Albany’s Great Unleashing – Sunday, May 22

While we face many problems going into the future, there are already lots of good efforts going on to address them in Albany. You can find a list of working Albany organizations on the City’s website.

But the problems are far too big for a few organizations or for government to tackle alone. Behind all of them – over-population, species extinction, climate change, fossil fuel depletion, unsteady economy – the idea that we can continue to live disconnected from nature’s laws and “grow” our economy endlessly on a planet whose resources are limited, is key . We’re going to have to seriously rethink our lifestyles if we are to have a world of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all.

It’s going to take everyone in Albany – young, old, working, not working, rich, poor, Latina/o, African American, White, Asian – working together to create neighborhoods that can gracefully weather the changes ahead in a way that’s fair, fun and inclusive.

The Transition movement believes that there are plenty of people in every community with the smarts to come up with solutions that are unique for their place. So for those of you who have been coming to our events for the last 18 months and left thinking, “What’s next?”, here’s what’s next:

The Great Unleashing … of the Genius of the Community!

The time has come for all of us to put our shoulders to the wheel in the areas where we each have the most passion and interest. Then, with the advantage of everyone’s best thinking focused on the problem, we can devise practical solutions that dig deep, solutions that are uniquely applicable to the place where we live.

The task? To make Albany resilient to sudden, as well as gradual but inevitable, change, especially in areas where we rely on a fragile supply system for our essentials. You can find ideas on the kinds of areas we could work on at

We’ve been led to believe that consumption is what life is all about, but what about learning to be producers again? Good neighbors? These are the kind of issues that we will be addressing together at the Great Unleashing.

➢ If we wait for the governments, it’ll probably be too little, too late.

➢ If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little.

➢ But if we act as communities, it might be just enough, just in time.”

Potential Problems We Need To Address In Albany

  • If the price of oil stopped trucks from running or made the cost of food rise steeply, how would we feed ourselves? In the event of disruption, Safeway and other food stores only have enough to keep us going for about three days.
  • What if we couldn’t afford to buy the essentials we need? Do we have skills to share with others in exchange?
  • What if pharmaceutical drugs (most of which are based on petrochemicals) became less accessible? Are there effective alternatives we could develop locally?
  • Are our children equipped to deal with the practical demands of a life without gadgets and technological aids? What useful skills could we be teaching them?
  • How well do we manage during a power outage, or when the water’s turned off for a few hours, several days? What about sewage?
  • How are we dealing with the realization that our children and grandchildren are going to be living with a lot less of what we’ve been taught is our “due”?

So, what exactly IS the Great Unleashing?

It’s a working afternoon with a celebratory feel, starting 2 pm Sunday afternoon, May 22nd, at the Albany Vet’s Building in Memorial Park on Portland Avenue. Because we want everyone’s participation, we are providing a great kids’ program for children 4-11 in the room next door. Details below.

2:00 pm
After a short introduction to the concept of Transition, we’ll remind ourselves briefly of the challenges (with active dialog) and look at how they affect us in Albany.
3:00 pm
Using Open Space format, those who want to will propose initiatives, then we gather into working groups with others of like mind to brainstorm projects that will help ensure a future Albany that is energy-lean, satisfying and resilient. Each participant will come away with contact information of neighbors they would like to work with going into the future, and a plan to meet again to put these projects into action.

5:30 pm
A picnic in the park, with food for sale by local merchants, music and fun

Richard Heinberg

6:30 pm
Richard Heinberg will give the keynote address based on his soon-to-be-published book, “The End of Growth”. He has authored ten books, including “The Party’s Over” and “Peak Everything”. Richard is widely regarded as one of the world’s most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. Indeed, in many important ways life without oil could easily be preferable to the present. With a wry, unflinching approach based on facts and realism, Richard exposes the tenuousness of our current way of life and offers a vision for a truly sustainable future.
“We take economic growth for granted…but what if the recent stutters were not just interruptions in the story of continuous economic expansion, but the first intimations of the end of growth as we know it? Let’s imagine a future where growth is not the only measure of human health and welfare. Let’s look forward to a future where improvements in education, arts, health, well-being, freedom & happiness allow us to decouple ‘progress’ from ‘ever-expanding consumption’.”


AshEL “Seasunz” Eldridge

7:30 pm

We’ll finish with great music – from AshEL Seasunz (Rap/Hip Hop) and old time music for “dancing like grandma used to make” with our very own local contra band (two of the members live on Madison Street), Crow for Day with Susan Peña calling the steps.

There’ll be information from existing organizations that provide transition-related services in or near Albany, surprise performances, a bookstall, door prizes, and a separate area where children can enjoy their own learning and creative space throughout the afternoon with dedicated and qualified environmental educators and artists under the supervision of Susan Silber.

For the children, there’ll be all kinds of art projects and games, laughter yoga, dramatized haikus with Stephen “Mr Fun” Kelly, a guided tour of the attractions of nearby gardens, practical activities such as making food from scratch, painting and planting flower pots, and, in the evening during Richard Heinberg’s talk, singing together with Betsy Rose and storytelling with Nancy Schimmel.

And what happens AFTER the Great Unleashing?

From this celebratory event will emerge groups of Albany residents committed to address areas that are not already covered by existing groups … as well as stronger groups in those areas that have been well served for years.

These working groups will continue to meet as often as necessary, with the goal of initiating and implementing practical projects that will inspire greater involvement and action on the part of even more people to increase resilience while reducing consumption.

Support and coordination could come through a core group consisting of one person from each working group.

Together, over the next year or so, the idea is to create an “Energy Descent Action Plan” (EDAP) that addresses not only the reduction of carbon emissions in Albany (as already outlined in Albany’s Climate Action Plan) but also resilience: the ability of our community to respond to sudden and gradual change. The latest analysis by Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute says we must reduce our emissions by 80% before 2020 to avoid catastrophic climate change. This goes far beyond anyone’s Climate Action Plan to date.

Other East Bay towns have Transition initiatives in name or in spirit. Richmond has an active Transition Town, Berkeley has just started, Kensington won’t be long in following, Oakland has a few local groups interested, as well as many groups doing the work of Transition, including Bay Localize, El Cerrito has all kinds of good initiatives in place and in the works… And globally the idea is catching fire.

YOU are invited to Albany’s Great Unleashing

$10 tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets and at Gathering Tribes, 1412 Solano Avenue, Albany (528-9038).
People 17 and under attend free and no-one will be turned away at the door for lack of funds.

You can also download a PDF of a trifold flyer or banner to inform your friends and neighbors about Albany’s Great Unleashing on May 22.

Stay tuned! And if you would like to volunteer to help, we encourage you to email

A Brit who came to the US in 1988 and found California and the Transition movement to be a perfect fit. Now my life is replete with a dear husband, a small but productive permaculture backyard, a loving family and a very full calendar of work I love.

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Posted in Local Activities on March 6, 2011
One comment on “Albany’s Great Unleashing – Sunday, May 22
  1. Gerhard says:

    We’re greatly gratified by the outpouring of community energies that TA helps to catalyze. The latest group to join the Great Unleashing is Friends of Five Creeks. Friends of Five Creek’s gracious leader Susan Shwartz is developing a brochure for the Great Unleashing describing how we can nurture our close ties with our beautiful remaining wild places.