You’ve probably noticed, that I have a bit of a thing for heritage and history. Whenever I’m in a place, I just notice things about it – architectural features, signs, alterations and it starts my brain whirring…I wonder about the people who lived there, or the chain of events which may have sparked change…and I wonder about what was there before…
For me it’s all about the story.
And so it is that I appear to have sparked off another history-hunt, this time in Stamshaw, which is in the north-west section of Portsea island. The local Infant school building was built in 1899 and will be 115 years old next year, so I proposed a local heritage project, using this event s a catalyst to explore the local history of the area. The school were really supportive an I’ve been working with the Headteacher and key staff to develop a new community project which launches on 19th June.
We’ve already been provided with some amazing archive maps and found some great photos in the City Archives, but what
we really need are photos and stories from local people to make it come alive.
To this end we’ve sent out press releases to local news groups and through social media, to promote the work and invite local people to take part to, by sharing their stories and memories.
The project will run over the course of a year, with three focused ‘Detective Days’, the first of which takes place in two weeks time. The children will begin by exploring clues to the past which can be found in their own school building. In the autumn term they’ll be going out and about in the local area, to find evidence of the past from present day buildings and sites and in the Spring term 2014 the school hopes to invite in local people, former pupils and staff from the school who can share with the children their own memories of Stamshaw. The project will culminate in a birthday party celebration, where the children can share the journey of learning that they’ve been on over the previous year.
The school has already been awarded a small grant towards the project from the Nelson Community Panel, and this will help pay for materials and resources which will be used during the project.
If you know anything about Stamshaw’s history (either the school or the area) that you think might be useful to the project, please can you drop me a line in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org
The school will be setting up a dedicated webpage and email address shortly, and they also hope to have a ‘postbox’ in the school office, where local people could drop things in.
2012 certainly has been an eventful year here at the Potting Shed! There have been lots of memorable events over the course of the year and some exciting things to look forward to. Here are some of the highlights…
January saw the start of the wider community phase of Somerstown Stories. This project had already been nearly two years in the making, so it was both daunting and exciting to see it hit the streets of Somerstown.
Work continued from the highly successful launch of the project at Somers Park Primary School during the preceding autumn term. The opportunity for partnership work was very exciting, and a wide range of local groups and organisations got involved including Southsea Community Centre, SureStart, Portsmouth Film Society, three local churches (St Luke’s, St Peter’s & The Kings Church), Omega Street Centre and two separate departments (Architecture and Creative & Performing Arts) within the University of Portsmouth.
During the course of the project we realised there would an underspend in the budget, but we quickly put the money to good use by running some extra events and funding a book*. One of the best events was the Museum of Somerstown – a temporary exhibition in an empty shop in Somerstown. We saw over 200 visitors over the course of the four days it was open – a fantastic response, aided in no small part by a great article in The News and interviews on Express FM.
Somerstown Stories as a project continues to generate interest, particularly through the Facebook page and there are plans to carry out some follow-up work in partnership with the University of Portsmouth as part of their community engagement work.
Other projects this year included Storytelling Club at Stamshaw Infants school. This involved running an after-school club for 5 weeks, helping the children to explore facets of storytelling and then to write their own original stories. These stories were printed in a specially made book, entitled ‘The Story Chest’.
I also had the opportunity to get involved in a cultural Olympiad project called Dysarticulate. This was supported by legacy funding from the Creative Partnerships programme.
Working with local artist Jon Adams, I ran workshops in four different schools, facilitating flag making, using pages from recycled books. I can honestly say that every flag was unique and there were so many different ways to approach the work! Everyone was included, no matter what they felt their artistic skills were like.
The summer saw a change of pace with a return to North End Playscheme. This week-long children’s activity scheme has been running for nearly twenty years and is almost entirely staffed by volunteers. Here I exercised my storytelling skills once again with a suitably Olympic themed tale of daring-do entitled: “Lucy and the Race to Save the Olympics!” Lucy is a character I created years ago for a similar playscheme in London, and she often features if I’m doing a serialised story, as this one was. The afternoon saw a subtle shift from Storyteller to Administrator and First Aider, but as you might expect, Playscheme is always “all hands on deck!”
The autumn term has seen several days unpaid work go into finishing the Somerstown Stories book, which should be available in Jan/Feb 2013. There has also been some work for the University of Portsmouth, beginning to develop some community engagement work, and for the embryonic UK Community Partner Network a national group, supported by the National Centre for Co-ordinating Public Engagement (NCCPE) which seeks to nurture and support community groups and organisations who work with universities:
2012 has been a diverse year, and in a climate of spending cuts and increased pressures on education and the arts, it feels like no small achievement to have made it this far! 2013 is full of curious uncertainty, with ideas in the pipeline waiting to come to fruition. To find out more you can also visit the new Facebook page: http://ow.ly/gzbKr which also includes information about my photography and textile craft work or follow me on Twitter: @sharonaverona
The photo on the right shows children from Chichester waving their flags before going to install them in Priory Park. The flags were collected and will be used again when the Olympic Torch comes to the city on July 17th.
Find out more here: http://www.dysarticulatedschools.org/tag/st-pauls-catholic-primary/
Today was the long awaited Creativity Conference, which took place at St Thomas’ Cathedral in Old Portsmouth. It was a legacy from the Creative Partnerships programme, which I used to work for, as a Creative Agent and you can look back through previous posts to find out more about that work.
However, it was something that happened during the afternoon that I want to reflect on here, and that was the address given by Kristen Birkland from the Kaospilots.
She talked about creativity and ways of nurturing creativity. She used a creation story to illustrate how and where creativity can be seen and understood, and the commentators and people on twitter quite rightly commented that she ‘mesmerised’ and ‘captivated’ the audience.
Having visited Aarhus and the Kaospilots school myself last year, I was forcibly reminded of my visit there, and it felt to me like suddenly breathing in again after having held my breath for a long time. I don’t know if you’ve ever done that: held your breath without realising it, because you were concentrated or absorbed by something. Not for any length of time, but just a few moments, until you suddenly realise what you’re doing – and you breathe in again and feel that life-giving revitalising air swoop into your lungs.
Spending time with the Kaospilots and with other people who have been there – all dreamers in their different ways, is life-giving to me. Food for the soul. And there were a lot of moments in those keynote speeches, when what was being shared really resonated with me…which brings us to the singing bowl.
I daresay you were wondering why I’ve included it? Maybe by now you were inventing your own reasons and theories as to why? The answer is two-fold:
Firstly because Richard Sant, the Director for Creative Enterprise at the University of Portsmouth had one at the conference today, and he chimed it whenever a session was due to finish. And it struck me what a fabulous illustration it is of the second and more important reason:
About how a singing bowl actually works:
The tone is caused by the bowl vibrating. You can see this fairly clearly in the first section of the video when the large bowl is struck. The way in which the bowl is hit or rubbed makes the bowl oscillate – that is it wobbles in a oval shape, and that is what causes the sound. It is a very clear sound and it carries very effectively across a large space.
Much of what I heard today – and particularly in Kristen’s talk, resonated with me. It caused an answering vibration which I heard, felt and understood. And yet I hadn’t appreciated how much I’d missed it, until I heard it again.
The challenge of any conference, training or retreat is: how are you going to apply what you’ve learnt when you get back? How will you make it stick? I think for me, I need to action some things I’ve been mulling over for a while, including writing my paper on education entitled: ‘The Writer, The Illustrator and General MacNamara’, which I’ll post here when its finished. Another action is to work harder at making time to reflect. Making it a priority to create space for daydreaming, doodling, meditating and reflecting. It’s too, too easy to get caught up in the ‘doing’ part, but always far harder to employ the discipline of stopping, pausing and being still.
Perhaps I’d better invest in a singing bowl while I’m at it…?