Well, the world didn't end, and although we faced some major challenges this year - from an impending fiscal cliff to Superstorm Sandy and the worst drought across the Midwest since the Dustbowl (to name just a few) - it's important that we remember a lot of good things happened, too. In that spirit, here's some of our highlights from the past twelve months:
#5. Growing the Movement
Transition Sarasota's influence continues to ripple out far beyond our city limits. This year, our Executive Director Don Hall helped train 84 new Transition Initiative leaders from Sarasota, Venice, Anna Maria, Tampa, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral, Lakeland, Gainesville, the West Palm Beach area, Tallahassee, Connecticut, Colorado, Bermuda, and even Denmark.
#4. Transition Venice
While we certainly can't take all the credit, we are proud of the small part we played in launching Transition Venice and of all they have accomplished in their first year. Besides the usual meetings, film screenings, book discussions, and reskilling workshops, Transition Venice has already partnered with the Siesta Key Kiwanis Club to create Sarasota County Fruit Share - a backyard fruit tree gleaning project - and is currently working with the Venice City Commission to establish the area's first public food forest.
#3. Bringing in the Big Shots
In 2012, we helped bring two of the leading lights of local food movement here to Southwest Florida: self-proclaimed "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer" Joel Salatin and Toby Hemenway, the best-selling author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture.
#2. A New Currency for Sarasota
Our first major foray into transforming our local economy began on Labor Day this year with an "Economics of Happiness Summit" and the creation of the Common Wealth Time Bank. Under the guidance of Coordinator Steve McAllister, the Time Bank has now grown to over 200 members, offering everything from acupuncture treatments and pottery classes to real estate advice and free admission to the Selby Botanical Gardens.
#1. A Greater Gleaning
The 42,983 pounds of organic produce our Suncoast Gleaning Project donated to local food banks during its second season (October 2011 - June 2012) was a 32% increase over its first. Although the greens and tomatoes we harvested likely supplemented the diets of hundreds - if not thousands - of those in need, they are also roughly equivalent to feeding 40 people three full meals per day, 365 days a year.
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As we transition into a New Year, we'd also like to thank the following individuals and organizations, without whose generous financial support this year none of this would have been possible:
Robin Edidin, Karen Griffin, Andrew Mickish, Merissa Lovett, Allyson Crawford, Nancy Sugg, Jayne Cobb, Robert Kluson, Ward Pallotta, Ann Urick, Linda Williams, Roger Landry, Catherine Semrod, Mary Caseber, Donna Marie Marcantonio, Jim Eachus, Mark Rieke, Joan Weaver, Donna Hovanec, Deborah Van Brunt, John Hanlon, Tatiana Agafonova, Robert Kemper, Susan Shiffrin, Shelley Siskin, Joe Moraca, Helen Feldmann, Lynn Nilssen, Heidi Williams, Barbara Mills, Donna Hovanec, Peggy Cockerill, Michelle Wheat, Karen Van Lindonk, Don Blackowiak, Patricia Arvin, Ben Hanan, Darryl McCullough, Mary Jo Cammarano, Ann Key, Linda Frary, Katherine Owre, Camille Van Sant, Paula Knudsen, Peter Burkard, Diane Desenberg, Whole Foods Market Sarasota, Nature's Partner, Island Fresh Market, Anthony Stefan Architect, Zildjian Catering, J. Ward Pallotta Tax Service, Global Organic Specialty Source, WholyLocal, Sarasota Native Plant Nursery, Crowley Folk School, Geraldson Community Farm, Javier's Restaurant and Wine Bar, and the Wilson Conservation Trust.
May 2013 prove to be our best year yet!