About Us

What does ‘Green’ mean?

Sheffield has claimed the title of ‘greenest city in the world’ and although this position has been disputed, there is no doubt that the City is home to a vast array of trees, parkland, woodland and other complex environments where nature meets the modern world. The ‘Green’ in our name encompasses all of this; it is for the trees, parkland, woodland, natural/human-made spaces and gardens of Sheffield.

A City Centre River: Following the Porter Brook

What does ‘City’ mean?

The ‘City’ in our name refers to the place Sheffield, South Yorkshire…and importantly, it refers to the people of Sheffield; those that live here now, those who have lived here and those who will live here in the future. But that doesn’t mean that what we do isn’t significant outside our City; in fact, GCH aims to use the work it does and the lessons it learns to support and guide other places and people to explore their green heritage.

What does ‘Heritage’ mean?

Heritage isn’t about the past; that’s too simplistic. The ‘Heritage’ in our name focuses on the physical objects, the lived experiences and the  creative outputs of our City’s greenness. From the living and breathing street tree planted to remember a fallen soldier, to the photograph taken out of a bedroom window; our City’s stories are in our heritage.

Our History so far…

Sheffield has a long history of protest, campaigning and ‘quiet activism’. It continues to be part of the City’s identity today. Over the last 5 years, much of this activism has been focused on the City’s street trees.

The inspiration for GCH came from the involvement, reaction and engagement the Sheffield street tree campaign garnered. Our initial concern was the protection and collection of the efforts and outputs of the campaigners, however these concerns were shared by many and a range of individuals and groups began protecting the stories through oral histories, exhibitions and festivals, to name just a few.

These important efforts and outcomes have proven incredibly powerful during the campaigning but they also represented a resource that is at risk of becoming disparate over time and perhaps lost or forgotten. GCH began to present an opportunity to unify the campaign’s material culture and protect the history of the events – all of which are part of Sheffield’s heritage.

In exploring the idea of creating a cohesive collection of the campaign, it became clear that the natural heritage of Sheffield, while it is at clear risk of being physically removed from the City, it is also at risk of being misunderstood, disengaged and forgotten by the City’s communities. There is limited knowledge, interpretation and protection of the green material culture of the City, and yet, it makes up some of the most readily available and accessible heritage within the City.

GCH is inspired by those who chose to protect the City’s green heritage, but it goes beyond ‘collect and protect’ as an organisation. Below is a word-cloud of the most frequently used words from community, organisational and peer discussions. These words have formed the basis of GCH’s Mission and What We Do.