The transition from one year to the next is a natural time for reflection - and it is certainly clear that the Skip Garden has now settled into its new site, emerging in 2016 as a living community space. In these turbulent times, when the differences between us tend to be emphasised (or even fabricated), the act of coming together in the spirit of deep listening, co-creating and co-habiting harmoniously is an act of resistance. Since the summer, we have hosted various community events and opportunities for inter-generational and intercultural exchanges. Two recent events have been particularly youth-led and youth-focused, opening up the garden to new groups of people with the intention of nurturing a space for connection and celebration.
On the same week of the American presidential elections, Ranya, one of our Generators, and I hosted an Evening of Resistance through film, discussion, and poetry. Guests were welcomed with Palestinian food, based on recipes I collected during my time in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in 2014, including falafels, baba ghanoush, hummus, pickled turnips and tabbouleh.
With stomachs full, the filmmakers of Epicly Palestine’d: The Birth of Skateboarding in the West Bank were invited to share their short film, and share their experiences of meeting and skating with young people living under occupation.
Lastly, with teas and baklava in hand, Rohan Ayinde filled the yurt with his poetry, and spoke of Take Back the City, a campaign to put the majority, the marginalised and the disillusioned back in the driving seat of decision-making in London. By the end of the night, guests were sharing their own stories and thoughts!
Throughout the evening, not only were people who had never been to the Skip Garden introduced to a unique space where they could connect with different generations, ethnicities and species - but also a space where they could feel part of a greater whole. To move forward, local initiatives across the world will play a significant role, but it is just as crucial to recognise that these efforts are weaving into the ever growing tapestry that is the current global movement, paving the way for greater environmental and social justice.
We also ended the year by hosting the Winter Party for the British Red Cross’ Refugees and Befriending (RnB) project based in Islington. The RnB projects across the country provide support, guidance, and friendship for young unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers aged 14-25. This was yet another youth-focused event, with Generators - including Ranya - hosting and attending, Noemi from our employability programme Global Generation WORKS running a terrarium workshop, and Sara from the Alumni programme running a pickling station.
After having a go at making their own wood-fired pizzas with various toppings from the garden, dampers by the fire, and pickling, young people migrated to the classroom to shake off all the food. Those in the classroom moved to the rhythm of a dabka, hips swayed to Algerian tunes, and young people from around the world had a space to be young and be themselves - celebrating being part of a genuinely global generation. As Ranya reflected, “whilst people protested in Downing Street on the issue of the current affairs in Aleppo, here we held an act of integration, welcoming those whose past holds the stories we can’t even fathom… here we danced, here we smiled, here we sang, here we ate food from all over the world... and simply exchanged cultures.”
What do we want to see in 2017? More, more, more... starting with another Evening of Resistance in February!