We are ready to meet you halfway, world – are you ready for our two-wheeled revolution?

23rd July 2014 by

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Our last week of tour was intense, challenging, extremely rewarding and joyful all at once! We’ve come a long way across the hills of Wales and within ourselves to arrive at this point, but we made it! Read on to hear about our final days together as a team and group of rolling friends…

Some team members took a pit stop in Swansea to pick up forgotten items from hosts and do some bike-shop cycle maintenance. Big thanks go out to folks at The Bike Hub Cycle Workshop who helped Orsetta finally have a fully-functional set of hill-conquering gears! Soon afterward we were en route to a small but spirited Frack-Free Wales festival in Upper Cwmtwrch, where we performed the play to an audience of young and young-at-heart people who all enjoyed it! We also learned the ins and outs of paddy-cake hand games from two wise five-year-olds.

Our next stop was Tai’rgwaith and Garnant to visit two schools, showing them all about energy, food, transport and media through workshops. We were really impressed and empowered to see that a lot of the children already knew a whole lot about the subjects and had things to teach us as well! We joined Dan and Emily at their farmhouse for the evening and all had nice warm showers (thank you!), enjoying stories about poetry, living off the land and organizing festivals all about literature. We slept in an old traincar that was cozy and warm – not from the woodstove inside, but because we smushed ten bodies into a building slightly larger than a parking space!

We broke up our 60-mile day into two chunks by staying at an eco-pods campsite on a farm just outside of Cwmafan. Even though the hills had flattened out near Swansea, we managed to find a host living on the biggest hill we’ve yet to see in southern Wales! We also had the longest evening circle meeting to date!

We cycled the last 40 miles towards Cardiff and were elated to arrive in the city! We passed the city’s welcome sign with whoops and cheers, relieved to have finally arrived after so long on the road together. We spent the next two days hanging out with kids at the Warehouse youth centre where we were staying, and wrapping up tour with Kate and Iona. One of Cardiff’s highlights was visiting the Sennedd with our lovely host Richard and learning about the building’s environmental construction while enjoying Welsh cakes and bara brith. Big thank you also to Nos Da Hostel who let us have hot showers – much needed after the days of sweaty cycling. Before we knew it we were packing our panniers one last time to head home after tour.

It feels like it has been so long, but also no time at all. We might have been with one another on tour for a billion years or less than a blink – everything has moved so quickly. It’s hard to believe as I look back at the map just how far we’ve come, physically and internally. The distances, hills, rainy days and long consensus meetings all fade into the background as I remember the laughter, cycling games, hangouts, schools, hosts, and vegan snacks we enjoyed along the way. We would never have been able to complete the tour (or even get rolling in the first place!) without the help and support of one another throughout the journey, and the strength of others we relied on throughout to get us to Cardiff. We leave tour as individuals with a common history, new dreams and the muster to bring them into reality. We are ready to meet you halfway, world – are you ready for our two-wheeled revolution?

Let’s keep the wheels turning – allons-y!

The highs and lows of tour – and we don’t just mean topography

15th July 2014 by

This past week has been incredibly busy, and it is almost impossible to summarise it all in a brief blog post! We continue to harbour a complex love/hate relationship with the Welsh hills. And the ups and downs don’t stop there…this experience has been both a physical and emotional rollercoaster!

We have met the most amazing people along the tracks and roads through Wales. Hosts and locals alike have offered so much generosity to our team in the form of directions when we were lost, lifts when we were exhausted, music when we needed to dance and hot showers when we smelled more like sheep than people. We must mention our hosts who have made us feel so welcome in their cottages, barns and field corners through north and west Wales:

  • Awel, who let us stay on an explosions-factory-turned-nature-reserve with some shy sheep and made us a delicious vegan dinner;
  • Luci and Pontus, who welcomed us into their barn at 10pm, soaking wet and tired, with smiles, a bonfire, hot food, and well-deserved chocolate desserts;
  • The Centre for Alternative Technology, Luci, and Rod, who gave us a tour of the site, took us on a mountainous hike to visit Nora the wind turbine, and showed us the best place for an afternoon swim in the mountains that anyone could ask for;
  • Suzanne and Mark, who put us up in their golf clubhouse (complete with disco-dance mood lighting!), brought us their strawberries and drove our panniers and trailers all the way to Clunderwen on our 60-mile cycle day which ended up being a 13 hour hill-climb;
  • Chris and Wendy, who gave us full run of their cottage and beautiful outdoor space for a sunny afternoon;
  • Steve, who allowed us to stay in Pembrey Country Park for free and pointed us towards the beautiful sunset-lit beach and hot-shower building (much love!);
  • Tim and Catrin, who welcomed us into their home, let us take over their kitchen to cook proper food not made on a cooking hob, and gave us a workshop on stained glass painting.

We also owe great thanks to those whose names we do not know, who welcomed us into their farm and bike shops after hours, offered us free hummus and toffee waffles from their restaurants, and cheered us on from roadsides and car windows as we crossed paths. You have all helped us on our journey!

Our travel days have been tough, but we have not yet been defeated by hills.

We were confronted with the unpredictable Welsh weather immediately after leaving Felin Uchaf near Pwllhelli on our first day of tour. We followed the infamous cycle route 8, which took the first group to the top of a mountain – not recommended unless you are training for Tour de France! The rain was showing no sign of stopping, and we were only a quarter of the way on our 45 mile ride, so the team finally gave in and took the train to make it to our host Luci’s place before nightfall. While waiting for the train, a group of kids peeked above a fence and started chatting to us, so we decided it would be a good idea to present a play scene to them. Great success!

Some of our bikes were suffering with teething problems, or only had 3 gears to face the Welsh hills, so we visited Dan the bike mechanic to sort things out. He then cycled part of the day with us blasting out tunes from his mobile trailer stereo system.

This tour has brought us so many challenges, gifts, and new experiences. We’ve had late-night evening circles, we’ve had sunshine. We’ve had delicious food cooked by tour members and so much kindness shown to us by the lovely people of Wales have warmed our bellies and our spirits. We have so much gratitude for one another, and for the support we’ve had from so many people who helped us find one another on this crazy two-week adventure. Here’s to the second half of our tour and the blossoming of new ideas!

 

The Pedal Powered adventure begins – training week at Felin Uchaf

8th July 2014 by

This year’s cycle tour are well on their way. Here’s their first team blog from training week!

Time! Time is a funny thing. These past five days have felt more like weeks. In the safe and supportive nest here at Felin Uchaf in deepest north-west Wales we have felt welcomed by our generous host Dafydd.

These action-packed days have been filled with intense Otesha knowledge – from bike maintenance to consensus-decision making, fun games to learning about anti-oppression with an exhilarating sea swim thrown in.

 

Today we embark on our quest to travel the length and width of the country by bicycle over the span of two weeks, sharing information and inspiration as we visit schools and community groups en route. How are we feeling you may ask?

 

We arrived ten strangers and set out as a close team of ten friends. We are ready to take on the hills, the weather, the roads… We feel GOOD! See you on the other side of those hills!

Cycle Tour 2014 Kicks Off!

25th June 2014 by

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With just two days before the Pedal Powered 2014 Tour training week begins in Wales, we three tour liaisons have finally printed our route preparation and packed the mandatory solar shower (we remain optimistic about Wales’ weather and our personal hygiene on tour!)

This afternoon we have celebrated over welsh cakes that Kate lovingly made for us and home brewed elderflower champagne. We feel full of Otesha love from two weeks in the office; bike grease, hummus from shared lunches and can now consider ourselves fully-fledged London cyclists.

We are excited to hit the road – starting in North Wales and heading South; visiting schools, community groups, The Centre for Alternative Technology (including a hello to Nora the wind turbine), a Green Arts festival and, of course, lots of sheep.

We are still in denial that Wales is famous for mountains and rain, and that our route follows some of Britain’s hardest cycling trails. Instead, we are focusing on the abundance of welsh cake suppliers and beautiful beaches that we will encounter on our way.

We have already met several tour members out of the ten. They are lovely people who we are excited to spend the next three weeks with. Then, if we make it through the epic journey that takes us on trains, buses and bikes across to Felin Uchaf, a remote part of North Wales, we will be united with the whole team for the first time this Friday evening. Here’s hoping!

We look forward to writing again soon with stories about the journey- and more importantly, look forward to living those stories!

Til then,

The Pedal Powered Tour Liaisons

Angelika, Ainsley and Laurie

Bike to School Week

18th June 2014 by

 

 

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Sustrans is a UK charity firm that allows people to make bike, walk and scooting journey in a safe manner. This is reinforced through working with local communities, policy makers and partner organisations to illustrate healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys should be a choice. Sustainable traveling should be a positive difference to society. Last week was bike to school week - but the fun doesn’t stop there! Read more about their campaigns below….

Children are our future and their safety is our priority.  We must all do our bit to keep them safe, healthy and active.  They are the most vulnerable users on the road. They deserve the safest journey to school by either walking, cycling or scooting.

Surveys have shown in 2012, 33 children were killed, and 1836 injured from walking or cycling to school over seven primary schools. What can we do to improve these incidents from happening? what should we do to protect our future generation?

Here are few ways we can help to protect the vulnerable children:

  • Lowered traffic speeds i.e. 20mph speed limit across built up areas, this will reduce incidents happening immensely, making routes safer for all road users.
  • All vehicle drivers being constantly aware of the situation, this will allow them to act fast and efficiently.
  • Give fund to make routes for cycling and walking, through this we limit accidents from occuring.
  • People can also volunteer to make effective awareness through Sustrans for example school volunteers.

Now you make the decision.

 

Tired of insects and pests damaging your plants?

18th June 2014 by

Tired of insects infestation on your hard grown plants. Well, here are some of the simplest ways it can be tackled. 

  • Always use clean pots properly before repotting or starting a new one.
  • Check on the plants frequently to find signs of insects i.e. slimy fluid on plants means a snail.
  • Isolate insect affected plants from the healthy plants so that it does not spread.
  • Every now and then use a magnifying glass to look for mites.

Another way to protect your plants is with garlic garden spray.

Garlic spray is one of the easiest way of looking after your plants against snails, aphids, cabbage moth, caterpillars and mosquitoes, when it is used with 2 weekly interval success arises promptly and rapidly. Follow this instructions to make the garlic spray.garlic spray

Ingredients:

85 (3oz) (about 3 big knobs) garlic not peeled

6 tablespoons medicinal paraffin oil

1 tablespoon oil-based soup, grated

0.5 L (1 pint ) Hot water

The first step is to roughly chop the garlic, put into the blender with paraffin oil and pulverise. Scrape resulting pulp into a bowl, cover and leave for 48 hours. Stir the grated soup into hot water until melted. Stir soup and water into garlic mixture. When the garlic mixture has cool down, strain into screw-top jars and store in refrigerator. For spraying in the garden or plants, use 2 tablespoon of garlic solution to 2L (4 pints ) water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious Vegan Jollof rice

9th June 2014 by

Farhana joined our Branch Out group at Made in Hackney, where they’ve been learning to cook delicious, vegan, locally sourced, organic food – inspired by food from around the world. Last time they were cooking Vegan Jollof rice – check out the recipe below!

Ingredients

225 grams of long grain brown rice

2 Onions

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 red peppers

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

4 tablespoons tomato puree

1 pinch pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable stock

1 tin tomatoes

1 cup water

 

Method

The very first step is to wash the rice thoroughly in a sieve with cold water. Then chop the onions into small cubes, chop the peppers into thin slices. Heat the oil in a medium pan and heat over a medium heat. After that add the onions, pepper, pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, paprika, black pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the vegetable stock and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree and ketchup, then add the tinned tomatoes. Fill the empty tomato can with water and add to pan. Bring to a simmer (gentle cook) and stir to get the spices up from the bottom, fold in the rice and bring to a simmer again. Cover pan with tin foil and lid and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed and the rice cooked. Do not stir. Leave to stand for 2 minutes with the lid on. To add something to the side of Jellof rice you can cook plantains or stew, and a mango salad dressing.

Lastly stir and serve

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New chair for Otesha

24th May 2014 by

Otesha needs a new chair of our board of trustees, to take on the challenge of leading a non-hierarchical organisation.

We’re looking for a chair with excellent facilitation skills, who’s into making non-hierarchical organisational structures work and supporting charities in a strategic and governance way. Although the staff team at Otesha has a flat structure, as a charity we still have a board who have overall responsibility and so need to approve, and take responsibility for, all the big decisions.The board ensure the charity is well run and support our staff team to achieve Otesha’s aims.The chair will take on additional responsibilities of facilitating board meetings, ensuring the board acts well as a team together and being a spokes person for the organisation.

Otesha mobilises young people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and become inspiring leaders on climate change, social justice and ethical consumption. Since 2007 we have worked with thousands of young people aged 11-28 from a diversity of backgrounds across England, Wales and Scotland. We work with young people and schools; organise educational cycle tours around the UK which resemble a two-wheeled sustainability circus; and work to combat growing youth unemployment by helping young people find their way into fair, decent and meaningful green jobs.

The role of the chair:
– Facilitate board meetings
– With staff and other trustees facilitate and participate in quarterly strategy days
– Ensure strategy is developed by the staff and trustees in strategy days, board meetings, staff meetings and by working groups
– Keep the board functioning well as a team and ensure all board members are fulfilling their roles
– Review board performance
– Recruit and induct new trustees as necessary
– Oversee staff team appraisals
– Maintain a risk register for the charity
– Be a spokesperson for the Otesha Project UK

Commitment required:
- To attend bi-monthly board meetings and quarterly strategy days
– To participate in board working groups and additional meetings with the staff as needed
– Be willing and able to take on tasks between board meetings, and communicate over email between meetings
– Able to commit to this role for a minimum of 2 years

Please apply if:
– You’re interested in non-hierarchical structures and want to support this one|
– You love what Otesha does and stands for
– You have time for occasional evening and weekend meetings
– You get that being a trustee is quite a bit of commitment (you take on legal and financial responsibility for Otesha) and are only a little bit fazed by that

To apply: please send a CV and covering letter telling us why you want to be a trustee for Otesha to jo@otesha.org.uk by Monday 30th June. (Interviews will take place early July with a new chair invited to our next board meeting on 21st July, 6.30pm)
If you think this is you, but aren’t totally sure about it, email me (jo@otesha.org.uk) and we can arrange a time to chat about it.

Please note: The Otesha Project UK is an equal opportunities organisation and encourages applications from underrepresented groups. We do not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, place of origin, class, citizenship, system of belief, gender, sexual orientation, language, marital status, family status, physical and/or mental disability. However, all employees (and trustees) will be chosen on merit.

Bread!

15th May 2014 by

Did you know that this week is Real Bread week? A time to celebrate slowly fermented bread, made with nutritious flour, that’s good for you, and good for the planet! We hope you’re doing something to celebrate – whether you’re baking bread, eating it, or sharing it here are a few ideas of things you could do:

Okay, so it sounds like a good idea, but how do I make it? And doesn’t it take a really long time? Well, yes and no. As sandwichyou might have seen on the other links, sourdough needs time – it’s a fundamental ingredient, and time will hugely improve yeasted bread too. But the good thing is, you don’t have to be there all the time. I make sourdough bread every week, lots of it and I definitely end up spending a lot longer washing up, and clearing up a fine coating of flour across half the kitchen than tending to the loaves… (every time I promise myself I’ll be a bit tidier next time).

  • If you want a good place to start why not try Do Sourdough – a little book helping you fit real bread making into busy lives! Last night I went to the book launch and was also treated to a fascinating talk about bread and its making from Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters, as well as some delicious bread and beer. Thank you!
  • Spread sourdough - join the Bread Matters Fungal Network! (I’ve got some sourdough if anyone wants some!)
  • Make your loaves more sustainable. Choose flour that’s organic, and as locally sourced as possible. Why not bake lots of bread at once to minimise oven usage, or bake with friends? In Germany there are some really cool, old baking houses, traditionally fired up on certain days where all the village can take their bread to bake.
  • If you don’t want to bake, it doesn’t mean you can’t have real bread: you can still eat good quality, healthy, and more sustainable loaves. The Real Bread Campaign have a Real Bread finder! Yum!

Enjoy!

How to Change Things – Free Training

15th May 2014 by

We’re running a free training on ….How to Change Things. Read on for how to get involved!

This training does pretty much what it says on the tin, exploring all the necessary steps needed to set up and run an effective community project – making real, positive change to environmental and social issues. We look at how to get a group together, do some people research, work out the aims and objectives of  your project, dabble with a tiny bit of behaviour change theory, and much more!

1In the past we’ve only offered this training to our programme alumni, but this year we’re running a free, open training on Saturday 14th June for young people in and around Hackney who have a project idea! After the training we will arrange regular mentoring sessions to support with the latter stages of project development. We have space for up to 15 participants so if you’re interested please get in touch with Iona or Edd on 020 3609 6763 or info@otesha.org.uk.

Your idea doesn’t need to be well developed – it might just be ‘I really want to do something to do with bikes’, or you might have a much more specific plan already! We will be giving out places on a first come first served basis, but we do want participants to demonstrate a commitment to making their project a reality, so we’d love to have a quick chat through your ideas if you’re interested in coming along.


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