Blog by Taylor
Sustainable Merton Community Champion
On 11 February, a diverse group of eco-conscious individuals from across the borough joined
forces virtually to participate in a Learning run in partnership between Clarion Housing Group and Liminal Lab, focusing on greening spaces within Merton. Splitting into two teams of approximately 10-12 individuals, each group explored the benefits of green spaces, not only highlighting the numerous health and mental wellbeing benefits, but also the sense of better knowing the community and local areas. Teams also discussed deterrents to visiting green spaces: overcrowding, rubbish and fly-tipping, unpaved paths becoming unwalkable due to mud and flooding, feeling unsafe, and inaccessibility for those with mobility issues.
Following this general discussion about Merton’s green spaces, teams explored community greening solutions enacted in other cities and were then tasked with developing a solution that reframed Merton’s green spaces to be more inclusive. One initiative, titled “Green Streets”, encourages streets to green up through a multi-faceted approach including windowsill grow boxes, seed swaps, and closing off streets once a month to allow children to safely play and neighbours to spend time getting to know each other. By refocusing green spaces to a hyper-local and individual level, Green Streets ensures that the benefits of nature can be enjoyed by all while simultaneously strengthening a sense of community. The second idea focused on utilising roofs as a garden and community space while promoting green roofing businesses. Drawing inspiration from Brooklyn Grange, these green roofs would not only provide organic produce but also host events and educational programming for the community, by the community. Each team was given the opportunity to pitch their idea to the other and then vote on which project would move forward to potentially receive funding. As luck would have it, the vote was 50-50 and both ideas will be presented to Clarion as possible projects to fund.
There was a noticeable energy and sense of optimism at the end of the day, despite being
on a Zoom call for the better part of six hours while in a nation-wide lockdown,
demonstrated the eagerness of people in Merton wanting to better their local green spaces
and the willingness to do so.