GRASS ROOTS NEWSLETTER SPRING 2022
A NEW COMMUNITY SPACE
Welcome to the spring edition of GRASS ROOTS. The whole team at the GRASS community group is wildly excited for the bumper summer season ahead of us here at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns, as we have over 30 community events planned for 2022 (see back page for full details)! Firstly, we would first like to thank our wonderful volunteers for making the Cliftonville Christmas Festival such a fantastic success, and a special mention must also go to the Social Singing Choir, the local bands who performed, and Rethink Mental Health, for their invaluable contributions. We are already planning the next festival to ensure it continues to bring lots of festive cheer to our new home at Cliftonville’s iconic bandstand. Spring is in the air so it’s time to dig out that trowel out and get gardening! GRASS will launch The Oval Gardening Club on 6th April, and we look forward to welcoming volunteers every Wednesday, 10am to 2pm, who want to make a blooming difference here at the lawns. As a further incentive to get involved, we have signed up to be part of the RHS’s In Your Neighbourhood competition, so club members can help to ensure Cliftonville gets recognition as part of this prestigious competition. We also have big plans for a new wellness garden at The Oval, which you can read about inside. We recently completed another gardening beautification project here at The Oval with the addition of some fabulous new planters, which will be filled with lavender, summer bulbs, and echinacea, and will incorporate The Oval’s logo to welcome visitors to the bandstand. We are also keen for visitors to explore the wonderful businesses on Northdown Road, and we will encourage this by including new way-finding signage on selected planters. And finally, we are thrilled to announce that we will be opening the GRASS WORKS Community Space in the old storeroom at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns. It’s not a huge room, but we believe we will be able to use it as a workspace where we can meet residents, and hopefully offer a collaborative environment for other community groups and individuals. We are already speaking with a local charity who would like to have a base at GRASS WORKS, so this new space promises be a wonderful new asset that will benefit Cliftonville residents. We will be renovating the space from early April, and we hope it will be open by June this year. For further details on the GRASS WORKS Community Space, or anything else about GRASS, please visit the grasscliftonville.org website by scanning the QR code above.
FACTS ABOUT GRASS
The Gordon Road Area Street Scheme (GRASS) was formed in 2003 (we’re 20 next year!), as a way to make a positive difference in our neighbourhood by encouraging pride and promoting community cohesion. GRASS is a fully constituted community group with a committee made up of local people who are elected at our annual AGM, which anyone can attend. GRASS is self-funded and is run entirely by volunteers; our community events include Cliftonville in Bloom, Cliftonville Games, and the GRASS Children’s Christmas Party. We also manage and self-fund several street improvement projects in the GRASS area, which include; 18 hanging baskets, the Gordon Road Community Garden, the GRASS Community Notice Board and the Little Library / Christmas Post Box. The Oval is owned and operated by GRASS Cliftonville CIC and the Gordon Road Area Street Scheme fully supports its objectives.
FESTIVAL OF CATS 2022
This March come and enjoy the second Festival of Cats with a series of exhibitions, workshops, and events in and around Margate. This feline themed festival started from a love of T. S. Eliot’s book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, and much like the book, the festival celebrates the psychology, sociology, and whimsy of cats. The 2022 Festival of Cats starts with the opening of the main exhibition (25th to 27th March, 11am-5pm) at The Margate School where over 250 works of art were submitted from across the UK, and even some from overseas. Works include paintings, prints, sculptures, tapestry, illustrations, film, and much more! The exhibition is free and open to the public (no need to book). The Cat Inside – Curator’s Tour (26th March, 11am-12 noon) is a free guided tour of our flagship exhibition at The Margate School where you’ll hear about how artists T. S. Eliot and Louis Wain inspired the festival and get to know some of the artworks in more detail. New to the festival we have a Cat Mask Marbling Workshop where kids can make their own cat masks (26th March, 10am-12 noon). Join the fabulous artist Natascha Maksimovic for this free event at The Oval Bandstand where you’ll make your own marbled cat mask to take home and keep! The Palace Cinema is delighted to be taking part in this year’s Festival of Cats and will be hosting the very first Caturday film screening (26th March, 4pm). Come and watch The Electrical Life of Louis Wain and join Charlotte Wilde, the professional trainer and supplier of cats for the film, for a Q&A. The Arts Club is hosting a very queer cat cabaret featuring drag performances, costume competitions and a catwalk. The Pussies Cabaret (26th March, 8pm) will feature performances from Shelly Grotto, Casey Sea, Cesar Jentley, Andrés-Éslowly, Pamela Handmeyourson and Tivoli Lady Gardens. Festival creators Helen Pitman and Jemma Channing have been overwhelmed with the response and invite everyone to come and enjoy a celebration of our feline friends. The Festival of Cats is supported with funding from Kent County Council and the Margate Charter Trustees. For festival tickets scan the QR code above with your mobile device or visit www.festivalofcats.com
CLIFTONVILLE IN BLOOM
What better way to brighten up 2022 than with a great gardening competition? Cliftonville in Bloom causes a buzz every year and aims to increase civic pride within the Cliftonville West community. This fun, friendly and free competition is open to all ages, all gardening abilities, businesses as well as residents. So, no matter if you’re new to planting, or you know your petunias from your peonies, we want you to join in and give it a grow. Together we can all help to make the local environment brighter, greener, and cleaner for everyone to live, work and play. After last year’s terrific response to the first ever people’s vote, GRASS is thrilled to announce that the Best Community Garden will be joined by the Best Commercial Display so that the winner of this category will also be chosen by members of the public as part of an online poll at the GRASS website. To enter the competition, or to nominate a garden for the people’s vote, please come to our launch event at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns on Sunday 17th April, or complete the online form by scanning the QR code above with your mobile phone or tablet.
Written by Jan Ryan, co-director at Cliftonville Cultural Space. Cliftonville Cultural Space will soon be moving into the former Margate synagogue on Albion Road and local people will be able to visit the building and hear more about our plans. In the meantime, we are embarking on Cliftonville Voices – an oral history project and exhibition which will document the way in which Cliftonville has changed over the past century, and how the diversity of its residents is what makes Northdown Road and the surrounding streets Thanet’s most vibrant and multicultural neighbourhood. We will be meeting with residents throughout late Spring and early Summer, recording people’s thoughts and memories about what makes this part of Margate so special. The exhibition, which is being designed by former Margate resident, Arnold Schwartzman, will at the former synagogue in the Autumn, as well as online. We would love you to be part of this project, whether you have lived in Cliftonville all your life, or moved here more recently. So, if you have a story to share with us, photos of Cliftonville past or present, would like to volunteer as either an interviewer or to help collating archives in collaboration with the Margate Museum, we want to hear from you. We will also be looking to appoint transcribers and translators, so please get in touch with Jan Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org to find our more.
THE BIG GRASS MEETING
The GRASS Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a wonderful opportunity for our community group volunteers to get together and share news from the past twelve months. This year we will be holding the AGM at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns on Thursday 12th May, 6pm-8pm. The Gordon Road Area Street Scheme (GRASS) is looking for self-motivated people to sit on our committee and share responsibility for oversight and strategic decision making at our popular community group. To be elected to the GRASS Committee you must live on one of the streets in the street scheme area: Gordon Road, St. Paul’s Road, Sweyn Road, Percy Road, Edgar Road, Stanley Road, Cliftonville Mews, Ethelbert Crescent (between Sweyn & Edgar). Don’t fancy being on the committee, then why not become a GRASS member instead? Membership of GRASS is a meaningful way of having a say on issues that affect our area. We talk to our members to gather their views on what matters most to them about living in Cliftonville and try to use those opinions to guide the community work GRASS does. Membership is open to all Margate residents who are over 16 years of age and who are interested in the improvement of the area, regardless of nationality, race, ability, marital status, sexuality, gender, or religious or political beliefs. Membership of the Gordon Road Area Street Scheme is FREE, and you can be involved as much, or as little, as you like. Member benefits include regular social events so you can meet your neighbours, priority tickets to GRASS events, a prize draw at the AGM, and competitions.
OVAL IS SHAPING UP
THE OVAL COFFEE KIOSK
A new local community cafe, The Oval Kiosk, opened for business on 4th December 2021. This exciting new community venture will breathe new life into The Oval site. The Kiosk was opened with local Cliftonville councillors and Margate Mayor Mick Tomlinson in attendance at the Cliftonville Christmas Festival. The Oval Kiosk will have a strong focus on sustainability – from saving coffee grounds and composting food waste, to using biodegradable packaging. Local people are encouraged to bring their own takeaway containers and coffee cups to minimise unnecessary waste. The new opening of the Kiosk is further evidence of GRASS Cliftonville CIC ongoing commitment to regeneration in Cliftonville. Cllr Lesley Game, Chairman of Kent County Council, said, “I am very pleased that The Oval Kiosk has opened. This is a project that will benefit the local community immensely and I know that everyone at GRASS has worked so hard to make this project happen. It will be a wonderful addition to the local community, and I would encourage everyone to visit and support The Oval Bandstand.” Stephen Darrer from GRASS Cliftonville CIC said, “The Oval Kiosk will celebrate the diverse and vibrant cultures of Cliftonville. Locals and visitors can expect simple snacks and Kent ice-creams, alongside high-quality barista-made coffee. All ingredients will be well sourced, and we aspire to use local, organic and Fairtrade wherever we can.” On the last Monday of each month, we hold our community coffee day from 10am to 3pm. This regular event has been bringing the whole community out to chat at The Oval Kiosk, and with all hot drinks priced at £1, you could also grab yourself a bargain. The Oval Kiosk’s winter opening hours are Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm. Longer opening hours will be announced in the run up to the start of our summer season. For more information on The Oval Kiosk please scan the QR code above with your mobile phone or visit theovalbandstand.co.uk/the-oval-kiosk.
A NEW WELLNESS GARDEN
The goal of The Oval’s Wellness Garden will be to foster the physical, mental, and spiritual restoration of local people and visitors by providing a series of garden spaces connected by paths to create a tranquil and sheltered environment. The garden will be seen from private residential properties that overlook The Oval and will offer respite for many residents who do not have access to outdoor space.We hope The Oval Wellness Garden will have many special features to ensure it is a vibrant and engaging ‘Garden of the Senses’, including: Winding pathways to create a sense of discovery, Bird friendly water features, Bug and bee hotels, Grow yourself modules, Seating to enjoy the surroundings, Meditation areas Mirrors and lighting to elevate the scene, and Scented flowers. The proposed ‘Grow Yourself’ modules will create mini gardens that can be maintained by individuals and groups and are one of the main features of the site. Because The Oval is a large site, the modules are an important part of how the different areas and spaces will be created. These modules will be very colourful, and some will be used as benches and seats. GRASS is developing proposals for an outdoor gym area within the wellness garden. If funding is secured this project will not only enhance the excellent green spaces at The Oval but will also make sure there are no barriers to being able to enjoy regular exercise and stay healthy with the introduction of our fully interactive gym equipment. We are currently asking for your comments and suggestions for The Oval’s Wellness Garden, if you would like to have you say please scan the QR code above or visit grasscliftonville.org.
MARGATE TOWN DEAL
Together with stakeholders from other Coastal Wellbeing projects, the folks from GRASS attended the Margate Town Deal (MTD) community exhibition held at Turner Contemporary on Saturday 26th February. After several years of virtual meetings for our community engagement, it was great to finally talk to local people in person and show off our initial concept sketches for the regeneration of The Oval Bandstand & Lawns. We received loads of valuable feedback from visitors, as well as some excellent ideas to incorporate into our designs. The aim of GRASS Cliftonville CIC’s project, which is part of the wider MTD Coastal Wellbeing initiative, is to regenerate The Oval Bandstand & Lawns and bring the local community together through events and other social activities. The plans include the construction of a new pavilion to include a community cafe that offers training and employment opportunities, and a multi-purpose community room to be used by local people. There will also be toilet facilities, which is essential for beach users at Walpole Bay and visitors enjoying the popular Viking Coastal Trail. We recently received some encouraging news from the MTD Project Team at Thanet District Council (TDC), who have confirmed we may soon be able to access the early development funding that was allocated to our project by government in October 2021. Once we receive the funding from TDC, we will be able to appoint an architect and begin the design development process, which will include further community engagement to ensure the proposals meet the needs of residents and visitors, whilst also ensuring The Oval Bandstand & Lawns is self-sustaining so it can continue to be an essential part of popular culture in Cliftonville for years to come. We expect the design process to take around six months, and then we will be able to submit a planning application, which will likely take another four months to approve. To make sure The Oval does not miss a summer season we intend to undertake the build over the winter, from September to March, so whether that is winter 2022 or winter 2023 will depend on how quickly we are able to conclude the design development process, mobilise the project delivery team, and procure the construction materials (this is particularly challenging due to ongoing supply chain issues and cost increases). Now that The Oval’s regeneration project is gaining momentum, we will of course continue to keep the community informed of our plans and will ensure residents are invited to contribute throughout the design development process. We have designated a notice board at the new GRASS WORKS Community Space to display all the current design work and this will be regularly updated, so please do pay us a visit at The Oval to view the latest information (or pick up a paper copy of GRASS ROOTS). For further details on all the Margate Town Deal projects please visit Thanet District Council’s website by scanning the QR code above with your mobile phone.
Due to the exceptionally dry winter, our team based at The Oval have been able to make great progress preparing the site for what promises to be a bumper season of summer events. Since the last newsletter we have installed three new dog waste bins which GRASS will empty and maintain for residents; we have installed four new bike stands and we are currently raising funds to install a community bike pump; we have installed several new accessibility ramps so that people who are less mobile can easily access the toilets and the kiosk from within the amphitheatre; we have installed several new flowerbeds and we have also installed seventeen new trough planters which will bring lots of floral summer colour to the coastline, as well as providing a space to put helpful signage for visitors. Our next project is to renovate the bandstand structure, which is in desperate need of a new coat of paint. It’s quite a big job to strip all the loose paint and treat the white rust, but hopefully we will have this final Crowdfunder project completed soon. As previously mentioned, we are thrilled to exclusively reveal in GRASS ROOTS that we will be creating a new community space and HQ for GRASS at The Oval. GRASS WORKS will be located in the old storeroom area in the toilet block and will be bookable via our website later this year. We are also making much needed improvements to the toilet facilities so that they are in perfect working order for the 2021 summer season. The toilets have not been open to the public for well over a decade, so it is brilliant news that the GRASS community group is committed to reopening them for everyone to use. Whilst we undertake the essential renovation works to the main toilets, the accessible toilet will be available to use when The Oval Kiosk is open. For updates on kiosk and toilet opening times please follow our socials @theovalct9
A VERY SERIOUS MATTER
GRASS has a policy of positive engagement, which means we don’t post on social media in a negative way, and we tend to only write in our newsletter about good news stories for our area. We love living in Cliftonville and we feel it deserves to be talked about positively, so it is with great sadness that we must now break this golden rule. Since The Oval was transferred to GRASS in July 2021 our staff and volunteers have been subjected to a sustained and coordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation. This has included an avalanche of derogatory and slanderous social media posts, homophobic voicemails, intimidating emails & letters, and all sorts of in-person abuse at The Oval whilst our team members have been on-site making improvements and delivering community events. As you can imagine it is the in-person abuse that has proven to be the most disturbing to our team and following a sustained campaign of harassment by several individuals, we decided to report all the incidents we have recorded to the police, who have taken our complaint extremely seriously and are now supporting us to ensure this unacceptable behaviour stops. GRASS is a community organisation, it has been around for 19 years and only exists to help make life better for residents living in Cliftonville West, one of the most socially deprived areas in the UK. Despite the abuse we have received from a small minority of people, we are more determined than ever to make Cliftonville a better place to live, work and play by continuing our important work here at our new home at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns.
SPRING INTO SUMMER AT THE OVAL
Easter Bonnet Parade – You’ve got between now and Easter Sunday on 17th April 2022 to create a beautiful headpiece worthy of winning the GRASS Cliftonville Easter bonnet competition! This is the perfect opportunity for the kids to be creative, so grab the glue and get making! The competition is for all children aged between 3–8 years on Easter Sunday. The winner of the Best Bonnet competition will receive a fantastic Easter Egg Surprise and our judges will award prizes for the most creative bonnets in the various age categories.
Cliftonville Dog Show Easter Edition – This fun and fabulous dog show with categories ranging from Best Easter Bonnet (to be worn by your dog, although if the owner also wears one that’s a bonus) to the Waggiest Tail, every dog is welcome – big, small, pedigree, mutt, young or old – it’s a celebration of Cliftonville’s diverse canine world! Best in Show is open to all first prize rosette winners of the following categories: Best Easter Bonnet, Waggiest Tail, Best Trick, Best Rescue Dog, Best Behaved, Best Dressed, and Fastest Dog. Start time is 1pm so please arrive early to register. Entry fee is £1 per dog and all money raised on the day will be donated to a local canine charity. So why not bring along your pampered pooch, join in the fun and WIN some prizes!
Platinum Jubilee & Cliftonville Bake-off – The celebrations take place over the June bank holiday weekend and include a ‘Queen’ themed outdoor cinema screening, live music at the bandstand, and a big community picnic on the lawns with fairground rides and activities for the whole family.
GRASS Community Coffee Day – This takes place on the last Monday of each month, with all hot drinks reduced to £1, so why not pop along for a bargain beverage and have a chat with the folks from GRASS to find out what’s happening at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns.
Cliftonville Outdoor Cinema – The Oval once again brings the Cliftonville community together to eat popcorn & hot dogs, and to enjoy the unique atmosphere of an outdoor cinematic experience! This summer there will be FIVE outdoor movies shown on our large screen.
MARCH 26 As part of the Festival of Cats there’s a Cat Mask Marbling Workshop for kids at The Oval
MARCH 28 GRASS Community Coffee Day, all hot drinks £1 at The Oval Kiosk!
APRIL 6 The Oval Gardening Club, volunteers welcome every Wednesday, 10am to 2pm at The Oval Lawns.
April 17 Easter Bonnet Parade, Cliftonville in Bloom Launch Day and Cliftonville Dog Show at The Oval Lawns
MAY 7 Cliftonville Outdoor Cinema: Pretty Woman
JUNE 4 & 5 Platinum Jubilee Celebrations & Cliftonville Bake-off competition
WE WOULD LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK
To find out more about our activities please visit grasscliftonville.orgor follow our socials @GRASSct9 or email us at email@example.com
GRASS ROOTS is put together by our volunteers and funded entirely by the GRASS Cliftonville community group. Donations are always welcome, please head to our web page grasscliftonville.org to find out more.