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Woodland group calls it a day due to a lack of land - Harborough Mail

Transition Towns in the media - 15 July 2014 - 8:01pm

Harborough Mail

Woodland group calls it a day due to a lack of land
Harborough Mail
... forward after it had approached a number of farmers and estate-owners in the previous sixth months but to no avail. It had forged links with local councils, the Woodland Trust, environmental group Transition Town Harborough and the Welland Rivers ...

and more »
Categories: TT news

Chris Johnstone: "Without celebration, we wither away"

Transition Culture - 15 July 2014 - 7:06pm

Chris Johnstone works in the area of the psychology of resilience, sustainable happiness and is co-author, with Joanna Macy, of Active Hope: how to face the mess we're in without going crazy. Chris appeared at both the Unleashing of Transition Town's Totnes and Lewes, and has interacted with different Transition groups ever since. He's also an accomplished musician (you can hear him playing briefly at the end of the podcast of our interview).  I started by asking him why celebration matters:

"I’m just thinking about how important food is. Without food, we wither away. Food is nourishment. We also have needs for psychological nourishment or psycho-spiritual nourishment, emotional nourishment. I see celebration as one of those things that nourishes us psychologically, emotionally, spiritually. I was thinking about this also in terms of how important celebration is in keeping us going.

One of the thought blocks that people bump into sometimes is the voice that says “well what’s the point of doing this?” What celebration does is it gives us an answer to that. I think of it as helping shifting us from a going nowhere story where we feel we’re making no progress and have no direction to what I think of as a going somewhere story, where we feel that we’re on the way somewhere because we’re celebrating and marking important steps along the way.

What are the risks of not pausing to celebrate, do you think?

If you don’t pause to first of all notice that you’ve made any progress, it’s very easy to feel that you’re not making any progress. If you’re not making any progress, one of the risks for burnout is that loss of meaning where you lose the sense that there’s a point to what you do. Basically you run dry.

I see one of the parallels here as sustainable agriculture. One of the keys of sustainable agriculture is to nourish the soil. If you look after the soil, you get good crops. In terms of personal productivity, I think it would be to have sustainable activism. The parallel to topsoil is, I guess, our enthusiasm. We need to look after our enthusiasm for something. If we don’t, our enthusiasm gets thin like thin topsoil and you can get to a point where there’s no enthusiasm left and you just have that sense of, well what’s the point. You lose the oomph, you lose the energy, and you lose the plot.

What does good celebration look like? What for you would be the ingredients of a good celebration?

You can do it alone. It’s good to have ways where we notice the steps that we’re taking by ourselves and find some way of marking those and reinforcing those, but I’d say that celebration generally is much better in company. It’s also socially bonding and there’s very interesting research here about what really makes a difference in relationships.

There’s a psychologist called Shelley Gable who worked at the University of California Los Angeles, and she was trying to work out what are the vital things that really make a difference and she recorded lots and lots of relationships. One area of communication that seemed to make a key difference in relationships was the response to good news.

If one person had good news and shared it with the other and the other person responded to the good news by being ‘joy in the joy of another’, by celebrating the good news, that deepened trust, that deepened the sense of satisfaction in the relationship. But if somebody shared good news and it passed by without notice or even worse, the person tried to persuade them that really it was bad news, that led to a drop in the level of satisfaction in the relationship that was so strong that Shelley Gable found that she could work who was at higher risk of breaking up over the next 12 months just by looking at their response to good news, whether somebody celebrated the good news when it was shared, or whether somebody passed it by or poured cold water on it.

There was a thing that I wrote for this month’s framing editorial that was my attempt at what some of the ingredients of good group celebrations might look like. What does celebration on a more day to day basis in a group like a Transition group – how can we design it into our meetings, our everyday rather than having something we just do once a year?

I’d say there’s something here about celebration needing to be meaningful. It’s asking yourself “what exactly is it that we are celebrating?” What we’re doing with celebration is celebrating the things we appreciate, the things that we value. By having a shared celebration, what you’re doing is reinforcing the system of values, the shared system of values within that group. In terms of what keeps us going, it’s really important to celebrate success. So what comes up there is we need to look at how do we notice success, how do we notice progress and how do we define that?

It’s particularly important when working for social change, for social and ecological justice, that we can often have a lot of disappointment and frustration along the way. If we only celebrate the really big things, the really big victories, we can have long gaps between the celebrations which makes us feel that we’re losing, that we’re not making progress. And so therefore I think what’s really important is to look at the mini victories along the way, and to both celebrate the positive outcomes that happen, but also to celebrate the effort put in, and one way of doing that is just to find some way of appreciating what has been done, so for example research on our mood shows that one of the things that improves mood is both the experience and also the expression of gratitude.

One of the ways that you can build celebration into everyday meetings and things is just finding some way to appreciate each other, appreciate the steps that we’ve been taking. If you’ve notice that someone’s worked really hard on something, to have some gap in a meeting, some agenda item in the meeting where you just notice the things that have been done and the effort put in, and find some way of valuing them, marking them, noting them.

It might be first of all there’s a slot for anyone who’s got any good news to share and then to celebrate that, but also has anyone got any appreciations of gratitude to express. To actually build that into part of a group culture that we take time to notice and celebrate the steps we notice each other taking, and also if somebody has noticed a step that we’ve taken, for it to be completely more than fine, I’d say brilliant, for us to step forward and say – one thing I’m pleased about, you may not have seen this but one thing I’ve done is… where we take time to notice and to celebrate the steps we’ve taken ourselves.

It’s great when other people can notice it, but we don’t want to end up feeling resentful because no one cheered for this hard piece of work I did. We actually get better at stepping out there and saying – yes, I’m really pleased that I did this, I’m really pleased that I did that, because when we mark the steps that we’re taking, we reinforce that in a way that helps us keep taking those steps.

The environmental movement, in as much as I’ve been around it for the last 25 years or so, feels to be fairly spectacularly bad at stopping and celebrating. The culture is like a marathon, “got to keep going, got to keep going”, so there’s lots of burnout. Why do you think the environmental movement has been so poor at that?

Partly it’s the scale of the tasks that we face. We can’t have a party to celebrate climate change being sorted out, because that’s probably not going to happen in our lifetime. There’s already problems in the post, as it were, from the carbon that’s already been released into the atmosphere. The task is so huge that we could be working, well, there’s 168 hours in the week and we could be working all of those for a whole year and still feel that there’s more and more to do. There’s two things here.

There’s the to-date thinking which is where we look at what we’ve done so far, but there’s also to-go thinking where we look at what we’ve still got to go, the distance we’ve still got to cover. When we look at the distance we’ve still got to cover, it’s further than we can get in our lifetime, so that’s the trouble as I see it. We can just be working, working, working, and feel that there’s always more to go.

But also if we only focus on the work that’s still to be done, the danger is we just get exhausted. We become like what we’re doing to the fields of wheat around the world – we harvest them unsustainably and end up depleting the soil. I’d say that activist enthusiasm is a vital renewable resource, and we need to get much more skilful about how we treasure it. How we look after it in a way that can help it grow.

My last question is, can you think of one celebratory event that you were particularly moved by or inspired by which could be a story that might be useful for Transition groups to hear?

I’ve shared a number with you that I really delight in. One that comes to mind is when the two of us spoke together at the launch of Transition Town Totnes. It was the official unleashing of Transition Town Totnes and that was years ago now. But I think that was in 2006, so eight years ago now. What we do is celebrate launches of things in a way that we’re marking them and saying – hey, this is the beginning of something. We don’t know what will happen, but we’re marking our very clear intention.

There’s a form of energy, I call it ACACI which means A Clear and Committed Intention. It’s like a form of psychological energy. When you have strong, clear and committed intention, it drives you on. One of the ways of building that up is to have a launching celebration. I really enjoyed that event with you. We spoke together at the unleashing of Transition Town Lewes as well and we’ve both been back there since then. You wrote recently in your July 1st blog about being at their 7 year celebration and I was there at their 5 year celebration.

If you have a party to begin something, then you can also revisit that point some years on. So they become markers in time. We can say yes, we were here when this began, we celebrated the launch of this. And now here we are meeting again, this number of years later and we also celebrate the effort put in and the steps taken and the distance covered in that between time.

What you do there is build in the journey approach to change. This sense that we’re on a cultural migration. That’s why I love the term Transition. Transition is about moving from one place to another and we mark the steps along the way. So we celebrate when we begin this journey with the unleashing, the launch, but we keep coming back to that at periodic intervals and say – hey, we’re still on this journey. It’s still important to us.

While there might be some steps forward and some steps back and frustrations and disappointments along the way, there will always be things that we can look at and say yeah, that’s what we did and I feel really good about that.

When you mark the things that you feel good about, you get something which I call afterglow. This is the warm feeling of satisfaction after you’ve done something or noticed something that you feel good about. That’s what keeps us going, it’s fuel for the journey. So back to that original idea that celebration is a form of psychological nourishment and it’s absolutely vital to keep ourselves going.

You’re a very gifted musician and you managed to weave music and getting everybody moving and joining in as well. What’s the role of music in that, do you think?

It’s so interesting, because they’ve found bits of bone that have been turned into flutes that are 20,000 years old. I see music as a form of social glue. It draws people together. There’s something very remarkable that can happen when people move rhythmically together. It’s where we shift out of just seeing ourselves as separate individuals to where we sing and dance together it reinforces our connectivity, our sense of being part of something larger.

That’s great – actually 'great' is an understatement. I talked about psychological nourishment, also how do we reinforce and grow social capital? Social capital is the wealth that comes out of relationships. Shared music and dance is one of the ways that happens. 

Here is the podcast of our interview with Chris.  

Categories: TT news

How we celebrate! Transition Bristol

Transition Culture - 15 July 2014 - 6:33pm

 A couple of weeks ago, Transition Bristol held their Small Green Sunday event, to celebrate and reflect on all that they have achieved over the last seven years (check out their amazing Timeline for the full story). Four members of the group have kindly shared their reflections on the day, and on what it felt like to come together to celebrate, beneath the bunting and fuelled with good food, all that Transition has brought to their lives and to their city.  

Kristin Sponsler’s story 

It is impossible to capture in words what it has been like to be part of the Transition Bristol journey over the last seven (seven??) years. From my arrival as a corporate escapee in 2007 and being invited by Transition Bristol’s founder Sarah Pugh to “help” with the Big Event that autumn (400 people and some big name Peak Oil stars in the lineup!) to helping craft our “light touch” and celebratory Small Green Sunday event this past May where we had 50 people max, it has been a bumpy and exciting ride.

One of my big learnings through all of this has been that it is quality of the partnerships and relationships, not the quantity of attendees that counts when you are trying to do Transition work in a city that has the feisty energy that Bristol does. Have a look at our timeline to see what the idea of Transition has helped to birth and inspire since we began as the first “official Transition City” in 2007. 

Since I was on the door most of the morning, the highlight of Small Green Sunday for me was the amazing bring food to share lunch that the participants brought with them on the day, as well as all the luscious and scrumptious cake provided by Shannon Smith, local baker extraordinaire. The invitation was for people to come either for the morning session or to come in later and share in one of several "lunchtime conversations" that arose out of the interactive session in the morning. Even though the weather turned lovely after a shaky start in the morning we couldn't get many people to venture out into the Trinity Centre's lovely garden space because they were too busy talking! A sign of a successful event in my book.

Angela Raffle’s story

I’ve been part of the volunteer team running Transition Bristol for about five years. It’s been hard to envisage running anything that could match the wonderful Big Event of November 2008 so instead we’ve concentrated on behind the scenes, helping on masses of transition In Bristol stuff. Then with new energy from new people we found ourselves creating Small Green Sunday on 23 May 2014. The delight we felt from reconnecting across all the themes – energy, food, happiness, learning, transport, and links with Green Capital – was tremendous.

My memories of the event range from the excitement of rattling along the rough track from the allotments in the early morning sunshine with a vat of Mike Feingolds legendary cider fizzing on the back seat of the car, through to the joy of seeing everyone completely focused on lunchtime conversations over shared food – lightly organized with a mini-version of Open Space Technology. The worst panic moment was standing leaning with my back against the stage thinking ‘Eek - how many chairs shall we lay out? Will it be zero or 80?’ at which point two things happened.

One was a warm wet sensation in my right ear and the other was someone saying to my left ear that the best rule on a free ticketed event is half the number that booked. Looking round I found myself face to face with a huge German Shepherd dog standing on the stage and licking me, strangely comforting in an alarming kind of way. So we immediately removed half the chairs to leave 40, and that was exactly the number that came, which felt perfect. We had a morning of connecting, celebrating, thinking, discussing, planning, dreaming, and committing. The power of the Transition concept was definitely at work. 

Tom Henfrey’s story

The importance of celebrating achievements really struck me when I moved to Bristol during 2013. Arriving from somewhere where community action has far less breadth and momentum, I revelled in the richness of what Bristol's grassroots movements for social change have achieved. From needing to work hard to spend time in places where Transition is already underway, I literally found it hard to move without coming across some visible manifestation, and benefit, of decades of sustainability action.

Community gardens and other growing projects all over the place (80 throughout the city, I am told), providing local cafes and restaurants or acting as informal community learning spaces; a local permaculture group with over 1000 members, and dozens more coming through the design certificate course and Shift Bristol's groundbreaking Practical Sustainability course every year; a city-wide network of community energy projects; a functional cycling infrastructure and thriving bike culture; more talks, films and other gatherings of the like-minded than you could ever hope to attend, and a new local currency rapidly establishing itself as a marker of distinction for independent traders. 

Marvelling at the abundance, I was surprised to discover that the most common attitude among seasoned Bristolians in this scene was one of frustration at how much more remains to be done. While I joyfully rode or walked to the back yard of my local social centre to pick up my weekly veg bag from a community-run permaculture farm two miles from my home, I heard old-timers grumble about the extent to which Bristol remains very much part of the carbon economy, the traffic-clogged city streets, the number of supermarkets, economic dependency on a small number of large and ethically dubious businesses. All this is true, and it's also true that several decades of community action, accelerated since Transition took off since 2007, has left a rich legacy.

The cultural ground for Transition has become well established. It's easy to spend most of your time with people and in places who hold and express core values of sustainability and social justice, something I find deeply nourishing. Any new project or initiative is richly resourced in terms of knowledge, skills, networks, sympathy, and background understanding of the big picture of which it forms a part. In the daily work of pushing things forward still further, it's natural to focus on how far there is to go rather than what's already been accomplished. 

It's these past achievements that make current and future work possible, and everyone who has put vision and energy into making them happen deserve opportunities to take stock, look back, and celebrate all they have done. Thanks to them, Bristol has become an exciting, vibrant, inspirational place to live where the key challenges of Transition are being faced head on. I'm proud that I was able to contribute to an event that celebrates this and plans how we build on that legacy going forward. 

Mark Leach’s story 

One of my roles in attending Small Green Sunday was to explain or clarify the nature of Green Capital – the Partnership, the 2015 company, the European award etc.; but I took part in the day wholeheartedly and a number of things struck me. 

Firstly, to see again just how much Transition has achieved over the last decade. Or to be more precise, helped people/groups etc in the city acheive. We are looking for lessons that Bristol can swap with others as we learn from other cities and they from us about being a greener city during 2015. Well, I think we should be saying to any city across Europe, becoming a Transition city can help nurture projects through the difficult seedling stage, and sow more new seeds too.  The Bristol Green Capital Partnership has played a huge role too and the event made me realise just the extent to which the two compliment each other well.  

The award of European Green Capital is not awarded for reaching the finishing line as a completely green city, it's for making good progress along that journey – a journey that is long and difficult for all cities.  Transition and SGS are great for reminding us how far we have to go, due to the ambitions and dreams of participants and their vision for where we should be going as a city. 

I was bowled over by a sense of respect that permeated the event and those participating. People had challenging questions, but a tough, constructive challenge is so much more worthwhile than a limp negative one! 

Another thread running right through the event was the desire to reach out and be inclusive. It's easy for people outside to pigeon-hole Transition as a movement for middle class people that only those with time and space for it. I think I learned how far this is from the truth and certainly from the potential of Transition.  The reality of Transition – as much practical and down to earth as well as, say, spiritual, and the broad potential appeal of permaculture. 

And lastly the venue, the re-vamped Trinity building, beautiful Trinity Community garden and beguiling “shed” were perfect for the event and for demonstrating this reality.

 

Categories: TT news

How we celebrate! Transition Bristol

Transition Culture - 15 July 2014 - 6:33pm

 A couple of weeks ago, Transition Bristol held their Small Green Sunday event, to celebrate and reflect on all that they have achieved over the last seven years. Four members of the group have kindly shared their reflections on the day, and on what it felt like to come together to celebrate, beneath the bunting and fuelled with good food, all that Transition has brought to their lives and to their city.  

Kristin Sponsler’s story 

It is impossible to capture in words what it has been like to be part of the Transition Bristol journey over the last seven (seven??) years. From my arrival as a corporate escapee in 2007 and being invited by Transition Bristol’s founder Sarah Pugh to “help” with the Big Event that autumn (400 people and some big name Peak Oil stars in the lineup!) to helping craft our “light touch” and celebratory Small Green Sunday event this past May where we had 50 people max, it has been a bumpy and exciting ride.

One of my big learnings through all of this has been that it is quality of the partnerships and relationships, not the quantity of attendees that counts when you are trying to do Transition work in a city that has the feisty energy that Bristol does. Have a look at our timeline to see what the idea of Transition has helped to birth and inspire since we began as the first “official Transition City” in 2007. 

Since I was on the door most of the morning, the highlight of Small Green Sunday for me was the amazing bring food to share lunch that the participants brought with them on the day, as well as all the luscious and scrumptious cake provided by Shannon Smith, local baker extraordinaire. The invitation was for people to come either for the morning session or to come in later and share in one of several "lunchtime conversations" that arose out of the interactive session in the morning. Even though the weather turned lovely after a shaky start in the morning we couldn't get many people to venture out into the Trinity Centre's lovely garden space because they were too busy talking! A sign of a successful event in my book.

Angela Raffle’s story

I’ve been part of the volunteer team running Transition Bristol for about five years. It’s been hard to envisage running anything that could match the wonderful Big Event of November 2008 so instead we’ve concentrated on behind the scenes, helping on masses of transition In Bristol stuff. Then with new energy from new people we found ourselves creating Small Green Sunday on 23 May 2014. The delight we felt from reconnecting across all the themes – energy, food, happiness, learning, transport, and links with Green Capital – was tremendous.

My memories of the event range from the excitement of rattling along the rough track from the allotments in the early morning sunshine with a vat of Mike Feingolds legendary cider fizzing on the back seat of the car, through to the joy of seeing everyone completely focused on lunchtime conversations over shared food – lightly organized with a mini-version of Open Space Technology. The worst panic moment was standing leaning with my back against the stage thinking ‘Eek - how many chairs shall we lay out? Will it be zero or 80?’ at which point two things happened.

One was a warm wet sensation in my right ear and the other was someone saying to my left ear that the best rule on a free ticketed event is half the number that booked. Looking round I found myself face to face with a huge German Shepherd dog standing on the stage and licking me, strangely comforting in an alarming kind of way. So we immediately removed half the chairs to leave 40, and that was exactly the number that came, which felt perfect. We had a morning of connecting, celebrating, thinking, discussing, planning, dreaming, and committing. The power of the Transition concept was definitely at work. 

Tom Henfrey’s story

The importance of celebrating achievements really struck me when I moved to Bristol during 2013. Arriving from somewhere where community action has far less breadth and momentum, I revelled in the richness of what Bristol's grassroots movements for social change have achieved. From needing to work hard to spend time in places where Transition is already underway, I literally found it hard to move without coming across some visible manifestation, and benefit, of decades of sustainability action.

Community gardens and other growing projects all over the place (80 throughout the city, I am told), providing local cafes and restaurants or acting as informal community learning spaces; a local permaculture group with over 1000 members, and dozens more coming through the design certificate course and Shift Bristol's groundbreaking Practical Sustainability course every year; a city-wide network of community energy projects; a functional cycling infrastructure and thriving bike culture; more talks, films and other gatherings of the like-minded than you could ever hope to attend, and a new local currency rapidly establishing itself as a marker of distinction for independent traders. 

Marvelling at the abundance, I was surprised to discover that the most common attitude among seasoned Bristolians in this scene was one of frustration at how much more remains to be done. While I joyfully rode or walked to the back yard of my local social centre to pick up my weekly veg bag from a community-run permaculture farm two miles from my home, I heard old-timers grumble about the extent to which Bristol remains very much part of the carbon economy, the traffic-clogged city streets, the number of supermarkets, economic dependency on a small number of large and ethically dubious businesses. All this is true, and it's also true that several decades of community action, accelerated since Transition took off since 2007, has left a rich legacy.

The cultural ground for Transition has become well established. It's easy to spend most of your time with people and in places who hold and express core values of sustainability and social justice, something I find deeply nourishing. Any new project or initiative is richly resourced in terms of knowledge, skills, networks, sympathy, and background understanding of the big picture of which it forms a part. In the daily work of pushing things forward still further, it's natural to focus on how far there is to go rather than what's already been accomplished. 

It's these past achievements that make current and future work possible, and everyone who has put vision and energy into making them happen deserve opportunities to take stock, look back, and celebrate all they have done. Thanks to them, Bristol has become an exciting, vibrant, inspirational place to live where the key challenges of Transition are being faced head on. I'm proud that I was able to contribute to an event that celebrates this and plans how we build on that legacy going forward. 

Mark Leach’s story 

One of my roles in attending Small Green Sunday was to explain or clarify the nature of Green Capital – the Partnership, the 2015 company, the European award etc.; but I took part in the day wholeheartedly and a number of things struck me. 

Firstly, to see again just how much Transition has achieved over the last decade. Or to be more precise, helped people/groups etc in the city acheive. We are looking for lessons that Bristol can swap with others as we learn from other cities and they from us about being a greener city during 2015. Well, I think we should be saying to any city across Europe, becoming a Transition city can help nurture projects through the difficult seedling stage, and sow more new seeds too.  The Bristol Green Capital Partnership has played a huge role too and the event made me realise just the extent to which the two compliment each other well.  

The award of European Green Capital is not awarded for reaching the finishing line as a completely green city, it's for making good progress along that journey – a journey that is long and difficult for all cities.  Transition and SGS are great for reminding us how far we have to go, due to the ambitions and dreams of participants and their vision for where we should be going as a city. 

I was bowled over by a sense of respect that permeated the event and those participating. People had challenging questions, but a tough, constructive challenge is so much more worthwhile than a limp negative one! 

Another thread running right through the event was the desire to reach out and be inclusive. It's easy for people outside to pigeon-hole Transition as a movement for middle class people that only those with time and space for it. I think I learned how far this is from the truth and certainly from the potential of Transition.  The reality of Transition – as much practical and down to earth as well as, say, spiritual, and the broad potential appeal of permaculture. 

And lastly the venue, the re-vamped Trinity building, beautiful Trinity Community garden and beguiling “shed” were perfect for the event and for demonstrating this reality.

 

Categories: TT news

Field of opportunity - Glens Falls Post-Star

Transition Towns in the media - 15 July 2014 - 10:01am

Field of opportunity
Glens Falls Post-Star
Olden is a member of the Washington County Draft Horse Association and the Washington County Historical Society. He is also part of the Tri-County Transition Towns Initiative, a grassroots effort to push sustainability. He does carpentry and stonework ...

Categories: TT news

10 Commandments for Common Sense Penny Stock Investing

The Daily Reckoning - 15 July 2014 - 9:00am

It doesn’t matter if you attended an Ivy League university, community college or only high school. You don’t need education to be a great penny stock investor. You only need to be smart. There’s a big difference…

One of the first steps you can take toward investing success is by subscribing to and reading the Daily Reckoning email edition. Then all you need to do is learn how to take advantage of the many tools at your disposal to rack up huge gains in the stock market.

But before you can do that, it’s crucial that you learn how to avoid the deadly pitfalls that sadly ensnare many penny stock investors every single day…

The first one you hear is from talking heads on TV, financial pundits, brokers and analysts. They want you to believe that you have to buy large, expensive stocks, because it’s how they make money off of you.

I’ll tell you right now — if you choose to believe this myth, it will keep you at the bottom of the financial food chain for the rest of your life.

This is what Wall Street wants you to believe: To be a successful investor, you should buy only big-name stocks and hold onto them for years. Mark my words, absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

What they really want from you is control of your money. They want you to leave it with them and forget it.

And here’s why they hope you’ll never bother to challenge the myth…

Your broker makes money whether your portfolio soars or falls. All he cares about is that you’re buying or selling stocks. He takes his commission and you’re left with stocks that could be profitable, but are more likely just the “hot picks” of the week that will lead your portfolio down the drain in no time.

But as you’re about to see, you can do a lot better. You can win at the stock market when you use the power of penny stocks to your own profitable advantage. And better yet, you can keep more of your money without worry that your broker’s advice might be costing you more than just your cell phone minutes…

On Nov. 19, 1984, you could have picked up shares of the emerging biotechnology firm Amgen Inc. for $3.63.

Amgen shares soared, and took some savvy investors on the ride of their life…

At its peak, those shares would have been worth around $123.00. Taking into account Amgen’s five splits over the past 22 years, you can knock that original 1984 price down to about 9 cents a share.

It’s almost impossible to believe that a company that would cost you pennies could turn into an $80 billion pharmaceutical giant specializing in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, anemia and psoriasis.

But Amgen did it…and investors who saw its potential laughed all the way to the bank.

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of legitimate penny stock opportunities like that one that you can still capitalize on. But before you do, it’s important for you to convince yourself that the easiest way to make money in the stock market is by investing in penny stocks. And there are cold, hard facts to back up this claim.

The smallest stocks on the market — those with market capitalizations of less than $2.5 billion — have dominated the market recently, outpacing the large caps in each of the last seven years. But what many investors may not realize is that this is not a fluke. Historically, smaller stocks have always led the market.

“My $180 investment went to about $4,200 in a single day!” — Kyle Biggins, a NY reader who invested in penny stocks.

A famous study conducted by Ibbotson Associates in the 1990s found that these small stocks outperformed all other stocks 56% of the time between 1926–1996 — including the blue chip stocks that get all of the media’s attention. The average return in any given year was 14% for small stocks. It was just 9% for large stocks. And the longer you held your small stocks, the better off you were.

Since 1926, there has never been a period of 25 years or more in which investing in large-cap stocks has proven more lucrative than investing in small-cap stocks. Of course, there are many reasons for these great small-cap returns.

First of all, there are a lot more small-cap companies on the market. About two-thirds of all the companies on Wall Street have a market cap of $2.5 billion or less. So as a penny stock investor, you have a much wider universe in which to find moneymaking opportunities.

And because there are so many small companies, the major brokerage firms and institutions don’t have enough analysts to cover them all. So they simply ignore some of the fastest-growing companies on Earth. As a result, you can buy into some tremendous businesses trading for virtually nothing.

Smaller companies can also adapt to the changing marketplace and react quicker than their large-cap peers. Think about it this way: It’s a lot easier for a $200 million company to double than it is for a $255 billion company to do the same.

Discovering a company’s hidden potential before anyone else can be extremely rewarding. After all, getting in before the crowd is what makes a select few investors rich.

It doesn’t take many smart penny stock plays to make a lot of money, either.

This is how you have to play the penny stock market in order to be successful. You have to swing for the fence and let your big winners make up for the strikeouts. But the difficult part is how you find these home runs.

In the world of smaller stocks, it sometimes takes a lot more than simple valuation to measure a company’s potential. After all, a lot of these small companies aren’t even turning a profit…yet. The trick is to pick out the ones that will, while avoiding the ones that could be poison to your portfolio.

I’ve spent a long time perfecting stringent guidelines for my Penny Stock Fortunes readers to make sure they’re exposed to the best penny stock plays. Out of fairness to them, because they pay for my research service, I won’t give away my system.

However, I can give you some very basic, but vital penny stock investing rules that you can use to protect yourself against plays like CYNK while still taking advantage of penny stocks’ explosive profit potential.

I call them the “10 Commandments for Common Sense Penny Stock Investing”. Here they are…

1st Commandment: If it’s too good to be true… then it probably is!

2nd Commandment: Don’t chase the market, you’re probably not missing out.

3rd Commandment: Don’t trust stock recommendations if there’s a conflict of interest.

4th Commandment: Remember, just because it’s regulated… you’re not automatically protected.

5th Commandment: Don’t buy what you don’t understand.

6th Commandment: Don’t use public computers (library, hotel etc) to check your broker account.

7th Commandment: Never buy a recommendation without doing your own due diligence.

8th Commandment: Don’t invest money you aren’t willing to completely lose.

9th Commandment: Aim for consistent, realistic gains… no one becomes a millionaire overnight.

10th Commandment: Follow what insiders are doing, not what they’re saying.

If you follow these commandments, you’ll never have to worry about buying into a company like CYNK — but you will be able to book big gains like it in short amounts of time.

Regards,

Jonas Elmerraji
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. One way I advise you start is by investing in what I call “pre-IPO” companies. These are exactly what they sound like — promising companies that have yet to go public. This is a proven way to grow rich very quickly. In today’s email edition of The Daily Reckoning I gave readers a chance to discover a handful of great pre-IPOs I believe will go public by December 23, 2014. It’s just one small benefit of being a subscriber to the FREE Daily Reckoning email edition. Don’t miss out on any more of them. Sign up for FREE right here to get started.

Categories: Economics

Put 53 Years on the Clock: The End of Easy Oil Is Within Sight - Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Peak Oil - Google - 15 July 2014 - 7:25am

Foreign Policy Blogs (blog)

Put 53 Years on the Clock: The End of Easy Oil Is Within Sight
Wall St. Cheat Sheet
Peak oil was an idea championed by American geologist M. King Hubbert. Hubbert worked at the Shell research facility in Texas between 1943 and 1964. During that time he advanced the idea that given that oil is a fossil fuel, production will inevitably ...
China Reaches the Equivalent of Peak US Energy Imports DependenceForeign Policy Blogs (blog)

all 3 news articles »

New Technology Will Make You Love Going to the Dentist

The Daily Reckoning - 15 July 2014 - 6:15am

Did you ever wonder about the scenario in a dentist’s office when he casually mentions it’s time for some new bite-wing X-rays? First, they cover you from neck to knees in a heavy lead shield. Then everyone goes running out of the room as if a bomb is about to explode.

Well, it turns out most of that is not only unnecessary these days, it’s play-acting. “Our equipment is so low-dose now, we can stay in the room for dozens of X-rays a day,” my dental hygienist told me during my recent visit. “We still use the shield and leave the room, because it’s what people are so used to. It seems to make them more comfortable.”

Dental X-ray equipment has become much safer in recent years thanks to digital imaging. A typical modern dental X-ray machine will not expose you to more than about half a millirem for a bite-wing scan. That’s equal to the radiation in five bananas, and it is less than 5% of the dosage from a chest X-ray (it’s hundreds of times less than a CAT scan of your chest).

Why did I bring up bananas? Bananas have suddenly become the hip way to compare radiation doses because a typical banana contains the natural radioactive isotope potassium 40. Other foods rich in potassium like potatoes also contain radiation, but the idea of comparing radiation levels to bananas is certainly more fun. There’s even an acronym — BED, for banana equivalent dose.

Old dental X-ray machines gave you a 50-banana dose — 10 times as much as today’s newest equipment. Yes, using bananas as any kind of measurement is kind of silly and wildly inaccurate when you’re trying to evaluate something like the banana equivalent dose of radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear power plant (about 75 million bananas), but it can put low-dose radiation exposure into perspective. For example, flying in an aircraft at cruising altitude for one hour is equivalent to 1 millirem, or 10 bananas, or two digital dental X-rays.

Dentistry is ripe for high-tech blockbusters.

The average American gets about 620 millirems of radiation exposure a year from airplane flights, granite countertops, radon in tap water, working in concrete buildings, eating Brazil nuts (one Brazil nut has a BED of 2) and cosmic radiation. Your dose of radiation from the sun — cosmic radiation — escalates as you move higher than sea level — about 26 millirems a year in Washington, D.C., and 52 millirems (104 bananas) per year in Denver. That’s because 80% of the oxygen on the planet, not to mention other gases like nitrogen, is in the first 5,000 feet above sea level. That thin blue band around Earth that mesmerized moon-bound astronauts is really thin. In Denver, there are far fewer gas atoms in the atmosphere between you and the sun to deflect cosmic radiation. The point is that unless you want to live in a radon-free cave (unlikely you can find one) background radiation is omnipresent.

You can take a quick quiz to calculate your personal annual dose at this link.

While you are contemplating how much radiation your lifestyle exposes you to, think about this: Why does dentistry lag the medical-tech revolution? The last great dental invention, the high-speed drill, is more than 50 years old. Those new low-dose X-rays in the dentist’s office are spin-offs of other technology.

I was wondering about this recently as my dentist raised a huge syringe and moved it toward my mandibular nerve, hoping for a complete blockage of pain sensations that would travel up from the inferior alveolar nerve in my lower jaw. I was not happy. The shot didn’t numb the nerve very well. Before I could say much, there was that giant syringe headed my way again. The dentist looked straight into my mouth and muttered, “You’d think in the year 2013 we’d have a better solution to numbing your jaw.” You’d think.

So no one in his right mind likes going to the dentist in this age of high-tech. And therein lies a void worth watching. Dentistry’s dark ages cannot last. Everyone needs to go to the dentist at least twice a year, although a lot of people don’t because they perceive dentistry as full of discomfort and archaic devices. Think of the potential market awaiting tech that changes that perception. Someone will.

Dentistry is ripe for high-tech blockbusters. When the high-speed air-turbine drill was invented by a New Zealander back in the late 1940s, it became the must-have piece of equipment for every dentist in the world. Current drills operate at 400,000-800,000 rpm, and now they’re electric, instead of air-powered. But along with those drills running at truly amazing speeds came heat from the friction of the burr bit grinding away at your enamel and dentin. Nerves do not like heat. So the drill needs water to cool it. And you need really good anesthesia. The days of toughing out a filling when low-speed pulley-driven drills were used is over.

…survey after survey shows that half the adult population is afraid of going to the dentist.

It’s strange that people don’t take what goes on in their mouth more seriously. Poor dental health is now linked to heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease and colorectal cancer. And the older you get the more likely you are to have an aggressive cancer begin growing in your mouth and on the tongue (the most blood vessel-dense part of your body). Only a dentist is likely to notice one of these cancers early on.

Still, survey after survey shows that half the adult population is afraid of going to the dentist. And a study in Britain shows that women are six times more afraid of the dentist than men.

Dentistry talks a good game of being painless in the new millennium, but here’s the state of that art: Patients are advised to develop a “hand signal” to let the dentist know they are “uncomfortable” during a procedure so the dentist can stop for a break. And dentists are advised to be kind and gentle and to be sensitive to patients’ tensions. That’s the best answer dentistry has in 2014?

And these dark ages are not just about pain. Now that so-called “silver” fillings full of mercury are taboo, long-term, reliable fillings for cavities are nonexistent. Composite fillings don’t last even half as long as mercury fillings can. Of course, gold lasts forever, but a gold inlay in your tooth will set you back about $2,500. More composite fillings more often to replace those that go bad brings that syringe back into play.

Worse yet, the new hole drilled into the tooth for the next filling has to be just a bit larger. That scenario doesn’t work forever. Too many repeat fillings in the same tooth spell C-R-O-W-N. Implants are a relatively new and developing technology that offer new hope for lost teeth, but what they put on the implanted post is essentially a crown, the same technology offered to your grandparents.

Meanwhile, last November, the Centers for Disease Control released its first report about dentistry. The study says half of all Americans aged 30 and older have periodontal disease. Does that mean they don’t go to the dentist? Perhaps many are unaware of an actual technological breakthrough in the ancient art of toothbrushing: Philips’ Sonicare electric brush that combines sound waves with vibrating bristles. My hygienist says she can always tell which of her patients use the Sonicare — their gums are healthier and their teeth far cleaner. She loves the Sonicare, and uses one herself, but she is quick to say that a low-tech part of that toothbrush is what really helps the most. The Philips system vibrates like hell as you’re using it and then every 30 seconds stops for a brief moment. The break is obviously intended to signal that you’ve spent enough time on one quadrant. The idea is to start with one quadrant of teeth and move to the next every 30 seconds. “What’s really helping people the most with this system is that they’re psychologically pretty much forced to brush for a full two minutes,” the hygienist says. “It’s the two minutes twice a day, more than the sound waves, that really makes the difference.”

So while the dentistry PR machine points to implants, electric toothbrushes, improvements in composite fillings and “painless dentistry,” it’s really still a mom and pop operation. And that makes it a natural for consolidation and upgraded technology. One company trying to drop into that space is Clear Choice. It advertises implants and new teeth in one day, but dentists warn that the kind of patient with the exact circumstances that allow that to happen is very rare. Nonetheless, both the Invisalign clear orthodontic technology (ALGN) and Clear Choice implants show that entrepreneurs are beginning to notice “modern” dentistry. May the competition begin!

Regards,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: With so much being made of technological advancements in medicine (and for good reason), dentistry often gets overlooked. And that makes it a great place to search for investment ideas. Stephen has been following this and several other tech stories for years, and – during his regularly appearances in the free Tomorrow in Review email edition – he often gives readers an opportunity to learn more about his research. So sign up for the FREE Tomorrow in Review email edition, right here, and discover how you could profit from the world’s best tech stories.

Categories: Economics

What the US Dollar of the Future Will Look Like

The Daily Reckoning - 15 July 2014 - 5:34am

Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.

Is this a realistic vision of the future, or are we only ever likely to see such scenes in science-fiction movies such as Minority Report? Predicting the future is never easy, but I believe that new technologies will prove the death knell for cash. We’re not there yet, but a cashless society is not as fanciful as it seems. Recent research suggests that many believe we will stop using notes and coins altogether in the not-too-distant future.

New payments technologies are rapidly transforming our lives. Today in the U.S., 66% of all point-of-sale transactions are done with plastic, while in the U.K. it’s just under half. But while a truly cashless society is some time away yet, there is raft of groundbreaking technologies that will make cash a mere supporting act in the near future.

Making payments with smartphones will also become the norm within a few years.

Take contactless cards for instance. They are perfect for those small purchases. Why go to the hassle of carrying loose change when you can swipe a card to make a purchase within seconds? Thirty-one percent of us put an item back on the shelf if we aren’t carrying enough cash. Consumers want the convenience new technologies offer, and retailers are losing billions a year by not offering a range of payment options.

Contactless cards help address this problem, and although leading High Street retailers now accept them, many independent retailers don’t yet. But as we become accustomed to the convenience of contactless, we will expect it everywhere we shop.

I’ve seen it happening abroad already. In Iceland, the buses don’t take cash; taxis assume you are paying by card; coffee shops expect you to wave the plastic for a simple espresso. Sweden isn’t far behind. It will happen in the U.S. and U.K., too.

It’s not just our need for quick, convenient shopping with fewer queues that is driving change. The costs to retailers to process transactions should drop dramatically in the next few years. The comparatively high cost that banks charge retailers for processing credit and debit card payments should come down. The European Union (EU) will soon cap the amount banks can charge retailers to process card payments. This should result in contactless transactions being made in most stores in Europe within the next few years.

Making payments with smartphones will also become the norm within a few years. We’ve been talking about using a mobile to make payments for at least a decade, but now the moment has arrived.

A U.K. service called Paym allows people to transfer money to retailers or friends by using a mobile banking app on their phone. Since its recent launch, 500,000 phone numbers have been registered. Some 90% of U.K. current account holders will be able to use it by the end of the year.

There are a number of similar apps provided by mobile phone operators, technology groups and payment specialists like PayPal. According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, the value of goods and services purchased using a mobile phone will almost triple from £4.8 billion last year to £14.2 billion in 2018.

All these developments mean we will use cash less. A further benefit for us is that it will give us peace of mind as there will be less concern over having money stolen. The technology being used to usher in a cashless age offers security benefits to its users, as it’s very easy to shut down a smartphone’s digital wallet remotely if it falls into the wrong hands.

By removing cash, you reduce the chances of becoming a target of crime, while using electronic payments can provide a trail of statements that can help to manage your finances.

Even cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are moving in on the mobile payments act. Apple has recently announced that it has updated its App Store guidelines to allow software developers to include virtual currency transactions in apps. Although Apple has not specified which virtual currencies have been approved, it’s likely that Bitcoin, as the world’s most widely used virtual currency, will be included. Nevertheless, the public still has to be convinced by Bitcoin — 1% of people have used it within the last month.

Perhaps the most exciting development is the prospect of biometrics technology such as fingerprint, retina scans and voice recognition, being made available by retailers for transactions in the future. This will make it even easier for us to buy products in store and online. Biometrics offers simplicity, convenience and security. Biometrics will also make fraud virtually impossible – identification is yours and yours alone, and therefore very hard to copy.

Recent research shows that 47% of us think we’ll be using our fingerprints to make purchases within 10 years. So who knows? With such public expectation, perhaps using a fingerprint to buy our groceries won’t be confined to the imaginings of the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

Regards,

Simon Black
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Stock scams like this are more common than you think. And if you read the email version of Laissez Faire Today, you would have learned about the hard work one man does when he picks stocks… and the incredible returns he’s given his readers. Click here and subscribe to Laissez Faire Today so you don’t miss out on future opportunities.

This article originally appeared here on Techcrunch.com.

This article was also prominently featured at The Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Uh..... Pay Attention!

The Market Ticker - 15 July 2014 - 4:40am

Head's up!

It is anticipated that the closed meeting of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System at 11:30 AM on Monday, July 14, 2014, will be held under expedited procedures, as set forth in section 26lb.7 of the Board's Rules Regarding Public Observation of Meetings, at the Board's offices at 20th Street and C Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. The following items of official Board business are tentatively scheduled to be considered at that meeting.

Meeting Date: Monday, July 14, 2014

Matter(s) Considered
1. Review and determination by the Board of Governors of the advance and discount rates to be charged by the Federal Reserve Banks.

Whas 'dat?

h/t: Apo

Categories: Economics

A Huge Sell Signal for One Major Market Sector

The Daily Reckoning - 15 July 2014 - 3:30am

 

Earnings season is upon us.

It’s that magical time of year that gives investors those “I wish I sold yesterday” moments. Ugly earnings reports or poor guidance can sink shares, break trends, and quickly ruin your week.

Of course, it’s next-to impossible to predict with certainty how any given company’s earnings report will look. And even if you do follow an analyst who gets the numbers right, you still don’t know how investors will react until the morning bell rings.

But you’re not completely screwed. Fortunately, trends can tell us much more than grasping at earnings guesses. And right now, they’re telling us to steer clear of the banks.

The big financial firms are set to report earnings this week. Citigroup announced before the bell this morning (more on these results in just a second). JP Morgan reports Tuesday morning. Bank of America follows with its announcement Wednesday. Wells Fargo, often regarded as a best-of-breed bank stock, traded lower for five straight days last week (Wells released “meh” earnings Friday morning). This morning, J.P. Morgan downgraded Wells due to higher expenses and a further drop in net interest margin, according to MarketWatch.

While Wells Fargo’s chart is far from terrible, mediocre performance from the other big banks since late last year is beginning to stick out like a sore thumb…

CHART

Citigroup shares are off nearly 10% this year. JP Morgan is down almost 3%. Bank of America is off by about 1%. They all trail the S&P 500, which is now up about 6.5% since January 1st.

Yes, Citigroup shares are spiking early this morning after it announced earnings per share of $1.24, beating the$1.05 Wall Street estimate. Still Citi is the worst performer of the lot so far this year. It has a lot of catching up to do just to break even. Plus, there are plenty of reasons not to get too excited over the earnings and revenue beats, including $7 billion mortgage backed securities fine the bank will soon fork over…

And it’s not just the big banks that are lagging the averages. Here’s what I wrote on June 2nd:

“Regional banks and the mega-cap financial stocks had traded hand-in-hand until about six weeks ago. Now, an ugly divergence is emerging. Concerns over how these smaller banks will perform in an environment where rates continue to drop are taking their toll. As of this morning, the SPDR KBW Regional Banking Index is off more than 5% year-to-date.”

For the record, the SPDR KBW Regional Banking Index has bounced back slightly over the past six weeks. It’s down just 1.5% on the year as of Friday’s close.

But as I already showed you, even the big financial institutions aren’t carrying investors to gains this year. Financials are, in fact, one of the worst performing sectors in the S&P year-to-date. There’s simply no reason to bet on these stocks right now.

Regards,

Greg Guenthner
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. If you are looking for a potential comeback play in the financial world, you should check out some of the discount brokers. Sign up for the Rude Awakening for FREE today to see how you can trade these trends for huge gains…

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Heh Jackass - Do It Yourself

The Market Ticker - 15 July 2014 - 2:19am

The stupid, it burns.

Governor Perry is not interested in solving the problem with unlawful invaders, including children, entering this country.

He wants to use this as a political game, just as does Obama.

How do I know?  Because in the linked video he is now "once again" calling for Obama to station The Guard at the border.

Governor Perry is the commander of the National Guard of Texas until and unless they are Federalized under explicit and clear rules by the Federal Government.

Until that time he has the authority to declare a state of emergency in his state and deploy the Guard to deal with said emergency.

But.... he hasn't.  He instead wants to blame Obama instead of solving the problem.

Fuck you Governor.

Categories: Economics

Five Women-Run Co-ops Pushing Back Against the “Feminization of Poverty”

Energy Bulletin - 15 July 2014 - 12:08am

Cooperative development is one tool in the community wealth-building strategy toolbox that...can help lift low-wage workers, and especially women, out of poverty.

Categories: Peak oil news

'Environmental Catastrophism" is a Red Herring

Energy Bulletin - 15 July 2014 - 12:06am

In my Monthly Review articles, I showed that there is simply no evidence for, and a wealth of evidence against, the claim that talking about environmental crises causes apathy or strengthens the right.

Categories: Peak oil news

Resilience Food Growing: A Multibook Review

Energy Bulletin - 15 July 2014 - 12:02am

 A look at four books which take different approaches to creating resilient food growing models.

Categories: Peak oil news

Oil Abundance? Not So Fast - Drilling holes in the energy boom story

Energy Bulletin - 14 July 2014 - 11:59pm

 The story of America’s new energy abundance has been accepted uncritically by too many people.

Categories: Peak oil news

Peak Oil Review - July 14

Energy Bulletin - 14 July 2014 - 11:27pm

A weekly review including: Oil and the Global Economy, The Middle East & North Africa, Russia, Quote of the Week, The Briefs

Categories: Peak oil news

Farming art for change

Energy Bulletin - 14 July 2014 - 11:10pm

Futurefarmers is a diverse group of practitioners: artists, researchers, designers, architects, scientists and farmers.

Categories: Peak oil news

The Birth of a Freestore

Energy Bulletin - 14 July 2014 - 11:02pm

We discussed the idea of a FreeStore several times...Could we provide lived, joyful experiences of alternatives for those not involved in the work of Transition?

Categories: Peak oil news

Food prairie

Energy Bulletin - 14 July 2014 - 9:38pm

Just as a food forest is a fusion of garden, orchard and woodland, so the food prairie is a fusion of garden, field, and grassland.

Categories: Peak oil news
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