Group of four PHC members looking at archive material

Heritage Meet 2019

As a freelance arts practitioner working in the community heritage sector, it can be hard to map out what is happening locally and who is who.

Becoming part of the People’s Heritage Co-operative has really helped in changing that, putting me in contact with people who are passionate about history, heritage and archives and with decades of experience sharing their skills and knowledge with others.

However, there is still such a long way to go in moving from siloed, short term community projects to developing a community of practitioners, educators and historians who can co-ordinate and collaborate, and in doing so, navigate the challenges inherent in current funding models.

For this reason, the People’s Heritage Co-operative occasionally host a ‘Heritage Meet’ as a way to get people working in the field into the same space to network and learn from one another. They are really enjoyable events and so valuable as a learning experience in the absence of more structured professional development opportunities.

The next ‘Heritage Meet’ takes place at The Warehouse in Digbeth from 7:30pm on Tuesday 11th June. Hear from people working on community heritage projects around the Midlands and to share your own work with others in an informal setting.

You are invited to bring along examples of what you have been working on and say a few words about your project (a projector is available if required).  This is a chance to celebrate achievements in the sector, explore some of the challenges and find new connections through meeting other heritage and creative professionals and volunteers who are passionate about community heritage.  All are welcome, so do please share this with your contacts.

The evening will also double as the AGM of the People’s Heritage Co-operative – we promise to keep our ‘formal’ part of the evening as informal as possible!  We have plenty of good news to report!

The gathering will start in the upstairs large meeting room (there is an accessible lift) and then you are welcome to join us downstairs in The Warehouse Café for social drinks.

To give us an idea of numbers please sign up to let us know you’re coming.

A community media project for Balsall Heath

As a cheerleader for my neighbourhood, the often maligned and misunderstood Birmingham suburb of Balsall Heath, it was probably inevitable that at some point I would end up developing some kind of media project for Balsall Heath.

Back in October I was commissioned by Balsall Heath Forum to (among other things) work on a short term project to develop a ‘Neighbourhood News’ website for Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath. Along with the Editor of the newsletter, Beth Charis and web developer and writer, Hayley Frances, we worked together to develop two editions of a newsletter as well as an online news, directory and events website.

The website, www.neighbourhoodnewsonline.com is a great resource for finding out about what is happening locally. Its aim is to support local residents in connecting with one another and engage in activities to support their health and wellbeing, but it really is the some of its parts.

Users can upload their own news items, events and directory listings using the easy online forms, so it really is a user generated project. The events page is particularly well worth a look as there are events happening almost daily! Thanks to everyone who has shared items so far.

The Spring edition of the newsletter, like its predecessor the ‘Balsall Heathan’, is currently being distributed to homes in Balsall Heath and it is already being well received:

‘I just wanted to say thank you for coming back as I love the topics that are covered in the spring issue.’

Reader via e-mail

Now that the Local Innovation Funding from Birmingham City Council has ended, we are now looking to develop the project further. Short term funding is being provided by The Active Wellbeing Society who are funding a series of community media workshops. If you are interested in hosting one of these then do get in touch.

In the longer term we would like to produce more copies of the newsletter and work in partnership with local residents who want to develop journalistic skills. A funding application has been submitted, so keep your fingers crossed!

This could be a sustainable and important media project which really feeds into how people feel about this area. Because it’s wonderful.

But some of us knew that already…

Birmingham Heritage Week film screening

The ‘Birmingham Friends of the Earth at 40’ project culminates this weekend with events to coincide with the annual Birmingham Heritage Week.  As part of the celebrations, I will be screening my film ‘Birmingham Friends of the Earth: Then and Now – 40 Years at the Warehouse’.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth will be giving tours on 15th and 16th September of the newly refurbished Warehouse building, which they took lease of way back in 1977.  The building has seen many changes in that time, and it is apparent from our project that the walls hold many stories!

Some of the first activists to take up residence at The Warehouse.

You can delve into some of this history through coming along to view the film at 2:30pm on both days.  The film has been created using archive photos, old campaign literature and volunteer led oral history interviews.  It gives a fascinating insight into the evolution of the building – from paper recycling depot to a space for campaigns groups to meet, a home for a myriad of small businesses and now a modern and slick meeting space for thinkers, makers and doers involved in environmental issues.  As well as stories about BFoE’s work, there are also stories about the formation of Push Bikes cycling campaign and the Urban Wildlife Group, the forerunners of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Alongside the screening will be the launch of a beautiful booklet, designed by Shannon Lattin, which has been produced as part of the project.  It covers the story of the building from 1977 to the current day.  It is packed with interviews, photos and information about the many different elements of the work conducted in the building.  Do make sure that you grab a copy!

For more information go to the Birmingham Heritage Week website.