Guerrilla Gardener inspires Sixth Formers
Guerrilla Gardener and author Richard Reynolds (1993-1995) made a welcome return to Exeter School on Tuesday 19 September to address the Lower Sixth as part of their Futures programme.
For the last twelve years, Richard has combined working for an advertising agency with guerrilla gardening in south London. He explained how he initially planted flowers and shrubs on patches of derelict land close to his home in Elephant and Castle and then showed the way this developed into beautifying roundabouts, central reservations and neglected places across a wider area.
He went on to demonstrate how he and his team set out to save the 450 trees and other landscape elements in the Heygate estate by rebranding it as an Urban Forest, prior to redevelopment. This evolved into creating green zones in “meantime spaces” as other large urban developments progressed.
Richard concluded by explaining his role in a campaign to save the Elephant and Castle roundabout and its heritage subway with their iconic art murals from comprehensive redevelopment through local peaceful protests and actions.
Although this campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, he was able to show how it did provide pointers on the ways that local interest groups can counter the persuasive arguments of large companies and institutions.
Richard’s talked provoked good questions and an interesting discussion afterwards on the importance of incorporating local and community ideas into urban designs. Richard’s book On Guerrilla Gardening provides lots of practical ideas as well as sharing his vision with its readers.