||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education >Garden in a night
Garden in a night
Would you take the challenge to build a garden
||This is a creative activity using drawing and model building
- The forces that drive development
- How local development does or does not meet local people's
- How decisions about local development are made
- The right to participate in decision-making processes
- The right to participate in the cultural life of the
- The right to rest and leisure
- To understand that the outcomes of development are
- To develop skills necessary for participating in local
democracy and development
- To develop creativity, group work skills, co-operation
and respect for others
- Maps and pictures of where you live (past and present)
- A large-scale map of the neighbourhood showing your
- Pens and paper for drawing up designs
- Materials for making the models. For example, small
boxes, tubs, tissue paper, paints, string, wool, wine
corks, cardboard tubes, aluminium foil, egg cartons and
other household junk, twigs, stones, bark, shells, etc.
- Glue and tape
- Paint and paint brushes
- Stiff cardboard or plywood to use for bases for the
For part 1. Development - how and why
- Collect together past and present maps and pictures
of the town or area where you live.
- Identify possible sites for the group to work on. Research
in the locality to find out if there are any sites, which
are due to be developed
For part 2. Making development plans:
- Collect information about the site the group decided
to work on for example, newspaper articles and minutes
of council meetings
- If you are going to make models using "junk",
make sure that you have plenty of materials. Start saving
small containers, inner tubes from toilet rolls, etc.,
well in advance of starting this activity.
This activity is in two parts: part 1, "Development - how
and why" is a discussion about the forces that drive change;
in part 2, "Making development plans" people design
a development project in their own locality, and build a model
Part 1. Development - how and why
- Introduce the topic of local development. Use maps and pictures
to stimulate discussion about how the local environment has
developed over the last 50 to100 years. Talk about the political,
economic and social forces that caused these changes. In general,
have these changes been for the better? For whom and why?
- Ask the group to name examples of developments that have
happened during their life-times, such as extensions to buildings,
shopping malls, housing estates, and who has benefited from
these developments and how. For example, did the scheme provide
much needed low-cost housing for local people or was it luxury
apartments or holiday homes built as an investment by a finance
- Look at the large-scale map of your locality and agree a
local site that everyone wishes to work on.
Part 2. Making development plans
- Display the large-scale map to show the site you have decided
to work on. Make sure everyone is familiar with the site, and
if necessary visit it.
- Review the current plans for the site using information from
local papers or minutes of council meetings. Talk about who
is making the different proposals and what their interests in
- Brainstorm all the possible ways the site could be developed.
Be as imaginative as possible.
- Now break into small groups of 4 to 5 to review the brainstorm
and briefly discuss the pros and cons of the different options.
- The next task for each group is to come to a consensus about
how the site should be developed, to draw up a design and then
make a model of it.
- When all the models are complete, let each group present
their model and explain their plans.
Debriefing and evaluation
Start with a review of how the different groups worked. Did
everyone feel involved? How were decisions made? Then go on to
talk about the plans themselves.
- What were the main considerations when deciding how to develop
the site? For example, cost, time, effort, profit, local needs
- Were the plans people- and environment-friendly, and sustainable?
- Did the plans meet the needs of everyone in the locality?
For example, the disabled, children, minorities?
- What resources would be needed to put the plan into effect?
- Were renewable resources used whenever possible?
- Were non-renewable resources used with care?
- How would the project affect the ecosystem in general? For
example, was wildlife encouraged or were trees planted?
- What wastes would be produced building the project and in
maintaining it? How will these wastes be disposed of?
Tips for facilitators
This activity assumes that most young people live in or near
urban environments. The choice of site to work on must depend
on your location and on your group. All sites have potential!
Ideally, the group should research and decide. However, in some
circumstances, for example, in schools, there may be curriculum
constraints, so the teacher will have to choose.
Options for what to put on the site may include a shopping centre,
a leisure centre, a school, housing, a car park, an open green
space, a playground, a sports field, a quiet rose garden with
seating for elderly people, a city farm, a wildlife sanctuary,
an amusement park, a bowling green, etc. Encourage people to take
the needs of different sections of the community into consideration.
You could choose a fantasy scenario. For example, what would
you rather see on the site where your town hall, council offices,
hospital, etc. now stand? Or if you live in a rural locality,
what better use could there be for a disused pit or a slag heap
left over from mining operations?
Suggestions for follow-up
Find out more about the council's plans for developing the
site you have been working with. Talk about what you think about
the plans and write to the council or to your local paper to
let others know your views. Find out how planning decisions
are made in the town or village where you live. How much influence
do local people have on decision-making? How can young people
have more say in planning decisions that affect them? If the
group are interested in exploring issues related to local decision-making,
they could do the activity "Electioneering".
Alternatively, the group may like to move their focus from
development at the local level to that at the global level. Try
the board game, "The
path to development" in
different all equal education pack.
Ideas for action
Attend a planning meeting of your local council and contribute
to the planning process.
Participate in celebrating Environment Day. Look on the web
for information about Environment Day activities in your country
The idea for this activity came from the project "Have
på en nat" (Garden in a night) that was part of the
Copenhagen City of Culture Festival in 1996. A group of young
people from Økologiskeigangsættere, a local Agenda
21 organisation, worked for two years preparing to build a garden
on a derelict inner city site - not quite in one night - but over
a few days. The young people decided that they wanted a community
garden on the 300 m2 site. They learnt practical skills
such as carpentry, plumbing, bricklaying and horticulture and
prepared and grew everything off site, so that when the time came
the garden could be assembled almost "overnight". There
was something for everyone: little paths wound around the site
by a turfed area, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. The garden
remained until the site was reclaimed by the council to be developed
for housing in April 2001.