Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

In solidarity with the rhetoric of sustainability, Santa Cruz is “Going Green.”

Members of the Santa Cruz community are coming together to share the techniques and technologies of low-tech, local self-sufficiency.

Transition Santa Cruz (TSC), a local group committed to reorganizing the community to stimulate a robust local economy, is sponsoring their first Re-skilling Expo October 17. There will be over 20 specialists leading educational demos — including beekeeping, edible landscaping, vermicompost, poultry care, earthworks and food preserving.

TSC’s website explains that the word “re-skilling” is used to describe the process of “re-acquiring the capacity to function well on mostly local resources.”

“Re-skilling is integral to the Transition movement because there are many skills that are going to once again be relevant as cheap energy fades away,” said Michael Levy, coordinator of TSC. “The next 50 years will be very different than the last 50 years and if we, as a community, get together now and get creative we can take advantage of these massive changes and create something we like.”

Bonnie Linden, organizer of the event, along with the TSC steering committee and others, are encouraging Santa Cruz residents to look to a better future and discover viable means of subsistence dependent only on the sun.

“I think about it in three ways — to build practical skills, in order to make ourselves more self-sufficient when we need to be; to build community skills by networking, knowledge sharing and strengthening kinship bonds; and to work on inner personal skills,” Linden said.

Transition Santa Cruz believes it is a necessary time for people to learn more sustainable trades, which would also reduce the costs of food and conserve water.

“Our dependency on the market has grown even in my lifetime,” said Rick Longinotti of the TSC steering committee. “People spend more on things [that] they used to take care of on their own.”

But the times are changing, and in the tumble of the economy there is new reason to re-skill.

“People are sensing the need to be more self-sufficient, that we won’t be able to depend on traditional social structures for all of our needs,” Linden said.

According to its website, TSC, “is a collaborative effort to prepare Santa Cruz for a future in which cheap, abundant energy is no longer available” and is trying to provide a transition to “a post-fossil-fuel future” that “could be better than our current lifestyle.”

Like the 206 other Transition Towns located around the world, Santa Cruz is home to a dedicated group of individuals catalyzing a movement towards relocalization and community resiliency. What emerges from these local initiatives is a place-based response to peak oil and climate change, and what is called an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) .

The organizers of the Re-skilling Expo hope to inspire similar events within Santa Cruz neighborhoods.

“I would like to see this lead to a bunch of mini expos or re-skilling workshops going on in the neighborhoods,” Levy said.

The skills that will be taught throughout the day are not necessarily new. With the effects of urbanization and modern conveniences, TSC members believe that many life skills have been made irrelevant to the population, and thus lost as common knowledge.

But the know-how is right here in Santa Cruz, in the backyards of many local individuals. The people leading demonstrations for the expo are Santa Cruz residents. In that sense, the event is “a gift from the community to the community,” Linden said.

There are many people in the Santa Cruz area who have re-learned the methods of self-sufficiency, and now they want to share their experiences and knowledge with the rest of the area’s citizens.

“[These skills] teach you perseverance; they connect you to the food web,” Linden said. “They make you aware of what resources you are using, and they place you in an ecosystem.”

The Re-Skilling Expo will be held Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the United Methodist Church located at 250 California Street. To see the full schedule or for more information about Transition Santa Cruz, visit: