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

Thursday, 31 May 2018

All welcome to join in locally with our next five creative & thoughtful 'Signs of Welcome' workshops

Our Signs of Welcome series of ten local workshops is continuing now over the next two weeks.
Click here to read about the first five events and what we experienced together with our project partner CARAS.

We created these participatory workshops to provide a vivid, simple and accessible opportunity to imagine how to welcome people new to the community and then make decorative signs to take away. 
The workshops are for all ages and are free, fun, thoughtful and creative. 

Each workshop runs in a great local venue which offers the space for all comers to join in. Thank you to all the venues for partnering with us and supporting the project.

Signs of Welcome workshops in diverse places!

The remaining workshops (all details on the TTT Events Calendar here on the blog):

> Paradise Co-operative Garden, Earlsfield
   Sat 9th June, 10:00-12:00

> St Mary Magdalene Church, Trinity Road, Tooting

   Weds 13th June, 4:00-5:30
> Sprout Community Arts, Furzedown

   Fri 15th June, 4:00-5:30 

> The Migration Museum, Vauxhall

   Thurs 21st June, 6:00pm-7:45pm 
   Part of a drop-in evening of events at the Museum, 
   all celebrating Refugee Week


As we've run the events, new features have emerged. 
Recently we offered the workshop at a Family Visit Day in Wandsworth Prison. With four walls surrounding participants, the signs they created became a way to imagine new welcomes and relationships. One adult's sign simply stated 'Kids Matter'. A family created a sign together, a graphic recording of a live and positive conversation between themselves.

Our introductory script has developed. 
Now we're also saying "you can create signs to put up in the city spaces where you live - signs that don't just label places or limit us ('keep off the grass' or 'no ball games'). They're about welcoming people and what we value when we get together"

All welcome, all ages can join in 
and each workshop is different!

 Many thanks for funding support from ThriveLDN, an initiative by the Mayor Of London.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Carbon Conversations Week 5

General consumption and waste

 In this session we focused on our consumption. We learned how it is a big proportion of our carbon footprint and how it tends to increase in line with our total household income (the more money we have the more we spend!). There is a relationship between what we buy, why we buy it and our identity.

 Our first exercise was to relate a purchase we were pleased with: Kew membership, solar PV, a battery to go with PV, second hand clothing, bikes, evening courses. And those we regretted: books, home improvements that go wrong, bad phone contract, speed dating nights, shoes and interestingly, bikes.

Then we discussed why we buy using the exercise on p29. Thoughts that occurred to us included: purchases for comfort or enrichment, is being green denying ourselves pleasure?, purchases leading to hoarding, friends who buy to cope, purchases to celebrate traditions (Christmas, carnival), days out with children, substituting 'experiences' for actual gifts especially when celebrating children's birthdays.

 Our next exercise was to design a poster exploring the differences between personal needs and wants. One group drew three concentric circles with basic needs in the centre (food, warmth, housing, ?Wifi), then a middle ring for things like special food, entertainment, enrichment, studying etc and an outer area for purchases that we felt were extravagant and not needed like weekend breaks by air (some said these were a necessity to some people), art collections, extravagant jewelry, watches etc, private heated swimming pools and so on. The other group's poster was a collection of drawings: community giving companionship and friendship which didn't require expenditure, a mastercard advert for a festival, choices and thoughts when making purchases, children's expectations.

 Our penultimate exercise was to think about five 'ways to well-being' published by the New Economics Foundation which explored the ideas of give, connect, keep learning, be active and take notice. We all thought about whether we do these in our lives and could we make more time in our lives to do them. Generally we thought these were good principles but sometimes it can be hard to keep a balance. One particular example is how family responsibilities can take up the time we might spend on learning, being with our friends, volunteering and so on. Another is how education can give us a double bonus of spending time with others of different age groups and life experiences. And also our busy-ness can mean that we miss what is going on around us especially in the natural world. 

Finally we thought about the things we didn't get a chance to say during the evening - being too busy in our lives, remembering to be compassionate to ourselves, working towards the NEF Five ways, paying attention, new ideas for home improvements, the carbon significance of un-deleted emails (server space and carbon footprint!), unsubscribing to unread emails.

 Thank you to Ben for hosting our group and to Peter for the wonderful cake!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Carbon Conversations Week 4

We had a lively and informed discussion about food. We started by discussing some memorable meals that we'd had and interestingly a lot of people described the context much more than the food itself. We then did an activity in pairs where we discussed the meaning of food, such as what and who influences our food choices. Topics ranged from how there's more choice now than a few decades ago, veganism, organic vs. local, rituals and habits, noticing seasonality and availability to compassion for our own-grown vegetables. We then did an 'anxiety spectrum' where we got up and stood at one end of the room or the other according to how strongly we felt about certain issues, such as the treatment of small farmers in the UK and further afield, which some people in the group had not thought about much previously and took away as one of the main things they will consider after the session. In the break we enjoyed some lovely Brazilian snacks - cheese balls and corn cake and peanut sweets.

For the majority of the session we played a food footprints game looking at the main sections of the chapter in the book: production, processing, packaging and transport. It was really useful as it's difficult to differentiate between a lot of products which seem similar, such as the production of different fruits and vegetables, so it really gets you thinking. It seems easy to hold one piece of information in your head - say the worst or best thing about a product such as there being minimal packaging or it being flown over from New Zealand - but to think of all four factors with each product is more of a challenge. I generally find it easy to not buy a fresh product where it's obvious that's it's been flown from far away, but more difficult to take into account where the ingredients of products with multiple ingredients have come from. So in some ways it's easier to just avoid these products, or at least see them as a treat.

We also discussed our food diaries briefly, which was interesting as even for people who already think about these things quite a lot, such as vegans, there is still often a gap between your own perception of what you eat and what you actually eat. I realised that I don't think of myself as someone with a sweet tooth but I in fact eat more sweet things regularly than I had thought. And I also eat more dairy than I think of myself as doing.

My main lesson was to eat less dairy (I'm already vegetarian and used to be vegan for five years), because in terms of carbon it's actually worse than some meats. So I'm going to treat dairy as more of a treat than an everyday part of my diet. I was really encouraged by other people in the group who said they'd had loads of support to be vegan and it made me remember that my family and friends were really supportive when I was vegan a few years ago.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Carbon Conversations Week 3

'Travel and Transport' was the theme of the evening's discussion this third week of Carbon Conversations.  Stories of favourite and nightmare journeys were shared - from wonderful night time cycling through Hyde Park to the extreme frustration of delays, queues and missed connections while under pressure to meet a deadline elsewhere.  We talked about what travel represents to each of us , especially within a culture where it has become so accessible and so enjoyed.  Aspirations to travel the world are encouraged almost as a rite of passage and, subsequently, many thousands of conversations coalesce around those experiences.  We looked at our reasons for making journeys and there was a recognition of the challenge that would be felt were the visiting of family and friends abroad to be restricted.

We talked about the advantages and deficiencies of cycling and the current public transport system - who it works for, or not, - and some of the steps that could be taken to make it more accessible for all and why the obstacles to this happening are so significant.  There was a recognition that solutions in potentially wonderful technologies may be still in their infancy! This theme of taking difficult carbon-reducing decisions was continued in the group game we played: we experienced how lifestyle changing decisions could be made at the individual family level (good, though sometimes not to our liking, inconvenient and expensive) alongside having the opportunity to make strategic policy decisions at a government level (also good, potentially having a great impact but likely to incur huge resistance from many quarters).

We spent some time reflecting on the dilemma of what feels acceptable behaviour and how we can take responsibility for our carbon footprint .  Our final activity was deciding on a manageable action that we want to take and then looking at the driving and restraining forces that we could see coming into play, and then focusing on reducing the effect of the restraining forces.  Plenty to think about during the week!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Carbon Conversations Week 2

In the second session of Carbon conversations, we predominantly discussed domestic energy and how we could reduce our carbon footprint from energy usage.

The discussion started with how much temperature rise could happen in the future and within what time and would we able to cope with it? People had thoughts from 2° C rise to 10 °C and some of them felt we are doomed, while a few who are still aware would not want to think of it negatively and see what action they could do.

We did an exercise of what a comfortable home looks like. While most of us did prefer fresh light and air some preferred a garden. We touched upon minimalism, as to how it could contribute to a comfortable home. We discussed energy, EPCs and how we could reduce our carbon footprint as owners or tenants.

The group was divided into two (role as owners and tenants) and played a game of reducing 6 tonnes of carbon footprint through energy savings. It included a combination of changes to the house along with behavioral changes.

We spoke about challenges that we could face in reducing our carbon footprint through energy. The changes being expensive was a dominant factor, while for some being in a position of the tenant could hinder progress. Understanding of the technical aspects could be a challenge, while the efforts and time for research and taking informed decisions could prove to be a big task.

At the end we all spoke about specific actions that we could take to reduce carbon footprint and any challenges that we could face. All in all, it was a fantastic session with a lot of learning on different aspects of energy as a facet of reducing our carbon footprint and how we could start off with even the simplest and free measures to reduce our carbon.