On June 6th 2009 Kew Bridge Eco village was created. A small group began by camping on derelict land by the bridge which had been bought to build expensive apartments. It was a space where low impact living, self sufficiency and egalitarian community living could be practised. The camp was set up by using mostly recycled materials that were found or donated. Growing food was a crucial part of the philosophy and the remainder of the campers diets were supplemented by skipping of supermarket bins and donations. The group quickly grew and developed, they managed to maintain the eco village for over a year until they were forcefully removed by private security, after the court had ordered an eviction notice on behalf of the housing corporation.
However the legacy of KB still remains in the hearts and minds of many in the original group as well as those who were inspired by this new kind of activism and went on to get involved in similar projects. In the months leading up to the eviction “grow your own village” meetings were set up for those interested in setting up similar projects on unused green spaces across the UK. The initial meetings inspired similar camps in Bristol, Hull and Hounslow in west London. Some of the Kew Bridge residents went on to be key members in what was “democracy village” across from the houses of parliament.
The Grow your own village page is now dedicated to the memory of kew bridge eco village has now been renamed “grow your own village” and provides information for those interested in low impact community living. There is also video footage of a Kew Bridge eco village tour and interviews with some of the residents.
Although the battle over land continues with the court verdicts predictably siding with private business interests over environmental and social justice, one group have managed to avoid this vicious cycle. Syon Lane community allotment was set up by an agreement between a member of Hounslow community gardens and the private owner of the sight who liked the idea of a group of people looking after the land that he was not using. They signed a legal contract for 3 years and it is now being used for local allotments. It also gives those involved a space to set up workshops and meetings.
Diggers2012 have been at Runnymede since 9th June 2012. The site was once a campus of Brunel University. Following the sale of the land to private owners it has been neglected and largely disused for the past five years. It is now being put to good use. Well done to all the dedicated diggers and dreamers.