Our calendar:

Here is more information about the Effective Collaboration Workshop on September 21, and the subsequent training course.

Please see more information about our events also on the different blogs above.

Regular events:

Reskilling Workshops:

Somebody said so poignantly: “We are the most under-skilled generation”. This is why transition Amherst has sponsored events to learn all kinds of practical skills. Bike fixup, food preservation, mushroom innoculation, emotional preparation, etc. Name it, and we will do it likely on the fourth Saturday of each month, most often between 3 and 5pm. See more under blogs where we announce workshops.

What has happened so far?

Below you can see many events we have facilitated or sponsored:

Spring bicycle tune-up:

Prepare your bike to kick off the season safely! Transition Amherst offers a free bicycle tune-up at Gabor’s Neighborhood Bicycle Resource Center on April 28th, Saturday, at 3pm – 5pm.
Don’t despair if you cannot attend the Bike Lab’s workshop on April 7th in Northampton,* or come to both if you want.
We will look at
* fixing flats,
* adjusting brakes, and gears
* overall lubrication
* fitting the bike for comfort,
* gearing both you and the bike up for non-winter riding.
The workshop is free, but please let us know if you are interested in coming, by sending and email to

Time: April 28, Saturday, 3pm – 5pm
Location: 44 Beston street, Amherst (in Gabor’s “Neighborhood Bicycle Resource Center”)

Bamboo Bicycle Trailer Building workshop (Continuation):

We will have two (2) follow-up sessions as all the 12 people didn’t find a time fitting for everyone, on which we will work out the details of hooking up the trailer to the bike,
* one on the third Saturday of April (04/21), and
* the other is the second Saturday of May (05/12),
2pm, again at Gabor’s.

But before that, all participants have a big task: Using the fastening method we learned, we will put the harvested pieces together using strings that are appropriate for the task, to avoid using screws and nuts (but also stringed bamboo looks better than all the screws sticking out…)

Here is the original announcement:

Do you want to build your own bamboo bicycle trailer? As the first of Transition Amherst’s monthly skill workshops, I am planning a multi-part workshop to build one from beginning to end, so everyone can end up with their own bicycle trailer at the end of the two part series.

Location: 44 Beston Steet, at the Neighborhood Bicycle Resource Center.

Starting with a practice session on how to mount bamboo culms to each other with a string – the connections need to be tight for a trailer, so best practice it on another piece of creation, I was thinking about a shelf. Also some welding is involved for doing the trailer hookup part for the bike. I try to separate the different pieces, so you can work on the more monotonous pieces between the sessions.

Material needs:
Bamboo: I have bamboo culms (or stalks). We will harvest some together.
Wheels: You need two bicycle wheels. The best kind is a pair of 20 inch wheels: it is not a problem if one of them is a rear wheel, but with two front wheels the trailer will be a bit lighter. You can also use 16 inch 18 inch (fairly rare) and 24 or 26 inch wheels. The larger and narrower the wheel and the less spokes it has, the more lateral flexing can happen and the weaker the trailer will perform during turns.
Ropes: To mount the bamboo pieces together to create the flatbed frame. We will discuss what kind of ropes we need. Expect to spend $5 on ropes.
Long Screws and Nuts: to mount the hookup piece of bamboo to the trailer. Mount needs not to slip, as this is the most vulnerable joint on the trailer. I have these.
Angle Iron: This will be used to hold the wheels in position under the bamboo frame. I will have the angle irons.
Ball Joint and peg (or pin): the piece that provides the flexible joint between the bike and the trailer. That’s the expensive part $4-$8 as far as I remember. I will try to have them. Automotive stores sell them. and I believe they are part of ride-on lawnmowers’ steering mechanisms or any steering mechanism where Ackerman steering is used.
Pieces of steel rods, pipes and plates: To build the hookup for the bicycle – this piece will be fastened to the back axle of the bicycle. I have these too.
Some glue to stop rope-slippage. I might throw this one in as well.
A metal handsaw. Or any small-toothed handsaw, to cut bamboo pieces. I have one or two, but depending on the amount of participants it may be helpful to have more.


1) Saturday, March 24, 2 pm (for about 2 hours): Design trailer, harvest bamboo pieces for it, and practicing fastening bamboo pieces together with ropes. I have a specific rope pattern that I found working well. We may cut and shape the wheel mounts from the angle irons at this time too.
Homework between sessions: Practice the rope mount, and put together the flat body of the trailer.

2) Saturday, weeks later, according to group decision. Look over what people put together, and build the hookups for the bicycle. Fasten the hookup arm to the trailer with bolts and strengthen bamboo frame against transfiguration under load. Test the trailers.
The cost is $15 to cover hardware, and a flexible donation to Transition Amherst. If you have an old probably nonfunctional bicycle that holds the wheels, and that is otherwise useless for you, I take the frame.

Please let me know if you are interested.

Transition Amherst

Movie Nights:

Queen of the Sun: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7:00pm until 10:00pm

What’s behind the global bee colony collapse crisis? The Queen of the Sun film takes us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive. This engaging and ultimately uplifting film explores the synergistic connection between bees and agriculture – our food source – and weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva. Together they reveal both the problems and the solutions in the effort to renew a culture in balance with nature.

Transition Amherst is holding a FREE screening on Tuesday, April 17 at the Jones Library. Film begins at 7 p.m. and is followed by Questions and Answers with a beekeeping expert.

The Power of Community (March 27, 2012):

A FREE screening of the movie “The Power of Community: how Cuba survived peak oil” happened Tuesday March 27th, at 7:00 pm at the Jones Public library in downtown Amherst. “When Cuba lost access to Soviet oil in the early 1990s, the country faced an immediate crisis — feeding the population — and an ongoing challenge: how to create a new low-energy society. Cuba transitioned from large, fossil-fuel intensive farming to small, less energy-intensive organic farm and urban gardens, and from a highly industrial society to a more sustainable one”
This is an immensely inspirational film not to be missed by anyone who is looking forward to a new, more sustainable community. Have you seen the film already? Come and chat with other folks who share your interests and start creating sustainable change here in Amherst.

Bamboo bicycle trailer building workshop (March 24, 2012):
12 people assembled at 2pm Saturday to not only learn about how to build a bike trailer out of bamboo, but to actually do it. We started looking at some trailers already built, seeing what need to happen, what parts need to be created. Then we looked at design criteria (mostly how large the trailer should be and what width/length ratio to work with).
The next step was to harvest the bamboo. we cut the culms (as they call the stalks) and cleared off the side-branches off it. then one group worked on cutting their bamboo pieces to size, and the other half of us learned how to create the steel pieces via which the frame will be fastened to the wheels. As people completed the task they migrated to the other group and then, went home, carrying their harvested sticks the most creative ways on their bikes or in their backpacks, sticking way up over their heads.

We will have two follow-up sessions, on which we work out the details of hooking up the trailer to the bike, one on the third Saturday of April (04/21), and the other is the second Saturday of May (05/12), 2pm, again at Gabor’s. But before that all participants have a big task. Using the fastening method we learned, we will put the harvested pieces together using strings that are appropriate for the task, to avoid using screws and nuts (but also stringed bamboo looks better than all the screws sticking out…)

Compromise workshop (January 23, 2012):
In spite of bad weather we went ahead and held our planned workshop on compromise, and Non-violent Communication, two communication methods essential in our complicated world. It was a success with ten people attending, something to be repeated in the future.

Compromise Workshop

The Compromise Workshop in the basement of the Amherst Library

Winter Bicycling workshop (December 10, 2011):
Dorie and Gabor held this workshop by Gabor’s (Neighborhood Bicycle Resource Center). Sixteen people showed up eager to know more about how to get around on bikes regardless of the weather (or regarding the weather, as you may).
You can view a great recording of this workshop, made by Jessica Tanner here.

Winter Bike Workshop with Gabor Lukacs from Northampton Community Television on Vimeo.

Demonstrating a commuter bike with a basket

Talking about commuter bikes

A home-made hand-propelled bike

Apple cider making (November, 2011):
People in New England historically grew lots of apples, not because they loved eating them or making them to be apple pie, but because preserving them in different ways made life more cheerful: hard cider can be delicious and stores real well for years, getting better with time. So a good few of us gathered close to the end of apple season, and had a workshop on how to crush apples, then press the juice out (at this point you can already stop if you have the space in the fridge or freezer (or in your brothers’ belly, as the Native Americans would say) and Gabor explained how he makes hard cider using extra sugar if necessary, and a yeast starter if it is handy.

Pressing Apple Cider

Preserving Cabbage (October, 2011):
Hey, this is the season, all right? That’s why all the food preservation topics, not because we are just a bunch of boring, one-tract-minded hoarders.
Anyway, cabbage is thought to be the most undervalued local food. And luckily for us some of us really like it, so we gathered the knowledge how to make Sauerkraut, preserve cabbage dishes with pressure canning, and dehydrate cabbage.
We bought several heads of cabbage, the ones, that are around $1 in price, and weigh over ten pounds. Shredded them (All cabbages are sliced using a hand-made shredder made with an $11 machete.), and salted and pressed some for Sauerkraut, dehydrated some by putting the shreds onto trays into the sun for the day and an electric dryer for the night, and with the rest we cooked a dis that contains cabbage, some butter, pepper, salt, cumin (or caraway) seeds, and vinegar, and canned it all. It came out a bit too spiced, but it is nevertheless delicious eaten with other food. I get consistently good remarks from potlucks and guests.

Canning corn and vegetable soup (September, 2011):
Fall is the time of harvest, which means local vegetables are the most abundant and cheapest at this time. Many of us also have a garden, that ads to the variety and abundance, and all this just makes me want to save all this food for other, not such abundant, times of the year. That’s where canning comes in. We have canners, that are just big pots, and perfectly fine preserving acidic food such as tomatoes, apples, peaches, and sugary syrups of all kinds. We also have pressure canners, that is necessary for safely preserving food with low acid content such as corn or a big batch of mixed vegetable soup.
After coordination, the weekend of the soup preserving workshop we gathered our available vegetables and our canners, and other big pots, made a large batch of soup, added salt and vinegar to taste, that helps with preservation, used as little cooking oil as possible, as it may go rancid in a wet environment, and brought our collection of one-quart jars. The process of cooking over ten gallon of soup and distributing the hot soup into the jars, and pressure canning the jars took a big chunk of the day, but we ended up dozens of cans, some of them dark red as we used beets in a batch of soup as well.
With the corn, we ordered a few bushels of corn from our favorite local corn-farm to be picked up the morning of the canning, and while one team shucked all ears, others cut the juicy grains off the cob, boiled the whole batch lightly, added some vinegar (or lemon juice) for helping the preservation as well as helping the corn keep its color, and did the pressure canning, familiar by now.
A few weeks after the canning we like to check our batch to catch jars that may leak and grow white mold on top. Also then, it is a good time to remove the screw-top part of the lid, as by that time the sealing happened safely, and the lids would just rust, if some of the content spilled under it during the canning process.

Pressure canner to be used

Peach compote making and canning (August, 2011):
We noticed, that a local farmer was not able to keep up with all his peach trees. We called him and not only he let us pick from under the trees, but also offered produce he was not able to keep fresh until the start of the school-year, for $10 for a 20 lb box, already picked and cooled. We filled two cars full with the boxes, and the party was on. First we tried to peel the hairy skin off, but we soon gave up on it. We got a few gallons of sherry, and made sherry-d peaches. Pitted and quartered the peaches, and cooked it in a sugary syrup, and we put a few spoonful of sherry into each of the jars just before spooning the fruit compote in. Than we gave the hot jars a steam bath for 20 minutes, and then we used a special process familiar to me from Hungary, called “dunct”. It involves taking out the hot jars from the steam bath, and immediately putting them into a glob of covers for insulation, and piling some thick pillows on top for good measure. 24 hours later they are still hot, but this process better ensures, that the more tenacious little bugs also get eliminated, even if they somehow survived the blow in the steam bath.

Fruit preserving/jam making (July, 2011):
We have blackberry bushes around the house. This year it was a good year for them, so we ended up with an obscene amount of berries on the bushes. We saw that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with it, so when we got backed up, we invited a few friends, picked the bushes clean, cooked the berries with sugar, and some lemon (along with the shredded rinds for taste), and canned the smaller jars we put the syrup into. Every jar I open is so amazingly delicious, although we left the seeds in the mix. We use it on bread, with peanut butter, and on vanilla ice cream.

Board game night (May, 2011):
We have gotten together to play the preliminary version of a board-game, one of our members is cooking up, Growing Resilience/Growing Resilient.


Laminated game board, set up with game cards, ready to be played.

Game cards

Home-made game-cards before cutting

Playing the game

Our group gathered together to play the board game

Film series (winter/spring, 2011):
One of our goals is to spread awareness in our communities about what we think is going on in our world. What better media, than a plethora of films, is our resource? So we reserved space in the basement of a supportive church, had a computer that was able to play movies, a set of speakers, borrowed a projector and a canvas, and some publicizing later we were ready to go.
We facilitated name-tags, some nibbles and drinks, and lots of chairs (so many people showed up to the first of the three part series, that we had to scramble for more in fact), started with some introduction, watched the movie, (see our resource page for a list of movies……………………..) and opened up a discussion. Most people attending found all the film events meaningful, some of them ended up helping us with other organizing efforts, or even joined to our initiating group.

Book Discussion group (Summer/Fall, 2010):
So far we held two of them:
(1) Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, and
(2) Navigating the Coming Chaos by Carolyn Baker
Each consisted 6 or seven every other week get-together-s with reading assignment for each occasion, and a list of questions for helping the discussion. Both were so meaningful, that we are planning another book reading group (The Transition Companion by Rob Hopkins), and possibly other books too. Out of reading Carolyn’s book an Inner Transition support group was born, that results in powerful discussion every time we get together, about how to look ahead for a world, that may function based on different rules and resources, than the world we got used to.

Transition Handbook

Navigating the Coming Chaos

Tabling for events:
Amherst has seen a few yearly Sustainability festivals in the spring, events in the fall, and bike commuter weeks around earth day. All of them are occasions for us to make our presence know, but even more importantly, to connect with others and get to know people in our community. So off we went with a table and some informative materials, and an easy-to-set-up vendor’s tent, to participate. We demonstrated sun ovens and how to build them, home-made bicycle trailers, and built a community resource map that interested people could add to. And, we did connect with others successfully. We also became more aware of other groups with goals similar to ours. And we had fun, in spite of weather and time-commitment challenges. We pulled six events off so far, I believe. We may even enlist an event to help us attract people for the Great Unleashing, or whatever it is called.

Flyers for the 2010 Sustainability Festival

People at our table

our helpers during the festival

Meet up at the Farmers Market (Winter/Spring, 2011) :
What lucky people we are in Amherst, to have weekly farmers’ markets not only during the season, but in the middle of the winter as well. And what a lively one at that. So we set up a table in the middle of the colorful happenings, and invited people to join and talk, if they cared, about life, the economy, and everything. And some of them wanted. We got to practice reaching out and connecting, just like during many other events. Hopefully that makes us better and better at it.

Hosting the Awakening the Dreamer event (Fall, 2010):
In the fall of 2010 we helped host the Avakening the Dreamer workshop. We made a flyer and distributed it, when the time came, we set up the room, brought refreshments, registered people, and also participated in the workshop. Projects like this connects us as a group, make us more close-knit, and lets us know each other more personally. Plus, it is great to have fun while we work for a common goal.
ATD FlyerTransition AmherstV2

The beginnings:
Digging up our archives, Betsy ran into a picture from one of our early meetings (2010 February).

Pre Core Group Meeting, February 2010

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