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

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Sankofa's Return...Saturday July 4th 2020

"Invisible threads are our strongest ties" 



On Saturday July 4th, 2020, Transition Town Tooting (TTT) invite you to join a safely distanced but socially connected celebration of Tooting community resilience, kindness and inventiveness: on and offline over the length of one summer's day

The occasion gives time and space to mark our community's survival, solidarity and connections in difficult times whilst also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the grand 2010 Tooting Trashcatchers Carnival - a large scale celebratory event reimagining Tooting.

We wish to make visible the invisible threads that sustain us as neighbours, friends, families and community groups. "How can we do that during a global health pandemic when we cannot gather together?", we hear you ask...

With the help of the West African mythical Sankofa Bird.

The Sankofa Bird looks backwards and forwards in a single glance. Carrying an egg in its mouth - the seed for new stories - it says "it's never too late to go back and fetch what you have forgot from the past - skills, stories, knowledge. The Sankofa Bird was the central character in the 2010 Carnival - visiting Tooting to gather stories and seeds for the future.

On July 4th, the Sankofa Bird returns to Tooting and would like to know how people have been getting on in these strange COVID times: what has kept us going? what or who do we miss? what do we hope in the future? The Bird's visit gives us chance to reflect, individually and collectively on how we might "build back better".

Here's how you can join in: 

4.51am Sankofa dawn arrival in Tooting (you can stay in bed!)

8.30 - 9.30am: Community ONLINE ZOOM Part 1 Welcome Gathering. Sign up via eventbrite here

10.30 - 4pm: Visit the bird and answer its questions, safely, at one of these places, or online using #sankofareturn 

10.30-11.30am: Sankofa goes walkabout in and around Tooting. Follow social media #sankofareturn for whereabouts
1-2pm: Tooting Community Garden, 5 North Drive, SW17
3-4pm: Tooting Bec Common, between entrance to Tooting Bec Lido and Lake.

Attendees to the open air sites are asked to wear masks and maintain 2m social distancing to ensure public health safety for all. All such measures will be strictly adhered to during The Return of The Sankofa Bird.

2-3pm: An Online invitation to those shielding:

For people who are shielding and unable to attend any open air visits, there will be an online event hosted by TTT member, Resina Chowdhury., to celebrate the creativity and achievements of those who have been shielding. We would like to hear your responses to the Sankofa Bird's questions and would love you to share your creative endeavours that have been keeping you sane during this solitary period.

Sign up via Eventbrite here.


An Invitation to Children: Please do contribute too, through sending pictures of what kind of world you would like to see coming out of lockdown. You can send them to us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #sankofareturn.

6.30-8.00pm: Community ONLINE ZOOM Part 2 Farewell Gathering. Sign Up via Eventbrite here

We look backwards and forwards in a single glance - hear the day's stories and to seed new stories of the future.

Sankofa wishes us well
Sankofa departs at Sunset.

How to stay connected and join in:
          • If you feel comfortable to do so, join us at one of the three locations to answer the Sankofa Bird's enquiry.
          • For online meetings - book your free place via eventbrite here
          • Follow updates on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram using #sankofareturn
          • Get in touch via email if this inspires you, we'd love to hear from you: transitiontowntooting@gmail.com

On Fishponds I shall find my flock
And fly in formation
And nest on our rock



Saturday, 13 June 2020

Big Business and a Sustainable Future - guest blog by Jacqui Machin

You may have seen in the Lockdown Love series of blogposts that we have been running Tooting Virtual Green Drinks every 2 weeks since lockdown due to Coronavirus, all welcome, join the Facebook Group here. Well, one of those Green drinks was a lively discussion about the role of big business in a sustainable future. Our Tooting professional in the field, Jacqui Machin, facilitated an inquisitive, informative session, quietly interrogating big business and the possibility for positivity. Here's Jacqui's blog:

What makes a business good or bad? How does big business impact us in the Tooting community? And what do we want from big business? On Wednesday 3rd June, the Tooting Green Drinks community came together (virtually!) to discuss these questions. I am a Tooting resident and a Green Drinks regular, and I work with big business on sustainability and climate change. I wanted to bring this topic to Green Drinks as although I see lots of overlap between community and business priorities, there seems to be very little dialogue. We had a really lively discussion and it was great to hear so many diverse perspectives - here are just a few of the ideas we talked about. 



Big businesses are a deeply embedded part of the society we all inhabit. As individuals, we are their customers and employees, and we might even own shares in them as part of our pensions. They provide jobs and infrastructure to our communities, tax revenues that fund public services, and act as suppliers, customers and competitors to small businesses. Like all parts of society, they also depend on nature, using natural resources and releasing waste or pollution into the environment. In our conversation, people shared their experiences of how big business can play these roles both to the benefit and detriment of society. In my line of work, I have seen that big business has some unique capabilities that mean they could play a crucial role in building the better future that we would all like: they can use their scale, skills and flexibility to help solve global problems, like building huge offshore wind farms, or finding new cures for widespread diseases. 


The good businesses that the Green Drinks community identified were those that recognise their footprint and make targets to minimise it, provide a worthwhile product or service, support local suppliers, and respect their workforce. My favourite examples were companies that have decided to completely change what they do in order to be more sustainable  and provide something that society needs. In contrast, the bad businesses that were highlighted are extractive, constantly pursue growth, put profits before people and planet, exploit staff and suppliers, and don't pay their fair share of taxes. Ultimately, it seems that people value similar traits in companies as they value in people - we like those that take responsibility for their actions and treat others with respect; we dislike greed, dishonesty, selfishness and carelessness. 

What do we want business to do differently, to help us build more sustainable communities?

At the end of Green Drinks, we thought about this question in small groups, and came up with a wishlist for business:

Do what you do, better!
  • Keep innovating so your products get better, and more sustainable, all the time
  • Think long-term and account for all the societal costs of the business
  • Tell us more about what we're buying - how did making it affect people and planet?
  • Become a B-corp and solidify your commitment to consider the interests of the community and the environment
Localise!
  • Get to know the places where the business is present, and value the knowledge of local employees
  • Support our community by localising supply chains
Value the people that work for you!
  • Focus on employees and empower them to create positive changes
  • Fix the ratio between the highest and the lowest paid in the company
  • Give sustainability literacy training to all staff, so that people understand the impact of their company
  • Have a home-working charter - now we know how many people can work remotely, it's time to commit to flexibility
How can we make our wishlist come true? We discussed how we can use our purchasing power to support those companies that are doing good things; as employees and shareholders we might also be able to chose to support better businesses and improve businesses from the inside. It can also be surprisingly effective to contact companies directly and ask for changes - you may feel like your email is a drop int he ocean, but I have seen many companies use customer queries to help decide which issues they should focus their sustainability efforts on. At the end of the day, businesses are made of people, and I truly believe that most of those people want what's best for communities, our planet and for future generations. Many of them will already want to do the right thing - our purchases and our voices can help them make the case for it.

What I will take away from our conversation is that having an open dialogue between the people in business and the people in community (some of these are the same people) is enlightening for everyone, and I hope that conversation continues. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Lockdown Love, Episode 2 - Building Community

Lockdown has been in place here in the UK since the middle of March and had a huge affect on our activities. We had to improvise quick, like everyone, and adapt to a rapidly changing context of how we live, where we live. 

Each of us in Transition Town Tooting followed our instincts and interests and together we developed diverse, outward facing projects to help our community, both near and far, using networks nurtured with love for over 10 years. 

This blog is the second of three, or maybe four, sharing the projects that grew out of lockdown and inviting you to come get involved. 

You never know, Transition Town Tooting maybe fertile ground for collaboration with you...


Episode 2 is all about building community!


In truth, all our projects build community through shared endeavour, whether attracting over 1000 people to a large event like the Tour de Tooting in 2016, or working with CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) in their Women's Group, Family Days or youth groups. 

However the following 2 projects have adapted to lockdown and are running now, building community in strikingly different ways.... Tooting Virtual Green Drinks, a rapidly evolving online space to get together, and 30 Days Wild in Wandsworth - our part in a nation-wide project encouraging each of us to go outside and appreciate nature every day - can you take up the challenge?

Read on to find out more...

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Lockdown Love, Episode 1 - FOOD!

Lockdown has been in place here in the UK since the middle of March and had a huge affect on our activities. We had to improvise quick, like everyone, and adapt to a rapidly changing context of how we live, where we live. 

Over the early weeks, our growing core group found our niches and put what energy we each had into developing outward facing projects to help our community, both near and far, using networks nurtured with love for over 10 years. 

Over the next few days, we'll be posting what's live and how you can get involved. We'll be sharing projects about public space and building community with more posts cooking up.

Never know, Transition Town Tooting maybe fertile ground for collaboration with you!

This episode is all about food and offers four projects: Vegetanuary! - an online group focused on celebrating and sharing vegetarian and vegan cooking; Foodival2020 begins! A callout to share food growing stories and a date for the diary as we stretch to imagine our annual food festival in September; Tooting Community Garden has been sharing the wonders of nature in Spring and looks to future projects and our Neighbourhood Seed Swap in direct response to a huge spike in interest in growing your own. Do read on...


Saturday, 16 May 2020

Tooting Community Garden: The 6 rotational beds this May/June

Tooting Community Garden 

Have a read of our plans for the 6 rotational beds this May/June. Join in and have a go at propagating some basil, or making some homemade fertiliser for your own plants or to bring to the garden when we re-open. 

PLANT OF THE MONTH: The Roveja Bean 

A very ancient variety of peas originating in the Middle east, today cultivated in only in a few Appenine regions in Italy. Thanks also to its relatively problem-free cultivation this variety has been rediscovered in recent years and grows well in the UK. 

The plants are semi-dwarf - you can let them sprawl, but we'd suggest supporting them with pea sticks or low netting for the best crop. They are absolutely beautiful, with bi-coloured pink-purple flowers fading to pale pink/white as they age. They're allowed to mature and dried, then used for delicious winter soups and stews.

We sourced this seed from the Real Seeds company in Wales and look forward to harvesting the beans and also saving the seeds for next year! We sowed them indoors and planted them out in April. 

GROWING OPPORTUNITIES THIS MAY/JUNE 
  • Companions to bring to our plants 
  • Swiss Chard for our runner beans 
  • Nasturtiums for our runner beans 
  • Coriander for our potatoes 
  • Sunflowers for our squash 
  • Palm kale for our oak leaf lettuce 
  • Nigella for our garlic and onions 
  • Rocket for our garlic and onions 
  • Summer savoy for our garlic and onions 
  • Basil for our tomato plants 

New spaces created this June 
  • Parsnips seeds once the broad beans are harvested 
  • Cucamelons seedlings once the Japanese onions are harvested 
  • Squash plants once the green manure has been dug in and 3 weeks have past 
  • Carrots and turnip seeds once the garlic is harvested 
  • Tomato seedlings once the garlic and onions are harvested 

GUIDES TO HELP US ALONG THE WAY 

Green manure 

Benefits and how and when to dig over https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/green-manures 

How to propagate basil 
Basil from a cutting
Basil from a cutting: https://zerowastechef.com/2017/08/15/how-to-grow-basil-from-cuttings/ 

Basil from a seed: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/herbs/basil 

Basil by dividing a mature plant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAvzV-hNxdI 


Homemade fertilisers for our tomato and squash plants 
Comfrey, nettles, weeds and manure https://www.permaculture.co.uk/readers-solutions/how-make-organic-liquid-fertiliser 

Nettle tea: https://www.soils-permaculture-lebanon.com/our-blog-articles-diy/nettle-tea-brew-your-own-liquid-natural-fertilizer 

WATERING
At the garden we have only as much water as the sky gives us. To limit our water use we are watering only: 
Seeds that haven’t yet germinated; and 
Seedlings less than 3 weeks old 

We are using leaf mulch and cover crops on our over plants to reduce evaporation and increase water retention.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Sharing Seeds 2020

Sharing Seeds is a new project for TTT, funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund, launched in March and operating, guerrilla style during the lockdown. We aim to smarten up our streetscape by focussing on the fantastic trees of Tooting, using creative activities and planting around tree bases. 

Now, more than ever, outdoor time is scarce, and with community gardens like ours forced to close during lockdown, there are fewer places that those who don’t have their own green space at home can connect with nature in their local area. 
Many Tooting street-tree bases currently bare but we intend to change that.  You can take part by planting in them, helping improve the soil and encouraging pollinators.

Planting street tree bases means you, the public, get to form a relationship with a particular tree, get involved in improving how your local streets look, sound and smell, and get to enjoy the experience of growing and seeing new plants develop through the year.

For more details on how to get involved head over to the Sharing Seeds blog pages or follow Sharing Seeds on Instagram.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Tooting Green Space and Growing Round Up

We may be on lockdown but we’re still connecting with green space and growing – here’s a quick round up of a recent Green Drinks discussion, activity at our community garden and a new seed swap project

Green drinks on green spaces


On 15th April, our new online Green Drinks focused on the subject of access to green space.  In the midst of lockdown our relationship with and access to green spaces feels particularly acute and we offered up the question – what is this current situation telling us about what we need from our green spaces?

More than a dozen of us, from all over the local neighbourhood, shared hugely varied personal experiences of green space.  There was a really strong sense of how important time in green space was, and how precious it felt at this particular moment.  Those with immediate access to outdoor space, no matter how small, felt hugely privileged – and all spoke about the importance they were placing on access to shared green space including the commons, local cemeteries and even our residential streets.  We talked about the challenges of sharing space with such a diversity of users, dog walkers, amblers, runners, cyclists – and the new etiquettes being developed.  Some shared frustrations and others spoke of a warmer friendlier atmosphere with people give way to one another, smiling and making eye contact.  As Gary pointed out – we are physical distancing, not social distancing.

We then went on to focus on what we are learning in this time of crisis about the value of green space and nature.   Many people shared a more intense experience of and interest in nature. ‘Trees are really important - I’ve started to notice the different types rather than just looking at them as one thing.’  ‘Not just diversity of plants, diversity of the landscape is important.’

Some felt they were developing a stronger connection with their immediate locality – that they were finding new places to explore and appreciate which they hadn’t noticed or appreciated before. Lisa Peake, a local fitness instructor, shared her local project supporting those with sedentary lifestyles to get out and walk together along with gentle workouts to build fitness.  She imagined a bio-pyscho-social model where we can provide safe outdoor space for those who are mentally or physically vulnerable. If we support people to be active together and to fee feel socially closer whilst physically distancing.

A number of local green spaces were currently locked and inaccessible including Lambeth and Streatham cemeteries (although the latter has now re-opened), Fishponds Fields and of course our beautiful lido.  Lucy Neal shared news of future developments at Fishponds Fields – an amazing 150m by 230m, 10 acre space in the middle of Tooting. A group called Forever Fishponds continues to meet online to generate ideas for the future of the field in response to the Council's consultation - anyone interested please do email lucy@lucyneal.co.uk

In our closing round we shared things we are enjoying out and about in Tooting’s green spaces.  ‘The soundscape of birdsong reminds me of what it was like on holidays when I was kid.’  ‘I love keeping watch in the garden. Loving seeing the squirrel family.’
‘Looking forward to the pumpkins coming up.’  ‘The next round of watering at Tooting Community Garden and sharing pictures.’  ‘the physical work of de-weeding a plot and wildflower seeds. Enjoying Mr and Mrs Thrush who come to have a wash in my birdbath.’  ‘I have a softspot for rats living on the Common. If a rat crosses my path it’s going to be a lucky day – maybe one day I’ll see three (a rat trick!).

Community Garden update


What is the role of a community garden in a health crisis? Which aspects contract and which expand and which decamp to another space all together?

Sadly there have been a few contractions to areas we cherish as a community garden - Sunday public gardening sessions have stopped as well as the school sessions and sessions with our partners including CARAS and J4Y Scouts too. In other ways though the garden has stepped up and accessibility has now increased to ‘all daylight hours’ for the families who live in the main house overlooking the garden and for the handful of Sunday regulars for whom the garden is a grounding part of our ‘norm’. The garden is therefore being used more than ever but in a quiet and solitary way - one at a time. As ever, thanks goes to Naseem Aboobaker of Mushkil Aasaan who has given us free use of the garden space since 2011.

Photos, videos and sound clips are being wizzed around Tooting and other parts of the country via our Tooting Community Garden Facebook page and on our @tootingcommunitygarden Instagram page. One activity we have been promoting is to at home growing - windowsills, courtyards and gardens. The movement of a seed in a world at standstill is quite wonderful! We hope to be able to gather to plant our offsprings in the ‘real’ ground together in the not too distant future.

Knowledge is also continuing to be passed on and developed through videos of what’s being done, done and could be done. I don’t think this will ever replace experiential learning in the garden but it’s certainly a learning space with a lot of potential. We are reviving our TTT Youtube channel to place these knowledge sharing videos - https://www.youtube.com/user/TransitionTooting - take a look!

I’ll let the photos and word cloud from the garden finish this update...

What the garden means to our regular gardeners during this crisis?



















Peas in the community from the Seed Swap Event on 1 March 2020



Peas planted in the Community Garden



More peas from the Seed Swap in March. Maybe some of these peas will be swapped next year...


Seeds to seedlings - this growing step has decamped to many of our windowsills and outdoor spaces. This has the added bonus of them being next to a tap to water them (we have as much water as the sky gives us at the Community Garden!).



















Onions and garlic in the Community Garden. The tepee is waiting to support cucamelons later in the summer.


New Seed and Vegetable swap group


The seed and vegetable swap Whatsapp group was formed out discussions about food growing within the TTT-run Vegetanuary Facebook group, which aims to promote plant based meals through the sharing of vegetarian and vegan recipes. I thought it would be a great way to encourage local food growing through people having the opportunity to swap their excess seeds and vegetables, thereby avoiding food waste. It was launched in 28.03.20, during the lockdown that had been imposed by the government as a response to the Covid19 pandemic.

There was a hugely positive response to the idea of this group among the Covid19 support group that had been set up in my local area, and I quickly realised that given the restrictions on the movement of people within the community, people were taking comfort in staying at home and focusing on gardening, either in their gardens or on their window sills. The Whatsapp group currently has 23 participants and is continuing to grow. One of the most positive benefits that have arisen from it, is for the opportunity for local gardeners to connect and advise each other on growing. Members of the group have been willing to facilitate swaps for people who have been self isolating, and this has enabled those people to have access to seeds and vegetables they would otherwise not have. It is well established that gardening can bring positive benefits to people's mental health, and this is particularly important given the isolation that many people would be experiencing during lockdown.

Here are some quotes from users of the group -

'The group definitely has a strong positive vibe. Everyone in the group is so ready to come together and uphold the community during a difficult time'

'The seed swap group helped me to share some excess seedlings.and in return I was given some giant sunflower seeds. Everyone in my household picked a seed and now we're racing to see which will grow fastest and tallest! At such a strange time it has been lovely to feel connected to my local community and to have a practical way of reducing waste and sharing resources'
Garden

If you’d like to join the group send us an email and we’ll put you in touch

Sunday, 8 March 2020

🔁Seed and Plant Swap 2020🔁

Tooting Community Garden's 
🔁Seed and Plant Swap 2020🔁
Sunday 1 March 2020
Supporting Tooting's Diverse Seeds
Take a look at the photos to see what we did on the day
We created a growing structure and it has a wind sock!
We folded newspaper to make compostable pots
We used our homemade potting compost!

People selected an edible seed to grow from the Seed Swap table
We sifted our homemade compost. The fine soil can be used for potting and the larger compost for mulch.
Between the 50 participants there were a lot of seeds and plants!
Thanks to Work and Play Scrap Store for the yarn and fabrics used to weave our dream catcher growing structure
The structure will be a great support for our cucamelon plants later in the year
We liked this seed swapper's choice of packaging. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Two new February Films for Action!



We’re thrilled to announce two new free public screenings of the fantastic movie ‘Tomorrow’ – hosted by local schools with introductions from Transition Town Tooting.

Tomorrow (Demain) is an inspiring journey exploring ways in which activists, organisers and everyday citizens are trying to make the world a better, greener, more sustainable place.  

Already viewed by over 1.5 million people in France alone, and winner of Best Documentary at the Cesar Awards (the French Oscars), ‘Tomorrow’ has been hugely impactful.

Here's the trailer: https://youtu.be/NUN0QxRB7e0
and the two screenings are:



Monday 24th February – 7.30pm
St Anselm’s Church Hall
Tooting Bec Road SW17

Monday 2nd March – 4.00 pm
Streatham & Clapham High School
42 Abbotswood Road SW16 1AW
Register for this free showing here









Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Seed and Plant Swap at TCG

Heads up & a date for the diary, for an early spring celebration in the Tooting Community Garden. On March 1st, we will be running a Seed and Plant Swap. Bring any spare plants or seeds you would like to swap or donate to others. It is fine to turn up with absolutely nothing and see what interesting plants or seeds you can pick up! 

It's also a great opportunity to think about growing something for Tooting Foodival in September.

We will include house plants, vegetable and fruit plants and seeds, rooted cuttings, divisions and bulbs.  It's all going to be very informal, family friendly and of course will be a FREE EVENT
 
Sunday,1 March 2020 1pm - 2.30pm 
Tooting Community Garden 5 North Drive, SW16 1RN (opposite the common) 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Fixing and Mending is on the Up!

We’ve been running fixing and mending workshops in Tooting for nearly four years now with the help of the Restart Project and their team of volunteer fixers. 
Our amazing volunteers have fixed everyday items like irons, hairdryers, kettles and toasters and made repairs to trousers, dresses, rucksacks and bags. We’ve even tackled more unusual challenges like industrial food mixers, portable amplifiers, toy dogs and even a drone. During those years we have saved tonnes of electrical and electronic objects from landfill. 

In the last year or so we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people bringing items to be fixed – perhaps because of an upsurge in awareness of environmental issues and the need to reduce our consumption and waste. We’d love to grow our group of regular volunteers so if you’re already a keen fixer – or you would love to learn more – do come along and find out more! 
We will be holding regular fixing parties in early 2020 – see dates below. At our February workshop we will have a special focus on computers. If you have a problem with your computer or if your computer has become too slow and can’t be used for much we’re happy to try and assist by either trying to fix it or make it a bit faster by installing another operating system. 

Upcoming Restart Parties:
1st February - 1.30 - 4.30pm 
28th March - 1.30 - 4.30pm  CANCELLED
16th May - 1.30 - 4.30pm 

at Mushkil Aasaan, 220 - 222 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW (next to Nando’s) 

Do remember that our Restart Parties are a community self-repair space where you take responsibility for your own gadgets and data, so please don’t forget to take any back-ups beforehand, if relevant – and if possible arrive during the first two hours to allow time for fixing! 

More info about Restart including details of regular skillshares at www.therestartproject.org

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year! How to start the year with Wellbeing

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

This is the decade for climate action. The year ahead is gearing up for it with greater collaboration and connection between organisations working towards a regenerative future.

And it all starts NOW! This Saturday, 4th January, TTT will be hosting 2 talks at "Come Together" - a well being day for the community at Tooting Methodist Church on the corner of Longmead Road and Totterdown Street.

The event has been put together by Katies Pilates and has a mixture of free and paid activities focusing on personal wellbeing, practical tips for a more sustainable life (how do you make a wormery?), nutrition and how we make change happen at the community scale. There's loads of people and organisations involved, including A Greener Tooting, BYO, Tooting Healthy Streets, Get Juiced and Be Marvellous, should be really good. Here's the line up:


We're doing 2 sessions:
  • At 11.30am, a participative talk exploring Wellbeing in all of our Community, using NEF's Five Ways to Wellbeing as a framework and...
  • at 1pm, we'll be launching Vegetanuary! for 2020, our annual month sharing vegetarian and vegan recipes, articles and thoughts ending in a social dinner at the end of the month. 
Do come along! Should be a fantastic day!

Richard