Taking 8 breaths around our fair (and polluted) city

In July, I was lucky enough to join Kat and Mariana on one of their free walking tours around the centre of Oxford, ‘Oxford in 8 Breaths’.

The original tour flyer

The tour promised to be a ‘departure from traditional walking tours of the city… [using] creative strategies to explore our current ‘Airscape’, to connect the walkers with the world around them‘.  And that it was.

I have never really been one for tours, where long lists of facts are sometimes delivered in a dry way, and I am quick to zone out.

This, however, was different.  We began in Christ Church Meadows, by the old city walls, and were asked to close our eyes, as Mariana took us back through the mists of time, to when the wall was new.

Image: cc Mim Saxl

At each stop, we traveled, guided through evocative visualisations by our able tour guide duo – to another time, to another place. We listened, we touched, we looked – it was a sensory journey.

Image: cc Mim Saxl

And it was deeply thought provoking, as well as being a surprisingly enjoyable (for a tour about such a serious issue!) walk around the streets of Oxford.

The tour was brought to a close with information on how Oxford is responding to the air pollution challenge, and what we can do as citizens, focusing on personal action and empowerment – very up LCWO’s street!

Image: cc Mim Saxl

Air pollution: a big issue locally

Air pollution is a big issue for Oxfordshire.

“The Oxfordshire Air Quality Group Annual Report – Health Improvement Board” (October 2016), noted: “it is now recognised by the government as the country’s second-biggest health threat after smoking”.

Public Health England estimates that 5% of premature deaths are caused by air pollution in Oxfordshire, equivalent to 276 deaths in those aged 25+ in 2014 – compared, for example, to the 26 road fatalities the same year.

In West Oxford, in sad contrast to the rest of the city, air pollution is still getting worse in places (source: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/download/874/aq_annual_status_report_2017), and the problem is not likely to go away any time soon, with developments like the new Westgate opening soon.

Action is being taken (for example, West Street, Alexandra Street and  Riverside Road are playing host to new electric car charger points, as part of the city-wide Council-led project www.goultralowoxford.org; and there’s the campaign work of Oxfordshire Clean Air Action Group), but more is needed.  The question remains: how do we solve this issue?

Announcing: ‘West Oxford in 8 Breaths’

As part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, and inspired by attending the city tour this summer, we have commissioned a special West Oxford version, to offer local people the chance to think more about this issue.

Mariana Galan and Kat McGavin, both Social Sculpture students at Oxford Brookes University, have created a tour of the Botley Road especially for us, and you can join them this autumn.

The meeting point for the tours is St Frideswide’s Church on Botley Road (almost opposite to the West Oxford Community Center). The tours takes approximately 2 hours (including discussion at the end).

Booking essential – book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/west-oxford-in-8-breaths-alternative-walking-tour-tickets-37938885227

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1153802144721120/

More about the city centre tour – in the press

Hear them talking about it here: http://www.talkingwalking.net/8-breaths-talking-walking/

Read about the city centre tour in the Oxford Mail: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15387641.Take_a_deep_breath__students_launch_guided_tours_of_Oxford__39_s_air_pollution/

Spring Bring & Take, May 2017

Thank you to everyone who came along to our Spring Bring & Take at WOCA in May.

290 people came and there was a lot of fab stuff swapped, as well as PAT testing led by Peter from Bicester Green.

Swapped (rough figures from the door as people left): 92 books/cds/dvds; 81 clothes items; 85 household items; 137 toys & games; 20 plants; 24 electrical items; 179 items of clothing; 161 books… and more.

See you at the next one in September!

Bring and Take Autumn 2016

LCWO’s Autumn 2016 Bring and Take event was held on Saturday, 1st October, from 10.30am – 12.30pm.  It was only a couple of hours but, as at all our Bring & Takes, so much stuff was swapped in that time.  Here is the event in approximate numbers:

  • 174 attendees
  • 977 items re-homed, of which the most popular were books (27%), toys and games (23%) and  clothes (19%) 
  • Leftover stuff:  10 bags of textiles (clothes and soft furnishings) taken to our local primary school to help with their fundraising, and many books taken for their Christmas bazaar; one third of a small van load taken to a charity shop and half a small van load taken to Redbridge (our local recyling centre), as far as possible for recycling.

For general information about the purpose of Bring & Take events please see Reduce, Re-use, Recycle at our Bring and Take events.

Bring & Take Event 1st Oct 10.30-12.30




Bring and Take Saturday 14th May 2016

Join us for our Spring Bring and Take this Saturday, 14th May 2016 from 10.30am – 12.30pm at West Oxford Community Centre.  Bring genuinely re-usable items in good, clean condition between 10.20-11.30am only, take items from 10.30am-12.30pm.  Small electrical items will be PAT-tested for safety.  If you have large items please leave them at home and bring a photo, description and contact details to display at the event.  We would welcome any surplus seedlings you have.

For general information about the purpose of Bring and Take events please see Reduce, re-use, recycle at our Bring and Take events

Bring & Take poster May 2016


Highlights of the ‘For the love of …..’ lobby

The best bits

It was a sunny day on 17th June when 9,000 people from around the UK came to Westminster for a mass lobby of Parliament to speak up for what they hold dear that could be affected by climate change.  They spoke to over 330 MPs.  Find out what happened in the highlights video.

Speaking up

Amber Rudd,  Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, was interviewed about the lobby.  She said she welcomed the campaign and that “Politicians can’t deliver on the ambition without the public saying we need you to do this.”  But will the government deliver?

For the love of …… all that we hold dear

On 17th June about 9,000 people went to Westminster to lobby their MPs to help protect all the things they love from climate change.  The Energy Bill Revolution, one of the groups involved in the event, called upon the government to make insulating homes a priority “for the love of 2 million cold children” because insulated homes use less fuel which is good for the climate and cuts bills.   The Guardian gave a full report on the event.

The role of bunting

In the run up to the event LCWO members Ruth Stavris, Miranda Miller and Vicky Hirsch organised “For the Love of…….” bunting workshops in West Oxford and at the Big Green Day Out fair in Broad Street at the start of Low Carbon Oxford Week.  The bunting showed MPs the things we love and could lose as a result of climate change.

Bunting - carrots Do the right thing bunting Save me bunting Rows of bunting from West Oxford

LCWO lobbyists

LCWO members Lois Muddiman and Ruth Mayne spent one hour with 35 other Oxfordshire residents lobbying our MP Nicola Blackwood providing suggestions on how to address the difficulties faced by local councils and community groups in accessing grants for energy efficiency measures.


For the love of ……..

Speak up for the things you love that could be lost to climate change

The things we love are threatened by climate change – but we can protect them by urging politicians to act.

On 17th June thousands of people from across the UK are coming together for a day of action and celebration and to speak to their MPs and tell them why fighting climate change matters to us all.  This will be the biggest ever UK MP climate lobby, and the first mass lobby of the new government.  Continue reading “For the love of ……..”

Low Carbon Oxford Week 2015 calendar of events

Low Carbon Oxford Week 2015 has something for everyone.  This What’s On guide will help you make the most of the week:  Low Carbon Oxford Week full events listing.  A hard copy of the listing is also available from shops, community centres and leisure centres across the city.  You can find more details about each event on the LCO website.    All events are free unless otherwise stated and booking is required for some events and activities. Continue reading “Low Carbon Oxford Week 2015 calendar of events”

Low Carbon Oxford Week 13-21 June 2015

Low Carbon Oxford (LCO) Week was a huge hit in 2014 and it’s back again this year with even more activities and events for you to get involved in.   If you missed it last year you can get an idea of what it was about from this short video.

LCO Week is a summer festival which uses culture, creativity and community to inspire local people to take action against climate change.  It’s a celebration of all things good and green in Continue reading “Low Carbon Oxford Week 13-21 June 2015”

Bring and Take Saturday 9th May 2015

Our twice-yearly swap shop for residents of West Oxford is happening tomorrow at the West Oxford Community Centre.   Residents can save money, cut carbon emissions and take home a whole range of things, some useful, some unusual:  a pile of books to read, or a ‘new’ outfit, or a DVD of a favourite film, or even a life-size cardboard cut out of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars!

Bring & Take poster May 2015

An unusal find at the Bring & Take
You can find all sorts at the Bring & Take!

Competition Rules Sept 2009

 Logo - Low Carbon West Oxford

 Low Carbon West Oxford

 Logo - West Oxford Community Renewables

Open Day – 26th September 2009 – 2pm to 5pm

Craft & Produce Competitions
Rules of Entry

General Rules

  • All competitions are free to enter
  • All competitions are open to people who live or work in West Oxford.
  • Entries will be judged and prizes awarded on the day.
  • One entry per person in each competition, but feel free to enter every competition.
  • N.B. Please bring all entries to the Community Centre promptly at 2pm on 26th September, to allow time for filling in an entry form and labelling of entries.

Photography Competitions

Theme – “Grow or Make Your Own”

Please enter a photograph you have taken of something you have made or grown your self.

For example, fruit, flower, vegetables, a meal, a cake, a dress, a craft item, a piece or furniture – anything really, as long as you made it yourself.

Photographs should be printed, in colour, size 6” x 4”

Categories: 1) Under 16 years old 2) 16 years and older

Victoria Sandwich Competition

Home made Victoria sandwich cake – made with cream and jam, no more than 8” diameter.

Open Day September 2009

Logo - Low Carbon West Oxford

Low Carbon West Oxford

invites you to our

Logo - West Oxford Community Renewables

Open Day

Saturday 26th September from 2pm – 5pm
West Oxford Community Centre
Tea and Cakes will be Served

Bring & Take

bring stuff you no longer need to swap including books, clothes, toys, household items or excess produce from your allotment

Find out more about LCWO

This year 38 households in West Oxford reduced their CO2 by 30%.

Buy shares in the project

A chance to buy shares in West Oxford Community Renewables


Pumpkin, Biggest Marrow, Runner beans, Tomatoes, Funniest Veg,
Victoria Sandwich, Scones, Cupcakes,
Photograph on the theme of “make/grow your own”
For children – Garden on a plate, Flower arrangement in an eggcup.

Rules available at Comm Centre, Eggs Etc and online here

Business Share Offer Launch

 Logo - Low Carbon West Oxford

Low Carbon West Oxford

invites you to the take part in our

 Logo - West Oxford Community Renewables

West Oxford Community Renewables

Share Launch to Local Businesses

Wednesday 23rd September
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Science Oxford

An opportunity to be one of the first investors in this innovative project

West Oxford Community Renewables (WOCR) was established for the specific purpose of building community-owned renewable energy schemes in

West Oxford and to thus generate funds for LCWO.

This event is also a networking evening for members of 2degrees