Snapdragons - Let's bring the change!
We did it
On 22nd December 2021 we successfully raised £17,881 with 71 supporters in 57 days

We are creating a space where people can learn how to work together to tackle the effects of climate change and live with a changed world .

by Snapdragons Plymouth in Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

With more money raised, more of our project's overall vision can be achieved, sooner. 

Who are we?

As many of you know, here at Snapdragons we have been working to create a home for many different projects, with the overarching theme of bringing communities together through nature.  We will be home to a range of groups including a Waldorf- inspired children's centre, groups for home educated children, a forest school, Plymouth Red Tent for local women, Plymouth Green Man Circle for local men, a food coop, a specialist library, a Plymouth Woodcraft Folk Branch, a venue for seasonal celebrations and arts/crafts/music workshops and much more. 

What have we been doing? 

We've been working extremely hard on the required groundworks and building refurbishment, moving the 1000 tons of imported clean top soil and getting the site and huts fit to purpose. 

But we're not there yet. This last 18months has been hard for us, just like it has for everybody. We've seen massive success with our volunteer sessions and the work is moving along, but it's slow. Material costs have shot up and there have been big delays. We've struggled with getting people in to complete work, especially as we like to support small, local business but many have had to change their working practices due to COVID19 etc.  

What's next for us?

We're now in a position to put in our planning application for the main developments of the site, but in order to do that we need various reports and surveys completed and these all cost money.  We need to complete works on the refurbishment of the building, but have had higher costs than anticipated due to delays and cost increases of materials.  We've been lucky to have some funding to build our large wildlife pond and our first compost toilet, but looking in to the costs (especially as we want to make our toilet as accessible as possible), what we have is not enough. 

We want to continue our volunteer sessions, helping local community to get out, to get moving and to socially interact with others. We want to start running events - provide a community space for people to get together and TALK. To support each other, to share skills and resources. To move more and improve mental and physical health and wellbeing. We want to create our 'hidden' spaces, ready for discovery... to create our climbing and balancing beams and barefoot sensory paths.

So here we are, turning to our crowd for support.  

Why are we doing this crowdfunder?

The aim of this crowdfunder is to reach a few different aims, listed below... 

* raise funds to cover the cost of the various surveys and reports needed to progress to the next stage. This is vital as we need the permission for our compost toilets, sheds, polytunnel, pond etc. These things will have a massive impact on our community work - creating a shared growing space, a habitat for a wild range of creatures etc. We're lucky to have already had at least 3 dragonflies and 6 frogs visit the site and we're hoping to massively increase this.  Our world is changing and we need to do what we can to help improve the biodiversity of the environment wherever we can.  Our volunteer sessions have been key for getting to know what local community want from the project and its space, and we're trying to incorporate as many of these ideas into our design as we possibly can.  We know that the council are really supportive of our plans and want the project to succeed, but do need the correct things in place to be able to sign it off. For example, it's not enough to know that we are already improving the biodiversity of the site by what we see there, we have to show this on paper with a biodiversity net gain matrix.  It's important to use qualified ecologists to carry out these surveys, and these do come at a cost. 

* to create spaces to encourage physical movement among children and adults alike.  We are lucky that after bringing in the topsoil, we have a fairly blank canvas to work with. We really want to activate the space and give people the opportunites to be more active. One of the main things to arise from conversations with people over the last year, is how grateful they were for green spaces, to get out and MOVE and be in nature, but also how tricky it was at times, to keep motivated to get outside and move.  We want to create lots of areas that encourage this among our 'friends' (Site/Service Users).  We aim to have a Earthwrights/similar play area on one section of the bowling green, with lots of wooden climbing and balancing materials. We also plan to incorporate barefoot sensory paths and a small petanque/boules area (as suggested by one of our volunteers - a nod to the history of the site and a way to get people moving/interested in sport). We hope to encourage spending time outdoors for many of our participants and will put a lot of effort in to making the site both beautiful and accessible.  Our volunteers sessions have provided an excellent opportunity for people to get out and move - from planting trees, to watering plants, from moving rubble to wheelbarrowing soil and woodchip... many have appreciated the physical work element of the project.  Many of the childrens' groups we will be home to incorporate outside time in their sessions, in fact - for the majority of the sessions, including a range of physical activities to get people moving (games, activities etc). We have also been talking to local yoga/fitness instructors about the potential for running sessions on site with different groups.  The last year in particular has taught us that time outside, time moving is very important, so anything we can do to help increase that, is 'on our list'. 

* to help tackle the effects of climate change.   Our site was neglected and abandoned for over 10 years. Although there was grass and some shrubbery there, it was mainly used for anti-social behaviour and was covered in litter, dog poo, glass and drug paraphernalia. So far, we have brought in 1000 tons of clean top soil to the site, 500 saplings and a large number of plants. Our aim is to create a massive biodiversity net gain, to show what CAN be done in city green spaces and how every little helps when it comes to planting, rewilding, looking after the more-than-human element of our environment.  As well as working for the land itself, acting as custodians for it and using permaculture methods to ensure we're doing the best by it, not just what we want from it, we're hoping to really showcase a thriving habitat over the coming years.  Our ethos as a business is to be as sustainable as possible. To grow what we need on site. To try to be as zero waste and carbon neutral as possible. To reduce our use/negative impact, to recycle, reuse, repurpose... We are looking in to renewable energy (solar panels on the roof of the building, potential for some sort of wind energy set up) and ways to save water (butts, compost toilets etc).  Despite knowing that plastic materials are cheaper and easier to come by, we are using natural materials wherever possible, sourced responsibly and sustainably from local business. The cleaning products we use are not harmful to our water systems. These things are important to us and are at the heart of the project, running through everything we do.

* to help prepare our community for the impacts of climate change. We want to create a space where connections can be made, so that people don't feel isolated. When we're alone, it's hard to learn new skills, or to talk through our worries for the future. By creating connections between different groups of people we hope to tackle social isolation, improve mental health and wellbeing, but also help people to learn practical skills that will help them live in a changed world. We are working together with other groups to showcase different composting methods, to educate on how to grow your own food but also how to (most importantly) USE that food with as little waste as possible. How to store food, how to cook seasonally, what to plant when. These are all key.  We incorporate time for skill sharing in to our red tent/green man sessions and will be a venue for workshops covering a range of traditional skills  - using plant dyes, growing flax and making our own linen (we've trialled this this summer for the first time) foraging, basket weaving, woodwork, sewing and weaving etc - as well as community/social time around music, art, seasonal celebrations and festivals etc. 

* to help our community overcome the effects of the pandemic. This last year or so has been extremely hard for many. We have been working together with Good Earth Growers to test handing out organic veg boxes for our volunteers and  local community in need, and would like to incorporate this in to our future plans on a larger scale. We aim to provide a certain % of these boxes to local minority groups (we are always open to suggestions of groups to contact, so please do let us know if you can think of anyone in need!) As mentioned above, we want to create a thriving community space where people can connect with others and learn new skills, hoping to overcome the issues that have arisen over the last year. Social isolation has been a big issue for many in our community, this summer has seen many come to us for volunteer sessions and we can see connections forming. Long may this continue. The effects of the pandemic are likely to last for a long time - we need to do what we can to help people through it all.  Our project is based on sustainability and community. With these two overarching themes we know we can bring about real, positive, change.  

* to work with and for our community. Here at Snapdragons we're lucky that we have both a strong community of interest and a strong local community. During the pandemic lockdowns, many local residents used the park for daily exercise. They chatted to us at length about the work we were doing and many of them are now regular volunteers on site. We've recently gained a fourth director and have formed a committee group.  We make sure that we actively engage with the local community, both in person and on line, and work hard to forge positive relationships. All of these things help our project to be locally rooted. In the coming months we will be setting up our 'friends of Snapdragons' memberships, and these 'friends' will be regularly informed of what's going on, asked for their opinion etc.  We have had positive comments about the work we have done to the space and so many people are really keen for us to be up and running so that they can come along to our different groups.   

We believe that here at Snapdragons we are (and will be) providing the following for the local community:

 - education (around women's/men's health through the red tent and green man circles; around food and seasonal growing/composting/gardening etc; sessions for home educated children; forest school sessions; craft/skill workshops etc)

- helping to improve the biodiversity of  a local urban green space, protecting our local environment, working with and for it, tackling the effects of climate change and helping to prepare the land for it. 

- helping to create an accessible, safe, outside space for children and adult alike to frequent and spend time in together (with no fear of treading on needles etc)

- improving both mental and physical health and wellbeing by the different activities we provide

- tackling social isolation, bringing people together as a community, helping people to forge connections with others

- connecting to the heritage of the area - instilling a sense of urban pride, showing how urban and nature can work together effectively, how Stonehouse history and heritage can impact what we do in modern times, linking back to local customs and seasonal celebrations, practising traditional crafts and skills

- helping to provide peer support as well as signposting to local services (breastfeeding peer support groups, red tent sessions etc)

- working with specific groups of volunteers who are looking for outdoor activities to get involved with - we're working and in communication with a number of groups currently, with varying backgrounds, ensuring that our sessions are accessible and inclusive. 

We realise this is a very long description of our project and what we're trying to do, but it is a BIG project, covering lots of different things, and we feel it's important to be able to show you just what we're about. Thank you for reading. 

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