North West Plymouth is a place of distinct communities where each neighbourhood has its own character: Ernesettle, Tamerton Foliot, Southway, Whitleigh, Widewell, Honicknowle, Derriford West and Crownhill, Manadon and Widey. There are some beautiful walks there through wooded valleys. And the houses offer a lesson or two in post-war building techniques including prefabs, and prototyping for London’s Garden Cities.
The Bioregional Learning Centre is partnering with Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) on something that we hope will be more than a project: Plymouth River Keepers, a three-year in-community journey to connect water, people and place. The reason I say ‘more than a project’ is that we are in dialogue with people who know the place best. We are getting to know those folks who have a deep interest in nature and who have the gumption to care for their local water in the natural environment (green and blue spaces), particularly the small, forgotten streams. The team’s hope is that through collaboration we can create a ‘field of caring’ in this place, of which this project is a part.
To support this work, BLC has begun a Story of Place for N.W. Plymouth. It’s a look at what came before and what exists beneath the everyday experiences associated with living somewhere. Its purpose is to see a place in a different way, to reveal what’s hidden, to see the true value of this particular piece of Earth.
Postscript: There’s a beautiful project from 2012 called Diary Keepers that took place on the Cornish side of the Tamar. Artist Anne-Marie Culhane weaves together contemporary diary entries with those made by Tamar Valley market gardener, Joseph Snell from 1914-1938. Recalling everyday experiences help us gain perspective on the past, present and future.