Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Engaging Places

I am working as writer-in-residence in Lower Belvedere, in the London Borough of Bexley. It is a fascinating area, once a broad stretch of marshland, close to the Pleasure Gardens at Erith, it is now home to Crossness Sewage Works, a huge new rubbish incinerator, an industrial estate, and a tiny patch of precious marshland, some of which is designated a protected Nature Reserve.

I've been working with Year 8 students at Trinity School to explore the marshland's history and ecology. Sessions have included work with the Local Studies Department, and the council planning department. The students have responded creatively to the area, creating myths, historical fictions, and proposing a new name for one of the many drainage dykes in the area.

The project is part of CABE's Engaging Places Scheme. You can read some of the students' responses to the project so far on the Engaging Places Website.

Yesterday, I was at an evaluation day for all of the Engaging Places projects taking place across England this year. I was struck by the diversity of the projects, and the wealth of ideas about how to engage young people in learning about the built environment. Listening to the presentations I was brought back to the thought I regularly have, that learning about the built environment should really be part of the curriculum. I think it is so important to enable our society to articulate and understand their relationship with place, not least so they can have the opportunity to participate in improving towns, cities and places across the UK.

Image Copyright Alys Tomlinson

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