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

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.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Restart and Sew-vember

An afternoon of fixing and mending!

On Saturday 12th November Transition Town Tooting and Restart held an event to get people reusing their broken things. Local connecting hub Mushkil Aasaan hall was a hive of activity with many people so keen they turned up early!

  The Restart project is a London-based social enterprise that encourages and empowers people to use their electronics longer in order to reduce waste.

And so for 3 hours on a very wet afternoon tooting residents brought their broken electronics to be fixed. Around 30 items were brought in to the event and the Restarters worked hard to get things up and running again or identify the problem and give advice on how the residents themselves could solve the problem if it needed parts.

A very lively corner of the room was the Sewvember tables. Set up by local maker Jeni, as part of the TTT Meet & Make workshop series, the aim was to assist people who had clothing, curtains and soft toys that need mending to repair them. Right from the outset there were people wanting assistance and taking advantage of the sewing machine. 

The day started out with one sewing machine but at one point two more had been brought in and there was a whole crowd mending things.

 The rain didn't deter anyone from turning up, it was busy all day right until closing, good thing there were plenty of refreshments to keep people going at the TTT cafe.

 With both restart and Sewvember the great things is that the people bringing the items are an integral part of solving the issues so they learned new skills and hopefully they will be able to be applied to other items they own that could be reused.

Can't wait till the next one. Look out for more Restart parties here https://therestartproject. org/parties/ and more crafty events here

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Gardens of Refuge: yes we are through to the finals of the Aviva Community Fund!

Brilliant success at the voting stage: Aviva Community Fund has just confirmed that we're through to the finals for the Gardens of Refuge project! 
We now do some further application steps by December 7th, and then there's judging and then the results are announced January 10th '17.
Great news & thanks for all the support!
To see the project description, click here:

Saturday, 19 November 2016

First feedback after voting closed Friday 18th on Gardens of Refuge via Aviva Community Fund

We're proud to share where we reached when voting closed yesterday on the Gardens of Refuge campaign with CARAS.   
Over 600 people supported the project online.
We believe we came THIRD, with over 6200 votes. 

Our formal ranking will be confirmed on 22nd Nov by Aviva & we'll communicate wider after then. 

If we're in the top 4 in our project category, we go through to the next round - to a more familiar bid process.

By the way votes went from 3400 on Weds morning to 6200 by lunchtime yesterday!

Thanks for your votes, patience and energy in this period of repeated messages and nudges in every medium possible, dominating the TTT airwaves.

Normal service can soon be resumed on communicating the rest of TTT's rolling projects.

Every vote really did count!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Please vote by 12:00 Friday November 18th for 'Gardens of Refuge' project funding from Aviva

This week is the home straight for voting online for funding support for Gardens of Refuge at the Aviva Community Fund. It will come down to our tally of votes at the end of 18th November, and of course the other 'Aviva projects' are also doing a push this week.

Please vote by Friday 12:00 for Gardens of Refuge, and ask your family and friends to vote too. Together we can support this creative and forward-looking Tooting partnership project with the refugee and asylum-seeker community centred on the Tooting charity CARAS.
Every Vote Counts, and every vote is appreciated!

How to vote?
You have to register individually before you can vote. To register, please click here for the Aviva webpage
Then search for CARAS or Gardens of Refuge to vote!

Project Details:
Read the description of the project online here.

For the future: bulbs for 2017
You'll see that the project is all about growing the therapeutic benefits of gardening plus greening the community we share in Tooting.
And it's about building ways to enable refugees to share their own knowledge and skills locally.
Together we'll imagine and create a more beautiful neighbourhood as a legacy for all.

Legacy: flourishing from 2015's cuttings
There are three partners in Gardens of Refuge:
CARAS - with whom we have worked in depth for 18 months on Rooting in Tooting.

The Grange - a residential respite and permaculture centre in Norfolk who work with CARAS. Please see The Grange.

& Transition Town Tooting

 Thank you so much for your support & please vote by 12:00 on 18th Nov!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Celebrating and sharing learning from our experience of 'Rooting in Tooting'

This autumn TTT is delighted to be able to contribute to events to share our learning from Rooting in Tooting (our joint project with the refugee and asylum seeker community served by CARAS)
It's brilliant to be meeting new people and groups, and sharing in different ways: thank you for the invitations!
We certainly don't 'have all the answers' but we would like to join others in asking questions and sharing practice.

There are 4 very diverse autumn 2016 events where we're celebrating or telling the Rooting in Tooting story:

1 The Royal Horticultural Society OneRHS managers conference
                  Credit: RHS / Julian Weigall
CARAS & TTT were honoured to be the only outside speakers at this event for 175 RHS managers. We had fascinating discussions about how the RHS can most effectively engage with community projects.

2 Team London Volunteer Awards 2016
TTT is thrilled to be on the awards shortlist in the Greening & Cleaning category of the Awards. We'll be joining other voluntary groups for the ceremony. Here's the Mayor's tweet on Monday morning: will celebrate the capital's volunteering heroes at tonight's at City Hall.

3 Cause2Create: "where we find specific, targeted solutions to challenges posed by the refugee crisis"
We're invited to Cause2Create's 'hack' weekend. "We know we’re not going to solve the refugee crisis in one weekend, but we can explore some of the specific challenges and develop scalable and actionable solutions."

4 International Volunteering Conference at City Hall, celebrating London as European Volunteering Capital 2016
CARAS & TTT are co-facilitating one of the conference workshops in December. Joining in with the Greek volunteering NGO Ethelon, the aim is to explore training and community engagement aspects of working well with refugees. What benefits do both refugees and communities experience when working together?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Restart and Sew-vember - an afternoon of fixing and mending!

Come and join us on Saturday November the 12th for an afternoon of fixing and mending!

Whether it’s electrical or electronic items that you don’t want to throw away

or a sewing machine that is broken or you’re not sure how to use.

Have a favourite piece of clothing that needs mending or altering and you’d like to learn how?  Or simply good at fixing and mending stuff.

Or maybe you fancy a cup of tea, a piece of cake and a chance to find out more about Transition Tooting and what we get up to?

Come along on

Saturday 12th November, 2 - 5pm

Mushkil Aasaan, 220 - 222 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW (next to Nando’s)    

(Restart Parties are a community self-repair space where you take responsibility for your own gadgets and data, so please don’t forget to take any back-ups beforehand, if relevant – and if possible arrive during the first two hours to allow time for fixing!   More info about Restart including details of regular skillshares at www,


Friday, 21 October 2016

'Gardens of Refuge': our new partnership project for 2017 with CARAS & The Grange. Vote for funding online through the Aviva Community Fund!

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” (Audrey Hepburn)

We are thrilled that Gardens of Refuge, our new partnership project plan has reached the final public voting stage of the Aviva Community Fund! The project is centred on the refugee and asylum-seeker community who are supported by the Tooting charity CARAS.

Read the description of the project online here.

For the future: bulbs for 2017
Gardens of Refuge is listed under 'CARAS' on the Aviva Community Fund website.
You'll see that the project is all about growing the therapeutic benefits of gardening plus greening the community we share in Tooting.  
And it's about building ways to enable refugees to share their knowledge and skills locally to imagine and create a more beautiful neighbourhood as a legacy for all.
Legacy: flourishing from 2015's cuttings
There are three partners in Gardens of Refuge:
CARAS - with whom we have worked in depth for 18 months  on Rooting in Tooting.

The Grange - a residential respite and permaculture centre in Norfolk who work with CARAS. Please see The Grange.

& Transition Town Tooting

As of today, the website is live for the public to vote for the projects they would like Aviva to support. 
Voting is open until 18th November: but please don't delay!
Please vote and encourage Aviva to support Gardens of Refuge!  

You have to register individually before you can vote: to register, please click here for the Aviva webpage
Then search for CARAS or Gardens of Refuge to vote!
Thank you so much for your support, 
and please contact us by email if you have any queries.