From Dump to Oasis

Some people say there is no community in London. Yet Andy Newman and Barbara Blake joined forces with other residents of North London’s multi-ethnic Harringay Gardens, to improve the neighborhood from the difficult times around the late 1990s, to today. This involved a combination of traffic reduction measures and gardening as a tool for community building.

This community mobilisation in London was an early precursor to neighbourhood interventions to reduce traffic which are now called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or LTNs: these have created a lot of controversy, mainly due to resistance to change and a good dose of conspiracy theories. The truth is that reducing traffic and improving green spaces for all creates a better community and even benefits local businesses (making it more pleasant to walk to local shops, for example, rather than drive to the shopping centre further away). Despite what the naysayers try to argue.

The film was a semi-finalist at the Lulea International Film Festival in Sweden in May 2021. It also received a “Special Mention” at the London X4 Short Film Festival in October 2019 and was part of the official selection for the prestigious Rieti and Sabina Film Festival in Italy (November 2019).

It was previously screened:

The protagonist, my friend Andy Newman, unfortunately passed away after this film was produced, in October 2021, aged only 56. The news have been devastating for us and the community, but we hope the film will at least help to make his achievements better known. An obituary describing Andy’s impressive role as a community leader can be found on The Guardian.

For anyone who wants to know more, and with his family’s permission, here is the whole half hour interview I conducted with Andy for the film, where he outlines in a lot of detail the work the community did over the years.

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