Hastings hopes to be South East’s first Garden Town

As one of the most under-served communities in the South East, Hastings is no stranger to promises of transformative funding from central government. But campaigners hope the community involvement and strong green element mean the new Hastings Town Deal will be different. This blog by Thalia Griffiths looks at their plans.

Transition Town Hastings (TTH), working collaboratively with both borough and county councils, is working to secure funding from the $25m Hastings Town Deal, for the first phase of a programme to ensure that the town’s economic transformation takes place along sustainable principles, including creating the South East’s first green Garden Town.

Despite its quaint Old Town and seafront attractions, Hastings ranks high on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s English indices of multiple deprivation. A succession of headline spending packages over the years have failed to deliver lasting change but TTH is hopeful that a renewed focus on valuing community participation may help foster improved wellbeing and civic pride.

“The Garden Town initiative is taking a qualitatively different approach because it’s a community-led idea,” said former TTH chair Sherry Clark. Since the Hastings Town Deal’s initial call for submissions from community projects in 2020, Garden Town team members have worked to create more of an integrated partnership, advocating for local people to contribute as equal participants in the programme development, instead of leaving control in the hands of statutory local authorities.

Past interventions have often overlooked the transformative potential of green surroundings but the new Hastings Town Deal gives a central role to its green element as a means to attract investment and visitors. East Sussex College will create a Green Technology Centre of Excellence providing training and learning programmes focused on the green economy. The overall plan, which includes redeveloping Hastings’ Norman castle as a major visitor attraction, is ambitious, but for their part of it, TTH are starting with small but visible steps to move the focus from vehicles to people and create more green spaces.

Gardening Our Streets is a community-led initiative to plant and tend a series of pop-up “parklets” and garden spaces to show how much difference a little green might make to the busy and car-dominated town centre. Parklets, which have been hugely successfully since lockdown in cities such as Bath, extend and green parking spaces and pavements with planters and features such as seating, proving that urban nature-based initiatives don’t need to take up a lot of space to have an impact.

Gardening Our Streets held two planting workshops on 19 and 21 May, where participants filled 18 hand-made oak planters with hardy seaside plants. A call went out for volunteers, who included A Band of Brothers young men’s group, Holy Trinity Church, Groundwork South and the Hastings Rough Sleepers Initiative. The initiative is being coordinated by TTH, with advice from Great Dixter head gardener Fergus Garrett, local landscape architect Julia Hilton, and local horticulturalists Nicole Collomb and Abby Riddihough.

TTH already has a community garden and wildflower path at St Leonards Warrior Square station, as well as four community composting hubs, but Gardening Our Streets is a much bigger undertaking, one where organisers have found themselves tackling challenges like manoeuvring seven one-tonne bags of soil and £3,000 worth of plants into a narrow alley. The planters are just the first phase of the ambitious Garden Town programme, which takes as its inspiration Sheffield city centre’s transformational Grey to Green scheme.

Hastings Garden Town envisions Havelock Road, which runs from the rail station to the seafront, as a biodiverse greening and flood prevention urban garden, with green arteries that connect the town centre to its parks, seafront and countryside.

Initial funding for the project came from the Trinity Triangle/America Ground Heritage Action Zone, that paid for a community consultation in Trinity Street in June 2021, as well as the 16 wheeled oak planters, emblazoned with ‘Gardening Our Streets’ and ‘We Dig Hastings’. Additional financial support for community participation has come from Sussex Community Development Foundation’s Asset-Based Community Development programme, Making It Happen.

The short-term aim is to extend the greening to join up local spots like pocket parks and community orchards to create greener, safer arteries through the town. The initiative also includes the launch of We Dig Hastings, an innovative gardening ‘time bank’ enabling volunteers to exchange the time they give to Gardening Our Streets for anything from coffee and cake at a local café to trips to inspirational local gardens like Great Dixter.

TTH says time-banking isn’t so much about formal volunteering as about creating connections and caring about common ground. Time-banks are a way to recognise and acknowledge the value of informal caring and community work that might not be possible otherwise. One key feature of a time-bank is that the time-credits participants get for taking part are transferable — they can be gifted so another person can benefit from them.

“It’s not about ‘Build Back Better’, we’re trying to create something completely new,” Sherry said. “It’s about building forward differently, by recognising and valuing the contributions local people are making to improving the town centre.”

Originally posted at https://seclimatealliance.uk/hastings-hopes-to-be-south-easts-first-garden-town/ by Thalia Griffiths, South East Climate Action

Green Room @ The Common Room

We have the ‘Green Room’ until the end of March and wanted to remind you that you’re welcome to drop in any Thursday (open 12-4pm) to use the space for climate-change action and activities.
Book the space in the evenings for free (normally £15/ hour) on any Thursday.  The Green Room is a great place to…

  • host workshops and meetings
  • learn more about some of the green movers-and-shakers in town – just check out the noticeboard
  • have a chat with like-minded fellow “Commoners” who drop by and hang out there 
  • get free energy advice from Energise Sussex Coast(weekly drop-ins from 1-4pm)
  • eat, drink and be merry at our monthly zero-waste “Food for Thought” potluck suppers (7-9pm on the fourth Thursday of the month. Next one is 24 March).

It’s proving a great place to make connections, have conversations and do stuff, so if you are new in town and would like to meet fellow locals, just drop in for a cuppa and see what happens!
Volunteer ‘revolving’ chairpersons neededWe won’t be holding an official Transition Town Hastings meeting this March as we’re all feeling the need for a pause. We will reconvene monthly TTH meetings in April and Anna Locke has made a great suggestion, championing the idea of ‘revolving’ chairpersons, in the absence of an elected one. The idea is to have 4 people make a quarterly commitment for only 3 months. Want to be part of our new quartet of chairs? Drop us a line at info@transitiontownhastings.org.uk Green Drinks will also resume in April… til then, all things climate-related continue in the Green Room. Hope to see you there before long! The Green Room in The Common Room 27-29 Cambridge Road (across from ESK), Hastings TN34 1DT

Launch of Citizens are designers with the De La Warr Pavilion

We’ve been working to deliver a design resource commissioned by the De La Warr Pavilion, as part of the Care & Citizenship programme. Beginning in Spring 2021, Care & Citizenship is a lively series of commissions, online talks, workshops, events and resources co-devised with organisations and individuals committed to creating social change. Examining varied approaches to care and active citizenship, the programme invites us to find new ways to act with care in our own lives, collaborating with those around us to create a more equitable society.

Sarah Macbeth and Anna Locke have produced a shareable resource to support people to be designers of local, place-based community action.

Read more on the project page.

TTH are successful in Bounce Forward grant funding

We’re very happy to announce that we’ve secured two small grants from the Transition Network via The National Lottery Community Fund.

Our Warrior Square Station community garden project has needed more visibility within the local community. Passers-by are always complimentary but forever asking who’s responsible. To help better communicate who we are and what we do (and why), the first successful Bounce Forward grant will pay for the installation of a community noticeboard. As well as raising awareness of the garden, it will promote the garden sessions to potential volunteers, and advertise other town-wide activities promoting more sustainable living locally.

In the spirit of supporting a circular economy – an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources – TTH’s second successful Bounce Forward grant is going to help them initiate a brand-new-to-town event – a Jumble Trail. As its name suggests, a Jumble Trail is a community-based, neighbourhood-led jumble sale where a ‘treasure map’ helps local residents buy, sell or trade their pre-loved stuff in the convenient location of their own front garden. The first Jumble Trail will hopefully take place as a prelude to our flagship event, Sustainability on Sea 2021, next autumn.

Library of Things is coming to Hastings!

The Common Treasury, Transition Town Hastings and others have been talking about a Library of Things for some time and now the conditions are right, and it’s happening!

What is a Library of Things – how does it work?

As its name suggests, it’s a library – but instead of books, you borrow common household items! It’s a way for people to borrow, not buy, things they only need every so often. It’s a way to save money, save the planet, and build community.

The Library will have an inventory of things – garden things, tool things, party things, camping things. (You can suggest things we should stock).

Members join for a small annual fee, then borrow things like a chocolate fountain, a drill or a tent; use them, then return them to be used by somebody else.

Who are we?

We are a new group, supported by Heart of Hastings (HOH) and others, which is why your email is coming via Transition Town. HOH is providing some infrastructure so the Library of Things group can get on with the fun stuff.

The LOT is community-led and community-run …essentially, a group of volunteers inspired by mutual aid. There are no leaders, but there are organisers and everyone can get involved.

When can we start using the Library of Things?

The Hastings Library of Things opens in the Spring of 2021, in Claremont, Hastings.

How can you find out more?

We will be updating our Facebook group regularly, and will add a website soon, but you can get in touch any time.

How can you help?
  1. Get the word out! Get people to join our facebook group or, even better, the mailing list. Ask people to email shelley@heartofhastings.org.uk with Hastings Library of Things in the subject bar.
  2. Get involved. There are no leaders, just organisers, so ask a question, make a suggestion, arrange a call… team “LOT” would love to hear from you
Thank you, Transition Town Hastings!

And, a huge thank-you from “Team LOT” to Team Transition Town Hastings for the generous donation to help us on our way. We will use the money to buy a PAT (electrical safety) testing device and to train a couple of volunteer Librarians to use it. This will mean we can lend drills, candyfloss machines, and all sorts of other electrical appliances safely time and time again.

Help retain the St Leonards Bathing Pool Site for public use before it’s too late!

The local council are proposing a 5 storey development, to house 152 units, which the West Marina Group believe is unacceptable and overlooks the massive potential the site has to offer. There are already several sites in the immediate area with planning permission sitting dormant and also the large area of land adjacent to the site is already earmarked for residential development.

The West Marina Group are petitioning the council to genuinely and urgently engage with the local community in West St Leonards and other interested parties to develop a clear community-led action plan for the former Bathing Pool site and the area around it.

Help the group to be heard by the local council but signing their petition at Change.org today: https://www.change.org/p/hastings-borough-council-save-the-st-leonards-bathing-pool-site-before-it-s-too-late

The Common Treasury talks lockdown on Hastings Isolation Station.

Claire Doran talks to Rob Hopkins and Maff Potts

The Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas is running weekly community conversations on Isolation Station Hastings.

Imagining Life Beyond Lockdown are online conversations that include people from many of the projects featured at Common Treasury past events such as Rob Hopkins from the Transition Town Network.

Catch up on the previous conversations on Hastings Isolation Station.

Visit the Common Treasury website to find out more.

Earth Challenge 2020

Support science today: Join Earth Challenge 2020 and be part of the world’s largest ever coordinated citizen science campaign. 

The initiative will combine data from existing citizen science projects with information from a new mobile app to shed light on key environmental issues and grow citizen science worldwide.

https://earthchallenge2020.earthday.org/

By downloading the Earth Challenge 2020 app, you’re joining a community of activists answering critical questions:

What’s in the air where I live and breathe?

What kinds of litter and trash are polluting my environment?

How can I take action as a citizen scientist while homebound during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The app is easy: Just take pictures of the air or litter on the ground and submit the photo through your phone or tablet. Your data will be added to the global citizen science database mapping the health and safety of citizens across the world. And you can do this from the safety of your own home.

Hastings Launches Live-Streaming Channel to Keep Spirits High

On Wednesday 25th March, The Observer Building (Hastings), launched a Facebook channel to offer a platform to the local community during the nationwide lockdown. The channel, Isolation Station Hastings, is working with a range of local people and organisations to live-stream daily content from people’s homes and is calling out to the local community to contribute live-streamed content.

In its first three days, the channel has gained almost 2,000 followers and 50,000 minutes viewed with a daily chat show, and music performances from renowned jazz singer Liane Carroll, BRIT Award winning song-writer Blair Mackichan, Wildflowers singer Siddy Bennett, Doc Savage and Buddha Triangle. This week’s schedule includes a life-drawing class with Sue Tilley,who posed for Lucian Freud’s £17m painting ‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’, a film show interviewing local film-makers, Coastal Currents Arts Hour,  a pottery class, yoga and a Saturday-night zoom party for up to 500 participants.

The channel has been prompting viewers to raise money to support local NHS workers with Liane Carroll’s performance, raising over £1600 alone. They also have a daily community news show led by Hastings’ local emergency volunteers who are part of the Hastings Emergency Action Response Team (HEART).

Jess Steele OBE, who oversees The Observer Building project, said: “Our town is renowned for its creativity, culture and community and we want to do our very best to keep that alive during these unprecedentedly challenging times. Staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected and keep our spirits high, as well as offer our services to those most in need.”

The platform offers live-streamed Facebook slots to artists, performers, creators, pubs, local businesses, organisations, teachers and anyone who has an idea for content that could be entertaining, informative or offer learning. Some slots are paid, some offer funding opportunities through viewer donations, and some will raise money for a charity of the content-provider’s choice.

The channel is being run by The Observer Building, which was due to launch this spring with a season of events, workshops and other projects, which have been cancelled due to COVID-19. The channel is funded by Leisure & Learning (Hastings), the Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas and Hastings Voluntary Action.

The channel is live with an ever-evolving schedule on:

https://www.facebook.com/isolation.station.hastings

Hastings and St Leonards locals who would like to contribute content can do so through filling out a google form which contains full details.

If you’d like to contribute a show, please fill out our google form here: https://forms.gle/5hZpqP4tALEcQaMh6

PRESS

For interviews please contact:

isolationstationhastings@gmail.com

About Leisure & Learning  (Hastings) Ltd

The Hastings Commons is a collection of interconnected buildings and spaces in the town centre that have been brought into community ownership since 2014.  In February 2019, the Commons was expanded significantly with the purchase of The Observer Building, a 7-storey, print factory, derelict since 1985.

Leisure & Learning is a charity set up to ‘activate and animate the spaces of the Hastings Commons’.  Our programming offers a broad mix of lifestyle and life-long learning, vocational training and community education intermixed with cultural and popular entertainment events.

Underlining all our activities is a desire to create positive social impact by providing life-changing and place-shaping opportunities for local people, especially those who usually miss out.  Our programming is designed to be diverse, inclusive, affordable and multi-faceted. 

For more visit: www.theobserverbuilding.org.uk/leisureandlearning

About The Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas

The Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas creates spaces for people who want to make a real difference to the local community-enterprise sector.  By showcasing change-makers and great ideas from elsewhere, our events act as a springboard for inspiring and energising positive change in Hastings.  

With the generous support of the Big Lottery’s Power-to-Change programme, the  programme launched in March 2019 and has been extended for a further year, to February 2021.  The programme includes knowledge-sharing, idea-development, seed-funding and peer-mentoring, helping participants to transition great  ideas into actionable enterprises in the community.

The Common Treasury aims  to help shift mind-sets – moving thinking from beyond existing ‘damage-limitation’ approaches – to thinking about what community-led enterprises look like when based on a sustainable local economy that makes links between people, place and planet.

For more visit:  www.commontreasury.org.uk

About Hastings Voluntary Action

Hastings Voluntary Action supports charities, communities and social enterprises in the Hastings area, promotes volunteering, and runs community projects to support people in the Borough.

For more visit: www.hastingsvoluntaryaction.org.uk