November 2010

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Incredible edible Todmorden The cuts (they won’t work)

An appeal

This month we’re asking something that we’ve never asked before.

Like many other charities in the UK, we’re feeling a bit tight at the moment. The combination of government cuts and increased pressure on grant-makers has meant that we need to raise £20,000 by the end of the year. So far we’ve raised £3,900 – so we’re almost 20% of the way there already!

So this month, instead of challenging you to live more sustainably, we’re asking you to make a donation to Otesha so we can keep on challenging you and the 17,000 other people Otesha has reached in the past three years.

Since 2007, we’ve led cycle tours reaching over 7,200 young people with 82 volunteer educators, who we think are basically the best people in the world ever. After their ‘life changing experience’ with Otesha (their words, not ours, we are ever so modest) our cycle tour members have gone on to work and volunteer at social and environmental projects around the UK, set up their own social enterprises, influence many many others with their infective wonderfulness and generally continue to astonish us by being amazing. We really, really want to continue running cycle tours this summer and every summer thereafter. Your support will help us do this.

Help support Otesha!

Everyday is 10:10:10

Just in case you’ve been living in an unheated cave with no internet connection and surviving on a local, foraged, vegan diet and don’t know what 10:10 is, it’s a movement of people, schools, businesses and organisations cutting their carbon emissions by 10% in a year (this year, 2010). If you have been living in said cave, don’t worry about it, it sounds like your carbon emissions are pretty low.

10:10 has been massively successful, with 2,182 schools, colleges and universities, 101,885 individuals, 3,892 businesses and 2,400 other organizations including the Otesha Project UK, all signed up to reduce their emissions.

On Sunday 10th October 2010, they held a global day of doing. There were thousands of events across more than 50 countries, from low carbon cupcakes and shared Sunday lunches, to bike rides and baking bread, to apple picking and tree planting, to concerts and installing solar panels. It was even up in lights in Picadilly Circus (though we’re not entirely clear where the low carbon is in that one).

At Otesha we paired up bike buddies in our office to get new bums on saddles, enjoyed the most local of lunches from our office vegetable garden, plugged away with some energy saving lightbulbs and installed our winter box, which is filled with jumpers to keep us hot while the weather is not.

But we’re well aware that everyday needs to be a 10:10 day, and an 11:11 day in the new year. One of the criticisms often heard against 10:10 is that it asks everyone to reduce their emissions by 10%, including those who’re already weight watching their emissions. But as 10:10 themselves say, “whether you signed up yesterday or you’re a carbon-cutting veteran, there’s always something else you can do”. That, we’re sure you’ll agree, cannot be argued with.

Go Bananas for Fairtrade

So say the Fairtrade club at Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School, who made this short film.

The student volunteers got together with Otesha for Fairtrade Fortnight in February this year. After surveying other students and staff about their knowledge of and behaviour around Fairtrade, they got a pretty good understanding of the barriers to change (price and availability of Fairtrade goods) and also the difference Fairtrade makes to the producers in developing countries.

“It’s not easy to persuade people to buy Fairtrade. From doing the survey I learnt why people don’t buy Fairtrade and I can see what the problem is with it, but I know how it will help people.

So far they’ve made petitions and flyers, asked local shops to stock Fairtrade, found some Fairtrade school uniforms, bought Fairtrade sports equipment for the school, had a Fairtrade cake sale and enjoyed the odd Fairtrade snack. And the campaign continues. Otesha and Bishop Challoner School are a force to be reckoned with – we will not rest until all trade is fair.

Modern day archeology

Any Radio 4 addicts out there will be familiar with ‘A Histoy of the World in 100 Objects’. The series began in January with a 2 million year old chopping tool and finished this month in the modern day.

The final piece of modern day archeology is a solar-powered lamp and charger. It’s a bit of a cheat because the solar panel can also be used to charge mobile phones, so it’s several objects in one. The object showcases human ingenuity, the challenges we presently face and evolution of technology. There are 1.6 billion people around the world living without access to electricity. The solar lamp allows people to socialise, work and study after dark.

All 100 objects including other gems such as a penny defaced by the suffragettes (graffiti that circulates) are on show at the British Museum.

Brake the Cycle

We’re over the moon that two blokes from London, Marcus and Joe, have started a project called Brake the Cycle to raise funds for Otesha and another great charity, Afrikids. Among other things, they’ll be holding a festival and cycling from from Land’s End to John O’Groats (and they’re inviting you to join them for the whole 1000 miles). But that’s just the warm up, they’ll also be cycling 14,000 miles from Camden to Cape Town.

They’re having a FREE launch party on Sunday 28th November at Lost Society in Clapham and we’re all invited. Join them (and us!) from 4pm for folly and hijinks, featuring live swing, dixie jazz and funky blues, plus Passing Clouds and Bungalow 8 resident DJ Flight Commander. If you don’t already know and love electro-swing, you soon will. Come and meet the cyclists, enjoy Hula Hooping, half price cocktails and win yourself an early present in their luxury Xmas raffle.

And finally
This month we’ve been wondering why we don’t do it like the French do it, loving our hi-vis jackets and discovering how to retrieve stolen bikes.

Jo, Laura, Liz, Edd & Daniel
The Otesha Project UK

P.s. The third installment of our monthly recycled crafts night at DrinkShopDo is almost upon us. This month we’ve salvaged lost and lonely bike tyres and will be transforming them into bike tyre belts. When: Thursday 4 November from 7:00-9:00pm Where: Drink Shop & Do, No 9 Caledonian Road N1 9DX (right near King’s Cross station) Cost: £15.00 including all materials. Free for Otesha members!

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