Transition Guelph

Category: General

connectionWell, as the week wraps up, I can honestly say it’s been an amazing week of events for this year’s Resilience Festival. I feel quite honoured to have been a part of the celebration this year. So far, I’ve been able to attend The Great Turning film screening and discussion, a wonderful film screening of The Garden hosted by our partners at OPIRG Guelph, as well as tonight’s Keynote Speaker event where we heard from local heros on the festival’s theme of “Unleashing Your Awesome”. I also facilitated an amazing visioning session and got to share my experiences with many new faces at a film screening of In Transition 2.0. I am also incredibly excited to attend the Main Day celebration at St. George’s Church tomorrow, including Seedy Saturday, The Reskilling Fair, Workshops, Candle Light Potluck, and Open Mic Entertainment. It’s hard to believe so many awesome activities can be jammed into a single day.

I wanted to take some time to reflect on the keynote speakers from this evening and share a message that I took away from the event. Kevin Sutton, Chris Green, Sally Ludwig, and Christine Mills all shared their personal experiences, stories, and views on how they believe that we can move forward with our own work and unleash awesome in our lives. Each speaker brought their own background and history to the discussion, but there were definitely some common threads between the presentations that really spoke to me.

Chris Green from The Guelph Outdoor School led the presentations and talked about deep nature connection and coyote mentorship. One of the points that he brought up that really resonated with me is how we all feel when we take the time to connect with the natural world (which he took the time to point out includes ourselves and the people around us!). Whether it’s intentional or not, we all feel better when we strengthen our connection with the natural world, which he described as “tentacles reaching out to the world around us”. I thought it was a great visual! He also explained that when our connections strengthen, it’s like our inner “switch board starts to light up with green lights”. I think everyone in the room knew exactly what he was speaking to when he presented this amazing imagery.

Transition Guelph Co-Founders, Sally Ludwig and Christine Mills spoke next about their experience in starting Transition Guelph, the space they were in when starting the initiative, and how the movement grew in Guelph. Both also spoke about the nature of “Inner Transition” which is so core in the Transition model. In addition to the external connections that Chris Green spoke about, Sally and Chris spoke about the connections that we have to make within ourselves, and how that personal connection moves us to action. That motivation can come from different places for each of us, whether it’s concern for future generations, or living a lifestyle that contributes to a whole earth economy, taking the time to recognize the inner change that happens is key to the movement and it’s success.

Finally, Spoken Word Artist Kevin Sutton shared an amazing poem appropriately titled “Keynote” and did an amazing job of connecting all of us in the room! When listening to spoken word, I often let myself be taken away by the rhythm of the poem, so I probably won’t do his message justice, but what I took away built on the previous speakers’ themes of connection, and focused on the connection that we must form with each other in order to make change happen. This sense of communal or community connection was delivered beautifully in his piece.

This theme of connection has been prevalent throughout my festival experience this year. Thinking back to the discussions I had with folks at the Great Turning film screening, one of the questions we were asked to explore was “What keeps your inner fire burning?”. I got the chance to talk with about a dozen people around this topics, and while there were a number of different responses, I think they can be grouped into a few key categories: 1) taking action and seeing change happen, 2) continually learning and educating ourselves on key topics, and 3) taking time to reflect, or taking “down time”. One of the key thoughts I left with that evening was how these three topics were a continuous cycle, and how everyone there agreed that all three kept them moving forward with the work they were doing. I can see definitely similarities between these three topics, and the three types of connection that were discussed at tonight’s keynote events. All three types of connection: nature, inner, and community help create a clearer path of how we can move forward in our own journeys and in our own work.

To wrap up, this year’s festival theme “Unleash Your Awesome” has been a wonderful way to explore how we can all take action – big or small – to realize our potential and contribute to something bigger. Tonight’s keynote talk really helped frame how I can focus on unleashing my own personal awesome – by fostering connection with nature, my community, and also within myself.

We would like to invite you to come and participate in an interactive, art-based focus group and help a master’s student co-create her thesis!

Lucie Bardos is studying human ecology at Lund University in Sweden but is currently in Guelph researching the connection between social justice and the Transition Movement by doing a case study on Transition Guelph. Lucie hopes that her thesis can be a kind of ‘time capsule’ that will capture some of the ideas, challenges and discourses happening around the theme of social justice and transition. In an attempt to make her research more meaningful to the movement for which she is writing her work, she has planned a structured art focus group session. During this session she will ask participants to reflect on different things such as: various aspects of Transition Guelph, ideas and opinions of social justice, and navigating privilege and language. The result of these reflections will be the creation of several art pieces that will be created and then co-analyzed with focus group participants.

Lucie will also be presenting a summary of her research to date and will be collecting feedback and ideas that she can incorporate into her thesis. Please do not worry if you don’t have confidence in your artistic abilities – this is not of importance!

There is a limit of 15 people, so please RSVP to as soon as you can. Thanks to the kindness and open-mindedness of Sally and Christine, the workshop will be held at their house located at 33 Manor Park Crescent in Guelph on Thursday, Feb. 26 from 6:30-9pm. Snacks will be provided as well as most of the art materials, though if you are able to bring some spare markers, crayons, coloured pencils or pastels to share, please do! And if you are willing to make some notes during the discussion section of the workshop, please let Lucie know in your RSVP. Thanks!

This week, we are happy to have our friends at the Elora Environment Centre share their thoughts on energy conservation. This guest post is from Emily Araujo. 

Consumers have many technological solutions available to them in order to reduce their electricity consumption. Technologies such as LEDs, Energy Star appliances and smart thermostats are readily available and promise consumers higher efficiency and ultimately lower consumption rates. One emerging problem with high efficiency technologies is the mental rationalization that I can use it more because it uses less, ultimately wasting more efficiently.

Light bulbs are a common efficiency upgrade for consumers. Replacing a 60 watt incandescent light bulb to a 12 watt LED light bulb can decrease your electricity consumption by ¾. LED bulbs are more efficient but they are not the only component to decrease your electricity bill. Altering habits to take advantage of time-of-use pricing in conjunction with new technologies will save you from the wasting more efficiently trap. Practices such as running your clothes dryer at off-peak times (Monday to Friday 7pm – 7am & all day Saturday and Sunday) can cut your electricity costs almost in half. Alternatively, air drying your clothes outside in the summer and inside in the winter can eliminate your laundry drying costs entirely!

eecEliminating consumption waste and increasing efficiency are key factors in keeping bills low. The staff at the Elora Environment Centre are energy conservation leaders in the Centre Wellington community and can assist you in reducing your electricity costs and becoming more energy efficient. We offer a house and small business-specific service that will look at how, when and where you are using electricity. The Take Charge! program gives you real data and realistic options so you can Take Charge of your bills. To find out how you can become energy efficient and start saving money contact the Elora Environment Centre at 519-846-0841 or by email:

Emily Araujo presently works for the Elora Environment Centre coordinating conservation programs in communities across southern Ontario. She has experience working in municipal and provincial governments, as well as in the utility industry. Her educational background is in Environmental Conservation, Geography and Geographic Information Systems. Emily personal interests, besides saving the environment… include running, backcountry canoeing & camping and traveling.

At the beginning of October, Transition Guelph was proud to co-present a wonderful event with The Guelph Outdoor School that brought Jon Young to Guelph to speak on the topic of forming deeper connections with nature, mentorship, and what we can do as a community to promote these topics. We had a wonderful turn out at Centennial High School that brought together different members of our community not only from Guelph but surrounding areas as well.

Sharing our vision for a more resilience community!

Sharing our vision for a more resilience community!

The event opened with a number of organizations setting up tables and sharing our goals and ideals with like-minded groups and individuals. There was a wide array of groups represented, including Transition Guelph. When I arrived at the event, I was instantly taken by the energy in the room. I had an opportunity to both share information about TG, and meet with other organizations that were there as well. Everyone I spoke with had a positive message to share and left me feeling encouraged and inspired.

When the talk began, we were greeted with a series of opening presentations, welcomes, and songs where everyone was encouraged to participate. From the songs, poems, and presentations, the room again reflected that high energy that I had felt in the gathering when I first arrived. Looking around at the room, everyone was smiling, enjoying participating, and connected with the energy in the room.

Once the songs were done and everyone was buzzing with excitement, Jon Young took the stage to share his story of how he discovered his path to developing the 8 Shields method of mentoring and inspiring others to form a deeper connection with nature. He spoke about his history and journey, and at the same time provided insight into how he views mentorship as tool to educate and inform. He shared different strategies and insights on how to get everyone, young and old, to join in on his approach. Personally, I found his story is both inspiring and encouraging, as I’m sure everyone else in the audience felt as well.

While I had to leave a bit early and missed the end of his talk, Jon Young’s presentation left me feeling positive as I look at my own life as a nature enthusiast and a mother. I felt inspired to use his approach in my own development as well as the development of my young son. I also felt inspired by the strong sense of community and positive energy that was present throughout this event. It is always wonderful to see such a strong, committed group of people come together to share their perspectives and ideals on how we can create a stronger community with engaged members.

Next week, there is an amazing event happening in Guelph that I am so excited for and I wanted to share with everyone. Transition Guelph is happy to announce that The Guelph Outdoor School is bringing Jon Young to Guelph to give a talk on mentorship, forming deeper connections with nature, and how we can become a more resilience community.

If you’ve never heard of Jon before, you’re in for quite a treat. Jon is the founder of the 8 Shields Institute, an organization that focuses on the mentorship model to create healthy and vibrant natural leaders and nature-based communities around the world. The methodology really helps building a nature connection on both an individual and community level, which is something that we are all about at Transition Guelph! As per their website, ““The 8 Shields Model is a proprietary road-map applied to educational strategies, personal development, community building, organizational processes and more…”

This talk will be a wonderful opportunity to hear about how we can better connect with our children, and with the world around us. If you are a:

  • parent looking to find new ways to engage your children
  • teacher looking for new methods of encouraging students
  • friend looking to find better ways to communicate with others
  • person looking to discover better ways of connecting with nature

then this talk is for you! Tickets are available now at a sliding scale fee. You can learn more about this amazing event and buy tickets online at There will also be a number of community partners tabling at the event, so come out and learn more about organizations (like Transition Guelph!) that are embracing Jon Young’s ideals and methods in our community.

We’ll see you there!

r2013-logoMarch 2015 may seem like a long way off, but we are already thinking about it at Transition Guelph. With March brings another amazing week of events in our annual Resilience Festival, and we are already getting things in gear! Our first planning meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 17th and we have a few venues on hold for the main day events! We also have many of the volunteer coordinator roles filled and many others who are ready to lend a hand.

Why do we love the Resilience Festival so much? Well, it’s really an annual celebration of Transition Guelph. It’s a place where all our working groups, projects, and volunteers can come together to share stories, honour what has been accomplished over the year, and reflect on the events that have strengthened local community resiliency in our town. We can also think about the new friends that we have made!

This year we have a LOT to celebrate! With new governance restructuring, some great local food initiatives, and continued success with established projects, the volunteers of Transition Guelph are engaging more and more people around the city and bringing more people into the TG family.

What would you like to celebrate this year at the Resilience Festival? We are putting out an official call for submissions for events! Do you have a workshop that you’d love to run? Would you like to present an important topic as a speaker? Past festivals have seen shared storytelling evenings, presentations on building strategies, community gathers to talk about our inner transition, and more. We will be looking for events to host throughout the week as well as on our main day event.

Please fill out the form below to send us your ideas!

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For those who might not have heard of the Transition Healthcare working group, I thought you might be interested in learning a bit more about what this wonderful group is all about. Often, healthcare is associated with going to your doctor, treating illness, or even dealing with an injury. The Transition Healthcare Resilience group takes a bit of a different approach, however, looking at preventative healthcare and the impact of the current healthcare system on environmental and social problems that we face today.

wellbeingExploring Healthcare Through Food

Food is a hot topic in both environmental and wellness discussions around the world. Increasingly around the world, we see food that is full of toxic chemicals through pesticides, herbicides, and fertizilers. We also see genetic modification of our food crops that hasn’t been well tested to understand the long term effects on the human system. We are surrounded by processed “fast foods” that are ideal for busy people on the go, but horrible for our bodies.

Transition Healthcare explores the world of food looking at organic, non-gmo, whole options that are healthy for our bodies and good for our wellbeing.

Alternatives to Medication and Drugs

In today’s healthcare systems, we often turn to medication as a solution to problems and maybe don’t stop to think of it’s effects on our planet or the possibility of exploring less harmful options to keeping our bodies healthy. Transition Healthcare seeks to look at herbal, homeopathic, and other alternative healthcare as possible solutions for treating ailments and also promoting preventative healthcare as a viable option. Also, how do healthy lifestyles including diet and nutrition play into those solutions? The group seeks to promote awareness among complementary or alternative healthcare providers as a contribution to healing the environment as we help people to heal.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read about the Transition Healthcare Resilience group on our website here, or get in touch with us at Are you passionate about alternative healthcare? The group has some big things planned for the future and would love to have you on board!

workingCollaborativelyTransition Guelph has always had a unique perspective on the collaborative model. The Transition model itself relies on collaborative efforts, and often asks the question: “Is someone else already doing this? Great! Let’s work with them.” When we thought about how we could share this perspective with the wider community, we realized that our organization could also have a lot to learn from others around us, and we decided to have an Open Space event to explore the issues of moving from a competitive model to a collaborative model in our community. The question we asked at the Open Space was:

“How do we move from competition to collaboration to promote the local good that is happening in Guelph?”

We had some amazing discussions that covered topics from practical applications to dealing with emotions like fear to making sure the right people are at the table. The information below is a summary of the discussions that happened at the Open Space; we hope that you will find it useful when looking towards future collaborations in your life, community, or business.

Click here to download the results of the Open Space event and read our considerations for successful and fulfilling collaborations in resilient communities.

If you know someone who is working in a collaborative model and would benefit from our suggestions, please share this document with them! We would also love your feedback – do you have something to add to our list? A revision to consider? Email and let us know what you think.

surreygarden3This is a guest post from one of our Transition Guelph members, Joan Alexander.

On a cold, dreary day in February of 2014 I was sitting at the window wondering what to do when I grow up. How to take what I knew and what I didn’t know (yet) to make positive change in my life and perhaps someone else’s, too.

At first, the only thing I could see was the reflection in the window. A quiet room, a sleeping cat, a dusty table, a mature (?) woman ready for change. But as myeyes adjusted to the light, I began to see the garden. Dirty snow, wet mud, a few frozen weeds – not very inspiring, that’s for sure!

My partner and I rent this house from the Holody family. The first generation of Holodys who came from Poland made their home here. The matriarch of the family, Barbara Holody, tended the large garden and fed her family and neighbours from the harvest – mostly potatoes. When she passed, her son, Joseph, (owner of Holody Electro-plating and past owner of the Guelph Platers) continued the tradition by keeping the garden planted. Each year, for the past four years that we have lived here, we have had a small plot of our own. Mostly for fun because Joe kept us and everyone else in his circle supplied with tomatoes, peppers, and mostly potatoes!

surreyGarden2As the cat moved to another spot to continue his nap, I began to think about the garden in a different way. What if it became a place where people could plant, tend and harvest their own food? The snow that began to fall tried to squash my excitement but it didn’t succeed. What if our landlords let me turn their garden into an intentional community garden? An email request came back very quickly – “Yes, go right ahead!” Oh my, a February garden dream is quite different than an actual garden. How would I make this dream become a reality all by myself?

Enter Transition Guelph’s Backyard Share (Volunteer) Program Coordinator, Mike Barber. Mike came to visit us on a cool, sunny day in late March. We stood outside and talked about the garden (I am good at talking…not as good at soil preparation or rottotilling). Fortunately, Mike is a doer. He co-dreams, sees the steps necessary to make it happen…and then gets to work. By the end of April, the garden was nourished and tilled, plots were marked. We had neighbours and other Guelphites, as well as our nieces from Toronto, anxious to begin planting. But, the weather wasn’t cooperating yet. One day in early May, as I sat at the window, a few February snow flakes floated by. That day I went to a Seed Share and we selected seeds with mittened hands! Peas went into the ground…little, tender tomato plants waited on the window sill…waiting, waiting.

surreyGarden1And suddenly it is a warm and breezy June day and I am sitting outside, on the other side of the window, at a donated patio set near the community garden (we also have donated chairs, a kids’ table, and other gifts). Each plot has a different “flavour” much like the gardeners that tend them. We are getting to know each other as we share the soil that is beginning to grow our food. We talk about what is growing well, share garden tools and use water from the rain barrels. The children that come to garden create beautiful sidewalk art and blow bubbles (to keep the rabbits away). Sometimes there is lemonade and munchies on the table…sometimes a parrot-like bird (Sophie) and a beloved gardener’s pet (yes, Ted, this is you!) visit. Strangers walk by and stop to chat about what we are doing…next time they walk by they are no longer strangers. Often, I am working inside or not at home when gardeners come by. It is so much fun to come back to the garden and see changes – new plantings, transplants, a pot of seedlings on the back porch with a note saying, “Please share these”.

In the center of our garden there is a designated community plot. Extra seed and seedlings have been planted here and the produce will go to the Welcome In Drop In Centre, the Guelph Food Bank and any other place where fresh food is needed. Another plot has become the pumpkin patch (with cantaloupes and squash, too) mostly planted by our kids. And our latest gardener has tucked some hot pepper plants in available spots.

On June 29, 2014 from 2:00 – 4:00pm, one of our gardeners is offering a Garden Stepping Stone free workshop here. Some materials will be provided and small stones, shells, beads, rubber gloves, etc. are welcome. And, we are having a Potluck Picnic on July 11, 2014 at 6:00pm. Everyone who is interested in gardening, community, and eating food is welcome to come to one or both of these events! Please contact me at for more information and/or to reserve your place.

Dreams are amazing things, aren’t they? Who knew that my desire to grosurreygarden4w up in a new and better way, on a cold day just four months ago, would bring such change to my life? A community garden… a garden community… a dream that became a reality… didn’t happen on its own… it is taking an entire community (garden) to help me grow up.

Appreciation is extended to the Holody family and the wonderful people at Transition Guelph (especially Mike and his supportive family), who are teaching me about inter-dependence and resilience. And to my dream-partner, Elizabeth, who went from saying, “This is your idea, I don’t want anything to do with it!”, to researching and building trellises so that we may grow vertical zucchini and other squash. Thank you!

Joan Alexander
Surrey Street West Community Garden
Guelph, ON

I just wanted to post a quick note to say what a great weekend we had coming together with Tina Clarke! Her care and facilitation were really great to experience. I am also so impressed and touched by the energy of those who came together for our weekend sessions and gave their presence and participation – you all really helped to make the weekend what it was.

On Friday night Tina gave a talk about Transition and community resilience, which really helped to kick things off on an inspiring note. Saturday and Sunday were full of discussion, idea generation, group-forming and path-blazing – what a productive and useful time! Keep your eyes peeled for a more detailed post about the weekend workshops as Kelly and I marinate in, digest and otherwise process all of what happened. What I can say now, however, is that I believe that the work that happened this weekend will go a long way towards strengthening and growing our Transition Initiative here in Guelph.

Thank you Tina! And thank you everyone who came and gave it their all!

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