A Love Note to Urban Ecologies by Alisa Ruzavina and Community

In the heart of London, a celebration of low-impact living and community action recently unfolded at the In a Field by a Bridge Festival by London Bridge. Held on the 22nd and 23rd of July 2023, the festival also marked the 4th anniversary of London becoming the world’s first National Park City. To celebrate, we hosted the #DoLondonDifferently zone, an area of the festival filled with beautiful activities and workshops delivered by our partners and Ranger community. At the centre of this was an inspiring co-created banner envisioned by artist and London National Park City Ranger Alisa Ruzavina.

Alisa invited members of our community, as well as residents and visitors alike to join her in crafting a heartfelt love note to London’s untamed pockets of greenery, birdsong, buzzing and tail-swooshing to celebrate the meaningful relationships we all have with other beings we share the city with.

The banner, a communal masterpiece, symbolised the kinship that exists between London’s diverse inhabitants and how our collective affection, acknowledgement and care for the city’s ecological beings can bring us towards a greater sense of interconnectedness – seeing local bushes, trees, insects and birds not as simply landscape but as neighbours, family and friends.

The central message of the banner brought forth a potent message:

The Community Banner - Our four-legged, winged, tailed & rooted neighbours insist: This city is a forest The pavement crack is an ecosystem The street is a meadow for many paws to roam in Our inbreath is the outbreath of trees We are clothed & fed with the gifts from nature kin.  Such earthly care is to be deeply cherished It’s time we urban dwellers became the custodial species Once again loving the aliveness of this wild city land Back into being

Our four-legged, winged, tailed & rooted neighbours insist:
This city is a forest
The pavement crack is an ecosystem
The street is a meadow for many paws to roam in
Our inbreath is the outbreath of trees
We are clothed & fed with the gifts from nature kin. 
Such earthly care is to be deeply cherished
It’s time we urban dwellers became the custodial species
Once again loving the aliveness of this wild city land
Back into being

Over 90 participants engaged in a range of artistic tasks, each contributing to the banner’s vibrant narrative. From ironing and fusing, interfacing to stitching the fabric together, or cutting letters and shapes, every action added to the tapestry of this unique piece. 

Through hand sewing, embroidery, painting, drawing, stitching, and appliqué, these fabric pieces were transformed into dozens of unique artworks depicting people’s favourite wild nature being in the city and celebrating the beauty and wonders of urban nature. With consideration to the environmental message, the artwork was made solely out of second-hand fabrics.

Alisa Ruzavina’s presence during the festival was instrumental in guiding and inspiring attendees. As an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and facilitator, she wove a sense of community and interconnectedness through creativity, fostering an environment where artistic expression and love for nature flourished and interweaved.

The climax of this collaborative journey was joining Andrew Logan’s lively parade for his pollinators collection. To the sound of drums and horns and surrounded by Logan’s beautiful models and wearable sculptures, the co-created banner was paraded and showcased across Potters Field, Tower Bridge and along the river Thames. This colourful joy-filled sight was a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives and the ability of art to unite diverse perspectives for a shared cause and deep love for nature.

Parade 3

While the festival has passed, its resonance lingers. It served as a vivid reminder that within London’s bustling urban landscape, pockets of nature’s splendour endure, awaiting our relationship, our attention, celebration and admiration. It also demonstrated the impact of art in fostering community collaboration and honouring nature. 

Alisa is a community-tending artist designer and facilitator of ecocentric experiences for the rewilding of the urban self. Through textiles, sculpture, participatory and public art, rituals and workshops she aims to open up possibilities for place-based forms of knowledge, intercultural, indigenous and interspecies ways of relating, making and being that bring us closer in communion with the Earth and one another. To explore more of her inspiring work, visit her website: http://alisa-ruzavina.com

Community design of banner
Creating the banner

Thanks to Floree Zama-Neagra, Ranger Elly Platt of Take it Up Wear it Out, Ranger Fio Adamson, Jade of Lila-Rose Upcycled, Sandie M Sutton, Yoav Goldwein, Christian Turek, Katariina Salomaki ranger Alan Yap, Iain Drudy, Stephanie Landymore, Jo Dimitri, Ranger Mar Peláez-Muñoz, Ranger Hannah Marshall and Claire, and Ranger Thomaz Teixeira for all their support with the preparation of the banner.

And a special thank you to Forest Recycling Project for providing us with beautiful second-hand fabrics.

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