Japanese students help build a NEW school garden!

554894_566877722012_1982012613_nRecently, Sustainable Renton board member Elizabeth Zwicker was approached by a friend about opportunities in the area for a group of Japanese exchange students. Well, immediately she thought of the Sustainable Renton Community Farm-and all of the different projects that need help there. So we said YES, we’d love to have them for a 2-hour work party at the farm.

So, today, the students came to the farm to help us prepare garden beds for a school garden for the Apollo Elementary School (Issaquah School District), which is located immediately behind Celebration Church and the Community Farm. This Fall, we’ll be having a program to engage students at the school with gardening and growing fresh produce.

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The exchange students are part of the States 4H International Exchange Program. Their mission is: “Enhancing world understanding and global citizenship through high-quality 4-H international cultural immersion and exchange programs for 4-H aged youth.”

Their volunteer time with us was part of the student’s orientation week before they head off to live with their host families for the year. They wanted to learn about volunteerism in American culture-they sure did work hard, and never complained. We really accomplished a LOT! All that hard work will ensure that local elementary students will have access to an organic garden, where they can learn about biology, cooperation, patience, healthy eating habits, and so much more.

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To learn more about States 4H exchange, visit their website.

We are so blessed to be able to collaborate and partner with so many different groups, people, and organizations in our community.

And here are some photos of what is growing at the garden right now.

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Meaningful Movie sheds light on Cooperatives

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Once every quarter Meaningful Movies of Renton, in addition to our monthly movie, is combining efforts with Meaningful Movies of Kirkland and Meaningful Movies of the Eastside, with help from Meaningful Movies of Wallingford, for a showing of what is turning out to be timely topics. On July 25th we held the first movie in this joint venture. We watched the amazing 2012 film ‘Shift Change’. Filmmakers Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young were both available to field questions after the movie. What an intelligent and lively discussion it turned out to be.

The focus of the film was on worker-owned cooperatives and the impact that they have within a community. Cooperatives are making a comeback since the obliteration of our economic structure through what most people view as cooperate greed. Cooperatives offer empowerment to the individual because everyone has one vote and therefore equal say in what decisions are made within the company. Cooperatives are an excellent example of what democracy ought to look like.

Cooperatives also empower the community because the economic structure is such that job security is strengthened rather than threatened. Profit becomes secondary to the worker. Profit is important, for obviously there would be no company without it, but the profit is returned to the workers and the company, not into a CEO’s bank account.

The difference between a worker-owned cooperative and a worker-owned company was made clear from the film. There are upwards of 14,000 worker owned businesses in the United States. WINCO comes to mind. These are different than worker owned cooperatives, of which there are only 400 in the U.S. A worker-owned business most likely continues to operate as other businesses do, from the top down. The example was given that if all the workers at Boeing collectively bought all the shares for The Boeing Company, then it would be worker-owned, but the management of the company would stay the same, which is a top down hierarchical structure. However, a worker-owned cooperative has a business model that implements a lateral structure. No one person has more power in the company than the other. Committees and Boards are voted in by a democratic process.

Here are the 7 principles of a Cooperative:

  1. Voluntary membership.

  2. Democratic member control.

  3. Members’ economic participation.

  4. Autonomy and Independence.

  5. Education, training, and information.

  6. Cooperation among cooperatives.

  7. Concern for community.

For more information about cooperatives please go to this link: http://usa2012.coop/home

Co-op-Wordle1Sustainable Renton is working very hard at starting the Renton Food Co-Op. The idea came up last night that perhaps this could be a worker’s cooperative as well as a consumer cooperative. This type of cooperative is what is known as a hybrid. There was some mention that Olympia Food Co-Op operates this way. It will definitely be brought up at our next Food Co-Op meeting, which is Tuesday, August 27th at our office space in the Renton Highlands. Potluck at 5:30, with a general meeting beginning at 6:00. If you are at all interested in seeing how a cooperative can change a community come and be a part of making local history. We need a lot of help and would appreciate any input.

A little about Holy Cross Lutheran where the quarterly movies are being held. This congregation is dedicated to social justice through its efforts called ‘The Earthkeeping Ministry’. This ministry’s primary focus is on alleviating hunger and educating the community about food-How to grow it, preserve it and share it. They have an active educational component and have partnered with other local organizations to make their dream a reality, and what a beautiful dream it is. If you would like to find out more about The Earthkeeping Ministry at Holy Cross Lutheran you can find it here.

If you have never been to Holy Cross Lutheran’s beautiful P-Patch they have located on their property, you definitely should take some time to check it out. .

Now a word about the filmmakers of ‘Shift Change’. Their tireless and courageous efforts at talking about important social justice issues has to be commended. Since 1986, Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young, Whidbey Island natives, have brought us 22 films and counting. Topics covered are DNA testing, genetic engineering of food, AIDS, farm workers of Washington, politics in Central America, education, salmon health, human gene patenting, and more. For more information on their endeavors please visit www.movingimages.org

The next scheduled event for Meaningful Movies of Renton is on Friday, August 30th at 7 pm at the Office in the Renton Highlands (970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton 98056). We will be showing ‘Crossroads’, here is a synopsis of the movie:

Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview, is a documentary exploring the depths of the current human condition and the emergence of a worldview that is recreating our world from the inside out.
Weaving together insights and findings from biology, psychology, network science, systems science, business, culture and media, the film reveals the inner workings of the human experience in the 21st century, urging viewers to step out of the box and challenge their own assumptions about who we really are, and why we do what we do.
Crossroads places evolutionary context to today’s escalating social unrest, natural disasters, and economic failures. It illuminates the footsteps of an integrated worldview, penetrating its way through the power of social networks to the forefront of our personal and collective awareness.

The next collaborative meaningful movies effort will be held on October 17th at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, in Factoria. We haven’t decided on the exact movie but we know that the topic will be GMO’s. This topic is timely due to the issue coming up on the November ballot.

Mark your calendars, come and be a part of a group of people that want to make a positive change in our community.

As always, please like us on Facebook:

Sustainable Renton

Sustainable Renton Community Farm

Renton Food Co-Op

 

Meaningful Movies in Renton

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For those of you that didn’t know it, Sustainable Renton hosts Meaningful Movies of Renton the last Friday of every month. This event is located at our office space in the Renton Highlands, and begins at 7 pm. Our purpose is to watch documentary films that focus on social justice issues. We follow these viewings with a community discussion about the thoughts and feelings that arise from the film as well as possible actions that can be taken in our local community to make a difference with the particular problem that we are talking about.

We watched a great movie this month called ‘Money and Life’. This is the third film in our series on the discussion of economics. The movie gave us a basic Economics 101 education for those of us that find economics confusing and downright unappetizing, and it also gave us an education of the history of this agreement we have made called ‘money’.  This agreement was originally made for the transfer of goods and services for the betterment of our relationships to each other and the local community we lived in. Like many great inventions, such as nuclear power or drones, the original intention is for the betterment of the community or the world, but the ultimate perversion has led us down a road to possible ultimate devastation.

The community discussion was about how we can live a more simple life, rich with healthy foods and relationships, but devoid of the pressure to “get ahead”. The idea of “getting ahead” comes from a sense of scarcity and there is no real scarcity in the world, only the perceived scarcity that we have instilled into this agreement we made, so that money has the illusion of being necessary.

I love the paradigm shift that our collective consciousness is in the middle of right now. The Arab Spring, the European Summer, the Occupy Movement have all worked together to create a global shift in how we need to live to make the life we have here more valuable and it has nothing to do with the acquisition of wealth. It helps that it is nearly impossible to achieve the so called “American Dream” anymore because we are forced to look elsewhere for our happiness.

We at Sustainable Renton believe that our local community is where we need to look for not only happiness but for connection. While everyone is busy being connected on their electronic devices we invite you to come and get connected with the Earth at the new Sustainable Renton Community Farm, or get connected with positive change and creating a movement with the beginning of Renton Food Co-Op, or to get connected with real issues and real people of your community at Meaningful Movies of Renton.

This is our city, we can make it what we want it to be-resilient, passionate, bountiful and beautiful.

Come and find out more how you can be involved with the amazing things Sustainable Renton has going on.

Peace,

Lara Randolph

Sustainable Renton Board Member/Farm Manager

 

Pallet Board Shed Success!

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WOW! I was absolutely amazed at how wonderful the Pallet Shed Building Workshop turned out. Not only do we have an amazing shed built out of Pallet Boards standing at the Farm site now, but everyone that attended the workshop chipped in to drive a screw, level a pallet, sturdy a ladder, or handle a skill saw.

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Steve and Kelvin Randolph (The Randolph Brothers aka Double Trouble) made it look fun and simple all at the same time. They did a great job fielding questions and giving answers that were simple and logical-it was a very user-friendly workshop filled with all the information anyone could need to build their own shed-complete with hands-on experience too!

This shed was made with 100% recycled and donated materials. We were able to secure donations thanks to Eric DeShaw, Clayton Stiles, Mana Kashay, Jim and Debbie Doty, Steve Randolph and Commercial Building Maintenance.

I am absolutely overwhelmed with the feeling of how necessary community is to a healthy and fulfilled life. With that comes a renewed passion for the efforts going into starting our community farm. There is such a beautiful reality emerging up here in the Renton Highlands and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

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Y’all ought to come up and take a look at how beautiful everything is here, also-we still have plots available! We are gearing up for some winter crop planting now so it’s never too late to get a plot and start the adventure of growing your own food. We have gardeners of all experience levels, there is plenty of help and information to be had so don’t be shy and come on by!

For more information please contact Lara Randolph at larar35@comcast.net or Sustainable Renton at sustainablerenton@gmail.com

Pallet Board Shed Workshop!

HEY FARMERS AND OTHER INTERESTED FOLK!

Sustainable Renton Community Farm is hosting a Pallet Board Shed building Workshop on Saturday, June 15th at 11 a.m. This engaging workshop will be held at the Farm property located just behind Celebration Church in the Renton Highland neighborhood at 11840 148th Ave. S.E.

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Come join us as seasoned carpenters, Clayton Stiles and Steve Randolph, walk us through the steps on how to build a functioning and CHEAP shed using mostly pallet boards. Bring your tool belts and come prepared for a hands-on experience.

You may want to pack a lunch as the workshop will go through the lunch hour-and remember to bring enough fluid to keep hydrated in case the weather is hot.

You can RSVP at the Facebook event page.

SEE YOU AT THE FARM!

A Renton Food Co-op

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Food.

All animals need it to survive and thrive. Seems simple enough: Find food. Eat food. Survive. Thrive.

Sure-you can eat just about anything and survive. Fast food, frozen processed TV dinners, energy drinks-you can certainly survive on all of them. But over time, it will take a toll on your body. The question is-what can you do to thrive? What choices can you make right here in Renton to do that? And-what can you do to not only nourish your body to thrive, but to help your community and planet thrive?

These are all concerns and questions that a local group of community members are exploring together. And the channel we are using to explore these questions is the idea of a local grocery co-op. Currently using the name Renton Food Co-op (although Renton Grocery Co-op is gaining favor), this group is gathering on a regular basis to create a vision of a local, sustainable, member-owned and operated grocery cooperative. We are inspired by other successful grassroots co-op models that already exist in the region, such as Olympia Food Co-op, Tacoma Food Co-op, and the under construction Delridge Grocery.

Why does Renton need a grocery co-op you ask? We already have a Grocery Outlet; Fred Meyer and Safeway have organic produce; Minkler’s has gluten-free products. True-but a locally owned, member operated grocery co-op provides something unique and special that can’t necessarily be found in those other businesses: an opportunity to nourish our community, the environment, and all people.

A grocery co-op would provide many benefits to Renton:

–          A space to find locally sourced, sustainable, organic food;

–          An opportunity to be a stakeholder in how the grocery co-op is run;

–          Create and provide new jobs;

–          A space to hold educational classes on cooking, making healthy food choices, sustainability, etc.;

–          A means to care for our environment by intentionally offering sustainable shopping choices;

–          and A space to build community connections and partnerships.

Our steering committee meets every few weeks, and is growing. But we want to see this idea engage the wider community and thrive. We encourage any interested parties to get in contact with us. There are many ways to get involved-some very simple, and some that are more in-depth.

We look forward to sharing more details about this project as it proceeds and develops in the near future.

If you would like to find out more or get involved, please contact us via email at sustainablerenton@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook.

Cascade Neighborhood-a Local Food System in action?

Today, I took a walk around the Cascade neighborhood of Renton with my kids. We spotted a couple of signs of healthy local food system developments-a school garden, and fresh homegrown produce for sale.

The gardens are at Renton Park Elementary. They are bursting with color.

Each classroom has their own raised bed.
The kids are going to have a great time in the Fall exploring what they planted.

And the produce is being sold from someone’s home-but I wasn’t able to find it today. I’ll have to go exploring further another day.

Seen on SE 168th St.

It’s nice to see these simple ways to reconnect with our sources of food. What have you spotted in your neighborhood?