in the church’s childcare program and are adored by my 5-year-old son. Both are planning to make the trip.)

“Currently the largest and fastest-growing nonathletic club at Port Townsend High School, about 30 members address a range of topics, from how to improve their school’s recycling program and reducing paper waste in day-to-day operations and coordinating a ride-share program among student commuters,” reports our local newspaper, The Leader (link to article).

I haven’t blogged about SFS because…well, my blog has been languishing. Although I wish I had the personal writing time to interview these young people, I can at least share links to their story with you. It’s a “going sustainable together” no-brainer!


Local media reports

The Port Townsend-Jefferson County Leader has recently published two excellent articles about SFS, both by reporter Megan Claflin.

The first, in Dec. ’13, describes how the students will stop in 55 communities along the train route and speak at other high schools to gain support and build momentum for their message.

“SFS plans to create a petition that they will send to students in each of the communities they visit to sign. Students will also be asked to list one or two sustainability issues they are concerned about, and then add what actions they want to see elected officials implement. The petitions will be collected at each train stop along their journey and delivered to representatives in the Capitol.”

Read the 12/18/13 Leader article.


A second article in early Feb. ’14 reports on the Environmental Protection Agency honoring SFS with the President’s Environmental Youth Award for taking action to mitigate climate change at school and in their community. (See featured group photo.)

Mindful of the fossil fuels needed to transport SFS from one side of the country to the other, students plan to plant more than 500 native tree species with the Jefferson Land Trust at Irondale Springs, a 1.2-acre area adjacent to Irondale Beach County Park on Saturday, Feb. 15.

“The club got a head start on Feb. 1, when members participated as crew leaders and planters at the Northwest Watershed Institute’s Plant-a-Thon.”

Read the 2/5/14 Leader article.


How to help

In a little more than two weeks, the SFS train will be leaving the station.

SFS President Ewan Shortess suggests these “ways you can put more wind under our wings to get us there:”

• Attend the Moveable Feast Film Series screening of A Place at the Table on March 17 at Port Townsend High School that will directly benefit our local fundraising campaign. (Admission by donation; funds go to SFS.)

• Check out our Indiegogo crowdfunding site.  There is lots of information about our group and our achievements. The more ‘hits’ the site gets, the more our campaign will come closer to the first pages you see and funders will find us. (As of publication, nearly $4,500 had been raised of the club’s $25,000 goal. Unlike Kickstarter, SFS will receive all donations regardless of whether the goal is met.)

• You can like our Facebook page and share it with others!

I look forward to traveling vicariously with SFS as they cross this great continent, inspiring other students, their teachers, local media, and–yes!–politicians along the way.

The world needs more teens like them. Go, SFS!



Group photo courtesy of Students for Sustainability.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors in a Disaster

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Neighbors, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Neighbors Helping Neighbors in a Disaster

Neighbors Helping Neighbors in a Disaster

Disaster readiness and strong neighborhoods. If you can’t think how these two are related, there’s a picnic I want to invite you to…

Port Townsend’s geographic isolation has always called for self-reliance and neighbors helping neighbors. Since 2006, we’ve benefited from a farsighted “neighborhood preparedness” movement that has resulted in more than 140 neighborhoods planning how they will help each other in emergency scenarios.

A first-time event in Jefferson County this Sunday encourages more such community organizing and celebrates the interrelated assets of “emergency preparedness and community vitality” in the form of a “gathering of neighborhoods”—a.k.a. The First Annual All-County Picnic.



Co-sponsored by Local 20/20 (our Transition Initiative) and the county’s Department of Emergency Management, the picnic on Aug. 18 at H.J. Carroll Park aims to combine fun, food, frolic and info.

In addition to talks and booths on emergency preparedness, and a ceremony honoring our community’s first responders, organizers arranged for the Chimacum Farmers Market to relocate to the park, and free corn on the cob will be served at 1 p.m. There will also be pick-up soccer, frisbee and basketball games, plus kids’ activities and live music.

All in a bid to demystify the important steps of connecting with your neighbors in advance of a disaster, be it a winter power outage or an earthquake. Folks are encouraged to come with their neighbors (I sent the invitation to our community garden list!) and carpool.



Picnic organizer Danny Milholland compares investing in neighborhood emergency preparedness to purchasing insurance. “This is building a community insurance policy that we’re all contributing to and benefiting from if there is a disaster,” he told a Leader reporter.

Read the Leader’s 8/14/13 article: Get ready, get happy, get together

Jefferson County is actually one of the leaders in the state of Washington in this type of neighborhood grass roots organization for emergency preparedness. Local 20/20’s Emergency Preparedness Action Group website reminds us that:

 “We’ve all heard the call to prepare for emergencies. Preparing your neighborhood is vital! The YOYO acronym—You’re On Your Own—means that neighbors will likely be the first ones to offer you assistance. Neighbors who are prepared are more effective in their response to an emergency and have an increased capacity to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours after a disaster.”



The picnic schedule, location, and sponsors can be found at

I will be attending the talk on organizing your neighborhood (at 11:30 a.m., repeats at 4 p.m.), since my neighborhood is in the very early stages of organizing—spurred on by our success in coming together to start a community garden.

And I hope to catch Heather Taracka’s talk at noon on how to involve children in emergency preparedness efforts. Heather maintains the website, which offers a free, self-paced online course to help guide your family, civic group, church or neighborhood “get emergency prepared.” Here’s a nice article from earlier this spring about her work:  Read article.

Heather’s tagline nests neatly within mine. “Getting emergency prepared” is one of the more practical win-wins of “going sustainable together.”

For more inspiration, see my 3/14/12 post called “Get to Know Your Neighbors,” as a first step toward engaging in sustainable solutions.

And see you at the picnic!



Singing, Biking, Sharing in The Great Turning

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Education, Transportation | 3 comments

Singing, Biking, Sharing in The Great Turning

I’ve just come down from the clouds—the lofty emotional highs—of a two-day workshop on The Work That Reconnects with Joanna Macy herself.

And, yes, I rode my bike the two miles to Fort Worden Conference Center, along with a dozen or so of the 50 workshop participants. That’s a pretty good bicycling turn-out, but then again, this was a gathering of sustainability activists!

I’m still processing, and will be for a while, what I learned from the 84-years-young Joanna Macy  of Berkeley this past weekend, along with the lessons in her excellent book, Active Hope:  How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy.

NOTE: For all you locals, this post includes details on three upcoming Port Townsend events that relate to The Great Turning—including one tomorrow evening. Read on!



Joanna, a Buddhist scholar and Deep Ecologist, coined the term The Great Turning as “a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.” She introduces The Work That Reconnects with a recap of the three “stories” that are playing out simultaneously in our world today. Which one do you align yourself with?

Business As Usual:  How the industrial growth society has been churning along for (only) the last 300 years, most rapidly in the last 60.

The Great Unraveling:  A term coined by Bainbridge Islander David Korten to describe the despairing global situation I was definitely experiencing until I was introduced to the concept of The Great Turning in Sept. 2011 (read my blog post about it).

The Great Turning:  See definition above. The adventure we can choose to engage in, making constant shifts in our consciousness to counteract the dominant societal viewpoint. This is the story I’m trying to live and be an active participant in.ReconnectSpiral_ByDori

Joanna then led us through the “spiral” of the activist’s inner journey, with small-group exercises at each of four points:
~    opening to gratitude,
~    owning our pain for the world,
~   seeing with new eyes,
~    and going forth.

At the end, we each shared our intentions for going forth, many of which were interconnected. It was a powerful display of the individual and collective energy, skills, and passion we have to work with in Port Townsend. But I truly believe every community possesses this power, and The Work That Reconnects can help recognize and unleash it.



One of my take-aways from the weekend is that The Great Turning is naturally and joyfully accompanied by song. PT Songlines Choir serenaded us throughout the workshop, with co-leaders Laurence Cole and Gretchen Sleicher stepping up at the most apropos times to start short, repetitive, participatory songs that were easy to pick up and easy to harmonize with.

JoannaMacyInPT_05_13 (1)-eHWith many Songlines singers in the crowd, the songs quickly swelled, their lyrics praising the Earth, beauty, peace and love. Laurence’s drum thumped out the rhythm and conducted the dynamics, and we collectively responded like one well-tuned instrument—an apt metaphor for the connected and interdependent parts of the whole that Joanna said The Great Turning movement resembles (think also of neurons in a brain).

For musical inspiration, check out Songs for The Great Turning, a website compiled by the aforementioned Gretchen Sleicher of Port Townsend.

I encourage you to  read the rest of this post while listening to this audio track of one of the songs we sang last weekend:  Let Us See the Beauty. (Play the “full song” file right under the photo of performer Laurence Cole. It was his voice filling our workshop room!)

Doesn’t this song set an incredible tone? I’d like to see every government meeting start with everyone in attendance singing this. I really think it could change outcomes for the better.


PT Songlines’ spring concert-and-participatory-sing happens to be coming up June 1 and is a benefit for a very good cause:  the Jefferson County Farm-to-School Coalition. The concert is 7 p.m. at the Cotton Building. Check them out! (I’m thinking of joining up when their next singing season starts in the fall.)



The organizers of the Joanna Macy workshop made a great effort to recruit a diverse audience, and for Port Townsend that means age-diverse. For once I was not the youngest person in the room. In fact, ages ranged from 24-83, with quite a few 20-somethings.

One of those attendees was 25-year-old Chauncey Tudhope-Locklear, a.k.a. “the bike doctor” and founder of The ReCyclery, a nonprofit bike center in Port Townsend.

mini-RhodyBiking_05_12 (7)Me and my family are big fans of The ReCyclery. In fact, we sourced 4-year-old Soren’s first bike  from Chauncey’s refurbished racks. We were there at the site’s grand opening one year ago and we joined the organization’s bike parade in the Rhody Festival Parade last year and had a blast!

This Sunday, Chauncey brought a copy of the Peninsula Daily News with him to the workshop, and there he was on the front page. The article by Diane Urbani de la Paz captures this young man’s passion, idealism and spirit for promoting bicycle use for a healthier and more sustainable community. I want to share it with you here, in the link below:

PENINSULA PROFILE: He blends love of bicycles with desire to build community

Recyclery Birthday Poster3


I’ll extend the invitation in the article to the ReCyclery’s one-year “birthday party.” Join me and Soren this Thursday, May 9, downtown at the Cotton Building and Pope Marine Park. Starting at 6 p.m., there will be cake, ice cream, unicycling, bicycling songs with PT Songlines Choir, and much more, knowing the zany, fun folks behind the ReCyclery.

Don’t forget to BYOB. Bring Your Own Bike.



Just one more thing… Many of us are planning to continue the conversations we started at the workshop on The Work That Reconnects at the inaugural Sustainability Meet-Up this Friday, May 10.


The invitation is this:  Join with sustainability activists and others concerned about the necessary changes that lie ahead. Bring news of your projects and your concerns to share with others. Individuals of all ages and all involvement levels are welcome to attend.

The majority of the meet-up will consist of a facilitated “Open Space” event, where any individual can host a small-group discussion about a specific area of interest. It is hoped that this series of 20-minute discussions will lead to meaningful exchanges and new connections.

The free event is hosted by Local 20/20, a group I volunteer with.

All are welcome from 4-6 p.m. at the Quimper Grange. Hopefully there will be regular Friday afternoon meet-ups in the future! (More info in the PTGuide listing.)



How gratifying to send an email invitation to this Friday’s Sustainability Meet-Up to my fellow workshop participants and receive this reply:

“This is fantastic! I was just journaling this morning about follow-up on our time together and how I can trust in the self-organizing nature of the Great Turning and that others will show up now to carry this on and kaboom, there was your email….

“I’d love to chat a little with you before Friday about some ideas… Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Singing, biking, sharing. That’s how it goes in The Great Turning!

“Find Your Own Port Townsend”: Advice from the 2013 Thriving Communities Conference

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Education, Featured, Local Economy | 2 comments

“Find Your Own Port Townsend”: Advice from the 2013 Thriving Communities Conference

It’s a thrill to report on the second annual Thriving Communities Conference at the Whidbey Institute, where last week 100 attendees from around the Cascadia bioregion were exhorted to “find your own Port Townsend.”

That is, take the pulse of your own community and listen for direction on how its uniqueness might be nurtured. Then find that path and set forth on the journey to realize your community’s best potential.

This whimsical phrase—in the vein of “Follow your [own] bliss”—was spontaneously coined in a video interview by Port Townsendite Peter Quinn, who is the CEO of Quimper Mercantile and also the director of our Economic Development Council, “Team Jefferson.”

PQuinn_03_13You can watch the video below, but I’ve transcribed Peter’s words here:  “Port Townsend is unique in that it’s not unique. It’s unique in that … because of its location, [the residents] … know they have to take care of things on their own. Any community can do that. They just have to realize that they can do that. So they just have to find their own Port Townsend in themselves in order to make that work.

If you are waiting for Walmart to come in and provide 500 jobs, then you haven’t found your Port Townsend yet as a community.



Port Townsend is an incredibly cool place to see a local economy living, breathing and growing.

WSUExt_SPIRAL [Graphic by WSU.]

Pieces of our local-economy puzzle include:

~ a pioneering local lending network, LION, that has provided$3 million in private funds for local entrepreneurs;

~16 volunteer business professionals who lend their expertise through Team Jefferson;

~one of the state’s 24 Small Business Development Centers;

~an award-winning Main Street Program to steward businesses in our historic districts;

~and a progressive, independent Chamber of Commerce.

We also benefit from an active WSU Extension office as well as a community college branch.

I should also add our independently owned and well-subscribed weekly newspaper!

But every town has the potential to be as cool as Port Townsend in its own way—to be the kind of place you talk about with a tear in your eye, as former mayor Brent Shirley puts it in his video interview.

So now that your interest is piqued, here’s the 7-minute video that was produced for the conference. It features LION investors, two former mayors and several other local leaders, plus the businesses Sweet Laurette Cafe & Bistro, HOPE Roofing & Construction, and Quimper Mercantile.



The theme of the Thriving Communities Conference this year was Local Economy, with the catchphrase, “We’re in this together.” From March 21-23, 2013, representatives from 20+ communities (including five of us from Port Townsend) gathered to learn, share and process how we can “grow relationships and economies, strengthen communal ties, create a sense of belonging, and sustain the well-being of people and the places where they live.”


Where does your community fit on the Thriving Communities spectrum?
[Visual synthesis created onsite by Anne Jess of The Doodle Biz. Click to enlarge.]

Port Townsend’s local economy was one of four replicable case studies documented for the Whidbey Institute by the inimitable film crew of Chris Korrow and Aimie Vallat. The other short videos featuring Bellingham, Portland and South Whidbey Island can be viewed here.

I asked Jerry Millhon, executive director of the Whidbey Institute, why he chose to feature my hometown. His swift reply was, “Port Townsend’s years of experience innovating, its size, its resilience, its connection factor.” Elaborating on this last point, Jerry said, “We saw interesting threads of connection in the people we videoed. These were people coming together, not just one-offs. [Individuals’ actions] coalesced in things that were larger than them.”

As for the resonance of the phrase, “Find your own Port Townsend,” Jerry said, “It has its own meaning. It’s harmonious. People get it.”

He laughed. “And it has nothing to do with Port Townsend and everything to do with your community.”

Pounding his chest, he concluded, “You just have to find it in here.”


Jerry, second from left


Cross-pollination among communities has been one of the most valuable results of this conference series. Last year’s theme was food—Feeding People, Cultivating Communityand those of us who attended from Port Townsend (interestingly, I was the only repeat attendee this year) came away inspired by South Whidbey‘s Good Cheer Food Bank garden to expand the footprint and role of our food bank garden. Twelve short months later, that has happened. I can’t take credit for any of it, but folks like Lys Burden and Judy Alexander can.

Pollen carried on the wind from Port Townsend fertilized a local investing network on Whidbey Island over the past year:  WILL, or Whidbey Island Local Lending. To date it has 40-odd members and has made at least six loans to local entrepreneurs. Co-founder Lynn Willeford introduced me around the Thriving Communities tables as “the person who put me in touch with LION in Port Townsend.” Glad to be a bumblebee!

Here’s a 48-second spot with Lynn in which she kindly mentions that it was Shelly who “hooked her up”!

At this year’s conference, I got an update on yet another LION spin-off:  WIN, the Whatcom Investing Network, based in Bellingham, Wash. Organizers there are planning workshops to educate potential investors in how to scrutinize local lending opportunities—such a good idea!

Despite the benefits of local investing, there is no definitive online resource on the topic. Part-time Port Townsend resident and Certified Financial Planner (R) James Frazier aims to change that. In the next few weeks, he is launching the Local Investing Resource Center (, featuring video interviews with LION leaders that James was shooting on both sides of the Thriving Communities Conference! On the website, you can subscribe to the e-newsletter in order to receive the launch announcement.

Is there a local lending network in your community? Let me—or James—know about it.



Whidbey Institute staffer Hannah Lee Jones wrote some inspired copy for the Thriving Communities Conference program. She hit the nail on the head with this:

“When people put their money into growing a community, what emerges is a picture of synergy:  a belief in the rightness and value of what businesses provide in goods and services to the place they call home, and the deep relationships and sense of belonging their gifts bring about.”


I couldn’t agree more! Which is why one of the action steps I brought home from the conference is to apply for membership in LION for myself and my husband. An existing LION member has already told me he is willing to be our “sponsor,” and the application form (available online) won’t take more than 10 minutes to fill out.

Our first local investment was made in Quimper Mercantile Company (see my recent blog post about buying shares, and I should note the direct public stock offering to Washington residents continues through February 2, 2014—learn more). Now is the time for me and Jeff to consider making a further investment in this place we call home.

I don’t have to “find my own Port Townsend” … I am lucky enough to already live here.

Click here to learn more

There are loads more resources at the 2013 Thriving Communities conference wiki page!


Katie connects strings from her food-security organization in Olympia to other organizations around Cascadia. Throughout the conference, we were asked to add to this visual display and show the connections between our communities.

We Own Shares in OUR General Store

Posted by on Sep 28, 2012 in Local Economy, Neighbors | 9 comments

We Own Shares in OUR General Store

Shopping locally is about to get easier. Port Townsend’s fledgling community-owned general store has raised enough money through its Direct Public Offering to open its doors this fall. This is thanks to the vision and verve of this remarkable community—and, in small, part to us.

That’s right, this summer my husband Jeff and I became stockholders in the Quimper Mercantile Co., joining 855 other investors in raising $527,900 to date for the new venture.

You read that right. More than half a million dollars in capital, for a general store serving the Quimper Peninsula—which has a population of roughly 20,000. That’s “proactivity on steroids,” Quimper Mercantile’s CEO pronounced at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Jeff and I are equally excited about the prospect of again being able to buy socks and sheets downtown as we are about our foray into local investing (see my video summary of this trend).


A handshake deal

How often do you get to shake the hand of the executive of the company you just invested in?

I did, when I delivered my signed subscription agreement and $500 check to the office of Peter Quinn, CEO of Quimper Mercantile Co. (hereafter, QMC). And that handshake felt good.

$500 garnered us five QMC shares and two of the coveted “I’m in” buttons. They’re good conversations starters (“In on what?”—subtext: “What am I missing out on?”) and part of QMC’s clever marketing campaign that includes the slogan “We’re here so you can buy your stuff here.”

Not “stuff” as in the American consumerist mantra of “more for the sake of more,” but stuff we really need: clothes, linens, household goods. Decent quality items at a decent price.

QMC’s mission plainly states, “Jefferson County needs viable local shopping options for many essential goods.” It’s a great point. How can you “shop local”—or encourage others to do so—when basic products are not carried locally?


Filling a gap

QMC’s creation was a response to a critical situation here in Port Townsend: the disappearance of an anchor tenant in the downtown business corridor.

Swain’s Outdoor & More, the closest thing we had to a general store, closed in February 2011 (its parent store is still thriving in Port Angeles, under the management of a different branch of the family). Left behind was the 15,700-s.f. storefront Swain’s had occupied since 1996—the long, low, gray-roofed waterside building at right in this photo—as well as a big gap in the local shopping scene.

There are many boutiques and specialty shops in Jefferson County—and some darn good locally owned drug stores and hardware stores, too—but unless you’re a fan of sight-unseen Internet shopping or driving 45 minutes to a big box store in a neighboring county (I’m certainly not) or the second-hand hunt (that’s more my style), many of those “essential goods” are hard to come by. Plus, the longer the Swain’s storefront sat vacant, the more bereft our downtown appeared in these already tight times.

This could have been the end of the story—an all-too-familiar one in small towns across our nation—but this is Port Townsend, and we have enough audacious successes under our belt to launch another audacious plan. (There are also enough examples of community-owned stores for us to draw inspiration from: The Merc in Powell, Wyo., and The Community Store in Saranac Lake, N.Y., are two of the most celebrated.)

A board of “doers” formed, a community-wide needs survey was conducted online, a business plan was written. The rest is (almost) history. (See QMC’s archive of early news stories.)

Remember the slogan “We’re here so you can buy your stuff here”? Since QMC signed the lease at the former Swain’s retail space, lettering on the empty storefront window has proclaimed: “We’re here—soon.”

And soon is nearly here! Remodeling continues… The facade now looks like this, with inset doors and a covered entryway.

And a few weeks ago I stopped by to find two QMC board members and the CEO nailing up plywood for an interior wall. “This truly is a working board!” one quipped.

(Isn’t that a great mural? It depicts downtown Port Townsend as seen from the water.)


First funding deadline met

QMC has been selling ownership shares since January 2012. The company didn’t launch an IPO (Initial Public Offering), but rather a DPO (Direct Public Offering, aka Small Company Offering). The DPO was authorized by the state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and is limited in that only Washington residents may buy the stock, the sale ends in 12 months, and total sales are capped at $1 million.

QMC set a May 1 deadline for raising at least $425,000 through sales of its stock. If this “impound amount” (based on a pro forma of what it would take to open the doors of the new business) was not reached, QMC would return the investors’ money. In addition, “we’d have to assume the community wasn’t behind this and it wasn’t a go,” related Deb Stinson, a QMC board member.

“Reaching that goal would demonstrate a vote of confidence by the community,” she said.

Of course, I’m reporting on a happy ending. Board members bought $50,000 of non-refundable “founders’ stock” to provide funds for early operations. Vigorous outreach ensued: informational meetings and mixers, presentations to every service club and business group, a regular booth at the Saturday Farmers Market (see photo below), newspaper advertisements, plenty of networking face-to-face and through online social media. At public functions, a good quarter of the crowd would be wearing “I’m in” buttons.

The positive peer pressure worked. The funding goal was reached on April 17, two weeks early.

QMC CEO Peter Quinn was quoted in an April 20 Peninsula Daily News article as saying: “In some cases, it can take five years to raise the same amount of money [as we have in less than six months]. We are lucky to be in a community where people understand the importance of doing things for themselves.”


The 54-page QMC disclosure document—which I did read—has all sorts of cheerless disclaimers, such as (I’m paraphrasing here) there is no guarantee there will be a market for selling your shares, so better not need to get your investment back. I understand that all stock offerings come with written disclaimers, but they usually don’t doubt the existence of a stock market!

(In personal conversations with a QMC board member, I have been assured that the Company will endeavor to facilitate a market for shares, and could buy some of them back as cash becomes available.)

We have come to expect liquidity in even our long-term investments. But how long-term is an investment, really, when you can dump it in an instant? In this new, ever-more-localizing economy, I believe we need to redefine investing as holding value in businesses we know and believe in.

To facilitate this, Port Townsend has the robust Local Investing Opportunities Network (LION). (See Its members have individually loaned money to dozens of business start-ups and expansions here—but not to QMC, since DPO rules disallow startup funds in the form of debt (hence the use of founders’ stock).

Our community could benefit from a local stock exchange for QMC and other ownership-stake endeavors, a need that has been discussed at at LION meetings. It could look like the Lancaster Stock Exchange, which provides equity funding for Pennsylvania companies. Or Mission Markets in New York, which uses a “private marketplace” model because obtaining SEC approval to become an “exchange” (where shares are traded) involves major bureaucratic hurdles and costs.

Alternatively, we could launch a website to facilitate local crowdfunding: think Kickstarter for businesses in a specific geographic area. An exciting example from my sister’s hometown of Fort Collins, Colo., is Community Funded. (Read about others in this article.)

By investing in businesses in our own community, we can help build value in enterprises whose success affects us positively because they improve or add value to our hometown. And we have an added incentive to help them be successful because their profitably gives us a greater return on our investment.

We certainly feel that way about QMC.


We will own it

As I have explained to my young son, when we walk into The Quimper Merc, we’ll think of it as “our store,” since we own a tiny part of it.

I sometimes say that about our Food Co-op, although that is a different business model: it is cooperatively owned, and our lifetime “membership” of $100 (the “capital investment” that makes you an owner) is refundable upon request—if, say, you move away. Non-owners who shop at The Co-op are charged a 10% mark-up on shelf prices.

You needn’t be a stockholder to shop at The Quimper Merc, and there won’t be a stockholder discount. (There might be dividends someday, and we’ll get to elect the board of directors). But Jeff and I are hoping there will be some really good parties for members of the shareholder club! [July 2014 UPDATE: A stockholder discount of 10% on all purchases is now in effect. I just used it this week to buy (I’m not kidding) underwear.]

The DPO expires on Jan. 3, 2013, or when $950,000 of stock has been sold. The more capital raised, the better start our general store will get.

Join the “In” crowd!

Learn more at:

Pedalpalooza to the Solar Tour!

Posted by on Jul 11, 2012 in Housing & Shelter, My EcoChallenge, Renewable Energy, Transportation | 1 comment

Pedalpalooza to the Solar Tour!

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.”  —Tom Peters

That’s just what two free, family-friendly, sustainability events in Port Townsend aim to do this weekend.

The first annual PT Pedalpalooza bicycle festival (website) runs today (July 11) through Sunday (July 15). The annual Jefferson Solar [Homes] Tour (website)  is this coming Saturday, July 14.

I’m super excited for—and plan to be involved in both of—these celebrations. By showing us a critical mass of what we WANT to see, they show us the way.

•  Homes with solar panels on the roof creating truly local power… fewer coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric dams.

•  Streets and trails filled with bicyclists… fewer cars on the road and a healthier, more mobile citizenry. Oh, yeah!


If you want, you can combine the two events and visit the eight solar-powered home sites (plus one downtown business with a solar thermal deck awning) by bicycle! They all lie within the Port Townsend city limits.

Be a part of the formal Solar Tour Bike Poker Run and collect a playing card at each site you visit on two wheels, then play your hand at the post-tour party to win “fabulous prizes,” according to organizers. (I happen to know at least one prize is a copy of Richard Heinberg’s highly readable peak-oil, post-growth treatise, The End of Growth.)

I’m planning to pedal to several of the tour sites with Soren on his trail-a-bike behind me.



Our house, which received its 2-kW photovoltaic solar-electric system in 2007 and its solar thermal (hot water) system in 2008, has been on the tour a couple of years in a row. Since Jeff works this event as an employee of Power Trip Energy, I’ve been the homeowner on site (this year the hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m.), and I’ll tell you this is a unique tour.

At every site you can ask questions of the person who made the financial, ecological and emotional decision to “go solar.” Some homeowners have collected detailed system performance information and financial return figures, which they are happy to share. It’s OK to ask, “How much did this system cost?” and “How much of your electricity usage does it cover?”

You’ll go deeper when you discover the answer to that last question is not so simple. “It depends,” you see, on how much electricity you use—which leads us to ponder how energy efficient a home is.



Which is why I’m so excited that this year’s Solar Tour features the Olympic Peninsula’s most energy-efficient house, according to its owner, Tom Engel.

Tom built his 1,500-s.f. home to Passivhaus standards and it is one of just 100 “passive houses” in the U.S., according to a recent interview with Sam Hagerman, president of Passive House Alliance U.S.

The standard-looking home uses only 29% of the energy used by an average American house of comparable size, yet it cost only slightly more to build. Tom employed the local expertise of Richard Berg and Jesse Thomas of Terrapin Architecture, the first Jefferson County architectural firm to offer the Passive House package as a part of its design services. His builder was Charles Landau.

When Tom moved to Port Townsend in 2009, his goal was to take a personal stand on climate change. “We need a bottom-up approach starting with each of us,” he told me. He plans to open his doors to Solar Tourists on Saturday. By sharing his housing solution on the Solar Tour, he is showing many of us the way.

Learn more at Tom’s blog,



Tour maps are NOT available online; bicyclists can pick them up (starting at 10 a.m.) at The ReCyclery at the intersection of Kearney and 19th in town. Maps may also be picked up at the headquarters of the tour organizer, Power Trip Energy (83 Denny Ave., Port Townsend, in Glen Cove Industrial Park).

If you’re there at 10, you may want to sit in on the “Spin Your Meter Backwards” presentation to learn how solar power works and about the various financial incentives.

The post-tour party (3-6 p.m.) is located at Power Trip Energy as well, and is well worth attending even if you don’t make it on the tour, as a place to mix and mingle with like-minded “solarites.” There will be a Q&A with tour participants and hosts, concessions by Mystery Bay Seafood ($7-10 options), and a free outdoor concert (well, the entire tour is free!) with eclectic, energetic, electric 6-string violinist Geoffrey Castle.

I’ve been mesmerized by his music many times before in performances around the Peninsula. He plays Celtic-rock as well as classical, and has a unique record/playback amplification kit so that he can accompany himself with layers upon layers of sound. And while he’s plugged in to Power Trip Energy’s outlets, his instrument will be powered by the business’s solar panels!



Inspired by Portland’s Pedalpalooza, and Vancouver, BC’s Velopalooza, a newly formed group called “PTpedals” brings us PT Pedalpalooza 2012, a 5-day series of bicycle activities and celebration of cycling.

There are currently 15 events listed on the PT Pedalpalooza online calendar. Most are not hard-core bike rides. They include the “Pedal & Pints Tour” of local watering holes Friday night, a women’s bike repair class at 6 p.m. tonight, and the “polite critical mass” ride tomorrow night (Thursday) at 6 p.m. on a loop through downtown. I think I’ll take Soren on the trail-a-bike so he can observe proper bicycling etiquette.

Tonight my family is planning to attend the Asian Progressive Dinner Ride, “leisurely pedaling between each of five meal courses at five different Asian restaurants.” Yummy, and how chummy! [And it was! See 7/11 photo below.]

PT Pedalpalooza is a grassroots effort, closely tied to the efforts of Local 20/20’s T-Lab (Transportation Action Group) but also the sponsors listed here.

So grassroots, in fact, that yours truly created one of the events, with one zany idea and a few clicks of the mouse. It’s a gathering and demonstration of kid bike carriers on Friday (July 13) from 11 a.m.-noon at Mountain View playground. I’m encouraging families who bike with little kids to bring their carriers and gear, and families who WANT to bike with little kids to come check it out.

If this sounds like you, read the full event listing, spread the word, and come on down!

There’s still time to add an event of your own if you’re inspired. I hope you are.

P.S.  PTpedals has started a new e-mail list to promote Jefferson County-wide communication amongst bicycle enthusiasts, groups and special events: Send an e-mail saying you want to join, and “pedalpalooza” all year long! If Lys Burden (:-)) is managing this list, it’s sure to be timely and relevant.

Sustainable Together TIPS

TIP: Time your regular bike rides around town, so you can easily plan them into your schedule. Today I used my cell phone’s stopwatch to determine both the “to” and “from” timing for bike-and-trailer transportation to Soren’s new preschool program. Nine minutes going, 13 minutes coming back—although with the return hill, it felt like twice as long! Good to know the facts.

Quote from the latest Food Co-op newsletter. Thanks for the inspiration!

(More of my favorite quotes.)

Solar panel and Geoffrey Castle photos courtesy of Power Trip Energy

A Community Garden for My Birthday! (Part 1, Co-Garden Series)

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in Food, My EcoChallenge, Neighbors, Uncategorized | 5 comments

A Community Garden for My Birthday! (Part 1, Co-Garden Series)

“Happy birthday; here’s a community garden! Just what you’ve always wanted…”

How did you know? Since I began my personal-professional journey of “Going Sustainable Together” last fall, I’ve bemoaned the fact that the nearest community garden on Oak Street is fully subscribed and not accepting new members.

Now, because of this unexpected gift, on the eve of my 36th birthday two weeks ago I hosted the first organizing meeting of the newest community garden in the network of 20-odd such gardens on private land that exist in Jefferson County.

Until someone comes up with a better name, we’re calling it the Adams Street Community Garden—and this post is the first in a series chronicling its creation.


Twenty people squeezed into my living room, a diverse group of young/old, owners/renters, couples/singles, retirees/parents of young children. Most, but not all, were known to me (the neighborhood socialite), but there were many new acquaintances to be made even though we all live within a 3-block radius of the garden site.

There was a palpable feeling of excitement in the room, as attendees introduced themselves and said a few words about why they were interested in the community garden. A recurring theme was, “I can’t garden in my own yard because (A) it’s too tiny, (B) doesn’t get enough sun, or (C) isn’t deer-proof.” (The roaming city deer are too hungry and numerous to be deterred by anything other than an 8′ perimeter fence!)

On the positive side, themes that emerged were a desire to be more self-sufficient, eat more food we’ve grown ourselves, learn how (or more about how) to grow food, and get to know neighbors and grow the community.

Mary from the yellow house down the block summed up the general mood: “Coming together with my neighbors to grow food just totally excites me!”


Community gardens—especially the kind that are gardened collectively or communally (both terms are used) instead of offering space for individual “pea patches”—are proven to grow community, along with copious amounts of food

They are a perfect example of how sharing the journey toward a more sustainable life can make that trip easier, more enjoyable and more fruitful (I’m thinking raspberries and strawberries!).

Neighborhoods that garden together are more cohesive and more involved. We envision the garden becoming a neighborhood gathering place, with an artful sign and bench to invite visitors to linger.

I’ll be able to peer at the garden site from my second-story deck and see if my son and I should head over to socialize…and maybe pull some weeds, too!


I should explain that the “gift” is a generous pledge that for the next eight years, a sunny, level lawn between two buildings at either end of a double lot will be made available for a community garden. The landowners, former neighbors my age who moved to a big city for a job (an all-too-typical scenario for young professionals), had their house rented to someone who was not supportive of the big lawn being used for this purpose, but with a change of renters comes a change of heart!

I asked Jen (half of the landowning couple) to write a statement of purpose I could share with the interested gardeners. Here is an excerpt of her eloquent submission:

Our family has great affinity for this land and neighborhood. Knowing how precious an open sunny lot in Uptown is, we do not want to see it unused. A community garden where folks work together to grow food, relationships and community well-being is a dream come true.

Personally, I am an avid gardener (Jen wrote). I tend to transform wherever we live into a verdant garden space. Not limited to growing showy flowers, I am also an advocate and proponent of encouraging folks to grow food.

A few years ago, I started a gardening program at our daughter’s elementary school…. [E]very student is invited to join what is called “Farming Friday,” when they can engage in gardening activities during their recess. The prime activity is digging in the soil and nibbling on what’s growing….The kids devour kale and sorrel but leave enough to donate to the local Food Bank.

So now you know why we are so enthusiastic about your intentions to grow vegetables! We are thrilled to be able to make this happen.

And we in the neighborhood are thrilled as well!


The landowners set some reasonable conditions for the Adams Street Community Garden:

–  That the garden group always have a leader and that members employ at least a verbal  contract. (We plan to use a boilerplate written contract/waiver.)

–  That usage/behavior expectations be posted, out of respect to the land and the neighbors.

–  That we be reimbursed for expenses related to water usage. (Easy to do with a $80 water meter we will purchase and install on the faucet conveniently located at a standpipe on one side of the lawn. Divvying up the water bill is a job for our garden bookkeeper.)

–  That we are not liable for injuries or damages incurred from community garden activities on the property. (See waiver, above. And we’ll look into garden insurance.)

–  That the position of fence posts not obscure the peekaboo water view from the house. (We will send digital photos and a site map, for approval prior to fence placement.)

–  That the tenant of the adjacent house be allowed a garden plot, a share, or whatever is reasonable based on mutual agreement.


When I heard about the land offer, I admit I had conflicting feelings. “The universe is trying to get my attention,” I posted on Sustainable Together’s Facebook page May 16. “A perfect space for a big community garden has been offered by a landowner ON MY BLOCK.”

But the timing felt a little off, as I was literally called away from weeding our newly expanded backyard vegetable garden to answer the phone. (Five of our 10 raised beds are pictured below—plus we have 8 tomato plants in pots and a kitchen-door herb garden.) Believing we didn’t have access to a community garden and weighing the pros and cons of a CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture), my husband and I had made a conscious decision to invest in growing food in our already-fenced backyard.

Yet the opportunity to be a part of a new community garden—on our block, after all!—was too much in alignment with Sustainable Together’s mission for me to ignore. (My husband is still skeptical of how it will vie for the time we currently spend gardening; I tell him even if we don’t become full-fledged members, we will benefit from the creation of a community garden in the neighborhood, so let’s help get it going!)

The county’s community garden network is loosely coordinated by Local 20/20’s Food Resiliency Action Group (learn more about why and how in this 5-minute podcast, part of a 2009 “One World Report” series on “gardening as community development” in Port Townsend). It was the action group leader that Jen phoned to offer the land—not me, although I heard about it soon enough.

Three of us in the neighborhood who are plugged into Local 20/20 were contacted and asked to spread the word among our friend and neighbor networks. We also put an announcement in Local 20/20’s weekly e-news for three weeks running, and for one week prior to the meeting I posted a sign on the lot for walkers-by to see.

The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Since I fielded the RSVPs, I can tell you we had 18 interested families represented at the first organizing meeting, with two families out of town but wanting “in”—which is the maximum number we think the garden plot can support, so we’re not doing any more recruiting for now.


Local 20/20’s Judy Alexander (eloquently interviewed in the podcast referenced above) was there to give us a primer on community gardens and assure us we don’t have to know how to garden to be a meaningful participant. We will be learning from each other, and there are roles to fill that don’t involve gardening knowledge: watering the plants, keeping the books, scavenging for free materials and manure, communicating with the group, entertaining the kids during work parties.”Each one of you has something to contribute,” Judy said. “Honor the diversity.”

Judy also urged us to make a minimum time commitment for all members, and ask for a cash contribution (annual fees in Port Townsend gardens range from $25 to $125, and go to purchase seeds and supplies). Work parties on Saturdays or Sundays where all members are encouraged to attend help to build a sense of community.

The two biggest fears that Judy has seen derail garden members are the fear of not knowing enough and the fear of letting go of control. She counseled us to recognize these fears and help each other face them down. She also advised us not to get stuck in the “scarcity model.” “Don’t look at the work put in and the harvest through the fairness lens,” she said. “It will drive you nuts!”

What she’s seen work is the abundance model. Don’t plant low-producing crops like asparagus (you’ll be fighting over the few stalks to come up); stick with abundant varieties. Plant extra outside the garden gate for passers-by (um, and the deer). Plant extra rows for donating to the Food Bank. And don’t begrudge the amount of time you think someone else isn’t putting in—chances are they are doing some important behind-the-scenes work. And if they aren’t, well, there’s probably a good reason and we’re a community and we pick up the slack for each other.

If we do this, “You will be amazed at the abundance of gifts and talents—and produce!—that will emerge from this group,” Judy said.

And as I looked around my living room at the wonderful people assembled at that first organizing meeting, I believed it!

Next Steps

Tilling the turf and planting a cover crop, in preparation for a Spring 2013 garden debut.

This is Part 1 (exploring the land offer and initial organizing) in an ongoing series on the new Adams Street Community Garden.

Part 2 describes tilling, cover-cropping and fencing the first fall.

Tips for the Sustainability Tourist

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Education, Featured, Food, Local Economy, Transportation | 5 comments

Tips for the Sustainability Tourist

I’m an advocate for promoting Port Townsend as a destination for sustainability-minded tourists. We can welcome people who want to test-drive a sustainable community, even if just for a few days. Maybe we can convince them to move to our scenic Victorian Seaport and join the cause!

Well, one of these tourists contacted me for advice a few days before the Memorial Day weekend. He gave me permission to turn our e-mail exchange into a blog post.


Hi Shelly,

I found your blog about a year ago and have been following it since. I’m a Seattle native, have really bought into the Sustainability movement, and I really enjoy Port Townsend.

In the back of my mind it’s a hope/dream that one of these days I’ll move to Port Townsend. It’ll be a big change of gears, but I’m intrigued by the idea of being more intimately involved with a smaller community.

My girlfriend and I will be spending five days in Port Townsend over the upcoming holiday weekend. I’m curious if you have any sights and/or experiences that you recommend we soak in while we’re there? Part of the intent of the trip is determining if we can really see ourselves living in Port Townsend.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts! And, keep up the great work on your blog and sustainability efforts.



Well, I have been published in Northwest Travel magazine, back when my freelance focus was maritime culture. Here is my travel writer’s reply, with a few additions for the blog:



What fun to receive your e-mail! If my family wasn’t leaving town for Memorial Day weekend ourselves, I’d offer to meet up with you.

You’ve asked an interesting question, and I’ll try to answer it in brief without knowing your transportation situation or fitness level.

PT is so walkable, I encourage you to look into taking public transit from the Bainbridge ferry terminal (see Jefferson Transit’s handy schedule). The upsides: it costs only $7 round trip and takes not much longer than driving yourself. The downside: the service is aimed at commuters, not weekenders—there’s no bus on Sundays and only two runs on Saturday. So come on Friday and leave on Monday!

1)  We all have to eat. DEFINITELY hit the Saturday Farmers Market in Uptown PT, open 9-2. (Try a pastry from Anca’s booth or Pane d’Amore!) Check out Aldrich’s Market while you’re there—it’s my neighborhood’s gourmet corner grocery store and we’re very proud of it. On Sunday the Chimacum Market is open 10-2, right next to the exciting new Chimacum Corner Farmstand (more than just a stand—it’s a storefront). I will forward you the Farmers Market Association‘s e-news. I see from reading it that there is a cheese festival in Port Ludlow (called Fete du Fromage) on Sunday—could be fun!

2)  Visit/shop at The Food Co-op, our amazing whole foods/local goods grocery store and community hub. Sit in the deli for a bit and chat. I’ve visited food co-ops all around the country and ours, while small in footprint, is superlative in its impact on PT. My housemates encouraged me to join when I first moved to town in Jan. 2000 and I’ve seen the Co-op grow exponentially as a food source and a healthy, connected lifestyle resource. It’s now an $11M operation with 8,000 members!! (This in a town with a population of 8,500.)

3)  Check out the extensive listing of events for the weekend at This is a well-used community calendar; every population center should be so lucky to have one like it. (Quite simply, it’s good enough that every event planner and teacher takes the time to submit their event/class on PTguide.) Scroll the (selected) Upcoming Events on the homepage by topic or click on the Events Calendar in the left sidebar for events listed day-by-day.

Sustainable Together TIPS

TIP:  Join the PTguide mailing list (subscribe box in upper righthand corner on the homepage) and receive an e-mail every Thursday with a well-organized synopsis of what’s coming up for the weekend and week ahead. It might be the arm-twist you need to get over here for the weekend!

Sustainable Together TIPS

TIP:  Speaking of event e-mail announcements, you can also subscribe to Local 20/20’s mailing list and receive an e-mail every Monday with upcoming sustainability events that have either been submitted to our secretary or suggested by Local 20/20 activists. The geographic area covered is the North Olympic Peninsula, with occasional listings from the wider region. Send an e-mail requesting to join to Local2020 @


Back to what’s happening this weekend:

–If you’re into boats, take the tour of the downtown Northwest Maritime Center (Fri.-Sun. at 2 p.m.) and walk around the shipyard at the other end of town. Friday there’s a “sunset sail” on PT Bay on the schooner Suva ($100).

–Take a movement class at Madrona MindBody Institute at Fort Worden (I love their Nia teachers!), or Prosper BodyWorks near downtown, or there’s always Community Yoga by donation on Saturday mornings at Room to Move Yoga Studio uptown.

–For nightlife, hit The Undertown, Sirens Pub, and/or The Upstage. All are local hang-outs, often with live music. Take in a movie at The Rose Theatre, or a play at Key City Public Theatre. Visit the art galleries. Fancy Feathers downtown is my favorite consignment clothing shop.

4)  Stop in at the visitor information center (behind Safeway) and ask the same question you asked me. I volunteer there sometimes; you might get lucky with someone knowledgeable about sustainability in PT. Ask for a walking trails map (PDF here), and try exploring on foot, using some of our rights-of-way trails. You can walk to/from Fort Worden on the beach one way and over Morgan Hill the other way. Or bring your bike or rent one from one of our bike shops—if you don’t mind a hill here and there. Or try riding the bus around town.

5)  Drive on the newly established Olympic Culinary Loop. There’s a two-day itinerary exploring PT and the nearby pastoral Chimacum Valley. “Meet the farmers who provide the ingredients for flavorful local menus. Enjoy fresh local cider, goat cheese, blueberries and more,” says the website. Additionally, here’s a PDF of the Olympic Culinary Adventure Map (#5-12 are in Jefferson County).

6)  Just talk to people. We’re all pretty friendly. We love our town.

I hope you have a great vacation here!

All best,



P.S. When my husband and I are in traveling mode, we always pick up a copy of the local paper (in our case, that’s The Leader—it publishes Wednesdays and costs $1) and visit the library. (Our Carnegie building in Uptown is currently under restoration, so our library has temporarily relocated to a city-owned building nearby. Half the books, all the services—yep, wireless, too). You can tell a lot about a community by those two institutions.

P.P.S. While here, you can listen to our new and truly local radio station, KPTZ, 91.9 FM. Heck, you can stream it live anywhere in the world. The station just celebrated its one-year anniversary!



For a city of festivals, it’s a bit surprising there’s nothing big going on in PT over Memorial Day weekend—probably because we’re all exhausted from participating in three parades, the bed and trike races, the carnival and the 12-k run that constitute the Rhody Festival the weekend prior!

If you are planning to visit PT this summer, here’s my pick of festivals and events that promote or celebrate sustainability and/or community. These are 2012 dates. (See more festivals by month at

 June 30:  Rat Island Regatta—Rowers, kayakers, and open water paddlers make the 6.8 NM run from Fort Worden to Rat Island and back. 10 a.m. start, fun to watch from the downtown waterfront.

July 1-8:  Festival of American Fiddle Tunes—My favorite of the Centrum summer music festivals, in part for the late-night called dances that draw locals in addition to all the fiddle students and their families.

July 11-15:  Port Townsend Pedalpalooza—The first annual bicycle festival, promoting getting around by pedaling. Website should be updated as event draws near.

July 14:  Jefferson Solar Homes Tour and Celebration—Self-guided tour of homes powered by renewable energy. Solar basics workshop, live music, local food. Organized by Power Trip Energy Corp, which should post info on their Events page soon.

Aug. 3-19:  Shakespeare in the Park—Outdoor evening performances of “Twelfth Night” by Key City Public Theatre at Chetzemoka Park.

Aug. 10-12:  Jefferson County Fair—Small but sweet. Typical fair fare.

Sept. 7-9:  Wooden Boat Festival—The largest gathering of wooden boats on the west coast, and a showcase of the local marine trades and talent. Wind is free fuel for marine transport!

Sept. 16:  Jefferson County Farm Tour—Up to 15 local farms on a self-guided tour. Crops, creameries, cideries, and livestock, too.


Recurring events:

Third Thursday: Jefferson County Energy Lunch, 12:30-1:30 p.m., PT Community Center. Free. A public presentation on sustainable energy with rotating speakers, attended by energy officials and aficionados.

Most every Friday: Outdoor concert at noon at Fort Worden, featuring Centrum performers. Free.

First Saturday: Port Townsend Gallery Walk, 5:30-8 p.m. Free. See schedule in The Leader newspaper the Wednesday prior.

Second Saturday: Contra dance with caller and live music at Quimper Grange, 7:30-10:30 p.m. $6 adults, $3 children (I think).

Every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday: Substantial farmers markets in PT and Chimacum. There are smaller markets in Port Ludlow on Fridays and in Quilcene on Saturdays, too!


If, like Cameron, you’re thinking of relocating (ideally, bringing your job with you!), definitely contact the Local 20/20 action group lead in your area of interest: energy, food, waste, transportation, local economy, etc. Ask about sitting in on the action group’s regular meeting. If you’re interested in touring community gardens, for example, or joining a trail-building party, the action group lead should be able to set you up with a true PT sustainability experience!

Note:  Although this post, like all my others, has been exhaustively researched (!), please doublecheck dates and times at the source if you are planning a trip here and don’t want to miss an event.

See you in PT!

Sustainably yours,



Photos by Shelly Randall ~ Map from ~ Poster graphic from PT Pedalpalooza

My Hometown Joins Transition Movement

Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 in Education, My EcoChallenge, Neighbors | Comments Off on My Hometown Joins Transition Movement

My Hometown Joins Transition Movement

I’m sharing a column I wrote for our local newspaper that was published yesterday. Enjoy!


This Earth Day, Local 20/20 is celebrating its official recognition as Washington state’s 11th Transition Initiative.

“Transition?” you might wonder. “From what? To what?”

Glad you asked. This is about making the transition from “the era of cheap oil,” to a future dependent on conservation, a thriving local economy, locally produced food and building materials, sustainable transportation choices and renewable energy alternatives.

We’re in the early stages of what ecologist Joanna Macy calls “The Great Turning” –  “the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.”

“Adventure?” you might mutter. “Sounds kind of scary to me.”

Indeed, it requires a paradigm shift of the tallest order to see the coming changes as opportunities rather than threats.

There’s no going back to “the way things were.” But take heart. Many of us in Jefferson County are already working on collectively shaping the future we want to see. That’s why we’re joining 425 other communities around the globe in this movement to increase local self-reliance and resilience.

The Transition Movement represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people and communities to take the far-reaching actions that are required to mitigate the effects of peak oil, climate change and economic instability.

Transition Initiatives, designed to achieve re-localization at the community level, are also designed to result in a life that is more fulfilling, more socially connected and more equitable than the one we have today.

While we’re joining a widespread movement with momentum—Jefferson County’s Transition Initiative is No. 111 in the nation and No. 416 in the world. We’re not exactly newcomers. In 2006, the same year that the first Transition Town was launched in England, grassroots organizers here formed Local 20/20. The mission statement developed then still guides the group today: working together toward local sustainability by integrating economy, ecology and community via action and education.

Both education and opportunities for action can be found this Saturday, April 21, at our local Earth Day 2012 celebration.

Learn more about Transition and Local 20/20 at a public presentation from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the upstairs of the Port Townsend Community Center. (Childcare is provided downstairs.) See the Earth Day calendar of events for other opportunities to learn about this movement.

A successful transition for Jefferson County will depend on individuals who possess a strong sense of place, a belief in local empowerment, and a shared optimism for a better future.

Does that sound like you? Join us!

By Shelly Randall, Contributor

Shelly Randall is a freelance writer, editor and publicist who volunteers on Local 20/20’s steering council, is helping to organize Jefferson County’s Earth Day 2012 celebration, and blogs at

First installment in the “Earth Matters” monthly series of columns on sustainable living choices for Jefferson County residents, coordinated by Local 20/20.
First published in the April 18, 2012, edition of the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader, our independently owned and community-minded weekly newspaper (
I considered it part of my EcoChallenge to volunteer to organize Earth Day festivities this year. After all, it was my brilliant idea to use the occasion to announce Local 20/20’s recent recognition as an official Transition Initiative. Please join me Saturday at the Farmers Market, hear me and three other speakers at the 10:30 a.m. presentation, and pray for no rain!