Transition Guelph

Category: General

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!

tinaFacebookBannerIf you haven’t heard, Tina Clarke is coming  to Guelph and we are pretty excited. The last few weeks have been a mad dash to plan events, let people know, and generally prepare for the international Transition Trainer to be with us this weekend. Being relatively new to Transition Guelph, I haven’t had a chance to meet Tina before so I’m especially excited to meet the woman that everyone speaks so highly about.

Introducing Tina…

Since becoming a Certified Transition Trainer in 2008, Tina has worked with over 120 Transition communities, given 42 of the official Transition weekend courses in the U.S. and Canada, and provided hundreds of Transition presentations. That’s no small feat for a movement that is growing so quickly all over the world. Tina draws experience from her background as a trainer, program director, and consultant. During her years prior to full time work with Transition, she supported and guided leaders in 400 local, national, regional, and local organizations. She’s worked with faith-based communities, Greenpeace USA, the Veterans Education Program, the Western Mass Funding Recourse Center, and more. She’s worked on campaigns dealing with energy and environmental justice. More recently she’s participated with and the Sustainability Institute as a consultant. With a background so diverse and accomplished, it’s no surprise that Tina’s reputation proceeds her.

Collaboration, Resiliency, and the Transition Movement

On Friday evening, we are hosting a public event where Tina will share her thoughts on “all things Transition”. If you’re new to the Transition model, Tina can give you insight into the movement to help explain what Transition Guelph is all about. If you’re more familiar with the movement, you can be inspired by Tina’s insight and learn how we can keep our local initiative moving forward. Tina will be talking about how we can work together as a community, and what a more resilient community could look like in Guelph. I am both ready and incredibly excited for a healthy dose of inspiration and energy that I think Tina will bring to this event!

Transition Guelph Workshops

Over the weekend, Transition Guelph members (that could be you!) will have the opportunity to work with Tina in a number of workshops to look at our local initiative, see where we are, and take aim to improve in the future! On Saturday, we’ll be meeting to talk about Sharing, Creating, and Working Together at 10 Carden from 9 am to 12 noon. During this workshop, we’ll be talking about how to be effective in our working groups and looking at each member’s individual gifts that can help the movement. On Saturday afternoon, we’ll reconvene at Tytler Public School to chat about Charting the Future: Assessment and Direction from 1:30 pm to 4 pm. During this workshop, we’ll focus on roles and responsibilities within Transition Guelph and look at the future of the organization to make sure we are on track!

On Sunday, the workshops will continue again at 9 am to 12 noon at 10 Carden to meet with the new steering group and existing board members to look at how we can effectively work together and ensure that people are comfortable in their roles. We’ll also talk about how the two groups can work together. If you’re interested in being part of the steering group, please try your best to attend this workshop! In the afternoon, we are back at Tytler from 1:30 pm to 4 pm to start Resilience Festival 2015 planning! We’ll also be looking at how to effectively run Transition Guelph events to make sure that everyone gets the most out of them. If you’ve been interested in getting involved with TG but didn’t know where to start, this will be a great workshop for you!

Come and Be Inspired!

Over the last few months, I’ve met a lot of people that didn’t know what Transition Guelph was about. Some people have never heard of the Transition movement (we are working on changing that!!) and other have strange ideas about what the movement is all about. Coming out to any of these events is a great way to learn more and what  Transition Guelph is up to and where we are moving! You can register for the talk tomorrow on Eventbrite, or just come to the door! All are welcome. Hope to see you there!

didn't feel safe


About three weeks ago on May 10, Transition Guelph, along with Bike-Friendly Guelph and GCAT, hosted an “Introduction to CanBIKE” workshop on cycling survival skills for urban riding. The tag-line for the workshop was “I don’t feel safe on my bike!” and the accompanying promotional material went on to explain that this was the primary reason most people gave for not riding their bike in the city. In particular, cyclists often cite lack of respect or awareness on behalf of car drivers for their trepidation around riding on city streets.  Let’s face it, while awareness is high around the health and environmental benefits of cycling, this can be somewhat mitigated by the attendant awareness that getting smacked by a two-ton automobile being driven by some guy more intent on texting than on the road can somewhat compromise at least the health benefits.

Certainly, that tag-line had some personal resonance for me. My anxieties notwithstanding, I still do bike as much as I can, preferring to reserve my car for situations where I am transporting stuff that can’t possibly be moved around on a bike, like loads of lumber, or my stack of guitars and amps (which damn near doesn’t even fit in my car!)

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of situations in which I am far from calm while peddling; biking up Edinburgh Rd, for example. Should you not have had the exquisite pleasure of riding up this road for yourself, allow me to explain. First of all, while the lane width is perfectly adequate for Smart Cars, Austin Mini’s and Isetta’s, your average Canadian car occupies virtually the entire lane. When you add Hummers and Escalades, the situation is rather like trying to cram a hippo into an outhouse. They don’t fit! So where does a bike go?  you ask. Well, you could try cozying up to the curb, but most the curb on Edinburgh is in such bad shape, and so riddled with four-inch deep ruts, gouges and sewer grates that you might as well just fall off your bike deliberately and get it over with.

So anyway with all this in mind, off I went to the May 10 workshop, which was facilitated by certified CanBIKE trainer and biker extraordinaire, Evan Ferrari.

The workshop was… er, “sparsely attended”, probably since we didn’t do a great promotional job, and also because a couple of confirmed registrants bailed at the last moment. Still, that was fine by me; it was great to have that level of personal attention!

The first part of the course was a bit of classroom instruction, in which we looked at the circumstances and reasons why we tend not to feel safe, and looking at some overall strategies for handling some of these basic situations. We looked briefly at biking in other countries, chiefly for the contrast: there are many countries where biking is an incredibly popular method of routinely getting around; Canada and the U.S. are something of anomalies in this regard. Finally, the classroom instruction touched on some brief, but highly effective! demonstrations of why biking is such a great idea, not just for the environment and personal health, but also for the overall structure, tone and people-friendliness of the city itself.

Then, on to a nice picnic lunch, and the on-bike portion of the day. We rode up to Central Public School and worked on some bike handling and control exercises in the schoolyard that started out simple, but became increasingly complex and challenging. Evan coached us on some excellent tricks for control and handling, which went a long way, just by itself, to increase our confidence. Many of us found ourselves doing things that previously would have scared us off or seemed completely impossible. A great confidence booster!

Finally, on to the roads. We started out on quiet residential streets and gradually worked our way up to arterial roads, heavy traffic and taking the lane in busy situations. Evan insisted on letter-of-the-law observance of all rules of the road. No rolling stops at Stop signs, no failure to signal a turn or a stop, and no two-abreast. And no skimming by parked cars! It doesn’t matter that you “don’t see anyone inside.” Suppose the driver’s bent over to pick up a dropped cell phone, then starts to get out of the car without looking? You could win, as Evan calls it, the door prize.

I came home with two big takeaways – both of which have made a huge difference in my confidence on the road.

The first of these is: don’t hug the curb! My previous response (and a quite reasonable, if incorrect, one) to riding on narrow, busy roads without bike lanes was to get as far off to the side as I can, trying to stay out of people’s way. If a car or truck squeaked by me so close I could feel the breeze from the side mirror on my arm, this would simply prompt me to get even closer to the curb, until all my concentration was focused on not hitting it with my front wheel. Guess what? That doesn’t work. All it does is make it easier for drivers to ignore you. One to one-and-a-half meters from the curb: that was Evan’s rule. So what if drivers have to go around you, mumbling obscenities under their breath? At least they’re giving you the room you need to ride safely. After all, you and your bike are a vehicle. You have every bit as much right – legally and in every other way – to occupy that lane as any car.

The second takeaway was: always signal! This is not necessarily about letting drivers know what you’re about to do – although that can be a useful side-benefit. It can also be about simply mystifying drivers as to your intentions, which is a good thing for you. Quite a few drivers are not very familiar with bike hand-signals, or at least, they have to sift through their rarely-used memories to try and dredge up what they mean. Thus, when you signal, it definitely lets drivers in your vicinity in on the fact that you’re about to do something. Just what that is may not be entirely clear to the driver, but when confronted by that uncertainty, they’ll damn well slow down until they figure it out! I saw this at work several times when biking downtown as part of the workshop, and several times since. It’s almost magical. Stick out your arm, point it up, point it down, whatever, and the vehicles around you halve their speed until they figure out what you’re up to. It’s even half-tempting to just make up a few hand signals in order to confound everyone! (But, that would be wrong…)

Anyway, the bottom line is, the course was totally worth the investment of time and money, and it’s helped to completely transform my urban riding. I feel a whole lot more confident. I bike Edinburgh, Speedvale and even Woodlawn (a bike death-trap if there ever was one) with a lot more self-assurance than I ever had before.

And here’s the best news. We’re doing it again! Back by popular demand, Transition Guelph, GCAT and Bike-Friendly Guelph is offering the same one-day introductory course Saturday, June 21. The cost is the same, $60, and bear in mind that all revenue over and above cost is donated to Transition Guelph!

So check it out; come out on June 21; improve your skills, improve your confidence, and improve your abilities. I highly recommend it.

I don’t feel safe on my bike!

That’s one of the most common reasons people use for not cycling . Of course they know it’s better for the environment and their health, but they just don’t feel safe – especially on streets. Riding your bike in traffic can be a daunting task. Learn how to take control, gain confidence and have drivers show you respect on the road.

Based on the national CanBike program this one-day cycling class for adults will build on the technical basics of riding and traffic dynamics to help cyclists feel more confident and deal with emergency techniques while riding in traffic.

The instructor has taught CanBike programs to almost a thousand people including police officers, adults, high school students and children. A real ‘must’ for anyone that wants to ride more confidently in the city!

The program will include:

  •  Traffic Dynamics, Helmet Fit, Bike Fit
  • Handling Skills: Straight line riding,  Signaling, Shoulder Checking, Rock Dodge, Threshold Breaking, Instant Turn
  •  On Road riding-including arterial roads if appropriate skill levels are demonstrated.

All participants must be able to ride a bike and must be prepared by having:

  • A bicycle in good working condition (bike tune up prior to the course strongly recommended – we will not be repairing bikes during the course)
  • A bell or horn in good working condition
  • A bike lock
  • An approved bicycle safety helmet (CSA, Snell or Ansi)
  • Access to water during riding portions of course (water bottles or hydration systems)
  • Lunch
  • Raingear and sunscreen strongly recommended

Participants are responsible for ensuring that bicycles used during the course meet requirements under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

To register, please print and fill in the following form: Info Registration Form – Intro to CanBike 06 2014 – Transition Guelph

Maximum participants: 12

Cost:               $60 (payable with completed waiver form)

For more information:          Evan Ferrari, 519 836-8068 or

This event is co-sponsored by Transition Guelph, Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation (GCAT) and Bicycle-Friendly Guelph

Sophy BanksSophy Banks tends to be hailed as an initiator of the Inner Transition aspect of the Transition Movement. She, along with her friend Hillary, joined early when Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande were beginning to talk about a Transition Initiative in Totnes. Hillary thought there should be a component that looked at the psychology of change – how do we as human beings respond to difficult information, and how do we undergo change as a group? For Sophy, Inner Transition is an absolutely essential part of the Transition Movement.

We live in a society, within social groups and families who teach us their values from the time we are born. Sometimes this is a conscious teaching. More often it is subliminal, subconscious or otherwise indirect. One of the major values we are taught from the society we live in is oil dependency. Some argue that this could even be classified as an addiction. Another major value that we are often taught is an ego-centrism – I need to secure my own resources regardless of what this means for someone else! These days there are also many pockets of our society where we see more and more distrust of “strangers,” of anyone we don’t know personally.

The Transition Movement is very much about envisioning a future we would like to live in, and making that happen. In large part, it means learning to be less oil dependent and to leave a lighter footprint than what’s currently “normal.” The Inner Transition aspect of this part is to look at what personal, internal shifts we need to make in order to make the external shift. At some point, if I am going to make the changes necessary to be self sufficient, I need to believe that there is a need for it. Not everyone involved in Transition projects will make this shift, but there is a need for at least some of the members, particularly those at the centre who are most involved, to inwardly accept that what our culture has taught us about being in the world is not good enough and in some cases is downright wrong. This is an inner transition, and one goal of the Inner Transition work, according to Sophy, is to support that and to understand what happens to people, families and groups when they begin to shift their thinking and beliefs.

Another side to Inner Transition is envisioning the “softer” aspects of a future we want to live in. Sophy suggests that we live right now in a time of record low levels of community trust, caring and love. She asks the question, how do we create a loving, caring, trust-ful community? What are the steps that we need to take to create a “good society,” as she puts it? How do we move from being so worried about securing our own resources to a more collaborative, sharing-based model?

As a message of hope regarding this aspect of transition, Sophy reminds us that in times of crisis there is often a reaching out between people and significant community building. She believes that we should be telling each other stories of how this has already happened in the face of difficulties and crisis – during wars, hurricanes, times of personal tragedy. We don’t want to be stuck on negative events, but there is learning to be had from the way communities pull together in these times – perhaps we can we learn to bring this learning into our lives without waiting for another crisis.

A final idea of Sophy’s that I would like to share with you is the need for “deepening.” The idea of deepening is hard to define, but I would suggest that in this case it could mean a continued movement towards a greater, more nuanced understanding of a belief, or a stronger sense of alignment with it. For Sophy, this need for deepening in relation to the core values of the Transition Movement is essential, especially in the people who are central to a particular initiative. With these central members experiencing ongoing new understanding or inspiration with relation to the principals of Transition, it continues to breath new life into the initiative. Without this aspect of Inner Transition, the initiative will stagnate.

In closing, I encourage each of you to consider your own inner transition. Where are you right now in relation to the Transition Movement? Do you just enjoy participating in the occasional event? Are you fully immersed and looking for how you can do something positive about your understanding of what the future may hold? How did you get to where you are? How do you feel about that? How could you deepen into your personal inner transition?

See the following link for a 10 minute interview with Sophy on this topic.

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