News and events for Transition and sustainability in Pasadena, Altadena,
and nearby communities along the Arroyo Seco.

Transition Pasadena

October 2015

Harvest of Empire

Conscientious Projector

Thursday, October 8
7:00 pm

Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Av


For National Hispanic Heritage Month, Conscientious Projector screens the Onyx Films documentary Harvest of Empire.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, this lauded film traces the U.S. wars for territorial expansion, covert actions imposing military dictatorships and corporate strongholds in Latin America, and contemporary government and trade policies exacerbating poverty among the region’s indigenous peoples. It reveals the moving personal stories of present-day migrants and their significant contributions to our society.

Pasadena community organizer Brian Biery will be joined by local immigration activists for an audience discussion following the film.

Conscientious Projector


Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association

Thursday, October 8
5:00 pm, promptly

Pasadena Presbyterian Church
585 East Colorado Bl

Free (excludes food/drink)

The City of Pasadena has officially declared the month "Walktober" and Pedestrian Safety Month to raise more awareness about the many benefits of walking!

To celebrate, join DPNA, PasCSC, and Walking Pasadena as we stroll from the Playhouse District to Old Pasadena for Happy Hour at Der Wolfskopf.

Led by DPNA President, Transportation Commissioner, and avid walker Jonathan Edewards, we will traverse some of our "Pasadena Passages", a network of underutilized alleyways, streets, and courtyards that have the potential to make our downtown even more vibrant and walkable. This guided tour provides the chance to learn about ongoing efforts to improve comfort and safety for pedestrians, provide ideas for a more walkable city, and meet with other walking enthusiasts. (Price of food/drinks not included!)


October 22: Walk-In Movie Night. Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition hosts a screening of short films with a walking theme, and light healthy refreshments will be served courtesy of Day One. 7:00 pm. Details here.

October 25:  Join Walking Pasadena they walk the historic "parade length" of Colorado Blvd. at 9:00 am.  Details here.

Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association

Sierra Club

Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, October 7
7:00 pm

Eaton Canyon Nature Center
1750 North Altadena Dr


The Sierra Club Southern California Forests Campaign holds monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. The Sierra Club is America's oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

Social hour begins at 7:00 pm, program starts at 7:30 pm. Newcomers are always welcome.

Sierra Club : Angeles Chapter

Art Night Pasadena

Envision the Night

Friday, October 9
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Downtown Pasadena


Enjoy a free evening of art, music and entertainment as Pasadena’s most prominent arts and cultural institutions swing open their doors. The night is yours to decide. Begin your journey at any one of our 21 participating cultural institutions, where free shuttles will be waiting to transport you to your next destination.

ArtNight is sponsored by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission with support from the Department of Transportation’s Transit Division.

Art Night Pasadena

New Urbanism Film Festival

October 8 - 11
Schedule Varies

135 N La Brea Av,
Los Angeles

Pricing by film or film passes, see schedule for details.

How we design our cities effects everyone. Safe sidewalks and open spaces encourage healthy lifestyles for ourselves and our community. Not to mention safe driving and more bicycling, etc. We hope that through the screenings of these films we will regenerate a dialogue between the academic, the advocate, the planner, and the public.

Films to be screened include:

Can You Dig This?: As part of an urban gardening movement taking root in South LA, people are planting to transform their neighborhoods and are changing their own lives in the process. These “gangster gardeners” are creating an oasis in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous places in America.

Lutah: Lutah Maria Riggs navigated her way through the male-centric world of architecture and brought a freshness to the established architectural styles of Southern California. She pursued her passions and created a life of independence. Never before seen photographs and journal entries from Riggs’s personal collection, and candid interviews, this documentary reveals a side of Lutah Maria Riggs that has gone unnoticed.

Our Food Chain: In 2012 the Los Angeles school district took the first steps of improving the nutritional content of school meals and the real ‘food revolution’ began. Our Food Chain documents, through the eyes of administrators, physicians, teachers, farmer, students, food activists and politicians this revolution. The results of which shows that a transformation is possible, from how food is grown to its nutritional value and ultimately to the student’s own perspective of the value of healthy eating.

Spoke: The US has the highest instance of cyclist fatalities and injuries in the developed world. Spoke is the journey of three young commuter cyclists who set out to bike from San Francisco to Orlando, interviewing crash victims, urban planners, activists and law enforcement to investigate the causes. Carrying the stories of fellow cyclists killed on American roads, SPOKE is an adventure-tale that looks to empower users of the humble bicycle.

Additional films and short films, interviews and lectures taking place throughout the festival.

More details:

New Urbanism Film Festival

JPL Open House

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sat-Sun, October 10-11
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

4800 Oak Grove Dr

Free; All vehicles and persons subject to security inspection

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory invites the public to its annual Open House. The event is free of charge and takes visitors on a “ride” through the wonders of space. Highlights include a life-size model of Mars Science Laboratory, demonstrations from numerous space missions; JPL’s machine shop, where robotic spacecraft parts are built; and the Microdevices Lab, where engineers and scientists use tiny technology to revolutionize space exploration.

More info:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Drought-Tolerant Landscape Workshop

Pasadena Water & Power

Saturday, October 10
9:30 am

Pasadena Central Library
285 East Walnut St

PWP customers only;
RSVP required:

Participants receive in-depth information for converting high water-use conventional lawns into beautiful drought-tolerant landscapes including: how to remove grass; designing the landscape; choosing plants and landscape materials; proper plant installation; irrigation principles and options; and maintaining the landscape. The workshop is for PWP customers only. RSVPs are required. Call (626) 744-6970 or visit to reserve your spot.

Pasadena Water & Power

Pasadena Death Cafe

With Maggie Yenoki

Wednesday, October 14
7:00 pm

Throop U.U. Church
Fireside Room
300 South Los Robles Av

RSVP via email

A Death Cafe is created as a safe, compassionate, free space to talk about Death and dying.

There is no fee, but donations are gratefully accepted to cover the cost of the room rental and refreshments.

Chaplain Maggie Yenoki received her Master of Divinity degree from Drew Theological School. She’s an end-of-life caregiver, chaplain, knitter, wife, mom, reader, writer, and a lover of nature and of all things spiritual.

Maggie is honored to host Death Cafe Pasadena

Death Cafe Pasadena

UNA Pasadena
Film Festival

Laemmle Playhouse 7

October 21 - 22
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Laemmle Playhouse 7
673 East Colorado Bl

Tickets $10 - 17 online or at the door. VIP tickets also on sale.

The 2-day film festival features acclaimed long and short form documentaries with local, national and international perspectives including the US, Palestine, Israel, Brazil and New Zealand. Student films from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and two films from the Go Public documentary initiative. Panel discussions each night.

Feature Films

The Hunting Ground - A controversial exposé of rape crimes on US college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. Directed by Kirby Dick.

Arise - Capturing the stories of extraordinary women around the world who are coming together to heal our planet, weaves together poetry, music, art and stunning scenery to create a hopeful and collective story that inspires us to work for the earth. Written by Lori Joyce. Narrated by Daryl Hannah.

Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District Films

Abby & the Beauty of Biliteracy - a progressive dual language immersion public education program as Abby Griffith and her twin experience it. Second Graders learn how to read and write and sing in two languages. Directed by Rita Grant.

Rosie Can - Rosie, a Kinder-1st grade child with Down Syndrome, is a happy-go-lucky redhead who loves drawing with chalk, playing with her friends, and spending time with her family. This film spends time with her in a public school inclusion program where children with special needs are fully integrated into a regular classroom. Directed by Gina Long.

UNA Pasadena Film Festival
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a part of Transition Network

Repair Cafe and Repair the Landscape

Repair Cafe Pasadena

Saturday, October 10 — 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

THE SHED @ La Loma Development
1355 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

THE SHED hosts our Repair Cafe on Saturday, October 10 from 10-1. The event will be followed by a presentation by Rishi Kumar of The Growing Home on Repairing the Landscape. Come meet your like-minded neighbors who are looking for ways to decrease stuff going to the landfill, decrease consumerism, and empower people to discover the miracle of growing food.

Bring your broken things and share in the fun of Repair Cafe. We will have tinkers and tailors on hand.
Follow Repair Cafe Pasadena on Facebook and Meet-up for updates of specialty repairs we will be offering. This time Around the Cycle will be offering Bike repair or consultation.

Of course the Really, Really Free Market will be up and running! Bring something in giftable condition, and take something... free!

Parking around the Shed is time limited. Read parking signs.
To volunteer or for more info, contact Therese.

— Therese Brummel

Repair Café Pasadena

Photo by Therese Brummel.

Additional Mulch Distribution Scheduled!

Mulch for the People

Yes, Mulch for the People has made a difference! Responding to our requests, the City of Pasadena has added a second mulch distribution location on the west side of Pasadena. The new location is at Robinson Park on Fair Oaks at the west end of the parking lot just south of the ball-fields. Public Works will now provide a load of mulch monthly on the Fridays in between the monthly distribution dates for Victory Park.

The first distribution was on June 19, and a quick visit confirmed the mulch to be of good quality–tree wood shredded small without many leaves. After a week, the original pile had been reduced to about a tenth its original size. The nine-tenths taken are clear evidence of a demand, previously unmet. Thank you, City of Pasadena!

If you haven't gotten yours yet, zip on over before it's gone! Put a thick layer around established plants to reduce evaporation, discourage weeds, attract earthworms and microbes to improve soil and discourage El Niño runoff.

The last scheduled mulch drop for 2015 at Victory Park will be on October 9th and at Robinson Park on October 23rd. If you want mulch provided during winter too, do contact your Pasadena City Council Member and let them know!
Follow upcoming plans for a public meeting and for ways of getting mulch delivered at our Facebook Page:

— Lin Griffith

Mulch for the People

Photo by Lin Griffith.

Summer Workshops in Review

Throop Learning Garden

Genevieve Arnold’s Seed Collection Workshop

We were pleased to host Genevieve Arnold and her hands-on seed harvesting workshop on July 25. We learned about different types of seeds, when and how to harvest seed, how to thresh and process seed, and various strategies for storing seeds. Then we went out into Throop Learning Garden and harvested seeds from cleveland sage, white sage, fabiolus penstemon, and several other plants. We all came away with new awareness and competency.

Genevieve offers classes at the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Lisa Novick’s Transform Your Lawn
to Native Plant Habitat Presentation

Throop Learning Garden welcomed Lisa Novick to Throop Hall on August 22. She gave a rousing presentation on how to design and install a native plant habitat to replace your lawn. Lisa used her yard as a beautifully illustrated example of how to accomplish the transformation. She took us, step-by-step, through her process, highlighting stumbling blocks and work-arounds. And she provided resources, inspiration, and the joy of the challenge of just doing it.

The audience raptly absorbed Lisa’s information. A lively Q&A session rounded up the presentation. And happy raffle winners went home with a native plant. Lisa reminded us that we are the ones who will begin to reestablish habitat and heal our environment, one yard at a time.

Check out Lisa Novick’s blog at

Shelley Powsner and Laura Henne’s
Composting Workshop

Throop Learning Garden happily hosted Shelley Powsner and Laura Henne in an afternoon about compost on September 19. They shared their expertise, insight, and advice with a small group of rapt students. She offered an overview of composting techniques, emphasizing how to choose the type of composting best suited to one's specific needs. We chose a static compost for Throop Learning Garden, for the type of yard waste and the amount of attention we would give it. The workshop participants constructed two static bins, under Shelley's guidance. Come and check them out at the west end of Throop Learning Garden!

After a potluck lunch, Laura schooled us in vermiculture, or worm composting. This is one of the composting techniques best suited for urban gardeners who have more kitchen vegetable scraps than yard waste. She demonstrated the workings of several types of bins and how to construct and care for them. Then we had the opportunity to build a worm bins.

Everyone went away filled with enthusiasm, inspired to put their experience into practice at home. Our deepest thanks to Laura and Shelley for the sharing of their knowledge and inspiring us all.

We have enjoyed the opportunity to explore garden related topics and reskillings through workshops at Throop Learning Garden this past summer!  Seed saving, lawn conversion, native plant habitat construction, and multiple composting methods have expanded our awareness and skill sets.

— January Nordman

Throop Learning Garden

Photo by January Nordman.

Bring Public Fruit Trees to Pasadena!

Fruit Trees in Public Places

Transition Pasadena–in collaboration with Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy and Day One and the Pasadena Public Health Department–has an eager crew who have been meeting with civic leaders and committees and commissioners to discuss the need for Fruit Trees in Public Places. Pasadena has been lagging behind in adopting this kind of idea.

Cities in over twenty other states have adopted plans to allow fruit trees, either singly or in orchards to be planted on public land for citizens to access and care for and harvest. Pasadena Public Health Department has set a priority to increase fresh fruit and vegetable access, especially in low income areas. Planting fruit trees seems to be a sustainable way to grow a food bank of sorts. As drought slowly turns the Central Valley farmlands fallow, we need to build some resilience into our local food security.

Madison Elementary School would like a larger garden and an orchard of ten or more trees. Fire stations are drought-scaping their lawns away. What great places for fruit trees! How about at libraries, parks, parkways? Currently there is a possible fine of up to $1000 for planting a fruit tree in your parkway.

The Pasadena Urban Forestry Management Plan has been reviewed by Dudek Consulting. It will soon be presented to the City Council for approval. Please turn out if you think Fruit Trees in Public Places is a great idea. Dudek does not.

Contact Therese to learn how to get involved or for more information.

— Therese Brummel

Photo by January Nordman.

Living for a Post-Carbon World

Energy Descent Group

Members of Transition Pasadena are starting a pilot program to systematically reduce our own carbon emissions. We are doing this to further align our group with the foundational principles of Transition (to transition away from fossil fuels) and to pioneer and explore the post-carbon world. To do this, we will be estimating our individual emissions in five categories—flying, food, driving, electricity, and natural gas—and finding creative ways to further reduce our impact. We will track our average values over time and measure our progress. If you are a resident of the Pasadena/Altadena community who would be interested in participating, please email us to learn more.

— Peter Kalmus

Photo by Therese Brummel.

Ban Polystyrene in Pasadena!

Styrofoam Free Pasadena

Stryrofoam Free Pasadena, a coalition of community, health, and environmentally-minded groups and individuals have been working for over two years to enact a polystyrene/ Styrofoam ban in Pasadena, in accord with our City's adopted Zero Waste plan. Initially buried in the middle of the Public Works Zero Waste 2040 initiative, we successfully advocated after months of outreach—showing up and speaking out at city meetings and hearings—to bring the issues of polystyrene waste, toxicity, and environmental contamination to the front of the line of the City's Zero Waste goals.

So this year, the City convened a Working Group to study feasibility of a polystyrene take-out container ban; however several paid outside industry lobbyists were permitted in the stakeholder group and have made every effort to stop and stall the process.  Recently, the City held two public meetings to provide an update on where the Working Group was in the process and to collect public feedback.  In two public sessions, public support for the ban was strong!  Progress has been made, but still every effort is being made to forestall a ban in Pasadena.  But we can get this done!

Here are some facts to consider:
  • Polystyrene does not biodegradable,
  • Styrene, a toxic component of polystyrene, can leach into food when polystyrene food containers are heated,
  • Recyclable and/or compostable alternatives are readily available at a nominal additional cost.
  • Polystyrene is lightweight, breaks into tiny fragments, and floats, and so is easily blown into our green space and waterways,
  • Polystyrene accounts for a disproportionate 17% of litter in Los Angeles County (source: LACDPW),
  • Polystyrene kills wildlife such as birds and fish and is a major source of plastic marine pollution.
  • No waste haulers for Pasadena "recycle" polystyrene, which has little commercial value (Allan Company explained that it costs $1000 to process a ton of polystyrene, which has only a $65 post-market value) so most or all polystyrene from Pasadena's waste stream is actually dumped at Scholl Canyon landfill.
  • 93 other California municipalities have already passed a full or partial ban on polystyrene products.
Our next steps leading up to a vote before City Council expected late in 2015 are to get more organizations and key interests to support the polystyrene ban and we are circulating a new petition that will be delivered before key public meetings.

We've put up an online petition at that we encourage everyone to read and sign:
Pasadena Phase Out Single Use Styrofoam

Let's make this a Greener, Cleaner, Pasadena!

— Qrys Cunningham

Styrofoam-Free Pasadena  [Facebook]

Photo by Therese Brummel.
Purple Rainbow Roundabout

The Way of Council

Council Practice Group

A regular monthly council session on the 3rd Tuesday of every month is available for anyone able to attend. Based on indigenous tradition, we learn, teach and deepen our understanding of council practice. The content of the evening varies, but the intention is to deepen our listening and speaking skills in the service of the Earth and all that live here. Join us from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at a private residence. Call (626) 260-1615 with any questions.

— David Cutter

Photo by Alexander Mueller; Flickr.

The Olive Harvest

Throop Learning Garden

Throop Learning Garden experienced its first olive harvest. Our olive tree provided almost a bushel of olives, after several years with no harvest.

We watched the tree, in great anticipation, as olives began to form in August. We began to plan for an olive brining workshop in late October. We all were surprised when the olives came ripe the last week of August!  Our surprise was burnished by gratitude at the bounty presented to us. 

So we flew into action! Therese, Mimi, and Judith worked out a picking relay team-one on a ladder picking, one spotting the person on the ladder, and one gathering up the fallen olives onto a blanket placed under the tree. Much laughter ensued. And giant bowls brimming with olives.

But then the realization that we had an abundant harvest that needed to be processed. What should we do? None of us were very experienced with olive preserving.

We divvied the olives between 7 or 8 folks to try different processing methods and share what they learn at a future date. Michael is trying the Italian salt pack method suggested by the UC Davis ag department.Maggie is doing a salt brine.

Therese is trying a variant of the salt brine. I went with a Sicilian brine for the green olives and a Kalamata brine for the black, fully ripe olives.

Here are some good resources for olive processing and preserving:

UC-Davis—huge overview of many different techniques

Brining olives

Drying olives

With perseverance and luck, we may be able to sample some finished olives at the next Repair Café at The Shed on October 10.

— January Nordman

Photo by Therese Brummel.
Transition Pasadena is a community group working to make positive changes in our community as we face global climate change, peak oil, and economic uncertainty. We share our skills working on projects to increase local resilience and strengthen community connections. Our members live in Pasadena, Altadena, and nearby neighborhoods including Highland Park and Eagle Rock.