Transition Venice is a community of like-minded people who inspire and energize our community to work together to rebuild self-reliance, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen our economy. We do this through creative example, innovative education, and exciting actions.
Over the last year Transition Venice has orchestrated the following events: Chicken lecture, Solar water heater demo, Bamboo Grove Field Trip, Ninja Gardening adventure, ECHO field trip, Electric bike demo, Movies: Thrive; Power of Community; Story of Stuff; End of Suburbia; In Transition 2.0, Seed, seedlings, & plant shares, Garden tours, Mango chutney re-skilling class, The Open Studio Pot-luck Party, Created Choices Food Park, Revived Growing Together Community Garden, Farmer’s Market presence, Earth Day at Oscar Scherer State Park, Net-Zero Home Presentation, and Hero’s Journey Workshop.
Our most recent projects involve creating Food and/or Community Parks at local organizations. When organizations act as role models, others will follow creating a true sense of working together to help our community. Each park is unique, inspiring others to create a delicious and inviting food source on their own property.
Our first Food Park was planted in October 2012 at Choices Natural Market at 737 S. Tamiami Trail (business 41). In May of 2013 we revived unused garden beds and created the Growing Together Community Garden at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3000 East Venice Blvd. The community garden beds are available to the public for seasonal gardening. We use a permaculture philosophy when possible which is a self-maintained agricultural system modeled from natural ecosystems. In other words, we also plant permanent food bearing trees, bushes, and plants that grow well in this climate.
We have many more projects in the works and are always open to members’ innovative, creative projects that help Venice become more resilient through local food, local energy, and local economy.
We meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at The Venice Library, 300 Nokomis Ave., South, on the island of Venice. We generally have one business meeting per month and one event per month. Please join us so you can “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Three years ago, twelve 6'x20' and three 20'x20' raised garden beds were built on the property of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Venice, Florida. They were utilized by members of the church for a couple of growing seasons but people began gardening at home or became interested in other projects. The beds were left empty and eventually filled with weeds.
In February 2013, Transition Venice member Ann McAvoy, took on the challenge of reviving the garden beds with a desire to offer them to the public at no charge. After bringing the concept to a Transition Venice meeting in March, work began in earnest with a collaboration between the church, Transition Venice, and members of the community.
Compost was donated in April and initial work parties met to clean up the beds. By the beginning of May there were sweet potatoes, peanuts, sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, bananas, passion fruit, papaya, and aloe plants put into the ground. It was evident that this was the perfect project for the Transition US May 2013 Challenge.
Work continues at least twice a week. One volunteer created a lasagna garden bed. This is a method of building the garden by adding layers of organic materials that will cook down over time, resulting in rich soil that helps plants thrive. Since the initial planting, sorghum and potatoes have also been added and there is talk of planting food bearing trees in another area. Many more plants will be added as the general public becomes aware of the community garden.
On Saturday, May 25th, Transition Venice had a potluck gathering at the garden with offerings of fresh baked cornbread, whole wheat bread, lasagna, quinoa salad, potato salad, chicken and rice casserole, and watermelon. There were several garden tours throughout the evening with much discussion about the future. What a fitting way to celebrate the beginnings of a beautiful project!
Transition Venice and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invite everyone to be a part of the Growing Together Community Garden – to learn and/or teach, help prepare beds, plant, tend, weed, water. Some of the garden beds will be planted by individuals, but the majority will be planted by volunteers for the benefit of all. Those who volunteer will be able to share in the harvest, and fruits and vegetables left over will be given to other members of the community or the local food bank. We encourage everyone to come to our workshops and potlucks or just stop by and see our progress.
We grow for ourselves, our family and friends, as well as for those in need. We grow so people can learn how to garden in Florida, to try different growing techniques, to have a more sustainable community, to learn and teach self-reliance, and to have locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a place where people can find joy, feel good, meet new friends, and be a part of a wonderful group of fellow gardeners.
As with most community service projects, there is always a need for resources and/or volunteers so donations of plants, trees, seeds, picnic tables, compost, soil amendments, tools, and repairs to the existing irrigation system are always welcome.
Ann gives a special thanks to Shawn McCarty, permaculture enthusiast, Mark Kalita, owner of EcoTending, Inc, and Rand Carter, and The Brenda Carter Memorial Fund for their garden contributions and tremendous help in planning and working on this project. Organizer Ann McAvoy shares her passion about this project with her comment, "Give what you can; take what you need. Growing together, we can do great things!"
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Living on Sunshine
All my electricity, hot water, and fuel for transportation are supplied by the sunshine that falls on my roof. This is easily done with off the shelf technology and has a good return on investment. Let me speak about living with solar electricity and choices and lifestyle and abundance.
First, there are two types of commonly used systems. Both use photovoltaic panels on the roof. Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight to electricity. The other type of solar panel heats water. Photovoltaic panels produce DC (direct current), which is the type of electricity that batteries, electronics, and our bodies use. But the appliances in our homes run on AC (alternating current) because it is possible to send it long distances with less power loss.
There is an appliance that converts the DC the photovoltaic panels produce to the AC that the house uses called an “inverter.” There are two types of inverter systems. One connects to the grid and uses the grid as a backup. If you need more power than your panels produce, the grid supplies it. The grid also powers your house at night. If you make more power than you use, FPL cuts you a check.
The other inverter system uses batteries. In the day the batteries are charged; at night the batteries power your house. If your batteries run low you must conserve until they are charged or charge them using the grid or a generator. The system you choose usually is based on your readiness to change your lifestyle.
Lifestyle change? How much of your current lifestyle (meaning comfort and convenience) are you willing to give up to reduce your contribution to global warming? One end of the spectrum is those who will not change anything. They must have AC all night and must always have very hot water. They must use an electric dryer, a dishwasher, and drive a car everywhere. The other end is those who would gladly walk everywhere and live in a tent without electricity to save their Planet. Most of us, including me, fall somewhere in between.
If you are closer to the no change side you should use a grid tie system. It allows you to keep all the conveniences which we westerners take for granted; electric clothes dryer, electric oven, central AC, unlimited energy consumption any time of day or night.
I was more concerned about not using any fossil fuel and a grid tie system uses fossil fuel at night. It may have a net zero energy use, but it still uses fossil fuel. So I chose a battery powered system and learned to sail my house on the solar energy stream.
What’s it like? My lifestyle changed. My electric oven became propane, my electric water heater became solar, and the dryer became a clothesline. Disliking gas powered stink I bought a push mower and electric weed eater. So far, not bad! And my partner Leslie was more than willing to adapt.
But the changes went deeper. I have limited batteries and they are expensive. So we also store the day’s energy in the form of ice, pressure, and heat. In the evening after the sun sets, to minimize battery discharge, we move two liter jugs of frozen water from the freezer to the fridge, then turn off the fridge. In the morning when the sun comes up, we wait until the system is waking up and producing a few hundred watts, then move the jugs back up to the freezer. We are on a well and turn off the pump at night, using just the pressure in the tank. Our water heater tank is filled with the days hot water and is not heated at night, so the early evening is the right time to take a hot shower.
So there are conservation lifestyle changes - that was to be expected. But wait, there are also abundance lifestyle changes!
When the sun is up, the system produces 4,000 watts an hour. Now the goal is to use all the power the panels make. We come up with creative ways to burn the free clean energy. I weld and run my shop tools. We water the garden, running the well pump. I charge my electric bicycle which has replaced my car.
I realize that I have still more power to burn! So I bake bread in the toaster oven, find things to dehydrate in the electric dehydrator, run the window AC’s, leave lights and fans on, use all the free hot water. On a sunny day I am truly wealthy in free, non polluting power.
On cloudy days we must reign in our consumption. I watch the power being generated and limit my welding and bread baking. But what has surprised me is how much power we get even then. Even on dark rainy days the panels are making electricity, enough for the fridge, to run the lights, and charge the batteries.
If you perceive living this way to be annoying, you should choose a grid tie system. If being connected to the days energy flows and sailing your house on the solar wind appeals to you, choose a battery system.
The most interesting change for me is switching between a lifestyle of conservation at night to one of almost unlimited energy consumption during the day. If I was on a grid tie system, I would always be conserving, hoping to generate more than I used. That would feel very different. Personally I like the connectedness of observing the changing sunlight and matching my consumption. I like how power wealthy I become each day and then battening down the hatches at night.
These lifestyle changes bring me face to face with my sense of entitlement. Entitlement is the feeling that all these things, comforts, and conveniences in our lives are our birthrights. Despite living with more comforts and conveniences than kings of old, most of us aspire to more abundance. To most, generating one’s own power, heating one’s own water, using a vehicle powered by the sun, and attempting to raise your own food is a lifestyle of poverty and hassle.
But surprise! Abundance awaits here. I feel abundance from using profligately that which is free and environmentally benign. Like having more fresh tomatoes and mangoes and greens than I can eat, relaxing in a 72 degree bedroom while the Florida sun is blazing, and taking a very long hot shower because the water is heated by the sun. My abundance is not taxed, I have no environmental guilt over my excesses, and my neighbors feel sorry for me, not jealous!
Creating a more sustainable lifestyle gives you Stealth Wealth!
Transition Venice is part of the global Transition Movement, a catalyst for rebuilding local community resilience and self-reliance in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic crisis. Through community dialogues, educational programs and innovative projects, Transition Venice seeks to revitalize local agriculture, strengthen our local economy, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and cultivate a new vision for the future of Venice.
1. Positive Visioning
Transition Initiatives are based on a dedication to the creation of tangible, clearly expressed and practical visions of the community in question beyond its present‐day dependence on fossil fuel. Our primary focus is not campaigning against things, but rather on creating positive, empowering possibilities and opportunities. The generation of new stories and myths are central to this visioning work.
2. Help People Access Good Information and Trust Them to Make Good Decisions
Transition initiatives dedicate themselves, through all aspects of their work, to raising awareness of peak oil and climate change and related issues such as critiquing economic growth. In doing so they recognize the responsibility to present this information in ways which are playful, articulate, accessible and engaging, and which enable people to feel enthused and empowered rather than powerless.