The Transition Movement comes to America

One response to the global crisis that is gaining enthusiastic momentum in Tucson and around the world is the Transition Towns movement. Sustainable Tucson is taking advantage of many Transition Resources to support our Sustainability Planning Initiative.

Jennifer Gray, a pioneer in the Transition Initiative in the UK and cofounder of Transition US, describes it as “a community-led response to the twin crises of peak oil and climate change. It’spositive, pro-active, and engages the whole community in building resilience into their world.” Sharing highlights from The Transition Handbook by founder Rob Hopkins, she elaborates on a flexible twelve-step process to empower community organizers in unleashing the creative genius of their community and building an Energy Descent Action Plan. One innovative aspect is backcasting: envisioning one’s community in 20 years, and then designing steps to get from here to there.

Listen to a Global Public Media interview with Jennifer Gray here.

Watch the video here.

Neighborhood Rainwater Harvesting Workshop

Neighborhood Water Harvesting Workshop

Time: Saturday, February 14, 8am-12pm

Location: Rincon Heights Neighborhood (6th street & Campbell Ave. area), details given upon registration

Watershed Management Group ( is hosting a workshop on Saturday, February 14 from 8am to 12pm  in the Rincon Heights neighborhood (6th St./Campbell area).  At this free workshop you’ll gain hands-on experience installing simple landscape features like basins and curb cuts that passively collect stormwater runoff to create beautiful, self-sustaining pockets of native vegetation.  This workshop will be useful for anyone interested in learning knowledge and skills of rainwater harvesting that they can use on their own properties and neighborhood areas.  The workshop will be of particular interest to those who want to learn more about working in the City of Tucson’s right-of-way (between sidewalk and curb) to harvest rain water from adjacent properties, sidewalks, and from street runoff via curb cuts. The workshop will include information on city requirements, and hands-on practice working within this valuable and often overlooked public space.

There is space for 25 people at this free, public workshop. To reserve your spot and get directions to the site, please RSVP to James MacAdam, phone 780-9416, email:

End of empire, Beginning of struggle

(Originally published by The Tucson Weekly,  January 20, 2009)

End of empire, Beginning of struggle

by Bob Cook, Core Team member of Sustainable Tucson

The era of American empire has collapsed with the exiting of President George W. Bush, and the age of struggle for sustainability has begun with the “clean” presidential election of Barack Obama.

Bush presided over the biggest economy bubble collapse (not just housing) in our country’s history. Non-productive risk-taking and gambling on financial outcomes has led to the unprecedented revaluing downward of the entire economy. Ignoring ecological and earth science has led us Americans to being responsible for the largest contribution to destabilizing the global climate and depletion of the earth’s finite resources. Bush’s war in Iraq has made us more energy insecure rather than more secure. Foreign investors, corporations, and nations willing to back trillions in new dollar creation, now determine the future health of America’s bankrupt economy.

Not only will Obama be challenged to mediate the forces bent on economic recovery, but by historical convergence, his administration will face the priority challenge of transitioning the whole economy toward sustainability. Replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy and rebalancing our overly-consumptive culture are necessary if we are to successfully adapt to global environmental change.

During this current transition, we in Tucson are as vulnerable as any other region highly dependent on growth. The need for people and organizations to begin a real community conversation on a sustainable future has never been more critical than now.

Cultural/Spiritual Change & Awareness

JANUARY General meeting — Organizing questions:

How can we get past the barriers that keep groups separated?
What needs to happen to create cooperation and inspiration instead of divisiveness and perhaps violence?
How do we shift our thinking to value relationships and peace and quiet over acquiring stuff and consuming stuff?
What can we do to recreate a more caring and interacting community in urban areas?
How do we turn Tucson into a true permaculture oasis?
What are the ways to bring children & young people to this process? They have the most stake in tomorrow.
How do we create more cultural shift through increasing youth education programs today?
How can we control reproduction?
How do we make sustainability joyful and engaging so that everyone wants to join in?
How can Tucsonans come to care about, and care for each other as a community instead of just caring for themselves or their small circle of family and friends? In other words, how can we widen our circle of caring?
How do we expand participation by all communities – especially those not usually involved?

Group Discussion:

How do we integrate the various groups? Create less isolation and separation? What are the barriers to participation? How do we create support?
We need a network of organizations that share a common vision of a sustainable future. This network will provide a unity for our progress.
Create gathering place on a regular basis.
Consciousness-raising groups.
Link with friends to create change.
Model “Move On.Org” including house parties.
Address people’s fear of involvement.
Create “change” support groups.
Explore incentives to increase involvement/change.
Engage “cross-pollinators” of groups; plant seeds of change in other groups.
Seek out the gaps – groups that aren’t involved, such as senior groups and tap into their knowledge.
Face to face, Internet, phone, etc.
Supply neighborhood associations with information.
Seek commonalities among focus groups of Sustainable Tucson.
Understand how language perpetuates mindsets.

Main points:
1) Create gathering place on a regular basis.
2) Model “Move On.Org” including house parties.
3) Engage “cross-pollinators” of groups; plant seeds of change in other groups.
4) Seek out the gaps – groups that aren’t involved, such as senior groups and tap into their knowledge.

FEBRUARY General Meeting — Discussion and Who elese needs to be involved/invited?

Help people to be aware of themselves and actions, with each other and environment
Church communities
Withour spiritual basis, sustainability won’t be possible
Beyond consumer culture, move into-values based culture, inclusiveness, compassion, generosity, seven generations
Creative community/communication—the collective consciousness
League of Women Voters defining sustainability values and morals define sustainability
Educational psychology—study of teachers’ attitudes, desire a symposium about attitudes and feelings about environment and changes in their lives
Shift is beyond the physical into the spiritual, physical/material is falling apart
Spirit and physicality as an interface with the consciousness/ resource center/outdoor marketplace/ community resource/education-food-resource
How can spiritual/cultural sustainable society be actualized?
Honor differences
Community center of resources with arts and education and holistic vision
Faith-based groups on the same page-find commonality
Catalyst agents for personal development to take out into the community for cultural change, non-political, small-group based, connecting the dots
Low-carbon diet program – meetings to find out carbon footprint, action steps, report backs, within church program and other organizations.
Gardening, permaculture
Connect to other groups doing the work/support groups
Billboards and street art (guerilla postering) with sustainability messages/ public service messages
Understand small/slow change makes a difference
Art and relationships are the expression for spirit and culture
Organization/culture to support arts and spirituality—Tucson Arts Brigade is a model

Who needs to at the spiritual/cultural table?
–Pastors/ministers/rabbi/iman/religious leaders
demographic groups: youth, Hispanics, blacks, Asians, native, elders, glbt, etc
–healers, practitioners, therapists,

How do we get them involved in the spiritual/cultural discussion?
–Have meetings in different communities. Not everyone will travel to downtown.
Go to: religious centers, community centers, other libraries, schools/universities, organizations doing sustainability work, listserves, neighborhood associations
Fun meetings with art and games and music and food

Quantifying and Analyzing Sustainability: Modeling Sustainable Solutions (tech/science)

JANUARY Meeting –Organizing questions:

How large a population can Tucson/Pima County support in a sustainable manner, providing our needs from local capacity? (e.i., without importing energy, water, food, and other resources from outside the region)
Do we have a good database model of resources in and out of Tucson?
What is sustainability for a community? Is it self-sufficiency?
Where is the “sweet spot” on a graph where desired quality crosses with minimum resource usage?
What does the ongoing process of an evolving sustainability plan entail?
Do we understand the mathematics of sustainability under uncertainty?
How are we addressing the possibility of this meltdown being “evolutionary in scope” such that what is happening is outside our normal learned perspective of life?
At what point will we stop talking and begin taking action?

Group Discussion

Can we come up with a set of data that shows how, in terms of numbers, we use resources in Tucson so we can create an input/output matrix for life resources, not just money?
To be sustainable is not optional – being unsustainable leads to death!
We need to define the root problems. Sometimes people view implementing solutions as if the solution is the main problem.
People are not fully aware of what it takes to be able to live in Tucson.
What needs to be done: Take a bioregional perspective, calculate carrying capacity, and determine environmental, social, and economic assets to build from and to see what’s missing.
The problem is undefined. What is the problem we are trying to solve?
What are we trying to sustain? Environment, quality of life, economic growth.
Collect data, formulate analysis.
We need to define sustainable population (range or number) for this region.
Does sustainability evolve? Have we always been sustainable?
Is sustainable a “zero-sum problem”, i.e., Is there a fixed resource pie so that more resources on one side makes fewer resources on another? For example, does increased population mean less water for each person.
What is consensus of problem definition we need to solve?
Scientific problem-solving requires analysis of data.
Sustainability is avoiding disastrous consequence of growth.
Are we sustainable if we use money to buy our life-support from outside Pima County?
Part of problem is people do not have a good idea of how much of a resource is needed to sustain their lives in Tucson. Also where do these resources come from? For example, where does our food come from?
Can we create a model so people can “see” the use of resources and make decisions based on data about possible trade-offs? For example, Does rainwater harvesting to water gardens plants reduce stream flows to downstream riparian areas, wildlife, and communities? We currently have no data?
How can we address this need for data and understanding?
What data do we need to collect to define “sustainable” for each life quality or resource? We need an input/output model for local and imported life-support resources – what comes in, what is used here, what goes out?
What is optimal size region for sustainability? USA, Pima County, Tucson?
Water is one measure of sustainability limits.

Main points:

1) What are we trying to sustain? Environment, quality of life, economic growth.
2) Sustainability is avoiding disastrous consequence of growth.
3) Part of problem is people do not have a good idea of how much of a resource is needed to sustain their lives in Tucson. Also where do these resources come from?
4) How can we address this need for data and understanding?
5) What data do we need to collect to define “sustainable” for each life quality or resource?
6) What is optimal size region for sustainability?

FEBRUARY General meeting — Discussion and Who else needs to be involved/invited?

What resources does it take to sustain our current Pima County population for water , food, shelter & livelihood and where do thses resources come from?
What is the carrying capacity of Pima County
How much electric-generation from roof tops in Tucson?
How much roof-water could come from Tucson?
How much water needs to go into the ground?
How much water comes in, gets used, and goes out of Pima County?
How much ag/food development needed to support population/ eco base
What is the measure of an economic base that indicates “enough” jobs or development for the population? Solar panel production, green retrofitting

Who needs to be invited?
Biosphere II, UA departments, Pima County Gov, Huckleberry, Board of Supes, PC P&Z, TREO

Awareness and Education

JANUARY General meeting — Organizing questions:

1) How do we get one million-plus people to be aware and participate?
2) How can we raise awareness in Tucson? (Most people need to hear about Peak Oil and climate change and ways to help adapt their lifestyles to one that is not dependent on oil.)
3) How can we accelerate awareness and understanding of the sustainability challenge so that the community can take effective action sooner rather than later?

Group A discussion:

Awareness of idea that “returning to normal” is no longer possible. What is needed is transformation, awareness of scarcity of resources, resource depletion, change in growth patterns, reaching more people, TV leaders.
Networking among groups.
Rating system for sustainability -emblem, scale, locality, fair trade & labor, distance, energy, impact on environment.
Children’s reading materials – focused effort – task force to schools.
Going to business to engage, groups about their sustainability issues. E.g. United Way gets support widely.
Envisioning process to promote to local need, enlist by local values, needs to come from government/ Present as opportunities.
Internet as an awareness outreach tool. Increase visibility.
The next generation is savvy – they will find it there.
Cool internet newsletter about sustainable happenings.
REGULAR public forum – weekend – festival of education/meeting, interaction of people, “A Village”, All people matter and can be invited to exchange.
Create spaces and places where young people can plug in to sustainable activities which are focused on creating a positive future which is fun.
Reaching teachers, schools, groups.
Prosperity as a motivation; alternative scenarios that fit their values -they will want to want the change. Public exposition: pros and cons; planning by choice vs. adapting by crisis.
Information bundling to prevent overload – COHERENCE – easily understandable, e.g. “where do we recycle batteries?”
Fairs in schools, a regular event, a “sustainability market.”
Sustainability begs a rating system/authority.
Empower people with education – “yes you can – here’s how.”
Mentors to share knowledge, retirees, cultural exchanges, trading, barter.
“Transition Handbook”, exercises, choices, groups to lobby elected officials; explain functional, best practices, how it benefits community.
Hospital food does not represent health choices.
Fear of unknown drives behavior -positive choices can discourage this.

Main points:

1) Reaching people in a positive way – young people, businesses, seniors, etc.
2) Regular events and activities to engage people (sustainability fairs, mentoring, hospitals, Internet, etc.
3) Credibility

Group B Discussion:

Children (schools.)
Hands-on training (practical models.)
How do we get the message out and reach everyone?
Understanding leads to action (behavior shift/ unlearning.)
Systemic change.
Small changes.
Localizing communities, helping our neighborhoods, taking care off each others needs.
Increasing motivation: economics of price increases, community gardens, creating space for talking, different activities (single issues, fun celebrations.)
Reaching different populations: kids, adults, businesses, communities, neighborhood associations, create projects such as sidewalks, gardens, clean-up arroyos, billboards.
How do find out about existing programs? -education, green orgs, businesses.

Main points:

1) Audiences – children, neighborhoods, business owners, baby boomers, government, spirituality.
2) Ways to reach people – technology, hands-on, role modeling, school programs, person-to-person, movies, music, art, entertainment.
3) Who are the providers, who is doing the work? – teachers, neighborhood groups, non-profits, city programs, businesses.

FEBRUARY General meeting — Discussion

Writing books for kids about a variety of topics re: sustainability, energy efficiency
Where is ‘away” when things are thrown away.
Workshops—not just reading/taking in information intellectually—action/embodied education
Programs that foster stewardship:
–gardens, canning, farmer’s market, crafts
–schools, juvenile detention centers
–multiple intelligences

Businesses—incentives to get involved
–tax incentives for recycling
publish green businesses in newspaper
–fact sheet for businesses on increasing profits by usinjg green technology
ST awards to local businesses

In-services for teachers
Get printing donated and/or grants to publish educational materials

Public Policy and Urban Planning

JANUARY General meeting — Organizing Questions:

Policy issues – what can be done? What can be done to speed progress – change of policy & zoning? Education and marketing(?) from government. Why is this not utilized in Tucson, Pima Co.? effective tool.

Sustain. Public Participation – full engagement. Vision for region. Equity. Conversation. Compromise – we are convinced we are right. General plan. Historical pressures. Less car centric. Political structure – leverage – how to implement politically, political will. Investment in the process – honest about cost and benefits – Grant Rd – have to go! Take care of what we have.

How can we reduce the use of products that introduce carbon into the atmosphere?

How to we incent density. People move to AZ for wide open spaces and views of mountains – using more land per capita. Citizen opposition to density? Growth rate? State land? Subdivisions? Buyers that WANT density and can get mortgages.

How can we incentivise development of the built environment to be more sustainable?

Bioregional urban design – who’s doing it? General plan. Broader based vision for the area. Car-centric. Definition of sustainable

What underlying systems and policies are impeding the market’s ability to create a more sustainable community? Ie, zoning, land use issues, taxes, etc.

How do we get the political will to acknowledge the desert environment which likely won’t sustain the number of people currently living here?

How can we increase the density of downtown Tucson?H

Will there be high rises all over Tucson to accommodate the population growth or a sustainable development keeping the balance of green w/built environment?

Public Policy – How can ordinances be written to encourage sustainability while protecting “basic freedoms?”

When our democracy is being subverted – public officials spending our money to deceive us – then nothing we the people want can be realize – like – Good ground water for human consumption, not farms and mines.

Can Tucson redevelop land that is already developed? IE: parking lots, abandoned lots, buildings.

Group Discussion:

Public Policy/Planning

Adopt a legal definition of sustainability

Create a framework for a more cohesive process

Better provide for citizen input (evening meetings)

Involve more groups in the decision-making process

Inventory what we now have, especially properties

Assess the cost/benefit of increasing public participation (which MUST happen)

Investigate the best ways to use the political system (change charter, new representatives)

Adopt “relocalization” (peak oil, global warming initiative) as city/county planning goal.

Consider a progressive carbon tax

Create the political will to change

Sell a vision of the Tucson of the future (we once were a sustainable community!)

The vision thing – educating, marketing, public information campaigns – media


Define the vision and the terms

Ways to involve
The public
The political process
The professionals

Adopt Strategies such as relocalization, carbon tax, inventory

FEBRUARY General meeting — Discussion and Who needs to be involved?

1) Examine successful processes and adapt them to the Tucson environment.
Study examples: Envision Utah, Portland, OR; Austin TX

2) Basis of conversation is shared values and vision rather than a plan
3)  Need a vision of Tucson based on what we want as opposed to what we don’t want (i.e., Phoenix)
4) Must create clear definitions of the components the vision, i.e., a “green city” &  “open space”

COT needs comprehensive plan
And update neighborhood plans
And maintain dept of urban planning and design
Need good-faith collaboration between neighborhoods and city planners and balance representation,
Need a long-term vision for Tucson in future (“Envision utah”
Need community resource centers for education, sharing resources, community building
Need to re-examine public policies
Examine, research other success stories (cities that are moving forward with vision)
Need to identify shared values within the community (input from the bottom up)
Don’t reinvent the wheel look at ways to work with what we’ve got
Need “green” Re-development
(“green” means reduced impact on environment)
Need a clear definition of “Open space”


Organizing Questions:

Language of business

How can our economy become more localized, so local needs are met through local jobs, networks, resources (sunshine) and community?

What is keeping the Sustainability advocates in Tucson from being able to reach out to the business community who could be such a forceful partner in community sustainability as it is in so many other communities? Are we using the wrong language?

How can we get every home and every business in Tucson using solar energy as their main source by 2015?

How do we get the resources to make the changes, particularly money?

How can the process of sustainability provide better paying job opportunities and not provide lower paying jobs that already exist: i.e. expanded development balanced with sustainability growth?

What is the definition of “green jobs”? What needs to be done to create a sustainable Tucson? Create a new workforce and a new mindset that values sustainability – a “green jobs initiative.”

How do we maintain jobs in a no-growth, maintenance or transition economy?

How do we create the political and public will to fund the components of a sustainable future? Common vision. Shared responsibility. Equitable funding.

If we can educate homeowners and rental property managers about the value of improving their properties from the standpoint of sustainability, incomes will rise.

Educate the check writers. Trade-offs/priorities we Can’t have it all.

Group Discussion:

Economic Sustainability

Funding Paying for sustainability – what we need and want.

Check: Payee: Tucson’s Future Signed by Us

Green jobs and business

1. How do we pay for it? Green is expensive.
2. Low-tech hot water heaters. Opportunity for local job creation
3. Government responsibilities – Keeping society’s options open
a. Language of business need to be reduced to
b. Leading by example – convener
4. Pro Forma*
5. Remove barriers and regulations
6. Training for Green Jobs
7. Green on a budget/or fixed income.
a. Want to but can’t afford it.
b. How does green fit in the gap between the haves and have nots?

8. Too much of local economy is based on growth. Gov’t deficits
9. Freeze growth until we can pay our current bills with current income.
10. Green is not necessarily sustainable. Living beyond our means.
11. Up front capital is needed. Money for replacement of old building systems. 175,000 homes by $15,000
12. Solar residential – payback is minimum 5 years

Key Points

1. Bring in money, private investment (but not people)
2. Education, recruitment of clean business, ability to compete with Austin, Albuquerque, Portland
3. Not going back – no more cheap gas or water – use this period to prepare for economy returns.
4. Traditional finance means won’t be there in the future. 20% reduction in workforce in next 5 years.
Peer to Peer financing
Borrowing Pools

Need innovative financing – not traditional

Priscilla Storm writes:

How to pay for the initial investment in sustainability is a legitimate concern, especially when cash and credit are not available or in short supply.  Also the benefit of sustainable development is greatest when owner occupied, so that the party incurring the initial expense also benefits from the cost savings over time.  Many buildings are not owner occupied and the construction expense is incurred without the sales or lease price paying a premium to address the buyer or tenant benefits of reduced operating expense over time. This serves as a disincentive for non-owner occupied buildings.  I think this is an important current reality that we should recognize and see if there are any current tools available to assist in these scenarios.


JANUARY General Meeting — Organizing Questions:

Historic Preservation, beauty, eliminate more mcMansions, shelter to be elegant, simple, beautiful, sustainable. Vegetable Gardening in schools. Food production water(?). Block parties – getting to know your neighbors.

How can we get zoning changes to allow neighborhood shops in residential areas. More bikeways. More pedestrian walkways. Change parking to more useful areas. In general, how can we modify residential areas to be more like ‘traditional’ communities/villages with shared facilities? Also modify shopping areas to be community centers – eg for transport/rideshare, play areas. Lastly, how to crosslink/integrate these modified areas?

How do we work on reaching out to others in our neighborhoods (when there’s a high percentage of renters) to work together on neighborhood projects?

Vacant parcels. Home Owner’s Associations small groups do what? Viability of neighborhoods (walkable green spaces) Historic preservation. Beauty. Simplicity. No more huge houses. School gardens. Food production. Block parties. Low cost housing increase. Limit expansion. Recycling. Working out relations in neighborhoods. Zoning changes.

Vacant Parcels’ utilization – promote infill projects in residential neighborhoods.

How do we transform our neighborhoods into livable walkable green places?

How can we increase more low-cost housing that is sustainable for the large numbers of people who need housing?

What can we do to promote infill and limit expansion? What can we do to recycle water? How do we promote green historic preservation?

What can I do to motivate Home Owners Assoc.? What could a small group do?

Appropriate infill, engage people, make HOA’s and communities more “on the same page”, zoning laws.

Group Discussion:

Housing – Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods need:

Electric light
Phone lines
_ Gathering Places

Medical Care
Laundry Facilities
Trash Pick Up
Police/Fire people

Reuse of bldgs
“Adaptive reuse”
Green Historic Preservation

Social ‘Capital’
Networks of people collaborating to improve their community
Local ‘energy’ within the community
Create ‘social capital’ by building meaningful relationships
Identifying needs and connecting them to resources
Providing places to meet and talk-interact
Providing opportunities to work together on public projects
Eg: Community Gardens
Artwork and Craft Projects
Rebuilding eg: schools, historic buildings
Neighborhood street/sidewalk changes
Eg: rounabouts/circles

Neighborhoods can do:
Change zoning
Improve their own areas
Get funding for projects
Connecting with other neighborhoods
Connect resources to needs



People live in Houses are in Neighborhoods which make up Communities which make up the city TUCSON.

Any sustainability initiative must deal with neighborhoods to be effective and neighborhoods have needs as well as potential.

Neighborhoods can do:

Be more self sufficient
Cisterns, water harvesting
Basins, berms

Be more user friendly
Bike and Pedestrian Ways
Keep low cost/clustered housing
Keep a range of housing types in the neighborhood
(prevent gentrification, demolition)
Pride of residency to avoid neighborhood deterioration
Responsibility of owners for maintenance if renting


Start Pilot Projects

Be models of how to be sustainable

No more tract houses – sprawl

FEBRUARY General Meeting — Who else needs to be involved/invited?

Who needs to be invited to participate in this plan
Sonoran Institute
Neighborhood associations –neighborhood support network
Under-represented communities—refugee groups, areas outside of neighborhood associations, connect thru area businesses
Pima Council on Aging
Service providers-police/fire
Elected officials –City Council, County Board members/aides
Merchant associations, Chambers of commerce
Green building design experts,
Farmers markets,
Planners—city, county, UA
Institute for Environment and Society
Drachman Institute
Pima Arts Council

What are we doing?
People should feel that they are missing out on something
Grass-roots, citizen-based sustainability plan
Building foundation for future planning
Importance of community engagement and being part of that.


JANUARY General meeting — Organizing Questions:

How do we encourage water harvesting?

How can we help people use less water?

What can Tucson do to save the 12″ rainwater for Tucson to use?

Is it feasible to collect more rainwater runoff on a large scale during monsoon?

How will Tucson provide water to a population that exceeds its resources (i.e. CAP) when extended drought occurs?

How can the Tucson regious continue to grow its economy within our existing water resource constraints – supply, climate change, utilization of alternate resources, i.e. effluent?

What happens when the water runs out? The economic base of Tucson & P.C. is expressed as “growth”. Given that that is not sustainable, what are the viable alternatives for the Tucson economic base?

How do we clean our collective environments to eliminate toxic wastes both internally and externally in order to produce individual and collective health?

Water collecting. Gardens. Fewer roads and parking lots.

Group Discussion:

How do we tie land use to water use?

Individual action to conserve

Water Harvesting Practitioner

What happens when the water runs out?

How do we prevent the water from running out?

How can we save the 12″ rainfall for Tucson?

Use rainfall more productively? How?

Best use of rain off roadways?

Limit growth – don’t have conservation then allow more people in Tucson?

How to tie energy for pumping water to water use?

What is the best use of water – the best quality water goes to pecans, agriculture and mines, not people

How to promote xeroscape for H2O conservations?

Let’s capture monsoon water!

What is Government doing to let us know of water shortage?

Education of all water aspects.

How to get truthful assessment of water capacity in relation to population numbers?

To bring us to water sustainability:

Revise water law to reflect water capacity and scientific reality.
Water rates to motivate conservation
Recirculating hot water (tankless)
Capture rain run off in washes, etc. man made lakes
Berms at top of watershed
Pressure plate dams
Reuse grey water
Get more people to do grey water
Address legal issues

Promote composting toilets
Steep water connection fees for new construction
Reuse flushing water from city mains
Public education on advantages of roof water catchment
Change law about runoff once it enters rivers

Priority Issues

1) Education – sources, uses, collection, recycling, personal responsibility
2) Water Law
3) Rainwater Collection (Harvesting)
4) Special Interests’ uses of groundwater vs. CAP

Marisa Duarte (Marisa Duarte <>) writes:

Good Day we are a team of 8th graders from Utterback Middle School in Tucson Arizona.
The purpose of this Email is to collect the most current information on water conservation. we are creating a service project for either school, home or community.
we invite any water conservation person from your team to presnt to our class.
please contact me back with anything i just asked.

FEBRUARY General meeting — Who else needs to be involved/invited?

Who should we bring into the discussion?
1. Schools —Teach the Child
2. Home Owners Associations: incorporate water use efficiency in by-laws
3. Developers – What changes be incorporated into new developments? Incentives or mandates?


JANUARY Organizing Questions & Notes:

* How do we coordinate cooperation and support between people and groups involved in local small scale food production?
* Is it possible to have rainwater harvesting on every home in Tucson? Are community gardens in the future?
* How can we get fast food places to use recyclable containers?
What plants make sense for us to grow (on a large scale) to reduce trucking in groceries from great distances?
* I see a lack of recycling and a lack of composting.
* What thoughts and questions come up with the following question: “Who is your farmer?”
* How can food production address urban poverty, local resource replenishment and civic engagement?

* See what needs to be done: Education about food choices since many scientists/experts believe the single most impactful action an individual can take to mitigate climate change and halt global warming is a vegetarian diet and that animal agriculture is the largest contributor of (to) global warming and climate change. How do we educate the public on a massive scale of this info since it seems most people are not aware of this.

Who should be involved in the sustainability Discussion?
Community Gardens
City of Tucson
Available spaces to allocate
School Gardens, Church
Existing Gardens
Example Sonoran Kitchen Gardens

Discovery needed on existing organizations
Local Food Production
Green Jobs
Research Gardens elsewhere as models
Pea Patch City Wide
City Mercado
Centralize Listing of Local Produce
Coalition of Food Growers

Other Thoughts
Ecology of food to create sustainable health
How to grow food
Educate Public on food choices
Vote with our choices
Connecting children with Food Produciton
Law that prevents children from receiving garden produce to eat at school.
Resources – animal agriculture
Veg/Meat – common threads to unite groups
Recyclable containers – Education
Status of this issue – how many participating?
Contact neighborhood organizations; ie 4th Ave
What plants should we grow to discourage trucking of produce?

FEBRUARY General Meeting — Who else needs to be involved/invited?

Who is not here?
CSAs Phillipe
Native Seeds
Brad Lancaster
Desert harvesters
Community Food Bank Varga garland
Tucson originals:
TUSD  School Gradens
Feast, Pastische, Local Harvest

Environmental mapping: toxic places
Community Gardens
Southside gardening empowerment group
GMO’s—eliminate, desirable?
Bill of rights for pure food
Eliminating Transfats
Sustainable Diet/City Diet/ artificial food?
Chlorine in water/safe?

February Meeting at Coffee Exchange

Summary of meeting:
* Plan for next meeting discussed: Tentative agreement was to try to move meetings to the 3rd Thursday of the month, around 5:30-7:30 PM at the Woods Library (1st and Prince)
Barry and Judith will coordinate on arrangements and surveying all members who were not present to ensure that works for the majority, as well as that the space is available.

* We discussed the goals of our group.. seems to be 3-fold:
1) Achieve sketch/outline for Sustainable Tucson’s Earth Day deadline for a presentation (which Barry sent more info about earlier)…. using the framing questions provided so far, as well as what further clarification comes from the next General Meeting. 2) Plan to flesh out more details over the next year through Sustainable Tucson’s more detailed process (more info to come).
3) Identify any actions or projects we’re interested in pursuing, and how to best do so (individually and/or collectively).
(Many are hinted at in items in the attached sketch)

* We started solidifying our sketch (goal 1) by answering “What needs to be done to create a food-Sustainable Tucson?” (ie: what if the trucks were to stop rolling in? Or if we expect they will in the next 10 years?)
– Carla (I) took down all ideas discussed on laptop notes — that’s what the below comment on Feb. 21 is.
– Many details began to be mentioned that would further each of these ideas/items beyond what could be taken down for the outline… , like lists of books, organizations, people to connect with, etc… those are referred to as future action items needed … like resource mapping, community networking that we will plan for at next meetings, or other resource creation (like a bibliogroaphy of recommended reading to post online) … individuals can work on these as time allows, in the meantime.

As you think of more, keep notes and either email them, or bring them to the next meeting and we can work them in.

ALSO See “Food & Agrigculture” resources under “Topics in Focus” in top navigation


January Meeting:  Organizing Questions:
I would like to see a Rapid Transit Magnetic Train between Tucson and Phoenix

How can we get a fast train between Tucson and Phoenix?

How can we as the residents and citizens of Tucson shift to a predominately car-free culture? Car free city = Uban spce absent of personal motorized petroleum-consuming vehicles.

How many people in this audience are generating their own electricity at home? We must be the change we wish to see… If not us, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?

In 20 years, is it possible that _ – _ of us could have come to this meeting by some means other than the automobile? I would like to walk out of this meeting 20 years hence and see an empty -or- no parking lot!

Best uses for ex-roadways (paved streets & highways) in urban areas, without all of the vehicles and traffic we have now?

How do we create a sustainable transportation system for Tucson? How do we create a sustainable food system that minimizes carbon footprint & nurtures & cultivates local food production and commerce (?)

Sustainable Mass Transit – how to start?

Buses – safety issues. Can get exercise from stop to stop.

Needs to be done: Low cost transportation connecting different segments of Tucson more easily.

How do we get renewable energy powered transportation as main mode in Tucson and eliminate fossil fuels by 2029?

How do we retrofit Tucson’s infrastructure for a sustainable humane future?

Group Discussion:

Buses – Much more accessible and timely – more routes

Lights (solar), safety (bus stops user friendly, shaded), security (need more people out there)

Readily/always available bus passes
Electronic passes
Promote exercise & riding bus
Renewable energy powered

Inter-city train – Tucson to PHX

Magnetic Power
Solar Power

Multi-modal transportation


Other Mass Transport – Promote Fed & State Funding/Incentives

Light Rail – support Steve Farley

Time Is Now after 10 years of discussion

Driving Factors
Peak Oil and High Cost (of fuel)
Create Accountability & Govt.
New Markets/Jobs
Better Urban Design/Living
Change size of/Priorities of roads
Space Allocations (reallocate parking lots)

Understand/Use new economic drivers toward mass transit

New Vision for “community”
Reduce Sprawl
Extend Mass Transit Everywhere Needed to Serve Inner Community
Rezoning, Mixed Zoning

“Envision Utah” model – look at case studies

Find other models
Urban Villages
Mass Transit connect cores/hubs and…

Other Modes:
Shuttles (inner or intercity), Monorail, Rickshaws,
Bike Sharing

“Naked Streets” – Woonee – traffic speed/use – use for non-traffic events/times

Electric cars/plug ins/solar powered battery back-ups
Tucson Electric Vehicle Association

See Tucson Bike
Bike Boulevards
Multi-use paths

Getting it all done
Abundant Resources
Scarcity of Implementation
Identify New Opportunities
Maneuver to accomplish change/transformation

Need to find what motivates

Key Points:

1) Support Alternative Transport – busses, trains, bicycles, walking, electric vehicles. Use renewable energy sources always
2) Redevelop Sustainable Communities
i. Rezoning and mixed use

Living Streets
ii. Restrict traffic use
iii. Reclaim street for living/neighborhood connections

3) Explore Incentives/methods for
i. New Policy/Incentives/Economic Drivers
ii. Application to Recapture of space used by “automobile culture”/industry

February Meeting:  Who else needs to be invited/involved?

Lots of layers of gov and business
Business leaders
Diverse users – bus , old Pueblo Trolley
Urban land Institute
Travel demand management
Major commercial property owners
Slogging(?) jitneys
Planners with knowledge and expereence of form-based codes
America2050 – transit
Jan Cervelli (UA Architecture dean)
Scott Bernstein, center for neighborhood Technology
Phil Lopez
Chamber of Commerce, NE Business Coalition

Volunteers needed to help remove buffelgrass Feb 7th

For immediate release
Contact: Dennis Dickerson, (520) 792-1093
Volunteers needed to help remove buffelgrass
from parks, public land across the region on Feb. 7

Beat Back Buffelgrass Day is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7. The second annual volunteer
event, coordinated by Pima Association of Governments, will be held across the region. Last
year, over 200 volunteers removed more than 4,000 buffelgrass plants in just a few hours.

“Volunteer efforts throughout the past year made a real difference, and a few areas that
were choked with buffelgrass are now clear,” said Dennis Dickerson, PAG’s Environmental
Planning Coordinator. “Despite that progress, the extent of buffelgrass will require
continued effort.”

PAG established Beat Back Buffelgrass Day to raise awareness of the threat of buffelgrass and
to remove as much buffelgrass as possible on a single day.

Individuals and groups wishing to participate may volunteer by logging onto or and selecting a location where organized
buffelgrass removal efforts will occur.

Listed as a noxious weed in Arizona, buffelgrass poses a serious threat to the ecology of the
Sonoran desert. When dry, buffelgrass burns readily and at a temperature exceeding 1,000
degrees Fahrenheit. As buffelgrass colonizes more areas, the threat of fire increases. The
Sonoran desert environment is not adapted to fire, and buffelgrass fires will destroy native
desert species.

Watershed Management Group Open House

Watershed Management Group (WMG), a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Tucson, AZ will be hosting two open houses for individuals interested in learning more about the organization and volunteer opportunities. The Executive Director as well as members of the Board of Directors will speak about the mission and activities of Watershed Management Group. As WMG continues to increase its capacity to serve the community it relies on volunteers to serve on its Board of Directors and as Advisory Board members to provide oversight, outreach, program development, and technical expertise. Volunteers can also assist with activities such as workshops, earthworks, water conservation, international program development, fundraising and organizational tasks.

If you’re interested in making a difference and improving your community, come to an open house and learn more about Watershed Management Group.

Two Open House Dates:
• Saturday, January 24th from 4-5pm at the City of Tucson Ward 1 Council Office (940 W Alameda St)
• Thursday, February 5th from 7-8pm at the City of Tucson Ward 3 Council Office (1510 E Grant Rd)

If you have any questions regarding the open house or our organization please contact Catlow Shipek: 520-396-3266; or; or visit our website at