The Giant’s Garden
A Way Space Project
What is a Way Space?
A Way space is a work/live/play space that interrogates the dichotomy between work and play, with the underlying philosophy that working well with the world is a fantastic and magical act. It is a community building project for mothers and families focused on the doing of sustainable activity with imaginative attention.
Why Way Spaces?
We are great, as a culture, at making magical spaces for kids. We make soft play centres and playgrounds, classes for everything from dancing to song to story-time. We are great at making connecting and networking places for mums, from church coffee mornings to play groups to NCT. All these things matter.
Yet as mothers, when our children are born, the spaces of our lives – work – play – home – suddenly crash into one another to become a single point. It is this point, in the breathtakingly unexpected and repetitive work of changing nappies, mushing food, spooning porridge, washing clothes, that the loneliness that mothers often feel is at its most potent.
What we have lost the capacity to do as a culture is to witness this space, the mundanity of regular activity that creates lives and builds home – as a magical space. Long gone from Western society is the time when mums sat together, making, mending or preparing food, and told stories while their children wandered back and forth and witnessed and experimented with the slow wonder of their work, and the likelihood is that it will not return.
Yet this leaves massive absences and deep rifts in the spaces we have to bring up our children. We try and keep our lives going smoothly and we try and teach our children the wonder of the world. We are no longer held within a community of interactions in which it is possible for the two to become one and the same. No longer can a great swathe of carers watch over a great swathe of children while the work-to-live is done. Instead, our work-to-live is compartmentalized from our community, and our time is fragmented, fractured and hectic. In this way, our children are taught from the beginning that good time is occasional, and antithetical to the rhythms that keep us alive. Without the field of mutual work in which entertainment and dedicated doing are one and the same, they begin to visualize and understand the good life as separate from the real life. They are taught that magic is there to entertain them, not that magic is a mutual activity, springing directly from the tender and fragile maintenance of our life on earth. And without the opportunity to participate in the mutual and playful tending of work-to-live space, their understanding of their own role, resonance and power in their community does not have the ground to take root.
There are many things about our life as mothers that we cannot change. It may take a village to raise a child, but this Western society is one without those kind of villages. Yet we still have communities, and we still have power. The Way space project offers a community building space for mothers and families that seeks to open up the doing with which we hold the world together, and offer it back to our children as a space of wonder.
What is the Giant’s Garden?
The Giant’s Garden is a pop-up garden project, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story of the Selfish Giant, whose garden came to life only when it was full of children.
It works as a “virtual” or “travelling” garden that hosts Way space events. Its key spaces are five interconnected gardens across Sussex …. These have been selected to forge community links across age and economic barriers, and allow young people an active role in creative community making.
Giant’s garden offerings include workshops, events and play spaces which explore the magic in the “work-to-live”. These include work with land, body and home, such as foraging, storytelling, gardening, movement, building, dance and DIY. Events are repeated across gardens, and attendees are invited to attend events more than once, skill-sharing experiences across interlinked gardens.
Challenging categorizations of private and public, the giant’s garden allows pop-up community spaces in local homes, offering support for mums and families who would like to host doing / learning / making events. In this way it aims to be a community building project in which parents can skill-share, make and create with babies and toddlers present, and children can witness and participate in the mutual and playful tending of work-to-live space.