Oasis to rubbish dump and back again

Some might say we will find a brighter day...

Was Liam and Noel Gallagher's Oasis named after the Swindon leisure centre? Seems to depend on who you ask. What if a band was named after the venue today? "Ladies and gentleman, please welcome on stage, Rundown Craphole!".

Acorn Swindon's Save the Oasis poster, includes water slides.  It reads, 'I won't let this slide!  Take back our Oasis.  I want our public pool back in public hands because..'  The poster has been completed to read, 'I like swimming so much and like underwater pictures'

Back in the 90s, the skate park at the back of the Oasis was a vibrant place to be. Hundreds of people would come out to watch the BMXing each week. 30 years on and it is clear to see the neglect that has turned this space into an eyesore. We first thought about tidying this area after attending an Acorn Swindon demo to restore the leisure centre back to public hands. I know many of the Acorn group well; friends and dedicated activists with whom I have had the pleasure of working over the last few years. Their campaign resonates; community spaces are important for health and nature.

Walking back from the demo, I came past the skate park. There were a few people using the ramps. I was amazed to see the amount of litter on the surrounding grassy area. Did anyone care? Thankfully, yes. I spoke with a few skaters. They told me that the park had been left to ruin for many years and that litter had accumulated in that time. That was clear to see from the broken glass all around, from the plastic bottles and cans strewn over the grassy knoll. The Teletubbies would not be happy. Given Acorn Swindon's efforts to restore this space, it seemed a good idea to compliment that and clean around the Oasis for the start of 2021 for the Keep Swindon Tidy campaign.


Personal and collective

There's a committed group of litter pickers, friends and neighbours from around central south swindon parish, who regularly litter pick. Bless them, all were up for cleaning the land around the Oasis. I was keen to build on the success of Keep Swindon Tidy Day. None of us realised that we would still be cleaning it 2 months later! And we are not the only group that has been litter picking there!! The levels of litter around the site, especially in the bushes has been astonishing, appalling to experience.

I felt shame to be human, to have let our environment get this bad. I have younger family members. That's one of the driving forces for me to keep campaigning even when the pain and despair feel insurmountable. These blogs are intended as a wake up call, a call to action. Litter picking may help but it is not the solution to these problems, it is dealing with symptoms. We need to stop producing such vast amounts of waste, especially plastics and other toxic synthetic chemicals. To carry on producing these substances is to continue polluting our environment and ourselves. With focus on disease, please understand that plastic pollution is already at epidemic proportions of disease and suffering. There is no away with plastic. To deal with the root of these problems, we need to institute a system of zero waste: great for health, the environment and local economies.

Local government
Drinks cans stuffed down the back of a bus stop seat

Due to the lies we have been told about the supposed need for austerity (1 | 2), communities around the country have been suffering. Litter and waste services have been amongst those cut, as council tax continues to rise. The borough council has removed many litter bins from places such as bus stops and outside shops. Waste collections are understaffed and rushed. Litter is not picked up before areas are mowed... All of these aspects increase littering. Thankfully, many of the litter services have recently passed over to the parish councils. It is nice to see some of them installing more bins. Many of them have been actively supporting our campaign through a variety of means: installing signs, facilitating and organising litter picks, contacting schools...


... to the south Swindon litter picking collective for hard work with a smile. Thanks to the parish councils for positive action. Thanks to the council for collecting waste. And thanks to local people who have stopped and talked with us, who care to transform our world. We have received many nice comments and thanks for cleaning this area. It all helps, thank you! Co-operation works.

Part 2
Blog by Ben Bell