A HomeGrown Event

Join us for an event about urban homesteading!

Film  •  Discussion  •  Seed Exchange

Sunday, February 21  •  1:30 – 4:30 pm

Albany Library, Edith Stone Room, 1247 Marin Ave.

HomeGrown: The Film

HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While “living off the grid”, they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it’s like to live like “Little House on the Prairie” in the 21st Century.  – Excerpt from the film’s website.

Visit the film’s website to learn more.

Discussion with Novella Carpenter


Following the film, Novella Carpenter will share her experiences with her Ghost  Town Farm in Oakland, in an active discussion format.

I’ve been cultivating the city for over ten years now, and my neighbors still think I’m crazy. It all started with a few chickens, then some bees, until I had a full-blown farm near downtown Oakland. – Excerpt from Novella’s log at www.novellacarpenter.com. Farm City is her account of her experiences. She will have copies of the book available for sale at the event!

Seed and Plant Exchange

Simply bring your extra seeds and plants, and some envelopes or containers to hopefully take home others in exchange. Best to label all items properly to prevent surprise crops (but would that be so bad anyway?).

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One Hour without Electricity

Earth HourHave you ever noticed how quiet it gets in your house when there’s a power outage? Once you’ve gotten over the inconvenience, isn’t it actually rather lovely?

A few years ago I had the pleasure of sitting in a circular house of straw bale and mud, the guest of a lovely woman named Emma who had founded a community farm that operates completely “off the grid” in West Wales. We sat on a thick, warm rug made of woven, unprocessed wool, sipping home made herb tea that had been made over the wood fire burning in the grate and most magical of all was the exquisite silence of NO electricity. It was Emma’s choice to live this way and my thoughts seemed to quiet themselves as I felt my energy expand in gratitude, the way you sigh with relief when the roadwork outside your house stops.

On Saturday, March 27th, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm local time, people around the world are invited to turn out their lights and electronic devices for one hour in a symbolic gesture to their government that they are ready to reduce their use of cheap oil. It’s called Earth Hour and you can find a lot more about it, and sign up to show your support, at the Earth Hour website. (And yes, I’m sure you could turn off your fridge for an hour without negative consequences). Last year I was in England with my son and his wife for the event and we spent a hilarious hour playing charades by candlelight. Each year, more people join in. Some people meditate alone, some party with friends and family. Hey, it’s an opportunity to remember what people did to spend the time BEFORE electricity!

Emma’s community is Brithdir Mawr. This was my first visit to see another longtime resident, Tony Wrench, a friend of mine over many years. As we made our way down a muddy lane, hoping we’d followed the directions properly through back country Wales, we saw a tub rotating in the rushing water of little stream beside the road and knew we were in the right place. “I detect funk,” said I, as we realized we had found their clothes washing “machine”. They farm with plough horses, generate all their own power, grow most of their own food, and each resident has a way to support themselves financially.

Tony and his wife Jane live in another roundhouse with its own website, which describes, amongst other things, the long battle they’ve had with the local planning commission to keep it standing. So far they’re still there, and with their simple lifestyle they’ve proved that it’s possible to reduce your carbon footprint to a globally sustainable level (and that is a real feat in the western world) without sacrificing everything and living in a home built from what was right there on the land. Check out the video on their website…

Well it’s not the same in a city, you say. Well yes, but for the story of someone on a one year jag to reduce their consumption in the Big Apple, there’s the film No Impact Man (here’s the trailer), where a New Yorker and his wife and small baby lived without electricity for six months. While he has finished with that particular experiment, you can read his ongoing blog.

If you are ever in Wales, I recommend a visit to Brithdir Mawr (their website tells you how). And if getting to Wales seems a long way off, you can create the specialness of a non-electric hour for yourself on Saturday, March 27th between 8:30 and 9:30 pm.

There’s a cool map of the USA on the Earth Hour website that shows how many have committed to this so far, state by state. How about putting the date in your calendar now so you remember to do this very radical thing, and join a growing number of folks around the world who are determined to do whatever it takes to align their living style with what’s sustainable and fair for everyone on our beautiful planet?

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The Joy of Life on Two Wheels

Sunday, April 11th

1:30 – 4:00 PM  |  Albany Library Edith Stone Room

An event to inspire more bicycle riding!

  1. Short Film: Vélib
  2. Guest Speaker: Laura McCamy
  3. Presentation: Albany Bike Master Plan

Bicycles –  they’re practical and fun!

Did You Know? In Albany, vehicles on local roads (that’s excluding I-80 and San Pablo) account for 24 thousand metric tons (CO2e) of greenhouse gases per year! That represents about 2.7 million gallons of gasoline! This is obviously not a sustainable habit. Luckily, there’s a quick and healthy solution for most of those local trips (and longer distance ones too): the good old bicycle!

Guest Speaker: Laura McCamy

Alameda County’s Bike Commuter of the Year

Laura will talk about easy and fun ways to add biking to your life! Laura gave up her car three years ago, and bike commutes from Emeryville to San Francisco. She generally rides her bike to the MacArthur BART station in the morning and leaves it securely locked there using the new eLockers, or simply takes the bike onto BART. She even does all her errands using a 100+ lb capacity bike trailer, including Saturday trips to the farmer’s market. Hear about her experiences and glean useful advice for bringing bicycling into your daily life.

Check out the article she recently wrote for Momentum Magazine, the magazine for self-propelled people!

Albany’s Bicycle Master Plan

Presentation by Albany Strollers & Rollers

Come learn about about Albany’s Bicyle Master Plan – what’s planned, what’s been done, what hasn’t, and future revisions to the Plan. The Master Plan will make bicycling easier, safer, and more convenient for riders in Albany!

Short Film: Vélib

From the E Squared Film Series

Imagine a nearly free bicycle rental program to use in your daily life. Pick one up near your starting-point and drop it off near your destination. In Paris, you can do just that with Vélib!

+ PLUS +

Take a Test Ride!

On unusually practical bicycles meant for urban commutes and chores.

Available for sale:

Bike lights and other cool stuff.

This event is co-sponsored by Albany Stollers & Rollers

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Get Free In-Home Solar Advice

Free Energy Efficiency and Solar Advice Offered in Albany

Starting now, SmartSolar offers its free services to Albany residents!

Are you interested in making your home more energy efficient and self-sufficient? Would you like more information about solar technologies before talking to a contractor?

SmartSolar offers independent, site-specific analysis of solar and energy efficiency opportunities for local residents and businesses. This free service demystifies solar and energy efficiency investments with unbiased, consumer-friendly information and advice.

A SmartSolar audit assesses a property’s potential for installations of solar technologies and energy efficiency measures, including cost-benefit analyses, information about local contractors, building codes and ordinances, financing options, rebates, and incentives. SmartSolar can also help clients navigate the management of solar projects at their properties.

For more information, visit the SmartSolar website, call them, or come see them at their workshop about energy efficiency and solar at the Albany Arts & Green Festival on Sunday, May 2nd. The workshop is tentatively scheduled for 12:20. Check the workshop schedule closer to the date on the City’s website.

Contact SmartSolar:

Website: www.ebenergy.org/smartsolar

Phone: (510) 981-7750.

The SmartSolar program is offered by the local nonprofit Community Energy Services Corporation with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities Initiative and in partnership with the cities of Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland.

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A Sense of Place

Painting: AcerRuber@aol.com

Painting: AcerRuber@aol.com

Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Walk to/on Albany Hill including Ceremony

Meet at Peet’s Coffee & Tea, San Pablo & Carlson

With Friends of Five Creeks & Corrina Gould, Chochenyo Ohlone

You are invited to participate in a walk that will include some of Albany’s history, an overview from Albany Hill, and a ceremony to honor the ancient keepers of this land and to ask assistance as we recreate a low energy, local-based lifestyle.  Wear shoes with traction and bring a stick if you need one for walking on steep trails.

The event will be held rain or shine.

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Transition Videos

Photo Stream (Transition US)