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

Monday, 22 December 2008

Carols in Tooting

A Buddhist and her non-aligned friend dropped into the New Testament Assembly in Beechcroft Road for their Imagine Hope Gospel Carol Concert on Saturday, not knowing exactly what to expect and left pleasantly surprised, moved and uplifted! Some of the singing was so good it brought ecstatic responses from the congregation, particularly "Blessed Voices", a four piece gospel a capella group who literally blew the crowd away with their harmonies. The power of the collective and unrestrained joy in the communal were evident for all to experience. Vital ingredients for any community in the coming post oil age - aren't we lucky to have such a melting pot on our doorstep? I can't wait for the Tooting Earth Talk Walk in January to discover more of Tooting's hidden gems.
Merry Christmas to everyone and here's looking forward to TTT going from strength to strength in 2009. DT

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Cities of Community!

Lucy and I headed off to Nottingham for the Transition City Conference last week - held specially for communities working to set up Transition Initiatives in Cities and attended by about 150 good people from cities across the UK and beyond. It proved to be a fantastic opportunity to meet with and hear the experiences and ideas of others facing the same issues and challenges and culminated in an open space session at which we thrashed out a revised 12 step transition model for the city environment.

Highlights for me included finally getting my head around the potential of The Sustainable Communities Act - hearing inspiring stories of community engagement from the Akashi Project in Cambridge - revisiting Beeston where I lived as a student and sharing a wonderful South Indian curry for lunch which made me homesick for Tooting.

One thing that struck both Lucy and I was the need to shout out about and celebrate the strength of community in cities. Often people talk about the breakdown of communities in urban areas but our experience - and those of many others at the conference - is of cities teeming with multi-layered communities around race, faith, politics, sport, art, social support, geographical locality, health and many many more. These communities may not leap out at you physically as you walk down the streets of London (and you won't be able to find them all meeting up in the village hall) but if you look closely at the buildings you walk past every day you start to notice how many house a community group. On a regular daily journey in Tooting I pass a sea scout group, a nursery, schools, many places of worship, a constitutional club, a yoga centre, a swimming club a political party and a gym. Many many others have no physical home - but are no less strong for that - a road with its own composting group, an improvisation group that meets in a pub weekly, a weight loss support group at the local community centre.....

Certainly engaging with a vast, multi-layered and often invisible web of communities presents challenges for Transitioning in cities - but like a physical web, the multiplicity of strands and connections should give our urban areas a strength of community and diversity which we should celebrate.

HJ

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Sunshine on a yellowed oak tree

Has anyone noticed what a remarkable autumn we have experienced in London this year? It compensates for the slightly disappointing summer tenfold; we have had wonderful glowing mornings filled with scents, colour and sounds. Yes, there have been more than a couple of rainy days. But they have rarely lasted more than a day, and once the rain has passed the sun has cast its’ admiring glances at us yet again, filling the world with unusual warmth.

I like to think of this autumn as the autumn of a way of living we have all taken for granted for so long. There’s been remarkable destruction, as there always is in autumn. And winter will bring even harsher times still. But we all know that at the end of winter sprouts will penetrate the solid ground yet again.

I think this wonderful autumn we’ve seen has encouraged us to enjoy the small things: sunshine on a yellowed oak tree, the wading though wilted leaves and the array of mushrooms in all sorts of spaces we think we’ll never know if we can eat or not. The late meals we share with our friends that turn out not being so late as it’s dark outside at 4pm. The log fire we all thought we’d have this year.

I think the small things we’ve come to enjoy this autumn have showed us what we’ll need to appreciate for the next few years. Until the spring.

Sara H