Once a guesthouse for the destitute and vulnerable, Austin Smith House helped many people at various stages throughout their journey of migration and asylum; and it was here that I met some wonderful people, many of whom I am still involved with today. Even though the Passionist operations of ASH in Sparkhill, Birmingham have ended, an authentic legacy of positivity and hope remains.
In November 2021 I had the pleasure to work on a short film and series of images for The Gaia Foundation, an NGO advocating for bio-cultural diversity, regeneration of healthy ecosystems whist working to strengthen community self-governance for climate change resilience. The short film we produced, A Quiet Revolution, was launched late January. It profiles London’s urban seed-savers and the London Freedom Seed Bank, a network of more than 72 growers caring for over 150 seed varieties. It highlights the many benefits of seed-saving in urban environments and the importance of seed diversity and community.
Many of the seed varieties in the London Freedom Seed Bank’s collection are rapidly adapting to London’s unique growing conditions, creating meaningful resilience in unpredictable and challenging times.
Not surprisingly, I witnessed warmth and strength from within the community that offered such optimism in the face of these enormous global challenges. Along with the seed custodians I was equally impressed with the production team assisting on the shoot.
I met Hal and Paul at ASH many years ago, and we have since developed fruitful relationships with one another. Hal is the head of communications at the Gaia Foundation and subsequently secured me the work on A Quiet Revolution. We were introduced via Martin Newell one evening over dinner at ASH, and we remain good friends today.
Paul was a guest at ASH, and over the years has developed a strong interest in film, photography and media. There’s a genuine opportunity for Paul to move into the creative industry when his application for leave to remain is resolved. It was Paul’s first time assisting me on the production of the film, and needless to say he did an incredible job. Without the help and collaboration of both Paul and Hal, along with the wonderful people from the London Seed Network, A Quiet Revolution would not have been possible. I see these connections as deeply meaningful and that’s why I will always think fondly of the friendships made at ASH. ·
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