It’s a Muddle in the Middle (day 40) May 7th
By Steph Bradley 9th May 2010
I sleep till gone 10 – it seems to be a pattern of mine that the first night in an urban setting knocks me out in a sort of stupor.
I check my emails for urgent updates and Yahoo informs me we have a hung parliament! A historic moment. It feels good; if a little sad that still so few vote liberal. I have voted for the first time; it never seemed worth it before. I am happy with the result; it feels like a more honest representation.
I go downstairs to find Hilary and Dave have already left, leaving me a packed lunch which I devour on the spot! It is already quite late now and I have to be at the Kingston Environment Centre at 12.
It takes me an hour to meander my way through Surbiton along designated cycle ways to Kingston. I am to stay a few minutes meeting Jean Vidler, who founded the Kingston Environment Centre http://kingstoneco.org.uk/ . I stay for nearly 2 hours! I am so inspired by the story. Jean founded Kingston Green Fair some 20 years ago, after realising green issues were important and awareness needed raising. Several years ago they teamed up with the Save the World club, and more recently the two were given temporary premises by the council. They have been there 3 years though will be moving again once suitable land has been identified. One of the things the Save the World club teach people to make amazing mosaics out of tiles that would otherwise be thrown away. I’d show you pictures but my netbook has absolutely refused to acknowledge the existence of my windows phone since the 1st May!
The mosaics currently being made are to be used to cover up any graffiti in Kingston. I hope I get to see them up, they really are beautiful. Jean introduces me the people making them and we talk about what transition is.
Jean has been involved with transition for a while and when Kingston Green Fair decided to stop running and become static it felt right to run transition and other groups with similar intention to run events from the centre. They have raised beds in the garden and have a run a basic permaculture course there. They also have a small hidden garden that they keep wild for the local wildlife; it is a peaceful haven full of wild flowers; we go out there to pick lemon balm for my herbal tea.
The new transition Kingston veg box scheme starts distributing the very next day from the centre. The idea is that transition Kingston food group acquire veg from the local markets and producers and bring them here for distribution. With time they hope to be able to include the surplus from their allotments in the boxes too. We talk about whether a bunch of the prolific lemon balm ought to be included in the boxes; there is certainly nothing like drinking fresh herbal tea.
One of the things Jean is currently most excited about is the new green jobs advice initiative that will start running from the centre this summer. She feels this is the most important work they can be doing right now and that they have the right people to offer their skills to support it.
I also meet Sam Hermitage who broadcasts the Green Futures Festival radio 24 hours over the internet. (http://greenfuturesfestivals.org.uk/greenradio.html .)He gives me a DVD of the bee song which I say I will take on to the next place, and I listen to Transition Kingston’s unleashing song, which is beautiful. He records it for me on my little recorder, so one of these days you might be able to listen to it too! Jean interviews me for the radio station.
I present her, as a representative of TTK (Transition Kingston), with the Lewes pound Transition Lewes gave me to take onwards. She is delighted; Tom Paine is one of her heroes!
Whilst I am at the centre I learn that Caroline Lucas (of the Green Party) has been elected MP for Brighton. It truly is a momentous day.
I finally leave Kingston after 2 to set off walking to Tooting. I am already fairly certain it can’t be achieved in day light hours (I have long decided not to walk after dusk). I walk along the river Thames to Ham; this is a beautiful walk and my first glimpse of the Thames since setting out. I am sorry to leave it as I cut in to walk east through the common and onto Richmond Park. I walk all the way through Richmond park and through Wimbledon Common and Wimbledon Park, reaching there close to 7pm.
I call Lucy Neal (founder of Transition Tooting) and discover she is on the train from Euston. We agree to meet at Tooting Bec tube. It is cold, already darkening, and I am in one of those lubrugrious London tube station neighbourhoods that always make me wonder why anyone would choose to live in a city. I decide to catch the tube, it should only be a stop, or so I think….
When I lived in Brazil I was often amazed at how far away my colleagues at the school where we taught English lived from their place of work, until I met my now ex husband, who walked to work, and I realised that all those people lived quite close but you couldn’t get there by car so easily because of one way systems. I realise now that the tube is the same. A simple 5 mile journey between Wimbledon Park and Tooting took almost as long on the tube as if I had walked – all the way up to Embarkment to come back down to it on the Northern Line (going south). Lucy and I met at 8pm and caught the bus to Tooting Bec Common and then walked to her house.
After a hot bath, my lower legs are complaining a lot after walking on hard pavements all day, Lucy tells me all about what Transition Tooting are up to, over dinner.
I should have remembered. I was totally inspired last time I stayed with Lucy, a year ago, when we stayed up half the night making homemade name badges for 250+ people for the transition conference in Battersea. At that conference she did the EDP in 2 hours workshop. The most inspiring EDP experience I had ever had. Lucy has a real talent for making everything incredibly exciting, do-able and fun!
So, for those of you who read Rob’s blog I’m sorry – you’ll know all about this already – the Tooting Trashcatchers Carnival on July 4th, and for those of you who don’t yet you are missing a treat – check it out here http://transitionculture.org/2010/05/06/trashcatchers-carnival-coming-soon .
Tooting Trashcatchers Carnival is going to be a momentous occasion. Its intention is to mark the beginning of real transition in Tooting. The steering group feel they have laid enough groundwork now to unleash and will have their unleashing party 10 days after the Carnival. Everyone (some 5000) who goes to the Carnival will get a seed card invitation to the unleashing. They will be asked o plant the seeds in the card and bring the produce they grow to a Foodival in September. Tooting food group have put on various Foodivals, which are huge bring and share picnics.
The Trashcatchers Carnival will open with setting an intention to really do things differently from here on in and will start in silence. It will move through the streets and through 4 themes. The first will be Transformation, then Earth, then Water, and then finally the Lady of Tooting. 400 primary school children have chosen to dress up as animals to remind us that we are not the only species that matters on this earth. 15 schools will take part as well as many, many local clubs and groups.
The challenge the Carnival currently has is persuading Transport for London (TFL) to close the A24 for the period of the carnival. After the worst experience of my walk so far; encountering the A23, I can only say I hope they are successful; London without those big noisy dangerous roads will be a much safer and more beautiful place for all. Everyone is working hard to convince TFL that displacing a few thousand cars for a couple of hours will be worth it. Many of the locals won’t be in their cars anyway; they will be at the Carnival!
It feels really important to me and to Transition Tooting that we reclaim our streets. It has been a constant theme across the land; we don’t want busy, noisy, polluting roads. We want safe ways between our settlements; safe for walkers, cyclists, horses, children. Much as we have forgotten that money was created as a tool, to serve us, and have now become ruled by it, we seem to have forgotten that cars were created as a tool to, to serve us – not to frighten us, prevent our safe journeying from place to place, cut our settlements in two, pollute our air, and to guzzle all the last remaining oil that we may find is better off left in the ground where we found it.
Please do offer your support to Lucy Neal to help her realise this carnival dream of going along Tooting High Road. We do not need to make our land a haven for cars; we could choose to make it a haven for us, for our children, and for future generations.
Lucy talks about the politics of our day, about our stage in transition, as the muddle in the middle, and, as when putting on a show, the chaotic middle always precedes that flawless performance. It will be alright on the night. We might be in a muddle in the middle right now, but that’s because we‘re preparing for the time of our lives!