Sustainable Renton April Happenings

Spring is here, and Sustainable Renton is buzzing with activity this month!

April 11th-10 a.m. Study Group CANCELLED We will be wrapping up the Roots of Change curriculum next month. Look for another study topic coming soon!

April 11th-10 a.m.-12 p.m. Spring Veggie Class and Plant Sale This class and sale is offered by Michael Seliga and Cascadia Edible Landscapes. Spring Veggies, herbs, and perennial edible berries, natives will be for sale at the class. This event will be held at Sustainable Renton Community Farm. 11840 148th Ave. SE, Renton, WA 98059

April 14th- 6 p.m. Renton Food Co-Op Monthly Meeting There will be an informal potluck directly preceding meeting at 5:30 for those who care to join. At this month’s meeting we will be populating our committees and planning the next events for gleaning membership. This event will be held at the new Sustainable Renton Office at 1067 Harrington Ave N.E. Renton 98056

April 16th- 7 p.m. Sustainable Renton Board Meeting. This meeting is open to anyone who is interested in finding out more about Sustainable Renton and becoming involved. This event will be held at the Sustainable Renton Office.

April 25th- 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Planting a P-Patch using Permaculture Design Are you looking for a lower-maintenance food garden style that uses every square inch of garden space to its best advantage? Then you’re looking for a permaculture-style food garden! Can you use permaculture strategies for a small area? You bet! In this hands-on session, learn how to plant out your garden to reduce the use of water, fertilizer and pesticides, and use low-tech, natural resources for many of your needs. We will review the strategies of keyholes and hugelkultures, as well as planting using layers, zones and polycultures. We will also include seed saving strategies for common food garden plants. The first hour will be lecture and the second will be planting out our permaculture display garden at the farm!
$10 suggested donation. This event will be held at Sustainable Renton Communtiy Farm.

April 28th- 7 p.m. Meaningful Movies of Renton presents Movie TBD This event will be held at Luther’s Table at 419 So. 2nd St. Renton 98057.

We look forward to seeing you this month!

Sustainable Renton March Happenings

As always, Sustainable Renton has a lot happening during March. Come join us for these great events!

March 8th– 2 pm Sustainable Renton Community Farm Gardener’s Meeting This meeting is for current gardeners at SRCF. Come and learn about the protocol and meet everyone. Held at Sustainable Renton Community Farm.

March 10th 6 pm Renton Food Co-Op Monthly Meeting. This meeting is open to anyone interested in helping the initiative to open a food cooperative in Renton. There is a potluck beforehand at 5:30 for those that wish. This meeting is held at the Sustainable Renton Office.

March 14th 10 am-12 pm Sustainable Renton Study Group This month our group thinks Beyond Consumerism. We are introduced to campaigns against the ‘commercialization of childhood’, and we read about diverse traditions—old and new—which assert the values of sufficiency, contentment, and cooperation over unending consumption, greed and competition. We will be meeting at the Sustainable Renton office.

March 21st 1 pm Sustainable Renton Seed Exchange Bring extra seeds that you have and trade them for seeds that you want or need. This event is held at Sustainable Renton Office.

March 26th 7 pm Sustainable Renton Board Meeting This meeting is open for anyone interested in getting involved in Sustainable Renton. This meeting will be held at Sustainable Renton Office. This meeting is being held a week later than usual this month.

March 31st 7 pm Meaningful Movies of Renton presents ‘Economics of Happiness’ ‘The Economics of Happiness’ features a chorus of voices from six continents calling for systemic economic change. The documentary describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance – and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.

This film will be followed by a community discussion with experts on the subject available for questions. Come join us in our new, welcoming venue at Luther’s Table.

Sustainable Renton Community Farm is located at 11840 148th Ave S.E. Renton, WA 98059

Sustainable Renton Office is located at 970 Harrington Ave. N.E. Renton, WA 98056

Luther’s Table is located at 419 S. 2nd St. Renton, WA 98057

If you have any questions about these events or Sustainable Renton in general, be sure to drop me a line.

Preston Glidden

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!


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!


Meaningful Movies presents American Meat

Revere_8mm_projector_circa_1941Meaningful Movies of Renton shifts this month into a series of films about our food system.  This Friday, February 28 we will be showing the film American Meat.

Here’s a synopsis of the film from the producers:
“American Meat is a solutions-oriented documentary chronicling the current state of the U.S. meat industry. Featuring Joel Salatin, Chuck Wirtz, Fred Kirschenmann, Steve Ells, Paul Willis, and farmers across America, it takes an even-handed look at animal husbandry. First explaining how America arrived at our current industrial system, the story shifts to the present day, showing the feedlots and confinement houses, not through hidden cameras but through the eyes of the farmers who live and work there. From there, the documentary introduces the revolution taking root in animal husbandry, led by the charismatic and passionate Joel Salatin. Stories are shared of farmers across the country who have changed their life to start grass-based farms, and everyday solutions highlight actions people can make to support America’s agriculture.

Here are some quotes from the director of the film, Graham Meriwether:
“Joel Salatin is one of the main characters of our documentary. Filming at Polyface periodically over the course of three years, we show the various seasons on the farm and the ways in which animals, insects and ecosystems work together to create both a healthy environment and an economically profitable farm.”

“One story we tell that’s indicative of a potential sea change in the industry is that of Chipotle and Polyface. Chipotle starts sourcing meat locally from Polyface Farms for their Charlottesville, VA location, and it is a big success for all involved. There’s a lot of reasons that local sourcing makes sense, environmentally, and economically, and if a company with the purchasing power of Chipotle is making the switch, it may not be long until other large restaurant chains follow suit. These kinds of hands-on solutions allow people to leave our documentary feeling optimistic about the future of food in our nation.”

Is it possible to produce meat in a way that works for family farmers and consumers?  Can a localized farming system be better than the industrial farming system?  What can we do as consumers to encourage retailers to stock local, humanely raised meats?  We will discuss these questions and others that the movie raises after the film.  Be sure to join us!

To whet your appetite (pun intended!), here is the trailer for the film:

Digging Deeper: Announcing the formation of the Sustainable Renton Study Group

I’ve been studying environmental issues for over 10 years now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to truly solve the issues we face, a deeper understanding is needed. I have come to believe that all the issues we face – environmental, economic, energy and many more are all interrelated. These problems are parts of a systemic crisis, and the roots of this crisis need to be better understood. To this end I propose a Sustainable Renton Study Group.

I envision this group to be run under democratic principles. We will go where the group members feel we must as we learn more. We must have a starting point though, and for that I propose the Roots of Change curriculum from The International Society for Ecology and Culture. ISEC produced the film The Economics of Happiness, which we showed in December, but the film was cut short due to a blackout. I highly recommend you see the film, and we may show it later. In the meantime, here’s the film’s trailer:

Here’s a brief description of the ISEC curriculum:

Over the last 500 years, numerous, predominantly local and human scale societies have been transformed, becoming increasingly industrialized and globalized. In the process, both the distance between people and power, and the separation between production and consumption have grown. As a result, people have become increasingly alienated from each other and from the natural world. These broad, structural changes —and the forces that have animated them—are at the root of many of the crises we face.

The first part of the Roots of Change curriculum (‘500 Years of Progress?’) unravels this history. In the process readers will be treated to a selection of powerful voices that question a number of widely-held assumptions about progress, growth, wealth, and development.

The second half of the curriculum (‘Resistance and Renewal’) provides readers with a broad understanding of the steps needed at the local, national, and international levels to shift the world in a more sustainable direction. We have taken pains to showcase examples of resistance to the dominant order, as well as renewal, through brilliant ideas and initiatives that prefigure a much more humane, healthy, and happy future. For every critical exposé in the first section, we include in the second, new ideas and tangible, instructive, living solutions that will inspire. Where the curriculum ends, the journey of action begins.

I have all the materials we will need, there is no purchase necessary to be part of this group. I do highly recommend you support the work of ISEC through donating on their web site.

As we proceed through our studies, we may supplement, alter, or abandon the curriculum as needed. This course is only a starting point for what I hope will be an ongoing and enriching study group.

I also see this group as a means for mutual support. It is easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed when you understand the scope of the issues we face. As we grow closer together, we can lean on each other more and more for support to get through those tough times, and to celebrate the victories, large and small.

I understand that this group won’t be for everyone. But for those of us who are interested in digging to the roots of the problem, I think that this group will be a good place to start. Will you join me?

I have called for a first meeting on Saturday, February 15th at 10AM-Noon at the Sustainable Renton office – 970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton, WA. For more information about the group, please contact me at .

See you there!

Preston Glidden