Friends of City Park volunteer Steven Bland reflects on his relationship to City Park and a recent talk he gave to Peponi Preparatory School (February 27th), Nairobi.
The lungs of this great city are it’s green spaces. The Arboretum, Karura forest, and City Park are vital parts of it’s infrastructure; just like roads, houses and water pipes.
I am deeply interested in the incalculable benefit of urban green spaces on human health and wellbeing. I work professionally on issues like air pollution and experienced a recent episode of chronic fatigue that lasted almost a year. When I visit green spaces, I am acutely aware of the sense of serenity and calm that arises.
My partner and I moved here in September 2017. The first thing we did was to get on our feet and explore the city. We quickly escaped to City Park, just a stone’s throw from our flat. Having walked around it, seen its potential and in some places, its drastic need for improvement, we knew we wanted to allocate some of our precious time to ensuring this Park is improved and maintained for the long-term.
What I especially love about City Park is its accessibility: anyone who claims that protecting green spaces in cities is an elitist project for those who have already met their basic meets, will be challenged by a visit to the Park. It is used by people from a wide variety of incomes and backgrounds. If made accessible and encouraged, our human connection to nature is universal; it does not know class boundaries.
So, earlier in the year, I visited the enthusiastic young children of Peponi Preparatory School. This school provides an annual donation to Friends of City Park and so is a vital part of the Park’s story.
During the one hour with the kids, I talked to them about an adventure I went on in 2016 called MoJo Velo. Two friends and I cycled 8000km from Cape Town to Nairobi, making short films on inspiring “sustainability heroes” we met along the way; ordinary people who were doing extraordinary things for their communities and the planet.
My messages to the kids was clear: you all have the potential to be sustainability heroes, just like the people that feature in our films. By thinking about where your waste goes, by noticing the trees you pass every day, to asking questions of adults about the green spaces (or lack of) available for you to play in, you can be the change agents of tomorrow.
I guess that’s true of all of us; whether we are 8 or 80.
-by Steven Bland