Positive Actions in Hackney

28th May 2015 by

Guest post from Rob Greenfield of Get Into Green Jobs 2015

On Friday 1st May as part of Otesha’s Get Into Green Jobs programme, Joe, Chris, Faithful and I completed our first action project with a local youth group run by gab.

Armed with an inflatable die, numerous wild flower seeds, and bucket loads of enthusiasm, we embarked on the short journey from Workshop 44 to Borougham Rd Community Hall.

Upon entering we were greeted by the lovely Darcy who helps run the weekly session along with Sian and Cecilia. Once all the kids had arrived the first order of service was to establish names via the infamous name circle. We then handed it over to Joe to explain why it was that these four young adults had randomly shown up to their play session.

The Activities:

We began with our first activity, the imaginatively named animal game. As everyone walked in between space, the Green Jobs team took it in turns to read out a story that involved travelling through an unknown habitat where you would suddenly stumble upon an animal. When the animal was revealed everyone had to make its shape and then a winner was chosen. The room soon resembled some sort of Hackney City Zoo as monkeys, starfish and sharks were all discovered.

The next activity involved taking the kids outside to the garden. Screaming, exploring and seesaw-throwing ensued, but seeing how they reacted to going outdoors brought home how important it is for kids to have access to that environment to play in, especially those who grow up in big cities. After we managed to gather them back into a group, we explained how we were going to play the Green Man game. Once again Joe did a great job outlining how the activity was going to unfold.

In the middle there was a river with a bridge going over it, on it stood the Green Man who would only let you pass if your behaviour was environmentally sound. For example, reusing plastic carrier bags, switching the lights off when you leave the house, or turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. If you failed to do these things, you would have to try and pass the Green Man after everyone else, without being caught. If he did catch you, you would then become part of his Green Gang. By nominating himself to be the Green Man, Joe had the impossible task of trying to stop the first wave of environmental wrongdoers from crossing his cherished river. Underestimating Joe’s hawk-like prowess proved costly as I was first to be caught. As the game progressed our Green Gang got bigger and bigger until it became impossible for anyone to cross without being grabbed. Congrats to Faithful on making it to the end, although there’s rumours’ flying at Otesha saying that she may have lied on some of her answers.

The two games had taken us nicely onto the kids’ free time – the part of the session they’re encouraged to go outdoors and play. At this point we set up two optional activities. Joe and Chris hosted a seed bomb making session whilst Faithful and I played a giant eco-snakes and ladders game. To make seed bombs we had to acquire wild flower seeds, compost, flour to bind it all together, and some newspaper to take it home in. The idea is that the kids make the bombs themselves, take them home and throw it in their garden or nearest green space, spreading the wild flowers. Although I wasn’t part of the seed bomb making process, I witnessed the gleaming smiles of the kids as they ran into the hall covered in flour and soil.

Wildflower Seed Bombs

Wildflower Seed Bombs

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Equally as happy were the children who had chosen to play eco-snakes and ladders. The kids took it in turns to roll the giant inflatable dice onto the mat, using their feet as counters. They would go up a ladder if they landed on a square with an environmental good deed, such as having a shower instead of a bath. The snakes represented actions that harm the planet, such as using a washing machine to only clean one t-shirt. As always the kids were determined to win and this competitiveness meant they were engaged for the duration of the game.

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Enviromental Snakes and Ladders in action!

The session ended with another shape game although this time the kids were in groups and had to form not-so-sustainable transport like cars and planes. But by then our mission of making sure the kids have fun, whilst learning a bit about how they can have a positive impact on the planet, had already been achieved!

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A human skateboard -awesome!

It was a really enjoyable experience and hopefully marks the start of a new relationship between gab and Otesha.

THANK YOUs

Thanks to Joe, Faithful and Chris for helping organise it all and smashing it on the day.

Big shout out to Otesha for all the advice and tools they provided via the Green Jobs programme, and especially to Annie for helping us get the project off the ground and turn all our ideas into actions.

Also thanks to the kids that attended for being so energetic, engaged, and switched on with environmental issues. It made our job a lot easier.

Finally, a massive thanks to the gab team for letting us run the session. Without their guidance and supervision the activities could’ve resulted in the destruction of the local environment, the exact opposite of what we wanted to achieve.

 

Reclaim the Power Guest Blog

26th May 2015 by

RTP camp may - june imageSo, many of us are angry about the new government. But now is the not the time to mourn, it’s the time to organise and take action together.  On Friday 29th May 2015, Reclaim the Power will hold a family-friendly action camp near Npower’s Didcot power station and we want you and your crew to come!

 

The new Tory government are in bed with the fossil fuel industry.  They think they now have free reign to subsidise their friends and relations in the fracking industry and commit to another round of gas-fired power stations. They plan to build infrastructure that will lock us into burning carbon for years to come while killing off renewable technology. Like the communities who have held off fracking for four years, people on the ground will take action to stop them in their tracks.

The ‘Reclaim the Power’ camp will help to get us skilled up and ready to take action against corporate power and its stranglehold over our democracy. This camp is part of an international weekend of action against the fossil fuel industry’s  grip on the UN climate talks in Paris this December.  Didcot is owned by RWE Npower, one of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies who control the UK’s energy supply and one of Europe’s biggest fossil fuel polluters.  In Paris we know that RWE will put their profits first – no matter the cost to us – we can’t afford to let that happen.  

This doesn’t have to be the end – we all know that an alternative future is possible. Britain could be carbon neutral by 2030 using current technology. Even in Didcot, when a fire shut down the power station, it was wind power that kept the lights on. Community groups local to Didcot are building their own energy future through solar, wind and hydro projects that they control.

We’re inviting you because the struggle for a clean, safe and sustainable future is on, and it needs you. If we want to win, we have to stand together, build power and take action. And that is what the camp will help us do together.

Reclaim the Power has something for everyone – kids, families, seasoned activists and those who are new to taking action. Come along for the whole weekend, or pop in for an afternoon!  There will be workshops on everything from planning creative actions, fighting the housing crisis and austerity, to making your own solar panel.  We will provide a Kids Space every day.  Monday 1st June will be a day of decentralised actions against fossil fuel targets all over the country.

The camp will be fully accessible – please let us know if you have any specific access needs on accessrtp@gmail.com

Three ways you can help:

  1. Facebook and tweet about the camp!  Please share the facebook event through your social media channels – at the bottom of this email is a suggested facebook message and some tweets to inspire you.
  2. Forward this email to your members/group. We want the camp to be as open and diverse as possible
  3. Come! Drag out your tent and join us – in order to win, we need everybody.

If you’d like to come but want to talk to someone first, or have someone there to say hello to, please do get in touch with Reclaim the Power by emailing info@reclaimthepower.org.uk

PS: Head to http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/guides-and-info/didcot-programme/  to see our programme of exciting activities, workshops and entertainment

Green Jobs and Global Citizens

19th August 2014 by

A month or so ago, Otesha were joined by a group of wonderful volunteers from UCL’s Global Citizenship programme. Catherine, Catherine, and Julie spent two weeks learning about our Green Jobs programme, joining sessions, and conwindturbine2ducting their own research project into routes into Green Jobs. This document will become a valuable resource for future participants in our Green Jobs programmes. Their report is attached to this blog post – so check it out if you’re interested in the world of Green Jobs! A huge thanks goes to our excellent volunteers, for creating the report, donating us two weeks of their time, and bringing their energy and laughter to share with us.

Click here for the Green Jobs Report 

They also asked a friend to make us a great Green Jobs Infographic

 

 

 

Beeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

19th August 2014 by

A blog from a member of a recent Change Projects team – read on to find out what they got up to…

Did you know each and everyday thousands of bees are dying? Did you know European Union study shows Northern Europe and England has the most bee deaths? The use of neonicotinoids in pesticide is one of the major factor which is leading to collapse of bee colonies? Each day the quantity of food available for bees are reducing?  

Together what can we do to improve the survival of bees?

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Well, here are what our change project team are doing. They are raising awareness amongst the local community because from doing a primary research in the community, we found out that not many people know about the issues around bees. It is so important that we all spread the news around, and find solutions how we can stop the bees from dying.

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The change project team went out in the local community with flyers and packets of bee friendly flower seeds. The team approached various members of the public, spoke to them and gave them the bee friendly seed packet where they can be planted anywhere, you don’t need garden to plant bee friendly foods.  Now it is your turn to make a difference it only takes few minutes to plant some seeds.

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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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Getting a job you love (and that loves you) take two!

3rd December 2013 by

It’s nearly two years since Jo wrote a blog about getting that dream job – and also making sure it is your dream job! As we’re hiring again, we thought we’d pop it back up. Writing an excellent application is pretty important if you want to get yourself a job, and if the job is about helping other people get jobs it becomes that little bit more crucial…

Enjoy! And very good luck if you’re applying for a job with us or anywhere else.

Here are our top tips:

  • You’re sending the application to a person, not a Sir/Madam, so use their name. If you’re not sure who to address your application to, call up and ask. At Otesha, sometimes we’re known collectively, but our names are all on the website too…
  • Read everything you can about the organisation and the role before you apply.
  • The covering letter is the key thing. After reading your letter we should know if we want to interview you or not. Your CV should back up everything you say in your covering letter, but it’s only a supporting document.
  • Otesha is a pretty informal organisation – we like covering letters that sound like real people wrote them, ones that will make us smile when we read them. Not all organisations will appreciate such an informal approach, but no one wants to read a letter that could’ve been written by a computer.
  • At Otesha, the first thing we want to know is why you want to work here and what you think is special about this organisation.
  • The second thing we want to know about you is why you really really really want to do the role you’re applying for.
  • You need to address every point in the person specification and it can be helpful if it’s in the order they appear in the job posting. Imagine it’s the early hours of the morning and you’re desperately trying to get 100 applications down to a shortlist of 20. The easier you can make it for the person reading your application the better.
  • Your covering letter should usually be 1-2 sides long. Any shorter and we’re wondering why you don’t have the enthusiasm or experience to fill a page. Any longer and we think that you’re not able to communicate in a concise manner.
  • Don’t just tell us that you have ‘experience working in a team’ – we need to know where, how etc. Back up everything with clear examples of your experience.
  • Voluntary experience is just as valid as paid work experience.
  • End your letter telling us anything else great about you that might be relevant to the role.
  • Don’t bother sending off generic applications. We can tell if we’re receiving the same application you sent off for a different job last week! If you’re not interested enough to write a new cover letter, I’m afraid we’re probably not interested either.
  • Be meticulous, get someone to proof read your cover letter and CV. If the job specification asks for excellent written skills, your application needs to be excellently written.

Six Months on from the ‘Green and Decent Jobs’ Report at Otesha.

8th July 2013 by

Back in February 2013, Otesha joined forces with Intentionality to launch the ‘Green and Decent Jobs’ report reflecting on Otesha’s experiences delivering their Green Jobs Programme.  The initial plan was to follow a pipeline model, guiding participants through training, work experience, environmental literacy and ideally towards employment.  Otesha tried to create connections with the renewable energy construction industry to underpin the development of participants.   The report describes the barriers that were overcome and the important lessons learned.  The Green Jobs programme has since evolved from this formative experience, and now largely flies under the banner of ‘Branch Out’, as well as broader campaigning through the East London Green Jos Alliance  and our Roots of Success course.

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The report found that a significant barrier to the Green Economy’s growth has been the uncertainty surrounding national policy.  Unfortunately this remains the case with the blocking of the Energy Bill’s decarbonisation amendment.  However, this has not stopped Branch Out from reaching young people and making successful connections with like-minded organisations in Hackney that aim to provide these people with skills, training and opportunities.

 

A switch in the course’s emphasis from construction to horticulture has been key.  Once a week, the participants attend a session at St Mary’s Secret Garden working towards a City and Guilds Level 1 Award in Practical Horticulture Skills.  Additionally, there have been trips to induction days at Streetscape and Cre8 Arc for the participants to gain some work experience.  Overall, the horticulture sector seems more receptive to cooperating.  This is perhaps due to being less dependent on long-term investment that is required for  growth in the renewable energy construction industry.

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Although gardening and growing healthy food sustainably is close to our hearts (and stomachs) at Otesha, Branch Out offers much more.  In fact an impressively comprehensive suite of courses have been organised.   Throughout the 12 weeks that Branch Out runs, there are sessions in the kitchens at Made in Hackney; there is the accredited Roots of Success environmental literacy course; employability skills workshops; finance and money management sessions with MyBnk; individual mentoring sessions with Otesha’s Green Jobs Programme directors; and the option to be assigned a mentor once the participant has completed Branch Out.  Best of all, the course can be shaped by the participants themselves who are encouraged to suggest ideas for trips and talks.

In the 6 months since the ‘Green and Decent Jobs’ report, Otesha’s Green Jobs programme has come a long way.  We have a full compliment of activities, a dedicated network of supporting organisations, and most importantly, participants with loads of enthusiasm.  Our first batch of graduates have gone onto further horticulture training, and various other apprenticeships including solar panel installation.  Otesha are welcoming applicants for one more Branch Out in 2013, and three in 2014.

By Phil Aubert, green jobs volunteer

Totally Tasty Ready to Ride!

27th June 2013 by

Hello, I’m Jessie, one of Otesha’s three liaisons for this summer’s Totally Tasty cycle tour.  I first came across Otesha cycle tours last year and though they seemed totally perfect for me I was too busy studying.  Finally, a year later, I’m very happy to be off cycleventuring, learning, laughing, teaching, eating, wild-swimming and deep-exhausted-tent-sleeping with a bunch of likeminded people!

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I’ve been here in the office since Monday with Lyndsay and Rowan, the other lovely liaisons, busy sorting logistics, packing up the (yet to be named) trailers, phoning tour members and hunting down maps in local libraries.  Now that these maps are spread out on the table with orange post-it notes marking our campsites – all in exciting foody projects that I can’t wait to visit – it is finally sinking in that we will be on the road in 8 days time!

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One lovely feature of the Otesha office is that everyone eats lunch together. Several times we have carried a table outside and eaten in the street, soaking up the sun and amusing the locals. Yesterday we were joined for lunch by a group of people taking part in Branch Out, Otesha’s new horticultural work training programme. Once totally stuffed with bread, humous and salad we joined them on a visit to St Mary’s Secret Garden, a local food community garden where trainees on the programme get their hands mucky working towards getting their qualification in practical horticulture.

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It was a beautiful garden, buzzing with bees, visitors and volunteers.  Phil, an Otesha volunteer and one of the first ‘branch outers’ showed us around.  I was particularly fond of the ‘sensory garden’ which had fragrant herbs, interesting textures and little poems hidden amongst the foliage ‘The bay tree is the shepherd, all the other herbs are his sheep‘… Seeing such an awesome, food-centred community project gave me a taste of what is to come on tour – 3 weeks of inspiration from the people and places that are reshaping Britain’s broken food culture – Bring it on!


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Branch Out Sides with the Seeds

16th May 2013 by

Nathan and TilthPhil updates us on what’s been happening down in the garden…

It has been a few weeks since my introduction to tilth and soil preparation. I have had plenty of practice in my own allotment when my first batch of rhubarb and leeks were promoted from humble crop to vibrant ingredients for roasts, soups and deserts. After a terminally cold winter the soil needed a serious working over, re-nourishing, re-hydrating and good dousing of sun-induced sweat from my brow. With my raised beds eager to welcome the incumbent class of vegetable goodies, Branch Out’s next session at St Mary’s Secret Garden on sowing seeds was a timely return to the tutelage of Liam.

The Branch Out team had recently completed our first assessment and we were ready for the next stage. We gathered around a raised bed and Liam told us to pull up a chair. The lesson was off to a laid back start. Perched on our seats, we peered into the bed, whereupon Liam instructed to work our magic to prepare the soil. It was a far more civilised affair being a sedentary gardener. We had our miniature forks and rakes, and fortunately the tilth only required the odd prod and poke, a pluck of some nuisance weeds and stones, and a little persuasion to level the final soil.

Branch Out Carrots

Our demonstration began with stakes connected by string bridging the width of the bed, demarcating our drill. Liam used a trowel to open out a V-shaped trench about an inch deep along the string, before filling it with a drenching of water. The water rapidly seeped through, leaving a moist mould; perfect preparation for the seeds to be sown. These were duly and carefully dropped in. The first technique was a continuous line of closely spaced individual seeds. The alternative was stationing, a peppering of 4 or 5 seeds at a single point with larger intermediary spaces. The drill was covered and given a generous watering, thus completing a simple but crucial process that gives the plants the best chance at flourishing. We were ready to try it for ourselves and we managed to fill an entire bed with Rothild, Yellowstone and Nantes 2 carrot types. Hopefully when we return next, a squadron of emerging carrot tops will be at attention on our arrival.

Carrot SquadronThe Branch Out team has also been very busy working on other projects. We have been helping Cre8 Arc, a centre of opportunities in sport, media, a variety of arts in Hackney, with the construction of their new eco-walkway. We have also spent a fantastic day with the team at Streetscape based in Myatt’s Field, Lambeth. They do a lot of work in design, landscaping and garden maintenance, and are actively involved in providing training for young people in acquiring these types of skills. We attended their taster day and were graced with scorching sunshine as we helped with their mass composting, fixing a fence, clearing the secluded shaded walkway and cleaning the pond. The whole team, including the directors of the Branch Out Programme, Tamsin and Cecily, got stuck in and had an amazing day.

 

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