Headlining @ 3.30pm, we’re delighted to host influential, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at Aberdeen University Tim Ingold, who’ll be presenting his latest work ‘Generation Now‘ from our Storytelling Chair.
Tim has made a huge impact on design philosophy, and was a favourite of Edinburgh Napier’s late, great Prof. David Benyon, whose own design work on Blended Spaces has fundamentally informed The Lions’ Gate, to the extent that our work contributed to a Blended Spaces Impact Case Study awarded 4* in 2021’s Research Excellence Framework, denoting research quality that is world-leading in originality, significance and rigour. What goes around…
Other wholesome and life-affirming activities of the day include:
As we experience environmental and economic collapse, failures in geo, national and local politics, human health & well-being under siege, and a general sense of hopelessness, the day will provide an opportunity to share, unwind, discuss, listen and delight in what is possible, in our imaginative, permaculture-inspired, urban, campus garden. The event is free but ticketed, soplease register here.
Look forward to seeing you on the 24th!
The planet does not need more successful people. The planet needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.
Firstly, apologies for taking so long to write a new blog post. I’ve been incredibly busy, and ill with Covid, and I’ve changed roles at the university, and also I guess I’ve just been feeling somewhat exasperated by the failures of COP26 and trying to keep The Lions’ Gate going. But here I am, the sun is shining and my attempts to green the concrete of Merchiston campus and beyond continue, haphazardly perhaps, but spurred on by volunteers, staff and students. Actually, a big thanks has to go out to Alan Curits and Peter Pryde who are enabling some essential works over the next couple of months. However, access remains a thorny issue.
Since January I’ve been lucky to have Emily Hairstans working with me via a placement module from SRUC. Emily has been absolutely invaluable with her enthusiasm and passion for all things horticultural and I hope she can continue to pop by now the placement has come to an end. She’s the second student I’ve worked with via the SRUC placement scheme and I hope that the relationship with them continues into the future.
Also, since January I’ve been working with seven Creative Industries students in developing a number of interventions, (graphics of which are scattered throughout this post):
Cyrielle Dabere – a mosaic and the design of a green roof
Grace Newbigging – an outdoor classroom / pergola
Leeloo Moreau – lighting and signage
Lauren Stein – graphics, badges and a style guide
Keir Flint – a 3D model of the garden using Unreal Engine
Nicole Barrios – a pond with fountain and a wayfinder
Andrew Waterhouse – photography and animations
The work is ongoing, but it’s been a real delight to work with such creative souls, and Lindsay Morgan and Sophie Purchase in the SACI office have been a great help too, as have Cher and Jennifer in the Finance office.
Also, the Student Futures team are back helping out and it’s great to have them working on the development of our digital chamber area. They always bring cake too :).
A big thanks goes out to Niyamal from Edinburgh University who for the past six weeks has been a dedicated volunteer, but now moves on to his first proper job down in the big smoke as an Environmental Consultant. Good luck Niyamal, and ‘hello’ to Rachel our new volunteer!
Finally, more details to follow but we’re running an open day in the garden on Saturday 27th August 1130-6pm. We have Tim Ingold giving a talk; music; food and cocktails from garden produce; student exhibits, and garden tours. Watch this space.
If you and/or your students would like to get involved with The Lions’ Gate please just drop me a line: email@example.com
I’m sitting in The Lions’ Gate under the boughs of a rowan, in dappled sunlight and it’s most delightful. Birds are tweeting, bees are buzzing and nature’s bounty is putting on a bit of a show. Apple, medlar, plum and cherry trees are fruiting. Strawberries are ripening, herbs are flowering and our new lawn seems to have established itself as a soft and green shag-pile-like carpet ready for sun-worshippers to unwind upon.
As I finally relax after a busy day, supported by students from both Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier Universities, who tirelessly helped landscape areas of The Lions’ Gate in the glare of the sunshine, I thought I’d share a few updates on what’s been going on.
Last Thursday an extraordinary Edinburgh Napier team made up of colleagues from the Development and Alumni Department (Clive Gee, Barbara Kidd, Geoff Day, Kirsty Connell-Skinner, Miia MacDougall, Avani Patel ,Mandy Duncan, Alan Bree, Ben Waite and Ashleigh Thow); Panagiotis Siokas, a Masters student in the School of Computing; and Ankit Dougal, former President of Edinburgh Napier Student Association, planted an orchard up in the delightful Craiglockhart campus grounds, betwixt the chapel and the wilderness area, which we hope to incorporate as part of a ‘thinking walk’, for the health & well-being of Edinburgh Napier communities.
Well, we got a great turnout. 14 willing, and more than able workers, planted 12 fruit trees from Appletreeman Andrew Lear (10 apples – Jupiter, Bloody Ploughman, James Grieve, Lord Derby, and Beauty of Bath), two Victoria plums, and a silver birch in a loosely mandala-like layout, in alignment with the cardinal points of the chapel. Each tree also has a companion plant or two from this list (purchased from Sarah Wilkington’s Plants with Purpose nursery up in Perthshire):
Mugwort Oriental limelight
Golden creeping Jenny
Fox and cubs
Valerian all heal
It should be a great spot. It gets sunshine all day, and though we’ll be looking to provide some seating – sitting on the grass, in the height of summer with nature blossoming all around, will provide much enjoyment, as well as fruit, jams, desserts, chutneys, juice, cider, vinegar etc, and opportunities for seasonal community events, at harvest-time especially.
After two and half hours of hard work and good cheer, this spirited group of fine folks, enjoyed delicious refreshments provided by our Development and Alumni friends, and there was a real sense of accomplishment and community. People coming together for the first time in a long while is something I’ve been experiencing quite a lot of, of late in The Lions’ Gate, and it’s uplifting to be around that positive energy. So, a huge thanks to everyone involved.
Colleagues also discussed how it would be a great idea to associate the orchard with The War Poets Collection and I’m hoping this is something we can take forward.
This work was made possible by a successful collaboration between ENSA, The Lions’ Gate and the Development Office, gaining funding via the Community Climate Asset Fund. There are more actions to carry out with regards this funding – raised beds at both Sighthill and Craiglockhart campuses, so please get in touch with the Sighthill Gardening Club or Miles Weaver from The Business School up at Craiglockhart, to get involved.
Student Futures team volunteering
Over the past month or so a wonderful team of volunteers from Student Futures have been helping out at The Lions’ Gate – clearing weeds, building soil, planting herbs, shrubs and flowers, moving trees, landscaping, and having lots of fun in the process. They’re even planning a few pallet projects. As can be seen below, the raised-beds around the staging area are now looking great, thanks to a donation of plants from the Secret Herb Garden, and the contribution made by the team. They’re booked-in to volunteer every month now, and we have a team from Marketing and External Comms helping out next week. If you’d like your team to volunteer then please just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lions’ Gate Fringe Show – Hasten Slowly
On Thursday 26th of August we’re creating a little Fringe show in The Lions’ Gate. At present the plan is to open the gardens to around 30 participants in a relaxed atmosphere to learn about what we’re up to. There’ll be music, a talk by leading permaculturist Graham Bell, pizza and tea made from garden produce, a hands-on ‘how to plant a food forest’ activity, displays of our future plans (the digital bothy and the outdoor classroom), a wishing tree linked to COP26, an interactive audio tour, a plastics recycling game, and the unveiling of our interactive storytelling, memorial chair to the late, great Professor of HCI David Benyon. David was instrumental in getting The Lions’ Gate going, and one of his favourite idioms was ‘Festina Lente’ – Hasten Slowly, thus the name of the event.
Here are some development photos of the interactive, memorial storytelling chair – an interdisciplinary project between the School of Computing and the School of Arts & Creative Industries (Andrew O’Dowd and Richard Thompson); and a shot of the ready-to-be-installed trunk bench that’ll sit under the canopy of the 120 year old sycamore in The Lions’ Gate, both crafted by Neil Fyffe down in Selkirk.
On The Beach For the past six weeks, having watched Seaspiracy, and been shocked into action, I’ve been picking up litter from a beach I pass on my morning cycle. It’s a potentially beautiful spot where the Dolphinton Burn meets the Firth of Forth, and swans, geese, ducks, oystercatchers, and gulls are just some of the birds you’ll see on any day by the water.
However, the Firth of Forth is, as a dog walker proclaimed this morning – ‘a dirty river’. Too true, I bought myself a litter picker and armed with it and a bag I’ve now an intimate relationship with human trash. Tyres, plastic bottles and tops, sanitary towels, a lot of sanitary towels, innumerable pieces of plastic of all sizes and types, shoes, lots of shoes, clothing, ropes, wipes, food packaging, fibrous and congealed human-made materials, just about anything you can think of that humans make and nature has to suffer. I always think of a whale or dolphin or any sea creature consuming this stuff, and the complete misery of that vision is sobering. I can clear that beach, just about, in a month, but then it all comes back again. How not to despair?
It’s exciting to see our plans for edible/sensory/medicinal campuses come together. Over the last few weeks we’ve taken delivery of lots of herbs and seeds and soil and compost and water butts, and this week we take delivery of twenty fruit trees too!
So, all we need now is your enthusiasm and time to get all this greenery planted into the ground. With a bare minimum of effort we can contribute to our campuses transforming into regenerative spaces that nurture, soothe and inspire weary minds and invigorate bodies battered by the pandemic.
The Lions’ Gate is fundamentally a co-operative undertaking, so if you have any ideas please come along and share, and we will try to help you realise them.
I’m sure we’d all agree that the rockery beneath John Napier’s tower would be a delightful sight covered in flowers and populated with bees and butterflies.
Bee populations are in dramatic decline due to habitat loss – a by-product of intensive human-centric productivity. Healthy eco-systems are dependent on bees, so it’s imperative that we show our respect for nature by designing bee-friendly spaces.