The descriptions were read out and willing, suitable candidates selected. Gnomes looked after greenery and recycling, the Messenger would register and document things and tell others about what was happening… wait, that was me! I volunteered to be the Messenger. I had already been one and didn’t know it.
Amina from our group came to me with spectacular news: after we’d spread the word that we were looking for a piano, she had actually found a lady called Karen via Gumtree who just happened to have a piano languishing in her shed and was willing to donate it!
When the piano arrived, Hilton, whose wish it had been to get one, immediately put it to the test. Even out of tune, hearing this young man suddenly turn out a perfect piece of moving classical music in the middle of the chaos that was the project weekend was inspiring. So inspiring, in fact, that I had an idea: what if we could wheel the piano outdoors and film him playing on it, on the streets of Newham?
Amina had an even better idea. Unbeknownst to me, she had worked as a children’s music coach. She wanted to get a group of the local kids together and do something with them. Amina’s choir practice and the kids’ songwriting formed a memorable thread throughout the weekend, and culminated in a one-off live performance that was captured on video at the start of our sixth stage of the Oasis game: the Celebration.
Pizza oven, dance floor, giant mirror, bathtub full of play-sand, a whole new garden area, tables and chairs, lots of colour: the Oasis gamers and the community worked hard for two days and transformed a previously derelict space. Every hour new people drifted in, curious about what was happening. Parts of the community that would never have imagined working together, now did. We had a spread of ages and ethnic backgrounds, and everyone pitched in. Like our feeble attempts at learning a new dance, but really bonding through stumbling along together, the community formed new bonds and connections by pushing to get this project done within the time allocated.