Let's Green Our Grey
On Saturday July 18th Croydon Living Streets Group will be at South Norwood Community Festival and our theme will be parklets.
We love greening the grey in Croydon. Our first experience of pocket parks was working with The Friends of Love Lane Green in 2018 with our Walk to School Week Happy Shoesday event at the Green.
Love Lane Community Garden is on the site of what was once the Love Lane Green. I’ve heard neighbours telling me that when their children were small, they used to go to football training on the fields. I’ve heard about the summer fairs that used to take place there and even about the allotments.
Sadly, this much loved playing field was sold to a private company in the 1980s. By the time I moved to South Norwood in 2013, the footpath bordering the Green was one I did all I could to avoid. The brambles made it feel narrow, with little room to pass people, and the litter did little to make it pleasant.
However, soon after, a huge project got underway to clear the brambles and rubbish. Over time, the Community Garden has gone from strength to strength, being nominated for Healthy Streets awards and receiving commendations from London in Bloom on a regular basis.
The Happy Shoesday party in 2018 was a real opportunity to celebrate what the Garden meant to the local community. We invited friends and family to meet us at the Green after school for a big play date. The arrival of the buggy caravan from Portland Bill Pre-School was quite something to behold with so many young children scooting along the path ready to explore the garden was magical.
The Love Lane community really came together that day, with cake, games and even banners, all proclaiming how greatly loved this green space is. You can even watch this video from Living Streets of the day.
More recently, we’ve seen how Living Streets local groups across the country have worked to champion their own community gardens and parklets. Brenda Peuch in Hackney led the charge with the brilliant People’s Parking Bay and has inspired activists across the country to take action, from Adam Tranter creating a mobile parklet to the newly founded London Parklet Campaign in London.
Unfortunately, as Adam and Branda’s campaigns both reveal, it remains incredibly difficult to convince local councils that a space to pause, to connect or for urban wildlife is worth the loss of motor vehicle parking. Once again, we are reminded our civic spaces operate within a system in which the kind of journeys done by foot are far less likely to be invested in, for the fact they are so often linked to the kind of work that is seen as having no economic value. The trips to school, to care for someone or to the park: all journeys which statistically are more likely to be done by women.
I’d love to see walking made even more inviting, both in Croydon and across the capital. Greening the grey helps our mental health and physical wellbeing and even the tiniest new piece of shared green space can become a space to connect with our neighbours or rediscover the benefits of a stroll.
However, for this to happen, we need policy makers who understand the needs of different people within our community, who see that older people or those with children would welcome somewhere to stop and rest, when play is invited or where a walked journey feels safe, easy and inviting.
That is why we are opening up our festival parklet. We want as many of us as possible to see the benefits of a greener, safer street space and to hear why you love walking on Croydon’s streets.
South Norwood Community Festival
Sunday July 18th South Norwood Rec