As we approached Northfield, a graffiti strewn wall caught my eye. Northfield Ecocentre it read. We had arrived, our very first initiative, even before the official caravan tour starting tomorrow, this was the alpha initiative!
The wall really struck me by its warmth and vibrancy. Where the spontaneity of nature intertwined itself with the spontaneity of the children who had painted the wall. As we walked into the ecocentre itself and were welcomed by the staff and volunteers, they shared this same warmth and vibrancy through telling their different stories about their relationship with the community garden.
From the lilt of the Brummie accent to the colours of the garden. Our caravan tour is about discovering the unseen, which is why when a mirror on the building caught our eye, we wondered what this might be doing there.
Eileen revealed that it was to get people visiting the garden to look at how the wildlife were using the roof to reclaim it as their habitat. We then came across panels on the ground, with "taste", "smell"', "touch" and even "sound".
People grow plants and vegetables there based on the senses it arouses, from the smell of sage to the sound of the willows as the wind brushes it. And then from growing pears horizontally so people who can't reach for the trees can still enjoy picking fruits to rotating crops to look after the soil via look after fragile seeds in the greenhouses, its these invisible touches that nurture community, what we could call "civic kindness". That's the kindness that we will take to other initiatives we meet.