Founder of GuerrillaGardening.org
Elephant & Castle, London SE1
"The biggest obstacle to us living more sustainability in London is a fear of personal cost. Our challenge is to make sustainable behaviour obviously good to each of us, even if sometimes it does not appear to be obviously expedient."
The vision is that residents in London should feel empowered to make their streets more beautiful with plants. It’s innovative because (1) it’s shifting the perception of power from authorities to local residents (2) inspired by the success of guerrilla gardeners who have done this already.
Why is sustainable development important to you?
It is worth trying to make the world, "a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race".
What does being a London Leader mean to you?
For six years Richard has been using London as a leading example of a place where sustainable direct action is appealing and successful. In the media, in presentations and in exhibitions around the world he has held up London as a place where there is a population that is both environmentally conscious and positively deviant and authorities are largely passive in response. What is happening in London is inspiring people elsewhere to do the same. Richard has been a leading Londoner for a while, (the New York Times magazine described him "a public intellectual") but as an official London Leader he is experimenting with what can be achieved to encourage sustainable behaviour in London and beyond by working with his local authorities rather than around them.
Richard began guerrilla gardening in 2004 - that is he started cultivating the neglected public flowerbeds and roadside verges in his South London neighbourhood. His focus is on enriching neglected public land with more uplifting and bio-diverse habits and encouraging more people to do the same near where they live in a way that is environmentally and socially positive. Richard is now one of thousands of guerrilla gardeners around the world and a face within a loose movement he has done a lot to inspire through his website GuerrillaGardening.org (http://www.guerrillagardening.org), book "On Guerrilla Gardening" (http://www.onguerrillagardening.com), TV appearances, contributions to exhibitions and presentations. Richard has a gardening qualification from the Royal Horticultural Society and geography degree from Oxford University. He has gardened since his childhood in Devon, was Head Gardener at Exeter Cathedral School and his first paid job was weeding an organic strawberry farm. He is a patron of Diggin It (http://www.diggin-it.org), an organic gardening project in Plymouth, Devon.
Richard's is an account planner and has worked in London advertising agencies for the last twelve years developing campaigns for household brands, government departments and charities. He now works part time and uses both this income and his experience to grow the guerrilla gardening movement. In the last year he has also led British Council workshops training campaign groups and businesses in strategies to persuade people to behave more sustainably. He believes the key to our future is in presenting sustainable behaviour as attractive to people now - but this simple aim requires innovative communication strategies.