Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Exploring Food and Travel in your carbon footprint - stories from May's 'Carbon Conversations'

TTT's 10th local Carbon Conversations series continues - the free weekly local facilitated meetings where participants can explore their own practical options for low-carbon living.

The sessions are not only about 'counting carbon' and understanding our carbon footprint; they are also about exploring our own values and preferences in a safe and facilitated setting with a small group. Understanding the meaning of our choices.... the 'why' as well as the 'what'.... means we are more likely to take steps which we can sustain over time.
Quoting one of the participants in this series:

"The beauty of Carbon Conversations is 
the optimism, creativity and ideas
that are shared and emerge"

Each of the six meetings has a theme - for example home energy, or waste. We reported on the first two sessions in this blog - read it here, and below two more participants describe the discussion points and feelings raised by the third and fourth meetings: about food and travel.

1 Food: probably the issue that goes to the core of our identities more than any other.
We did an activity reflecting on all the aspects of food production that worry us most. One of the group shared a really heart-rending story of playing a game with a child where they had to mime different animals. They wagged their tail like a dog, pranced like a horse, but when asked to enact a chicken they curled up into a ball on the floor. This child only knew a chicken as a dead body wrapped in clingfilm on a supermarket shelf. It was a poignant moment...

We also played a board game to figure out the carbon emissions embedded in all the different stages of the food production process: growing, processing, packaging, transport.

It was illuminating, but it also made us realise the complications of solely judging things based on carbon emissions. What is something is 'really low carbon' but harmful in other ways? There are lots of factors to take into account.
It also made us reflect on the foods we eat. As one group member said: 'it does make you think....what ARE we eating?!'

2 Travel: The slow and rewarding journey
As I cycled to the little flat in Tooting where our intimate group meets every week to talk through the labyrinthine emotions and values of our relationships with carbon, I was reminded of my first year after graduating from university with a degree in Geography. I wanted to live overseas and make the world a better place. That year alone I took 18 flights. 
“Take a couple of minutes to think of your favourite journey to date - and also your nightmare journey - to share with the group.” This is how Ben introduced the session of Carbon Conversations with the theme of travel. 

There was a surprising and reassuring synchronicity to everyone’s answers about their favourite journeys. A cycle trip with friends across Europe, a train ride, a walking pilgrimage to a friend’s cottage, a botched ferry booking requiring troubleshooting cycle journeys to make it to Portsmouth on time. In nearly all the examples, the journey was more memorable than the destination. 

And why are these journeys so memorable? It’s the slowing down, the views from the windows, the conversations with strangers, the human pace. But then one participants looks confused. “But you can’t do it to all the people all the time”.. she says, half asking, half hoping, about talking to strangers. True that. 

So if the journeys are the most memorable, why do we all fly everywhere so quickly? Why do we insist on so many destinations?  One participant suggests that it’s ‘constructed desire’. “I don’t want to go to Vietnam”, she says, “but sometimes I feel like maybe I should.”
And it is complex. Families are spread around the world, jobs require meetings in far flung corners of the globe, billboards promise escape on golden beaches, and that super amazing permaculture training course I’ve had my eye is in the South of Spain. So is it possible to live in the world today while maintaining sustainable modes of travel?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

30 Days Wild in Wandsworth - get ready to enjoy the local outdoors for the month of June

30 Days Wild In Wandsworth is aimed at encouraging us all to share enjoying being outdoors in the city during June '17. 
Being outdoors is not one size fits all: read a book under a tree, walk to work, make a daisy chain, join in activities like the Park Run or swim at the Lido.

We're piggybacking on The Wildlife Trusts' national '30 Days Wild' campaign, a great place to start.
Go to their site online here to join as an individual or family to receive the 30 Days Wild June Calendar.

There's a link here for the beautiful ideas in Random Acts of Wildness

And there's a free 30 Days Wild app - get it here.

Two of us are helping frame this month of focus on the outdoors: Chuck from Transition Town Tooting and Rosie from Paradise Co-op.

We and others will propose things to explore or do, but we're not running a month of special events. 
The idea is that the month is self-managed: everyone can share what they enjoy and find valuable, maybe to do with nature, or keeping fit, or gardening, or sports, or contemplation....or all of those and more. Of course there are several weekly events in the Paradise and TTT calendars during June that are perfect for getting outdoors.

To help share ideas, we've set up a facebook group called 30 Days Wild in Wandsworth, and it's ready for use here, now
Anyone can post ideas, experiences, tips. These can be for all ages, and for all kinds of activities: quiet or loud, active or reflective, social or solo. 
Do join us on facebook as soon as you like - you don't have to wait for June.

So: during June we can all share good ideas and local knowledge that will make this outdoor opportunity come alive in Wandsworth. Please share the crusade and spread it wider with others who may not be online or may miss out.

It's very simple: it's all about enjoying the outdoors. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Two local food growing workshops June 4th & June 10th - everyone welcome!

All the plants shared out through Pollinator Paths Wandsworth are settling into their new homes - a delightful fact to think about when you consider there are 60 participant plots in the borough!

June 4th: 
As part of the PPW project we're offering a diverse set of free monthly workshops at the 4 project hub gardens. (We'll share the year's plan.)

On Sunday 4th June there's a good-looking event with several practical themes at Bramford Community Garden near Wandsworth Town.

For a copy of the details, click here. You'll see the plant feeding and composting session is repeated as we think this will be particularly popular. Plus there's Old York Road Unplugged happening in parallel, right at the garden gate. The day is open to all - you do not have to be part of the Pollinator Paths project.
And everyone can join the Pollinator Paths Wandsworth facebook group - click here!

June 10th:
On Saturday June 10th there's the 1st session in a series of monthly classes that will run from June to November. The series is called Grow Your Own at Home and it's all about growing fruit and vegetables. Offered by our colleagues Be Enriched and facilitated by Martin, it's highly recommended.
There's a small fee, and all are welcome including beginners.
For a copy of the details, click here.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Pollinator Paths Wandsworth project day: the sun shone on a busy garden scene

We had a fun, busy and instructive Sunday afternoon meeting the local participants in the Pollinator Paths Wandsworth project, and welcoming visitors who found us because we joined in with the Chelsea Fringe and Wandsworth Arts Fringe.

Getting the new planter home
People told us they appreciated being able to have a detailed and friendly conversation about how to look after and enjoy the plants they took home to their balcony, patio or garden: thank you Martin & Jo!

Tooting Community Garden was the fourth of the local gardens to host their event when we share advice and plants. Next steps include a series of seasonal workshops on topics such as composting and making insect habitats. In autumn 2017 there are next spring's bulbs to plant - and the garden and pollination year will come round again!

The community garden's 6th birthday cake

Conversations with new and old friends, exploring the space and doing new things outdoors were great parts of the day.
More news when we have it on events that everyone can join alongside the project participants. The PPW project facebook page is here.

Finishing line of the caterpillar race. We'll run it again!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Pollinator Paths workshops and the Community Garden's 6th Birthday: Sunday 21st May 12 - 4pm

On Sunday the Tooting participants in the Pollinator Paths Wandsworth project are collecting their plants to grow on during 2017. 
Come to the Community Garden at 5 North Road, SW16 1RN between 12:00 midday and 4:00 pm.

Some of the beautiful plants that project participants can grow on at home

We'll advise you on how to plant and look after them, and you can enjoy them all year as well as looking out for the beneficial insects that should be attracted to your balcony, patio or garden. For more info, click here - and everyone can follow progress and join in on facebook.

We've had our first card!
Plus, on the same afternoon everyone is welcome to the Tooting Community Garden's 6th Birthday!
We'll start celebrating at 3:00 with the caterpillar race (find your food plant!) and
we'll cut the birthday cake at 3:30.

Caterpillar costumes - choose your style
Food plants our caterpillars race for
Some caterpillars are very camouflaged, and some are very conspicuous - which kind will you be?

All welcome on Sunday!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Three diverse events in Tooting celebrating refugees and migration

We're continuing our 2017 Gardens of Refuge project with local refugees and asylum-seekers with workshops during May and into June.
Alongside that long-term project, we want to share three diverse and fascinating events in Tooting which celebrate refugees and migration:

1. The New Union Flag project at Tooting Market - on now
Imagine what a British flag could look like if it reflected today's multi-cultural society...
Artist Gil Mualem-Doron is bringing this participative project to Tooting Market as part of the Wandsworth Fringe, and he is there all day & every day this week - here's the timings.
Gil is also taking the project to Tara Arts on Sat May 20th.

Then, to celebrate Refugee Week in June:

2. Queens of Syria - free film Sunday 18th June

We're showing this thrilling and absorbing film about 50 Syrian refugee women joining together to prepare to perform an ancient Greek play about women and their families in war. It's definitely NOT a 'film of the play' - it's all about how the women explore telling their shared stories with passion and creativity. It's a moving and positive film. Click here for more information and save the date!
  • Date: Sunday 18th June
  • Timings: Doors open 4:00 pm for tea and samosas, film at 5:00.
  • Venue: Mushkil Aasaan, 220 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW
3. Midsummer Merriment with CARAS on Thursday 22nd June 22nd
Book now for CARAS' comedy night in Tooting Market. The host will be Arthur Smith - the Night Mayor of Balham.
A third of the tickets have been sold already, here's the link.

  • Date: Thursday 22nd June
  • Timings: 7:30 to 10:30
  • Venue: Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SN 

Refugee Week is the annual festival which celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and encourages a better understanding between communities. We'll share more & there's online info here.

Friday, 12 May 2017

It's International Compost Awareness Week! Here's lots of ways to get involved for 52 weeks & more

Over seventy years ago the 
organic agriculture pioneer 
Sir Albert Howard stated :

 "The health of soil, plant, 
animal and man 
is one and indivisible"

Taking care of the soil where we grow our food, making compost, reducing waste, healthy eating, exploring the 'circular economy' of growing plants, beginning to understand the web of beneficial organisms that exists below and above ground:  
our gardens, kitchens, eating and shopping preferences are the forums for all of these.
We can all learn more and make our own contributions even more valuable, right here in Tooting.

Wandsworth Borough Council has published a post in its website about food waste and composting, and we're copying some of the links here because they are accessible and practical ways being offered this spring and summer to learn more and share experience.
  • Firstly, there's the Wandsworth Composting Project - all the details are here in this flier. TTT and other partners are contributing too.
  • Secondly there's a practical workshop on composting skills on June 4th at Bramford Community Garden - here's the flier.
  • Thirdly, there's the Grow Your Own at Home! gardening classes sponsored by Be Enriched, taking place near Tooting Broadway and starting on June 10th. Here's the flier.
In June and early July there are further public compost advice sessions planned - when the dates are fixed we'll share them.

Home composting may look like a dark art: 
these events will share the skills to demistify it for local residents.

The Wildlife Gardening Forum has a website that's a treasure house of experience, including a good web page on soil and fertility: click here to read it.

Home composters provide a community service as well as benefiting our own gardens by returning organic material to the soil. We remove kilos of kitchen waste per household every week from the borough's waste transport and processing. That borough service has a carbon cost as well as a financial cost - we can reduce both costs by working with our waste to recognise it as a valuable resource.

Wandsworth Food Partnership  is complementary to these topics. It's been developing over the past year as a network of people and organisations interested in food in Wandsworth. That means community groups, enterprises, charities, churches, gardens, schools, the health sector...

Taking part is not restricted and maybe in time there will be thousands of members including families and individuals: all contributing to developing the local food culture in diverse ways.
There's a WFP facebook page, please get in contact for more detail.
You'll see our priorities on the WFP shopping bag:
> Working together
> Reducing food waste
> Sustainability
> Cultural aspects of food
> Healthy eating
> Physical activity

Over the next twelve months the partnership is going to act as a hub: inspiring, celebrating, sharing, linking and reaching out to as many local groups and people as possible in each of these priority areas.

These food priorities can all interrelate locally to inspire a positive food culture in Wandsworth. 
In a similar way, soil organisms combine to create good compost in our gardens....

Tooting Green Drinks! On the menu: Foodival and the Election 17th May, Selkirk Pub

Two timely and exciting conversations for Green Drinks next Wednesday - Foodival 2017 and the General Election! 7.30pm - 9.30pm at The Selkirk Pub, Selkirk Road

Have you ever been interested in our annual Food Festival - Foodival!?! Perhaps you've participated? Grown chillies on a balcony or visited Tooting Community Garden one Sunday lunchtime? Perhaps you have an allotment...

We'll be having an open Foodival discussion on the evening of with 8 Tooting folks who have brought energy and ideas to the table for Foodival 2017 - our tenth one!

Connecting with local food businesses, cooking with Be Enriched Bike kitchen? Taking part in Top Tooting Cook anyone??? How about a soup disco? Sounds mad? it did happen last year and was a hoot!

Foodival can be lots of different things to lots of different people, but at its heart is a celebration of the food culture of Tooting which brings together all the communities living in this Town we call home.

Do come if you'd like to hear more! And check out our blog for previous Foodival stories HERE

In the second part of Green Drinks, we'll look at what the political parties are saying about sustainability, perhaps loads? perhaps nothing? A useful document to help us is the Greener Jobs Alliance top 10 demands for out new Government, you can read them HERE

Those of all political persuasions are welcome, this is about discussion and understanding of issues that matter, to plant seeds for the future...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Tooting Pollinator Party Sunday 21st May!

We'd like to welcome everyone to the Tooting Community Garden on Sunday 21st May from 12:00 to 4:00 for our free Pollinator Party!
Find us at 5 North Drive, SW16 1RN.

What's a Pollinator Party?
It's a lovely afternoon in the garden. We're mixing together fun and instructive activities that focus on planting, beneficial insects and sharing our own growing experience of city gardening, Tooting style. 


What's good for our gardens and insects is also good for us!

What can you come and do on the 21st?
  • We'll celebrate the Community Garden's 6th birthday with games, volcano kettle tea - and a cake. 
  • We'll offer practical do-it-yourself making opportunities - creating cloches from plastic bottles and inventing wall planters from textile and plywood for strawberries or herbs.
  • We'll have quizzes and activities about insects and pollination - and Lola Godoy's geodesic dome to enjoy as a special habitat during the afternoon.
  • We'll have a rolling workshop to distribute plants to the local people who have already signed up to join in with the Pollinator Paths Wandsworth project. Developed with London Sustainability Exchange, in this project 4 borough community gardens are each involving local gardeners (novices too) who will grow insect-friendly plants throughout 2017 on balconies, patios, at school, in the street and in back gardens. Over 60 local gardeners will share what they see, learn, enjoy and taste.
  • Feel free to relax, bring a picnic (we're an alcohol-free site) - and of course do some gardening if you like.


We'll run all the activities throughout the afternoon - and we'll stop for tea together and blow out the candles on the cake at 3:30 pm.

We're very pleased that the day is part of both the Wandsworth Arts Fringe and the Chelsea Fringe: both full of other great events.

We want this project, and all our community garden sessions, to help inspire new links, share skills and spark growing in lots of diverse settings across the whole borough.

Lola and her dome will be with us on the 21st!

Where are the Pollinator Paths project plants coming from?
Almost all of them have been grown in Tooting by our friends at Share in their lovely garden tucked away in Springfield Hospital. Perennial plants and bulbs have been ordered in. The result is high quality and very low 'plant miles', a great sustainability feature of the project.

Nasturtium & lemon lavender
Bare-rooted red currants

Please email us if you have any queries about the Pollinator Party or the 'PPW' project.
Join in the Pollinator Paths Wandsworth facebook page to keep in touch with the project, and read the project description here.
And finally, here's the first post (for April) in the series that will continue telling the project story throughout 2017.

How to carry a planter home

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Update from the first two meetings in TTT's current series of local Carbon Conversations

TTT's tenth series of local Carbon Conversations began in April with a group of 8 local people. Thanks to all, the sessions have been lively and informative.
The series facilitator Ben has shared a short report of the first two sessions:
"For our first session we had several interesting and far-ranging discussions.
One of them was about what a low-carbon future would look like
Several people suggested that everything would be conducted at a much more local level. But this left us thinking: does this mean we will have to unravel everything that globalisation has delivered? Is it possible (and desirable) to dismantle globalisation, or should we aim to retain aspects of it and go local only in certain ways?  
For our discussion about a low carbon future we spoke about the importance of having more regulation from government to control carbon emissions, fossil fuel extraction, etc. But the issue of regulating ourselves was also raised. How will we regulate our own behaviour? Several people suggested education and how important that would be in the process."

        Adding a thought-provoking example:
  • Here's the 'Bosco Verticale', 2 prizewinning towers that have been built in Milan. There's two acres of vegetation - if it was flat on the ground.
  • Should individual developers lead on this kind of innovation? Should there be government encouragement? Where do tenants fit in to such plans?
  • The architect Stefano Boeri says: "All the plant life helps reduce smog, dampen noise levels, produce oxygen, and regulate temperatures inside the two buildings.
    During the winter, sunlight can easily pass through the bare plant life and help heat people's rooms. During the summer, the leaves can block harsh rays from making apartments too hot."

Ben continues his report:
"For session two we discussed carbon reduction in our home energy consumption.
Everyone agreed that the whole process of overhauling your house can feel very complex and overwhelming. There are so many things one can do, and most people don't have the technical expertise to understand all the options thoroughly.
We discussed the problems of the current housing market and how the energy rating of a home is often not very important to the people purchasing it. This is especially true in a housing market like London where people are just desperate to get on the housing ladder and probably aren't too concerned about the energy efficiency of a home.
The issue of being a tenant came up – we noted how there is little incentive for landlords to renovate their homes if their tenants are paying the bills.
We also talked about communicating these issues and how to point out someone is overfilling the kettle without appearing a nag! You can tip-toe, or you can just tell someone they're being daft.... (we will return to the issue of how to communicate climate change in session 6).
Finally, the question came up of how to make carbon reduction at home glamorous. Loft conversions are glamorous. But carbon reduction isn't. Or at least, at the moment. That could change....
There were some positive notes as well.
One potentially fun way of tackling the issue is by engaging children. If engaged they could be enthusiastic supporters of carbon reduction, if it is made fun, and if they have the chance to receive education on the issue – linking with what we discussed in week one."
Heat loss in a simplified detached house travels in all directions...would you have guessed those percentages?

We'll continue the coverage of this series of meetings, and more information about Carbon Conversations can be found by clicking here.
Get in touch with TTT if you would like notice of when we are offering the 11th series - or get the core of a group together yourself, and we'll find more people and maybe run it in your home!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Sowing the seeds in TTT's ACE goody bags

If you took home one of our TTT goodie bags and are wondering what to do with the packet of seeds in it, here are some simple planting instructions.

You can grow these in the ground or in containers or window boxes.

Sow thinly in soil and cover with 1.5cm fine soil. Firm down gently and keep moist.
Seedlings should appear within 2-3 weeks.
Thin out the plants if necessary and keep soil moist. Radishes should be ready to harvest in 4-6 weeks.

You can grow these in the ground, containers or even hanging baskets (good for evading snails!)

Sow thinly in soil and cover with 1.5cm fine soil.
Firm down gently and keep moist.
Seedlings should appear in 7-14 days.
Thin out seedlings if necessary and keep moist and weed-free.
Pick and use when needed

Grow these in the ground of a large pot. You will need to support the plants with netting or bamboo canes and string.

Plant seeds 5cm apart and cover with 5cm of fine soil. Firm down gently and keep moist. Seedlings should appear within 10-14 days.

Protect young plants from birds with twigs or netting and remember to support the plants. Keep moist and weed-free. Pick when ready.

Send us some photos of your vegetable-growing successes!