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Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

What if we made our own park? A coloured ice igloo community park.

I started this project because I wanted to see neighbours build something together.

I wanted to see something other than fear in the newspaper.

I wanted to create a space where people would see each other differently.

Where individuals could become community.

A beautiful experiment in which a stranger might become a friend.

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

We started saving milk cartons months ago. Paper bagfuls have been pushed up into the attic waiting for the snow. No snow.

We live in Sweden, it always snows.

No snow.

Three months and 65 milk cartons later…

Snow.

Finally a negative weather forecast for more than five days.

Out came the cartons, water, food colouring. It took Miss 5 and I nearly two hours to fill them all with water. There are quicker ways. We’ve figured that out now.

 

I’d already talked to the neighbours about it, but that was months ago. We started.

Slowly kids came out to play. They wanted to see what we were doing. I wanted them to know that what we had started was also theirs. We weren’t building it in the middle because we had no space in our own front yard. We were building it there because it was theirs to build too.

”Here are the ice blocks. Here’s a bucket. Come and see.”

The kids were brilliant! They didn’t see a ridiculous project. It wasn’t a hopeless circle of coloured ice blocks on the ground. It was an igloo. It was already an igloo. It was their igloo.

Three rows up and three families were in.

Another row, another family…

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

 

If you’d been visiting our house at the beginning of the week, I could have told you it was the only one with rows and rows of milk cartons outside. By the end of the week that would have been no more obvious than saying it’s a yellow house (in a square full of yellow houses)! There are milk cartons stood freezing all over the place.

The idea was to build a coloured ice block igloo. A place to play. A fantasy hideaway to catapult imagination. Something to build together that might make every beautiful idea seem possible.

At some point near the end a lamp would go into it. I say that because I have to laugh about the number of times I’ve been told we should put a lamp in there. The number of times I’ve seen a eureka moment light up an adult’s face, and I’ve responded to each and every one as if it was the first time I’d heard it.

The kids haven’t mentioned a lamp once. Their comments, their thoughts haven’t once been drawn to what comes next; what might be even better. They’re in awe at every ice block. They see the bubbles, the crystals, every colour shift. They want every brick to be stuck down properly. They want the ‘snow glue’ (very wet snow) to be perfect. It doesn’t matter which mix of kids have been building together, they’ve got teamwork to a perfect art.

Someone gathers snow; someone tips in water; someone stirs it up; someone rips the ice blocks out of paper packaging; someone chooses what colour goes next, someone bangs the bricks into place; someone packs snow into the gaps.

Yes, I’ve been out there a lot. Nearly all the time. Some of the kids too. Some have been their family’s sole representatives, others have roped in their parents. I’ve roped in their parents too.

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

Neighbours have walked by with their dogs, on their way to work, or to their car. They’ve had to walk by, the square is built that way, there are no cars. It’s built to slow us down. The stretch past our igloo some take quickly, others soaking it slowly in.

The further we’ve got with the igloo, the more soaking in. The more smiles. The more conversations. The more ideas. The more the sense of ownership.

Yes, it’s the children’s igloo… It’s ‘our’ children’s igloo. It’s the children who live in ‘our square’. It’s ‘our’ igloo.

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

Tonight I lit it up. It was 10pm. I just wanted to see how it looked. I got out the extension lead and stretched it over. The children are all asleep in their beds, their blinds are down, their curtains are drawn. They don’t know there’ll be a lamp in there. Every day gets better. What comes next isn’t important.

This is the best winter ever! …I didn’t know you could build an igloo like this …I want to build one every year …Now I want it to be winter again, straight after winter …This is my favorite thing I’ve ever done!…

– 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 year olds

 

It’s magical!

A most beautiful sight.

It doesn’t quite look like it’s real, but you know it is. It’s right there infront of you.

The colours are crisp and icy. The light is clear, cold and warm.

The air around it glows.

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

I thought about the neighbours who’ve stopped and looked. Stopped and smiled. Stopped and talked.

Tomorrow it’s going to be plus degrees. The night won’t quite freeze. I don’t know what will happen to the igloo tomorrow, but right now it’s here, it looks like this, and there are neighbours around me that feel it’s ‘theirs’ as much as I feel it’s ‘mine’.

I saw their lights on. So I knocked on their door.

Thank you for telling me… Thanks for knocking!… Thanks for asking! …YES! I want to see… Wait! I’m coming…

 

Cameras have been out. We’ve been out. We’ve been out for an hour.

Just when I pulled out the lamp from inside someone else walked up. Straight over to us. Calling to his wife behind him. He says they lived a few blocks away, he’d seen the igloo in the week and wanted to bring his wife… Back in with the lamp. They found it. It’s theirs too.

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

There’s something about beauty.

Something as deep as a core that draws you in.

Something irresistible.

Something that makes you stop and stare. Something that makes you reach out to touch.

 

Our coloured ice igloo is almost organic. It’s going to change every day. The sun, the heat, the weight. The ice blocks will change, the snow, the colors. It’s beautiful now. It will be beautiful as it ages.

Tomorrow, we’ll wait until all the kids are home from school, make huge batches of hot chocolate and light the lamp.

We’re not finished yet.

Coloured Ice Igloo Community Park

 

What I hope, truly hope is that you might read this and be inspired. You might build a coloured ice igloo. You might build a community park full of coloured ice igloos. You might build something else. You might create a place where people feel belonging, where neighbours go from strangers to friends. Something children can build and own together. A space for community.

Please share our coloured ice igloo community park.

 

Linking our coloured ice igloo community park with #MagicMoments, #toddlerapprovedtuesday#TotallyTalentedTuesdays, #AllAboutYou, #BrilliantBlogPosts, #SHINEblogHop#WeekendBlogHop#PrettyPintasticParty & #CountryKids

 

Post Comment Love

43 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous and fun way to bring people together, and especially putting the kids in charge. Love the pictures and congrats on such a beautiful work of art!

    • WOW! You see, THAT’S saying something!
      I wouldn’t mind another month of winter myself either… And I’ve NEVER said that before 🙂

  2. I utterly utterly am blown away by this and so gutted you are not one of my neighbours … this is genius and it looks like so much fun to boot!

    Thank you for sharing and linking up with #MagicMoments

    • Thank you Jaime! What a beautiful beautiful thing to say x
      I’m so excited for you guys right now and your new soon born addition to the family! I hope you’re surrounded by lovely neighbours who go out of their way to show you some extra love and support in the coming months <3

    • Thanks Caroline! I think Facebook has been the very best place to share the photos and experience so widely. It’s going to be fantastic to see how many igloos start popping up next winter 🙂

    • It’s been absolutely brilliant Sarah 😀
      I took the opportunity as well to take lots of photos of the builders, can’t wait to get that sorted and give them to them and their parents. Especially to a few who’s parents were less involved. They’re so so proud of them.

  3. Hi Steph, what a brilliant idea and so effective too. At first I had wondered how you managed to get 65 milk cartons in your freezer and then the caffeine kicked in.

    The whole experience from the idea to completion must have been amazing.

    xx

    • Hahaha! You’re FANTASTIC Debbie x
      I OFTEN need the caffeine to kick in! Right now we do still have about 12 in the freezer though! Far to warm to build with them, but if it gets a few degrees minus we’ll send the kids out to sculpt 😀

  4. What a wonderful idea. Makes me moist eyed! I can imagine this going down a storm with so many people. A great way to build community. You’ll no doubt gain the reputation of being the ”Crazy Brit with the igloo” but I bet the neighbours will love you for it! Such a simple thing to do.

    • Haha, YES, I was already the CRAZY Brit! This time it’s the ‘awesome kids with the igloo’ that the whole square has been labelled as 😀
      Thanks John.

    • Thanks Mary. Yes, it has the strange magic of making everyone wish it was just a little little colder everywhere right now …Not often that happens! 😀

  5. WOW this is amazing. I grew up in a very cold and snowy country, and we never came up with such a fab idea – I wish we had. I would have absolutely loved it! 🙂 As any kids would. But well, maybe I can try this on a holiday sometime 🙂 What a great idea. And it looks stunning too. #countrykids

  6. What a truly wonderful thing you did! I have tears in my eyes reading this, I’m so happy! You should be really proud of yourself for starting something amazing. xxx
    #weekendbloghop

  7. Oh wow! Is this EVER amazing! What a wonderful project… and it’s simply gorgeous! What a magical, special place for the children (although I would be hanging out in there too)!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

  8. This is just amazing! Everything about it….the thought, the community, the end product. It all amazing, thanks so much for linking up to #ToddlerApprovedTuesday its great to have you back 🙂 X

  9. Oh Steph, I had tears in my eyes reading this, and a very warm heart. Beautiful project, and what a wonderful thing you’ve done for the children in your community. They’ll remember this forever. Absolutely magical! <3

  10. Just brilliant, so pretty and cleverly done, we attempted one 5 years ago when we last had some snow but nothing on this scale and not coloured, this is so clever. I love the sense of community, it reminds me of building boats in the sand by the sea in summer and children all joining in together to build the boat against the oncoming tide. What an amazing thing you have created in its own right and together as a community.

    • Thank you Fiona x What a brilliant idea with the boats!
      I’m so glad I saw your comment just now, I was really wondering what we could do next… If we have to wait to next winter to do something beautiful together next! 😀

        • That idea was BRILLIANT Fiona! I’m actually in the middle of a (currently quite short) mental list of wonderful projects the kids can do together with such wonderful teamwork and results that speak volumes 🙂 …A Sunflower hideaway in the summer is high up on the list!

  11. OMG that is fantastic ! How clever and great and how lucky are you that it is cold enough to make it lol. I bet your kids loved it and they should its the coolest thing I have ever seen lol

  12. Tears in eyes reading this. This ephemeral beauty you created collectively, started by you, someone who wanted to bring a community together, to produce something that would nourish you all creatively and that would teach. This is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever read. Thank you x

  13. This is absolutely amazing and so magical! You should feel really proud off yourself for creating such a wonderful community project, and one that is so beautiful too. I wish we had snow to even contemplate something like this!

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