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Mutual Shade – sharing cool green open space with families living in Tower Blocks and Flats

Sometimes projects emerge from a detailed and structured approach. Other times they almost seem to ‘just happen’. Our use of the Ideas Pool within the Baggator Nexus meant that Mutual Shade started as a thought that was a logical extension early on Monday morning and was in operation by the afternoon.

Volunteer's sweat

On Saturday, Baggator held a Volunteers Day. Given the heat, the event was almost cancelled, but a skip had been ordered, so staff from Thrive Renewables, Congregation members from Kensington Baptist Church, and Super Supper Club joined with Baggator and its Friends and Neighbours to do some things to fill the skip.

Far more was done than anyone expected in the conditions, and the Pickle Factories Garden was moved towards its new future as both a useable space; a STEM resource for Easton Data Garden, and a ‘library’ for greening open space in Easton & St Philip’s Marsh as part of the forthcoming ‘Bees, Birds, and Blooms’ Project. Storage was tidied, plans were drawn up for the Kitchen, and some essential maintenance was carried out. 

Everyone went home tired and satisfied, having dined on Super Supper Club’s wonderful food culled from the Supermarket waste stream [one day they won’t be at an event like this, and we’ll realise just how spoiled we are]. Making Volunteer Day a monthly event was discussed and agreed upon.

“It’s hot and airless - thankfully, I have a Garden.”

One day we’ll have forgotten just how hot Sunday Night/Monday Morning was – and how that was just a taste of how Hot it would become. During a sleepless night, someone thought how lucky they were that they had a Garden with Shade to retreat to and finally drifted off to sleep, thinking they need to talk to Friends and Neighbours in the Tower Blocks about this in relation to the trend toward high rise/high-density housing – how should Easton Neighbourhood Forum address this in a Neighbourhood Plan – private open space has proved invaluable during the lockdown, and now during the record high temperatures. Sleeping badly, they dropped these thoughts into the Ideas Pool.

Others sleeping badly dipped into the Ideas Pool as a distraction from the heat.

Light bulb moment

“We have a cool shady garden.”

“We have Friends and Neighbours who are going to roast in Flats.”

“Let’s shout out [Mutual Aid style] and see if anyone wants to chill in the Garden for an Hour or Two.”

“Let’s call it Mutual Shade.”

“Let’s see if anyone else with a shady space wants to join in.”

Ok, that is an edited version of the conversation, but by 07:50, Baggator Nexus was confident enough to have pushed the idea on all its social media and emailed contacts in the press to get the word out. By the end of the day, “Mutual Shade” was born, tested [by two very patient families], and plans were in hand to keep running it during the summer whenever the Pickle Factory Garden was not being used for a session.

You cannot do this alone.

McCarthy Marland take a bow. Remember the skip filled by Volunteers on Saturday and parked in the middle of the yard – well, we asked [toung in cheek] if they could move it ASAP – gone by the middle of the afternoon.

Getting the Word out – Many people we’d never heard of pushed this idea so the Families who needed it could book space in Mutual Shade. Every one of you should take a bow [slow and sedate as it’s too hot to rush]. Special mentions to : –

# Bristol City Council Cabinet member Tom Renhard – for getting the word to the Housing managers on the Estates along Easton Way – we don’t always praise the Council, but credit where credit is due.

# BBC News

 # Bristol Post

How it all fits together

Easton Forum – this only worked because of the links between the elements of the Baggtor Nexus; Easton Forum; and the other players

St Philips Forum – note the key contribution from two businesses on St Philip’s Marsh – this is the organic Business/Community relationship that the Forum needs to foster in the Neighbourhood Plan.

ElhPlan – High Rise, High Density, housing. Neighbourhood, Mutual Aid and working together – are all items to consider in a successful Neighbourhood Planning process.