Wild Town

Since becoming a parent I am guilty of often tutting about ‘things not being like they used to be‘ – toys, clothes, music… Middle age eh? It comes to get us all eventually. But when it comes to outside time for children, things really are not like they used to be. The roaming distance that children play from their home has shrunk by 90% in 30 years, with time spent playing outside down 50% in just one generation. It is not just my increasingly curmudgeonly nature, British kids have never been more disconnected from the natural world. And it is believed that this increasing disconnect with nature, a nature deficit disorder, could even contribute to why the UK ranks so poorly in childhood satisfaction surveys.

wild-reading-project-logo

Nature Nurture want to change that. They are on a mission to get children and their families back outside to have some wild time and they want to start here, in our home town of Reading. They want to provide free nature themed Family Wild Day events, workshops for schools, training for teachers, outdoor Playdays for children. Including things like building dens, hunting bugs, conker contests… Things we remember as children! As well as that, they want children to learn about nature, all in our local parks, woodlands and other wild spaces. And they want to map the green spaces and wild side of Reading and help people of all ages discover some of the amazing wildlife that live there too.

And if you are thinking “well that’s nice for Reading, but what is in this for us?” As part of the project they want to create ‘The Wild Town Toolkit’ to help towns all across the country go wild!

But they need our help. They are through to the final of ITV’s People’s Millions and need 10s of 1000s of telephone votes to be in with a chance of winning £50,000 to make our towns go wild. Please watch the video below and pledge your support to vote for the project on Monday 24th November. Please help our kids have the kind of wild childhood we remember. Just like things used to be.

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Hardwick Squash and Pumpkin Festival

Welcome banner - Squash and Pumpkin FestivalAfter what felt like weeks of constant rain, the sun broke through and we made our way across the other side of the Thames Valley to feel the warmth on our faces and to visit Tolhurst Organic Produce’s annual Squash and Pumpkin Festival, set in their farm in the Victorian Walled Gardens of the Hardwick Estate.

Thames ValleyWe sat in the sun on the valley sides and drank locally brewed beer, ate locally grown foods, admired the most magnificent array of squashes and enjoyed some local bands.

Local beerThe Tiny Overlord practiced some serious toddling.

Toddling on the farmAnd we explored the farm. I often underestimate how much food is frown locally. Maybe I often mistakenly (or lazily) assume that we must rely on big supermarkets for our food. But these fields were bustling with tasty things to eat. I really want us to try to eat more seasonally, at least, and support more local growers like Tolhurst. Fresh, tasty and surely better for all of us? I am inspired.

Tolhurst Organic FarmThe festival was a real joy. I’m not too fond of commercial Halloween, but this festival felt like a proper celebration of the seasons – of truly appreciating what comes from the ground and the passing of that growing season to the winter. Do I sound like a hippy? Maybe. But good food, beer and music in a beautiful setting floats my boat far more than ‘trick or treat’.

Sharing Ink

Sometimes the intention and meaning behind a guerrilla art project makes me feel slightly giddy. I discovered this wonderful project called Sharing Ink by Australian artist Sayraphim Lothian through the Craftivist Collective’s Facebook group.

Sayraphim has made and left 30 blank journals, each with a message inscribed in front page, around Melbourne for people to find. This really rather beautiful film tells the story…

Sharing Ink from The Public Studio on Vimeo.

The Sharing Ink appeals to me on so many levels. Firstly I love Sayaphim’s views on public art, on the difference in interaction and ownership between art in a public place and art in a gallery. The project also makes me think about own relationship with books, my increasing reliance on computers, e-readers and gadgets and how books provide something tangible and physical that isn’t replicated by modern technology. I also love that this project is asking people to challenge their perceptions of people they don’t know, challenging society’s preconception that all ‘strangers’ should be feared. That someone you don’t know could actually make your day better…

You can read more about Sharing Ink on this blog or on the Facebook page, which also include the stories from people that have found some of the journals. I really really love this project.

The Stitch-in: #imapiece Reading

Craft. It’s often seen as a lonely and solitary activity, sedate and relaxing, an escape. And whilst it can be all these things, one of the beauties of the modern craft movement it that craft has become empowering, active, public and deeply social.

I’ve attended a few stitch-ins with the Craftivist Collective and I felt very strongly that I wanted to help spread the word about the #impiece jigsaw project, about inequality and about the impact the G8 could have on so many people’s lives. I really wanted to organise a stitch-in of my own, but as a new girl in a new town I wasn’t sure if anyone would come. But, with special thanks to Alabama Whirly, The Jelly Reading and RISC’s global cafe, on 29th January 2013 I nervously, but excitedly, hosted a stitch-in and the most wonderful group of local crafters met to sew beautiful, inspiring and motivating messages on jigsaw pieces…

The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
One of the wonderful things about having a stitch-in in such a public place was, not only the conversations we had amongst ourselves, but also being able to talk about the project to other people. You don’t have to attend an event like this one to get involved  – you can still do it from the comfort of your own home – just have a look at all the details here.

A huge and massive thank you to everyone that came along, it was brilliant to meet you all and thank you for making me feel a part of my new local craft community. I really myself and hope you did too. It shows that we can all make a difference.


The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading

(I’m linking my first stitch-in to Lakota’s Ta Dah Tuesday. Because it does make me feel kind of ‘Ta Dah!)

You could put something really great here?

This little celebration of Craftivism is in honour of my friends, the Craftivist Collective, and the launch of a crowdfunding project for their first book. It is collection of my favourite personal craftivist projects. This is was originally published elsewhere on 12th March 2012:

I’ve been fascinated with guerrilla craft and craftivism (craft used for activism) for a while now. I like the way it can make people think, how it can prompt conversation. But I also like how it can be used to reclaim the human environment, so full of adverts and the constant bombardment of corporate images, yet being softer than more common street art. A little bit more incongruous.

This was my first mini-protest banner, made from a kit bought from the Craftivist Collective. The area outside of Reading train station is full of empty offices and a poorly designed 1960s arcade and bus station. It is run down and deemed beyond repair. Recently development consultants, employed by the local council, have put together a master planning vision to redevelop the area – to demolish the existing buildings and build flats, offices and shops. Completely uninspiring and a development that appears to not respond to any community needs. This is a town full of empty offices, full of empty shops, full of housing that people can not afford. A problem that isn’t going to be resolved by building more market flats.

Frustrated with the planning processes for the town where I live, my protest banner is a message to ask people to think about what else can be done to regenerate towns. I also hoped it might make someone think about the space around them and what it could be, not just what property developers think it should be… You could put something really great here?

This was my first piece of craftivism/ guerrilla craft. But it probably won’t be my last. I love the way working on it focused my mind, I found it a bit of a release. And, just between you and me, I loved putting it up and reclaiming my little bit of my town.

You can find out more about the Craftivist Collective here, buy your own mini-banner kit here and read more of celebration of craftivism posts here. Ta!


A little celebration of craftivism: You could put something really great here?

This little celebration of Craftivism is in honour of my friends, the Craftivist Collective, and the launch of a crowdfunding project for their first book. It is collection of my favourite personal craftivist projects. This is was originally published elsewhere on 12th March 2012:

I’ve been fascinated with guerrilla craft and craftivism (craft used for activism) for a while now. I like the way it can make people think, how it can prompt conversation. But I also like how it can be used to reclaim the human environment, so full of adverts and the constant bombardment of corporate images, yet being softer than more common street art. A little bit more incongruous.

This was my first mini-protest banner, made from a kit bought from the Craftivist Collective. The area outside of Reading train station is full of empty offices and a poorly designed 1960s arcade and bus station. It is run down and deemed beyond repair. Recently development consultants, employed by the local council, have put together a master planning vision to redevelop the area – to demolish the existing buildings and build flats, offices and shops. Completely uninspiring and a development that appears to not respond to any community needs. This is a town full of empty offices, full of empty shops, full of housing that people can not afford. A problem that isn’t going to be resolved by building more market flats.

Frustrated with the planning processes for the town where I live, my protest banner is a message to ask people to think about what else can be done to regenerate towns. I also hoped it might make someone think about the space around them and what it could be, not just what property developers think it should be… You could put something really great here?

This was my first piece of craftivism/ guerrilla craft. But it probably won’t be my last. I love the way working on it focused my mind, I found it a bit of a release. And, just between you and me, I loved putting it up and reclaiming my little bit of my town.

You can find out more about the Craftivist Collective here, buy your own mini-banner kit here and read more of celebration of craftivism posts here. Ta!