Friday, 30 September 2011
October 1st and 2nd sees 3 workshops taking place in the locations below in the Drama in the Dale production "The Bonny Moorhen". This is a community play being developed by Jack Drum Arts with community groups to dramatise the Stanhope Riot of 1819

My part in this is to develop additional Digital activities. These include Learning Wikis, Podcasts, Digital Maps and possible webstreaming of the final performance to take place in March 2012. I put together the movie below to show people the activities they can take part in.

Adventure in the Dale

Adding this after the three workshops took place. We arrived at the wonderful Wearhead Primary School on a lovely sunny day (pictures below). We had a smallish number pass through our workshops. Below is one of the songs from the production recorded there.

The next workshop at Wolsingham school was better attended and people participated in the drama and music workshop. Not knowing what to expect I have made a 9 minute film to show people. I decided to cut this down to 4 short pieces for the next workshop. With these workshops being si far from my home I stayed overnight in Blanchland. This is quite close to where I grew up so my parents came to visit. My mother reminded me that my Grandmothers family came from Blanchland and were landed gentry at Newbiggin Hall until the lands reverted to the crown when the male line died out - perhaps more on that later.

On day two we travelled to the 3rd workshop in Stanhope quite close to the Bonnie Moorhen itself. My reworked presentation worked much better. There was a good turn out and the drama and music workshops worked well too. Duncan, one of the Music Directors took us all through a 4 part harmony song. I absolutely loved this. You can hear it below. Unfortunately as the recording device (my smartphone) was in my hands you can hear me the loudest blissfully unaware that I am singing out of tune throughout.

Images from the Weekend (click to enlarge)

Monday, 12 September 2011
I have a slightly altered remit from October 1st and a range of exciting and interesting Community Informatics and Community Media projects starting up.

Drama in the Dales

This project led by Jack Drum Arts is about the creation of a ‘community play’ for Weardale, inspired by the story of ‘The Battle of Stanhope’ as immortalised in the local song “The Bonny Moorhen”.  The ballad tells the story of a group of Weardale lead-miners who, in 1819, in order to avoid starvation, poached game from the royal hunting grounds.  The Prince Bishop was none too pleased and sent his bailiffs up the Dale to rout out the poachers but the whole community came out in force to support the men and the bailiffs were sent packing with their tails between their legs after a riot in The Black Bull Inn, Stanhope. I will add a digital dimension to the project providing educational wikis, podcasting, geo-located media and to facilitate a live web-stream of the ultimate production. The learning wikis will explore other dimensions of the story including the surrounding area, lead mining and the background to the riot.

12 Villages

Bearpark, Bowburn, Brandon, Cassop, Esh Winning, Kelloe, Ludworth, New Brancepeth, Quarington Hill, Sherburn Hill, Ushaw Moor & West Rainton are together a Community Network in County Durham. There are more details at this website The purpose of the site and the enterprises  that will evolve from it is to add digital, community media, social media activities to physical activities of the network. The villages concerned are considered to be the most deprived in County Durham. The ultimate aim is to create a "Village Hub" that is effectively a “Digital Village Network”

The intention  is to use technology to provide services and development for a group of very rural villages and settlements where physically networking is very difficult. The work will begin with the 5 Westerly villages and will eventually roll out to all 12. The 5 Westerly villages are Bearpark,  Brandon, Esh Winning, New Brancepeth and  Ushaw Moor.

It was a Digital Village that brought me to Teesside back in 2000. A small research unit at Teesside University was working with Trimdon Digital Village and brought me to Teesside to manage Tees Valley Communities Online.  Trimdon Digital Village took part in an infamous online pub quiz between The Black Bull in Trimdon and Timms Coffee House in Skinningrove. [ click here ]. Skinningrove won and took the title "Skinningrove Digital Village" Later the concept was emulated again in County Durham with Hunwick Digital Village and then headed South again in several guises.

CRaNE News

Community radio stations in the North East of England have joined together to form a group to develop and foster a relationship between the individual organisations. The group is called CRaNE (Community Radio Stations in the North East).  I'm working with them to develop a platform for the  radio stations to share news items. [ ] This is currently in an experimental stage but there are quite a few possibilities here including live recording into the online interface and “on location” coverage into smart phones. What I also think is exciting is that other people could submit audio clips to the Community Radio consortium for airing. This could be casual submissions or from groups who had received some training (schools, students, community groups etc)

Saltburn Town Executive

Saltburn Town Executive is now run by two Saltburn businesses - Destinations and Rigwood House, Paul Davies and Sue Anderson respectively. I'm providing ICT and Social Media support. This is an exciting opportunity to bring some new ideas to businesses in Saltburn to work smarter and network and collaborate. [ ]

Four Libraries And A Pub

This project will provide Outreach from Destinations@Saltburn to four libraries and a pub in Redcar and Cleveland. The pub is the Toad Hall Arms in Moorsholme and the libraries are: Ormesby, Guisborough, Loftus and Marske. Funded by the Nominet Trust, this is a UK online outreach project to support organisations delivering new digital inclusion activities to new audiences in interesting and innovative locations and will aim to reach people who are not yet online introducing them to "Go On" which is designed to help people who have never used a computer before to make those first steps and then learn how to do a variety of stuff online. We will also be exploring further some experimental work we began with the libraries using a range of Google products in an endeavour to make the libraries more effective digitally and to seek to work smarter using new technology.

Community Media Festival

Over the past several years I’ve facilitated an event at Saltburn Community Theatre that ties in with Animex International Animation and Games Festival. The participants at the Saltburn event tend to also be producers of the content with a matinee for school children and an evening public event hosted by the serving Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland.

The last event showcased a film that had many contributors including community groups, schools, and the police as well as international participants.  The film and some background can be seen here Other animation workshops took place which produced several animated films which were also shown. The evening event was web streamed.

Visitors from Finland who had participated online in the making of the main film came to Saltburn and also ran workshops in Co Durham and East Cleveland. Due to production delays caused by bad weather the event was delayed and did not take place at the same time as Animex. This caused us to think about running a different event related to Animex but not necessarily on the same date as Animex. This could be a Community Media Festival but before I describe this there are a couple of other events to take into consideration.

The Republic of Uzhupis (Lithuania) independence day
Iron Age to Digital Age OCTORAMA exhibition at Loftus Town Hall

The Community Media Festival could combine those events and since Uzhupis celebrates it’s independence day on April 1st the event would be in April and could include:

Uzhupis Independence day online hook-ups.
An Octorma at Loftus Town Hall
A “Relaxorama” and other experiences at Rigwood House.
Digital Workshops at Destinations
A celebration event at Saltburn Community Theatre
Other International hook-ups, online and physical

There has been some interest in developing a new film to follow on from last years second life film but perhaps rather than producing it for April 2012 perhaps we could run workshops to develop ideas on storylines etc. More info on this will be added to this page

To preserve the event as it stands, particularly for schools we will still need to run animation workshops to produce content for the Saltburn Theatre showcase event.