I want to continue to catch up, because so much happens every day that I don’t want to forget a thing. In my last post I caught you up to Thursday. Friday deserves its own post.
Friday was a much longer day than I expected, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. I signed on for the last day of the week’s effort at cladding the playhouse at the Baltic Street Adventure Playground in Dalmarnock, Glasgow. In the morning, I met the students who are part of Civic Soup, “an Edinburgh-based collective set up in 2016 by six recent architecture and cultural management graduates.” As part of the Festival of Creative Learning, they arranged for a week of volunteers to travel to Glasgow, which is about an hour and a half from Edinburgh, to help finish putting the siding on a playhouse. I had a wonderful time getting to know the students on the ride out there, and they filled me on the history of the playground and their involvement in it. I think they enjoyed my presence as well, as I got many questions about the current political climate, as well as life in the U.S. in general.
It was really interesting to me to hear their ideas about architecture and society, and to get a better understanding of why they got involved with this playground. The brief backstory (I’m sure I’m leaving out pertinent facts, so apologies to any Civic Soup-ers reading this) is: In 2014, Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games. It was a huge event, and they needed somewhere to park their buses. Long story short — a playground in the Dalmarnock neighborhood was paved over to make a very large parking lot. Many community members and organizations got together to address the lack of play space for the children in the area, and the playground was born. For more information please do visit the Baltic Street Playground website.
On Friday, I did what I could to help attach battens to the side of the playhouse so that the actual siding could go on. Such a simple task, but as I’ve mentioned before I have a bit of a math phobia, so imagine my face when asked to measure out distances to drill in screw — in metrics. Not to worry, my team leader Laura let me do the drilling and our other team member, Kyoko (I hope I got that right) from Japan, did an excellent job with measuring — and drilling, and sawing, both of which it turns out she had never done before. That’s her sawing in the picture.
Baltic Street Playground is kid-centered. They are very involved in the design and it was clear to me that it was a much needed place for them to run around and, well, be “kids.” At about 3 o’clock a few of them started showing up, and they were so excited to swing on the tire swing, run up and down the small grassy berms, and be free and safe. They eventually came over to see what we were all up to with the playhouse, and I learned that they had painted the designs on the laminate that was to be installed on the sides. They even got involved (a little bit) in the installation, learning how to use a power drill.
This was a really great example of people coming together for one common goal. When the kids showed up, so did a few parents, and it was clear how important this space is to them, as well. They were all very appreciative of us coming to lend a hand, but it’s clear that they are also all very involved in making this space work. There is a small building with an office, a kitchen and a loo, and I admit that by late afternoon I spent more than a few minutes there getting a cup of tea and chatting with a few of the mothers. They were so friendly and pleasant, I don’t really think they will blame any future broken thing in the kitchen on “that American lady who was here” like they said they would probably do. As the afternoon wore on it got drizzly and chilly, but there was still work to be done. Soon a fire had been lit in a firepit, and the kids were roasting marshmallows and gathering sticks for the rest of us so we could join in the sticky fun.
This was such a full and wonderful day. I learned so much about the Architecture program these students were in, the history of this area of Glasgow, the people of Glasgow, and even that a handsaw is called a “fox tail saw” in Germany. This is a project that is totally inclusive — no matter what your skills or abilities, you are welcome to come help design and build or to play and learn. Thank you to my Batten Team mates!