A new era dawns for Ruskin Land
We are in transition. Some of you may have noticed that we haven’t written a post since March. That because we have been busy discussing and planning the next phase of the Ruskin Land project, and preparing for our move back to London.
A lot has happened at St George’s Farm since we last wrote here. The new home for the Wyre Community Land Trust has really started to take shape, largely through the good work of the volunteer groups. The woodyard has moved forward in leaps and bounds with a new level surface and access road, a workshop nearing completion, and a newly installed mill that will enable the processing of timber felled here. The CLT’s temporary portakabin office has been moved onto the footprint of the old turkey shed. And a new toolshed in the refurbished barn is now in use, with a store room for the equipment of the orchard group, as well as workbenches and tool storage.
We are also able to announce the terrific news that the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands region has awarded the Guild of St George a grant to tell the story of Ruskin Land. This will help realise the exciting plans we have been developing with the CLT to put the place on the map – in more ways than one. Plans include a community arts project, an exhibition and new website, and initiatives to explore how we can make better use of the oak that grows all around us. A project coordinator will be appointed shortly and we anticipate launching the project formally in July at an exhibition ‘An ABC of Ruskin Land’ based at Bewdley Museum.
It has been a great privilege to help move the project forward in this way. We are hugely grateful to all those who have helped us formulate ambitious plans for the future, especially those who have urged us to be bold and imaginative, including the 100 plus people from arts, environment and cultural backgrounds who participated in the consultation seminars we organised over the past 24 months; the several hundred people who have attended the seasonal public events we hosted; the numerous group visits we have organised, including school children from Birchen Coppic and most recently a delightful group of Syrian refugees; and those who attended the numerous talks and presentations we have given.
We are also pleased to have been awarded the Community and Libraries national award for The Big Draw event organised with the Wyre CLT last October. A small group, including we hope a family from Birchen Coppice, will be travelling to London to collect the prize money in July. The award will help cover the costs of further events in 2017/18.
As for Lynne and me, we are planning a move back to London in the Summer to be closer to our family and begin some new activities. I have recently taken up the post as Director of the London Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England campaigning to protect vital Green Belt and other green spaces around the city, as well as promoting better urban regeneration and a more ‘liveable’ London. I am also looking forward to playing a more active role as a trustee of the arts and conservation group Common Ground. Lynne will be getting involved in Spitalfields City Farm, setting up a Forest School in Stepney, and working with Kazzum, an inclusive theatre group who work with young people and refugees. We will both be keeping in touch with the Wyre CLT and continuing to help with the Ruskin Land project both from a distance and also through regular visits.