Aiming to tackle the big issues of climate change, peak oil, sustainability and scarce resources at a local level

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Finale: Carbon Conversations Meeting 6

We have hosted the last meeting of the May-July series of Tooting Carbon Conversations.
Please come and join us for the next series! 
More information on next steps below, and to go straight to the other five recent blog posts by series participants, click here.

Dan has written this response to taking part...

The Final Conversation in the series
 
Low-carbon living pops up everywhere
"The final conversation gave us the opportunity to reflect on the things we had learned and decisions we had made along the way, and to think about where we go from here.
It was also an opportunity to celebrate what we had done – and accordingly everyone brought along some delicious (low carbon!) food that we ate to round off the finale.
 

The session began with everyone sharing a “carbon moment” that they had experienced during the week – these could be something positive, something negative or just a moment of realization. 'Carbon moments' included:
  • Swimming in the (unheated) Lido and feeling you're on holiday (while in the heart of Tooting)
  • Cooking a home grown artichoke
  • Giving a rose from the garden to a girlfriend instead of one that was flown in from Kenya
  • Drinking local beer
On the subject of beer, we discovered that Adnams do a great deal to reduce their carbon footprint  - this was just one of the many useful bits of knowledge I have learned over the course of the conversations – and one that suited me down to the ground as Broadside is one of my favourites!

Next, we played the Climate Walk game in two teams: we had to make a series of choices about things we would personally do and things that, if we were in government, we would legislate on. 
 
The group's 'Climate Walk'  via choices, and chances, to 2100.
Would we take steps to limit the global rise in temperature?
At the conclusion of the game, we found out where (if everyone in the developed world made these choices) we would end up – in terms of the average temperature rise and the ensuing climate changes/wider impacts.
It was interesting that the group found it harder to commit to the personal sacrifices (e.g giving up flying, giving up air freighted exotic fruit) than to the pieces of legislation.
 
In discussion, we concluded that it felt easier to do things if everyone did them (as in the case of legislation). Reflecting on this on the way home, I also wondered whether part of what was off-putting was the absoluteness of giving something up permanently.
 
I feel it is perhaps easier to think in terms of working towards a carbon budget of around 6 tonnes a year (as recommended in the Carbon Conversations workbook and in How Bad are Bananas) because then you can still choose to fly if you want to – but in order to do so you could “save up carbon" by cutting down on milk and dairy – or by changing your car commute to a bicycle one, and so on.

To conclude we reflected on where we go from here.
It was inspiring to hear what people were planning to do, including:
Training as Carbon Conversations facilitators
> Considering lifestyle changes, such as living or working differently to avoid a commute of 6,500 kilometres on the tube every year
 
> Creating a game for the Tooting Foodival to help spread awareness of carbon choices

> Setting up Carbon Collaborations – developing a community to bring people together, face-to-face and via a new website and Facebook page to spread these ideas widely in a very participative way


Personally, I learned a great deal from the whole Carbon Conversations process and made a few fairly significant choices about my own lifestyle.
I’m now busy reflecting on ways to communicate what I have learned to others in a way that avoids preaching and guilt trips.
In the meantime, I’m loving seeing London from a bicycle rather than sweating on the tube.
And I'm trying to convince myself that I prefer coffee without milk…"
 
..thank you for sharing your own experience of the meeting, Dan!
 All welcome to join in with the next Carbon Conversations series when we fix new dates. Meanwhile, everyone is welcome to enjoy taking part in Carbon Collaborations
 
And of course there's the Tooting Foodival on the weekend of Sept 13th and 14th - you can grow local vegetables, cook a dish and participate in many ways on the weekend.
 
Dan will be at the Foodival with FanSHEN theatre company on Sunday Sept 14th.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Meet me at the Cemetery Gates

On Sunday 6th July, Friends of Streatham Cemetery, in partnership with Groundwork London and Lambeth Council were joined by local residents to celebrate the re-opening of an entrance into Streatham Cemetery that has been closed to the public for 20 years. This makes this phenomenal area of green space much more accessible to the hustle and bustle of Tooting High St.  Tooting residents gathered outside the gates that had been beautifully decorated in floral garlands, to hear Lucy Neal of Friends of Streatham Cemetery talk about the significance of the re-opening of the gate, making the wildlife rich green space on the other side accessible to local people. Some of the local residents shared their personal memories of the cemetery and the new gates were then unlocked for partners and local residents to explore the newly improved green space within. Streatham Cemetery has recently undergone a number of improvements in order to make the space more accessible and of greater value to the local community. The improvements include the creation of raised beds for local people to take part in planting and growing activities, the installation of a noticeboard to keep people informed about local events and opportunities, benches where people can sit and relax and an apiary with three bee hives.

The cemetery is located in a built up area and offers a much needed oasis for residents to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of nature and wildlife on their doorstep.

Lucy Neal said: Streatham Cemetery is a glorious and under-used green space in Tooting. The Friends have been working to cherish local history, wildlife and beauty and the re-opening of the pedestrian gate is a small but very significant moment in bringing this area back into use as a community space for all'.  Kate Allan (BATCA) who attended the event said: "It was a gentle and inspiring ceremony. The cemetery is a haven of expansiveness and peace. I loved the garlands! Well done'."  More photos of the event here.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Foodival 2014

This year's Foodival on the 13th and 14th September will, as ever, be a celebration of locally grown food showing how it's possible to grow local, eat local and be sustainable while also having fun! Now in its 7th year, we hope this will be the biggest Foodival yet and of course it's FREE to attend. 


Here's how you could get involved:
  • If you like eating, (which should include most!), come along on Sunday 14th September from 11am and try some locally grown and cooked food.
  • If you want to get involved as a volunteer, stall-holder, restaurant, cook or chef, please contact us at foodivalttt@gmail.com
Vegetables Growing Right Now in Tooting!

Food donations from 1pm Saturday 13th Sept at Mushkil Aasaan on Upper Tooting Road or at the BATCA Fun Day on Broadwater Road, Tooting

Foodival celebration from 11am - 5pm Sunday 14th Sept 26b Tooting High Street (by Broadway Studios) SW17 0RG

For full details please see the Foodival Website.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Food: Carbon Conversations Meeting 5

We're continuing the glimpses into what we're covering in our current series of informal Carbon Conversations. Here is the fifth...
Participant Ben has written his own response to this week's meeting, all about exploring carbon reduction in our Food.
Ben's comments:

" Monday evening in Tooting....cold, damp with a mid-summer mist clinging to the trees across the common.
And here we are, huddled around Jane's dining room table for our fifth Carbon Conversations session.
This evening’s topic is food. As ever, the discussion is thought-provoking and far-reaching.

We discuss our personal relationships with food. We feel that food can be the source of positive things (pleasure, socialising, creativity) as well as negative (neuroses, ethical dilemmas, health concerns).

Then we play a board game where we assess the carbon footprint of different food items. I’d never thought about food production in such an atomised way (production, processing, packaging and transport are all very distinct parts of the production line from plough to plate).

The game throws up some surprises.
Frozen chicken nuggets flown to the UK from Thailand are bad all round – high carbon at every stage of the process.
But because 48% of food's carbon emissions are embedded in the production part of the process, a piece of Irish cheddar comes out pretty high in C02 emissions as well (the production of cheddar involves the rearing of cows, their feed, methane the cows produce, etc, which is all very carbon-intensive).

It is also interesting to note that something that’s travelled from afar isn’t necessarily bad –slow, long distance transport of non-perishable items by ship can be quite low in carbon. So, a few surprises here!
 
Very Local:
British-grown, good for you!
Very Very Local:
Sown, grown and
eaten in Tooting!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


What are the prospects of making lifestyle changes on the basis of all this?
 
The prospects are good I’d say. Low-carbon food tends to be healthier and cheaper. Indeed, the best food of all is stuff you’ve grown yourself: low-carbon, super cheap, and super healthy. So, the moral of the story? Dust off your gardening gloves, grab a trowel, and get planting.
The future of food consumption is local produce.
It’s a no-brainer."

Thank you very much, Ben!
Next week is our 6th meeting: the finale of our 8th Tooting Carbon Conversations. All welcome to join us next time we offer the series.

STOP PRESS:

A very relevant article titled: Planting potatoes into policy: why town planners must think about local food' was in The Guardian on 14 May. Read it by clicking here.


Monday, 30 June 2014

Top Tooting Cook 2014

Could you be the next Top Tooting Cook?
 
Last year the culinary talents of many local cooks were on display in Tooting Market at the hotly contested inaugural Top Tooting Cook competition. This year we are expecting the competition to be even hotter with even more local cooks taking up the challenge.

It’s all in the name of fun, but also to show how locally grown, locally cooked food can be tastier and a whole lot healthier for you and for our environment. As part of the annual Foodival event, taking place this year on 13th/14th September, local growers donate produce from the gardens and window boxes of Tooting that we then distribute to cooks and restaurants to produce some truly local sustainable dishes.  

You can collect some of this home grown produce on Sat 13th or use anything tasty you have growing to create your Top Tooting Cook entry.  Bring your creations back on Sun 14th when the tastiest dishes with the lowest food miles will win some fabulous prizes, with the winner crowned “Top Tooting Cook”.

Please get in touch with Mal if you are interested in taking part or in finding out more.  

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Travel and Transport: Carbon Conversations Meeting 4

Jenny has posted her response below to the most recent meeting in our 'CC' series. During the series we have been digging into understanding our own 'carbon footprint' and what it means to us in real life.

The UK average carbon footprint per person per year now is c12 tonnes of C02 emissions. There's a challenging and more sustainable goal of four tonnes of CO2 emissions per person per year (= emissions from home energy, travel, food purchasing and general consumption, at roughly a tonne each).

"I offered to write a post on this, because when I did my carbon footprint, I realised that travel and transport form a significant portion of my annual carbon footprint, so it’s an area I want to improve on.
In this session, we shared what was important to us - peaceful, safe streets, short journeys to work, lower speed limits and safer cycling. 
We imagined what it would be like if people didn’t own cars anymore and there was a cycle super highway like the one Norman Foster has proposed. We didn’t all agree on these more extreme re-imaginings of how we travel, but we all agreed that shorter local journeys on peaceful streets would be a good thing.

While looking at the pros and cons of different types of transport, there was a lot of debate and focus on cycling. Most people in the group own cycles and had cycled to the meeting. It’s a quick and easy way to get around Tooting, but all agreed cycling in the centre of London was not such a pleasant experience.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to be aggressive cycling in the city just to claim your piece of road? Would more people cycle if London was more like Amsterdam? What if the state gave you a free bike if you promised to use it more than three times a week, like in Sweden?

We played a game, imagining we were a family of four making travel choices based on lifestyle, and on government policy.
What soon became clear was that low carbon choices aren’t always made with the sole intention of doing good for the planet. More often, travel choices were made based on money or time saved – money and time that could then be spent as a family. Policy rarely influenced decisions in our game and sometimes, that was surprising.
In the future, we may have to reduce to 1 tonne of CO2 per year per person for travel. Here’s my challenge: can I get to 1 tonne?
I started my own travel diary and estimated my day trips & holidays.
Here’s how my annual carbon footprint stacks up now in 2014:
  • Commuting and local travel around London: 6,396 miles per year = 0.9 tonnes of CO2
  • Day /weekend trips out of London, and holiday travel: 1640 miles = 0.3 tonnes of CO2
  • 2 return short-haul plane trips to Europe: 4 tonnes of CO2
In total, that puts my travel emissions at just over 5 tonnes per year. 
Is it time to cut the trips abroad or can I save enough by getting a job locally to afford me one flight a year?

One tonne is certainly going to be a challenge!
I’ll post a follow up on this, and from the other participants in the group"

Thanks for these honest comments, Jenny!
We'll report back from the two remaining Carbon Conversations meetings in this series.
If you would like to get into this fascinating and urgent topic, do join us in the future when we next offer 'CC' locally. All welcome: you do not need to be an expert, just interested in exploring your own choices, and in taking some action.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tooting Community Garden Open Day 15th June - What We Enjoyed.

On Sunday 15th June the Tooting Community Garden took part in the Open Garden Squares Weekend.

Usually open on Sundays between 11 and 1 when anyone is welcome to come along, on the Open Day we were open all day long with a whole host of events including storytelling, human snail races, cycle for a song, broad bean harvesting and 'guess the seed'.

It was a fabulous day with visitors spending time in the garden.

Here some of those involved with the Tooting Community Garden share their thoughts on putting on the open day event. We asked them two questions:

How did it make you feel?
What did you take away from the event?

Here are a few of their comments, in the box below - click on the plus sign to zoom in, or see all the 'bubbles' by opening this link: Link to Garden Open Day Feedback
 


Feedback from participants was collected on the day and we will be sharing that soon.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

FLCZ at Furzedown Fun Day

Nice picture of the Furzedown Low Carbon Zone stall at the Furzedown Festival on Saturday.
FLCZ Chair Giles Read (who took the photo, thanks Giles) said: "what a brilliant event The Furzedown Festival was.  The interest in the FLCZ stall exceeded all expectations, from people interested in investing to those wanting information on solar panels or just enjoying cycling for a song!" 

Competition Cakes
On that score it really is interesting to "cycle for a song" to see how much pedal power it requires, in my case 5 minutes cycling to put a "Man On The Moon" courtesy of REM.  However it's actually much harder to power the 100W light bulb.  Some of the children trying out the bike were fascinated at the connection between their effort and the generation of electricity. Thanks again to Eleanor for the loan of her cycle power machine which has been a great addition over the last two weekends.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Re-used & Reclaimed: Carbon Conversations Meeting 3

Our third meeting in the current Carbon Conversations series was all about exploring and reducing our carbon footprint in the things we purchase. That's a big topic which ranged from 'why do we buy stuff anyway?' to re-use and 'upcycling'.
Richard is a participant and has been researching an apect of consumption: re-using building materials, He recommends a couple of interesting projects below:

Hi all, I'm researching ways we can enable re-use of materials that come out of domestic scale renovation/extension work. This is something dear to my heart having been involved in making projects with Transition Town Tooting and at home using reclaimed timber - you guys will remember the water catchment project, (which was all reclaimed except for 5 lengths of timber that needed to be longer than the available) and the cold frame project that was 100% reclaimed materials.
Re-upholstered chair with funky echeverias.
Anyway, during my research I've found some really cool initiatives from around the world, and I thought I'd share them with you.
Have a look at the vimeo clip from the Portland, Oregon based organisation called "The Rebuilding Center" and tell me if you give it an English chuckle or join in with the tears at the end!

The Rebuilding Center also has done projects using bicycles to transport the materials they salvage form demolition jobs - hardcore! They also have lots of project ideas.

Handmade cable drum chair
Yooz is up in Scotland and integrates re-training in its business model.

Ok, there's two. Hope you like 'em and it inspires how we can better re-use the copious amounts of useful material going into skips up and down the land.

Richard

And thanks a lot, Richard! For more about this meeting series, click on CARBON CONVERSATIONS at the top of this blog page. All welcome to the next series we run.
And maybe you have ideas for Made in Tooting re-use and reclamation?
Do get in touch.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

'Brightside' article including Gatton School project in Tooting Community Garden

Wandsworth Council's May 2014 Brightside magazine has come though our doors, and the eagle-eyed will spot the nice short article with photo mentioning our Tooting Community Garden project with Gatton School. See it on page 8 of Brightside by clicking here.
Here's the photo:
Year Six children planning how to construct the cold frame
The article is about Project Dirt's Wandsworth cluster for local projects: to have a look at over 90 projects, and join in, click here!.