I've lived most of my life in urban places. London, New York, then Medway. Always within striking distance of green or water, but still sometimes unable to look up from the pavements to see the sky, the horizon and all the wild goodness in it.
Painting the Town Green
It's really easy to forget that where we live is always actually just plonked right on top of earth. You can see it trying to push through in pavement cracks, little bits of green, weeds, plants, habitats, always trying to remind us that they're there.
Well, we're looking and listening. 18 months ago, Kent Wildlife Trust got funding from the Big Lottery to run an exciting new project: Painting The Town Green. Working in urban centres in Thanet, Swale and Medway, we've been running workshops, walks, events and get togethers to show people what's already green in their neighbourhoods, how they can use it, how they can improve it, or, if it's not there, how to create it.
And we start young. There's nothing more important than getting children to realise that concrete comes with jungle, that there are fascinating mini-beasts everywhere, and how exciting a tree can be. Over 90% of parents think that nature is important for their children, and just under 80% are worried their children don't spend enough time in nature. The Wildlife Trusts have just launched a new initiative aimed at getting kids outside again – Every Child Wild – and Painting The Town Green feeds right into that.
The scope of the Painting The Town Green project is wide: helping pre-schools, schools and children's centres to improve their green spaces; linking together community groups and individuals of all ages who wouldn't otherwise meet to come together around all things green. Providing pathways for wildlife to travel across urban spaces - greening the gaps, if you will. Identifying unloved bits of green and sprucing them up into somewhere much lovelier, much more wildlife friendly, and much more inviting to go to. Inspiring creativity and hands-on doing - Kandice White has been running some amazing Creative Nature workshops, showing people how to paint, draw, make models and use art techniques they might not be familiar with, while Maureen Rainey has been showing people how to make microgardens in pots and tubs. We're also running health-related activities - allotment gardening, food growing, thoughtful or active wild walks and foraging rambles to get the heart pumping and the mind inspired.
The project runs until Spring 2017, and we've got lots more exciting ideas still to come. For information on what we're doing in each area, go to our website. Or join us on our facebook pages for Thanet, Medway and Swale.