Welcome to the LCWO November newsletter!


Brr! It's getting chilly! Which means it must be time to descend into a consumerist frenzy and spend lots of money on disposable items people don't need... or not.

As we might all be starting to think about some end-of-year gifts, we're sharing a handy guide from Friends of the Earth on gift giving and the Christmas season at the end of the newsletter... but lots to get through before that!

At this time of year, it is also really important to think about what extra support ouyr local fauna needs, so read on for some tips - and you can start THIS WEEK by encouraging everyone you know to CHECK THEIR BONFIRE FOR HEDGEHOGS before setting them alight.

In this month's newsletter (it's a long 'un but hopefully this linked index will help you skip to what you want to read...):

1) Nature activity of the month: the starlings are at Otmoor!
2) Book of the month: 'The Sense of Wonder' by Rachel Carson, with photos by Nick Kelsh
3) Recipe of the month: easy peasy green tomato chutney
4) Workshop of the month: This Is How It Is Right Now
5) Plastic reduction experiment of the month: deoderant
6) Music from West Oxford - Troubled Planet
7) Swift swift update
8) Winter wildlife tips - how you can help as it gets colder
9) Kingfisher Corner update - new survey, report coming soon!
10) West Oxford Energy Challenge results are in
11) Our events this autumn - thanks to all of you who came along to our Repair Cafe, Bring & Take and last but not least, Beet the Waste ii!
12) Have your say: Oxford Local Plan 2016-2036 Consultation now open

Looking ahead:

13) 21 eco-friend xmas tips from FoE - and George Monbiot's fantastic article on pathological consumption, 'The Gift of Death'
14) Coming up - calendar of events

1) Nature activity of the month: See the starlings at Otmoor
Otmoor is beautiful at this time of year, starlings or noA real highlight of this time of the year is making it to Otmoor Reserve to witness the incredible starling murmurations.  If you haven't been before, I would seriously recommend it, especially if you are needing an 'awe' top-up.


Otmoor is about half an hour's drive from Oxford, and it's another 30-40 minutes' walk to the hide, so leave in goood time for sunset, as once the sun sets, it's pretty much over.

[How to get there].

2) Book of the month: 'The Sense of Wonder' by Rachel Carson, with photos by Nick Kelsh

We were given this book for my daughter's birthday, and wow, it is beautiful (thanks Jo!).


My daughter was semi-curious (currently going through of a stage of needed to seem rather jaded), but for me, this book was deeply moving.


It combines an essay written by Rachel Carson about time spent experiencing nature with her great nephew, Roger, with beautiful nature images by photographer Nick Kelsh.  Much wisdom is contained in the brief message from Rachel Carson, and I think it is a must read for anyone spending time with children in nature - or indeed any of us wanting to re-access some of our inner child, and think about how we approach the world around us.

3) Recipe of the month: super easy Green Tomato chutney

Each month, I'll be including a simple seasonal recipe or two, often with a waste-combatting, dairy-free bent, with serious focus on YUM factor.


This week, I was wondering what to do with all my unripe tomatoes, and came across this green tomato chutney recipe by Nigel Slater.  It is the first chutney I've ever made, as I've always thought of chutney as something you make if you have loads of something - but Nigel makes it in small batches.  A brilliant combo of waste-combatting, easy, tasty and vegan.


4) Event of the month: This Is How It Is Right Now

In the last few months, we have faced a plethora of difficult news items about the world around us, including stomach-churning updates on climate change (in the form of the latest IPPC report) and our impact on the world's biodiversity (from the WWF)

"Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds"

(The Guardian, 30 Oct)


"Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'"

(BBC News, October 8)

This information has an emotional impact, and this workshop, delivered by two very talented facilitators, is for those wishing to explore some of the feelings they experience.

(from the event facebook page:) "From wildfires and storms to a dereliction of leadership in the political sphere, there is a lot in the news right now to make us worry, rage and weep, if not despair. Sometimes the feelings are big, and perhaps we don’t want to overwhelm others by talking about them.

This workshop is designed for people who care about the world - activists and artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and change-makers of all kinds - to come together to share some of those feelings within a safely held process. During the afternoon, we'll follow a flow which will gently open us up to the resources within, between and beyond us, enable us to own and honour our pain for the world, and integrate those more painful responses.

At the centre of the workshop is Joanna Macy’s 'Truth Mandala’, which you can read more about here: Our experience of the Truth Mandala is that it allows strong feelings to be witnessed and released, in a way that’s supportive and affirming. Any grief or anxiety is also an expression of love and connection. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t feel pain. By coming together, and working within the circle of life, we harness our collective power and wisdom to go forward with renewed purpose.


Jo Hamilton has experience of leading workshops based on 'The Work that Reconnects', of which the Truth Mandala is an important element. She's currently doing doctoral research on the relationship between these kinds of workshops, and engagement and action on climate change. She builds on a range of experience of engaging, and sustaining engagement, on climate change with grassroots and community groups, local businesses and universities. She comes to this work with an open heart, and awareness that strength to enable our response-ability can come through places and spaces where we can show up and work with the stuff that normally gets hidden.

Jackie Singer is a creative artist and shamanic practitioner, experienced at opening sacred space and holding ritual. Her original training in the 1990s was as a drama and movement therapist. She has a deep sense of the significance of the times that we live in for the awakening of human nature to greater love.


Places are limited to 10 people.
Cost: between £10 and £20 contribution* (cash or cheque on the day)
Tea and cake included.
If you would like to come, please fill in and submit this very simple Google form."

5) Plastic-free life product of the month: deodorant

This month, we're looking at plastic free deoderants, starting with this organic, animal-free and plastic-free offering from Fit Pit.  First impressions: smells lovely.


Other suggestions on a plastic-ditching facebook group include Aromaco solid deoderant from Lush, or making your own by mixing bicarbonate of soda with a melted oil of choice.

If you have ideas and recommendations, we'd love to hear from you on our facebook page.

6) Music from West Oxford - Troubled Planet

A video about global warming, 'Troubled Planet', features footage from Greenpeace, music by Penny Squire, performed by the Cotswold Ensemble players & recorded this summer at St Frideswide’s in West Oxford.  You can watch it here:

7) Swift swift update

The swifts have sadly now flown south for the year, and we shall have to wait until next May to hear their screeches in our skies.

To encourage their return and help support them, now is a good time to invest in swift boxes.  They can be bought here and would make a fab present for anyone with access to a suitable building and permission to put them up.

The good news in West Oxford is that St Frideswide are putting up 3 boxes this winter, two paid for by LCWO.

In addition, there is a new Swift Mapping app available, which is relatively easy to use.  Access it here:

8) Winter wildlife tips - what you can do at home

The key thing to be doing this week is to encourage anyone having a bonfire to check for hedgehogs (as well as frogs and toads) before they light.

make a hedgehog houseYou can also:
- make a funky one minute bird feeder - and make sure existing feeders are clean to avoid spreading disease (see 5 in this RSPB blog post)
- read up on hedgehog hibernation and find out what you can do to help them this winter - why not make a house?
- leave flower stems standing (so birds can eat seeds, and insects can crawl inside), create log piles and use, don't bin, leaves
- for frogs, 'float a tennis ball or similar in your pond to prevent it freezing over, reducing oxygenation and suffocating any frogs beneath the surface' [Gardeners' World]

Some handy links:
- Get your garden ready for winter [RSPB]
- Help wildlife this winter [Gardeners' World]
- How to help wildlife in your garden this winter [The Telegraph]

9) Kingfisher Corner update - results coming soon

With thanks to funding from Councillor Susanna Pressel, we commissioned a new ecological survey of Kingfisher Corner.

The survey was completed by BioScan in October half term, and we're looking forward to seeing the results soon.

In 2013, the last survey, completed as part of the Oxford Festival of Science BioBlitz, confirmed the importance of tree & bulb planting: 394 species were identified in Botley Park, 101 of which were in Kingfisher Corner, including the picture-wing fly – the rarest fly recorded during the BioBlitz.

We thought it was high time we do a new survey, to get an up-to-date picture of the state of the site, and to inform our new working group, which will be carrying out work at Kingfisher Corner in 2019.

Watch this space for findings from the recent survey, and for news about our plans in 2019!

photos of the Kingfisher Corner survey Oct 2018

10) West Oxford Energy Challenge results are in!


74 people in 24 houses took part in this summer's West Oxford Energy Challenge.  Thanks to all those who took part, as the challenge provided some very useful research material for ECI research Phil Grunewald and his colleagues.  Look out in next month's newsletter for a full report from Phil.

11) Our events this autumn - thanks to all of you who came along to our Repair Cafe, Bring & Take and last but not least, Beet the Waste ii!

THANK YOU to everyone who came along to our events at the end of September.

More than 1000 items found a new home at our Bring & Take, and the repair cafe volunteers worked tirelessly on your broken electrical items.  Many thanks to Sam & Cam, Lydia and Eleanor, who came to support us from Rose Hill & Iffley Low Carbon, Alex from Share Oxford, Ian, and Philip from Bicester Green.  Without them, the Repair Cafe would not have been possible. 


Thanks too to Gillian who taught a
very willing group how to darn whilst they gossip!

I think the 'best item' prize for this bring & take goes to the beautiful traditional fondue set, complete with Lazy Susan.  We hope someone is enjoying some great winter dinner parties with that!

You can see more photos here.


THE NEXT BRING & TAKE will be on Saturday April 27 2019, and we'll looking for volunteers nearer the time as always, so save the date.

If you missed the repair cafe, please note that Share Oxford is running them on the first Sunday of every second month (next one January tbc) in the town centre.

Beet the Waste ii was fab!

ON the Sunday after the Bring & Take/Repair Cafe, LCWO returned to Tap Social to run our second Beet the Waste waste-busting food fest, in partnership with the Oxford Food Bank.


2 teams battled it out in the Ready, Steady, Cook; Julius Cheezer wowed us with his vegan cheezes, and the cake competition resulted in lots and lots of seriously tasty vegan cake.


After some very tough judging, the winner of the cake competition was Caitlin with her amazing vegan apple cake.  You can find the recipe here.

Thanks to Helen White for her photos of the day, which you can check out here.

12) Have your say: Oxford Local Plan 2016-2036 Consultation now open

Local residents are being invited to comment on the proposed Local Plan 2016-2036, in a consultation which ends on the 13th of December.

LCWO is working with LCON and RHILC to respond to the plans, and there will be more information on our thoughts and response in the December newsletter.

In the meantime, you can view the plan here and attend local open discussion sessions this Wednesday and next Saturday (see below for details).

13) 21 eco-friend xmas tips from FoE - and George Monbiot's fantastic article on pathological consumption, 'The Gift of Death'

As we head into the depths of winter, here are 2 thought-provoking articles which you might find useful:

- From Friends of the Earth, ' how to ease off the rampant consumerism – and save the planet's natural resources – without being a Scrooge at Christmas. Our 21 cockle-warming tips for a greener festive season'.

- An old classic from George Monbiot, 'pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it' - The Gift of Death

14) Dates for your diaries

Tues 6 Nov 0930-1030: Mass rally to support safe cycling infrastructure!

Organised by Cyclox, at Oxfordshire County Hall.

Tues 6 Nov 0900-1700: 'Be Part of It! One Planet Oxfordshire' Oxfordshire One Planet Action Plan Workshop, St Aldates Conference Centre

This workshop will bring together councils, businesses, schools and community groups to begin the creation of a One Planet Action Plan for Oxfordshire – a route map towards a truly sustainable future.

Weds 7 Nov 1600-1900: Local Plan 2016-2036 Proposed Submission Document Consultation drop-in session

St Aldate's Room, Oxford Town Hall.

Sun 11 & 18 Nov, 1000-1600: Pedal Power!


Two day workshop in Wantage teaching you how to make your own pedal powered sound system and phone charger! More info.

Sat 17 Nov: join the Extinction Rebellion in London

"Our DECLARATION OF REBELLION against the criminal inaction of the UK government on #ClimateBreakdown.

The #ExtinctionRebellion needs you. Come to Parliament Square London 10am Saturday 17th November for Rebellion Day (

Support the movement through our crowdfunder:"

Sat 17 Nov, 1000-1300: Local Plan 2016-2036 Proposed Submission Document Consultation drop-in session

Judge's Room, Oxford Town Hall.

Sun 18 Nov, 1240-1700: This Is How It Is Right Now

More info about this workshop above.

Sun 25 Nov, 1200-1600: monthly Scoop Zero Waste pop-up at Tap Social

Weds 28 Nov, 1830-2030: What next for the CAG network?

If you are part of a CAG Group, or identify as part of the CAG network, CAG would like to invite you to join them at their upcoming ‘Our Network, Our Future’ event, where they'll be looking for feedback and ideas. At Makespace Oxford.

Watch this space for news of our upcoming AGM in early 2019, where we'll be launching our 2019 LCWO calendar!

Here's to MORE of that beautiful crisp winter weather, and to starling murmurations and oat milk hot chocolate.

Mim & the Low Carbon West Oxford team

Copyright © 2018 Low Carbon West Oxford, All rights reserved.

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