The No Man’s Land In the Heart of Our Town

Outdoor locations for children are scarce in our town, as funding for parks has been continuously cut. Currently, in this area, there is not a single park to simply sit and eat your lunch in. Yet it seems abandoned wasteland is all too common. These photos show an area that could be a beautiful place to relax and unwind, and for children to safely play together.

This location is right next to the school. It is overgrown, polluted with drug paraphernalia, household waste, and dog waste bags. This abandoned landscape promotes the antisocial behaviour of our children. They come out of school and sit here during their lunch break, among generations of litter. This sets an example for them of the entire town – the youth see this every day, many have grown up around this their entire school life. This in turn echoes out the children’s mentality towards the town. This overgrown wasteland deters adults and townspeople from entering what could be a beautiful place.

Inevitably – just like the untamed brambles, antisocial behaviour is nurtured among this landscape of litter and thorns.

I hope to come back here, and get funding to turn this into something so much more. The wild garlic you see is evidence that the soil here is healthy. There are bluebell shoots and daffodils scattered among the desolation. The soil is rich in iron, this is a perfect candidate to create a permaculture public garden of native species for our community in both location and fertility. But for now, realising this location is in desperate need of the pride and love I want to show our home, I set our team of volunteers to work. After 50+ bin bags and a full day’s work, our group of ten volunteers transformed this place into something unrecognisable from the no man’s land it was before.

In the future, after appealing for funding and permission, I hope to begin work to bring out the natural beauty of this plot of land. I propose we work with the land, not against it. After our excavation of litter, it was evident from the moss and overgrowth that had reclaimed most of the rubbish that it had been there for years. It is clear from the multitude of songbirds thriving and the diversity of plants that the ecosystem is healthy. Overdeveloping this location would be a disaster for both the children who play there and the wildlife that calls it home.

What I am proposing is once we have funding, our group of volunteers will uproot the brambles and begin planting new fauna of low maintenance, native British species. It is important we do not introduce too much, and rather refine what is currently there. Overdeveloping this land would prove costly, as we would have to continuously fight the native ecosystem that is already stable and permaculture. The rough land here is currently beautiful and offers much-needed refuge to hedgehogs, birds, and mice alike. Teamed with a small woodland creating a truly unique landscape, this natural beauty must be appreciated in any plans for this land. All that is needed in this location is to introduce a couple of picnic benches, and winter rooting a small number of fruit-bearing trees into the area. It is also imperative that at least one public bin be introduced into this location. The north butterfly gate is a perfect location.

Currently, people are dumping their dog waste bags at this location. On the litter pick, we cleared nearly a full bin-bag-worth of around 100 dog waste bags, pushed under the bush and in the gate itself. People are picking up their dog waste, but with no where to put it they are dropping it at the entrance. The more this has happened over the years, the more this has become a normalised practice. But this stands as clear objective evidence that people are trying to pick up after themselves but are offered nowhere to dispose of it afterwards. The first step in maintaining this land is introducing public bins back to the area for people to dispose of the waste rather than leaving it here.

The philosophy is simple: Show Dalton the Love it Deserves. So perhaps it is poetic to show that love to the very heart of this town. Adults leisurely strolling through what will be the only public nature park in Dalton will, in turn, deter antisocial behavior. The work here has already begun, and after our simple litter pick, it is unrecognisable to the location it was before. And this is just the beginning of what this wonderful natural park could be.