This Sunday, the sky was blue, the sun was shining: no rain, and mercifully, no wind. Still cold is easier to deal with. Walking along The Greenway from north to south, we noticed that the graffiti on the walls had been painted out. And there was a warm welcome for us when we reached the Church of Christ the King (CCK), our meeting point. We felt optimistic.
Jess, the ranger, was there with tools and guidance. Our task today was to clear nettles and dock leaves in the grassy areas, clear leaves and dead vegetation around the vines climbing up the walls and pick up littler. We were around fifteen people, including two families and their children. As one of the younger participants observed, ‘This is actually quite good fun!’, as we massacred nettles and dock leaves.
It was good to hear from John from Brighton & Hove Wildlife Forum that the vegetation towards the north end was probably the most important for wildlife. We started to see The Greenway in terms of different areas: a wildlife area from the bridge to the first set of benches, a slightly more cultivated or controlled area from the benches to the entrance from Boston Street. We talked about possibly moving some of the giant implements from ivy-clad pillars to the bare ones.
My young co-worker and I, as we dug up recalcitrant nettles and dock leaves, decided to name the cleared grassy area ‘Chocolate Cake Square’ as we felt our efforts should transform this area into a nice place for picnicking in the summer. The summer, it turned out, was when his birthday was, and we vowed to make the area a great place to eat birthday cake.
It was wonderful to see so many people using The Greenway: dog walkers, people clearly coming from the station, people on their way back from the centre of town, people taking a stroll and people taking a work break. ‘It’s my favourite walk’ shouted out one young man. Two people walking their dog stopped to talk at length. Several thanked us for working on the area.
By two o’clock, we needed a break, and James, the pastor at CCK, provided us with soup and bread around a wooden table: a chance to take a breath and enjoy a really nice moment of coming together. At the same time, the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ demonstration was taking place in Paris. We’d talked about this as we walked over to the Greenway and as we walked back. The giant work implements on The Greenway can be seen as celebrating gardening and/or the steam railway, with its wrenches and shovels. Perhaps we should also have left a jar of pencils in Chocolate Cake Square after our very small celebration of comm-unity.
Interested in The Greenway? Come to Action Group meeting Tuesday 13 Jan, 7.30pm Clarendon Centre (CCK), BN1 4GQ