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...