Hannah Brackston and Daniele Sambo are young artists living and working in the Pollok area of Glasgow. They want to raise the profile of the ward's parks, woodlands and gardens and invite people to reclaim and enjoy them.  Previously they had facilitated workshops with students, exploring and prototyping the pupils’ ideas for a temporary outdoor classroom that could occupy the Damshot woodland. This was documented and presented as part of ‘Happen Stance’ - Scotland's contribution to the Venice Biennale 2018.

The woodland and surrounding grassland is an unofficial wilder annex of Pollok Park. The local school and neighbourhood had their previous close access to the formal Pollok Park severed by the construction of the M77 in the 1990’s.

Inspired by these previous conversations with pupils, the Young Placechangers project worked with a wider group of young people and took some of the ideas further. Hannah, Dan and young people from Turf Youth Project first attended a Young Placechangers residential weekend.

Young Placechangers project in a nutshell

The young people wanted to raise awareness of the existence of the woodland and, through working with the Place Standard and Place Evaluation, decided to encourage the community to enjoy it through a community event and by installing signage both directional and interpretation. The young people then planned and prepared an event and learnt skills relevant to hosting it, such as cooking outdoors, sharing knowledge of the woodland, etc.

19 young people from the Turf Youth Project and pupils from the nearby St. Paul’s High School Art and Design Class took part in the project.

The pupils from St. Pauls from Art and Design looked at the issue of lack of signage and challenges people felt around navigating the woods. They designed and made their own playful temporary signs, to draw awareness to various assets and activities that the woodlands hold. The first edition of this map has been printed and distributed at a Pollok 80:20 consultation event.

The public event was postponed from November 2019 to Spring 2020 due to a storm. Due to covid19 lockdown and restrictions the public event did not take place. Finally in April 2021 the funded project was completed through the design and distribution of growing and arts kits, which would enable the young people to work on something at home. Despite the public event not taking place, the young people learnt about the history and explored the future of Pollok Park; leant new practical skills, including using power tools to cut their own signs; made their first poster and learnt about methods of promotion and got experience on how to work together to make decisions on what they wanted to do, how and who would do it.

“Most of the young people had never made or cooked on a fire before, one young person had never lit a match. This experience provided them with both practical and safety skills and an eye-opening experience on how to simply make something tasty out of nothing.”

Community Placemaking and the Place Standard

Strategically this was project was timed to link in with a new local action planning process (Pollok 80:20) where the woodlands were considered one of the key topics for future consideration.

The young people from Turf had several sessions in the woodlands themselves. Through working with the Place Standard and Place Evaluation they were taken into a journey and offered new perspectives on a greenspace. Through exploring, sketching, mapping, listening etc they were invited to think about the value of such woodland.

First, they presented the Place Standard Tool and discussed what each of the key categories to evaluate, might mean for the woodlands. Then, each young person oversaw a couple of categories and made reflective notes, whilst they took a detailed walk through the woods. At the end of the session each young person presented their category and how they rated it and others were invited to agree or disagree. They made a visual representation of the tool in the ground using small signs and coloured string and pegs. This process led to the proposals by the young people and their project work.

Next steps and new partnerships

Due to the pandemic the community event in the woodland did not take place. The work of the young people has however formed part of the work of the G53Together (former Pollok80:20) group and the greenspace working group facilitated by Glasgow City Council.

The YPC project also influenced the Glasgow Life Artist in Residence programme for South Glasgow, Greater Pollok (Ward 3) between Jan-March 2021. 

greenspace scotland engages and empowers young people through the Young Placechangers programme.

Young Placechangers puts young people in the lead role – bringing together the wider community to look at local spaces and plan improvements. The Young Placechangers programme has used a co-production approach to develop and pilot a training and support programme enabling young people to transform both the place they live, their relationship to it and the wider community.

Young Placechangers