End of an era – start of the next

Just reached the end of an era – after four and half years my RELAYS contract with Watershed has come to an end. It’s the longest project I’ve worked on and one of the longest for Watershed too. I’d never intended to work on a sport themed topic with young people but sometimes these things work out pretty well and looking back over the range of activities I’ve been responsible for, organised or supported with colleagues (the Programme Team and other Watershed staff) during this project I’m pleased and proud of how successfully we brokered this marriage of sport and culture.

There’s a great short film over on the RELAYS at Watershed project website made by long-term collaborator Tim Crawley that gives a flavour of the different types of work that we devised, developed, produced and delivered, from media literacy workshops and themed seasons of film screenings to family-friendly street-games and an Olympic Media Camp – there’s an additional film specifically about the Media Camp here, second video down the page: ‘Citizen Journalism, Weymouth 2012’.

There are some statistics in the post that accompanies the film that back up the sense of pride and achievement – about the number of event visitors and young people we’ve worked with, and hopefully helped to develop some of their talent –  but what’s been especially good for me is that during the project I too have picked up some new skills (old dogs can learn new tricks!).

I wouldn’t be adding this post here without having learned how to use the CMS for the RELAYS at Watershed website over the duration of the project (with great tutoring and support from David Redfern and Paddy Uglow).  Building on that new knowledge over the months, I set up several blogs on different platforms and largely taught myself how to get a range of smartphones (Android and IOS) to effectively post live to these blogs so we could run the citizen journalism workshops (nb the blog in this link is a recreation of the original that used the Posterous platform which unfortunately was withdrawn in early 2013). Not a big deal for the digital native generation but new to me in my 7th decade and I’m saddened to see some of my contemporaries shying away from using anything beyond Microsoft Office on a computer when I know how much they’d get out of using potentially creative tools like these.

Where now – now the 2012 party is over? Another bonus of this four year project has been working with and getting to know the ‘polymath’ David Goldblatt – author, sports fan, broadcaster and VIP (Very Interesting Person) – he was responsible for coming up with the idea of citizen journalism projects with young people, my role was to make it work! It did – and this is an area we’re both continuing to develop as freelancers along with Ujima Radio and the University of Bristol.

But citizen journalism projects are just one strand of my work (maybe teaching those skills to older people could be another?) so, I’m brushing the digital dust off the CV and trying to decide if I’m a co-ordinator, producer, facilitator or artist… given the years of experience in these fields I’m claiming all of the above…

Come back soon to see what emerges.

See also previous post Watershed: Part-time employment