Last month we took a small part of the Skip Garden to Somerset House for the Utopia Think Tank Weekend. This was the end of a whole year of exhibitions and work exploring Thomas Moore's themes and imagining our own utopias. As well as a series of talks on subjects as wide and varied as the economy, play, work, housing and food, there were: writing workshops inviting people to collaboratively invent the narratives of their utopia, mapping utopia with artist Stephen Walter, and delicious baked goods from Day Old, a surplus food box scheme, to keep the imaginations flowing.
In Moore's utopia meals are shared communally and every citizen spends time toiling the land. Our ethos around food & growing and its ability to create connections, open up conversations and find commonality with others and nature is not dissimilar. So this was a think tank we definitely wanted to be a part of!
The garden is often described by others as an 'oasis' in the middle of the city and in many ways reflects little pieces of utopia from all of the staff, volunteers, young people and those who choose to share our space even if only for a little while. It was great to be bring a small piece of the garden outside of King's Cross and to see if we could transpose our sense of space into another place. We packed the Skip Garden bike with colourful crayons, plants, vegetables & fruit, a deck chair, some clay, some soil, beautiful quotes and images from this year's generator photo projects, add 3 gardeners (Halle, Pauland Robyn) and a handful of worms into a van and drove it all down to the Strand.
Joined by fellow utopians we got to work chatting about growing in cities, trying to find the worms who had dug themselves deep into the soil to avoid the light and finding out the true origins of some of our most common fruits & vegetables. Thinking about place, where things come from, where we assume they come from, their histories and journeys past and present.
An invigorating weekend for all of us to imagine together where we have come from, our assumptions on what we know and how we know, and what journeys we would choose to take. Weeding out thenoise of practical worlds and thinking to the core of what we feel is important discussing with others how we want our cities to look and feel in the future. But more than that discussing how we want our relationships to be with others and our environment, from public growing spaces, to schools where students direct the learning and access to knowledge is equal. All ideas from the weekend were recorded on Utopia 2016.com
And all the while we sat as we do in the garden, getting grubby with soil and clay, rolling seeds into little balls, and arming fellow utopians with wildflowers to disperse for Spring.