Another wonderful session in the twilight with a candlelit gazebo. The children were helpful and mixed comfortably.  One guy came out to help us because his mum saw the tent blowing away as we tried to get the site sorted out. 

Mum and daughter suggested making paper aeroplanes today and that was very popular. The children seem to expect a lot of help to do tasks that I would have expected them to be able to do on themselves. Gradually, by doing less and less and showing the children how to do it for themselves a little more, that dependency is changing.  When they understand this the children take the agenda on themselves. They organise great games of chase and hide and seek on their own and the adults can step back and chat and just watch the gate to keep an eye on who leaves and who arrives. It feels relaxed and friendly. About 13 Children joined in this session with three Mums, a resident Cathy and myself. 

What is lovely is that the children are developing their friendships alongside the adults who are doing the same thing. ‘I never spoke to R before we started these sessions and now here we are her and her sister and I planning a Bangladesh Independence day party together.’ All the women muck in together to prepare, run and pack up the session . It is what we have been aiming for.  At the end of the evening I told the children that I would not be with them next week as I would be in America giving a talk. They asked what I was talking about and I was proud to tell them that these very play sessions would be the main content of the presentation. What a great feeling to let them know that they are celebrated far far away.

Leaving the session always feels like waking from a dream. This is a joyful experience.

I showed my Director Glenys Tolley the photos that I had taken at the candle lit session, the sense of magic reached her too.

 On a related note. I had the privilege of taking Michael Rowan around the two estates, Eric and Treby and Bede today. I wanted to check out my ideas for planting, which he knows a lot about and does beautifully.  Although the estates border Mile End Park, he did not know them well. I was delighted that our ideas chimed and although I had imagined planting that would not thrive in a couple of places, the sense of the planting and having a low maintenance continuous beauty on the two estates was a real possibility. It was also great to get a view of the corridors of biodiversity that could run from Mile End Park through the estates to the Cemetery Park. That has to be time well spent.

I joined in  a meeting with Rockcorps organiser  Safia Noor. This has got my brain working on identifying a project that we could do with Rockcorps to develop an area for play . 

Then a visit to Central Girls Foundation School with the art teacher and the Resistant Materials tutor. We are planning for a group of the girls to make perspex birds to hang in the trees in the liminal spaces. This is very exciting as it allows the girls a chance to use their work in a fairly high profile installation and gives them a sense of participation in the park. This is lovely project to have an ending to the LAP 5 work. What a flourish!

 After that I dropped into number 5 Wager Street. I hoped to clear up some details of a workshop with a graffiti artist who will be working with the community of the site hoardings and ask about some contacts with the green grid and the superhighway projects and the regeneration work on the estates. However there was a consultation event going on about stairways and access routes and stuff. But there was one woman- who I had previously met earlier in the project when she was doing voluntary work in St Paul’s Church. She gave me a lot of useful information and ideas about the redesign of one of the play spaces on the periphery of the estate. It turns out that there are about 30 children living around this space. They are all from Bengali families and the woman was concerned that they had a good play offer. She spoke with fondness of her own childhood in the countryside, of hours spent in woods playing with trees and streams and was keen that the children should have a little taste of this outside their front door.  We also agreed that the redevelopment of the area should not be attractive from the road side, this should be a small private garden. ‘Less is more’, we decided.

Then rushing off to the play session on Eric Street.

 All in all a really productive day.