Our March Barbican Life magazine is winging its way to you and for our first issue of 2021, things are looking hopeful. We would love to come and give every single one of you a big positive Happy New Year hug, but that will have to wait. Instead, we have been busy giving the website a facelift so that you can view things more easily on mobile devices. We hope you love the new design and we are open to any website or social suggestions on how to make things even better.

In a speech to the One Plan Summit of global leaders in Paris earlier this year, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, pleaded that “2021 must be the year to reconcile humanity with nature,” because “until now, we have been destroying our planet. We have been abusing it as if we have a spare one.” He’s not wrong! Data from the Red List of Threatened Species estimates that our actions are threatening about 1 in 8 species with extinction.

We might not have vast tracts of forest on the doorstep, but we do have an enormous amount of wildlife within walking distance. In this issue, Julien Waite explains how we can help the biodiversity campaign at a local level and we share the pleasure and inspiration gifted by our gardens (and their caretakers) from the perspective of some of our younger residents in the local area: Killarney and Rose Watkins, Kabir Kaul and Matteo Hegarty.

As the time is almost here to be thinking about our boxes, we have also included advice on Planting Green and for Biodiversity thanks to Nic Guerra (Barbican Gardener) and the Barbican Wildlife Group (barbicanwildlifegarden2020@gmail.com).

Our minibeast buddy, Julien, also gives us the low down on beetles (and I must admit to feeling grateful that cockroaches fall under a different classification order) and Ben Thompson takes us on a crow-watching trip to Fortune Park.

Christopher Makin celebrates the 18th birthday of our Barbican Estate Residents Consultation Committee and reflects on how residents are consulted on things which affect us.

We haven’t been able to review restaurants over the lockdowns, and we’ve all been cooking a lot more at home, so I hope you’ll enjoy Adrien Giacchero’s pesto recipe. We’d love to hear how you do with this, so please send in your feedback and photos!

At a recent Barbican Association meeting, Gilbert House mentioned that they had compiled a list of useful care information. Thanks to a very special group of Gilbert House residents who have painstakingly updated it for us. We’ll add all the information to our barbicanlife.com website and republish every so often in the magazine, so please send any related information or updates to us so that we can keep the info up to date for everyone.

Fresh from interviews with Dr Clare Taylor from the City Music Foundation and Will Palin from Barts Heritage, Joanna Lyall gives us some background on their series of free monthly lunchtime recitals at Barts Great Hall. There is a concert a month and Joanna has included the calendar for the year.

The Culture Mile Imagine Packs distributed last December came as a welcome surprise to many residents in the City and we have reprinted a couple of the activities in this issue, along with the backstory of how the ideas crystalised into the booklet.

Peter Savage is strolling the streets for us and, in this issue, it is the The Cripplegate Institute behind Ben Jonson House which will enjoy our attention.

Last but not least, Katharine Rumens (our Rector at St Giles’) is retiring and we’re torn: equal parts sad to see her go but also deliciously excited about what lays in store for her.

Here’s to Spring! Stay well!

Helen Hudson