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

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

People's March for Climate - This Sunday 29th November!

TTT will be joining the Transition Block at the march, join us :
11am at the entrance to Tooting Bec Underground Station on Sunday 29th November.

More information from organisers, including a route map is on the Campaign against Climate Change page here

This weekend marks the beginning of a the 2 week International Climate Conference in Paris called COP21. As we all think about recent events in Paris and wish for peaceful resolution to conflicts the world over, the City hosts the World's major leaders with hope to gain Global agreement to cut carbon emissions and prevent run away climate change.

Our very own Jeni Walker a similar march earlier this year
This is the largest scale of negotiation on Climate Change mitigation and, if successful, has the highest possible positive impact for the future of us humans on this Planet we call home. However, politics is a tricky business with competing motivations and historical contexts, not to mention very well funded lobbying from those businesses that don't want limits on carbon emissions.

We must let those politicians know that we, the people, care. 
Care that they go to the table with open minds, care they think about the long term, not the few years to the next General Election, care that they listen to the scientific evidence alongside the human suffering that comes from ever more frequent extreme weather events.

You can read about our experience at the march earlier this year here

And think about the reasons why you might want to march here

Hope to see you there, Richard and TTT gang.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

TTT receives Wandsworth Recycling Golden Ticket prize - THANK YOU Ms Osmond!

Wandsworth's Golden Ticket prize draw scheme means that every two months a properly-sorted bag of recycling - complete with a WBC golden ticket put there by the householder - is selected to win a £5000 prize. Half of the prize is a community pot which the winner donates to local community groups, and half is the householder's own reward.

Three weeks ago the first of four monthly draws took place, and Ms Osmond from Tooting selected Transition Tooting as one of the winners. We have received £1000, and so have two other organisations: FAST, a young people's project in Nine Elms and Share Community which offers training support for disabled people.

Charles from TTT; Michaela, Kerry and Jason from FAST; and Annie from Share Community

All of us in TTT are bowled over at being selected by Ms Osmond.   We hugely appreciate it, and will report back on what we do with these valuable funds in order to help make Tooting a more sustainable and happier place. Thank you again!

Ms Osmond's donation is extra generous because she added £500 of her personal prize to make the community pot a round £3,000 - so her three selected organisations each received £1,000.

NB this scheme continues for three more draws, so it is really worth householders popping their golden tickets into correctly-sorted recycling, and certainly worth community organisations registering as potential beneficiaries. To get more tickets or to register, click here on the WBC website or  here on the WRWA site 

Here we are joined by Michael Singham, WBC Waste Strategy Manager...and yes, a bag of recycling. 
The next draw is on the 18th December - Good Luck and Happy Recycling!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

'Bringing Nature Closer to Home': Wildlife Gardening Forum November 2015

'Bringing Nature Closer to Home' is the tagline of the Wildlife Gardening Forum, which held its tenth anniversary meeting yesterday at the Natural History Museum in London.

Several of us from Tooting and TTT attended - along with 80 other gardeners, enterprises, government agencies, charities and community groups. It's always a stimulating day (available to all; the Forum has 800+ members now).
Anyone can use the Forum's rich resources at
Forum meetings are held twice a year and give us a valuable chance to hear practical ideas from across the UK, learn about brand new research and discuss key topics with experts and practitioners - in sessions or over coffee.

I've found there has always been learning to bring home to Tooting from these Forum meetings. 

Plus practical things to do - here is a citizen science survey that will let us contribute to earthworm research (ie 'soil ecosytem services').

Monday, 9 November 2015

Community Energy in London - Question Time

Tooting's own Furzedown Low Carbon Zone (FLCZ) is joining Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth (CREW) and Repowering London to host the city's first gathering of all local community energy groups:

Community Energy in London - Question Time
Free Entry!

City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA, United Kingdom
6pm to 9pm on Thursday 12th November 2015

Please confirm your place as we are filling up. Email us at:

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Help shape a 2016 vision for Tooting

We're running a couple of fun events in the next week and you're invited!

Join us to reflect and celebrate 2015's activities and achievements and let's imagine what we might want to do for Tooting in 2016.

Come along. Everyone welcome!
  • Saturday, 07 November, 10am - 1pm, at Mushkil Aasaan, Upper Tooting Rd (next to Nando's)
  • Tuesday, 10 November, 7pm - 9pm, at the Trafalgar Arms, Tooting High St (back room)
If you can't make it, take some time to think about these questions and get in touch with your thoughts and ideas.
  • What could TTT do in Tooting in 2016?
  • How can TTT support people in Tooting in 2016?
  • What ideas do you have for our projects and activities?
  • How could Foodival evolve, or the community garden?
There are plenty of ideas brewing and we hope some of them become an exciting 2016 reality!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Wandsworth Oasis UPFest: Tuesday 3rd November

'It's all about waste'  That's how Gill Perkins, CEO of the Wandsworth Oasis charity, describes the driving theme behind UPFest: the Oasis event on Tuesday November 3rd:
All welcome to a fun and original evening: a catwalk and showcase of the joy of upcycling clothes and textiles. 
TTT are proud to be involved via Jeni Walker and her initiative Sustainable Making and Arts Tooting - SMArT

Location: the Oasis shop at 234-250 Mitcham Road, Tooting SW17 9NT
Timings: 5:30pm to 10:00pm on Tuesday 3rd November.
More UPFest details online here- entry by donation.

Jeni has been making scrap silk skirt scrunchies in World AIDS Day red - available on the night next week. Here she is last week in the decorated window of the new Oasis shop at Amen Corner in Tooting:

Oasis supports local people who are affected by HIV and have successful charity shops around the borough. Gill and the team work (tirelessly) to sell as many of the items donated as they can, but inevitably there is still so much that may be fated to become landfill. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Leo's Garden: an oasis tucked above Tooting

Tooting has a new and delightful asset!
A new garden balcony for all the staff at the Tooting campus of South Thames College opened today in memory of Mumney Olusanya (or Leo, as he was better known). Leo was Facilities Manager at the Tooting campus, and died on the 31st October 2013. Leo’s Garden is a University and College Union initiative and was opened by Angie Birtill of the Trade Union Studies Centre.

Angie raising a fizzy apple juice as a toast to Leo's memory

Spring bulbs were planted later today in memory of Leo, adding to the planting done over spring and summer this year - all funded by the volunteers themselves. As well as a memorial to Leo, the garden is consciously about health and safety - creating an attractive place for any college staff to boost their wellbeing during a busy day. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

From the Local to the International - Journeys of imagination and generosity at the Transition Network International Conference

Back in September, Charles Whitehead wrote a preview piece about 8 of us from Tooting heading to the Transition Network International Conference at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot. We went by caravan, car share and train arriving the day before, early afternoon and late at night.

You can read all about how we contributed to the conference in Charles' blogpost here. Following the conference, we were all excited to share our experience of it as it had so much energy to give! Please do click on the links in the highlighted words, if they are of interest. There is also a Storify of the Conference and a blog on the Transition Network site.

Tooting heads West!
Home away from Home, with cake!

After arriving, pitching our tents, siting and re-siting our caravan and finding our rooms, Jenny , Hilary and myself participated in the Transition Skills day, learning lots about Transition Thrive , designing a new economy in "REconomy" and how to "Become your own Developer" before the conference actually began.

Meanwhile, Lucy was running her own workshop on Creative Engagement, she writes...

"Once I'd recovered from the news that my main collaborator, Ruth Ben-Tovim (she of the Tooting Transition Shop from 2012), was sick and I would have to get on and run the day long Transition workshop on the arts and creating community on my own, I decided this Transition Conference (my 4th) was going to be about getting on and doing it with the resources I had to hand. I calmed myself by imagining the 14 strangers I was about to meet and wondering why they could be interested in learning about the craft of making things happen, and the art of creative participation. The knowledge they would all be doing this in a Transition context i.e. making the world we want to live in by modelling the changes in how we live where we live, immediately made me relax. I felt I could be myself and invite them to give all of themselves to the workshop, which they did! The day was astonishing for the rich diversity of their expertise, their generosity to give and gain from one another and the final artworks they created together. I was bowled over by how much creative ground we covered and my abiding faith in the central role our imaginations and creativity play in Transition. I have spent 3 years capturing this in the transition book in the arts, Playing for Time - making Art As If the World Mattered and it felt as if the book had in a sense, come home.

This feeling of generosity, sharing and common goals was echoed by Jenny's experience, she reflected later:

"It was inspiring and encouraging to meet other people from around the world who share a vision for a fairer, more community-led world. A focus on collaboration, partnerships and relationship building was a common theme. It's something we cherish in Transition Town Tooting and will continue to build in 2016. A Neighbourhood Plan, Foodival and our garden projects wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the generosity and energy of our partners and volunteers".

My experience during the Transition Thrive training was similarly applicable to our activity in Tooting and encouraged me to be active in looking after the wonderful volunteers and core group of Transition Town Tooting as well as offering the opportunity to participate to more people through Open Days and outreach.

Our Workshops: Outdoor Learning with Young People and Creative Facilitation with FanSHEN

Day 2 and the conference proper begins... Jenny, Charlie, Sharon and I hosted a workshop on Outdoor Learning with Young People. We shared our work in Outdoor Learning in 3 areas:

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

So what is outdoor learning?

For the past 2 1/2 years, TTT has been running outdoor learning classes with pupils from Gatton, a local primary school in the community garden. From weekly sessions with Reception and Year 1 classes, to 7-week projects with the Year 6 students, the classes encompass a huge range of cross-curriculum learning, developing new skills and vocabulary and allowing the children to fully interact with nature in the safe and beautiful environment of our garden.

But I still get asked regularly, what exactly is outdoor learning? So, here's a brief example of my class today, on a beautiful autumn morning with a lively Year 1 group...

After warm greetings and not-at-all-exaggerated reports on how much they had grown over the summer holidays, the children discussed the different seasons, today's weather and how the sunshine made them feel: happy, bright and a bit sweaty! We then looked at some of the plants we had been growing - a cherry tomato that I picked just before they arrived and a beetroot. They were very excited to discover that beetroot acts as a natural dye and took great delight in getting a red thumb. We also went to look at the green and yellow pumpkin that was growing in the vegetable beds.

Then we played an energetic game of seek and find, bringing back different numbers and colours of grasses, leaves, pinecones, sticks and acorns. The children learned that the squirrels love to eat acorns and hide them away so that they can eat them later in the winter; we found lots of buried acorns in the garden - sorry squirrels!

And then, while half the group help collect objects for the Big Draw, the other half used trowels (remembering the safety instructions I taught them last year) to dig up the old pea plants in their little veg bed. The plants went on the compost heap to be recycled in the garden. We all put our hands into the freshly dug soil to feel how it was drier on the top and damper underneath but was also loose like crumble mix. And the numerous worms that were unearthed during the process were all gently and kindly transported to the bush where rumour has it they were having a big worm party...

Finally, after making big shapes, small shapes and star shapes, the children exploded with an impressive "Acorns!" for their "word jump". Exit one group of happy, rosy-cheeked, energised children.


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.