Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change (FOR TEN YEARS!)

Friday, 18 January 2019

Vegetanuary! meets... Wicked Vegan!

As part of Vegetanuary this year I've been going along to meet the Restauranteurs of the area who are focusing on either vegan or vegetarian food to ask them some simple questions about why open that kind of place and what the feedback has been... first up, Wicked Vegan on Hildreth Street in Balham. You must go, its delicious casual food for hanging out with your mates. I heartily recommend it.


What is Vegetanuary??

Vegetanuary! is our annual, month long sharing of vegetarian and vegan food. Anyone can join in, you'll find lots of new recipes, ideas and articles being shared about food. Come join us on the Facebook group HERE

Open 7 months ago, Wicked Vegan is run by businessman Gurkan Bozdere, but as he says, "I'm not a vegan, but I'm trying! My Sister in law and wife encouraged me to do something ethical", so he opened a vegan restaurant. I think that's awesome and the kind of change this exciting to see. Gurkan explained how he was excited about how the food business is changing, with lots more vegan restaurants opening. "I'm a businessman, motivated to be making money, but why not be ethical at the same time?" Yes! Yes! Yes! Earn a living and be ethical, let's do that!

Gurkan, his wife, Betty and sister in law, Necla, enlisted some expert help by the Stokey Veg & Vegan Chef Daniele Aloi to develop the menu, test out ideas and discover what Wicked Vegan has become - a restaurant full of super tasty, indulgence food in the shape of burgers, salads and wraps, washed down by smoothies, local beers and juices.

Gurkan on the left and Head Chef Robert Drajna. Check out that menu!
I continued by asking Gurkan, do you now eat more vegetarian and vegan foods as a result of opening the restaurant?

Friday, 11 January 2019

Eco-checking, a memorial bench, school planters, knitted bees and Jellybrella - 2019 Update #1 on our partnership project with CARAS

We've enjoyed and learned so much from our partnership project with CARAS which has been running since spring 2015.
Here's a short update on several of the strands - taking the first three in the list above, each of which has involved the Youth Club for asylum-seekers and refugees. We'll share Update #2 soon.

As ever, if you are inspired to contribute to the projects - offering good ideas or simply your time, sharing specialist skills, as a donor in kind, as a partner group - you are very welcome to contact Chuck at TTT by email here.
Over 40 individuals and a dozen local organisations locally have been involved with the TTT + CARAS partnership in many ways over the past 4 years.

Eco-Checking the CARAS offices
CARAS has achieved a gold standard London Youth Quality Mark for carrying out participatory and youth-led eco-check of activities across 3 sets of sustainability criteria: Energy & Water; Healthy Living and Litter & Waste. Helped by Egle from CARAS and Sara from TTT, a team of young people identified relevant issues and then analysed how well the organisation as a whole deals with the challenges.

The intention was not to blame, but to make an action plan for 'things to change and put right' as well as 'things we do well already...and so we should keep doing them!'

Examples from the action plan:
  • stop purchasing single use plastics for the many meals that are prepared as part of the CARAS programmes
  • renew the planting boxes outside the offices for 2019 so that we're growing what we might like to eat, and so that there are beautiful plants that are welcoming, that we like and that are good for pollinating insects

Here are the brand new colourful plates, bowls and cutlery which will be used again and again at CARAS and on Family Days at other local venues.
You're welcome to read the eco-check detail - click here.
It's admirable because it is short, practical and understandable, and transferable to many other community voluntary settings.

Congratulations to the multi-language group who came together in Tooting to put the eco-check together!

Benches and Planters
Since last summer we've been designing and making a bench for The Spires, a local charity working with homeless people. The bench is a memorial to past users of The Spires who have died.

That's an example of this whole past year's priority with CARAS young people: to engage them directly with community groups with needs that the youth club can respond to with energy, skills and creativity.
It's been a fascinating design and build experience. Later we'll share a summary of the project from model making onwards, showing how many hands have been able to contribute.

The final stage is to add the names of the people for whom the bench is a memorial, and this is being done using laser-cut adhesive copper tape.
TTT's bench project co-ordinator Dermot says:
"It's moving and humbling to see the young people taking such care with typefaces and the fiddly details necessary in order to a high-impact bench which celebrates people they have never met. Seeing the bench all the way through to completion over months of work is a big achievement".

The next project that we'll do with the Youth Club is another example of a local group 'reaching in' to engage with CARAS young people alongside their own team. Chestnut Grove Academy want to create set of planters located right at their newly-created entrance - perhaps to grow ingredients for Food Tech, perhaps to make a quiet space for the Library which looks out on the site, certainly to create a beautiful space. The school wants to commission these planters in an original and creative way.

The entrance to Chestnut Grove, with the site on the left.
We'll be facilitating CARAS young people to work on site with the school community including parents and students. This is a new challenge - for for the first time in 4 years of our build projects we won't be doing mobile carpentry on the steps of the Hall at Derinton Road!

In our next update we'll share news on knitted bees and Jellybrella. We look forward to teasing your interest and sharing details. - Chuck