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The Story of the Yard: Building a Community
If you walk to the end of Mina Road in Bristol's inner city district of St Werburghs, you will enter a tunnel with vibrant, graffiti-covered walls, running underneath a wooded railway embankment. Exiting the tunnel, like popping out of Alice's rabbit hole, you will find yourself in a magical wooded valley surrounded by allotments and the earthy smells of goats, sheep and chickens. Following the sounds of clucking and braying you discover a farmyard. Curiouser and curiouser! You notice some very unusual looking houses. Here's a yellow one, here's a red one, and they don't look all the same. With their peaked roofs and wood cladding many look like Swiss chalets. Twenty buildings form a circle around an access road, a large central garden and a semi-circle of sedum-roofed bungalows. Children are playing, birds are singing, and you have to remind yourself that you are still in the middle of a city. You may find one of the residents working in the garden, or taking their rubbish to the recycling area, and they will tell you that these are self-built, sustainable houses, and that the whole development was conceived and managed by the local community, who have, in every sense, created the kind of neighbourhood they want to live in. Many people come to see The Yard, some stumble upon it, some come to study what has been achieved. Carrie Hitchcock is one of the group of people who built their houses here, and she wants to celebrate the achievements, to tell the unique story of how a piece of concrete-covered industrial land became this lush oasis. She tells the stories of the people involved, and passes on what they've learned, how we made it sustainable; environmentally, economically and socially. Carrie Hitchcock completed this book while studying for a Master's Degree in Photojournalism at The University of Westminster.