I’m about three chapters into a new book. It’s called Happy City; it’s enthralling. So far I have been really drawn to the ideas of the Mayor of Happy – remarkably working in Bogota, in Columbia, South America. His approach is simple.
“What are our needs for happiness? We need to walk, as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality”
Here in York we’ve been offered an opportunity to attempt a little of this. Last year City of York Council considered two issues: the impossibility of keeping parks and open spaces in a quality condition, given shrinking resources alongside the willingness of volunteers to get stuck in, to take on a challenge and to make something relevant to the needs of their local community. So they asked York CVS to develop a plan to develop this potential.
There are two main ambitions underpinning this. An understanding that the Council will continue with the essentials – cutting the grass and hedges, repairs and maintenance, rubbish collection.
And the funded projects will concentrate on environmental issues as well as developing modern and relevant volunteering, especially with groups who are sometimes excluded or would be unaware of what’s on offer. This work got underway in late April this year, with funding running till March 19.
Five projects are involved, all different in scale, ambition, locality and practicalities. However all are enthusiastic, full of ideas and keen to work together and with their colleagues from the Council.
Here they are:
In Glen Gardens, TAPTY (Therapeutic Art and Play Therapy Yorkshire) is working with the Friends of Glen Gardens and Refuge Action York. The work will involve caring for an existing border, as well as developing art activities. Planning starts properly in June.
The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) are tackling Hull Road Park. Partners and volunteers are being recruited – to work on a particular area to make it flourish again. And there’s also the possibility of developing a Friends group later on.
TCV are also working with Clarence Gardens, brightening it up and making it more attractive for wildlife. It also needs quite a lot of attention to make it sparkle so the idea of a possible Human Rights Garden is very exciting.
Friends of Rowntree Park are working on the big shrub borders as well as developing new features such as a sensory garden. They’re involving YUMI, Brunswick Organic Nursery and York Cares in these .
Last but certainly not least is the Blueberry Academy Gardening Team. Young trainees with learning difficulties will take this opportunity to gain valuable work experience whilst creating a sensory garden in West Bank Park. Ideally once the early work is completed, this can be maintained and developed by volunteers.
Gardens have many purposes – the cultivation of flowers or food; spaces for exercise, relaxation, solace, recovery; places to play, learn, meet and volunteer. Growing Green Spaces feels like an adventure with so much to explore.
Contact me if you’d like to know more or have ideas to share. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org