Saturday, 22 December 2012

Book of the moment: Counter-tourism, the handbook

Counter-tourism, the Handbook, Crab Man, Triarchy Press, 2012
ISBN 978-1-908009-86-9

Here is a treat for anyone who has wandered round a historic site, bored by the expected and provided routes and interpretations. Counter-tourism is a challenge, an invitation and a license for the gentle naughtiness of doing the unexpected thing. Walking through the rooms of some stately home at your own unpredictable speeds, seeing how much dust you can collect, wandering round the outside of a property....the principles embedded here are about independence, imagination and personal experience. A lot of these activities remind me of how young children get to know a place. They wander. They run or walk or just stop and look under beds and wonder about secrets, treasures and horrible hidden stories 

There is an underlying cynicism about the heritage industry: 

“Visitor centres are machines for the contraction, disguise, obscuring 
and hollowing out of the places they propose themselves as portals to”. 

Maybe not entirely fair - we all know of effective interpretation that invites us in and welcomes us to a place without controlling too much and limiting our experience too much (or I hope we do!). And that perspective may upset some professionals, seeing themselves as skilled interpreters of a place, the people who know best.  But the theme here (that I endorse fully) is that visitors deserve the freedom to take what they will from a place, echoing arguments that people learn what they want to learn and learn best when they are choosing their own learning styles – and also that every site offers far more to experience than we offer in our planned interpretive and educational experiences. (And if that ruffles a few interpretive feathers, they probably needed the ruffling!)

People explore places in their own ways and these books champion that independence. Counter-tourism offers visitors some sneaky alternatives to the often controlled and sanitised experiences we are offered at sites, inviting us to find our own ways of getting to know a place. And for all those professionals who reckon they've got their interpretation processes sussed, these books challenge us to explore sites in new ways, offering activities to shake conceptions a bit. 

So have a read, have a think, wander, try and do, use these activities or just relax into some new ones of your own – as an interpreter, as a visitor or simply as someone out to get to know this world we walk on.

Counter-Tourism, the Handbook, Crab Man, Triarchy Press, 2012, 
ISBN 978-1-908009-86-9
Counter-Tourism, A Pocketbook – 50 odd things to do in a heritage site, Triarchy Press, 2012, ISBN978-1-908009-67-8
Tactics for Counter-Tourism – 31 short films by Crab Man and Siobhan McKeown:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Wild Words!

Wild Words
a story project proposal from Creeping Toad for 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland

While Scotland is a land of such spectacular landscapes and impressive wildlife, it is easy to forget the value and richness of the everyday plants and animals that share our streets, gardens, urban parks and local woods. Using storytelling and creative writing, Wild Words will inspire people to become involved with their local environment, appreciating that their own experience of the wildlife on their doorstep can enrich the lives of both individuals and communities

Wild Words will provide workshops for schools, and community groups, and public events for families and the wider community. Activities will use storytelling, direct experience of the environment, storymaking and instant poetry to help participants explore the wildlife on their doorsteps for themselves and to express those discoveries and feelings in new stories

Wild Words will offer storytelling and storymaking sessions to
schools: aiming to get out of the classroom and work with the wildlife of school grounds or local parks
stories might grow from found, natural or left-over objects...
general public: with storytelling performances and participatory family events in conjunction with interested organisations like the Forestry Commission, Wild Things! and Glachbeg Croft Centre (these are all "maybes" just now - would love to hear from other people keen to be involved!)
longer workshops: taking a day or two with a single group (rather than the more fluid public events) to take our words further, building stronger stories and possible performances
build a legacy: building our new stories and poems about local plants, animals and landscapes into an on-line, and possibly printed, resource and preparing material for display with local partners

Just now
we are looking for possible partners
schools: who might like a workshop
other organisations: who might like to host a family event, longer workshop or coordinate several local public or school sessions
a possible host organisation: while Creeping Toad is happy to administer the project there is a chance that the grant award we are applying for may need a local organisation to host it
on-line venues: anyone with a web-site that would like to receive stories and have a Wild Words page
a small adventure

Target dates are to have sessions in May, June and September in the Highland Region and Moray

Creeping Toad
Gordon MacLellan, Creeping Toad, is one of the UK’s leading creative environmental educators with 30 years of experience at the leading edge of environmental education. His work sets out to “find ways of celebrating the relationships between people, places and wildlife”. He is well known in Scotland through storytelling tours of the Highlands and project work with Wild Things! in Moray and with other organizations


Help us shape new stories of natural Scotland!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Messy lantern making!

Padfield Lanterns
work begins!

photos and feedback from two excessively sticky days in Hadfield Hall this weekend. 70 people on Saturday and maybe 90 today (Sunday). Trying to work out a collective noun for lanterns: an adhesion of lanterns? a glue of lanterns? a spike? an accumulation?

accumulated lanterns

These were lovely days and I can only thank both the Hadfield Hall helpers, High Peak Community Arts and all those well-glued members of the public with their good humour and patience as more and more people arrived and we gradually ran out of willow

Other comments come from participants...

Very helpful staff, as a Grandma I needed help which I got lots of. Alfie had a good time sticking! We will see you all on Friday

My children and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Gordon was very helpful and entertaining. Much fun was had by all of us. Would love to do it again

Brilliant! Very well organised and well run. Fab morning + can't wait for Friday

Really brilliant

Nice workshop, not rigid, so children could chose own designs which we liked.

Lovely idea, Beau really enjoyed it, looking forward to the parade and hope its on again next year when we can try something more ambitious when they are older

evidence of hard work?

slightly grisly-looking greeting!

big stars proved quite popular

lanterns loaded and waiting for their
grand appearance at the procession on 7th