The Zone is a local youth centre situated at the bottom of Marsden Park. I popped there one evening last week with Lee Johnson, and met the staff. It was recently redesigned with a lot of input from the young people who use it. I was invited to join girls’ night.
Not sure where to begin the conversation, I tore up a large piece of paper. On the torn pieces I wrote lots of park-related questions.
The girls picked up the torn pieces and wrote their answers on the back. Once the girls started writing they just kept going, and their comments led to lots of interesting discussions. I got my pieces of paper back full of notes, with frank and funny responses. Here are the questions and answers:
Is Nature Good?
“I don’t know what nature is?”
“Everything that God made is nature but I don’t believe in God…”
Do you prefer the lawns or the forest?
“A Bitta Both.”
Do people say hello to you when they pass by?
Have you ever been scared in the park?
Is there park welcoming?
“I am too old for the park. 15!”
“You are too old for parks at 12/13.”
“I have never been to Marsden Park.”
“No because the police move you on if you’re 14.”
Is the park safe?
“no, not at all”
“in the morning yes..in the night time no!”
Do you have any nice memories of Marsden Park?
“I spend my life on Marsden park.”
“Yeah but I can’t be bothered writing.”
Do you know any local myths?
“Candy man + White lady”
Is the park better than a walk in the county side?
“no, cos you can see sheep in the country side.”
“Yes if you want to socialise but the country side is better if you want a long, quiet walk with”
“the one you love. awn taht’s cute is”
Is the park better than a private garden?
“I think so yes, because you can have more of a social gathering.”
“Yes because you can socialise more”
“No because a garden is safe.”
Do you have enough nature in your life?
“No, but parks provide a small bit of nature in the town!”
Do you have any childhood memories of the park?
“Yeah a lot.”
Would you walk alone in the park?
“no, cos you can not be too sure who is around, and anyone around could kidnap you.”
“Nope not at all.”
“NO NO NO NO NO NO”
Is there anything really wild in the park?
“yeah, the pissheads.”
What do you think of Marsden Park?
“Marsden park is a really nice park if you are young because there is lots of toys to play with but there is nothing for older people.”
I thought to exhibit the girls’ comments in the park for others to discover.
I gathered the torn pieces of paper into the shape of a bat. This image came to mind because Marsden Park has bats, and when I was told of ‘unwanted activities at nighttime’ from young people in the park, somehow the bats and teenagers amalgamated into one.
For a few days the bat lived on the ground at the bottom of the park, where young people from the Zone are likely to pass. The bat then moved to the top of the park. Here is is flapping its wings between two trees: