PORT TOWNSEND — In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama asked
each American to meet the challenges of a changed world by changing the
way individuals live, starting in their own neighborhoods.
Maureen Jack-LaCroix intends to tell how to take the first step.
Jack-LaCroix is program director of Be the Change Earth Alliance, a
group based in Vancouver, British Columbia that launched a grass-roots
“Be the Change” campaign in 2008.
Jack-LaCroix will be in Port Townsend to speak at a community dessert on
Thursday, and then lead workshops Friday night and Saturday, Jan. 30-31.
The goal: to show people how to turn a circle of family, friends or
coworkers into a change group that puts the president’s words into action.
“I get the sense that people don’t know what they can do,” said Judith
Alexander, a member of the Local 20/20 steering committee.
“This is the what.”
The Northwest Earth Institute, which has a volunteer base in Port
Townsend, Port Angeles and Sequim, is sponsoring Jack-LaCroix’s visit in
cooperation with Local 20/20, Jefferson County’s umbrella organization
for resource use change.
The community dessert on Thursday, Jan. 29, which will be free, will
start at 7 p.m. at the Port Townsend Community Center on the corner of
Lawrence and Tyler.
Both the Friday evening session and Saturday workshop will be held at
the Dundee Hill Center on the corner of 32nd and Hancock streets in Port
The Friday session, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., will cover the use of the
Action Guide, while the Saturday workshop, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will
offer tips on facilitating Be The Change circles, using a facilitator’s
guide in conjunction with any of the Northwest Earth Institute courses.
Donations are requested to cover expenses at the Friday and Saturday
“My hope is that people who come to the dessert will want to start a
circle,” Alexander said.
“For those who may not be confident enough, the workshop will give them
the skills they need to succeed.”
With potential local control of electric power — through the Jefferson
County Public Utility District — water resource issues and community
gardening making the news, now is the time for people to stop just
thinking and also start acting, Alexander said.
Using the “Be the Change” Action Guide and Northwest Earth Institute
course material, change groups will meet weekly to read and discuss
resource use issues.
Meetings of people who know and see each other regularly contribute to
the success of the endeavor, Alexander said.
Clarifying values is also key to the process.
“Once your values are clear, you know what you want to do,” Alexander said.
“It’s talking about those values in a group setting that changes you
from the inside out.”
In addition to discussion, group members will use a list of suggestions
in the Action Guide, cross-refer enced with Northwest Earth Institute
workbooks, to choose what step they will take in the coming week to
change their lives.
Committing publicly to a course of action, no matter how small, is a
very effective way of motivating behavior, Alexander said.
“If you say “I’m going to do that this week,” and you know you have to
report to the group next week, you’ll do it,” she said.
“That’s how the group promotes change. It’s the support group that makes
Thursday’s dessert meeting will feature five-minute talks by four local
residents who have matched their actions to their ideals.
Julie Van Pelt sold her car a year ago and has taken public
transportation to reach hiking trailheads in the Olympics and
destinations in California.
Korinna Lyon will describe how she used the North Olympic Exchange, a
bartering network that is part of Fourth Corner Exchange, to fill a
Liesl Slabaugh, mother of two, will tell about getting a neighborhood
Seth Roland will talk about organizing a gleaners’ group to salvage
unwanted fruit with the help of Local 20/20.
“They started Aug. 1, and ended up with thousands of pounds of fruit,
which they gave to the food bank, the senior nutrition program, the
Boiler Room, senior housing and the schools,” Alexander said.
70 fruits, vegetables
A volunteer course facilitator for the Northwest Earth Institute,
Alexander grows 70 different kinds of fruits and vegetables on one and
half city lots of her home on Dundee Hill.
She uses rain barrels to feed a drip irrigation system, keeps chickens
and bees, and has a fleet of worms engaged in a huge compost pile.
“I work in my garden every day during the season,” she said. “I’m
connected to nature, the seasons, the weather and wildlife.
“I’m living the life I want to lead.”
This week, Alexander is busy cooking batches of apple crisp for
Thursday’s dessert using fruit gleaned from local trees. It will be
served with ice cream from Elevated Ice Cream.
Child care will be available for children age 3 and older with a
pre-registration phone call to Judith Alexander at 360-385-5794.
For more information, phone Alexander at 360-385-5794 or e-mail
Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter/columnist
Jennifer Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.