For six years I’ve been cultivating neglected patches of land in my neighbourhood of the Elephant & Castle. Driven by a life long love of gardening, a lack of a garden, and the fun of doing it in public I found easy opportunities in the abandoned flower beds, neglected traffic islands and tree pits near me. Since then I’ve gardened alongside hundreds of others and met a lot of inspiring people who are doing the same thing as me in corners of their community all around the world. It’s my hobby, my passion and I’m keen to get more people gardening like this. The local overlooked landscape – in both meanings of the word – forgotten about but also in great view is a space in which we can make a very tangible and welcoming contribution to improving our local environment, both ecologically and socially.
As a guerrilla gardener, blogger, author and talker on the subject, I’ve got plenty of people involved too, but guerrilla gardening is just a strategy, and the result can be all sorts of landscapes of varying scales and purpose, sometimes overtly provocative. I’ve noticed that enthusiastic newcomers can feel a bit daunted by expectations of enormous transformation and the risk of prosecution for criminal damage (even though both are quite unlikely)! So this campaign will be a way of giving people, particularly newcomers, a very tangible objective – transforming a patch of pavement and taking back responsibility from the local authorities who have plenty of other things to be concerned with on our behalf. This campaign will be a more palatable way of inviting the authorities who are in charge of most of our pavements to participate in this grass roots enthusiasm. In cities around Europe (Zurich, Berlin, Amsterdam and to a much lesser extent London) I’ve seen how guerrilla gardening can change the authorities view of their responsibilities, and I’m keen that these examples are inspiration to encourage change in more places.
Now I just need the time to put a plan together!