‘I put a stake in for (a hazel tree) and it said ‘One thing leads to another’ on the stake, in an upward spiral. […] You add something, you can do just very small things, but they’re positive actions and they don’t tend to lead to a negative action, they tend to lead to something positive again, so it’s like an upward spiral’Jayne Murray from Place Prospectors
I interviewed Jayne Murray from Place Prospectors about Druids Heath, Social Able and Pin the Tree. Pin the Tree forms the ending of an 18-month Lottery project called Social Able in Druids Heath in partnership with Active Communities. It’s rooted in a research of ‘A Level Playing Field’, that acknowledges a lack of opportunities to socialise due to the removal of a playground, gardens, shops, pubs, and a secondary school in that area.
‘Our project is called ‘a level playing field’, so it’s whole ethos it’s about people having an equality of opportunity, to have access to creative opportunities or to have […] ownership of their local spaces.’
But how do you create ownership?
‘Pin the tree’, the final part of ‘Social Able’, even though it came out of a period with a lockdown and the Covid Virus, that’s been ‘absolutely awful and […] so difficult for everyone to deal with and obviously we found it difficult as well’, looks at how you create ownership.’
‘But I think it did make us stop and act […] we’ve made a commitment, we’ve planted a tree there, you know, we’ve put the Christmas trees in, we were recognizing things, we’re doing something, we’re making a difference…I think we recognized that people needed a bit of hope as well…sometimes you need to do too’
And so, it’s been ‘like a catalyst, that pause and mix action’. The Project has been massively popular and during the part of finding places for the Christmas trees, they ended up with loads and loads of pins on a map, where the trees could go. The response after planting and blessing has been huge and people reacted very positively.
‘The people have just, when we were blessing or planting, they’ve just said that it makes them smile, so it brings joy, it adds to the wellbeing of the place and […] I think at this point in time it’s very positive for that area. The trees have been decorated in lovely and creative ways, ‘someone is using it as a memorial tree (for victims of Covid). they’ve taken ownership immediately, so it’s wonderful and you know it’s there long-term.’
She describes the trees as symbol for the community, how they can grow and how it is a part of regaining places, where it has been unsure to whom they belong. Jayne is very positive to build on the good work and commitment of local people, to change their environment.
Social Able is led by Place Prospectors CIC, a not for profit community interest company established in 2011 which works creatively with communities undergoing change. Thanks Ella Carman, Gary Jones, Sharon Hart and everyone involved. For more information you can access their webpage through following link: https://prospectors.org.uk/