This section highlights inspiring projects
from the Network
Nature, Culture And
Engaging ethnic communities with green
spaces through cultural events
The Millstream Way
follows the River Cole and the Chinn Brook for 6 miles
through the western suburbs of Birmingham. It is a
haven for wildlife and a site of considerable heritage
interest linked to the author of Lord of the Rings,
JRR Tolkien. Although the Millstream Way passes through
diverse communities, attracting visitors and volunteers
from various backgrounds, until 2004, ethnic communities
had not been fully engaged with the existing programme
The City Council Parks and Nature Conservation
Service is committed to improving its working relationships
with BME communities and so looked to develop a series of
activities, as part of their events programme, which reached
out to local BME communities. Nature, Culture and Celebration
is intended as a multicultural statement of the shared understanding
of nature and our common future, through use of a green space
that belongs to all.
Making it happen
During the winter and spring of 2003, Millstream
Project Ranger Servicein partnership with the Black Environment
Network (BEN) and the Springfield Project-acommunity outreach
project, based at St Christopher's Church - planned a series
of four events aimed specifically at ethnic community groups
from the Sparkhill, Small Heath, Moseley and Hall Green areas.
The events, which took place in Greet Mill Meadows alongside
the river, focused on aspects of nature such as birds, water,
trees, and plants for food. Participatory arts and crafts
activities were arranged that linked with traditional festivals
or to highlight cultural themes. For example, storytelling
sessions explored the migration of birds and people.
Nature, Culture and Celebration
events brought together a wide range of community groups
and environmental organisations, providing excellent
opportunities for outreach and community development.
Smaller groups such as the local branch of the Royal
Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Birmingham
and Black Country Wildlife Trust Burberry Brickworks
Community Conservation Projectand the River Cole Clean
Up Group had a presence at the events, as well as major
players like the Environment Agency.
The celebrations aimed
to cater for every age group and the team monitored
people’s responses to each event, to ensure that
the programme would include a range of activities to
meet the needs of the whole community. People from the
target communities are starved of chances for self-expression
and enjoyment of nature, so Nature, Culture, Celebration
created a platform for them to gain access to the arts
and the environment. Things to do included storytelling,
bird ringing, dance, cleaning up racist graffiti, environmental
art and henna hand painting.
BEN provided training to park rangers
and managers, focusing on awareness of cultural diversity
and sharing good practice in cross-cultural communication,
as well as facilitating links between park staff and
local community groups, and advice and support in publicising
the programme in ways which would stimulate and engage
with the local communities. Multilingual leaflets were
distributed to schools, colleges, community centres,
places of worship, shops and markets in the local area.
The project’s aims included increasing
the numbers of BME volunteers in conservation groups and encouraging
people from ethnic communities to enrol on environmental courses.
There are opportunities for ethnic community engagement in
regular conservation sessions. In the longer term, the Millstream
Way Rangers hope to develop a positive action work placement
scheme and a programme of vocational training.
Funders: BEN funded
the events from the budget of the Ethnic Environmental
Capacity Building Project (Community Fund). The staff
training element was funded by Birmingham City Council,
Department of Leisure and Culture
Project Rangers Service; Birmingham City Council Parks,
Sport and Events; Black Environment Network; Springfield
Target: People of
all ages from ethnic community groups in Sparkhill and
other areas local to Millstream Way.
Numbers: 250 - 300
people attended the four events.
Key points: Local
green spaces can provide all communities with the opportunity
to come together, express and give socio-cultural context
to the environmental themes which are common to all cultural
Green Spaces in Wales Case
1. Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group and Forest School Gelli Hir Woods
2. The Children's Play Area, Butetown School, Cardiff
3. Community Peace Garden, Community House, Presbyterian Church of Wales, Eton Road, Newport
4. Gwent Levels Wetlands Newport
Other Feature Pages
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