It's usually gardening I turn to for transforming neglected vulnerable spaces, and I go about doing it as a guerrilla, without asking. But in recent months I've turned to showing some love for the much maligned and deeply unfashionable pedestrian subways in my neighbourhood by creating Save Our Subways - it's a place for pedestrians not plants.
Elephant and Castle is perhaps nearly as famous for this subterranean labyrinth as it is for the big ugly shopping centre. But despite their terribly confusing and woefully incorrect signage the subways are both very busy and very convenient for traversing the multiple lanes of central London traffic. Yet these subways seemed doomed in their entirety for demolition by Transport for London and Southwark Council and instead pedestrians will be forced to wait at surface level for lights to briefly pause the traffic and let them cross.
If the subways are to be saved and pedestrian flow to remain safe and fast then we'll need people power to convince the planners that this exclusive pedestrian space needs improving not destroying.
#wewillgather has helped me find a new core bunch of subway supporters who were not just prepared to sign the petition but to put some elbow grease into cleaning them up. We gathered on a Saturday afternoon for an hour and a half to sponge down the grime and repaint some of the grot. We have tried to wash away some of the visual and nasal revulsion this place creates to change perceptions and win a few more fans.
As you can see from Mike's photo our work certainly brought a few smiles and some bemusement to passers by. Thanks to Rebecca, David, Katia, Martha and Mike for taking part, and to #wewillgather for their support. The campaigning continues at SaveOurSubways.org