Doodle Day dawned grey and overcast. With a stiff breeze that threatened to take the edge of our first major public event, reports Chris Connelley.
In fact, the kind of morning all activity organisers dread, playing to our manifest insecurities and conjuring up images of empty spaces, pristine materials and buffet spreads untroubled by inquisitive snackers.
Ominously, Silchester Road stretched silent and empty as I arrived to set up at 9.30, with barely a soul out walking the dog or heading out for milk and the morning papers.
By 10 o’clock, there were more signs of life and a glimpse of the sun. A positive omen perhaps and a sign that all was not lost.
A couple of passing references along the lines of “is today the day?” and “what time does it start?” prompted a markedly more chipper mood, whilst reinforcing the top job done by the small group of willing volunteers who had doled out our flyers earlier in the week.
The team gradually assembled. Our curator, local artist Leroy Henry, turned up lab coated and focused on the 3D boxes that would underpin our central art table, followed by lead collaborator Tara Reddy, community links worker with Southdown Housing Association, armed with an Ercol sewing box pregnant with loads of arty kit and escorted by our Town Crier for the day, Muffin, resplendent in a hand crafted costume accessorised with his all-important bell.
With refreshments on the go (with 7 Streeter baker Eileen’s home-made biscuits and hummity pies occupying prime display space) and the brightly coloured bunting transforming a by now sunny streetscape into a carnival scene, we were ready to receive our first guests.
And, from the steady trickle of earlybirds at 11, sipping tea and popping up Day-Glo stickies on our Wall of Good Ideas, there was no looking back.
Our HQ, the Community Information Centre began to fill out, with all the seats at the table occupied, and standing room only as people spilled out on to the streets, taking our art theme outdoors as the pavement became an impromptu gallery space for a dazzling array of chalky doodles.
The public nature of which attracted yet more attention and even more participants, representing all sections of our global village as residents young and old, well-established and very new, got down to some serious chat whilst making good use of the crayons and pencils, 3D boxes and marker pens to make their mark, offer good ideas and provide contact details.
Amongst the ideas that really grabbed our Doodlers attention were our clean-up and guerilla gardening team, with main man Kevin Lewis on hand to showcase his recent work sprucing up of public space on Pevensey Road; a homework club, a walking group and an art club, already refined to take on board creating a big festive project that will offer 7 Streeters something amazing in time for Christmas.
To get the fullest sense of the glorious spread of ideas, why not pop into the shop on any Thursday to see our various displays. And, as importantly, to add your thoughts if you did not make it on the day.
So, as we said on our immediate Facebook post, you came, you saw and you doodled. And the 7 Streets shone and rocked on this, our launch weekender.
Doodle Day: A first outing but definitely not our last.
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