To continue on from last week’s blog post, I have having a little think about all of the wonderful community projects I have come across, both recently and in the recent past. As Beeston has been in a state of flux for the best part of a decade, due to the arrival of the tram, it is not surprising that this has been a catalyst for creativity. I have been pleased to have been involved in, and sometimes been the instigator of community initiatives that have brought creativity out into the streets. One of these early projects, started out as a community exhibition in the local library and then became part of a summer art trail, with origami butterflies featured in around twenty local businesses windows.

The symbol of the butterfly was linked closely to the transformation that the town was undergoing at the time, and I loved that this project encouraged others to make and display butterflies. It is really wonderful to see some of them still stuck inside some of the shop windows even now. Fellow creative Karen of Straightcurves Crafts  and columnist  for the Derbyshire Times, was stirred by our travelling butterflies and spread the folding fluttering joy all over Chesterfield. When our display finally came down, the pretty recycled paper insects made their way over to her wonderful studio space – it was quite a long running project in the end and involved so many people!

Since then Beeston has had the pleasure of a variety of public exhibitions, some large and some small. Jeanie Barton, inspired by the street art in her home town for a while,Crouch End, started a buzz about town with the creation of a community street art project, that now sees Beeston with no less than a dozen large scale pieces that have added to the unique character of our town. The one featured is still one of my favourites, although I love them all for their varied appeal. I watched Goya paint this mural, behind a neglected border in a pub car park. What I particularly like about this one, is the juxtaposition of art and nature – that rose bush is looking much healthier now.

I believe it is public art like this that contributes to little installations like the Tree Fairy of Beeston, but also provides something more than art. This charming miniature door at the base of a tree does more than cause people to stand and stare, it creates a narrative that fires the imagination of both young and old alike. The Beeston Street Art project has stimulated many conversations amongst the locals, regarding how we can continue to improve both the look and ambience of the town. I have been particularly interested in the re-wilding projects, like We Dig NG9 which involved transforming a neglected patch of land alongside a popular cut-through to a mini meadow.

Providing a surprise burst of nature for local pedestrians really appeals to me, also it fits in well with my desire to increase opportunities for nature to thrive in towns and cities. I have my eye on this tatty patch of land for quite a while now. I am pretty desperate to scatter wildflower seeds and have something more inspiring to look at than this bit of scrub as I pass by on my walks into Beeston. This week I happened upon an organisation called Semble. They describe themselves as,

“promoting community action to inspire change.”

I have yet to explore the website and pore over the many campaigns that are currently happening, but I feel that this kind of action is just what I need to satisfy my need for change. We only get one earth and one time on it to leave our legacy. I realised this some time back and despair at the time it has taken, and the dramatic changes that have had to occur for people to finally realise that the way we are living is not good for our environment, so it’s not good for us either. Please meet my little swarm of activist bees that are going to help me to spread the word and the seeds of change.

DU