A derelict site in Peterborough’s city centre was transformed into a vibrant community garden by volunteers, yet is still under threat of redevelopment. This book – Re:development: Voices, Cyanotypes & Writings from The Green Backyard, an outcome of my time with people who use and care for the garden – shares the voices of those defending their right to the city.
Order the book, here.
The financialisation of land and property is reconfiguring whole swathes of Britain’s cities from public to private, as a result of redevelopment. Peterborough, with its rapid expansion of housing, population and economic growth, alongside its environmental aspirations, is no exception: land is becoming a contested space with its uses bitterly argued over.
Re: development brings together voices, cyanotypes and writings from The Green Backyard, a ‘community growing project’ threatened with a proposed development by its owner, Peterborough City Council. It is an attempt to explore in the site one of Britain’s most contested territories: land ownership, and its radical political shift from communal to private.
This book is a collaboration between artist Jessie Brennan and the people who use and care for The Green Backyard. It is a contribution to the debates impacting communities across the UK, and raises many questions about what this community (and many others engaged in volunteer-run urban green spaces) stand to lose if the land were to be lost to development.
Contributing authors include: Sophie Antonelli (activist; co-founder of The Green Backyard); Dr. Alexandre Apsan Frediani (researcher of development practice; Lecturer at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL); Dr. Robert Biel (carpenter-historian; Senior Lecturer at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL); Dougald Hine (social artist, writer and thinker; co-founder of Dark Mountain); Prof. Jane Holder (Professor of Environmental Law, UCL); Anna Minton (writer; Co-Director of UEL’s MRes course, Reading the Neoliberal City); Dr. Barbara Penner (architectural historian; Senior Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL); Prof. Jane Rendell (artist-writer; Professor of Architecture and Art, and Director of History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture); Prof. Ben Rogaly (geographer; Professor of Geography, University of Sussex); Dr. Maria Walsh (writer and art critic; Reader in Artists’ Moving Image at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London).
For further information about the project, see the Guardian (3 November 2016). Listen to a selection of oral recordings, part of Inside The Green Backyard (Opportunity Area), on Jessie Brennan‘s website. Visit the temporary artwork If This Were to Be Lost at The Green Backyard, until July 2017. Keep informed about The Green Backyard‘s events.