The nature strip development is moving slowly but surely. I have some more box building to do (well actually a box and a barrel) and then we just need to scratch back the grass and mulch the whole lot. Further along the street the planning is beginning for two more nature strips so we are seeing progress.
One question keeps popping up however. How do we engage and enthuse more of the community. This is really key to the longevity of any community space; people need to own it and lets face it an uncared for vegetable bed is even sadder than an uncared for lawn. It was in thinking about this that I chanced upon the ‘Stop Sign Flower’ (www.stopsignflower.com). Now I should mention that I don’t really have an artistic bone in my body but it has occured to me that we need to be more diverse in how we attract interest to what we’re doing and so maybe street art should go along with vegetable and local life.
I guess we’ve done a little bit of this with the blackboard paint on the planter box on the nature strip, which was very useful for an upcoming working bee at ‘Our Apple Tree’ as you can see. It would be even better if someone stopped stealing our chalk, or at least let us know that they are making some pretty pictures with it!
So what is the Stop sign flower? Well basically it’s one persons plan to change stop signs into flowers using knitting and a little bit of wire.
This guy started a campaign to get 100 stop signs made in to these flowers. Sure it doesn’t have a very happy end since most of them were taken down by the council eventually but the way that it inspired and engaged people across San Diego is really impressive.
I initially thought this was a great concept though had no real intention of doing specifically this since I have absolutely no knitting skills to speak of. Sadly I mentioned this idea to a SES (State Emergency Service) colleague who I know is a keen crafty type and the next day she arrived with two beautiful leaves and some suggestions about the type of wire I should use. She left with a “so you just need to do the easy bit” and some comments about how she’s not so sure about yarn bombing since it can look really bad if the person can’t knit!
It’s been two weeks since. I’ve had a run-in with a shopkeeper who somehow gleaned that I didn’t know the first thing about craft and took the opportunity to try and sell me what I think is gold plated alpaca wool and two hand-whittled tent poles to knit it with. I politely declined. The stem however is still in it’s conceptual stage!
So the question goes on. How can our nature strip, our year, or conversations and all the community spaces that we are involved with, engage with people and give them the opportunity to find their passion and bring their energy to changes that we all must make together? I’m beginning to think that we need to actively plan what we do to reach the goal of sustainability and community but equally plan to use the vehicles of gardening, cooking, music, art, sport and really whatever else gets people thinking about change to reach that goal.
In the meantime I’ll just keep trying to work out why I start with 15 stitches and end each row plus or minus 3.