Fun Palace was a two day nationwide festival in early October of free community events which combined creativity with education. SkyWay collaborated with the Ministry of Stories to undertake a gardening programme in The Hoxton Trust’s Community Garden. SkyWay planned to plant HandMade in Hackney grow boxes with perennial flowers, herbs, and daffodil bulbs, and then donate the planted boxes to the Hoxton Garden as a community contribution to the space. When we use the grow boxes in activities to engage the young people we work with, they learn about planting, and that gardening is suitable in a urban environment and they learn how reclaimed scaffold board, which would otherwise go to waste, can be made into something beautiful and useful. Participants can add their own creative flair to boxes by painting, drawing, and writing on them. Keep an eye out – grow boxes have been popping up in lots of places around Hackney including housing estates, pubs, hostels, cafes, window ledges and balconies!
Ministry of Stories engages young people through creative writing and storytelling in the belief that writing encourages imagination, self-confidence, and fosters communication skills. Ministry of Stories can be reached through their shop, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, on Hoxton Street Market where they sell handmade preserves and writing supplies with a ghoulish twist. Over the summer we ran a three-day programme with Ministry of Stories at The Blue Hut youth Centre in Hoxton. Young people made grow boxes and planted and harvested these with herbs and vegetables. Throughout the three days, the young people wrote recipes and created stories about their experiences in gardening and cooking, which were later compiled into a booklet. The young people also painted and decorated their grow boxes and made permanent signs for the garden at The Blue Hut. The programme ended with a barbeque where the young people made a delicious meal from the vegetables and herbs they harvested and tried out some of the recipes they had created.
Fun Palace was organised to commemorate the life of Joan Littlewood [(1914 – 2002) Littlewood is most well known for her work in theatre and has been called “The Mother of Modern Theatre”], who wanted to create a venue called Fun Palace in 1961 where people come to come to learn a trade or craft, watch performances, create, or just relax. She envisioned it as a “laboratory of fun” or a “university of the streets”. Littlewood would have turned 100 this year, and whilst her venue was never completed, her legacy was celebrated with the two-day national festival of creativity and learning on the 4-5 October 2014. SkyWay’s event in Hoxton Garden took place during the afternoon of Saturday 4 October. Other Fun Palace events in Hackney included theatrical performances, handcrafted arts workshops, and music events.
Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour and the rain kept people indoors. SkyWay staff still planted five grow boxes and lined them along a hedge in Hoxton Garden. They look great and the gardeners at Hoxton Garden are very happy to have them. We were happy to get to know The Hoxton Trust and Hoxton Garden, and are looking forward to organising activities with them in the future. We finished off the afternoon wet and a bit cold, but none of the plants were disappointed by the rain!