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

Transition Pasadena

September 2016

“The Pasadena Way… Or Their Highway”

Forum on Alternatives to the 710 Freeway Tunnel

Thursday, September 15
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Pasadena Convention Center Ballroom
300 E Green St, Pasadena

The public is invited to a community meeting on the proposed 710 tunnel project at the Pasadena Convention Center Ballroom. The meeting is sponsored by District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison.

The event will cover topics of connectivity, clean air, the tunnel, trucks and tolls.

Featured speakers include:
–Paul Moore, Principal, Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates;
–David Grannis, Transportation Strategist, Founding Partner, pointC, LLC;
–Stefanos Polyzoides, Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists

Free, 90-minute parking with validation, available across the street at the Paseo Colorado garage. 

For more information on the meeting, contact Taka Suzuki, District 6 Liaison, or (626) 744-4739.

City of Pasadena, District 6

Coastal Cleanup Day

in the Arroyo Seco

Saturday, September 17
9:00 am - 12:00 noon

Sponsored by Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery

Don't miss the Coastal Clean Up Day in the Arroyo Seco on September 17th! We'll be at 145 N. Arroyo Boulevard in Pasadena from 9am to noon. Let's work to top last year's record of 500 pounds of trash removed!

Visit to register.

Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery

Walk & Talk

District 1 Councilmember Tyron Hampton

Tuesday, September 20
6:00 pm

Walk begins at corner of Elizabeth and Garfield Aves

Urban hiking with Pasadena Councilmember for District 1 Tyron Hampton
+ City staff
+ neighbors

This neighborhood walk with Councilmember Tyron Hampton and community leaders will look at local sustainability as demonstrated by:
3 houses, 2 green programs,
1 Q+A

For more info see:
Transition Pasadena Facebook Event: Walk&Talk: District 1

Pasadena Peace & Unity Festival

Sunday, September 25
2:00 pm - 6:30 pm

N Madison Ave & Buckeye st


In the face of violence in Northwest Pasadena, our communities come together, through music & spoken word, to promote peace with justice & unity in our neighborhoods. Please join us for a community event featuring musical artists Ozomatli, Aloe Blacc, Maya Jupiter, Los Jornaleros del Norte, Makoto Taiko and Tona.

Event is FREE and FAMILY FRIENDLY. There will be street food vendors and community resource information booths.

Event Sponsors:
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Pasadena Community Job Center
All Saints Church
Madison Elementary Parent Committee
Councilmember Victor M. Gordo
The Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Weekly

Interested in endorsing or becoming a sponsor? Please email

Pasadena Peace & Unity Festival on Facebook

Pasadena Certified Farmers’ Market

Your family will truly appreciate the great flavor when you buy fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables direct from the farmer at the Pasadena Certified Farmers' Market. Our certified vendors only sell what they grow - or, to say it another way, they won't sell you anything that they did not grow. You know where your food came from, and who grew it for you!

There are usually about 13 vendors on Tuesdays at Villa Parke Center, and as many as 40 at Victory Park on Saturdays.

The market is cash only, and we accept EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer). We are open rain or shine.
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Throop Learning Garden

What's Up at Throop Learning Garden?

Throop Memorial Church
300 S. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

It has been a busy summer at Throop Learning Garden. Many thanks to all who have volunteered their energies and insights.

This summer George Patton and our crew built a hugelkultur/ waffle garden behind the Los Robles bus stop. We planted a Three Sisters-style garden, based on corn, beans, and squash. We also added peppers, sunflowers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and okra.

The corn is 7’ tall, and made an ample feast for the raccoons that live in the storm drain across the street. They did not read the sign admonishing to pick only one and leave some for others. Fortunately, we are enjoying abundant harvests of the other crops. The pumpkins are ripening and should be harvestable next week.

We've also added a biodynamic compost stack, installed during the workshop with George Patton and Sheryl Spangler at the end of July.

Our olives are coming ripe about a month ahead of schedule. Our tree, on the Del Mar yard, is heavily laden with fruit. We plan to do an initial harvest this coming Wednesday, September 14, around 10 a.m. We also plan to workshop olive brining, at a date to be determined.

We are also looking into a workshop on kombucha and kimchi. Again, dates to be determined.

And last, but not least, we are developing a half hour earth-based garden meditation at Throop on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. beginning Sunday, September 25. The meditation will be non-denominational, but structured for a short, seated time, then a walking meditation. The focus will be deepening our connection to the earth.

— January Nordman

Throop Learning Garden

Photo courtesy of January Nordman.

Exploring Compost

Report: Throop Learning Garden Workshop, July 31

What makes good compost?

George Patton and Sheryl Spangler led our gathered gardeners on a sultry Saturday morning in late July to explore all things compost. We began with a review of what had been constructed at Throop.

We looked at our static bins, worm bins, and talked about how to expand our capacity to make living compost. This led to a hands-on opportunity for six participants to actually build a biodynamic compost stack. Along the way we shared experiences and questions, further enriching the discussion.

So what’s George and Sheryl’s recipe for making good compost?
  • Start with an area or container that is at least 3’x3’.
  • It’s best to locate compost in the shade.
  • Have a covering of some sort to preserve moisture.
  • Build a “mattress” at the bottom to contain the nutrients. This could be cardboard sheets, newspaper, or a bedding of straw or leaves.
  • Add water soaked, soggy chunks of cardboard,
  • Add worms,
  • Add an “inoculant”: a handful or two of good compost, or commercial starter,
  • Next successively stack layers of green leaves, brown leaves and twigs, then manure or alfalfa,
  • Make sure each layer is watered thoroughly,
  • Top with straw, newspaper, or cardboard. This keeps moisture in and minimizes critters.

We built our biodynamic compost in under 2 hours. It’s cooking nicely, so we anticipate having finished compost in 4-6 weeks. (Update: As of 9/10 it has decreased over 1.5 feet in mass, & the interior is looking like rich soil).

Stop by and take a look. It’s located at the Los Robles end of the church property in the area near the bus stop.

Thanks to George and Sheryl for their thoughtful instruction. Thanks to all who participated, for your questions, energy, and joyful work.

— January Nordman

Throop Learning Garden

Photo courtesy of January Nordman.

A Native Plant Garden Barn Raising

for the Jackie Robinson Post Office

Saturday, October 22 — 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Post Office
1355 N. Mentor Avenue, Pasadena

Did you know that the Jackie Robinson Post Office recently moved? The new J.R.P.O. is at the old Catalina Post Office on the corner of Mentor and Washington.

After Lisa Novick of the Theodore Payne Foundation passed the post office a few months ago, she challenged us (Transition Pasadena) to create a native plant landscape in the 2,000 square feet of fallow beds that surround the plain, boxy building.  A posting on, a local social media website connecting very local neighbors, yielded 20 excited neighbors willing to make it happen! 

Placemaking? Yes! Local networking? Yes! Support for water conservation, local pollinators, public awareness raising? Yes, yes, yes! The proposal we gave to the Postal Service was met with enthusiasm!

Four native-garden designers, including Lisa Novick of TPF and Nick Hummingbird of Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery, and two others who stepped forward from Nextdoor, have created a deliciously beautiful garden design.  Lisa said, “It has to be drop dead gorgeous!”

The final design considers year-round color, blooms, berries, leaf color and texture and even leaf-litter.  It incorporates plants that are host or food for a variety of butterflies, bees and birds.  It softens the architecture with variety of height and patterns and keeps low maintenance as a priority. It will be gorgeous and hopefully inspiring to passersby.

The City of Pasadena Water Conservation Program has offered to install an efficient irrigation system. The City's Forestry Dept. has agreed to deliver 15 cubic yards of mulch to the site. The two nurseries will collaborate to source the plants. And neighbors will be volunteering the labor and ongoing maintenance.

The one day "barn raising" will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22.

Our wish list includes a few (or even one) Arroyo stones to punctuate the garden with reminders of our beautiful wilderness area, the Arroyo Seco. (They must be too big to throw, or roughly, larger than a basketball.)

Stay tuned for more details! To get involved with digging or dig support on October 22, kindly RSVP:

— Therese Brummel

Photo by Therese Brummel, Repair Cafe Pasadena at Arroyo Food Co-op.

Repair Cafe Pasadena

This is a guest article submitted by Megan Hobza, co-director of the Whittier Free Store.

I attended my first Repair Cafe Pasadena event on August 27, 2016. It was Transition Pasadena's 37th Repair Cafe, and I was there to learn. In Whittier, where I co-direct the Whittier Free Store, we've planned our first Repair & Share Fair on September 17.

I was inspired by Transition Pasadena's ability to work closely with the City of Pasadena. The event even took place at the City's Jackie Robinson Center, and the City dedicated staff time to the event, including four Junior Ambassadors (three cheerful, one grumpy, all helpful). Pasadena has a local leadership training program that introduces aspiring community leaders to individual City staff, departments, and nonprofit partners. Wow! Every city should do this!

I was also inspired by the Repair Cafe's volunteer retention rate. Did you know that over 90% of Repair Cafe Pasadena volunteers return to volunteer again? People just like the work. This story from the event might explain why:

My young friend Rilee, who is 11, had a beloved but old Nintendo DS that needed fixing. The repair person, Michael, worked on it valiantly for over an hour, and managed to fix it — but then another part broke. He soldiered on. Two and a half hours had gone by when a cry went up in the repair room. Everyone cheered and clapped thunderously -- the devilishly difficult repair had been achieved! Rilee bragged about it the rest of the day. She had the toughest repair—and the best story —of the whole event.

It was wonderful to see old friends from the days of the Altadena Urban Farmers Market. A few of us who reconnected are even working on new partnerships that we hadn't anticipated. The Repair Cafe isn't just about repair — it's about creating and growing too. Thank you to everyone who works so hard to make this important community event a reality!

— Megan Hobza
Catalyst Network of Communities

Repair Café Pasadena

Photo courtesy of Repair Cafe Pasadena.

“Good To-Go” Keeps Going!

Moving Pasadena to Zero Waste

Pasadena joined 90 other cities by enacting the Polystyrene Food Packaging Ordinance that bans Styrofoam take-out containers. The Ordinance is in accord with Pasadena’s Zero Waste Strategic Plan, enacted in 2014, which outlined 19 program initiatives to achieve the goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2040.

We are grateful for the support for this from City Council, Mayor Tornek, and the staff of the Public Works Department. We also thank all who participated in the “Good to Go” campaign to bring this success.

We realize this is the beginning of a transition that will impact our entire community. That is why the “Good To-Go” campaign continues focusing its energies on implementing the Ordinance. Ginko Lee made a public statement to this effect to City Council, and we intend to support this effort.

To this end, Ginko Lee and January Nordman met with the Environmental Programs Manager, who has been overseeing the campaign to roll out the polystyrene ban. Municipal Services intends to put information regarding the ordinance and compliance in business license renewal packets, health certificate applications, and other, to be determined, forms of outreach. They have developed several information cards and brochures:

Excerpt from Pasadena Public Works' Polystyrene Ban Bill Insert.

Here’s where we can help. Pasadena is viewing this ordinance as a ban; a negative that figures more on prohibitions than possibilities. One way to get better compliance is to focus not on the negative, but on the positive. Ginko has offered the following:
  1.   Develop a “care package” of information, resources, and trends that would be delivered to all food establishments.
  2.    Develop a “feel good” campaign that puts a positive message on using alternatives to Styrofoam. This could include posters and stickers indicating the use of compostable or recyclable containers. This would have attractive, branded graphics, with simple slogans.
  3.   Perhaps a “green seal” campaign, similar to what is being done in Santa Monica.
  4.   Develop, promote, and demonstrate Zero Waste take-out containers, a bring your own container approach. This would be done under Health Department guidelines. Michiko Lynch demonstrates how to make your own containers every Wednesday at Altadena Farmers’ Market at Loma Alta Park. This program may be expanded.
We are gratified to work with the city on this important step towards Zero Waste.

— January Nordman

Good To-Go Campaign Facebook Page

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.