Emma's Global Generation Story
Emma is a gardener at the Skip Garden. Working with other volunteers she helps maintain the garden as well as some other commercial terraces in and around King’s Cross.
I started at the Skip Garden in November 2015 as an intern. I remember when I came for my interview I was in complete awe. I’d never wanted to come to the city. It was never an attraction to me but I got the interview and when I turned up I thought wow! This is actually here? How is this thing even possible?
I think Global Generation does what a lot of people are scared to do and that’s listen, ask questions and be open. It welcomes people from all backgrounds and ages and it’s not about your past - because that stuff you can’t help - it’s about how you think about things and whether you are willing to be open minded about things that will help you to form relationships. That isn’t easy to do, especially in the city.
I think the Skip Garden is a space where people can create things together and be inclusive towards each other so that people feel less alone. That can happen a lot especially in peoples’ teenage years when they don’t feel like they’ve got something they have of their own or something that they’ve built on or a group of friends that they can relate to. You become kind of angry and bitter towards the world. That’s the impression I get working with young children and watching how that can so easily happen. There’s a lack of empathy, there’s a lack of concern for other people and there’s a general dehumanising within society. I think there’s room for that to change. It can be reformed. It’s just about having the right platforms to do it.
I’m doing an alumni project where a select group of us have got funding to do our own projects with the support of the charity. There are these traditional ideas of community and cultural differences which are created in segregated societies. It’s like they are the building blocks or it could be an emotion that’s transmitted by the media- because we are so fuelled by that stuff. My project is about breaking down these barriers and using the mediums of art and growing to create an end exhibition.
My plan is to hold a series of workshops around growing a plant. So the first one will be about growing seeds, then pricking out the seeds and then moving them in to bigger pots until we end up with a final plant. So they’re going to grow plants but they’ll also create artworks which will be inspired by different artists. I want people to take the style of the artist and use that to create an artwork that represents the plant at that stage of its growth and then write something which becomes a message to pass onto the next group who will re pot the plants and grow them bigger.
It’s going to involve young people and elderly people and business people. And when it’s finished they’ll all meet and see their final ‘products’ that they’ve grown. I wanted to bring people together through the act of growing plants and making art because I think those two things can really capture people’s imagination.
I think it’s almost like coming back to what we come from; where we started our journey as a people. I don’t want to sound primitive but our natural wellbeing is meant to evolve with nature and with cooking good food. We’re instinctively drawn to these things. Scientifically, it’s been shown that touching soil increases certain endorphins better than anti-depressants.
Global Generation has given me more confidence, happiness and wellbeing just from being outside. I can’t advocate that enough for things like mental health. And being in the garden is great therapy for children too. It’s definitely given me a different outlook on how schools run and how that influences child behaviour.
I think if children, young people and adults can develop a greater respect for their natural environment and understand that something can be living without looking like a Human Being, that would make a real difference. We need to think about our place in the world not as an individual, but as part of a collective. And a collective that’s not just the human race but one that’s joined to all the other living things on the planet. Because that’s how we are going to go further as a species in my opinion.
I had a dream the other day that I set up a community florist selling flowers grown here. I guess I used to be quite negative about the modern world but I’ve definitely changed my outlook as to how we can deal with the current problems we face. To be more positive about it is the only way that we’re going to make influential change.