January 13, 2015


Friday, 23 January 2015, 5:00pm-9:00pm
Lawrence Creates Makerspace, 512 East 9th St. (9th & NJ), Lawrence KS 66044

Please join us to celebrate our seventh birthday featuring a potluck dinner at 5:00pm, a talk by Kris Adair, and conviviality!

After the potluck, we will recap our 2014 achievements in bicycle transportation, community gardens, food sovereignty, and more. Following that we will elect our Directors for the coming year. Our highlight of the evening will be a keynote talk by Kris Adair, urban sustainability advocate and member of the Lawrence School Board. She has interests in the Safe Routes To Schools program, curtailing urban sprawl, walkable neighborhoods, and non-motorized transportation. Following Ms. Adair’s talk, we will have small group envisioning to share ideas for our 2015 activities. Since forming in late 2007, Sustainability Action has been bringing to our community local solutions for transition to a sustainable economy. Everyone is welcome, non-members and members alike. We hope to see you there!


Right-sizing 9th Street – Lawrence’s first complete street

October 10, 2014

9th_street_bicycle_lane_Yoder_29July09“Right-sizing” reallocates 2 auto lanes over to bicycles

9th Street west of downtown was designated in 1999 to have bicycle lanes as part of the Bicycle Compatibility Index Study. In 2001 this plan was reaffirmed with the Bicycle Works Program, and by the City policy to install such designated lanes whenever the City repaves a street.

In 2007 during a repaving project of 9th Street, Sustainability Action prompted the City to install bicycle lanes by building a consensus among the 9th Street property owners and merchants. Public Works removed parking on the south side, and striped the street for bicycle lanes in both directions between Tennessee and Mississippi Streets. The benefits of these bicycle lanes were evident and helped people visualize a greater potential. So groups and individuals began lobbying the City to extend these lanes to downtown as well as west of Mississippi Street.

As a result of, and to their credit, the Public Works Department has been initiating bicycle lane installation on other sections of 9th Street (and elsewhere in town). In 2012 the section between Kentucky and Tennessee was reconfigured to include bicycle lanes. And in 2014, during an upgrade of the intersection of 9th Street and Emory Road, the City installed bicycle lanes west to Avalon Road and east to Mississippi Street.

To make a complete street, the street was “right sized” from being four auto lanes, to now being two auto lanes and a center turn lane and two bicycle lanes. Other than putting a “climbing lane” up the 9th Street hill, there now are bicycle lanes on virtually all of this part of 9th Street (some gaps are at intersections).

As learning curves go (and budget allocations grow), Lawrence will figure out how to appropriately design intersections to safely accommodate bicycles. But for now, 9th Street is our first example of a “complete street” where all forms of transportation are treated equally – buses, autos, bicycles, wheel chair users, and pedestrians. It’s not a perfect example, but a great start – a learning lab, a point of departure.

So on Saturday, 11 October, at 1:00pm, there will be a celebratory bicycle ride. Cyclists will meet at South Park by the east-side fountain for a slow-paced, family friendly ride to 9th Street, pedal along 9th Street, and then ride back again to South Park. This event is being sponsored by the Lawrence Bicycle Advisory Committee –

Future prospects? Watch East 9th Street over the next year or so for some exciting changes!

Transforming Suburbia with Permaculture: by Jan Spencer

August 25, 2014

24, 25, & 27 September 2014

The Kansas Permaculture Collaborative, a program of Sustainability Action Network, is pleased to bring to Lawrence, Jan Spencer, to give two presentations on “Transforming Suburbia: A New Frontier in Permaculture”.  As part of the early wave of permaculturists, Jan has transformed his quarter acre suburban property in Eugene OR into a highly sustainable and productive permaculture and solar homestead.  The grass and concrete have been replaced with garden, the modest mid-1950′s house has been redesigned with passive solar, irrigation is by a 6500 gallon rain water system, and edible landscaping is everywhere.

Spencer south face & growing beds_2014Jan has been organizing and promoting permaculture for 15 years, and is currently a hub of activity among his neighbors and the greater Eugene community.  Dozens of friends and neighbors are making similar changes, and are creating a variety of mutual assistance networks and projects for providing more of their social, energy, and food needs closer to home.

Spencer blackberry polyculture

The presentations and workshop will touch on how and why to make these changes.  Some topics to be covered are: food not lawns, rainwater catchment, permaculture, community allies and assets, conservation and renewable energy, repurposing, and multiple benefits.  The KU presentation will be more oriented towards land use, including: a description of several kindred citizen initiatives in the Pacific Northwest, and notable urban models in the Boston South West Corridor and in Stuyvesant Town of Manhattan.

Jan’s itinerary:
evening talk: – FREE
Wednesday, 24 September 2014, 6:00-9:00pm, Presentation for the Public.  Free, open to the public.  Donations accepted.
Douglas County Co-op Extension, Dreher Building North Room, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence 66046
noon talk: – FREE
Thursday, 25 September 2014, Noon hour.  Presentation to Student Planning Association.  Free, open to the public.
308 Marvin Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045
day workshop: – $$
Saturday, 27 September 2014, Noon to 5:00pm.  In-Depth Workshop.  $27 suggested fee, sliding scale.
Jayhawk Room, Fire Station Administration Building, 1911 Stewart Ave., Lawrence 66046.  Overview of workshop and presentation content at and social to follow in a nearby park, TBA.
To register for the workshop, contact , or (785)832-1300.

For many before and now fotos, blog, galleries, writings, and workshops, visit Jan’s website –


May 15, 2014


average cyclists
In a lead up to the Lawrence KS budget hearings, Sustainability Action launched an effort to get full funding for a safe and efficient bicycle transportation system.  A slide presentation by S.A.N.’s “Bicycle & Alternative Transportation Program” was well received by the City Commission on 13 May 2014.  The Commission expressed interest in making more money available by increasing the property tax mil levy and/or sales tax.  Sustainability Action also thinks it wise to consider increasing the transient guest tax, a tax paid by visitors to Lawrence for their stay at local hotels and motels.

For 38 years, Lawrence has developed plan after plan for bicycle facilities, but for the most part the plans remain greatly underfunded.  Of the typical spending by Lawrence for all transportation modes, less than 1% has gone to bicycle infrastructure.  For the next 28 years, the Transportation 2040 Plan calls for 0.82% of an annual $41 million total be spent on bicycle AND pedestrian facilities, or only $464,000 per year.  It’s no wonder our existing bicycle network is fragmented, confusing, and unsafe.  Unless funding priorities change dramatically, the future doesn’t look any better.

Citizens can make their voice heard now.  This could prove to be a watershed moment for Lawrence bicycle transportation.  Sustainability Action is proposing that Lawrence budget 10% of all transportation revenues, or $2 million per year, for a build-out of the bicycle system.  We are also proposing that Lawrence hire a professional bicycle transportation engineer who has the expertise to design the system components, a position in the Public Works Department on equal footing with the motor vehicle streets engineer.

To read the specifics of the Sustainability Action budget proposal, click here – $2 million a year for bicycle transportation in Lawrence proposed by Sustainability Action.pdf.

To view the Sustainability Action slide presentation, click here – Lawrence Bicycle Transportation Budget Plan PPT_13May14.

We encourage you to support this through the budget process and make your voice heard.  The first Commission study session will be Tuesday, 20 May, at 3:30pm at City Hall.  That will be followed at 6:30pm with the Commission meeting, where the public can provide input.  More information on the budget calendar can be found at – – when there, scroll down for details about the 2015 budget.


May 6, 2014



Kaw Permaculture logo  Kaw Permaculture


and the

KPI logo



Wednesday 9 July – Friday 18 July, 2014
SubTerra Castle Permaculture Center
Keene, KS 66420


The Kansas Permaculture Institute is pleased to partner with Kaw Permaculture who will teach this ten-day PDC course at the SubTerra Castle Permaculture Center, 20 minutes west of Topeka, KS.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from four instructors well-versed in North American temperate permaculture of the Great Plains Bioregion – Steve Moring of Kaw Permaculture, Michael Almon of Forest Floor Permaculture, Laura Odell of The Light Center, and Amber Lehrman of the Phillips Road Homestead.  Students who complete this 72-hour course will be awarded a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Kansas Permaculture Institute, a program of the not-for-profit Sustainability Action Network.

Our industrial society is experiencing a period of energy and resource depletion while compromising our ecosphere’s life support.  Permaculture promises to create an ecologically sound and economically abundant way of living for all, that neither pollutes nor exploits our natural resources.  By enrolling in this P.D.C. taught by Kaw Permaculture, you will learn about regenerative agriculture, urban permaculture, building soil fertility, food forest design, energy saving structures, biointensive gardening, earthworks and water catchments, and how to foster long term financial and food security for ourselves and surrounding communities.

This information-packed course promises to be personally transformative and a community building experience.  Congruent with the topics central to permaculture design, participants will learn how to apply principles of ecological design to both the urban and broad-acre settings.  The course will include classroom instruction, hands-on exercises, group discussion and teamwork, and field trips to six local urban garden and farm sites

The keystone of the permaculture movement is education in the ethics and principles of ecological design.  The PDC course is the foundation for a regenerative design of our human environments, agriculture and communities.  To this end, Bill Mollison, co-founder with David Holmgren of the Permaculture Movement, established the content and curriculum of a 72-hour Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.  Since the mid 1980s, these courses have been taught in thousands of communities worldwide.

Begin your journey toward sustainability by registering today, and save $245.  Our discounted registration period ends on 1 June 2014.  For detailed information and registration materials, click on the following links:

KPI PDC Course_Syllabus Details_9-18July14

KPI PDC Registration Form_9-18July2014.pdf

For more information, contact Steve Moring at 785-691-7305, or Michael Almon at 785-832-1300.


Introduction to Permaculture Ethics, Principles and Design

April 12, 2014

A Workshop for Urban Gardeners – Learn how to grow your Food the Permaculture way…..
Saturday, April 26, 2014 at the Dreher 4H Building 2110 Harper Ave. Lawrence, KS

This workshop is an introduction to permaculture design for urban gardeners, taught with a practical focus, for renters, apartment dweller, home-owners and lot-owners alike. We will showcase our PermaCommons community garden, its development and management as a collective.  For suburban or city residents who want to transform their immediate environment into something beautiful, productive, energy lean and functional, this workshop was designed for you.

Time: Saturday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Cost: $50, includes lunch & resource information

Course Description & Registration at
For more information contact Ruth Story at or 785-418-9620


January 29, 2014

Burroughs Trail Extension


Burroughs Creek Trail ¤ KDOT Could Link it to Downtown

A key bicycle transportation trunk line is about to become a reality if the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) funds it.  The Burroughs Creek Trail now serves the three east-side Lawrence neighborhoods that launched it in 2004 – Barker, Brook Creek, and East Lawrence.  But currently the trail goes no farther north than Hobbs Park at 11th Street.  If it is built from there to the Lawrence City Hall, this would be the first major bicycle corridor in the city connecting to downtown.

For the past six months, Sustainability Action has been gathering endorsements from a large constituency that supports building the trail from Hobbs Park to City Hall at 6th Street.  A local architect has been sketching possible routes for the trail that has captured the imagination of City officials.  This bicycle link is supported by at least one City Commissioner, by members of the original Burroughs Creek Trail Planning Committee, by local developers, by neighborhood associations, and by many other groups and businesses.

Now the Lawrence City Commission needs to be convinced to commit local money as matching funds for a KDOT partial grant.  Citizens are encouraged to add their voice and speak at the Commission meeting on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 6:30pm, at City Hall, 6 East 6th St.



December 27, 2013

Annual Meeting & Birthday Celebration

6th-birthday-cakeFriday, 31 January 2014, 5:00pm-9:00pm

VanGo Arts

715 New Jersey St.

Lawrence KS 66044


Come help Sustainability Action celebrate our sixth birthday beginning with a potluck dinner, a great speaker, and conviviality!

We are pleased to have as our keynote speaker, Rachel Myslivy, Program Director for the Climate and Energy Project.  Her speech topic will be “Religion and Ecology in Kansas”Rachel has been involved in many community sustainability efforts, is co-founder/co-chair of the Environmental Women’s Group, coordinated the Ecology, Ethics, and Community Lecture Series, was co-founder/co-chair of the Lawrence Environmental Education Project and Lawrence Community Environmental School, and won the 2013 Sustainability Leadership Award from the K.U. Center for Sustainability.

At 7:00pm, we will recap our 2013 achievements in permaculture, bicycle transportation, rural ride sharing, community gardens, and more, followed by a discussion of our 2014 plans and funding.  Then we will elect our Board of Directors for the coming year.  Since forming in late 2007, Sustainability Action has been bringing to our community local solutions for transition to a sustainable economy.  Everyone is welcome, non-members and members alike, so we hope to see you there!.

LAWRENCE COMMUNITY CURRENCY ☼ An Ecologically Sustainable Economy

September 30, 2013

How sick is the dollar?Lawrence Community Currency an Ecologically Sustainable Economy


In Tom Greco’s 2009 book, The End of Money & the Future of Civilization, he writes: “The politicization of money, banking, and finance has enabled the concentration of power and wealth in few hands. Government and banking have colluded to create a political-money system than embodies a ‘debt imperative’ that results in a ‘growth imperative’ which forces environmental destruction and rends the social fabric. Under this arrangement, the banking cartel gets the privilege of creating money as debt and charging interest on it, while the central government gets to spend as much as it wants without regard to its limited tax revenues or the popular will.

The growth god is dead. The era of seemingly endless growth is, in fact, coming to an end. Shall we lament its passing and try to sustain it a little bit longer, shall we passively watch as our world crumbles into ashes, or shall we welcome the crisis as the opportunity we’ve been hoping for to create the kind of world we want?”

In light of our current economic instability, national and global, Sustainability Action has launched an effort to create a local complementary currency that will help our local economy thrive, and also be able to weather a global economic upheaval. We intend this complementary currency to be a multi-faceted exchange system between all levels of the local supply chain of goods and services.

Money = AgreementA planning group has begun meeting to learn in what ways a local complementary currency will serve our needs and benefit our community. We are exploring how it may function, how to enlist the participation of keystone businesses, how to launch it and expand its use, and what form it will take, whether an electronic trade system, cash currency, time bank, or a combination of these.

Our planning group is helping each other to understand the basics of money and to become more “money literate”. We welcome anyone who has creative ideas and energy to help organize this project. If you are interested in helping, please send an e-mail to – -

GROWING WITH BIOCHAR ☼ Research and Education

September 30, 2013

Biochar magnifiedGrowing With Biochar Research and Education

 (Biochar electron microscope image)

Charcoal is an ancient, well-known substance, made from burning wood or other cellulose with limited oxygen. While its use in soil was unknown until a few years ago, we now know that “terra preta” or “biochar” was successfully used by the Mayans in the Amazon for 6000 years to improve the soil’s physical and chemical properties, to enhance soil biology, and improve fertility and productivity. But how to implement this ancient method in temperate climate soils and crops and with modern farming methods is largely unknown, requiring extensive research.

 Several local growers collaborated on a grant application to the U.S.D.A. under the auspices of the Kansas Permaculture Collaborative of Sustainability Action to research biochar. These growers are using experimental plots of vegetables and fruit trees to study the attributes of biochar for their respective crops. The Growing With Biochar Research & Education Project will assist growers to use and test charcoal biochar in soils, monitor, measure and document these early efforts to use biochar, share the information and insights obtained, conduct open house field days and trainings to teach growers about carbon-smart farming, and develop a Grower Manual on how to use biochar.

Hoyland Farm biochar test plot

A series of open house field days are being scheduled for the public to learn from the growers and the research team. The first open house is in conjunction with the Kaw Valley Farm Tour on Saturday-Sunday, 5-6 October 2013. It will take place at Hoyland Farm, operated by Bob and Joy Lominska. Their research protocols involved growing onions, peppers, and sweet potatoes under varying conditions. They used “control” plots in which the crops were grown in their unamended soil. Then they grew the same crops in test plots for comparison’s sake, some plots amended with biochar alone, and others amended with biochar and a bacterial innoculant that tends to quicken the effectiveness of the biochar. Some of the crops showed marked benefits from the biochar use, but for others the effects were inconclusive.

Other growers who are participating in the Growing With Biochar Research & Education Project are Pam Bramlett of Lulus Garden, Jeremiah Peden of Subterra Castle, Jill Elmers of Moon on the Meadow CSA, Tom Buller of Buller Family Farm, Bill Price of Greenman Farm, Stu Shafer of Sandheron Farm, and Steve Moring of Vajra Farm. These growers likewise used test plots and control plots to compare the behavior of their crops under varying circumstances.

A number of these growers will be hosting open houses this Autumn to present their projects to the public. Following the Hoyland Farm open house during the Kaw Valley Farm Tour, the remaining dates will be (subject to change):

Saturday, 19 October; Saturday, 26 October, Saturday, 2 November; and Saturday, 9 November.

These will be half-day field days that feature an intro presentation on biochar use, a biochar demonstration burn, a tour of the test plots, Q & A and discussion, and an opportunity to buy one gallon bags of biochar.

Yarrow Burner_350Also on Saturday, 16 November will be the first of two day-long training days in carbon-smart farming, taught by David Yarrow of the Kaw Valley Biochar Project. The morning session will be classroom instruction in the history, theory, current state of the science, and methods of preparing and applying biochar into the soil. The afternoon session will be hands-on field training in design and construction of a biochar burner, biochar feedstock preparation, screening and mixing and inoculating biochar, and methods of applying biochar into the soil. The locations of each of these open houses and training days are To Be Determined.

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