When it comes to sustainability, it’s not always easy to get people’s attention. However if you’ve got a 20ft, animatronic, carrot wielding giant on your side, it’s hard to be missed. The Trashcatchers’ carnival blew into Tooting this afternoon in a whirl of colour, sound and excitement.
Everything in the carnival had been made out of ‘trash’. Project Phakama, Emergency Exit Arts & Transition Town Tooting have been working together to make the various carnival characters along with over 800 local residents, school children, members of community groups and clubs. In all, they used over 1 million plastic bottles and shopping bags, half a million crisp packets, half a ton of renewable willow and half a ton of other materials.
The star of the show had to be the awesome gardening giant, but the carnival also featured an enormous turtle, elephants, fish, foxes, birds and insects. The whole procession was led by the beautiful Sankofa bird.
The Sankofa bird is a particularly fitting symbol for the carnival, and for Transition Town Tooting in general. She is an ancient West African creature who looks forward and backwards in a single glance. She reminds us that sometimes we have to go back to our roots to move forwards. This is the message of the carnival. Even in a large urban town such as Tooting, we can take steps to overcome our oil
dependence and our waste problems by going back to our roots, slowing down, and taking a fresh look at how we consume food and goods.
The carnival will act as a powerful reminder to all who witnessed it that the people of Tooting are creative and flamboyant enough to rise to this and any other challenge.
Lucy Neal, co-chair of Transition Town Tooting said:
Individually we may seem insignificant, but when we connect up in a community, we are very strong, we can make a huge difference. We are thrilled at how well it’s come together and amazed at the support we have received from the people of Tooting.
The powered vehicles in the procession were fuelled by recycled vegetable oil. Many of the vehicles were powered by bike. Hundreds of fantastically attired carnivalistas danced the route on foot.
The event finished up with a sharing picnic in Fishponds playing fields. By the time the last float arrived, there were hundreds of people there to welcome them and continue the carnival spirit with some locally made spicy potato curry and elderflower cordial.
I don’t know how much the amazed spectators would have known about the carnival and what it stands for, but I hope they will be inspired to search for it online and find out more.
The day was a huge success and a really incredible spectacle – huge congratulations to all the organisers and all of those who took part. Tooting has never seen anything like it!
One thing is for sure, the momentum gained over the last few weeks and months will certainly spill over from today into ongoing projects. This heightened visibility on Tooting’s High Road must raise the profile in the area and help all of Transition Town Tooting’s causes.
Transition Town Tooting is planning a Big Launch on the 12th of July, and a Foodival later this year. See their website for more details.