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

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

New series of free Carbon Conversations workshops starts in March

All welcome to join our Tenth Series of free local Carbon Conversations!
Do you want to make some changes to reduce your carbon footprint, save energy and save on your bills, but you're not sure how or where to start?

Join a group of local residents in a series of 6 meetings to explore how small changes can make a big difference.
You'll assess your own carbon footprint, then together we'll look at home energy, transport and travel, food, consumption and waste to help you make changes that fit your situation. We'll help you make an action plan of practical steps to take. The workshops are free.

  • Sessions will take place on Thursdays between 23rd March - 4th May 2017
  • Specific dates are 23rd March, 30th March, 13th April, 20th April, 27th April & 4th May
  • they will run from 7:00 - 9:00pm
  • At 43 Woodfield Ave, SW16 1LE (near Tooting Common).
What do we do in the sessions?

For a start, they are enjoyable!
We discuss what's important to us about 'low carbon living' - our values as well as technicalities. We're meeting in the home of one of the facilitators, so it's a friendly atmosphere and you can bring cake or samosas...!
We play some creative and instructive games, which lead to more discussion and planning. This one is about making travel choices.

We look at technical information, too. 
In this example we're exploring where heat loss occurs in a normal house.

For all the info on the workshops, download the series flyer

Please email Ben to join in, express an interest, or ask any questions. 

We ask for a voluntary contribution of £16.00 per participant to cover the direct cost of “In Time for Tomorrow?” the excellent Carbon Conversations handbook published by The Surefoot Effect.

To read personal blog posts by participants in an earlier series of meetings, click here and scroll down all six (they are in reverse order as we posted them live after each session).

All welcome - you do not have to be an expert!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Gardens of Refuge project - February 2017 monthly update as we start with a Family Activity Day

After the long haul of communicating near and far for voting in the Aviva Community Fund last year, winning funding in January, and getting on with the planning for 2017...we've begun the project!

Our first session with the CARAS refugee and asylum-seekers has been a Family Activity Day on Valentine's Day..
It was a familiar mother-and-children event like many repeated all across Britain when it's half term, and that everyday normalness was exactly the point: creating a safe and friendly space for some fun and practical family time together as a community.
That's the purpose of Gardens of Refuge: to create with asylum-seekers and refugees a therapeutic sense of wellbeing and feeling at home, plus growing activities and meeting members of the wider local community.

Run by CARAS staff and volunteers, plus more from TTT, by 11:30 the church hall at All Saints Tooting was transformed with friendly faces and drop-in games and toys for all ages.

Egle from CARAS ran a 90-minute programme while lunch was being prepared:
  • In a circle of chairs: welcome, introductions & ground rules for inclusion and safety.
  • In a big burst of energy - playing 'fruit salad' to get us all interacting, adults and children alike.
  • At 3 tables: looking at images from the Tooting Community Garden and saying which kind of activities individuals would like to try out this year- gardening, picnicking & cooking on a fire; garden crafts; and enjoying nature. Everyone had 5 votes to distribute using sticky stars...results to be shared.
  • Continuing at the tables to decorate flower pots using stickers, feathers and pipe cleaners.
Carefully writing a plant label
  • Transplanting growing pots of supermarket herbs (donated by Waitrose Balham). Each pot was divided into 5 or 6 smaller pots, so the roots of basil, parsley, coriander, and greek basil have room to grow on windowsills back at home, and so they could all be shared out between 45 people.  

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Pollinator Paths Wandsworth - a new project for 2017 linking gardeners across the borough to experiment with planting that benefits insects

This is a new and imaginative project that is being launched now and will run throughout 2017.

Pollinator Paths Wandsworth is all about encouraging local gardeners to establish small patches as wildlife havens. Several community gardens are involved, so there will be plenty of support. It's going to be a good project to strengthen growing links across the borough.

We'll encourage many gardeners to grow selected varieties of plants which in turn are good forage for insects.
Spinach moth image by Roy Leverton, Butterfly Conservation.

We're mixing growing with citizen science: we'll research the 'microclimates' of London plots, balconies and windowboxes both for growing and for insects, we'll share the results and we'll take part in a fascinating and fun practical experiment together.

Individuals, families, schools can get involved - anyone with a plot even if it's small - and beginners are welcome as we'll share all the how-tos.

Why benefit insects? Maybe it sounds backwards to plant for the benefit of insects, but suitable habitat and forage are both reducing across London. Click here for the flyer.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Love Wandsworth Food free & fun family event Tuesday February 14th

All the family is invited:

All invited to this  fun half-term event on Tuesday 14th February, 2:00pm-4:30 pm.
Location is The Venue, Park Court, Battersea SW11 4LD
Please sign up on Eventbrite for free here:

There will be lots of activities and good ideas to share on the day, all about locally grown food, eating well and reducing waste.
You can read and download a pdf of the event flyer by clicking here

TTT celebrates local food and participation in our weekly sessions at the Tooting Community Garden, and of course at the annual Foodival

This year it's going to be our 
tenth Tooting Foodival!
Sept 16th & 17th in the heart of Tooting

We're planning now, and if you have ideas you'd like to try out, or resources you would like to contribute, or if you would like to volunteer, come and help make it special:
  • we can chat at the Fun Day on Feb 14th
  • come and chat at the next Tooting Green Drinks on February 15th, 7:30-9:30pm at The Selkirk, 60 Selkirk Rd,  SW17 0ES
  • come to our monthly open meeting on February 23rd, 7:00-9:00 at Al Farah Cafe, 137 Mitcham Rd, SW17 9P
  • or email us at transitiontown 
We'd love to hear from you

Sunday, 5 February 2017


Chuck's Kale
So some of us went vegetarian for the month of January and, for me, it proved surprisingly fun to try an alternative, more mindful way of feeding myself. 80 people shared experiences and recipes on the Vegetanuary facebook group and a celebratory feast was held at Vegan Express last week. 
Vegan Express Celebration
Dipa's vegetable pastilla with feta
It would be great to try this again, maybe even risking Veganuary or Veganpril and I am sure there must be a recipe collection in here somewhere???  It's also a great way to kick off thinking about the 10th Foodival later this year.  

Well done Richard for organising this inspriring initiative and thanks to everyone who or joined in. Not sure I'll ever salivate over a bacon sandwich in quite the same way again!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Urban Heat Research Report Published

Today the Policy Studies Institute publish their research report Urban Heat: Developing the role of community groups in local climate resilience. It's a readable, accessible and expert report.

TTT are proud to have been able to contribute to this valuable piece of work, hosting and facilitating community conversations, mainly in 2015, about the increasing risks posed by localised heat in cities - including neighbourhoods like Tooting - in our warming climate.

Cold weather challenges are much better recognised by most of us, including health and social care professionals, in terms of individuals' vulnerability. So it was useful to be part of research showing that urban overheating is a significant risk, and we can take action to reduce its impact.

We commenced the project in a cold spell in winter two years ago, when the priorities seemed very different. It was hard to visualise that later the same summer we would hold a workshop near Tooting Broadway on the hottest day of 2015. Very appropriate!

Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Urban Heat project examined the potential role of the local voluntary and community sector (VCS) in the development of local climate resilience.

In Tooting the research engaged with over a dozen relevant community organisations with diverse services and areas of focus: health care, social care, low-carbon living, community development. A number of local individuals were interviewed as well. Finally, a group of Wandsworth local authority and statutory organisations also explored the impact of Urban Heat.

To read our past TTT blog posts about the whole project since its inception, please click here.

Other partners in the Urban Heat research programme explored the same topic in Hackney and in West London, all co-facilitating alongside the Policy Studies Institute team.

Finally, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded a sister research project at the same time, about 'Climate Resilient Communities'. This was developed in the context of local flooding in the Scottish Borders, mostly rural, but much of the experience and lessons are relevant to all communities working proactively with practical climate challenges. We'll share that report when it is published.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Pop-up Cinema in Furzedown on Fri 27th January: Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything'

Join the Furzedown Low Carbon Zone screening of Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything' The film explores the global fight against climate change, the role of capitalism and what citizens can do.
The film has been described as "purposely unsettling...ultimately encouraging".
When? Doors at 7:00 for film at 7:30 on Friday 27th January
Where? The Furzedown Project, 93 Moyser Road SW16 6SJ
Tickets cost £5 for waged and £2 for students / unemployed - including wine, soft drinks and our famous popcorn
All welcome!
Please reserve tickets by emailing us at 
Your ticket entitles you to a 50% discount on the purchase of low-energy LED light bulbs for use in many parts of the home. 
We're making this LED offer available via our bulk purchase, to enable you to start saving money and reduce your home's carbon footprint.

Friday, 13 January 2017

'Gardens of Refuge' project wins 2017 funding from the Aviva Community Fund

We are thrilled that Gardens of Refuge, the 2017 project working with Tooting refugees and asylum-seekers, has been awarded funding by Aviva. The project application was made by the local charity CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers) and TTT are the partners along with The Grange respite centre in Norfolk.

Thank you for all your votes and support! 

Here's our vision for the Gardens of Refuge project: please click here to read

This funding award lets us look forward to a fascinating 2017, developing and delivering the new project and building on our learning and experience from our previous project together.  

We want to do some things that we know work well, and also some new things.

Plus we'll invite ideas (and resources) from the many well-wishers who voted for Gardens of Refuge last November.

A new feature that will add value is the new CARAS Youth Council. This governance group will help provide a voice for project beneficiaries in the youth club.
We'll also be working with other members of the CARAS community.

We all expect to learn and benefit. One of our first reactions, apart from joy at the award and making the project real, is that this award gives profile and visibility to the fact that refugees' lives matter, and that they have much to contribute in our shared communities.

We'll post more information on project plans as they develop.
Yes, we all worked hard to get to this stage, so it's great to have the affirmation from the Aviva Fund judges.
It took us a while to be sure on announcement day: students of communication will be interested that Aviva made the 'Project Winner' info available online and by twitter...and it was 24 hours before CARAS received a direct email saying 'You've won!'. By then we'd taken the public messages at face value and trusted that it was all true.

And there are some extra surprises - such as a reception at Parliament in late January where all the funded projects can meet each other and their constituency MPs.

We've worked since early 2015 with CARAS - that was on the 'Rooting in Tooting' project, supported by the Royal Horticultural Society's 'Greening Grey Britain' campaign and by Sir Walter St John's Educational Charity - more info here. That project brought new volunteers to CARAS & TTT; we're really delighted with that.

Thanks again for all your interest and support - 
this is a very motivating start to the New Year!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Producing A Steak Takes A Lot Of Water

One of the reasons some of us are trying vegetarianism for January is the environmental impact of keeping animals for human consumption. The practice of rearing animals to provide food for humans is an ancient one and has been going on for at least 10,000 years. I'd argue that this has only really become a serious problem in the modern age when world human population has increased massively, ever larger swathes of land have been set aside for animals to graze at the expense of forest, and industrial production of animal product has become central in the human food chain.
Components of agricultural water footprint (from SAB Miller and WWF, 2009)
Some of the effects are obvious: more carbon emissions, fewer carbon sinks, excess water usage, changing climate. Taking just one of these factors I'm amazed to see that according to Mekonnen and Hoekstra (2010) the water footprint of bovine meat is 15,415 litres of water per kg, compared to 322 litres/kg for vegetables. For beef cattle 98% of the water used up is with respect to their feed.

For more info on Vegetanuary, check out the facebook group.
Chuck's Vegetarian Risotto Tonight

Thursday, 5 January 2017

New Year, New start... an invitation to say hi in 2017!

Zoom forward a year, what are you going to have started now to become part of your everyday in Jan '18?? 

Looking out onto a cool, crisp morning, layered in frost, I wonder how many of you are taking on New Year challenges? Perhaps you're cutting back on the booze, getting fitter... or learning a new language, or perhaps you'd like to check out Transition Town Tooting?!?!? Maybe...

So here's an invitation, to come and say hi and peek behind the curtain of TTT, it's magical! Local people coming together to re-imagine and rebuild our world - one Restart Party, one Community Garden session, one Green Drink at a time...

Here's what's going on in January for you to get involved in, please do come & say hi:

This Saturday, 7th January. Tooting Green Coffee Club, 4pm - 6.30pm, Tartine Artisanal Cafe, Tooting Bec.
Families most welcome at this informal coffee at Tartine. It's a great way to chat, agenda-free, about local green issues. We'll be talking about 2017, sharing project ideas at very early stages - a perfect way to find out more about TTT and what's going on in Tooting.

This Sunday 8th January and every Sunday. The first Garden session of the year, 11am - 1pm, Tooting Community Garden, Behind 5 North Drive, SW16 1RN
If you are a complete gardening beginner or have lots of skills to share, if you fancy coming along and relaxing in a green oasis or want to use the garden as a green gym, all welcome on Sundays!

Tuesday 10th January. TTT Open Meeting, 7 for a 7.30 start - 9pm. Mushkil Aasaan, 222 Upper Tooting Road. 

This is our monthly activity and planning meeting - we'll be looking more closely at resourcing our plans for the year - a great bird's eye view if you're interested in seeing the whole.

Wednesday 18th January. Green Drinks! 7.30pm - 10pm The Selkirk Pub, 60 Selkirk Road, SW17 0ES.
If you like a drink and a chat about local green issues, this is the one for you - what's the one thing that you really want to take action on? Do you have an inspiring article or a breathtaking concern to share? Or just listen&relax in the lovely Selkirk.

And one online...

Vegetanuary! David blogged about this challenge below, would you like to join a growing group of people in trying out vegetarian cooking for a month? Could you give up meat & fish for the next 4 weeks? If you like a challenge and want to learn new recipes, this Facebook group is for you! Just request to join and see what & how & why everyone's been cooking veggie - Veggies and Vegans welcome to add a tbsp of expertise.

So, zoom forward a year, what are you going to have started now to become part of your everyday in Jan '18??

By the way... this is me, Richard, so you can recognise a face in a crowd... I'm the older one... the other two are Benji and Dominic...

Friday, 30 December 2016

Can You Give Up Meat for a Month?

When TTT co-chair Richard mentioned he was going to go vegetarian for January, it made me think could I? 

Some vegetables, yesterday

Not eating meat and what it means, touches on so many of the environmental issues that TTT has tried to tackle over the years. Land and water use, global warming, animal welfare, population growth, the carbon cycle, the changing climate, human health and well-being all seem relevant. It sparked my interest. Then I saw an ad for veganuary on the tube, a campaign to encourage people to become vegan for a month.  Could I, a lover of bacon sandwiches, lamb karahi, fillet steak and recently copious amounts of turkey join in with such an endeavour?

I think I can but... how? What will it be like? What about fish? Is anyone else out there interested? There's only one day to decide ... DT

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

We had a fun & creative seasonal session ReSparkling, Reducing and Re-using materials that would have gone to waste. And Happy New Year!

Thanks loads to our partners in Tooting Library for hosting our fifth annual seasonal ReSparkle! workshop on the 17th December.
Around 40 young people - from four-year olds to teenagers - joined in for two hours, solo or with parents and carers. Everyone learned how to do all kinds of imaginative things that can be repeated or adapted at home using everyday materials saved from going to waste.

We used simple and practical methods and tools that are good for children and adults to learn how to handle confidently - folding, gluing, cutting-out with scissors, hole punching, stapling, decorating.

What did we do? (If you look carefully you can see examples of the different things that participants made in the background of many of the pictures...can you work out how to make them?)

Jane showed how to make angels using the pages of an old book destined for recycling.
Rachel showed how to make snowmen and other figures from cardboard tubes - so simple!
Plus, Hilary made cardboard boxes.

Flora helped make present bags out of the Library's out-of-date foreign-language newspapers.

Below: look at the intense concentration when learning to use the hole puncher.  

how did she keep her hat so straight?

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Reduce, Re-Use, ReSparkle! Free seasonal crafts with Tooting Library on Saturday 17th December

We're running our fifth annual free ReSparkle! event at Tooting Library, 75 Mitcham Road, SW17 9PD on Sat 17th, from 2-4pm.

All welcome, for all ages and all materials provided: the theme is learning how to make decorative and interesting things - perhaps presents for Christmas time - using re-purposed materials that would otherwise go to waste.
No experience can do all the activities, and take home what you make. And teach others at home how you did it!

The venue is the beautiful Children's Library on the first floor.
We're combining the fun workshop with artist Jeni Walker's monthly Meet and Make sessions, so we can expect a really varied group.

Click on the year to see what we made at Resparkle 2015 and Resparkle 2014 - the theme that year was 'I never knew you could do so much with paper!'

Here are two highlights, and we look forward to seeing you:

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Team London's International Volunteering Conference, December 5th at London's City Hall

Egle, Jenny and Chuck were honoured to be able to present our shared experience from the joint CARAS + TTT 'Rooting in Tooting' project at this free conference yesterday. It was run by Team London to celebrate the end of London's tenure as International City of Volunteering for 2016. Over 300 people attended.

We tried to tell the story visually with pictures of participants and activities over 2015 and 2016. Here's a snapshot of our presentation:

You can look at the slides in the normal way by clicking here on the conference website. Our session was shared with Alkisti Macrynikola from Ethelon, an NGO in Greece who also work with refugees.

We emphasised the project benefits for the young people, for CARAS, for the community, and for TTT. A graphic facilitator captured the day's learning and stories, and Rooting in Tooting features in the top right of the image:

We're glad that some of the key points have come through - including achieving a 'Sense of Belonging' with the young people from the CARAS Youth Club. You can see the graphic full size by clicking here.
There's a lot of detail to explore!

The main hall - wow!
It was inspiring and too much to summarise in a few sentences - have a look at all the session presentations by clicking here. (Scroll right to the bottom of the page). One debate was whether 'volunteering' could be called 'social action' to make it sound more focused or more attractive to a different audience -'to be continued!'

London's City Hall is a great venue, and the whole event was very welcoming. Thank you for inviting us!

Tower Bridge, Chuck & Egle

The garden at Potter's Fields

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

TTT 2016 Gardening Celebration tonight!

Tonight is the TTT 2016 Gardening Celebration - plus we're looking forward to exciting things in 2017. The event is at The Selkirk near Tooting Broadway from 7:00 pm.

To celebrate the celebration:
here are five current growing, gardening and sustainability events and ideas to follow up even if you can't make it tonight:

1 TTT attended the bi-annual Wildlife Gardening Forum last week at the Natural History Museum. This is always an amazing and cross-cutting event with around 100 participants - private gardeners, schools, local authorities, biodiversity and growing charities, researchers, enterprises.
The theme this time was learning from European experience in Germany, Belgium, Austria the Netherlands, Ireland (oh, and Scotland).
Why learn from Europe? Click on the photo...

We learned a German word - schwammstadt  - meaning 'sponge city'. A sponge city is redesigned to be responsive and adaptive to climate change impact and allow for more natural rainfall retention, reducing runoff. (See the event on December 8th in para 4 below).
Anyone can attend the Forum; it's a great day when you can meet experts and work out what ideas you can use yourself. And all the presentations appear for free on the WLGF website in due course.

2 TTT joined Capital Growth's 'Roots to Growth' workshop.
We looked at the experience and potential of farming as an enterprise within London.

There's tons of good info on the Capital Growth site - all these reports are free downloads.

While the pleasure and impact of growing together is not only about saving money and managing our budgets, what do you think is the annual value of the crops grown by 2000 London gardens linked to Capital Growth? Include crops for sharing, not only veg which are sold, so you can include Tooting Community Garden's pumpkins in the calculation. Have a guess - the answer is at the end of this blog.
We could take up the challenge of recording our crops - see the Harvest-ometer from Sustain.  
This kind of data is very valuable in order to be able to make our case for more growing in London!
TTT's friend Mark at Vertical Veg has documented the equivalent value of what he grows - click here to read about it.