St. Petersburg Transition Initiative
St. Petersburg Transition Local Coordinating Hub and its affiliating organizations have thus far the following projects in progress:
*Permablitzes to establish gardens on individual properties as well as on community, (shared) sites
*Membership in the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Working group of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce
*Permaculture Guild-Gaia’s Guardians
*Planned Neighborhood Initiatives in the Northeast, South, Lakewood, Kenwood and Gulfport areas
*Planned creation of a seed bank and tool library, possibly in coordination with our local library system
The Heart of Transition
On May 22, a local group of ecotherapists, convened by Mary Ann Holtz, LMHC, presented a workshop on inner transition, based upon the pioneering work of Joanna Macy. This group addresses how to support those who feel an emotional impact related to concern for the degredation of our environment,climate and economy, as well as depleted energy resources. Another book study will be offered that will be focused on the book, “Active Hope,” also by Joanna Macy. A central premise that is embraced and shared by this group is that, in the words of Joanna Macy, “the pain that people feel about the state of the world is not pathological and should not be labled as such.” The ecotherapy group members validate this pain and are committed to being of service to those who are experiencing it, so we can support one another in addressing life’s threatening circumstances, in advocating for our humanity, and in sustaining our planet for future generations.
Permablitzes, Working Groups and Education
Gaia’s Guardians is a group of diverse and dynamic men, women and children brought together by the desire to acknowledge and honor sustainable food production and permaculture solutions. Through education, action, and community, group members work to empower themselves to strengthen the community.
The group does awareness raising activities twice a month, with speakers, reskilling demonstrations and films. Recently, working groups have been developed around the model of the permaculture flower.
Community resilience is enhanced by “permablitzes” which gather volunteers for the purpose of establishing permaculture gardens on participants’ properties.
Building a Local Economy: A Farmer’s Market, A Buy Local Movement, and a Time Bank
Our St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market is a thriving part of the city’s movement to become more resilient. It was organized by a group of volunteers who share a vision of a strong spirit of community, with access for all to quality farm fresh and healthy foods – a place with a colorful upbeat feeling, a unique selection of local farm produce, tasty ready to eat dishes, and handmade products. The LocalShops1 Buy Local movement supports local small business owners who tend to bring money back into our community and support local community events and activities. The purpose of the time bank is to promote equality and build caring community economies through inclusive exchange of time and talent, rather than monetary currency.
Creating a Tool Library and a Seed Bank:
Currently there is a discussion of utilizing our time bank for these resources. But to better engage the public in learning about sustainable food production and how to access tools, supplies and support needed, a discussion has begun with the local community library system, to train Gaia’s Guardians volunteers as well as library staff how to gather, store and maintain tools and supplies for sustainable food gardening.
Linking up with Community Leaders to Improve Food Security and Access
A core group of supporters that includes civic leaders, educators, students and permaculture activists, the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition has as its goal to champion St. Petersburg as the center for sustainable urban agriculture in the state of Florida.
Several members of our core transition team and advisors are involved with this working group. The aim of the group, empowered by a generous grant from Bon Secour, is to develop community gardens in every neighborhood within St. Petersburg. A top priority is mapping resources to improve access to healthy food, especially in the “food deserts” where those most in need in our community are living.
The working group has launched a pilot project called “10,000 Greens” which provides seedlings for church groups and schools to establish gardens on site.
Climate Protection and Water Stewardship:
The Gaia’s Guardians host a variety of working groups, and these groups are exploring how to partner with St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay Area experts working on environmental policy. See the website for Tampa Bay Water Atlas, linked on this page.
The Health and Wellness working group, organized through Gaia’s Guardians, is exploring various models for delivery of health care services given the crises in our world. These models include the public health model, (emergency preparedness and neighborhood response), the parish nurse model, and the emergence of non-traditional, wholistic approaches to health and well-being. Of particular concern is the ethical question of who will have access to diminishing medical supplies and medicine.
Celebrating Our Diversity
The St. Petersburg Transition Initiating group is planning for a community-building event that 1. explores the social effects of the oil culture we all grew up with, 2. invites us to share locally grown food, and dishes from each of our unique cultures, and 3. celebrates dance and music. We made a song out of our mission statement. We had a mini-rehearsal of this event recently, calling it our Dynamic Diversity Dinner, and it was *wonderful.* We will hold a community wide dinner of this type sometime in the coming year-a ‘launch” event to bring us all together.
Core team members who have all completed a Transition Handbook Study Group and/or a Training for Transition through Transition U.S.: Cristy Abbott, Debra Birkinshaw, Holly Smith, Justin Marlin, Kalika Novoa, Ingrid Tomey and Mary Ann Holtz
Advisory Council: Andy Karpinski, Bill Bilodeau, and Christina Bellamy