Coffee, cakes and serendipity

Coffee, cakes and a liberal sprinkling of serendipity sums up our latest Make:Shift get together on 12th March 2014.

I started the meeting trying to keep a record live on Twitter but:

a. I realised I looked really rude (like I was playing on my phone all the time and not really listening to people)
b. I couldn’t keep up with everything that people were saying

So after the first five minutes or so I abandoned this strategy and reverted to quill and ink. You can find my first tentative tweets @makeshiftevent.

It was a great get together. The energy in the room was once again fabulous. Mike Shields made the point that we had several moments of serendipity. I think that this always happens when people get together who are passionate about something and Make:Shifters are passionate about making community-led change happen in Wolverhampton.

Not only that but we had some wonderful cakes courtesy of Anna, whose friend has recently launched her own baking business. I should have taken a photo of those wonderful cakes but I was probably too busy eating them.

We started the meeting with some information sharing about the Future Shift festival in April. Future Shift is similar to Make:Shift in that it’s about supporting community-led ideas that will make a difference across the Black Country and Birmingham. Future Shift will have up to £30,000 available per idea. I can already think of several Make:Shift ideas that would be suitable.

Future Shift has a process in place for helping to develop ideas. The best way to find out more is to attend the couple of dates we have in Wolverhampton on 2nd and 7th April. Please look at previous blogs on this site to find out how you book on these pre-events.

Jim Barrow also shared some information about the Big Gig. This is a national initiative taking place on 11,12 or 13 of July. There is a £400 grant available nationally to support local events. Dawn O’Brien from the Parks section said that one of the Friends of the Parks groups might be interested in supporting this and undertook to find out more about this.

Ann Walker was attending her first Make:Shift event. Ann is a local artist who is interested in developing a camera obscura in Wolverhampton. Ann explained that a camera obscura utilises basic pinhole camera technology to create a magical contemplative experience. Ann wants her camera to be big enough for people to go inside. It could be an existing building that is adapted or something purpose built within a park, for instance, or other open space.

Kathleen Fabre thought that this idea fitted really well with her Art on the Move initiative.
You can find out more about what Ann is up to by visiting her website: http://www.ann-walker.co.uk . Also, I was still tweeting at this point so you can find out more via our Twitter feed.

Art on the Move is really taking off. Kathleen updated the group on this. A September date is looking likely. The idea is based upon everything being free i.e.

• It will be free for artists to submit ideas
• Free use of venues for artists to site their installations
• The art will be free for the public to participate in

Kathleen has already secured a number of free venues and is holding a meeting for artists at the Light House on Monday 24th March, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Elliot Lord explained that the organic garden in Wednesfield is developing well. The Probation Service may be able to provide some labour here. Elliot is always on the lookout for land to develop new gardens. If you know of anywhere please do let us know. Elliot is also building a link with soup kitchens locally. The ethos behind the gardens has always been about supporting people in the most need. Not only are the gardens donating fresh food to the soup kitchens, they are also looking to provide training and other opportunities for soup kitchen users to get involved.

Howard Berry thought that there was potential to link the work that Elliot is doing with his work on the Boundary Way Allotments. Howard explained that the allotments have a sizeable piece of land which the allotment holders call ‘the wilderness.’ Previously it has had bee hives and a sensory garden area. However, because it is communal the area has become a little neglected and now needs a fair amount of work doing on it. Howard will speak to Elliot about this in more detail. In the meantime if anyone else would like to get involved please let us know.

Hiran Patel gave us a report on the Social Steam Engine, which has received a grant from the Institute of Physics to run workshops that link well-being to the themes of astronomy, light, colour and gravity. One activity will involve building telescopes out of waste materials. The first meeting will be in April for anyone that is interested.

As a result of this funding Hiran has been able to secure a loan from another organisation to progress the work.

At present Hiran is trying to recruit participants to the programme. He is also looking for volunteers who might be able to support people with mental health issues through minor problems that they experience. If you would be interested in helping out please do let us know.

Finally Elliot Lord fed back on the Self Build Housing Scheme on behalf of Rob Annabel. The group is meeting monthly at Lych Gates. At the moment they are researching other schemes across the country and there is potential to visit one of these. They are also trying to acquire the land for this scheme.

At the end of the get together the group said that they were still finding the meetings useful and would like to continue to get together.

Watch this space for details of our next get together.

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