This Friday Presents… Starting Not Stalling – Interview

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Starting Not Stalling was a This Friday Presents event as part of GREEN2014. Missed the event? Here is the video from the event, alongside interviews with the main speakers conducted before the talk.

Pre Event Interviews:

We caught up with the speakers before the event to give you an idea of what to expect. The three speakers are from: Glasgow City Council, The Woodlands Community Garden and The Greek Thomson Sixty Steps Preservation Trust.

Frazer Macleod, Glasgow City Council, on Stalled Spaces

1. The overall theme of the talk is “starting not stalling“ what in your experience is needed to get projects off the ground?

A good Stalled Space project requires the agreement of the landowner, a location that is suitable to the proposed use and an idea which reaches out to the wider community to become inspired and involved. All of the project groups have had one thing in common and it’s the main driving force – a vision.

2. What projects that you have recently seen have inspired you?

I’ve been inspired by the projects that have come about as a result of the Commonwealth Games. Some have been very creative and innovative.

3. What do you want someone who comes to the talk to come away with?

Stalled Spaces isn’t just about Community Gardens and greening projects.

Karen Anderson, Anderson Bell Christie, on the Greek Thomson Sixty Steps Preservation Trust.

1. Why the Greek Thomson steps?

The steps are a really important part of Glasgow’s architecture and public realm. They provide a route and a resonance with the people of the area. They capture the imagination simply because they are so large. Residents that live around them recognise their worth and are fighting to make them safe and attractive. The project has put on plays about Greek Thomson, provided interpretation boards with QR codes and information about the residential development of the West End.

We hope to use the project as a springboard for further funding to make sure that this important asset can be kept in a safe state and continue to be used as a public shared domain. It is currently run down and can be hard to find.

2. Who is involved in the group and what do they and the city get out of it?

The group is very much local residents and they have made outreach to other volunteer groups. There is a trust and the city will get community ownership of a conservation priority in that part of the west end. Citizens who move through that part of the town will become aware of its legacy and history and the potential to get community funding. If we get funding we would talk to artists and local schools to get involved and ultimately get impetus to get more funding for public realm.
3. For someone who comes along to the talk – what would you like them to take away from it?

Currently it’s a very simple project – putting information plaques and bench at the bottom of the steps – however this is the springboard for the feasibility study and part of the bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Overall it’s very much about Stalled Spaces projects showing that this space is important, it is special and it can give people access to engage with this public domain.
Tim Cowan, Woodlands Community Garden, on creating a community space.

1. Can you describe your project?

We have two sites: The main site – which we own – was a community garden developed from 2010 through a community development trust. The site was a completely derelict gap site – it had been empty since the 1970s – it was a rubbish dump, completely overgrown and unloved. We turned into a successful community garden. Adjacent to the community garden there is a gap site for which we have received Stalled Spaces money in 2012. Currently we use it as an overflow site for events and activities, but we are planning artists’ studios and spaces for pop-up arts activities.

2. You’ve described the Community Garden as an “outdoor community centre” can you give some examples of what you mean by that?

We work with a range of groups – we have people with learning disabilities who come twice a week and we have two open sessions for volunteers. I know that the garden has brought the neighbourhood together – people who don’t usually mix socially will meet in the garden. One of the regular volunteers has severe autism and his brother has told us that being involved in the garden has had a transformative effect on his confidence.

We have a core of 40-45 “raised bedders” volunteers who are regularly involved, but we have 800 people on our mailing list and over 2000 friends on Facebook and we have a number of events with large groups of people.

I think Stalled Spaces are great to get projects started but its important to note that what has made the community garden successful has been to be as open as possible – not just a garden, but providing a social space. Just having outdoor spaces available for people to meet. If you are creating a space things can be done very simply – people enjoy being outdoors!

3. What would you like anyone attending the talk next week to take away from it?

There’s a lot of work! It is really important to have people from the community involved – this project came from the community from the beginning. The example of our project shows that we have seen huge benefits from transforming a derelict gap site where things can grow from.

Image: The Bothy Project, Walled Garden, Spiers Wharf, Glasgow. Photo by Patrick Jameson.

Seeding Success Newsletter

A newsletter summarising the event Seeding Success: Learning from Stalled Spaces Scotland, held in Paisley Town Hall on 10 May 2017

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