Wednesday, 28 December 2011

On Guerilla Gardening - Richard Reynolds

'"Let's fight the filth with forks and flowers!"

"On Guerilla Gardening" is an activist's call to arms to all citizens - green-fingered, green thinking or curious - to join the revolution of guerilla gardening: transforming public spaces into oases of colour and life. The enemy: neglect, apathy and the disintegration of community spirit. The arsenal: daring, a packet of seeds and a passionate commitment to social change.

When Richard Reynolds first embarked on guerilla gardening, growing flowers by moonlight outside his tower block, he did so as a lone activist but he became a vocal champion for a growing global movement. Charting the battles fought across thirty different countries and the revolutionary history of this subculture, "On Guerilla Gardening" is an inspirational take on Gardening in the 21st century.' "

So reads the blurb on the back of the book. I found this book, quite recently, in a second hand shop (selling mostly clothes actually but with a couple of small bookshelves) so my copy is a recycled book too. Last January/February when I started walking with a friend, following my knee surgery, we discovered a little garden that had been built around a group of silver birch trees on the edge of a public space and over the course of a couple of weeks we weeded it. We didn't know we were being guerilla gardeners then. The garden looked so much nicer and people noticed and came up to us on the street congratulating us on our efforts which was very nice. Then an elderly man from a nearby house came and told us that his wife used to care for this garden but now she is in residential care, and since then, the garden had gone to weed. Sadly we didn't get our guerilla garden planted before the winter and it will now need weeding again, but I am quite likely to weed and plant it next month because this book has quite inspired me. If I do, I will post a picture of it.

Really the book (and the movement) is aimed at neglected and abandoned spaces in large towns and cities. The gardens mentioned are mostly in public spaces but some are also on private, neglected lots where the owners are clearly absent and uncaring. Not all guerilla gardens last forever, some are torn up by local council workers or perhaps the vacant lot is going to be built on. Some guerilla gardens are just small plots with a few flowers, others become larger community gardens filled with flowers, herbs and vegetables, and help to feed poorer people.

And though it is a completely different kind of project, this book is inspiring me when I think about the Oxford Track about which I posted a picture blog about yesterday. Many of the strategies could be taken on board for this project too.

"On Guerilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries" was first published in 2008 by Bloomsbury.

More information about guerilla gardening can be found on this website

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

White Flakes


white flakes floating
from skies that glowed                                              falling forever

children playing                                                        laughing merrily
in their first snow

when they were thirsty
they drank the
rainbow coloured water                                                     

1954 Rongelap

then they burned                                                      they were poisoned
then they cried
then they vomited                                                   their hair fell to the ground

                                                                       their fingernails fell from their fingers


The white men harnessed the powers of the gods
They were the gods, they believed this, playing with their new toys,

god is good and god is love and god will destroy the
Infidels, the Pagans, the Witches, the Jews, the Yellow Peril
and all the little brown children on the islands in the seas

[the disorderly reality of volcanic imagery named god
discreated white christian MAN in the image of HIM]

Lovers and Adulterers of the Volcanic god award themselves
Nobel Peace Prizes as they fast as they leave the world in Pieces


Leave the mothers in pieces giving birth to jellyfish babies
slipping bonelessly onto the birthing mats


god is white/ bleached/ American/ good/ he is on our side

Iri Ani (20th October 2001)

*I wrote this a long time ago in response to the narratives of Darlene Keju-Johnson (For the Good of Mankind) & Lynne Eknilang (Learning From Rongelap's Pain) found in de Ishtar, Zohl (ed) (1998) Pacific Women Speak Out for Independence and Denuclearisation*

Note:  This poem was originally posted (on another site) on the week that a United States representative condescended to attend the 65th anniversary of the first nuclear bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.  Let us remember that the United States was the first (and remains the only) country ever to use an atomic weapon in warfare, obliterating Hiroshima (6th August 1945) and instantly killing 70,000 people.  Many thousands more would die later from the effects of radiation poisoning.  Three days later, the port city of Nagasaki was destroyed by a second atom bomb with the ultimate loss of 140,000 lives.  Let us also remember that the United States still holds the worlds biggest arsenal of nuclear weaponry anywhere.

The God of Brooms Has Forsaken Brooms

 What are we to do?
It's not as though the weeping willow,

Seen through the little window
Above the sink, in the wrong light,

Captivated her, her dust
Swept into piles and then abandoned.

Or the wind. Or the long fingers
Of the magician, coins flashing.

No, she was like the rest of us,
At the table, shelling peas

Or reading distractedly, wedged
Between ticks of the clock,

Her soul gnawed to the quick:
She knew that she was needed,

And that if she trundled out the old bike
She had not ridden for years,

Pumped up the tires,
And announced that we had no milk,

She would not be back.
She was no different.

In the corner, her broom leaned
Into its body as all brooms do,

Light and long and elegant and fantastic
And onerous and awful and beyond grace.

Alan Michael Parker.