Alumni Power!

27th February 2013 by

Back on that snowy weekend in January, we had a bit of a special O-gathering. Right afterwards I wrote a blog, to share some of that joy and learning with the rest of you, but unfortunately a few technical hitches meant that very blog has disappeared into some hidden and inaccessible world inside my computer. It was once, but is no longer saved. So this little blog is a nice memory test for me! I’ll cast my mind back to that briefly pristine snow, the little slip and slide I had off my bike (perhaps I should get something like this if we’re in for more regular snow?)

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It’s always great to get a bunch of people together who between them have more ideas, passion, and desire to create change together than can possibly be expressed in a short weekend. Nigh on 20 Otesha alumni and friends met in Workshop 44 (our great new office space, do pop in!) to get trained up to facilitate Otesha workshops. The training ranged from trying out our workshops, to discussing and acting out ways to manage challenging behaviour. We explored innovative facilitation techniques and also ate plenty of dal, soup and some vegan chilli brownies. There were of course a few games thrown into the mix!

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Why did we do all this? Well, after every cycle tour, our avid cycling environmental-social justice campaigner friends become part of a strong network of alumni and loads of them want to stay involved, doing a bit of what they loved so much during their tours.  In London there are lots of opportunities for our alumni to stay involved through our Change Projects programme.  But, our alumni aren’t just in London, so we needed to do something about this. Our cycle tours visit towns and villages all over the country too, and sometimes these schools want a bit more Otesha joy, and just cannae wait until the next tour! So – alumni everywhere, schools everywhere, what’s the answer? That’s right, I think you got it – we train people up to outreach and deliver workshops wherever they are.

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By involving a few people who haven’t (yet) been on an Otesha cycle tour, we were able to increase our capacity. We now have friends in Edinburgh and Shropshire raring to go. So if you are an educator in and around these parts, get in touch ( and you could be the lucky recipient of some inspiring, hand-on, creative workshops to help young people tackle the environmental and social issues through their everyday lives.

Living Under One (very hot) Sun

6th June 2012 by

For the last two weeks the Otesha Change Projects team has been enjoying an exciting new project working with St Aidan’s Primary School in Haringey, and a wonderful community project based in Tottenham.  Living Under One Sun works to build community leadership through healthy eating and food growing projects. They invited St Aidan’s and Otesha to come together at their community growing site in East Hale Allotments to create a Keyhole Garden.

Together we created a project, in which each class would visit the allotments to help build and plant the garden.  Every class which came to the allotment built a bit more of the garden, and the older year groups helped to document the process through words, photographs, and interviews – so they could pass on the story and the garden to the rest of the school.

Each day was jam packed! The classes were split into three groups, and rotated around the activities. One group started on our ‘Grow Your Own’ workshop – looking at where food comes from; when, where, and how it grows; planting seeds; and there was, of course, a healthy dose of games too! Another group talked about what sustainability and community really mean, before planning how to document, and actually documenting, the work the other group of children were doing to build the garden. When you ask children of that age “what do you need to have a good life?” the near unanimous response only includes the very basic necessities and a few things that do really matter: friends, family, education. Working with most people above that age, things like mobile phones, computers, and any other luxuries tend to come up much more quickly!



Three year groups have helped build the garden now – the first two on some of those very hot, hazy days of summer (wherever that season’s disappeared off to!). The garden is growing, a little more soil, a few more bricks, and in a couple of weeks the last group will be able to transplant some seedlings – then we can watch our garden flourish.

My story telling isn’t as good as the children’s, so read some of the letters they’ve sent us here:

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