Gardening Group Strangled At Birth

January 2010

After a group had assembled at the end of 2009, it met and eventually presented management with a viable plan for the future of the garden. However, individuals within management decided unilaterally that trhey had their own plans, and to ignore all the work done by the Group.

Naturally this undermines the entire prupose of the subgroup structure. Fay Roberts, the chair of the group resigned. There is now no gardening group. Or any other subgroups, for that matter. The brief era of involvement is over and Juniper Management continues to career along on its incompetent, lonely path.

April 2008.

The Amazing Juniper Information Machine in Action

 

This is the extent of the publicity given to the garden group meeting. A tatty piece of A4, scrawled with a few pencil marks, sellotaped to the old bin chambers, and left to rot in the rain. First spotted on Monday 14th of April. The day before the meeting.

Unsurprisingly, the garden is still as dead as ever, with use by residents down to almost zero.
The  shamefaced Garden Group is not constituted to decide serious garden use policy or strategy, and far less to consider any ecological requirements, but merely to pander to the horticultural whims of its self-appointed leaders and to perform the tasks now required by the new labour-intensive design - which it can never fully cover.

In addition, any meetings do not produce minutes, and decisions such as the one to destroy the jasmine are taken in secret.

Juniper is now under scrutiny by Southwark Council, and the time is rapidly approaching when we must once again vote to remain a co-op. The last time this happened, we were still a relatively vibrant community, able to mobilise in favour of staying a Tenant Management Organisation. This time, because of the concerted efforts of a few bullies and thugs, we are not a community at all. Juniper's days are therefore numbered, it seems, unless enough residents are prepared to act to restore some sense of hope and community.   But as the incumbent administration of Juniper and Southwark are obviously hostile to this idea, it will prove to be a very  difficult proposition. And so the long history of Juniper House  as a co-op seems to be over.

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2007 

The ornamental garden now on site cost at least £30,000. probably more, as the path and had to be laid twice. The first batch of soil (several lorryloads) being unsuitable for some reason.

This facility has hardly been used since it was finished.
The number of people using the garden has fallen dramatically, especially among the younger residents.

Since the project began, and the square was no longer available as a general hard play area, the degree of conflict involving young people has increased beyond anything Juniper had ever experienced before. The parents cannot be made to bear all the blame for this. The removal of a key play facility has to have had serious effect.

In direct contradiction to all previous Juniper practice and promises made by management, the garden is sprayed with weedkiller. This is now necessary because of shortsighted garden design. We have still not been told what chemicals are being used, or how much more we are paying for the extra maintenance required of what was sold as a ‘community’ garden - to be maintained largely by the residents.

 The proposed football cage was promised without any consideration of the nearness of the neighbouring houses, or the acoustics of the site, which were tested and found wanting some years ago. And as the development was always going to be subject to planning approval, it was a promise which management could not be sure of fulfilling. 
If it is constructed, the chances are that access will be restricted to certain times of day, thereby locking Juniper residents out of a large part of their own garden, and encouraging teenagers to continue roaming the streets. This exclusion also demands on someone volunteering for the thankless task of  Gatekeeper to make it work. This is another thing to go wrong and cause friction.

The recent toddlers area looks shiny, and is a token gesture at play provision, but some of the equipment is already creaking, and like the football cage, will serve mainly to segregate the age groups.

In the old garden square, older children found themselves placed in a position of responsibility towards the younger kids, and this made for a far more harmonious play environment. 

The loss of the square, and of any suitable ball game area, left the youngest kids with little to amuse themselves but their own unsupervised company for several years. As a result, inevitable minor squabbles have a tendency to grow into full scale disputes between parents, who naturally side with their children.

A huge opportunity has been missed, and unless swift action is taken and some ideas thought through, Juniper will continue to slide away from its ideals and there will be no actual benefit to being a co-op at all. In short,  the bulldozers only made things worse.