Voices of the Earth with Global Generation
“Something small like a daisy, or big like an Oak tree can have a much a greater impact on us than I realised. The plants, stories and songs that I encountered over the last nine months will be with me forever.”
These were the words of 18 year old Tsion, one of the young participants of a nature connection project run by environmental education charity Global Generation, over the last nine months.Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Camden Alive and the King’s Cross Knowledge Quarter, local children and young people have been involved in a deep dive exploration into the healing power of plants.
The British Library and the Royal College of Physicians opened their archives, both in the library and online, sharing illustrations from early botanists.
“We saw how plants helped in the past and how people were connected to them as if they were friends who could help them survive.” – Afiifa, 17 years old.
The constraints of COVID-19 highlighted for many of us how important it is to help people come outdoors, away from their computers and screens, into the wide green spaces, beneath the trees and the tiny mysterious places like the cracks in the pavements, where dandelion, nettle and fireweed find their way through.
“The project gave me a reason to leave my bedroom and go outside.Feeling the sun on my face, being in nature made me feel connected even if I was physically distanced from others.” – Cassie, 17 years old
Mothers brought stories handed down through generations and most importantly young people shared through words, drawing, movement and music, their experience of spending time with plants in the Story Garden and in other Green Spaces of Camden. Collaborating with international touring theatre company, Complicité, provided an exciting platform for these stories and lived experiences to develop in new and unexpected ways. The result is an anthology and an odyssey of cultural, mythological, environmental, and personal dimensions.For some participants, the famous Hardy Tree and the often-overlooked Yarrow, drew out their interest in myths and legends, for others the project was an opportunity to highlight the darker history of sugarcane and slavery.
“The project sparked an opportunity to carefully and precisely express my culture, my history and whatever shadows may loom around them. To continue shedding light on black history and connect it to something that will make people think, appreciate, and remember that Black Lives Do Matter.” – Eben, 17 years old.
Seven audio pieces about seven plants, oak, sugarcane, marigold, thyme, daisy, ash and yarrow have been created by Complicité’s sound designer Daniel Balfour, out of the project participants personal reflections. Each plant is linked to a particular location in and around the King’s Cross Story Garden. You can download the map here and access the Audio Pieces via QR codes on the map. The anthology can be accessed here.
“Hearing the audios made me feel proud of myself as a young woman, proud of my generation who can still do positive things and proud of all the people who were involved in the project and supported us in this adventure. I thought how far we have come as a group with our creative expression and the sharing of our ideas. The anthology is the kind of book I want to read, a book with personality and personal stories. The pages are like we are in this project: bonded together.” – Lucy, 17 years old.