I had been hanging around the periphery of Transition Town Tooting for a while, attending the occasional meeting and event, but without really absorbing what it was about. There was (to my uneducated mind) a sense of community, and of being responsible for your surroundings.
There were of course some really genuine and lovely people having fun doing what they were doing. And there was usually food.
I had dropped into the last hours of the Trashcatchers Carnival set-up of 2010 to have a look and lend a hand. My friend Hilary Jennings had asked me along and had been banging on about this event and TTT since she co-founded it with Lucy Neal in 2008, so I thought I’d show my face. The next thing I knew, I had been recruited as a steward for the Carnival the next day, which is how I found myself joining a few hundred people parading down a sunny Tooting High Street on a Saturday, tasked with keeping a group of children (dressed and dancing fantastically in Indian garb) a safe distance from the giant mechanical turtle in front of them.
Having been born and bred in south-west London and having spent most of my life here, I’d never experienced this oddity before – a real sense of community, an event to which so many people had come together to highlight the growing problem of climate change, and to have a great time celebrating their community whilst doing so. Plus, they had all donated their free time towards organising it. This was something I definitely wanted to be a part of. And even now, over three years later, I can’t help but smile like a loon thinking about that wonderful day.
The Trashcatchers Carnival propelled me to attend more meetings and events and take over the running of the Tooting Foodival last year (after Giles Read had done such an amazing job). If the Trashcatchers sparked my interest, then the Foodival cemented it – we receive donated food grown in people’s gardens, allotments and window boxes and get it cooked by local restaurants. This is served, for free, to the community, with music, games and competitions, and the event spans a whole weekend. In this way we promote and celebrate locally-grown and cooked food, whilst highlighting the diversity of Tooting and, once again, have a brilliant time doing it. We’re already gearing up for Foodival 2014 in September!
I’ve also branched out as a volunteer in the TTT Community Garden with local school kids, plus I take an active role in FoodCycle Wandsworth. I’ve changed my career from graphic design to community events management, an occupation which I absolutely love, as it allows me to engage with the community (yes, there’s that word yet again) and spend my time (hopefully) effecting positive environmental and social change on a local level.
And to think, none of this would’ve happened without that giant turtle…