On a little rooftop in the heart of Manchester, something exciting is happening. Disparate communities, local ambassadors, social innovators and creative businesses have come together to create a special garden. A garden made as much from curiosity and socially-led design thinking as it is chocolate spearmint, strawberries and rhubarb.
The rooftop is a place for play and curiosity, a place of calm in a bustling metropolis, a place to meet friends and make new ones, a place to do some good and strengthen a community.
Luckily for us, this is our rooftop and a community we're proud to be a part of!
The Rooftop Project began back in October 2014, thanks to Becca (The Curiosity Bureau), Beth (A New Leaf), Atul (Sheila Bird) and the generosity of our landlords, who have gifted the space for this community project. Collectively they have a passion for our city, its neighbourhoods, and the people who live there. What began as an idea to transform disused urban spaces into places with purpose and value for the city, soon turned into a living project that sparked curiosity, conversation and active collaboration amongst local residents right from the off.
Early discussions formed around questions like: what do rooftops make people think or dream of? What could rooftops make possible for people in the city? How could a rooftop be transformed into a useful space; different, functional, exciting? What emerged was a mass-collaborative effort, that earlier this year saw the rooftop launch with our very first event as part of The Ladies Room, hosted by Skyliner and The National Trust.
Key to the whole project is being social at heart. The northern quarter has enough new bars, restaurants and event venues to shake a daffodil at (yes, we've got those too!), so this isn't a commercial venture. Rather, the rooftop is an inclusive, publicly accessible space aimed at connecting local communities through a year long programme of activities, from greening groups to action days, art events to film screenings. Collectively we want this space to do good for the city and bring real value to our neighbours.
Through the hard work and generosity of everyone collaborating on the Rooftop Project*, the rooftop garden has blossomed into a fruitful social space for the tenants at 24 Lever Street (our home), and a place that is inviting increasing curiosity from local communities. Already we are growing conversations with UpRising, Open Cinema, Manchester School of Art and many more. This is just the beginning, and we can't wait to see where the rooftop goes this summer.
Be sure to follow #RooftopProject on Twitter for all the latest news and for ideas about how you can get involved.
*It is with a special thanks to the following partners who have contributed materials, equipment, funding and handiwork that The Rooftop Project is now ready to realise its potential: Sterling Developments, Broompark Management, Fred Aldous, Howarth Timber, Bob & Andrew Jeffay, Lancashire Construction, Sutton Cranes, BJP Construction, The National Trust, Hulme Community Garden Centre, Brentwood Moss Nurseries, Manchester City Council, ArtBox HQ, Urban Planters, Tiger Turf.