Are you a game changer?


While browsing through websites on Transition Town Initiatives I stumbled upon this seven minute video. After watching it I felt compelled to share it with all of you. I have felt frustrated with my efforts at times when it seems that there is no momentum at large and at other times when I cannot seem to live up to my own individual philosophical convictions. This video explains why I feel that way and what might be able to be done about it. It reminded me that what WE are trying to do at Sustainable Renton is exactly the thing that is the solution to our problem-to work in our local communities to effect a positive change and to move towards a more resilient, self-sufficient city, rather than a dependent one. Here is a link to that video:  After viewing the short it will take you to a quiz to find out what kind of game changer you are. I was informed that I am a nurturer. I’m not sure how I feel about that, I think I might rather leave the nurturing to others and I’ll be in the forefront changing the rules of how the games are played, but it’s nice to be effective at both I guess.

One idea that has been mentioned at our Board meetings is to make Sustainable Renton a Transition Initiative. If you are unfamiliar with this idea then you can go here to find out more:

Here is a snippet from the website to pique your curiosity:

“The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and “environmental” groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience.”

If, after finding out more, you want to get involved in what Sustainable Renton might be doing please come to our Board meeting held on the third Thursday of every month at 7 pm or contact us at and someone will get back with you.

In the meantime, do good work.

Lara Randolph

Co-President/Sustainable Renton

Sustainable Renton Meaningful Movies Presents “Feeding Frenzy”


Every day we are bombarded by marketing, and our diet is one of the main targets. We are flooded with messages trying to get us to consume more fast food, sugar, potato chips, soda, and anything else the industry can come up with. On Friday night at 7PM, Meaningful Movies takes a look at the food industry and its marketing practices with the film “Feeding Frenzy: The Food Industry, Marketing & the Creation of a Health Crisis”.

Here’s a synopsis from the film maker:

“Over the past three decades, obesity rates in the U.S. have more than doubled for children and tripled for adolescents — and a startling 70% of adults are now obese or overweight. The result has been a widening epidemic of obesity-related health problems, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. While discussions about this spiraling health crisis have tended to focus on the need for more exercise and individual responsibility, Feeding Frenzy trains its focus squarely on the responsibility of the processed food industry and the outmoded government policies it benefits from. It lays bare how taxpayer subsidies designed to feed hungry Americans during the Great Depression have enabled the food industry to flood the market with a rising tide of cheap, addictive, high calorie food products, and offers an engrossing look at the tactics of the multibillion-dollar marketing machine charged with making sure that every one of those surplus calories is consumed.”

The film features industry analysts, health experts, and advertising scholars, including Marion Nestle, Kelly Brownell, Sut Jhally, Brian Wansink, and Michele Simon.

The film has received critical praise. Here’s a sampling:

 “Joining Supersize Me and King Corn as one of the decade’s very best food documentaries, Feeding Frenzy covers important and, as of yet, unchartered territory as it turns a keen and critical eye on the marketing practices of the food industry. A must-see!”

– Justin Lewis | Head of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media, and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University

“Powerful, important, and damning. Zeroing in on the corporate practices of the multibillion-dollar food industry, this film adds a fresh and essential perspective to current debates about corporate power, food, and health. Watch this film and show it to your students!”

– Erica Scharrer | Chair of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“Given the sheer power of today’s consolidated food industry as a marketing behemoth, it’s a relief to have the critical eye of Media Education Foundation dissect what’s being sold to consumers as a healthy food system. In their new documentary Feeding Frenzy, Sut Jhally and a savvy set of experts and practitioners unpack the contradictory, confusing, ubiquitous, and deeply problematic discourses of agriculture, food, and health, raising critical questions about responsibility, choice, and power without succumbing to the moral panic of many other films. This will be a powerful tool for the public, the classroom, and political discourse.”

– Alice Julier, Ph.D. | Program Director & Associate Professor of Food Studies at Chatham University

“So many videos on food focus on production, but not as much on the market and consumption side. Feeding Frenzy does a fine job of explaining how our food environment is manipulated to get us to buy and eat more than is good for us.”

– Dr. Christine Barbour | Department of Political Science at Indiana University.

Please join us at Sustainable Renton HQ, 970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton, WA 98056, Friday night at 7PM for this interesting film, and great conversation afterwards! See you there!


Tess the Gardener


Here is a brief introduction to Tess, the Gardener. I first met Tess at the Meaningful Movies of Renton events; she has been a loyal supporter of them from the beginning. Over time we have come to know each other as like minded neighbors that want to make a positive change in our community.





I had the pleasure of visiting Tess’ house the other day. When I parked in front of her house located in the Renton Highlands area, I was immediately struck by how the yard has been replaced by garden space to grow things. She had a multitude of berries and bulbs, kale and collards. She confessed to having been influenced by the recent permaculture workshop, led by Laura Sweany, to change the shape of her current garden bed into something a little more in tune with nature-she went from planting in a traditional row pattern to creating a spiral gardening bed. This shape lends itself to more cohesion towards how plants might grow in the wild. This is also a great strategy for confusing pests that may want to attack one crop, for if that crop is sprinkled together with other crops, than the damage is greatly reduced.


Of course, I noticed the peace sign made from brick that had been incorporated into her walkway through her yard. My kids loved it too.

Tess had chickens in her back yard and two compost systems-one used for kitchen scraps and the other for chicken manure.

I was also blessed to get a taste of Tess’ homemade chili-yummy.

I have to say that this is a shining example of one of the products of being involved with Sustainable Renton-community.

Although it was a short visit I was left with the feeling that we were more connected to one another and how absolutely grateful I am to belong to an organization that fosters a healthier community through fostering healthier relationships with our neighbors.


Study Group Update: Cultures of Place

Photo by Flickr user Reinis Ivanovs
Photo by Flickr user Reinis Ivanovs
This Saturday the Sustainable Renton Study Group goes back to the beginning. Before our world became a global marketplace, communities were rooted in place—intimately familiar with their environments, and familiar with the social landscape in which they lived. Such was necessary for survival.

In my day to day interactions with people, the complaint I hear most often is that we no longer have community. That we are rootless, and as a result of that, people feel lost and alone. Many others feel we have been reduced from citizens to consumers. That Homo Sapiens has been replaced with Homo Economicus. We are disconnected from ourselves, our communities, and our environment.

In my mind the question arises, “must it be this way?” “Has it always been this way?” To explore this, we take a look at societies who until recently have been largely untouched by the process of globalization.

The introduction to this month’s module, Cultures of Place: Scale, Place, Community quotes a remark by anthropologist Franz Boas. He said that knowledge of other cultures “enables us to look with greater freedom at the problems confronting our civilization.”

In this module we begin familiarizing ourselves with place-based cultures from around the world in order to see what has changed in our own cultures.

This is not to idealize the past or romanticize traditional cultures. We cannot go back to the past, and indeed most of us would not want to. But the question must be asked, what have we lost along the way? Is there a way to recapture that sense of being rooted in the community, and can we reconnect with the planet and each other in a way that keeps the best of the old and the new, and moves toward something even better?

You do not have to have been a member of the group or have read the readings to come, please just come and join in the discussion. Of course, doing the readings helps, and to get them, please contact me, Preston Glidden at and I will set you up!

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday at 10AM at Sustainable Renton HQ! The address is 970 Harrington Ave NE in Renton. See you there!


A x B = ?


While attending a social media workshop this past weekend, the word “product” came up several times as the message was geared towards small business owners. At the beginning of the session, the instructor advised us to work with the ideas presented and fit them into our own personal situation. But, Sustainable Renton doesn’t have a tangible “product” that we can advertise per se. We don’t have videos of folks taste testing our homemade brews. We don’t have photos of kids with our t-shirts on. We don’t have artistic renditions of our pets for sale. So, what then, is Sustainable Renton’s “product”?

While looking in Merriam-Webster, one definition of the word product is: the number or expression resulting from the multiplication together of two or more numbers or expressions. This is obviously a mathematical definition of the word, but I think it fits for what we have to offer.  Our product comes after our hard work.  Our product is the result of two or more people gathering together for a common purpose and to make something amazing happen. We offer the ability to create something larger than individuals are capable of creating alone-a type of multiplication process.

Our product, so far, has been the emergence of a Community Farm. This was an amazing effort by a group of individuals that came together to create a space where food can be grown and community can be built.

We have the beginnings of the Renton Food Co-Op-an effort that will bring a place for people to buy local and organic foods and become more educated about how to live healthier lives.

We have Meaningful Movies of Renton-a once a month gathering of folks that watch a documentary film and have roundtable community discussions about the topic discussed.

We have the Sustainable Renton Study Group which is a once a month meeting of folks who want to learn about the systemic reasons for the dilemmas that our planet faces and are discussing how to take positive action to help create change and live a more sustainable life.

From the very first meeting between Chris Conkling and Michelle Kelley in August of 2010, Sustainable Renton has stayed true to its mission and that is to foster a healthier community and planet. Our Board has grown, our ideas have taken shape, we have learned a lot and are anxious to continue to make things happen in Renton. With more people showing up and offering their skills and time to our organization, our ability to reach more people in our community grows.

So, if you would like to be a part of the magnificence of multiplication that is occurring at Sustainable Renton we would love to hear from you. The best part about the products that we offer is that they are free and available to any who want it.

21 Acres Field Trip



A few of us visited 21 acres yesterday for the first time and can I just say, “Wow!” It is obvious that some very hard work has paid off immensely. I am including some photos but for a more comprehensive view you can visit their website: 

First of all, it was spectacular weather for late February. The sunny, (almost) spring days in the Pacific Northwest are so full of hope and smiles (let’s not think about the snow predicted for tomorrow). It was the perfect day to tour 21 acres, which do the fourth Friday of every month from 11-2 pm, but no need to wait until then; self guided tours are available anytime the farm gate is open.  


There is plenty of space for kids to run around and have fun. There are two goats on the property that will love to nibble at your sweater as you scratch their heads.


There is a beautiful pizza oven/outdoor fireplace.


There is a magnificent herb spiral that is in need of an organization to take over its care and make it thrive once more. If you or your organization is interested you can contact 21 acres to offer your services.


It was at this point of the tour that someone said, “I don’t ever want to leave.”

I laughed and agreed, but it got me to wondering why we couldn’t have something like this in Renton? The answer is: we can and dare I say we will. We have some very motivated, intelligent and amazing people that are willing to work towards making this happen. Although the demographics are slightly different in Renton than they are in Woodinville and the initial motivation for a project like this may have to be tweaked to suit our community needs, the basic principles can be the same: A vital, public space where people can rediscover or perhaps discover for the first time the importance and heritage of local agriculture. 

One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to the Farm Store where they sell local produce and value added products. The pickled blueberries put out by Bow Hill Bluberries from Bow, WA, were highly recommended so I bought some and can I say that my mind is sufficiently blown. They were absolutely amazing. The Farm Store is open Fridays 11 -6 and Saturdays 10-4 during the winter. Yesterday was truly our lucky day.



I encourage everyone to go and see how their green building handles gray and green water off of the grid, truly an innovative system.


The bottom line is we all had a great time exploring the possibilities and day dreaming.