1 Jul 2010
Transition Town Tooting’s Trashcatchers Carnival: This Sunday!
I have been giving occasional updates on the progress of the Trashcatchers Carnival in Tooting, which takes place this Sunday. It is going to be amazing, but it has been touch and go as to whether the Carnivalistas are going to be able to do what they want to, to process down Tooting High Road. Now we know they will be able to, but getting to that stage has been an amazing story, which Lucy Neal of Transition Town Tooting now relates…. . If you live anywhere near London, do get over on Sunday and give them your support.
“Have you heard the one about the Mayor of London, the Leader of the Council, the fox, the octopus, the baby elephant, the Lady of Tooting, the Borough Commander and the plastic bags. Look no further, they’re all to be found in the story of the Tooting Trashcatchers’ Carnival? We thought we’d start with a Tooting celebration that could lead into an Unleashing a few days’ later and that’s when we thought of building a large scale community carnival all made from trash. Using recycling as a metaphor, we would show the ingenuity and creativity of the town for looking at the changes that could be made in how we live where we live.
All went well until we hit the thorny difficulty of winning over Transport for London (TfL) with our enthusiasm for a sustainable way of living and desire for access to the Upper Tooting Road for a cycle powered carnival with 100s of local carnivalistas. Over a long half year, our case was taken up by the Leader of the Council Edward Lister, Cllr Richard Tracey and many others on our behalf and presented to many along the way including the Mayor of London, the Deputy Mayor of London, and officers inbetween at all levels of transport and public body hierarchies. As a major arterial corridor, the road was considered too significant to London’s traffic; too many other events were happening in London that day (one of which was the Big Dance of which the Carnival is a part) and so despite TfL’s desire to work with communities to accommodate celebrations, ours was considered an ask too far.
Last Friday we considered our options: a Carnival parade only on side roads with the full support of Wandsworth Council or, a direct action approach to lodge the Carnival as a peaceful procession. We consulted as many carnivalistas as we could over the weekend about the route they wanted. The answer was unanimous: ‘The High Road!’.
On Monday we lodged a formal application to the Police for the Carnival as a peaceful procession for the rights of Tooting residents to celebrate peacefully in the hub of their community. As we explained in our application:
“Everything in the procession has been made from ‘trash’ and the procession marks the local community’s recognition that current ways of living can be transformed in order to sustain life on earth in the face of global challenges. The procession needs to go on the Upper Tooting Road in order to be visible to and significant for the whole community that has resourced and created the Carnival procession. The procession celebrates a positive vision of a low carbon future and the creative ways in which a community can respond collectively to the global challenges of economic recession, climate change and resource scarcity. The procession marks a desire by the local community to come together peacefully to rehearse ways in which such a future can be made to work for current and future generations. The Carnival procession has the full support of hundreds of people in the Tooting area, including local businesses, primary and secondary schools, community groups, sports groups, cyclists, gardening groups. The procession has received support including funding from Wandsworth Council including Arts, Environment, Highways, Waste, Councillors and the Leader.”
We explained there would not be a petition as such, but stories told of Tooting and gatherings beforehand to create and make designs and structures for the Carnival and that the procession would end with a sharing picnic on Fishponds Playing Field. We spoke to Sadiq Khan MP for Tooting, who spoke to David Musker the new Borough Commander, who considered our application yesterday.
We don’t know the conversations that happened between them and others involved, although we know that Sadiq wrote a letter asking Mr Musker as one of his first acts as Borough Commander to grant permission to the event advocating on our behalf saying:
“Tooting has a wonderful community, and events like this are what makes it such a special place to live and work. It has the backing of hundreds, if not thousands of local residents, and will make a peaceful and valuable contribution to the area.”
Yesterday at 5pm with 4 days to go, we had confirmation from the Metropolitan Police that the Carnival could proceed. Hats off to all who have helped get us this far – and especially Sadiq, our new Borough Commander and the great Tooting Police Safer Neighbourhood team with whom we shall be working to create a magical peaceful carnival procession on Sunday.
So, yes, sometimes rights for joy and shared celebration have to be defended and processed for. Can celebratory communal living transform our world? Who knows. Join us to find out. Here’s the poster – printed when we hoped against hope this would be possible and now it is. HURRAH HURRAH HURRAH and for anyone within a bike road of Tooting High Road, drop in at Broadway Studios, help us finish those foxes, turtles, baby elephants and the beautiful Sankofa Bird who looks forward and backwards in a single glance.