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

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.


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

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


The climate safety report will be officially launched on Thurs 27th Nov'08, with debate held at 7pm at Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ. Event is free,  open to general public. Speakers include Caroline Lucas, Tim Helweg-Larsen, Jeremy Leggett and others. Report available to download free from website, on or shortly after launch date. If you are in London, come to this important event, let others know it's happening and invite them along too!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Feels like the 1950s ...

Player's wall Mitcham Road, Tooting Broadway by ramson.
Our heating doesn't work. Feels like the 1950s. Great for saving on energy bills, and for bowls of warm porridge in the morning, but look forward to a smidgeon more heat.

Off on Thursday to the Transition City Conference in Nottingham which is being held specially for communities working to set up Transition Initiatives in Cities. That's us. The progamme looks really interesting and includes sessions on: The Sustainable Communities Act, Energy Descent Plans, Diversity in Cities, Transforming Cities into Hubs of Sustainable Food and Working with Conflict. Will report how Hilary Jennings and I get on there. Anyone else feel like coming, there are still spaces. This excellent article in the Times speaks in detail about transition initiatives sprouting up all over the globe - a growing army of 'local heroes' determined to turn challenges of climate change and oil depletion into 'our finest hour'.

In the last week Transition Town Tooting's heroes have been in contact with Capital Growth; London Sustainability Exchange, London 21, Sustain. There's interest in linking up with any TTT initiatives we can get off the ground around carbon reductions, food growing, health programmes and so on.

We have begun a conversation at Tooting Bec Lido around renewable energy for the site. The Cold Water Swimming Championships will be held again there on January 24th. Registration by Dec 24th if you want to enter!!! An excercise in resilience if ever there was one.

Just found some very fine photos of Tooting on flickr. If anyone recognises the one above as theirs give a shout to

Sunday, 16 November 2008


We are well and truly into autumn, my lilac tree has shed most of its leaves and I can now see my neighbours garden again; winter feels close at hand. What's news?

A good friend of TTT, Polly Higgins, recently made a very inspiring speech to the United Nations (UK and Northern Ireland) Climate Change Conference in Belfast calling for a Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights. You can keep up with progress on that campaign at the Trees Have Rights Too site. What a great idea. How can mankind really have superior Human Rights that are not balanced by the rights of every one of this Planet's wondrous elements from trees to mountains to ... even wasps? Yes why not, we can't leave wasps out? Polly has a climate change speaker event at Conway Hall on Tuesday Nov 18th - details here.

This blog is just starting up and I know that all those involved with the TTT project would like to extend special thanks to the support that has so far been provided by the brilliant Project Dirt team who have been actively supporting TTT since its inception and providing a place on the web where people can go for information not just on Tooting but on loads of other environmental initiatives springing up across South London. Loads of interesting stuff on their site.

In Upper Tooting, (is that the posh part? oh I like to think so!) the tomatoes stayed resolutely green in our postage stamp garden so this "bacon & eggs is my speciality" bloke decided to try his hand at making spicy green tomato chutney for the first time. Made a mess but it was fun and initial tasting is promising! I'll will update this blog with a health warning if anyone gets poisoned!

Friday, 7 November 2008

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing". Arundhati Roy

'Another world' - maybe we don't need such a quiet day to hear her breathing now. Maybe now she can be heard quite clearly - even above the celebratory din of the wheels of change clunking into action? With Barack Obama bouncing onto stage this week as President elect of the US, suddenly all manner of things feel manifestly possible - for all manner of people, ourselves included. The Great Turning - from the dying days of the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining, ecological revolution - seems to have just been given one great big new swing. Hurray Hurray. Now's the time to maintain momentum and pressure to keep moving in this more hopeful direction.
Here's how Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, sums up the changes Barack Obama's policies, despite their challenges, can bring:
" I never thought I would see a US President who actually took climate change seriously, talked about a Green New Deal for the US, and whose policies included;
• Reduce the US's carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and play a strong positive role in negotiating a binding global treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol
• Withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months and keep no permanent bases in the country
• Establish a clear goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons across the globe
• Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center
• Double US aid to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculoses and Malaria
• Open diplomatic talks with countries like Iran and Syriam, to pursue peaceful resolution of tensions
• De-politicize military intelligence to avoid ever repeating the kind of manipulation that led the US into Iraq
• Launch a major diplomatic effort to stop the killings in Darfur
•Only negotiate new trade agreements that contain labor and environmental protections
•Invest $150 billion over ten years to support renewable energy and get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015"
So for each piece of negative news that comes crashing through about collapsing markets, global recession and negative equities, there is the speedy arrival of good news to support the evidence that the beginning of a more sustainable way of living is worth working towards whilst we still have time to plan.
Rosie Boycott launched her Capital Growth project with the Mayor Boris Johnson this week in Battersea Park. Check out for how she is planning to support 2012 new food growing spaces in London by 2012. How many of these could be in Tooting? Get looking.
2 very successful Transition Town Tooting meetings took place on Nov 2nd and Nov 4th giving added momentum to plans and visions. Notes on these and other Tooting meetings to date on this site. Next up a Sunday Swap on Dec 7th at the Tram and Tooting Social. 2-3pm. Over to you Claudia..If you're reading this and wondering how to get involved contact

Monday, 27 October 2008

Roller Coaster Days

In the last few days, clocks turned back an hour. Darker days on their way. Will have to wait 'til St Lucy's day in December for the turning of the solar year, the winter equinox and a little more light. Have spent the weekend gathering jumbo crop of apples from my father's garden. They are now cooked up and coming to a 'rolling boil' in a huge pan in the kitchen. A tang of apples pervades the house. Winter may be on its way but there will be apple jelly.
It has been a roller coaster couple of weeks: stock markets tumbling, house prices falling, banks in crisis, a 'full blown recession'.
Over the past months as Transition Town Tooting has been finding its feet, I've been struck by the perspicacity of this movement to forsee the urgent need to plan ahead, build resilience and collectively invent how our low energy future will sound, look and feel like. The realities of the Triple Crunch (credit crunch, peak oil, climate change) are playing themselves out at top speed in full technicolour all around....All the reasons for creating positive community responses to these global challenges are surely here!
And here is some VERY GOOD NEWS: On October 28th -tomorrow- the government is to announce that the new Climate Change Bill - which will be made law next month, with a commitment to curb the UK's carbon footprint by 80% by 2050 - will now include aviation and shipping emissions. This is the world's first climate change law and is what Friends of The Earth director Andy Atkins has called "a world-class climate change law". This appears to be a direct result of everyone lobbying their MPs who in turn have lobbied the government. Change IS possible.
Now we have to work out how we will actually reduce our carbon footprint by 80% by 2050. Transition Town Tooting (TTT) will continue its events, awareness raising over weeks and months ahead. 2 meetings planned immediately on Nov 2nd (11am-1pm) and Nov 4th (7-9pm). Both at Mushkil Aasaan, 220-212 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 (side entrance, first floor).
The first, a practical workshop with visioning excercise and how we imagine TTT's Energy Descent Action Plan coming into being. A future preferable to the present and built on some of the amazing ideas that have been coming forward and will continue to be dreamt up by all Tooting residents. The meeting on Nov 4th is a planning meeting to build on the momentum gathered over the Autumn for organising events and next steps.
Sunday Nov 2nd will also see first ever Transition Town Tooting Sunday Swap. Bring anything you would like to swap: food, ideas, clothes. Apple Jelly anyone?? See you there. Lucy Neal.

Monday, 20 October 2008

View From A Tooting Window

This Tooting resident seems to be surviving the credit crunch without too much bother. What can you see from your Tooting window?

Friday, 10 October 2008

The Petroleum Interval

History may well regard our lives as being lived in the "Fossil Fuel Age", filed away for posterity or museum visits just like the Bronze or Iron Ages. Rob Hopkins suggests in his Transition Handbook it might be called "The Petroleum Interval", a relatively short "blip" in history when large quantities of oil were extracted from the Earth to fuel human activities.
This graph makes me think Man might just need to use his massively inventive brain to work out how to change how the world is powered asap! What do you think?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Tooting Harvest Foodival

Here are some photos of the Foodival

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Where is Tooting?

Here it is from the air!

And here's a map:

Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Transition Town Tooting, Tooting, Tooting Bec Common, Tooting Graveney Common, Tooting Common, Tooting Market, Upper Tooting Road, Tooting High St, St Georges Hospital Tooting, Springfield Hospital Tooting,Tooting Bec Athletics Track, Tooting Bec Lido and many more Tooting things!