In a ward that is mostly council housing, suburbs, industrial and retail park, and motorway services, tranquility might seem to be at a premium. Yet there are many pockets of green space in St Loyes. One of my ideas for this art programme is to hold some St Loyes Random Picnics, or SLuRPs for short! They would be an opportunity for residents and workers to visit measure the air quality, noise, and the types of transport used in the area.
Last year’s wander around St Loyes with Rosie King revealed where people spend their time, and their rest time. At lunchtime in Sowton, for example, we noticed a group of workmen in hi-vis resting on the boulders lining a grassy roadside, and having a smoke. These pockets of green, in the middle of a roundabout, or on a green verge in an industrial estate, are not particularly tranquil in themselves, but they are relatively tranquil compared with the workplace or the surrounding area.
So what is the best use of limited local government budgets? I reckon people would benefit most if these relatively tranquil spaces could be improved, rather than putting the money into those already recognisably tranquil spaces.
Where are your tranquil places? Where do you forage for cherries, plums and blackberries? Or perhaps that’s a closely-guarded secret! Why not share some photos of your regular and favourite spots on Exeter City Future’s #tranquilcity map.
Where might you suggest holding a random picnic? My ideas include: tree henge at M5 J30 services; old quarry face and green space at Britten Drive off Quarry Lane; water tower at Exe Vale; green space by the old Digby Asylum; derelict patch of land by the Toby Carvery; middle of Middlemoor roundabout; playgrounds; triangle between Rydon Lane, slip road, and A379 spur
Rosie and I found all sorts of green in Sowton: trees and mini-wildernesses, and dens; pockets of vegetation and biodiversity; picnic tables and benches dotted around. Wandering round the suburban parts, however, I was remembering all the open space and field that has now been built on, even in the 15 years I lived here! It’s affecting both out physical and mental health. We are building on the lungs of Exeter that filter out air pollution, and losing access to that green space that boosts our mood.
Let’s inhabit, celebrate, and preserve the green and the tranquility that we have!