Understanding the Landscape
The Strategy has relied on a flow of information to both receive an understanding of local landscape perceptions and to set proposals for the landscape in a context which makes sense. People need to know what is going on along the river and to feel that they have a voice in influencing its future. This understanding has helped to inform communities on why certain (sometimes controversial) measures are needed and has helped to change practices proposed by the Strategy and its partners based on this local knowledge. In 2012, the Thames Landscape Strategy was recognised for its community based approach to landscape management with a special award from London in Bloom – The Annual Chairman’s Award. The Thames Landscape Strategy delivers an exciting education and outreach programme to increase access and understanding of the Thames environment to as wide an audience as possible. The programme is wide reaching and is designed to mix formal leaning with volunteering, events, project work and the enhancement of recreational opportunities. Measures have included:
- Local, regional and nation press and publicity
- Production of an annual newsletter
- Upkeep of a website
- Talks and lectures
- Participation at local events
- foreshore discovery days
- production of walking leaflets and maps
- signs and interpretation panels
- one off education days at a range of locations
- The Formal Education Programme
The annual immersion in the Thames of Lord Gannesh – the TLS organises several events along the Thames in partnership with London’s Hindu community
Achievement and Success: Understanding the Landscape
The Thames Landscape Strategy set a precedent for communicating the importance of Landscape to both professionals and the general public. Achievements include:
- The work undertaken by the Thames Landscape Strategy has been recognised repeatedly for its contribution to the river based landscape, including Queen Mother’s Birthday Awards, National Waterway Renaissance Awards and River Thames Society Shield.
- Continues a day-to-day engagement with partners, policy makers and its community to inform the project work that it undertakes and ensure it can be sustained.
- Engages with a changing network of stakeholders to ensure the focus of the organisation is always broadening.
- Provided information in a way local people can relate to, in a format that makes it accessible.
- Published an annual newsletter to inform stakeholders of the Strategy’s work (first published in Nov 1995). In 2007 this was replaced by regular web updates that contain a back catalogue of over 50 leaflets and booklets providing information about the project work and how to experience the Thames landscape.
- Publishes an annual review.
- Published regular reports explaining individual activities and the different kinds of work carried out.
- Participated at more than 250 public events such as local fairs and river festivals, showing our exhibition work, so that people can question why things are done in a particular way.
- Talks and lectures have been used extensively over the years. Most of the local interest groups have been targeted and received presentations about the Strategy. Feedback from these events has enabled the TLS to draw up projects and management proposals based on community expectations.
- Local Publicity has been an important mechanism for engaging with a wide audience and has stimulated a continuing interest in the future of the riverside. Between 2002 and 2009, the TLS had a weekly column in four London newspapers
The TLS Education and Outreach Programme
The involvement of local schools and other education programmes have been weaved into most TLS projects. The goals of the TLS were set out in the Education and Outreach Action Plan in 2007. The schools programme has carried out both formal and informal learning with an emphasis on linking learning with the opportunity to get out into the landscape through volunteering and outdoor activities. The outreach programme informs a diverse range of communities about the work undertaken, what makes the Thames landscape special and how it needs to be protected, enhanced and maintained.
- Publication of an Education and Outreach Action Plan to inform TLS projects
- Created strong links with formal education providers
- Established a formal TLS education programme in partnership with Orleans House Gallery
- Forged strong links between education programmes and volunteering
- Established a Thames based learning programme with the River Thames Boat Project
- Targeted young people- in particular those from hard to reach groups and those excluded from education to provide the appropriate skills to re-enter formal learning or the jobs market
Achievement and Success: Education and Outreach
- TLS project work is carried out working with delivery partners who run education programmes on behalf of the TLS.
- Publication of the „Schools on the River‟ education pack in 1998 in partnership with the River Thames Boat Project
- Production of the Education and Outreach Plan in 2007
- Appointment of a Heritage education officer in 2005 in partnership with Orleans House Gallery. This work has been supported with publications, practical engagement and creative art classes out in the landscape to teach about the value of landscape.
- Partnership with the Surrey Care Trust, who run environmental work programmes on board the community narrowboat Swingbridge with young offenders and alternative education programmes with young people out of mainstream education.
- The Stables education centre at Orleans House gallery has been supported financially
- A youth graffiti art workshop with the Metropolitan Police and young offenders to create a mural recreating the view from Richmond Hill using spray paint.
- Run teacher CPD and student teacher art training events incorporating the local heritage landscape.
- Run Natural Talent – a cross curriculum project for year 3 pupils at a Twickenham school working with a range of delivery partners to explore the ecology, geography and heritage of Orleans House Gallery to produce a site specific art installation.
- Merrist Woods College NVQ and NTPC students worked with project officers to assess one of the project proposals and report on their assessment.
- Working with Hounslow Hindu Temple, the TLS has engaged with a large Hindi community to co-ordinate the annual immersion of the Hindu god Gannash into the Thames to mark the end of the Ganash Chaturth festival. This builds ownership of the Thames among a population separated from the landscape by cultural and social boundaries.
- Transported Exhibition and outreach programme – 2012.
The formal education and outreach programme was originally rolled out by the London’s Arcadia project through the appointment of a Heritage Education Officer in partnership with Orleans House Gallery. Since the completion of the Arcadia Project in 2009 the TLS has continued its partnership with the Gallery carrying out projects with local schools across the TLS area.
The TLS funded jollyboat Greycourt
The Education and Outreach Programme is designed to connect people with their environment. It provides opportunities for more people from all backgrounds to have greater access to, and better understanding of the river’s management, conservation, and dynamics. The Programme is designed to link with all TLS on-the-ground project goals, and includes the wider agendas of volunteering, interpretation, healthy living, and life long learning.
The programme has ben designed to deliver a range of educational activities targeted at Primary and Secondary school pupils, families (especially those living in deprived wards across the TLS area), young parents, children and young people who are looked after and adults living in emergency accommodation. Highlights have included: ‘Our Heritage’ – using images of the Thames landscape as a stating point for exploring how the river has changed over time and how it can be looked after for the future. ‘Saturday Safari’ – a ground breaking family learning collaboration targeting areas of relative deprivation. The project was showcased at the National Family Learning Network conference. ‘The SPEAR’ photographic project – carried out in partnership with a local organisation supporting homeless people. ‘Local Habitats’ – Schools outreach programme supporting the Every Child Matters initiative aimed at engaging school pupils and their families in the management of their landscape. ‘Culture Vultures’ – formed part of the DCMS Cultural Pathfinder project which aimed to provide children and young people with improved access to culture and leisure opportunities. ‘Our Richmond’ – worked with young people across the London Borough of Richmond in partnership with young people from RichmondVirginia. ‘Black History in Arcadia Landscape’ – dance commission exploring the issues and themes raised by the bicentenary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. ‘Reedbed & Local Habitats’ – summer events programme rolled out across the TLS area at events and fairs.