Skipping

Extract from Jane Riddiford’s blog

Across the room I heard another women, Jo Macrae, say; “I like the idea of putting gardens in Skips, like they have done in the King’s Cross Skip Garden. “Well it just so happens there are a few going spare,” I piped up, and that was that. The practicalities seemed to happen at lightning speed, made all the more possible by the fact that Georgia Gould, the head of the council was attending the meeting. By the time we all headed home Georgia had given her assurance that she would cover the transportation costs and arrange for a parking bay to be given the necessary permit for five years. Unlike Hackney, in Camden this would mean having a Skip Permit. Thanks to Jo’s powers of persuasion, two of the Skip Gardens have just been installed in Leighton Rd. If you are on the 390 bus keep your eye out on the left and the right just before you reach the Brecknock Road stop.

Read more on Jane Riddiford’s blog 

Connecting

We have loved getting to know each other in our little bit of Leighton Road, but we know that there are limits to what we can achieve alone.

Without changes in wider transport policy and traffic management, we will continue to be affected by poor air quality and the incessant noise of cars and lorries. High volumes of traffic also represent a threat to our community. There is strong evidence from around the world that traffic gets in the way of us getting to know each other. Communities are ‘severed’.

While we have done our best to overcome the barriers to getting to know more of our neighbours in the road, we know that it’s not enough. That’s why we worked with Kentish Town Community Centre to convene a bigger conversation about how we could start to reimagine our neighbourhood more broadly. On 27th November, we convened ~30 people representing local businesses, health services, schools, other community groups and Camden Council to ask “What would it mean for you if we could reclaim some of our public spaces from cars?”

We had a rich and diverse conversation. For some it was about their children feeling safer and healthier. For others, the pleasure of being able to enjoy more plants and perhaps hear more birdsong. Local businesses could also see opportunities from more local shopping.

That evening’s conversation is feeding into Camden Council’s consultation on Healthy Streets in Kentish Town, which gives us an opportunity to radically rethink the way we use the public space currently devoted to cars. We will continue to work closely with the Council as that initiative unfolds, pushing for a high ambition outcome.

Our goal is to stop cars being pushed along Torriano Avenue and then along Leighton and Brecknock Roads as they make their way to Kings Cross and the M1. We then want to reclaim that space, creating spaces to sit and talk to each other, to grow things, to park our bikes….

Quincing

One of the best things about #greeningleighton has been getting to know our neighbours and developing a much stronger sense of community and place. Because we know each other better, we are starting to do things together, sharing ideas and things. We have WhatsApp and email groups, which we use to share information and thoughts about what’s happening and plan together.

Back in October, we were also able to share the fruits of one resident’s bountiful quince tree. Quince are funny fruit, knobbly, hard and bitter when raw, but when cooked have a unique subtle flavour.   Clemmie and her housemates have one of the largest quince trees I have ever seen in their garden and were kind enough to share their rich harvest.

Our neighbours include a professional cook, as well as French mum steeped in Spanish cuisine, and so one slightly dreary afternoon we gathered together and, after much stirring and many cups of tea, we managed to transform 15kg of quince fruit into jelly and membrillo. They were absolutely delicious!

Together, we distributed the fruits (forgive the pun!) of our labours with our neighbours, with people receiving a jar of jelly or a little package of membrillo.

This would have been unthinkable a year ago! Today, we can enjoy each other’s company and put locally grown fruit to good use and reduce food waste…Bring on the next harvest!