Recording local histories

One of the reasons I decided to make films within the community was a strong belief that we need to be proactive in recording stories that are important to us.  You know, the things that don’t make the history books.  Or the source material in history text books which provides a footnote to ‘the bigger picture’.  The fact is, that our common history and heritage is a sum of all of our personal histories – within our families, our community and our locality.

So it’s with a huge amount of excitement that I’ve entered 2010 with some fantastic oral history projects on the boil.

Back in December I spent the day with people who live in and around Kingshurst.  Part of the morning was spent interviewing pupils from Kingshurst School.  The rest of the day I had the privilege to run a workshop with some of Kingshurst’s older residents.  I call it a privilege as it really felt special to indulge in chatting with them about their memories of the area and its development over the past six decades.  We were lucky enough to be able to use a selection of photos collated by local resident Stan Tarrant to provoke some really interesting discussion.  The result of the workshop is a lovely selection of interviews, illustrated by Stan’s photos of the area over the years.  We’ll be launching the film sometime in March, so watch this space for an update on that.

Also in December, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths discovered that our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been successful.  This will entail, amongst other things, a series of workshops in schools over the course of the next three years, where pupils will have the opportunity to plan, film and edit oral history interviews with people who have memories of swimming, working, socialising or bathing at Moseley Road Baths.  For more details on the project take a look at our blog – we’ll be announcing details of next week’s launch event soon.

As if that’s not enough to keep me on my toes, I’m going to be working with pupils from two schools to produce a series of films for this year’s Lichfield Festival.  The pupils will have opportunity to interview veterans of the Second World War and to visit the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.  They will also be actively encouraged to explore their own family’s histories.  I’ll be keeping you updated on our progress and letting you know where you can see our finished films!

Green Rivers Wildlife Diaries Premiere!

As I type the DVDs are being produced and packaged, the activities are being prepared and our fantastic, talented young people are rehearsing their presentations for next week’s Grand Premiere of ‘Green Rivers Wildlife Diaries’.

The young people from Blakenall and Goscote in Walsall have worked with Julia Morris from The Wildlife Trust and myself over the last year, to devise the project, produce a workplan, submit a funding bid and then research, plan and film their own short documentary!  The result is a really lovely film which illustrates just how passionate and knowledgeable the group are about the wildlife on their doorstep.

But this film is more than just a record of urban wildlife.  The group from Green Rivers Community Association used the BBC’s ‘Springwatch’ as their starting point.  Through the film they hope to show local residents the wealth of wildlife in Walsall, and to educate them about how to look after these animals and create habitats for them to thrive.  It contains practical advice on everything from creating a bee and butterfly friendly garden, to how to build an insect home, how to spot a water vole and how to tell the difference between a frog and a toad!

The group would love for local residents to attend the Premiere on Thursday 17th December at Green Rock Primary School.  The screening will begin at 7pm sharp.  If you live locally and want to attend then please contact Julia on 01922 711 228.

A good direction

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to be attending two events on 11th November.  Both were incredibly stimulating, and got me really enthused about developing my own creative practice to bring exciting new educational opportunities to young people, and crucially, to help them to be confident to voice their own thoughts and ideas.

I’m very pleased to share the news that I was accepted onto the Radiate Training Scheme which gives ‘creative practitioners’ (that’s me apparently!) the skills and support to develop their own creative practice in schools.  The scheme runs from December to next July, and in that time I’ll be attending a number of training days and will devising and implementing a project in a school, mentored by Radiate and school staff.

All in all last week gave me a renewed sense of why I think that film can be such a useful tool.  A good direction methinks.  As the quote on the Radiate frontpage says ”It’s a fantastic opportunity to see the working environment in which I want to be a part of…’

Back to School

It’s taken me months to get round to writing up a page about my work at Robin Hood JI School over the Summer Term.  Luckily some of the reason for this has been that I have busy with running around on several other project, including an extensive project with The Wildlife Trust (more on that later!) and another film project for Solihull Libraries!  However, the main reason is that it involved so many different and exciting strands that I wasn’t too sure where to begin!

You can now find a summary of the project on the Schools Page although it still feels as though I’ve not done it justice.  As a freelance film-maker it was such a fantastic experience to challenged to produce something fun and exciting which would leave staff and pupils with a lasting legacy.  Pupils not only had DVDs to take home, I genuinely believe that they grew in confidence and would now be able to produce their own films.  In fact, a browse round the school’s excellent website this morning revealed that Year 4 have been making their own Origami Videos! Great stuff!

I’m hoping to build on this schools work through taking part in further training.  I’m thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Radiate Training Scheme (fingers crossed for that!) and next week I’ll also be attending the ‘Youth Voice’ seminar at Queensbridge School which looks excellent!

Friends of Moseley Road Baths

I’ve been a member of Friends of Moseley Road Baths since 2006, and to my shame we’ve only just got round to putting up our own website. OK, that’s not strictly true – we’ve tinkered a bit with a MySpace page, we have a Facebook Group and we also launched the fantastic Virtual Tour last year which is packed full of photos, video and facts about the Grade II* listed building.  The Virtual Tour explores many places which are strictly off limits to the public at present.

So, it’s taken a while but eventually here is the official Friends of Moseley Road Baths website which will be a one-stop spot for information about the campaign, events such as the ‘Memories and Memorabilia Day’, our ‘Pool of Memories’ project and articles in the press, such as the recent news that the building has made the Victorian Society’s Most Endangered Building list again for the third year running.  In time as the project expands we hope to add more information, but in the meantime have a look and please get in touch with your thoughts and ideas!

Daimohk!

Daimohk Poster 2009

Since 2005 I have been a Trustee of Peacebuilding UK (full name Centre for Peacebuilding and Community Development) which supports and builds local capacities for peace in the North Caucasus.  I have recently been appointed as the Chair.  So, it’s a huge honour to spread the news about one of PBUK’s most exciting and ambitious projects.

Daimohk is a Chechen Children’s Dance Ensemble, formed by celebrated Chechen Dancer Ramzan Akhmadov and his wife, Aiza in 1998, to give children surrounded by violence and aggression a positive creative focus and room for emotional self-expression.  Their achievements over the past decade are truly phenomenal.  Coupled with the breathtaking talent and energy of the dances, each performance is a truly uplifting, emotional experience.

They will be visiting the UK this month for several performances.  Information on dates, venues and booking is all on the PBUK website. To whet your appetite I have added some links to past performances and reviews.

We are just awaiting confirmation of their visas, but all being well the group should arrive early next week, ready to wow new crowds at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and at several venues in London.

You can help to promote this event to others and get involved by RSVPing to our Facebook event page, adding your own photos to our Daimohk Flickr Group and if you use Twitter you can also follow us and spread the word, we’re at http://twitter.com/PeacebuildingUK

Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment, this is their first visit in three years and we anticipate sell-out shows!

Jelly

I’m off to the Birmingham Social Media Café again this Friday (last Friday of every month in the Coffee Lounge, Navigation Street). This month I’m planning on sticking around for a while afterwards to see how I get on with a spot of ‘Jelly’ type activity.


What is Jelly? from Amit Gupta on Vimeo.

Jelly is the name of a co-working scheme that started in the States.  Everyone brings along their shiny laptop (many of the attendees are freelancers or run small businesses ) and gather somewhere with free wi-fi, comfy seating and refreshments to get some work done.  The cost?  A cup of coffee.  And maybe some cake if you feel you’ve done enough work to treat yourself!

The idea is simple, but if, like myself, you spend most of the working week working from a home office, the idea of having a bit of company, even if it’s just a handful of people in the same room for an hour or two a month, is a welcome relief.

I’m convinced that so many projects and businesses fail because people feel trapped and isolated without the support networks and sociability that come with the work environment.  ‘Working from Home’ seems to be the magic wand for saving us from recession, being better parents or lowering our carbon footprint.  However, I’ve yet to see anything really address the emotional aspect of making this transition.

Silly name, potentially fantastic idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Viv’s website

Over the past few years I’ve been part of the campaign to save Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath. As a group we’ve had some fantastic events and produced some great work. Not only are all the members of the group incredibly passionate about the building and the need for swimming in this inner-city community, they all seem to have a multitude of talents!

One member who has shared her skills for the campaign is Vivienne Harrison. A few years ago she took some wonderful photos of the building for our Strategy Document which outlined the group’s proposals for turning the building into a viable swimming and community facility. The fact that a voluntary organisation with limited resources was able to put out such an impressive looking and beautifully laid out booklet was really testament to her hard work and skill.

Last year she also worked on bringing these images to life through the Moseley Road Baths Virtual Tour which takes visitors to the site through the whole building, including areas not currently open to the public.

So, although shamefully I’ve not made it to any of her exhibitions yet, I’m pleased to let you all know that a selection of her work is available to view on her new website at www.vivienneharrison.co.uk. Please have a look and keep an eye out for upcoming exhibitions!

Social Media Surgeries

Here’s a plug for a really useful event happening this Wednesday. These guys know their stuff and I know people who have been to previous surgeries have really benefited….

If you belong to a Birmingham based community or neighbourhood group of charity please come and join us for the April 22nd 2009 Surgery.

When & Where

Drop in anytime between 5.30pm to 7.00pm at Fazeley Studios, 191 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR. It’s opposite the Bond and a go kart track. Push the large pale blue door with the silver door knob.

Lots to learn, little to lose. We promise you friendly advice.

These surgeries are organised by volunteer members of the informal Birmingham Bloggers group. Non of them are getting paid to provide the help.

What happens at these surgeries?

Volunteers from the Birmingham bloggers group are offering to show voluntary and community groups in the city how you can make best use of social media. It doesn’t matter if you are the head of communications at a major charity or an active citizen in your neighbourhood, if you’re at all curious come along.

No boring speeches, no jargon.

Tools like blogs, podcasts, video and social networks can give a real boost to campaigning organisations, often for no or little cost. So these experts are offering you approachable one to one help and support because they believe it can help. You may just want to see what is possible and go away and think about it. You might be itching to set up a blog and start using it.

Perhaps you think video might help you tell your story but don’t know where to start? All is possible. There’ll be no lectures, just people with knowledge, ideas and a passion to help you make best use of the internet for your organisation.

For more information and to sign up in advance go to www.paradisecircus.co.uk or contact Nick Booth on 0777 909 5692

Library films

Of all the projects I’ve worked on I think the filming I have done for Yardley Libraries has been one of the most enjoyable. I have fond memories of going along to my local community library with my Mum as a kid, and it’s wonderful to see kids getting as much enjoyment as I did when browsing the shelves.

Yardley Libraries are doing some really innovative stuff to ensure that families get the most from their visits. I’ve eventually got round to putting the films of these projects online so why not check them out?

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