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

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Tooting Air Quality Project

Earlier this month, Transition Town Tooting collaborated with the local trades unions to initiate an air monitoring exercise around Tooting Broadway, where several devices have been temporarily fixed to record what is in the air we breathe.  A similar exercise at Clapham Junction recently showed alarming pollution levels so the results for Tooting will be interesting to compare.  If this trial works well we hope to extend it to other nearby areas in the future.
Air pollution
Graham Petersen, who has been leading on the project, said: "Government and City Hall are staggeringly complacent on this issue and need to work a lot harder to combat pollution in London. Wandsworth residents are at significantly higher risk of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), (Wandsworth Guardian 10/4/14), and nitrogen dioxide levels in the city are apparently the worst in Europe." See this Bloomberg report.

We think this is a serious issue and want to work to make our neighbourhood a better one to breathe in.  Perhaps you'd like to get involved?  If so do mail us via

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Finale: Carbon Conversations Meeting 6

We have hosted the last meeting of the May-July series of Tooting Carbon Conversations.
Please come and join us for the next series! 
More information on next steps below, and to go straight to the other five recent blog posts by series participants, click here.

Dan has written this response to taking part...

The Final Conversation in the series
Low-carbon living pops up everywhere
"The final conversation gave us the opportunity to reflect on the things we had learned and decisions we had made along the way, and to think about where we go from here.
It was also an opportunity to celebrate what we had done – and accordingly everyone brought along some delicious (low carbon!) food that we ate to round off the finale.

The session began with everyone sharing a “carbon moment” that they had experienced during the week – these could be something positive, something negative or just a moment of realization. 'Carbon moments' included:
  • Swimming in the (unheated) Lido and feeling you're on holiday (while in the heart of Tooting)
  • Cooking a home grown artichoke
  • Giving a rose from the garden to a girlfriend instead of one that was flown in from Kenya
  • Drinking local beer
On the subject of beer, we discovered that Adnams do a great deal to reduce their carbon footprint  - this was just one of the many useful bits of knowledge I have learned over the course of the conversations – and one that suited me down to the ground as Broadside is one of my favourites!

Next, we played the Climate Walk game in two teams: we had to make a series of choices about things we would personally do and things that, if we were in government, we would legislate on. 
The group's 'Climate Walk'  via choices, and chances, to 2100.
Would we take steps to limit the global rise in temperature?
At the conclusion of the game, we found out where (if everyone in the developed world made these choices) we would end up – in terms of the average temperature rise and the ensuing climate changes/wider impacts.
It was interesting that the group found it harder to commit to the personal sacrifices (e.g giving up flying, giving up air freighted exotic fruit) than to the pieces of legislation.
In discussion, we concluded that it felt easier to do things if everyone did them (as in the case of legislation). Reflecting on this on the way home, I also wondered whether part of what was off-putting was the absoluteness of giving something up permanently.
I feel it is perhaps easier to think in terms of working towards a carbon budget of around 6 tonnes a year (as recommended in the Carbon Conversations workbook and in How Bad are Bananas) because then you can still choose to fly if you want to – but in order to do so you could “save up carbon" by cutting down on milk and dairy – or by changing your car commute to a bicycle one, and so on.

To conclude we reflected on where we go from here.
It was inspiring to hear what people were planning to do, including:
Training as Carbon Conversations facilitators
> Considering lifestyle changes, such as living or working differently to avoid a commute of 6,500 kilometres on the tube every year
> Creating a game for the Tooting Foodival to help spread awareness of carbon choices

> Setting up Carbon Collaborations – developing a community to bring people together, face-to-face and via a new website and Facebook page to spread these ideas widely in a very participative way

Personally, I learned a great deal from the whole Carbon Conversations process and made a few fairly significant choices about my own lifestyle.
I’m now busy reflecting on ways to communicate what I have learned to others in a way that avoids preaching and guilt trips.
In the meantime, I’m loving seeing London from a bicycle rather than sweating on the tube.
And I'm trying to convince myself that I prefer coffee without milk…"
..thank you for sharing your own experience of the meeting, Dan!
 All welcome to join in with the next Carbon Conversations series when we fix new dates. Meanwhile, everyone is welcome to enjoy taking part in Carbon Collaborations
And of course there's the Tooting Foodival on the weekend of Sept 13th and 14th - you can grow local vegetables, cook a dish and participate in many ways on the weekend.
Dan will be at the Foodival with FanSHEN theatre company on Sunday Sept 14th.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Meet me at the Cemetery Gates

On Sunday 6th July, Friends of Streatham Cemetery, in partnership with Groundwork London and Lambeth Council were joined by local residents to celebrate the re-opening of an entrance into Streatham Cemetery that has been closed to the public for 20 years. This makes this phenomenal area of green space much more accessible to the hustle and bustle of Tooting High St.  Tooting residents gathered outside the gates that had been beautifully decorated in floral garlands, to hear Lucy Neal of Friends of Streatham Cemetery talk about the significance of the re-opening of the gate, making the wildlife rich green space on the other side accessible to local people. Some of the local residents shared their personal memories of the cemetery and the new gates were then unlocked for partners and local residents to explore the newly improved green space within. Streatham Cemetery has recently undergone a number of improvements in order to make the space more accessible and of greater value to the local community. The improvements include the creation of raised beds for local people to take part in planting and growing activities, the installation of a noticeboard to keep people informed about local events and opportunities, benches where people can sit and relax and an apiary with three bee hives.

The cemetery is located in a built up area and offers a much needed oasis for residents to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of nature and wildlife on their doorstep.

Lucy Neal said: Streatham Cemetery is a glorious and under-used green space in Tooting. The Friends have been working to cherish local history, wildlife and beauty and the re-opening of the pedestrian gate is a small but very significant moment in bringing this area back into use as a community space for all'.  Kate Allan (BATCA) who attended the event said: "It was a gentle and inspiring ceremony. The cemetery is a haven of expansiveness and peace. I loved the garlands! Well done'."  More photos of the event here.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Foodival 2014

This year's Foodival on the 13th and 14th September will, as ever, be a celebration of locally grown food showing how it's possible to grow local, eat local and be sustainable while also having fun! Now in its 7th year, we hope this will be the biggest Foodival yet and of course it's FREE to attend. 

Here's how you could get involved:
  • If you like eating, (which should include most!), come along on Sunday 14th September from 11am and try some locally grown and cooked food.
  • If you want to get involved as a volunteer, stall-holder, restaurant, cook or chef, please contact us at
Vegetables Growing Right Now in Tooting!

Food donations from 1pm Saturday 13th Sept at Mushkil Aasaan on Upper Tooting Road or at the BATCA Fun Day on Broadwater Road, Tooting

Foodival celebration from 11am - 5pm Sunday 14th Sept 26b Tooting High Street (by Broadway Studios) SW17 0RG

For full details please see the Foodival Website.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Food: Carbon Conversations Meeting 5

We're continuing the glimpses into what we're covering in our current series of informal Carbon Conversations. Here is the fifth...
Participant Ben has written his own response to this week's meeting, all about exploring carbon reduction in our Food.
Ben's comments:

" Monday evening in Tooting....cold, damp with a mid-summer mist clinging to the trees across the common.
And here we are, huddled around Jane's dining room table for our fifth Carbon Conversations session.
This evening’s topic is food. As ever, the discussion is thought-provoking and far-reaching.

We discuss our personal relationships with food. We feel that food can be the source of positive things (pleasure, socialising, creativity) as well as negative (neuroses, ethical dilemmas, health concerns).

Then we play a board game where we assess the carbon footprint of different food items. I’d never thought about food production in such an atomised way (production, processing, packaging and transport are all very distinct parts of the production line from plough to plate).

The game throws up some surprises.
Frozen chicken nuggets flown to the UK from Thailand are bad all round – high carbon at every stage of the process.
But because 48% of food's carbon emissions are embedded in the production part of the process, a piece of Irish cheddar comes out pretty high in C02 emissions as well (the production of cheddar involves the rearing of cows, their feed, methane the cows produce, etc, which is all very carbon-intensive).

It is also interesting to note that something that’s travelled from afar isn’t necessarily bad –slow, long distance transport of non-perishable items by ship can be quite low in carbon. So, a few surprises here!
Very Local:
British-grown, good for you!
Very Very Local:
Sown, grown and
eaten in Tooting!

What are the prospects of making lifestyle changes on the basis of all this?
The prospects are good I’d say. Low-carbon food tends to be healthier and cheaper. Indeed, the best food of all is stuff you’ve grown yourself: low-carbon, super cheap, and super healthy. So, the moral of the story? Dust off your gardening gloves, grab a trowel, and get planting.
The future of food consumption is local produce.
It’s a no-brainer."

Thank you very much, Ben!
Next week is our 6th meeting: the finale of our 8th Tooting Carbon Conversations. All welcome to join us next time we offer the series.


A very relevant article titled: Planting potatoes into policy: why town planners must think about local food' was in The Guardian on 14 May. Read it by clicking here.