The other side of peak oil

Coping locally with upcoming global changes

Common Vision volunteer Stephen England (wearing hat) helps Blue Oak Charter School students, including third-grader Jaden Morgan (right), plant a peach tree.christine g.k. lapado

Common Vision volunteer Stephen England (wearing hat) helps Blue Oak Charter School students, including third-grader Jaden Morgan (right), plant a peach tree.christine g.k. lapado

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Transitioning to post-peak oil
Our small city is attracting some rather big names in the sustainability world lately. On the heels of anti-GMO activist Jeffrey M. Smith’s Sept. 19 talk at the Chico Masonic Family Center, Boulder, Colo.-based “transition movement” speaker/writer Dr. Carolyn Baker will be in town to give an evening talk, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 14. Cost is $15. She’ll also be holding a day-long Living Resiliently workshop, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 15, both events are at the Chico Cohousing Community/Valley Oaks Village Common House (1950 Wild Oak Lane). Bay Area marriage and family therapist Jerry Allen and meditation teacher Suzie Gruber will join Baker at the workshop.

The psychosocial implications of climate change and peak oil are among the topics to be covered by Baker, Allen and Gruber.

“As world events speed up and crises multiply, from tsunamis to radiation, to wars and to economic collapse, we focus on external preparations to weather the storms ahead,” Gruber writes on her website. “How can we prepare ourselves emotionally, bodily, spiritually and socially to become more balanced, resilient and adaptive?”

Pre-registration for the limited-space workshop is required by Oct. 8; cost is $50. Register at Call 566-5865 for more info.

Plant a little orchard
Students at Blue Oak Charter School teamed up on Sept. 26 with Common Vision, a self-described “traveling tree-planting troupe famous for turning city schoolyards into urban orchards” that came to town to help plant a dozen fruit trees in the new orchard on the east side of the school’s property. The Blue Oak stop was part of the all-volunteer group’s fall tour, with stopovers in Mendocino County, Shasta County, Chico, Biggs and Nevada City.

Kids congregated near Common Vision’s veggie-oil-powered bus, painting colorful signs to identify the trees—fig, peach, plum, persimmon, nectarine, etc.—while others waited their turn to plant.

“We’re almost a decade deep in planting school orchards,” said Michael Flynn, education and program development director for Common Vision, who was on hand to help dig holes, etc. “We’ve planted almost 180”—that’s nearly 5,000 fruit trees at schools and community centers throughout the state.

“Millions of Californians eke out an existence in food deserts with no access to real food such as fresh fruits and vegetables,” Flynn pointed out. “The bottom line is that industrial food production is failing to properly nourish a generation. Community orchards offer a multigenerational lifeline to Californians who have limited access to a basic birthright of being human—fresh food. With a little love, the orchards that we plant and care for together can help feed a community with fresh, nutritious food for decades to come. That’s what we call homeland security.”

Learn more about Common Vision at

Students painted signs to identify the trees they planted in Blue Oak’s new fruit-tree orchard.

Photo By christine g.k. lapado

Chat with an organic farmer
Wisconsin-based organic-farm cooperative
Organic Valley’s second annual
Generation-O Tour (in a biofuel-powered bus) makes its Chico pit stop on Oct. 11, when a group of young Gen-O farmers will tour Chico State’s University Farm and organic dairy, before heading over to campus to hand out milk samples and talk with students and visitors from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Free Speech Area. More at