Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

From the outside looking in

Mena participating in the garden
Earlier in the year, we had a visit by an MSc student from Edinburgh called Mena Grossmann. Mena, as she describes below, used Transition Town Tooting as a case study to explore diversity within the Transition Town Movement for her MSc research project.

For us and the Transition Movement as a whole, engagement with academic research has to be 2-way, with both parties benefitting. We hope Mena's research will give us real insight into who we are reaching through our work in Tooting.

Mena will be publishing her dissertation after it has been marked, we can't wait! And will share it when we can.

If your Transition Initiative is interested in engaging with academic research, The Transition Network do have suggested guidelines to help negotiate the first steps of partnership between a Transition Town and a Researcher, these can be found here. There is also the Transition Research Network who focus on this area and provide a forum to link a researcher with an Initiative. However, we sort of made it up as we went along...

Over to Mena...

"Somebody told me that Tooting was like an onion, because it has many layers. During my 2-week stay in Tooting, undertaking interviews and participating in TTT's activities as part of my MSc dissertation on diversity and participation in the Transition Movement, I was able to have the incredible opportunity of unpeeling some of those layers.

Coming to TTT, and Tooting in general, as a complete stranger, my first days felt like when you're cutting an onion; eyes watering furiously and impaired vision. However, after a few fascinating days visiting the community garden, going along to a neighbourhood planning meeting and undertaking a couple of interviews, a map began to develop bit by bit in my mind as I started to develop an understanding of the functioning of TTT, of the multitude of community groups working in the area and of the social networks and connections that link them.

Monday, 5 October 2015

From today: the new 5p tax will be charged for single-use plastic shopping bags

The long-debated tax of 5 pence per single-use plastic bag becomes law from the 5th October in England, and applies to 'free' bags from larger shops and chains (enterprises employing more than 250 people). Smaller shops can also charge if they wish. The sums charged go into pots for there are some complex processes, rules, exceptions (and fines for non-compliance) behind the scenes. 
Read the government's guidance for retailers here.

So what? 
In 2013 we used 8 billion of these 'free' bags per year, just from UK supermarkets....with year-on-year totals growing.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have already implemented this tax - the latest figures show that in Wales, the use of these short-life bags nationally has been reduced by 79% over 4 years.

The majority of these bags are instant waste, with an enormous cumulative impact in terms of costs of dealing with household and business rubbish, and blight from windswept litter all around us. 
Read TTT's earlier 2010 post about global plastic pollution here
They are derived from oil, a non-renewable resource. (There are other options such as bidoegradeable cornstarch).

Of course there is a carbon saving if bag use is reduced - savings in terms of materials used to make them, and their distribution, and the carbon costs of disposing of them. 
'Reduce' has much more positive impact than 're-use' or 'recycle' and is much more within our own control.

What does this mean for me?
There's a new article - click here - which summarises exactly that.

Which shopping bag to use today?
There's an easy option that can suit all pockets: 
use a textile 'bag for life'. 
Made of jute or cotton, they are recyclable when they finally pack up - cut up and composted, or used as mulch.

For a good short article about re-usable bags, click here.

Cloth bags also have a carbon cost in their own production and distribution; some long-life shopping bags are made of plastic textiles.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Urban Heat 2nd October '15: our third Tooting workshop on community-led approaches to urban heatwaves

Today we hosted the third workshop in the Urban Heat research project. This is an 18-month research process into community-led responses to urban heatwaves, with a particular focus on the local impact on vulnerable people. The research is led by the Policy Studies Institute at the University of Westminster, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
For the details of the wider project, please see our short posts on the two previous workshops in June and July. TTT has been inviting and convening local groups to take part, and hosting the events.

Today's workshops saw diverse Tooting community organisations meet a group representing the strategic and borough-wide institutions who have a mandate to act on heatwaves alongside many other priorites.
This was not intended to be adversarial...! The purpose was to bring together key players who respond at different local and city 'levels' to heatwaves, all in the interest of local people's wellbeing and health.

The community groups summed up their ideas and proposals identified so far, and these were grouped into three themes:
  • Bridging and making connections
  • Communications and awareness
  • Resources and infrastucture
Everyone present discussed each theme in detail - so we can all understand, anticipate and respond to the impact of urban heatwaves, together. There was a lot to talk about!
The research team will be summing up points made and actions proposed. This is 'action research' - it is up to us all locally to decide which of these ideas are most valuable and can be put into practice, while the researchers continue with the next steps of the project.
We'll keep you informed.

Represented today were: Age UK (Wandsworth), Be Enriched, Emergency Planning at St George's Hospital Trust, Furzedown Low Carbon Zone, Housing Strategy & Development at London Borough of Wandsworth, Neighbourhood Network SW17, Public Health at London Borough of Wandsworth, Thinking Works and Transition Town Tooting. Thank you all!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Growing Tooting

TTT is delighted to launch Growing Tooting, a new project to promote community gardening in Tooting and nearby neighbourhoods. This is a year-long project which aims to attract more people into growing healthy local food.
You may be familiar with some of the benefits of community growing, for instance:
  • Socialising with a shared interest 
  • Improving your health via gentle physical exercise and eating fresh, highly nutritious fruit and veg 
  • Helping the environment by reducing food miles 
Whether you are completely new to growing fruit and veg, or whether you are an experienced gardener wanting to develop your growing skills, this project can help you. Having a garden isn’t necessary: we can also give you ideas about growing on a windowsill, windowbox or balcony. If you’re a school, community group or club, or a local enterprise and you’d like to set up a growing space or develop an existing one, we can help too, with ideas about crops, composting, encouraging wildlife, etc.

In the coming months we’ll be holding a number of community events, so please follow the Growing Tooting posts on this site. In the meantime, if you’d like to contact the project: call Martin on 07980 095 152 or EMAIL US

We are very grateful to Wandsworth Borough Council Big Society Fund for their support of this project.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Electrical or electronic items that need fixing?

Broken something & reluctant to throw it away?
The Restart Project, encourage and empower people to use their electrical and electronics longer!  They are back in Tooting on Saturday 26th September - 2.30 - 5.30pm at Mushkil Aasaan, 220 - 222 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW (next to Nandos), so do come along! blog post image
Do note that Restart Parties are a community self-repair space where you take responsibility for your own gadgets and data, so please do not forget to take any back-ups beforehand, if relevant – and if possible arrive during the first two hours to allow time for fixing!

Restart Parties have become a regular feature in Tooting and we are on the lookout for skilled local fixers. If you are interested come along and say hello - or email Hilary Jennings for details.

More info re the Restart Project HERE including details of regular skillshares all over the UK and further afield.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Foodival Stories

Over on the Foodival blog we have been rounding up the stories from this year's sustainable food event in Tooting.  There's a Balham woman who grew bananas ...
Bananas grown by Susan in her Balham back garden
And Sophie was the new face winning the prestige title of Top Tooting Cook 2015 with her beautiful culinary creation.
Top Tooting Cook Sophie with her prize winning dish
Pooja produced the tastiest dish according to the judges and Jenny Shand from SHARE Community Garden managed to cultivate the ugliest vegetable!  There's more on the prize winners here

Dave says: "Gimme Fracking not Solar!"
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister tried to persuade us that subsidies for those dodgy polluting, diminishing, ever harder to reach fossil fuels are much more important than those for renewable technology.  Indeed this government plans to make community solar power generation unviable by slashing solar feed-in tariffs.  Sign the petition here to try to get this folly debated in Parliament.  Thanks to Furzedown Low Carbon Zone for highlighting this issue.

Then there was the mysterious Giant Pea spotted up and down Tooting High St and featured in this Wandsworth Guardian video
Children show off the Ugly Vegetables - the red pepper was voted the winner!
Keep an eye out for more stories from the Foodival, some great pictures and a video over the coming days.
Meanwhile what did you think of this year's Foodival?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Transition Network International Conference

You may know that TTT is part of a network of Transition Towns round the world - community groups of all shapes and sizes who are each taking local action on environmental and social sustainability. TTT's motto is Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change. That encourages a wide range of activities, and inspires us to want to get on with it alongside local partners who are 'transitioning' to establish a better future now.

The Transition Network is hosting its first international conference for 3 years: hundreds of people are booked in from dozens of countries this weekend in Devon. 
Nine of us from the TTT family are attending. It's only a week after the Foodival - there are still many great and tired memories to share, and now we are about to make new ones.

As I post this blog four of us are zooming down the road towing a cute caravan. 

The others are packing or looking for their train tickets...

Between us we've been invited to facilitate three workshops, and we're proud to be able to do that: 
  • Tomorrow Lucy is co-facilitating a day workshop on 'The Art of Invitation: creative engagement for ourselves and our communities'. Details are here.
  • On Saturday morning, Charles, Jenny, Richard and Sharon are hosting a workshop on 'Outdoor Learning with Young People'. Details here.
  • On Saturday afternoon, Dan and Rachel from fanSHEN are offering a workshop on 'Creative Facilitation'. Details here.
We'll all attend other sessions and there will be a lot of interaction and chatting in the lunch queues.

It's very inspiring to me that 'Transition' includes TTT's local Tooting focus and the wide international network. 

In the last month we've been lucky to welcome visitors from 2 overseas Transition initiatives - Catherine and Leonard from Transition Albany in the Bay Area of California...

...and Caroline from Transition XL in Ixelles, Brussels. 
We've learned a lot from them all, and also shared the joys of Tooting. 

At the conference we're looking forward to sharing ideas that encourage us and make our community projects more effective. 

We'll let you know all about it. -Charles

Monday, 14 September 2015

Foodival 2015 Rocks!

Thank you to every veg and fruit donor, every restaurant cook, every great musician, every ugly vegetable, every volunteer, stall holder, artist, sponsor and Top Tooting Cook who made Foodival 2015 a fantastic celebration of home grown food cooked by local cooks. So many great connections made in a melting pot of south London's food community. A mountain of photos and video will be sifted and we will report back on who won what. 

But it's back to the real world of (non-Foodival, non-Transition) work for most of us this morning, unfortunately, so bear with us! Keep an eye out of the Foodival blog for more in the next few days ...

If you missed the action over the weekend, you can see what you missed in the PROGRAMME HERE

Roll on Foodival 2016 (10th/11th September 2016)

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Fantastic Day One At Foodival

It was a great Day One at Tooting Foodival with more local fruit and veg donated than ever before.  Thank you so much to all those who gave some of their hard grown produce.
Tomorrow's celebration of home grown home cooked food should be epic.  The action starts at 12.00 with plenty of food related stalls, music and some theatre involving a giant pea.  See you there!

Foodival Starts Today

Tooting Foodival 2015 starts today with the collection of home grown fruit and vegetables at Mushkil Aasaan at 222 Upper Tooting Rd, next to Nandos!  If you can contribute even the tiniest carrot to the Foodival cause, we would love to see you!

Have your photo taken in the I Grew This frame or enter your misshapen marrow in the Ugly Veg competition.  Perhaps you could enter the Top Tooting Cook competition?  Volker Nissen from Volker & Quinn will be doing cooking demos and you'll be able to taste what he cooks.

The produce will be gathered and given to local restaurants and cooks for tomorrow's big day out at Samaj Hall where there'll be music, stalls, a Giant Pea, lots of locally cooked, locally grown dishes to try and we'll find out who really is the ugliest veg of all - competition winners win meals for two at local restaurants, so why not join in for a chance to win.

We hope you enjoy the Foodival weekend!
#seedtofeast #uglyveg #Foodival2015

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Who's Playing At This Year's Foodival?

Two singer songwriters, two bands, a ukulele combo plus some alternative making & carnival will light up this weekend's Tooting Foodival at the Samaj Hall.  But can you guess who the performers are? Clues below:
Head over to the Foodival blog for the full details of this great line up. 
We look forward to seeing you at Mushkil Aasaan on Saturday for the vegetable and fruit collection or for the food and entertainment at Samaj Hall on Sunday. Or Both! Don't forget to bring your plate!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Exploring facilitation choices for our 'Rooting in Tooting' project with asylum-seekers and refugees

Our new 'Rooting in Tooting' project has been developed with the Tooting charity CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers). We've written two posts so far, please scroll down this blog to read them. You'll see that our pilot project in May and June was enjoyable and positive. 

For Those in Peril on the Sea - Hew Locke
Quiz question A: what percentage of the migrants who have come to Europe so far in 2015 have reached Calais? 1%, 4%, 8%, 15%? Answer is at the end of the post.

On Sept 1st, 11 of us gathered at CARAS for an orientation hosted by the charity team. 
Against a background of dramatic media coverage, our intention was to understand just a bit more about the 'whys, whats and hows' for refugees and asylum-seekers, and the experiences of the young people and families with whom CARAS works.

We know a lot about the activities we are going to do offer: growing and gardening and improving biodiversity at the CARAS office, creative projects, telling the Rooting in Tooting story over the next year, and exploring low-carbon living. 
We're not familiar with the reality of life for refugees now
  • How should we offer activities so that they are meaningful to participants, and so that we share them in an appropriate way? 
Rug People - Paloma Varga Weisz

A 2-hour discussion on this topic had to be very selective, and we take our TTT hats off to Eleanor and Molly as guides. 
Thank you for your preparation and care, and thoughtful, challenging comments.

Quiz question B: What was the country of origin for the largest number of unaccompanied children entering the UK so far in 2015?  
Afghanistan; Eritrea; Albania; Syria? Answer is at the end of the post.

Three of the topics that we discussed:

1. Refugees and asylum-seekers have been repeatedly processed and questioned...of course those are the steps for coming to an agreement about official leave to stay in the UK. 
  • To balance that experience in our activities: we'll ask for and trust that individuals have skills and that they can teach each other; we'll tackle things together rather than directing.We'll let participants volunteer what they want to tell us.
The Folkestone Mermaid - Cornelia Parker
2. Unaccompanied teenagers are resilient and ambitious, not passive. They have crossed many countries (at CARAS 18 home countries are represented), and weathered many setbacks (the ones that make it). Asked in youth club discussions about their ideal futures, they want to give something back - for example become a teacher, or a pharmacist. "In many ways they are the alpha children of the world", and they deserve respect. 
  • We're encouraged not to shy away from new vocabulary that can be stretching and thought-provoking. We'll explain specialist and unfamiliar language.
3. What is going well in the UK for refugees? The UK system sees teenage unaccompanied asylum seekers as 'children first' and provides a range of services to support them, so that as far as possible they can experience life like other teenagers locally - with everyday choices, opportunities, and challenges. 

Public Works - Folkestonomy
These approaches are role models for other countries.
  • We'll try and reflect the atmosphere in the youth club, which "feels like a group of people having a nice time together".   We'll encourage putting down roots.
All the photos are taken at Folkestone Sculpture Triennial shows 2008-2014, which included themes of dislocation and distant travel in the setting of a derelict Channel port railhead. 
And the two quiz answers? Question A: 1%. Question B: Albania.

Please contact TTT if you would like to discuss or contribute to this project. - Charles

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Reducing Waste for Foodival

In today's news we learn that 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic and are likely to retain some in their gut. It's pretty horrendous that so much waste plastic ends up polluting our oceans and we will be highlighting waste at this year's Tooting Foodival

An Albatross takes a shine to a plastic bottle

It is easy to forget that plastic comes largely from fossil fuels, that diminishing supply of 300m year old organic matter [see US Dept of Energy] that currently powers the global economy. 

An event we ran nearly five years ago, Plastic from Oil Well to Ocean via Tooting, looked in more detail at this topic and, perhaps surprisingly, is by far the most read post in the history of this blog!  Some of our readers evidently think this topic is important. 

As usual, as part of Foodival, we will aim to give the south west London public a taste of locally grown, locally cooked, low food mile, tasty food.  But we really want to minimise the waste we create as much as possible and especially waste from plastic that is so harmful to our environment, the natural world and ultimately us.  So, can you help us?

This year we are asking all festival attendees to BRING YOUR OWN plate and cutlery to the Foodival.  That way we will have less waste, fewer CO2 emissions and a lighter environmental footprint.  Yes it might be a bit of a hassle and something we are not used to doing, but also is this small change that hard to accomplish?  We hope that as many of you as possible will try to join in with this initiative.  We will have biodegradable plates & cutlery on hand as a back up, but there is still an environmental impact inherent in any product manufacturing, so we will be charging for these! 

So the message is please BRING YOUR OWN or suffer the £1 a plate!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Snapshots from the CARAS Open Day in Tooting

TTT is looking forward to our new partnership project with CARAS and the RHS 'Greening Grey Britain' campaign (see our 18th Aug post below). To help launch 'Rooting in Tooting', we joined in at the CARAS Open Day at All Saints' Church, Tooting. 
It was a very welcoming day for the extended CARAS family, where many people knew each other and came to chat in the sun (or find some shade), or play outdoors. 
We had a brilliant lunch made by The Chickpea Sisters (who'll be at the Tooting Foodival on Sun 13th Sept). There was music, dancing...& some diverse growing action.

Chris was flat out sowing seeds and playing with mud:
Chris plus seed sowers
Making mud seed bombs


Threshing and winnowing wheat grown in the Tooting Community Garden: we took the heads of wheat and did the steps used round the world for thousands of years (and which are still in our language even if we've never seen it happen). 
So, Seamus found helpers for threshing to separate the wheat grains from the heads, and then winnowing the resulting mix to remove the chaff:

Bashing bags on the ground...
...or jumping up and down on them

Then, with the right puff, the chaff blows away
Flicking up the chaff to catch the wind: experts!

We also gathered great ideas in several languages for what to consider growing in the project: for food, for health, for beauty, and for nature:
Thanks to all (of all ages) at the open day for getting so involved! 
Plus, we're grateful to Chris and Sophie from the RHS, and to Seamus, Jenny and Chuck from TTT, and all at CARAS. More news as 'Rooting in Tooting' develops.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Young people’s garden project leads to Rooting in Tooting

If you’ve walked past the Derinton Community Centre in Tooting recently, you may have noticed vibrant yellow planters bursting with colourful flowers, where rubbish used to reside, and young people sitting on bright benches doing their homework.
Those young people, who attend the CARAS youth club on the site, worked with a team from Transition Town Tooting to build the planters and the benches and paint them over a number of weeks. They sowed seeds early on in the project and also chose plants that now grow there, during a visit to Share Community Garden

The project came about after the youth club made a visit to Tooting Community Garden.  This led to the idea of the teenagers creating an urban garden on-site over eight weekly Saturday sessions.
"Before this, I didn't know how to plant and grow plants, but I learned how, and I enjoyed making the planter too", said Waseem, one of the young people who transformed the space.
CARAS (previously Klevis Kola) is a community based organisation working with refugees and asylum seekers.  The gardening project was developed with the young people, encouraging teamwork and communication, developing and practicing new skills and meeting new people in the wider community.

Jenny Teasdale, who coordinated Transition Town Tooting’s involvement said,
“Working with these young people over the last couple of months has been wonderful. Together, we imagined the possibilities of an urban garden, creating a mood board of ideas, and then we made some of those ideas a reality.

Everyone planted seeds in the first few weeks and the kids tended them throughout, watching sunflowers, beans and salad leaves growing, ready to be planted out in the final weeks. With wooden materials from the community garden, the kids cut, assembled and painted planters and benches – making design decisions on the fly and developing new skills along the way. As a group, we decided what plants to grow and where to site what we built.

I know I wasn’t the only person sad to see the project come to an end, having enjoyed every second of the process. At the same time, we are all really happy to see the transformation in just two short months.”
CARAS Youth Coordinator, Molly Abraham spoke about the project,
"The gardening project with TTT has been a fantastic opportunity for young people who attend CARAS to gain skills, share knowledge and create something we are all extremely proud of.  It's been amazing to watch the group grow in confidence as they became proficient with drills, saws and secateurs, and to relax into sharing stories of growing in their home countries.  Working with the wonderful team from TTT has been a real pleasure for all of us and we are excited to be able to develop the work, and the friendships, over the coming year."
"We painted the pallet planter and the yellow planter, and I sowed flowers and beans. They're still growing", said Hafso, shown here painting.
Spurred on by the development of the space and the enthusiasm of the youth group, we are delighted to announce that CARAS and Transition Town Tooting are now working in partnership with the RHS over the next year, running monthly sessions with the youth club and adults at CARAS.

The new project is called Rooting in Tooting, and is part of the RHS’s Greening Grey Britain scheme. We’ll be developing more flourishing, attractive growing ideas that will transform the site.  This practical, experiential project is just one of the ways CARAS is helping newly-arrived people to integrate into the vibrant community of Tooting.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

What's that? Tooting Foodival... just a month away!

That's right. It's less than a month until South London's favourite sustainable food festival - Tooting Foodival!

Over on the Foodival blog, we're ramping up the announcements - letting you know about all the great things that will be happening over the weekend, and all the great people who make Foodival the glorious local festival that it is.

Just this week, we've announced five local restaurants who are cooking for Foodival... and there will be more to come next week!

Can you donate produce to Foodival?

As well as the wonderful cooks, we couldn't dish up over 600 servings to you hungry folk, without the generosity and talents of all the people growing delicious vegetables, fruit and herbs, who donate their produce to be cooked up overnight.

If you grow anything, or you know a grower, you can donate to Foodival... every salad leaf counts!

Add what you're growing to the map! Share it with your friends. Download some flyers and dish them out to growers all around the area.

We can't wait to see you all in just 4 short weeks!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Shelter - the theme for our 5th Tooting Field Day

On Sunday August 2nd we focused on Shelter.  
Each family Field Day safari has a theme that's about enjoying the local outdoors, creativity and also low-carbon living. We've explored Travel, Water, Nature and more...and had a lot of fun together, and discovered parts of Tooting we didn't know at all.

What did we do?
In the first part of the afternoon we met at Sprout Community Arts and made insect hotels out of re-purposed plastic bottles and cardboard (yes, packaging from Dan's kitchen furniture). 

These shelters are designed for ladybirds and lacewing flies - both are welcome predators on aphids. The results were fantastic!  Brilliantly decorated, with ideas zipping around the tables as children and adults thought of new techniques, and showed them off, and copied. Lucky bugs...we made over 3 dozen shelters.

The second part of the Field Day continued the theme. 
We walked to Tooting Graveney Common and built shelters and dens from willow branches (kindly donated by Lambeth Council).  Again, the creativity and healthy competitiveness that everyone displayed was inspiring. People also commented how much fun it was to hang out and play in the woods. 

After a picnic (courtesy of Pooja, Arena and The Collective Dairy) certificates were awarded to the best dens in different categories by our young judges Dominic and Benji.
At the end we followed the 'leave no trace principle', dismantling all the dens (after we’d taken photos to remember them by!).

But what's this on Airbnb? 

One of the bottle shelters may have been left behind!

It sleeps 16...and has 8 bathrooms...look it up and check out the spec.

And look out for other Shelter-themed surprises you may find in Furzedown and Tooting - let us know what you spot. Including any sleeping ladybirds

Thanks very much to all the helpers who prepared and led this wonderful day, and to participants for your energy!

The last Field Day is on September 13th, part of the Tooting Foodival. There's going to be a giant pea ... all the info is available online here. All welcome, all ages, and it's free.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

POSTPONED: Foodival Meet & Make (was tonight)

The Meet & Make that was planned for tonight at Sprout has been postponed and moved to a new venue.

We will now be making for the Foodival on Weds 19th August at Streatham Cemetery from 6:30 - 8:30

Check the calendar and/or contact Jeni at for info or to let her know if you would like to come.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Carbon Conversations - the final session... for now!

Over the last six weeks, we've run a series of workshops called Carbon Conversations, to help a small group of people learn about the steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint, and investigate why some steps are harder than others.

We're looking to run another series in October, so if you'd like to find out more or even sign up, please do get in touch. You can find out more about the workshops here.

Martin Cobley is one of the participants. He's an active community gardener and a member of Transition Town Tooting, who has taken a lot of steps recently to live more sustainably. Here, he sums up the final session of Carbon Conversations.

I’ve been reflecting on one of the topics of last week’s final session: where next in my journey to lower carbon living? After a short exercise reviewing the areas we’d covered in the series – energy, travel, food and recycling, consumption – and some interesting suggestions such as eating only food in season; insulating between floorboards to reduce home energy bills; using local takeaways to reduce unnecessary travel, I’m drawn to the idea of getting a bike. I’m fitter and healthier now that I walk as much as I can, and I’m impressed by the folding bikes a couple of the participants have used to get to the venue. Hmmm… but it’s decades since I’ve ridden one and then it was on quiet suburban roads, no busy London traffic.

Next we played the Climate Walk game: mentally moving through the century thinking about the consequences for global warming of personal choices, such as giving up flying (a difficult one for some of the participants) and the things governments might do such as compulsory land purchase for growing food, or setting personal carbon quotas. Very thought-provoking: I can see that large-scale government action sooner than later could really make a significant difference. Although I happily sign online petitions from the likes of Avaaz, 38 degrees and Sum of Us for all sorts of climate-related issues, I’ve never been particularly interested in Politics (with a capital P). Logically it’s something I should be doing and I imagine joining in one of the many events which will no doubt be organised around the Paris 2015 talks later this autumn… But is this really my kind of thing? Can’t see myself enjoying it.

The session ended with a delicious and very healthy supper: everyone brought a low carbon dish, whether home cooked, locally grown or foraged from a school kitchen (with permission in case you were wondering). The conversation picked up some of the threads we touched on earlier: how hard making lifestyle sacrifices can be and having friends think you’re weird; how difficult to talk to climate change deniers without evidence; how to get more Carbon Conversations going? (Could we get a pro-environment character into EastEnders?!). Then, way past the scheduled finish time (I don’t think anyone wanted to leave), farewells at the door and arrangements to meet up again soon.

So a week later and where next? Neither the bike idea nor going on a demo fills me with enthusiasm. I’ve pushed my comfort zone quite hard recently with some of the lifestyle changes I’ve made – mainly on my own – and some still feel a bit fragile. I think I need something upbeat whilst they bed in. I remember the spirit of camaraderie at the supper; I’m enjoying physical activity… Got it! I shall try learning ballroom dancing! At a party recently I’d chatted to a very lively and energetic person who turned out to be a teacher at a local dance centre. I was immediately drawn to her. And it turned out that several friends-of-friends went to her beginners classes. Low cost, healthy, sociable and fun, plus it doesn’t matter if I’m a complete duffer. And there’s a perfect place to practise waltzing , a private corner of my local community garden!