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The Community Brain's 12 Days of Christmas - Full Version

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

Wow! What a fantastic year we've had. So, in the run-up to the New Year, we thought we’d share some of our highlights using a familiar festive tune.

If you would like to learn more about what we do and how you can get involved with any of our projects and events in 2023, we’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, altogether now:

"On the first day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: A Ukrainian-inspired tapestry."

Over the last few months, volunteers from Kingston’s Polish and Ukrainian communities have been busy each week at Baking Ideas, our space at Tolworth Station, stitching and sewing to create a tapestry/embroidery inspired by the work of Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenko.

Sadly, much of the artist’s original work was destroyed by Russia during the early stage of the invasion.

"On the second day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Two gigs at Tolworth"

In February, we transformed Tolworth Station forecourt into a venue for a mini music festival to celebrate 50 years since David Bowie’s first performance as Ziggy Stardust at the nearby Toby Jug Pub - just a stone's throw from Tolworth Station.

Then in April, we did it all again! This time local band The Reptiles took to the stage, followed by an open-air screening of the original Jurassic Park movie, as part of Triassic Tolworth and our International Dinosaur Month celebrations.

These events were also celebrated by the addition of two new murals in the Tolworth Island pedestrian underpass, more on these later 😉

In April, we'll be celebrating International Dinosaur Month once again. If you'd like to get involved or find out more, please get in touch.

That's it for today, be sure to check back soon for more...

"On the third day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Three Swap Shops..."

Launched in October, we've now run three Broadway Bar Bazaar and Swap Shop events in Tolworth. These events create opportunities for people to buy from local traders and craftspeople while supporting the circular economy by encouraging visitors to recirculate unwanted clothes (you can swap up to 8 items). This also cuts landfill waste and gives swappers a chance to bag bargain fashion! Plus, it's free entry. 😀

We're planning our next Broadway Bar Bazaar and Swap Shop for early February. If you're a local business, craftsperson or artist and you'd like a stall, please get in touch.

"On the fourth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: four cracking compositions..."

Brr…it's chilly here! So, for day four, let’s cast our minds back to the warmth of late spring / early summer.

Back then, three adult composers and a group of local schoolchildren were busy creating four pieces of original music to feature in a soundscape for our Symphony of the Wild Garden, exhibited at this year’s Hampton Court Garden Festival.

The compositions were extra special because – like our garden – they were all inspired by the sights and sounds of flora and fauna at Tolworth Court Farm Fields – Kingston’s largest nature reserve. Our composers were all at different levels. They included: Jon Shave, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and composer; Samuel Robinson, a singer/songwriter and music student at Kingston University; Marion Bore, an amateur composer and Community Brain volunteer; and Year Five students from OLI School Tolworth.

As part of the wider garden project, we gave young people from OLI an opportunity to team up with not-for-profit Conductive Music to learn how to build recording devices in sessions at Baking Ideas, at Tolworth Station. The children used the devices to capture the sounds of the nature reserve and their reactions to visiting the local green space for the first time.

Back in their classroom, they created musical instruments by combining vegetables with digital technology! Finally, we were thrilled to invite them to visit the finished garden and play an impromptu jam session for the media and special guests, top chef Raymond Blanc and comedian Tom Allen. You can find all four of our cracking compositions on our Soundcloud page:

"On the fifth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Five days at Hampton Court!..."

Sticking with The Symphony of the Wild, we’re taking a closer look at what it took to get our garden ready for the five days it was on show to the public. With a striking 4m tall violin centrepiece, our garden was designed by Robin Hutchinson and Georgia Neesham.

Getting the garden ready for the exhibition and replanting it back at Tolworth Station was a major logistical operation. Thankfully, we had a magnificent team of green-fingered volunteers who helped to plant and tender the plants, arrange the instruments and keep the meadowland grasses watered and looking their best for the show. We also partnered with the fantastic 1-2-1 Collective team, who engineered and built the giant violin and plinths to display the instruments. Throughout the show, we chatted a lot with visitors about music, green spaces for mental health and, of course, Tolworth Court Farm Fields nature reserve which had inspired the design. After the festival, our army of volunteers reassembled to painstakingly lift and transport the instruments, flowers and grasses back to Tolworth Station, where they were replanted and can be enjoyed today.

We have a range of outdoor, environmental and/or gardening projects, including our ongoing work to transformation the rear of Baking Ideas at Tolworth Station into a large community garden and wildlife space and future Hampton Court projects. If you enjoy the outdoors and would like to help with any of these – either as an individual or as team from a business -- we’d love to hear from you.

"On the sixth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Six Seething celebrations..."

After a two-year COVID hiatus, our programme of unique activities was back to full strength, with six family-friendly fun events taking place in Surbiton this year.

These included: 1) The Seething Freshwater Sardine Festival

2) Seething Village Fete

3) Seething Sports Day 4) International Bread Golf Championships 5) Ski Sunday

6) King’s Soup.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped with or took part in these events.

"On the seventh day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Six Seething celebrations..."

This year we commissioned two more marvellous murals to brighten the walls of the Tolworth Island pedestrian subways and take our total mural count to seven! 😀

In February, as part of Ziggy Stardust celebrations, a massive new street art mural was created in the entrance to the subway leading to Tolworth Station, in front of Charrington Bowl. This impressive design features a large portrait of Bowie on one side, while the other takes inspiration from other well-known artists and bands who also started their careers at the former Toby Jug pub.

This year's second street art mural has transformed the pedestrian subway leading to Barnsby Road into a prehistoric immersive visual feast. Titled ‘Triassic Tolworth Aquarium’, our aquatic dinosaur design covers both walls and the ceiling to give the feeling of being in a tunnel at an aquarium or sea life centre.

"On the eighth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Eight bakers baking..."

Today we have eight bakers with fresh bread rolls that they haven’t managed to sell 👨‍🍳. However, rather than throw away good food, they’ve instead donated the rolls to the Surbiton Community Fridge!

We’ve teamed up with fellow not-for-profits, The Migrant Advocacy Service, Angels of the Hood and New Era, to transform the Museum of Today (115 Brighton Rd, Surbiton, KT6 5PR) into The Surbiton Community Fridge food bank.

The project aims to make quality surplus food available free of charge to reduce food waste and make life better for anyone struggling with the cost of living – especially at Christmas.

Everyone is invited to come along and collect good food that otherwise would be thrown away. The Community Fridge is open Sunday to Friday from 10am to 2pm – it’s closed on Saturdays. Just pop in and see the volunteers who will help you select items. Please bring a reusable carrier bag.

Visit the Surbiton Community Fridge group page to keep updated with news and the latest opening times.

"On the ninth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Nine planters planting..."

t’s day nine, and today we’re recognising the volunteers who helped to maintain and prepare the raised flower beds in Tolworth Broadway.

Throughout 2022 volunteers have helped us to keep the raised flower beds along the Tolworth Broadway shopping area in tip-top condition by removing litter, weeding, replacing the topsoil and planting flowers and shrubs.

Today the beds may look a bit bare, but beneath the soil on Tolworth Broadway and around the station, more than 600 bulbs are waiting to emerge. We can’t wait to see what this will look like in spring when they will be in full bloom!

"On the tenth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Ten painters painting..."

Today we're bringing you ten painters painting 🖌🎨 , specifically the local amateur artists who took part in our ‘Paint Your Town’ event back in August.

Supported by CASS Art and RBK Council, this event provided anyone who wanted to take part a chance to borrow some acrylic paints, art equipment and an easel and challenged them to produce a piece of artwork on canvas inspired by Kingston.

Each artist was then invited to exhibit their work at a special event to mark the opening of The Cloisters. This is the title of the new wooden covered space we created with The 121 Collective on a piece of unused land next to Kingston Museum, off Wheatfield Way.

"On the eleventh day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Eleven course collaborations..."

We were thrilled to have partnered with tutors, undergraduates and postgraduate students from eleven different courses and disciplines this year. These included: architecture, graphics, illustration, digital media technology, interior design, and project management, to name a few.

Our collaborations with Kingston Uni are a great way for students to hone their skills on real-world projects while forming a deeper connection with the people, places and heritage of their study location. Over the past year, we’ve loved seeing their fresh perspectives, creativity and energy to the different assignments we’ve set, and we’re excited to work with more students next year. 😀

"On the twelfth day of Christmas, The Community Brain gave to me: Twelve hens pecking!"

Today we’re celebrating the unsung Community Brain team members - like our 12 hens 🐔 who live at the Tolworth allotments. We also have a beehive! Our bees do their bit for the community by pollinating flowers up to 2 miles from their hive - who knows; they might have even visited flowers in your garden or window box. You can tell they're our bees because if you look really closely 🔎, you'll see they’re wearing tiny reflective jackets with our logo!


We hope our 12 days of Christmas posts have given you a snapshot of some of the things we got up to in 2022. Please like and follow to hear about our upcoming events and other ways to get involved in 2023.


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