workshop participants working around a table in Furtherfield Commons

Finsbury Park Summer 2019

I have now completed 5 workshops at Futherfield Commons as part of the Time Portals programme at Furtherfield. 40 participants came over the 5 months to help build the Future Machine, talk about environmental change, Finsbury Park and how we might envision and prepare for the future.

Alongside the previous workshops in Nottingham, Loughborough, Liverpool and Cambridge we now have over 100 visions of what a Future Machine might be, what we have lost and gained in the past and what we should protect or lose in the future. These are all contributing to the development of the machine.

I will be a launching a video of the ‘Making of the Future Machine’ in the next few weeks which captures this process and the many visions of what a Future Machine could be and how it might help us.

Alongside the workshops and meeting all the wonderful people who have come along and joined the discussions and making sessions I have also been in conversation with local community organisers and leaders in Finsbury Park which has also been a wonderful way to get to know what is happening in the area and the huge diversity of people who live by and use the park.

Firstly I met Jo Roach from Pedal Power, an amazing inclusive cycling club that takes place in the park on Tuesdays and Saturdays, people with and without disabilities cycle together in an amazing can do atmosphere, with volunteers hacking and adapting the bikes as people arrive. We discussed how the launch of the Future Machine could link up with the Saturday session on October 12th and the machine will be pushed to the athletics track to join the session. I will also bring down the prototype machine sometime in September to test it out with members of the group, see how accessible it is and how it works as part of their session.

I was then invited along to the 150 Years of Finsbury Park Community Meeting where I met a deeply committed group of community leaders who I am slowly meeting one by one to talk about the Future Machine, find out more about what they are doing locally and hopefully I can bring some of these groups together through the launch of the machine and to celebrate the Autumn coming each year to Finsbury Park as the future unfolds.

One of the exciting conversations is with Alex Dayo who runs the African Drumming school in the park and we are in discussions about creating sounds for the machine that will play out in response to the weather, creating responses to whether the weather is extreme, expected or unexpected for the time of year, to reflect the increasing uncannyness of the weather as we hit record after record of heat, rain and windspeeds.

I also met with Dorothy Newton who runs the neighbourhood forum in Finsbury Park who is a fountain of local knowledge and we had wonderful conversations about technology, the future and the local area, and with her grandson who also met with me. She talked about how people use the many gates into the park and each gate represents the community that uses it. As the park is on the edge of 3 different London boroughs (Haringey, Islington and Hackney) each gate with varying economic and cultural diversities. We talked about how you could enter the park everyday from one gate and never meet or see anyone who enters and exits the park at different gates from you. This led us to talk about how the machine could be pushed from gate to gate and we could arrange to meet different communities at the gates to join the procession.

An example of this was when I met with Jo Homan from Edible Landscapes on the Manor House side of the park, I hadn’t known it was there even though I have spent alot of time walking around the park. Hidden in the trees and with it’s own gate this paradise of a garden with only edible plants has a wonderful community of people dedicated to growing, conserving and thinking about the environment. Another stopping point for the Future Machine’s journey around the park on October 12th, it will be so exciting to see what plants are in full bloom. We also talked about what we might grow or use to help power the machine and how we might collaborate to set up a mini edible garden on the handcart when the machine isn’t in use.

Finally yesterday I met with Mohammed Said and Mohammed Kozbar at Finsbury Park Mosque who were very welcoming and talked with me about how we might link up for the launch of the Future Machine. They will send someone from the mosque to attend the launch and procession and we talked about how we might tell their enormous congregation of 2000 about the event and encourage people who might be interested to come along. The mosque has been deeply affected by the hate crime attack on it’s congregation in 2017 and are working hard to engage locally and promote a more cohesive sense of community.

I hope this is just the beginning of ongoing conversations about the future, how environmental change will affect Finsbury Park and how we can come together to create the future we want and not the one we fear and what role the Future Machine and ongoing interventions can play in bringing people together as the future unfolds.

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