12 Dec 2007
Fighting Filth with Forks and Flowers’. Richard Reynolds and a small group of friends go to work to ‘green up’ London.
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Last Spring, while out tending his Guerilla Shrubbery below his tower block home in London, Richard Reynolds was approached by some local children playing in the street. They asked him what he was doing. ‘Planting some giant yellow flowers,’ he replied. With little explanation they got the idea and Richard gave them each a sunflower seed, which they then excitedly prodded into the ground.
The Guerilla Gardening Youth’ waited patiently over the next few months for the triumphant flowering and they were not disappointed. Even the local Council supported Richard’s new patch of green and expressed no objection to him continuing to cultivate this area.
Guerrillagardening.org started life in 2004. Richard Reynolds and a small group of friends were so fed up with the state of their south London tower block that they decided to green it up. They were not the first people to do this though; in fact the idea of Guerrilla Gardening’ ñ effectively, gardening without permission ñ goes back to 1973 in New York.
Liz Christy and a group of local gardening activists, known as the Green Guerrillas’, were planting window boxes and vacant lots with seed bombs. They saw the rubble-strewn area as a potential garden so they hauled the rubbish out, spread donated soil, installed a fence and began planting.
However, not until more than 30 years later has the idea of people greening up public urban spaces really taken hold. The official Guerrilla Gardening’ community consists of thousands of people who are signed up to an online web forum. You have to look at the Troop Digs’ page on the Guerilla Gardening’ website to appreciate the vast range of projects that have been carried out.
Improving the community and environment for everyone and everything has many positive side effects ñ reduced vandalism, safer streets and even bringing broken communities back together, says the Green Seniors website. This valuable concept, known as broken window syndrome’, which suggests that even small breakages or a low level of bad behaviour, if left to fester, can escalate to serious anti-social behaviour and wide-spread damage to an area. A bit of gardening here and mending there, can make all the difference.
‘It’s the simplest way of effecting positive change,’ says Richard. ‘Permission for these kinds of places, should you need it at all, is easier to gain in our experience by just getting on and doing the job, rather than getting embroiled in red tape… Our fight is against the abuse of land, our separation from the landscape and for a more beautiful and productive environment.’
Left: Guerilla Gardening Youth from
left to right ñ Michael, Jordan, Stefan, Johan and Hope ñ with their impressive sunflowers. Above: Gardening Guerilla, Richard Reynolds
Photos: © guerrillagardening.org
Original story from Green Seniors and Guerilla Gardening.org ñ a web space that has become a growing arsenal for anyone interested in the war against the neglect of public spaces.’
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