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

Sunday, 20 December 2020

'Distant socializing, not social distancing': our experience of 4 diverse online workshops celebrating connection, creativity & cooking

In the 6 weeks following Hallowe'en we've facilitated 4 Zoom participative workshops. We've been cooking-along, creating and crafting, writing and sharing poems, all in real time. We've been building skills, discussing and responding between friends, strangers and generations.

'Distant Socializing, not Social Distancing'
we've been thinking about how this phrase sums up the experience of these online workshops during this winter of the pandemic. 
Physical distancing is necessary of course. 'Distant socializing' feels proactive & positive, but 'social distancing' - what's that? Your next thought may be 'is that what we want?'. 

The workshops were remarkable experiences all round because of what was produced (poems, dishes and meals, decorations, presents) and because of how the interaction worked (goodwill, laughter, invitations, sharing, working alongside rather than telling what to do).

As a legacy of the fourth event we've created The ReSparkle! Booklet - all invited to see what we did and how you can make lovely things at home this week. Download it here.

Each of these events was 2 hours long - that sounds like a lot of screen time but the activities and groups were diverse and time flew by. They were not always predictable and linear - there was some uncertainty and some gentle chaos. 

It helped to be tolerant and simply enjoy - like a relaxed performance in theatre. You could be active or do simply person said 'I wouldn't have joined a live event doing this', so an online workshop may allow for individual preferences in a different way than face-to-face.

We felt participants were taking the opportunity to reach out (maybe taking a small risk) rather than being constrained by limitations in the pandemic: creating something new that's unique, fun and energising. 

We felt both welcomed and connected to strangers and friends across all ages. It's a suprisingly intimate and personal experience - you are invited into others' homes; people may drift in and out; questions and comments fly back and forth; participants proudly show what they have created. 

We had up to 15 screens active in each of these 4 events - some peope solo, sometimes several from one family, sometimes people joining from beyond London and from outside the UK.

What did we do?

Sunday, 22 November 2020

ReSparkle! 2020: our online seasonal creative making workshop is on Sunday Dec 13th, 3-5pm

ReSparkle! 2020 is a fun crafts-making online workshop where you are guided to work at home using household materials to create beautiful things. It's on Zoom on Sunday December 13th from 3-5pm.

The workshop is free: please register for a free ticket on Eventbrite at Then we'll be able to email you the Zoom access link before the event.

What will we do? We'll offer you a series of practical crafts activities: 20 minutes for each. Our artist leaders will demonstrate and guide you, and in parallel others will be working on the same activity. Some of the activities will be making decorations, some could be presents.

Craft materials to prepare at home  Click here for the full list. Lots of the materials might have been going into the recycling bag or the compost - so we'll be creating beauty out of waste.

Who is Resparkle! 2020 designed for? Anyone of any age; individuals who would like to do something different; housemates and families who can share a screen; carers who would like to get some ideas and experience of how to enjoy crafts safely and inexpensively at home with younger children.

We've offered lots of ReSparkle workshops since 2012.             Click here for some past TTT blog posts & photos of what's been created when we were face-to-face!

ReSparkle!2020 will be the same but different. We believe that online workshops can be welcoming, sociable and beneficial for wellbeing and connection. 

On Zoom we're all invited into each others' homes - so there are many layers of welcome and community.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Creative fun online from Tooting Community Garden on All Hallows' Eve!

Join our fun free participative online Halloween workshop for all ages on Saturday 31st October from 4pm-6pm.

Coming to you from Tooting Community Garden, we'll be creating crafts, writing poetry and cooking on the fire!

Please register on Eventbrite via this link and we'll send you the Zoom access code on Sat 31st.

You're invited to join us on Zoom for a lovely afternoon workshop based at our Community Garden in Tooting, London. All welcome and your hosts will be Barbara, Becky, Nikki & Chuck. You can join in making crafts at home; have a pencil and paper ready for the poetry and for the cooking we'll share a recipe and you can cook along.

  • From 4pm: Firstly we'll create pictures and crafts with Halloween, autumn and natural themes: potato printing, luminous leaf jars and more.
  • From 4:45: Secondly, write a poem! We'll help you write poems based on the crafts images or on the seasonal themes - we guarantee you will be surprised at the results!
  • From 5:15: Thirdly, join a fireside cook-along! Warm up with a spiced squash soup: make your own or just enjoying will be dark by the end so enjoy the fire!

Throughout we'll celebrate what's created by sharing across the Zoom group and taking screenshots (with your permission).                          We'll close at 1800 with a warm glow of fun in the community. 

What to Prepare at Home:

For crafts making: Potato, water-based paint, paint brush, paper/card, water to clean. 

And for the leaf-candle lights: clean jam jar, dry fallen leaves, glue, a tea light, matches


For writing poems: Paper and a pen

For cooking: Normal kitchen equipment, and here's the recipe if you would like to cook-along with us on Saturday! 

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:

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
  • 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. 

  • 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 


Green manure 

Benefits and how and when to dig over 

How to propagate basil 
Basil from a cutting
Basil from a cutting: 

Basil from a seed: 

Basil by dividing a mature plant: 

Homemade fertilisers for our tomato and squash plants 
Comfrey, nettles, weeds and manure 

Nettle tea: 

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

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 - - 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'

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