Curtains were parted. Doors were opened. Dreams were gathered. People who had said they wouldn’t come sneaked in to see what the fuss was about. Once the spark caught, the community woke up and took ownership and they were the ones who made it all happen.
We realised that we were all facilitators and that we were merely nudging things that were already there to wake up and spring into action. Cautious but curious people from all walks of life filled the community meeting room, and started building models of what they would like to create during the coming weekend. Suddenly the whole thing was theirs. Suddenly it was the most natural thing in the world. Suddenly they believed it could happen. There was a palpable shift that night from our hands to theirs. Some of us cried a little. Possibly out of relief.
In many of the locations where the Oasis game has been played, there is a real lack of infrastructure so the projects often focus on creating that, and there usually aren’t many objections from local councils and town planners. But even in England, where people assume that they can’t change their environment because of bureaucracy, those assumptions should be challenged. Once the community is mobilised, it’s surprising what can be done.
The Silvertown community chose to transform a derelict outdoor terrace on the side of the Asta centre. They turned it into a usable, shared area with a dance floor for street dance practice; tables, chairs, a garden and a pizza oven.
One of the talented young men, Hilton, had expressed a very specific wish: to have a piano there. Lotte from our group had popped in her piano-shaped pencil sharpener to decorate one of the models. Since we would have to source all the materials locally and obtain as much as possible through donations and abandoned scrap, a piano seemed a touch too ambitious, but we were all secretly hoping that one would magically appear.
On the morning of the project itself, we were all energised, but also somewhat nervous. How many people would come? What if we couldn’t deliver the dream?
Our roles were assigned. Throughout the week, I’d been broadcasting our activities using the Momentum Project’s social media channels, preparing the presentation to the community and keeping our chaotic notes and flipcharts in some kind of order. When the little cards with descriptions of the roles were taken out on the morning of our first project day, none of us knew which ones we’d adopt yet.