Growing Places

The Growing Places project aims to facilitate conversations in three different and geographically connected neighbourhoods of Southampton; St Denys, Bitterne Park and one other yet to be decided. The conversations will be about celebrating existing projects, people and places and imagining a new future in the fallout of the Covid19 pandemic and with the planet at heart.. The project is running in parallel to Bitterne Park Growing Places, a project getting Bitterne Park growing food this year.

Growing Places recognises the power of food, growing things and connecting to nature in bringing people together and improving health and wellbeing. We will also grow connections, resilience and community power in the places we are working. We hope to spark similar projects, where people, place and the planet are equally valued, in other areas of the city.

We are working with other organisations that have been active and engaged in positive social change in Southampton in the past. The Southampton Collective, who are a social enterprise that has ‘people at the centre, people together, achieving their hopes for the city’, are part funding this project. October Books will provide written resources and inspiration to communities though talks and events. We are also working with So:Linked, local mutual aid networks, local councillors and city Council and will link to Southampton’s City of Culture bid and Southampton National Park City ideas as appropriate.

If you would like to find out more, please follow the links:

  • The project background
  • Imagining St Denys
  • Imagining Bitterne Park
  • Ideas for the third neighbourhood
  • Bitterne Park Growing Places
  • The finances

The majority of funding for this project comes from The National Lottery Community Fund and is distributed by the Transition Network via their Transition: Bounce Forward initiative. There are 112 other projects around the country that have also been awarded funding. 

The project lead for this work is Clare Diaper, past chair of Transition Southampton,  St Denys resident and someone with a passion for co-creating projects with people, place and our planet at heart. To get involved or get in touch, fill out the form below, Clare will be working on the project on Tuesday afternoons and Fridays!

Project Background

Transition Southampton’s Growing Places project has evolved out of many past and current projects and collaborations and will weave together the learnings, resources and collective wisdom of what has gone before. The project itself will also be allowed to evolve, rather than being strictly defined and with specific outcomes. The project will provide safe, accessible and nurturing spaces in the three neighbourhoods of St Denys, Bitterne Park and one other (to be defined) for all members of the community to contribute to a collectively imagined future. A copy of the original project proposal can be found here (LINK). 

One of the past projects that has influenced the Growing Places project is Transition Southampton’s Imagine Southampton (LINK) series of events in 2016 which inspired an amazing and still evolving network of projects and plans (Link). The tools we used to deliver the Imagine Southampton events were based on Art of Hosting principles and we will use these in the three Growing Places neighbourhoods. These tools allow the Collective Wisdom of the community to be harvested and understood, so that all voices are heard.

Growing Places will also build upon The Southampton Collective’s Breathing Spaces project, which ran from January to December 2019 in St Denys and was funded by Nesta. This project kicked off conversations about cleaner air & healthy streets through Clean Air Cafés and Open Streets events and collaborated with Southampton University in monitoring air quality in and around St Denys. The project has been the impetus for the area becoming an Active Travel Zone and there have been some other wonderful spin off events and projects. 

The project would also like to work with October Books to create a series of events and conversations around topics of concern, such as food and energy security, poverty and health and wellbeing. This will connect to The MushRoom, an online space where the Southampton community can talk about its place and where both practical solutions and policy proposals can be discussed. The MushRoom has been working with So:Linked and SVS in identifying themes and has involved local mutual aid networks, local councillors, local community businesses, community development workers, and city council and these co-creators will also be involved in the Growing Places project.

We will also maintain connections with Southampton’s City of Culture bid team, as well as Extinction Rebellion’s National Park City project.

Imagining St Denys

St Denys is a great place to live and there has been lots of community activity over the last 3 or 4 years. We are good at celebrating! There are still some challenges though and probably quite a few people who, for a multitude of reasons, have not been able to engage with all that has been happening. With the Growing Places project, we would like to open up conversations to everyone so we all have a chance to contribute and to imagine the world and locality we want to live in. 

It has been a really tough year and we are not out of the crisis yet. We appreciate there will continue to be repercussions of all that is happening and we want to make sure immediate needs are also considered in our community conversations, as well as longer term needs. We’ll be using a variety of ways to get in touch and connect, noticeboards to newspapers, local street theatre to street parties… please listen out for more details.

There are already some amazing projects in St Denys that have helped to create a sense of community and connection and we would like to use this page as a resource and signpost for local projects in the area. The projects are listed below. If you have a project you would like to share do please fill in details here. 

If you would like to help out with the organising the project, from co-ordinating volunteers to arranging Play Street Days do drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to help. Clare will be working most Tuesday afternoons and Fridays so will respond on those days. 

Local project listings

If you would like to connect with a local project please follow the links and use the contact details provided rather than contacting us. Any thing else do drop Clare a line

  • St Denys Active Travel Zone – Web page
  • Breathing Spaces – Web page
  • Front Gardens Plus – Facebook page
  • St Denys Rocks – Facebook page
  • Feeding the Community – Facebook page
  • All Aboard festival
  • St Denys Wildlife – Facebook Page
  • St Denys Boat Club
  • St Denys Church

Ideas for the third neighbourhood

Transition Southampton aims to develop connections and help another neighbourhood to co-create their own events to imagine the future they want. The neighbourhood needs to be geographically adjacent to St Denys and/or Bitterne Park to allow easy access and cross fertilisation of ideas. We  would also like to focus on a neighbourhood where we haven’t worked previously and where we can connect with communities outside our immediate network. We do not want to target specific groups but want to nurture the conditions that allow natural and heartfelt connection to happen. 

From initial conversations, possible neighbourhoods are as follows:

  • Bitterne Manor
  • Bevois Valley
  • Northam
  • Town Hill Park
  • Swaythling

We will be making a decision in April as to which neighbourhood we will be working with and there are funds available to help the community to facilitate their own conversations.