A picnic bench and shelter designed by Greenspace & Us, a local young women’s community group, in collaboration with RESOLVE Collective, as part of a project exploring how to create more inclusive greenspaces.
Greenspace & Us began with a call out to establish a new youth group in Oxford comprising young women and girls aged 10 to 16 to explore barriers and enablers to participation in greenspace.
The project was funded by Natural England and developed in response to research revealing that teenage girls, tend to use greenspace less than their male peers and other groups, and experience a significant decrease in physical activity and connection to nature in early teenage years. It also responded to the importance of spending time in greenspace and nature for our mental and physical health, highlighted during the pandemic.
Throughout March and early April 2022, a group of up to 20 young women, participated in a series of exploratory workshops hosted at Barracks Lane Community Garden, Oxford. These
workshops were set up as a women-only safe space led by public health, youth work and design professionals. They aimed to provide a space for the group to share their thoughts, experiences, and relationships with greenspace, and work together to reimagine more inclusive greenspaces that can better support their wants and needs.
The outcomes of the workshop series included a manifesto, booklet, the co-design of the shelter, including a co-build session where the group-built prototype chairs and tables, and a celebration day that brought together all the findings and solutions from the group to present to the wider team, family, friends and other interested parties. The group also responded to questionnaires and other data gathering activity that have fed into a report to be published by Natural England.
As discussions continued throughout the workshops, a design for a picnic table was developed by the girls in collaboration with RESOLVE Collective, which was fabricated by Toffee Hammer Carpentry and installed in Cowley Marsh Recreation Ground in January 2023. The shelter is intended as a place for gathering, sharing food, studying, or just being together in nature, in all weather.
Listen to the group on BBC Radio Oxford show here.
The group is continuing and working on new projects in the future!
The youth group was organised by Nafeesa Hussain and Ansa Khan of Name It Project and the project was initiated by Lizzie Moore from the public health team at Oxfordshire County Council. Research was undertaken in collaboration with Anant Jani at the University of Oxford, Louise Montgomery and Pippa Langford from Natural England, Stuart Cole and Emily Jiggens at Oxfordshire County Council, and Jessica Goodenough at Oxford City Council.
Fig supported the curatorial development of the creative elements of the project, including the recruitment of and collaboration with: RESOLVE Collective who led on creative workshops and co-design of the shelter; Julia Utreras from Common Books for co-design and print of the booklet and manifesto; and Toffee Hammer Carpentry to build and install the shelter.
All photos by Reuben Worlledge.