The Big Green Gathering

The Big Green Gathering 1st-5th August 2007. Some great ideas evolved from this event. It seems that the children may have their own area. In the spirit of permaculture this could be an opportunity to allow the children to develop it using permaculture design. The area is a gulley, the remnants of a lead mine. Banked on both sides with trees and a little gorse I watched with interest how the kids moved through it, but this only after some competition to usurp the space for a meditation group. The argument swung to and fro and at first I was very interested in utilising the space as a chill lounge during the night, since it was productive and entailed the protection of the area, whilst the kids could use it during the day. Certain observations may have rendered this argument impenetrable. These include others using the space to defecate or vandalise. But the argument ended there because, as it goes, all the persuading was causing dissension amongst the permaculturists. Where I liked the idea of a meditation space that extended the unadulterated use that the children would bring, the whole proposition was too quick and uncompromising. The arguing party would not make any compromises, as well as not providing any additional service to the children. So even though the vision was in accordance with my own, I went with the main co-ordinator in his pleas to keep the space free during the night. It was felt that the quicker we could get the children to claim the area the better, which meant that they could inadvertently protect the space from it becoming a toilet. This proved effective as teenagers used it to make fires and play music. Some of the kids made hide-outs in it, whilst at the other end, where it offered visual protection, a womanís toilet was established. The potential for this area to grow in succeeding years will allow us to make requisite observations for the purpose of installing designed features. This may include rope bridges and swings, earth shelters, fire pits, food beds, animal pens etc. As it goes, there is talk of creating an animal sanctuary along its perimeter. Its juxtaposition between the now-farmerís permaculture garden and exhibition space for the BGG, and the permaculture crew area is perfect in order to minimise excessive wanderings and abuse of the spot, as well as allowing an extra eye or too for parents hanging around the main campfire. Praise should go out to the organisers for choosing a good spot and layout for the campers. This leads me on to the activities we enacted.

The yurt was situated right on the perimeter of the gulley, overlooking both the campfire and gulley. From there it could be observed from the exhibition space. The kids were allowed to paint it; it provided a nice splash of colour in the region. As well as all the basic kids stuff we again made some successful baking. The ginger beer is still fermenting but provided some lovely sweet, hot drink. The storytelling went down well, and as various helpers contributed their particular skills, it made for a lovely time. This includes a big thanks for Vanessa and Nathalie, who stuck to their guns to the end. The most popular events were taking the children out into the field, especially with me as the donkey pulling them in a bicycle trailer, for some circus skills or watch a movie. But we also did some mosaic and decorated the inside of the yurt with paper hangings. Not all the kids were happy all the time, but that is acceptable. My plan for next year could include having a kids summer camp just before the BGG, and allowing them to take ownership of the area that in which they would protect. As a project proposal we would need partnership. Anyone interested should contact South London Permaculture.