Only when the roots reach deep into something meaningful do I follow the wind and fly with what’s left of me. Only when I look up at the immensities do I understand it’s okay to feel imperfect and temporary. Only when I look at nature, do I smile in the face of my own moaning as I lift the last of twelve paving slabs that each weigh 40kg, which will hold a 24kg bell tent in place. Phew!
The beautiful Monarch butterfly travels 3,100 kilometres from Canada to Mexico. No butterfly completes the entire journey because their life span is too short. So when a butterfly leaves Canada, its second generation will be the one arriving in Mexico. What can a few metres be in comparison to the journey of those butterflies? And how incredible is the legacy they create with the movement of their wings? A wing beat. A species that survives.
At Global Generation, we always move. We move by loading skips on to the back of lorries. We rotate crops. We cycle a flying kitchen bike. We take trains to reach the countryside in the Summer.
And now that I have migrated to Regent’s Place to establish Global Generation’s youth and community projects in Euston , I feel the most nomadic member of my nomadic family. The young people, along with fellow educator Mariam Hassan, also follow the wind with me and I feel this journey is what we need to generate creativity, space for bonding and new opportunities.
Take the Milk Float. The refurbishment will be completed in a few more weeks but the vehicle has already done a few migrations. Or the urban campsite, which started its story at 20 Triton Street, then moved to the Old Diorama Art Centre (accompanied by the chirping of birds) and now it is temporarily in the basement at 184 Drummond Street.
In all of this movement of things, with straw falling off onto the pavement during each migration, the young people who have joined our generator programme are strengthening their leadership skills. They have made snacks for young people at University College London Hospital; they have sanded and scraped the milk float; they have carved wood and modelled clay to refurbish it. They cooked on the fire and made benches using saws and drills, they ate leaves from our planters and thought about the people in the community that they would like to help.
I know that the milk float’s battery could go flat in the middle of the road. I know that having straw stuck in your tights is uncomfortable. I know that meditating, sitting still, thinking about the universe and the stars could sound crazy. And I can feel it when this becomes uncomfortable, inconvenient and sometimes too different to be accepted by others.
So why do we do what we do?
Only when I look into the young people’s eyes, and I see them free to express themselves, to be themselves, to create something, to keep away the pressure of society, only then do I follow the wind again and migrate to another place and remind myself why I am moving those paving slabs around; why I am moving tons of plywood; why I got home just in time to see my daughters fall asleep.
There’s legacy in our nomadic spirit. Or at least the hope of legacy.
There is a seed planted in our migrations. And the hope that something will grow.
There is a young Londoner who eats a salad leaf from a planter and tries a homemade breadstick for the first time. There is a young girl who knows now how to make handles out of wood.
Anything, even if it is small, could change the course of a young person’s life.
I want to thank all of the people at Regent’s Place who look up at the stars too, and help each young person with their own migration.