The little green book produced by young people who took part in a recent environmental arts project in the east end of Glasgow speaks volumes about their vision for the future.

When asked to “imagine a city”, the teenagers – all participants in the Impact Arts Creative Pathways course – focused broadly on the same things, from clean air and green spaces to sustainability and low crime. (Cute dogs and football also got a mention.)

It is testament to the success of the programme – which works with young people not currently in employment, education or training – that environmental issues were high on the agenda by the end of the block.

HeraldScotland: The garden gave the youngsters a focus for environmental awareness. Photograph by Kirsty Anderson.The garden gave the youngsters a focus for environmental awareness. Photograph by Kirsty Anderson.

Artist Allan Whyte explains: “The young people in our groups often come from difficult circumstances and the challenges they face mean that other things matter more to them. The environment is low down on their list of priorities. “That is partly due to the way environmental issues are talked about in schools and in communities – they are simply not given the space they should have, when they underpin everything we do, from the air we breathe to the water we drink.”

He adds: “But by the end of the project, they are much more aware of the environmental issues which impact upon their communities and of what they need to do as individuals, and collectively, to protect their futures.”

Allan and fellow artist Mina Heydari- Waite worked with the 16 and 17-yearolds over 12 weeks, teaching artistic techniques while exploring environmental issues and devising ways of promoting green messages in their communities.

Creative Pathways: Environmental Design is Impact Arts’ flagship employability project, with the aim of getting young people into employment or further education with a specific focus on environmental issues.


Over the past three years, the organisation has delivered 21 Our Bright Future projects – a National Lotteryfunded initiative which supports young people to lead change in their communities – with an environmental focus, including everything from upcycling and environmental art to recycling and biodiversity.

Ten green sites have been transformed into accessible, biodiverse and educational community spaces, with another five to be completed by 2020; and more than 1000kg of timber has been diverted from landfill.

Almost 300 young people across North Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and Edinburgh have been involved, learning new skills and gaining qualifications. Of the young people involved in the latest project in Glasgow’s east end, some have got places at college, one has an internship lined up and another is staying on with Impact Arts.

“The transformation in these young people over the 12 weeks, in terms of their confidence and mental health is tremendous,” explains Allan. “We ran workshops in screen-printing, natural dyes, paper collage and pinhole camera photography and discussed environmental issues locally – identifying problems such as pollution, litter, vandalism and overcrowded public transport. “From that, they came up with the idea of building a community pizza oven in Kinning Park’s Pacitti Garden and designing a community toolkit that can be used by others the world over.”

The team were donated an environmentally - friendly portable pizza oven by Edinburgh-based company Ooni, which they used to practise their pizza-making skills.

HeraldScotland: Kinning Park’s Pacitti GardenKinning Park’s Pacitti Garden

They also struck up a friendly relationship with the Zero Waste Market in Dennistoun, which has donated package- free vegetables and oil, and recently held the first “pizza party” for local residents at the unveiling of the finished oven, and more than 100 people came along to celebrate.

“By using recycled and recovered materials to build the pizza oven, they created something that will last, and be a real community benefit, long after the project has finished,” adds Allan. “Talk about carbon emissions and behavioural change is not immediate for many young people – doing a project like this in a community garden, which has a direct connection to the local environment makes it much more tangible for them.”


Other Creative Pathways programmes have focused on community events, such as the group in Barrhead, which used a fun day at Dunterlie Community Centre to showcase the creative environmental activism they had been involved in since January. The group led workshops on how to make bird feeders from plastic bottles and gathered feedback from the community on designs to transform the shutter areas at the Centre.

In Ayrshire, the team worked with Glasgow Wood Recycling to prevent waste wood from going to landfill, transforming it instead into high quality furniture.

The young people built a bench and birdboxes for the local care home.

A Riso-print (an environmentally friendly, low cost printing process) book entitled Picture a Place is also on its way to local libraries and community groups.

“It’s part-instruction manual, part-manifesto,” says Allan. “It includes practical information – such as how to build your own pizza oven – but also a snapshot of these young people’s vision for what their city could be like and should be like in the future.”

He adds: “The theme is sustainability. We don’t want to create resources or artworks that are then chucked away at the end of each project. We want them to become community resources which can then be replicated by others trying to live as sustainably as possible.”


The Herald’s Climate for Change initiative supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government with key organisations and campaign partners. Throughout the year we will provide a forum in The Herald newspaper, online at and in Business HQ magazine, covering news and significant developments in this increasingly crucial area.

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