The project step by step
We started by recruiting residents in six streets across London - the idea being to record unique local stories drawing on the experiences of the older residents and capturing their memories of a time when street play was an integral part of everyday life. The memories form the 'trove' of treasures which include stories, games, toys and songs.
Step 1 Collecting stories
An oral historian worked with participants in each street to equip them with skills needed to evoke and collect stories by interviewing older residents. You can find out how to carry out an oral history interview here or about more informal group reminiscence sessions here.
Step 2 Taking the stories out to play
The oral historian wrote up what came out of each of the sessions. She then met with the play workers and community artists to share the stories and themes which had emerged in each location. These stories and threads formed the basis for the next stage of the project as they were then re-interpreted and used as ideas for the art and play sessions.
Step 3 Creating art and play sessions that mirror memories
Alex the artist suggests: "‘When reading the notes from the oral history session, notice the games and stories from the past that jump out and sounds fun and interesting to recreate. At this stage it’s useful to have a small team of people bouncing off ideas and preparing the activities for the day, this doesn’t have to take a long time. Sourcing and gathering the materials can be time consuming but with a bit of creativity it doesn’t have to be costly.
Once you are running the play session be open to what excites the children, this is where your preparation and options of activities will come into their own. Try also to engage the adults into play session. My best suggestion is to ‘go wild’ and have lots of fun."
Benefits to the community
The workshops and play sessions were a fun and informal way of encouraging neighbours to get to know one another, and helped to create and enhance intergenerational ties on the street. A stronger sense of community resulted and through considering aspects of their own diverse or collective childhood memories, participants learnt about their own and others' heritage and felt appreciated and valued. Their shared memories received a new relevance as they were able to create their own memory legacy which they gifted to the younger generation.