Have you ever received a letter from someone you have never met? Someone older or younger than you? Someone whose life will impact your own in some way or another? Someone who has committed themselves to creativity, curiosity, and offering their hands to help? This is a story about creating something real, working collaboratively, and writing letters to those we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.
The Generators of the Paper Garden are now a few months into their journeys with Global Generation. They have been discovering parts of themselves and developing projects to be the change they want to see. When Antony (Year 6) suggested we make bird feeders and provide homes for wildlife this sparked a project in the garden.
We got busy collaboratively designing our wildlife garden, and began to think about the potential of the empty space behind the Copper Palace. Working with Vicky, a collaborative design facilitator, we started from the very beginning, thinking about what the space needs and how we could achieve that. She got us to think about all of the elements of the garden, and where they would be best suited. Going slowly with the design process, the Generators formed lists of aspirations for the space, and we mapped it out in the woodchip floor of the garden.
Working with people collaboratively to create something is an art in itself. When myself and Nicole came to making something together from nature on our staff camp a few weekends ago, I did not know where to start. “How do you normally reflect on the natural world through making things?” I asked Nicole. We proceeded to both describe our processes, then began finding things on the ground, creating meaning of them together and separately… Did we know what we were making before we made it? Creating something together, in tune with the natural world, was an insightful activity. Along the way to creating our final piece, we discussed the meaning of being in Pertwood once more for all of us. I could feel a strong message from the land: it would try it’s best to work its magic on all of us, bewitching us with tall grasses that turn to green seas. Our final piece was a brown twig, adorned with the treasures of the small patch of path we created. It was a delicate piece, just as delicate and meaningful as the process of creating it.
When we began our collaborative process in the Paper Garden with the Generators, I wondered how we would come to an end design, with only four hours, and many minds with many ideas. But Vicky guided us through the process and the Generators worked together, as Julie (Head of Garden’s) would say, as a “hive mind”. The power of working together, to create something, to design something that was real, was evident.
The Generators and us knew that turning the car park into a wild space would be hard work, so we asked British Land to help us get the first bit started on a volunteer day...
The Generators wrote beautiful letters to the volunteers, telling them all sorts of reasons why they should build the wildlife area and what their experiences of being part of the Paper Garden meant to them. When the volunteers read them in the Paper Yurt, they began their days in the world of the young people, full of their energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the wildlife.
“ Dear Adult,
I am very grateful as a Generator and an individual to help us build our bug and animal place.
I have been a Generator since the very start (April) and my time has been outstanding. I feel very privileged to be here and to help all the wildlife in this area. Ever since I started at Global Generation, I have felt as if I am closer and have a wider knowledge of nature and the creatures in this area and London. I really hope that the area which you are going to clean out can help make animals more at home. Being 11 and living in an area which is very depressed and grey because of all the pollution and events happening makes me want to do more for nature so that the creatures in this world live a happy life. I hope you take my feelings into account and put my love for animals into your work.
Thanks SO much.
“ Dear Adult,
I have come to the Paper Garden for years, but every time I enter something has changed. It is a peaceful, yet busy, hotspot for nature. And I never leave before I have to change something, and have contributed to the garden myself. In truth, the Paper Garden has become part of me, and I part of it.
I hope you will welcome this opportunity to take a break from sitting at a dull desk in an office and let the wonderful complexity of nature inspire you while you add a little bit of yourselves to the Garden by helping us with the creation of our Wildlife Area. Thank you for your commitment to us and the Paper Garden, and we hope to see you again soon to watch the wildlife area grow, expand and flourish.
British Land finished their day writing letters back to the Generators.
It was really inspiring to read through the thoughts and designs for the Paper Garden “Wild Space” so creatures and plants can grow in this amazing space.
There have been some fantastic ideas and I hope we will have been able to bring some of these to life. It is so important for us and British Land to listen and appreciate the thoughts of local communities, young and old, to ensure we create a space for us all to live in and enjoy. Not forgetting, the plants, insects and minibeasts of course!
I hope you came back and enjoy the wild area.
Ed- British Land, aged 50”
I hope that the story that started here today will continue, day after day, and will evolve into the garden and the city of your dreams. It’s never too late to dream about a different world and wanting to work towards making our urban environment blend with nature a lot more. A collaborative approach like the one we had today is what I hope you can continue, different generations coming together and developing something special, an environment where everyone feels at home, where we help each other and where we can smile together a true happiness! Good luck with your work… Be inspired, be curious and love your city… Participate and be yourself, driven by your passion and enthusiasm.
Ari, BL employee and Paper Garden Enthusiast”
To continue the collaboration between young person and developer, the Generators will continue their letter writing, giving volume to their creative, passionate voices. The Generator’s are planning to invite them to see the wild garden when you can no longer see the grey car park bricks for the green plants.