Cities of Refuge – Berlin

October 22, 2018 by · Comments Off on Cities of Refuge – Berlin 

Just over a week ago I was in Berlin as part of the LSE City of Refuge project team, where we repeated the process begun in London in July to engage with refugees, or newcomers, and the citizen actors who welcome and support them.

This involves building links with local organisations and activists, as well as the newcomers themselves, to hear their stories and to invite them into a process where we can learn from their experiences. My role has been to devise and supervise the facilitation of workshops, which have been conducted mainly in the languages of the newcomers (Arabic) and the local citizen actors (German). In Berlin this has meant stepping back whilst Dr Deena Dajani (Project Research Officer) and Kristina Kolbe (PhD student and Research Assistant) take on the active role of facilitators and mediators of the activities in the workshops. Project leads Professor Myria Georgiou and Dr Suzanne Hall were also on hand to participate in the workshops, alongside artist Marcia Chandra who is creating a series of portraits to accompany the project.

The centre of of engagement process was Refugio.berlin, an organisation in the district of Neukölln that supports a mix of locals and newcomers with accommodation and other services. A number of residents there took part in the workshops, as well as others from across Berlin. Once again, we had a series of fantastic workshops with highly engaged participants who responded with great enthusiasm and energy to the questions being asked and the formats (worksheets and stickers) for capturing their thoughts, emotions and experiences. Some key themes emerged that mirrored the experiences we encountered in London – e.g. time, the weight of bureaucracy, language etc – but there were some marked differences too. The citizen actors displayed a much stronger sense of coherence and capability than in London, perhaps enabled by the much greater resources made available by the German government. The huge difference in scale of the acceptance of refugees between the UK (about 20,00 people) and Germany (around 1 million) was visible too, both in terms of the coordination and funding between state and non-state organisations, and in the expectations of integration into German life and culture.

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Next month we will be heading to repeat these workshops and activities once more in Athens.

UnBias Toolkit Workshops at V&A Digital Design Weekend

September 12, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias Toolkit Workshops at V&A Digital Design Weekend 

I will be running four workshops with Alex Murdoch exploring the UnBias Fairness Toolkit at the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd September. Each workshop is intended for different audiences and contexts in which the toolkit could be used.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Educators Workshop
Seminar Room 1, Sackler Centre for arts education
Saturday 22, 11.30-13.30
Algorithms, bias, trust and fairness: how do you engage young people is understanding and discussing these issues? How do you stimulate critical thinking skills to analyse decision- making in online and automated systems? Explore practical ideas for using the UnBias Fairness Toolkit with young people to frame conversations about how we want our future internet to be fair and free for all.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Industry Stakeholders Workshop
Seminar Room 1, Sackler Centre for arts education
Saturday 22, 14.30-16.30
The UnBias project is initiating a “public civic dialogue” on trust, fairness and bias in algorithmic systems. This session is for people in the tech industry, activists, researchers, policymakers and regulators to explore how the Fairness Toolkit can inform them about young people’s and others’ perceptions of these issues, and how it can facilitate their responses as contributions to the dialogue.

DESIGN TAKEOVER ON EXHIBITION ROAD
Sunday 23, 10.00-17.00
Celebrate ten years of London Design Festival at the V&A with a special event on Exhibition Road. Bringing together events by the Brompton Design District, Imperial College, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A, this fun-filled day of design, workshops and talks will offer something for everyone, and a unique way into the many marvels of Albertopolis.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Workshops
Young people (12-22 yrs) 12.00-13.30
Open Sessions 15.30-17.00
What is algorithmic bias and how does it affect you? How far do you trust the apps and services you use in your daily life with your data and privacy? How can we judge when an automated decision is fair or not? Take part in group activities exploring these questions using the UnBias Fairness Toolkit to stimulate and inspire your own investigations.

Download the V&A DDW Brochure

Colleagues from Oxford University and Horizon Digital Economy Institute will also be running UnBias activities as part of the event:

UnBias
The Raphael Cartoons, Room 48a
Drop-in from 12.00-16.00
How do you feel about fake news, filter bubbles, unfair or discriminatory search results and other types of online bias? How are decisions made online? What types of personal data do you share with online companies and services? Do you trust them? Explore these through a range of activities, from Being the Algorithm to Creating a Data Garden, and from Public Voting to making a TrustScape of how you feel about these issues. Suitable for families.

Cities of Refuge

July 16, 2018 by · Comments Off on Cities of Refuge 

Proboscis is one of the partners in a new project, Resilient Communities, Resilient Cities? Digital makings of the city of refuge, led by Professor Myria Georgiou of the Media & Communications Dept at London School of Economics. The project seeks to:

examine the role of digital communication in the making of cities of refuge. More particularly, it focusses on urban communities’ digital responses to sudden, unplanned and/or unwelcome change resulting from irregular migration into the city. The project zooms into urban neighbourhoods that receive large number of refugees and migrants. It examines how urban communities mobilise digital communication to respond to disruption and develop capacities to manage change. From the development of local networks in support of refugees, to local training into digital skills, cities’ resilience is tested in the capacity to sustain inclusive, integrated and prospering communities.

Our role is to design the engagement activities and direct workshop facilitation with the various groups taking part. The project will work with communities in 3 sites: London, Athens & Berlin over the next 6 months.

On Saturday we delivered the first workshop and engagement activities at the Chesnuts Community Centre in Harringay, working with a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to explore their needs, the resources they have access to as well as the barriers and obstacles they face in their new situation here in London. Drawing upon our previous experience of working with vulnerable communities in challenging circumstances we created a simple way for participants to discuss these issues and to begin mapping out and exploring connections between services, places, people, technologies and systems. We also provided ways for participants to reflect on how they perceive the relative values (in terms of safety and utility) of these things and some measure of where the things they value most sit in terms of emotional and physical proximity or distance.

The workshop was conducted in Arabic and the participants split into two groups, each with an Arabic speaking co-facilitator – Dr Deena Dajani & Haneen Naamneh – from the LSE. We used worksheets and stickers with familiar symbols, from app icons to common services, features and resources, to help make the process fun and visual as well as dynamic and open. It was particularly gratifying to see how enthusiastic the participants were to engage in these ways, and to observe how this kind of ‘asset mapping’ across individual experiences enables people to identify key areas of confidence as well as the gaps where things don’t work so well, don’t feel safe or where trust is uncertain. At the end of what became a long session, it was also great to hear how much the participants had valued this opportunity to come together and discuss things collaboratively. Despite having faced many challenges and obstacles on their respective journeys to this point, there was a palpable energy in the room of optimism and determination to make a new sense of home.

We will be working next with local Harringay residents who have been part of the community welcoming these new arrivals to explore these issues from their perspectives too, and a following workshop will happen later in the summer bring together a mixed group of different locals and new arrivals. In the Autumn we will adapt the process to deliver to similar groups in Berlin (Neuköln) and then Athens (Victoria).

TKRN: Groundwork for Legacy

May 21, 2018 by · Comments Off on TKRN: Groundwork for Legacy 

Reite participants at TKRN Legacy Workshop, Bismarck Ramu Group, Madang

It is now more than five years since my first visit to Papua New Guinea and Reite village, on Madang Province’s Rai Coast. I’ve just completed my fourth field trip there with anthropologist, James Leach, where we have been conducting the first stage of a 2 year legacy and handover phase for TK Reite Notebooks, supported again by The Christensen Fund. Our aim is to establish a firm base for Reite people to have control over the tools and techniques we have co-developed with them, and for them to have both the confidence, capability and capacity to share not only their own Traditional Knowledge with others, but to train other communities, who wish to adopt it, in the TKRN Toolkit‘s use too.

Over the years we have been exploring potential partnerships with local organisations both in PNG and in Vanuatu, hoping to build a network of support for TKRN and those using it. Last year James met with Banak Gamui of the Karawari Cave Arts Fund – an NGO based in Madang – who is active in supporting traditional cultural preservation and regeneration initiatives in Madang Province, including the Madang-Maror Network. Banak agreed to help support Reite people continue to use the Toolkit beyond the project’s end, by hosting the basic publishing kit (laptop, printer & scanner) at KCAF’s office and strengthening Reite’s connections with other communities in the area also active in practising, documenting and preserving Kastom culture. In addition, Yat Paol, of Gildipasi/Madang-Maror, was also able to broker a connection with Bismarck Ramu Group, another local NGO which supports communities retain their land and water rights against extractive development. BRG agreed to host a 3 day workshop and 18 participants from Reite and its neighbouring villages, Marpungae, Asang, Soriang and Sarangama, travelled up to Madang to take part, along with Banak Gamui, Yat Paol and Catherine Sparks – formerly Melanesia Program Officer of The Christensen Fund.

Over these days, we increased the core group we had been working with from the village and undertook refresher training in making and using the notebooks co-developed previously. Much time was also spent in discussions about what exactly TK (Traditional Knowledge) means to people for whom it is still an everyday practice – rather than a ‘heritage’ practice as many Western traditions are often relegated to. One of our key Reite collaborators, Urufaf Anip of Marpungae, came up with a popular transliteration – Timbuna Kastom – which seems to capture much of what is both special and at risk about their way of life. Timbuna could be understood as the ancestor spirits which animate the bush, as well as descendants and those to come. Kastom is the traditional way of life that communities in PNG followed for countless generations before the arrival of missionaries and colonialism. As both Christianity, the money economy and industrial development (mining, logging, monocultural farming, factory fishing and other extractive processes) have supplanted traditional beliefs and ways of living, so more and more Papuans have found their connection to land, bush and water have been severed, and their lives made more precarious.

This connection is at the heart of what makes this project such a timely opportunity to revitalize social cohesion and knowledge transmission around the importance of those communities which have retained a strong traditional culture. The workshops also underlined the crucial importance of Tok Ples – local language – which is the blood of Timbuna Kastom/Traditional Knowledge’s beating heart. PNG has over 800 individual languages (not dialects) – with some ranging from just a few tens to thousands of speakers. Until very recently, communities across PNG were almost exclusively oral in culture, writing and literacy being a product of interaction with traders, missionaries and then colonial administration. But there is an intensely rich visual culture – each community creating unique designs reflected in their crafting of objects and decorations as well as styles of house building. Designs are often deeply symbolic, communicating specific stories and meanings, or relating to particular locations. Language and visual design are thus deeply intertwined with the particular geographies and environments which PNG’s many and diverse communities inhabit and steward. Maintaining and strengthening this diversity is as crucial as maintaining the diversity of plants and seed banks for genetic variety. PNG’s school system still teaches predominantly in English, and over the years Pidgin, Tok Pisin, has become the main national language, to the point now where children in many communities are not being brought up to speak their local Tok Ples first, but Pisin instead. As the unique relationships to place are loosened in this way, the connection to land slackens and people are persuaded to register and sell their land to outsiders. For a country where around 80% of people are still reliant on subsistence food production (through their gardens) this is clearly catastrophic.

On the wall of the BRG Community Room where we held the workshop, there is an inspiring quotation from PNG’s 1975 Constitutional Planning Committee:

This is placed next to a copy of the PNG National Goals and Directive Principles:

The workshop provided us with a space and place to collectively retread the ideas and experiments of the past 5 years, and to reiterate the aspirations and ambitions for what the tools and the continued practice of kastom means to traditional communities. Being held in a less isolated and rural setting it also gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the digital aspects that are harder to achieve in the bush: scanning in notebooks and uploading to the online library which we created for Reite. Although almost all the villagers have never used a computer before, are completely unused to keyboards and have only a slim grasp of the workings of file systems and structures, windows and desktop metaphors – they acknowledge the potential benefits that this form of recording and sharing can offer them and are quick to learn it use. Two people (Urufaf and his sister Pasen) were chosen to be the leaders of this activity and to receive additional training later in our visit.

Practising with TKRN notebooks at BRG

The workshop had been programmed to precede and important ceremony in the village, and on its conclusion the villagers, James, myself, Banak, Catherine and Yat’s wife and son made the day-long journey in two small dinghies across Astrolabe Bay and down the Rai Coast, then up 400m above sea level and 10km inland to Reite village, where we would be staying. Over the next days a series of ceremonies and events took place that demonstrated Reite’s strong hold on kastom, the richness of their culture, and just how keenly people wish to continue this way of life into the future and for the benefits of future generations. We took part in a night-time Tamburan event (a performance of secret, sacred instruments) that began in the bush before moving into a Haus Tamburan itself. This was followed the following day by a large kastom food distribution between one village and families of another, followed the next day by a reconciliation payment ceremony and the all-night Singsing to conclude the festivities. In amongst these ceremonies, James, Banak, Catherine and I were invited to address the local school (which James and I worked with back in 2015) about our respective projects and the importance of traditional culture, tok ples and caring for the environment.

The ceremonies over, we rested for a day then returned to Madang for a final couple of days intensive media training with Urufaf and Pasen. This involved introducing them both to the computer from first principles, getting them used to using it for scanning documents, file management, email and using the internet. With the assistance of Banak & KCAF in Madang, and from me remotely from the UK, we will be supporting them gradually take over the maintenance of the Reite Online Library – scanning and uploading completed TKRN notebooks and expanding the resource. As their confidence and fluency with digital technologies grow, there is the potential to increase their skills to include designing their own notebooks and using bookleteer to generate their own publications.

Urufaf & Pasen after 2 days media training

The success of the workshop at BRG and the excitement generated in the village during the ceremonies, has had a significant effect in making the longer term aspirations of the project begin to see light. Reite people are growing in confidence and desire to share this method of practicing and documenting culture and kastom to other interested communities in the region and, in so doing, to establish a name and reputation for themselves. Plans are already underway for a Reite to host a group of representatives from other Madang Province communities next year to demonstrate this and share the TKRN Toolkit and training.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Preview

March 13, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias Fairness Toolkit Preview 

Here is the presentation from a workshop held in London yesterday at which I previewed the Fairness Toolkit I’ve been leading the development of for the UnBias project. It still requires further testing and refining, so feedback and comments are most welcome:

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Workshop from Giles Lane

Attentive Geographies

March 13, 2017 by · Comments Off on Attentive Geographies 

Since we worked together on Storyweir in 2012 I have had an ongoing relationship Exeter University’s GEOCAK (the Geographies of Creativity and Knowledge) research group, most recently working on the Attentive Geographies project which began in 2014/15.  I have been commissioned to create new artwork reflecting on the work of the group, following from running a two day workshop and participating in a series of events over the last 2 years with the group.

Attentive Geographies looks at creative practice as research process. GEOCAK are working with artists and writers to better understand; “What happens when you commit to deepening and developing skill? What emerges when methodology becomes the subject of research? How does collaboration emerge through creative methodologies? What does it mean to be a geographer as practitioner?”

There is a strong and deepening relationship between geography and creative practice – art, music, writing and those practices are increasingly shaping Geographers processes. The project will identify new ways geographers can extend their skills through a variety of creative methods, skills and approaches.

Initially I produced a series of drawings based on my interactions and discussions with the group, this is developing into another series of illustrations, contributions to the forthcoming book “Attentive Geographies”, and new textile work in response to the research practices of the group.

“The creative turn in Geography has cemented the long-standing relationships between geography and creative practitioners. Creative geographies are no longer studied as a product, instead practices are attentively shaping their learning, doing and knowing, with  geographers working and developing their capacities with a variety of creative methods, skills and approaches.

‘Attentive geographies’ explores creative practice as research process. What happens when you commit to deepening and developing skill? What emerges when the subject of research, becomes methodology? What is gained by undertaking creative geographies by doing? What difference does the practical doing make? How does collaboration emerge through creative methodologies? What does it mean to be a geographer as practitioner?”

Geographies of Knowledge and Creativity Research Group 2015

 

 

 

TKRN in Vanuatu Again

September 5, 2016 by · 19 Comments 

Urufaf Anip demonstrating TKRN folding & making

Urufaf Anip demonstrating TKRN folding & making

Just over a week ago the Tupunis Slow Food Festival on Tanna island, Vanuatu concluded. It was the first festival of its kind held in Melanesia – bringing together people from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, New Caledonia (Kanaky); the Solomon islands and Fiji to celebrate traditional ways of producing and preparing food as part of a redefinition of “development”; rejecting the simple monetary definitions (dollars per day) and exploitative, extractive industries that characterise what global institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF define as development in favour of alternative criteria that recognise the value of sustainable land and sea tenure, the qualities of organic grown food and traditional methods of preparation, and the richness of lives not governed by the need for money. The festival was organised by a coalition of local organisations (including Vanuatu Slow Food Network, Vanuatu Land Defence Desk, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Tafea Cultural Centre) and supported by The Christensen Fund as well as the Vanuatu Government.

As part of our TK Reite Notebooks project, James Leach and I travelled to participate in the festival along with three people from Reite village in Papua New Guinea – Porer Nombo, Pinbin Sisau and Urufaf Anip – with whom we have been co-designing the TKRN toolkit since 2012. Our trip was intended to bring the TKRN project and toolkit to a wider audience of Melanesians interested in documenting and preserving traditional culture – with the focus on presentation being led by Reite people themselves (rather than James and myself). Our role was to facilitate and support, with the key exchange of ideas, tools and processes taking place between people indigenous to Melanesia themselves.

This is a key aspect of the project for us – having our co-design collaborators from Reite village be identified and engaged with as cultural leaders in their own right who are actively taking steps to document and transmit their living culture and knowledge traditions to future generations in the face of extreme pressure from “development”. For most of our time we were also accompanied by Yat Paol, a PNG man of the Gildipasi community with whom we worked in Tokain village earlier this year (and a representative of The Christensen Fund in PNG). Yat’s insight and gentle wisdom concerning the importance of self-documentation of traditional knowledge as a means for indigenous people to empower themselves has been a source of inspiration and a great sounding board for us.

Porer and Pinbin represented Reite on a panel bringing perspectives from various Melanesian communities and spoke about the project and the importance of kastom, land and bush. For many people at the festival the emphasis was on a return to traditional ways of life – having two people who come from a community that maintains its traditional way of life speak about what it means to them and their families truly caught the mood of the audience and their response was fantastic, giving rousing applause.

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Porer Nombo introducing TKRN & Reite traditional knowledge

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Pinbin Sisau giving a rousing talk on preserving kastom culture

The festival ran over 5 days and had speakers from across the region, as well as performances by cultural groups, traditional crafts, music and demonstrations of new ideas for food preservation and health initiatives. Moreover, each day traditional foods were prepared and cooked by people from all the provinces and islands of Vanuatu (and New Caledonia) for attendees to sample. Thus we were feasted on a daily basis on everything from (and often in locally specific combinations of) taro, yam, manioc, tapioca, cassava, banana to fish, coconut crab, goat and beef.

The Vanuatu Daily Post’s Life & Style section has an article on the festival here, and Sista.com has an article with excellent photos from the festival here.

At the festival we connected with Canadian anthropologist, Jean Mitchell, who is running a project (Tanna Ecologies Gardens & Youth Project) with young people on Tanna documenting and recording kastom gardens and traditional foods. James, Urufaf and I ran a TKRN workshop with a group of them, teaching them to fold and make notebooks, as well as co-designing a new custom notebook for their project. A couple of days later we demonstrated scanning in the first few completed books and printed out copies for the young people who had made them. Our simple bush publishing set up of laptop, scanner and printer meant that we were able to do this quickly and simply – working in basic conditions on site and being able to carry all the equipment we needed in a couple of backpacks. Jean’s project is an extension of one she originally developed in 1997, the Vanuatu Young People’s Project, with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. Over the next two years the young people on Tanna will be documenting as much knowledge about traditional kastom gardens as they can, using the TKRN toolkit as their primary tool. Jean has worked with them this summer to develop a questionnaire template which has been adapted for the notebooks:

Once back in Port Vila, Jean also arranged for us to train a couple of young people who will be sharing their skills with the men fieldworkers of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre at the annual fieldworkers’ meeting at the end of September. This will complement the work we did in March with the women fieldworkers and hopefully bring the TKRN toolkit to many different communities across Vanuatu.

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At the festival we also met and had great conversations with Dr Ruth Spriggs and Theonila Roka-Matbob from Bougainville (a semi-autonomous part of PNG), who are setting up an Indigenous Research Centre on the island, and Professor John Waiko of Oro Province PNG and his son, filmmaker and slow food activist Bao Waiko, from Markham Valley PNG (where he lives with his wife, Jennifer Baing-Waiko, also co-director of Save PNG). We’re hoping to share the TKRN toolkit with their initiatives as part of our next steps.

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L to R: Professor John Waiko; Dr Ruth Spriggs, Theonila Roka-Matbob; Betty Gigisi; James Leach & Bao Waiko

A highlight of our trip was a visit to Tanna’s famous Mount Yasur volcano, truly awe inspiring:

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Before attending the Tupunis festival, we took the opportunity to build on a relationship we had initiated with Wan Smolbag Theatre during our previous trip to Vanuatu earlier this year. Through co-founder Jo Dorras we were introduced to researcher Ben Kaurua and digital trainer Cobi Smith with whom we ran a TKRN workshop introducing the books and documentation process to a group of young volunteers who work with various island communities living in and around Port Vila, the capital on Efate island. (I had designed a very simple custom notebook for WSB in advance of travelling). We were also introduced to some local Chiefs from the nearby Lali community and were invited to attend a ceremony that was part of a boys’ initiation ritual. We left WSB with some new equipment to assist them in using the TKRN toolkit (a Polaroid Snap camera/printer & Zink sheet packs, as well as a low cost Canon combined inkjet scanner and printer) and are hoping to see some results in the future.


Porer speaking at IUCN

After the festival, while I returned to the UK and Pinbin and Uru returned to Madang, James and Porer continued on their travels to participate in the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. There they took part in a session on indigenous documentation to demonstrate the TKRN process and toolkit, and to discuss the complex issues facing traditional communities who wish to preserve their culture and values and to transmit them to future generations.

This trip was the final activity of our recent TKRN programme – we are now preparing a new programme of activities that aim to build a lasting legacy for the project and enable the establishment of a network of indigenous groups and local organisations in Melanesia to adopt and adapt the TKRN toolkit for themselves. Huge thanks are owed to Catherine Sparks of The Christensen Fund who made so much of this possible; funding many of the projects, organisations and the festival itself, as well as being the consummate connector introducing people and taking care so that everyone had the most productive time possible. Thanks also go out to Paula Aruhuri, Joel Simo and Jacob Kapere who were instrumental in inviting us, arranging travel and accommodation and making time and space for us on the programme.

Bookleteering with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre

March 14, 2016 by · 4 Comments 

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Over the past 2 weeks I have been in Port Vila, Vanuatu in the South Pacific with James Leach and Lissant Bolton (Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, British Museum) working with the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (Bislama for Vanuatu Cultural Centre). Lissant organised and led a special workshop with a group of women fieldworkers on the theme of current changes to kinship systems (supported by the Christensen Fund). The fieldworkers are ni-Vanuatu (local) people representing some of the many different vernacular language groups from across the many islands who do voluntary work to record and preserve traditional culture and knowledge. The fieldworker programme has been established and overseen by the Cultural Centre (VKS) for over 35 years and is a unique initiative where local people gather “cultural knowledges about all the aspects of the customary art of living of Vanuatu”. Each year the fieldworkers gather together to share their research with each other and contribute to the documentation held at the VKS.

Lissant had invited James and I to visit Vanuatu with her and introduce the TKRN toolkit and techniques to the fieldworkers participating in the kinship workshop, as well as to meet with others working on different projects at the VKS. The low cost and ease of use of the TKRN booklets – both for collecting documentation in rural settings as well as digitising and archiving (both online and as hard copies) – made it an obvious tool to share. Prior to leaving London, Lissant and I had made some initial examples of Bislama (the local pidgin) notebooks for Vanuatu similar to those created in Tok Pisin for Papua New Guinea. These would be tested with the women fieldworkers during the workshop and we planned to adapt them with their assistance, as we have done in PNG with local people from Reite village.

In Port Vila James and I were also were introduced to Paula Aruhuri of the Vanuatu Indigenous Land Defence Desk, an organisation that promotes awareness of indigenous custom and land rights across Vanuatu and campaigns to stop land alienation from traditional owners. With Paula we co-designed a simple reporting notebook for the fieldworkers who deliver awareness events to local communities that will assist the land desk in documenting local people’s concerns and how they might be able to help them. And we met with Edson Willie of the VKS Akioloji Unit (Heritage Unit), with whom we co-designed a notebook for fieldworkers to record heritage sites.

The women fieldworkers experimented with one of the notebook formats and helped us re-design the front cover and write up a more appropriate ethics statement that reflected their different concerns about sharing traditional knowledge. In this case they chose not to share their books online (as we did in Reite), but to have them scanned, re-printed and stored in the ‘Tabu Rum’ of the VKS, the audio-visual archives. Local concerns about rights to aspects of traditional knowledge in Melanesia are a major theme and extremely important to design for. Developing tactics and a strategy to enable clear documentation and permission for sharing has been at the heart of the TKRN co-design process. Lissant has written about this issue in the context of Vanuatu and it also reflects on James’ work with Porer Nombo from Reite on their book Reite Plants in this essay.

We are planning to return to Vanuatu later in the year with some Reite people to participate in a knowledge exchange around the TKRN toolkit and techniques with men and women fieldworkers of the VKS. In this way we hope to develop a model of adoption whereby communities learn from each other how to use and adapt the toolkit for their own purposes, with our role being more one of facilitation than education or training. As a toolkit designed from the grassroots up, I hope to continue expanding on the concept of ‘public authoring’ that has driven the development of bookleteer and the ‘shareables’ it enables people to make and share.

In late April James and I will return to Papua New Guinea to work with Reite villagers to introduce the TKRN toolkit to a couple of other villages in Madang Province – this should provide an good indication of the possibilities and limitations of how a model of community knowledge transfer and adaptation can work.

Making London Event

August 29, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Back in July Giles delivered a workshop on “Peeking over the Horizon” for the University of Greenwich’s Making London event. Below is a short video of the day:

Making London – Design Workshop from Creative Conversations on Vimeo.

#MakingLondon was a workshop-based event which considered different approaches to how the creative and cultural industries can continue to innovate in an increasingly corporate and financial capital.

For more information on this and other Creative Conversations events go to http://blogs.gre.ac.uk/creativeconversations/

3 days in Pallion

May 19, 2012 by · Comments Off on 3 days in Pallion 

 

This week just passed Alice, Haz and myself have been running some co-design workshops with local community members in Pallion, a neighbourhood in the city of Sunderland, and with Lizzie Coles-Kemp and Elahe Kani-Zabihi of Royal Holloway’s Information Security Group, hosted at Pallion Action Group. The workshops, our second round following some others in early April, were focused around visualising the shape, needs and resources available to local people in building their own sustainable knowledge and support network – the Pallion Ideas Exchange. We also worked on testing the various tools and aids which we’ve designed in response to what we’ve learned of the issues and concerns facing individuals and the community in general.

The first day was spent making a visualisation of the hopes and aspirations for what PIE could achieve, the various kinds of activities it would do, and all the things they would need to make this happen. Based on previous discussions and workshops we’d drawn up a list of the kinds of activities PIE might do and the kinds of things they’d need and Mandy had done a great job over the past couple of weeks creating lots of simple sketches to help build up the visual map, to which were added lots of other issues, activity ideas, resources and hoped for outcomes.

 

Visualising PIE this way allowed for wide-ranging discussions about what people want to achieve and what it would need to happen – from building confidence in young people and the community more generally, to being resilient in the face of intimidation by local neer-do-wells. Over the course of the first afternoon the shape changed dramatically as the relationships between outcomes, activities, needs, people and resources began to emerge and the discussion revealed different understandings and interpretations of what people wanted.

On the second day we focused on the tools and aids we’ve been designing – a series of flow diagrams breaking down into simple steps some methods for problem solving, recording and sharing solutions and tips online, how to promote and share opportunities to people they would benefit and things to consider about safety and privacy before posting information online. We’ve also designed some simple notebooks with prompts to help do things like take notes during meetings and at events, a notebook for breaking problems down into small chunks that can be addressed more easily alongside place to note what, who and where help from PIE is available, and a notebook for organising and managing information and experiences of PIE members about sharing solutions to common problems that can be safer shared online. As the props for a co-design workshop these were all up for re-design or being left to one side if not relevant or useful. An important factor that emerged during the discussion was that people might feel uncomfortable with notes being written in a notebook during a social event – the solution arrived at was to design a series of ‘worksheet posters’ which could be put up on the walls and which everyone could see and add notes, ideas or comments to. The issue of respecting anonymity about problems people have also led to the suggestion of a suggestions box where people could post problems anonymously, and an ‘Ideas Wall’ where the problems could be highlighted and possible solutions proposed. We came away with a list of new things to design and some small tweaks to the notebooks to make them more useful – it was also really helpful to see a few examples of how local people had started using the tools we’ve designed to get a feel for them:

On the afternoon of the second day we also spent a long time discussing the technologies for sharing the community’s knowledge and solutions that would be most appropriate and accessible. We looked at a whole range of possibilities, from the most obvious and generic social media platforms and publishing platforms to more targeted tools (such as SMS Gateways for broadcasting to mobiles). As we are working with a highly intergenerational group who are forming the core of PIE (ages range from 16 – 62) there were all kinds of fluencies with different technologies. This project is also part of the wider Vome project addressing issues of privacy awareness so we spent much of the time considering the specific issues of using social media to share knowledge and experiences in a local community where information leakage can have very serious consequences. Ultimately we are aiming towards developing an awareness for sharing that we are calling Informed Disclosure. Only a few days before I had heard about cases of loan sharks now mining Facebook information to identify potential vulnerable targets in local communities, and using the information they can glean from unwitting sharing of personal information to befriend and inveigle themselves into people’s trust. The recent grooming cases have also highlighted the issues for vulnerable teenagers in revealing personal information on public networks. Our workshop participants also shared some of their own experiences of private information being accidentally or unknowing leaked out into public networks. At the end of the day we had devised a basic outline for the tools and technologies that PIE could begin to use to get going.

Our final day at Pallion was spent helping the core PIE group set up various online tools : email, a website/blog, a web-based collaboration platform for the core group to organise and manage the network, and a twitter stream to make announcements about upcoming events. Over the summer, as more people in Pallion get involved we’re anticipating seeing other tools, such as video sharing, audio sharing and possibly SMS broadcast services being adopted and integrated into this suite of (mainly) free and open tools.

The workshops were great fun, hugely productive but also involved a steep learning curve for all of us. We’d like to thank Pat, Andrea, Ashleigh and Demi (who have taken on the roles of ‘community champions’ to get PIE up and running) for all their commitment and patience in working with us over the three days, as well as Karen & Doreen at PAG who have facilitated the process and made everything possible. And also to our partners, RHUL’s Lizzie and Elahe who have placed great faith and trust in our ability to devise and deliver a co-design process with the community that reflects on the issues at the heart of Vome.

View from our hotel in Roker

City As Material Series

November 3, 2010 by · Comments Off on City As Material Series 

City As Materials : Streetscapes - 02 Giles Lane City As Material River - 44

We’ve recently started a new series of events called City As Material. Between October and December 2010 we’re running 5 one-day urban exploration and collaborative publishing events which aim to bring diverse groups together around a number of topics to generate some fresh perspectives on urban space and experience. We will be coordinating the creation of a collaboration Diffusion eBook as the outcome of each event, which will be published on diffusion.org.uk and printedin a limited edition using bookleteer’s PPOD service. Each event will also have a special guest who will be invited to share their personal interests in the topic and who will also be commissioned to create their own eBook for the series:

Book places for the events here : cityasmaterial.eventbrite.com
Download publications from the series here : diffusion.org.uk/?cat=976
Follow our reports on the events here : bookleteer.com/blog/tag/pitch-in-publish/

Seven days in Seven Dials, Books

August 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Last month Proboscis and our FJF Placements Shalene Barnett and Karine Dorset worked with with participants on Seven Days in Seven Dials. Three download print & make books created by participants in the project are now available to download. The project involved the creation of a temporary exhibition of films, podcasts, photography and books in an empty shop in Covent Garden, put together in one week by participants from London’s Culture Quarter Programme, working with the projects initiator Dan Thompson from artistsandmakers.com and the Empty Shops Network, podcaster Richard Vobes, photographer Steve Bomford, artist Michael Radcliffe, Proboscis and Natasha Middleton.
The books, made using Bookleteer, are available to download from Diffusion.

Seven Days in Seven Dials; a week in the life of London’s Culture Quarters

July 28, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

For a week in early July Proboscis worked on Seven Days in Seven Dials a project by artistsandmakers.com and the West End Cultural Quarter to create an exhibition in one week with 30 young people on the Culture Quarter Programme of placements.

Proboscis currently has a scheme of placements funded by the Future Jobs Fund and the first two in the scheme, Shalene Barnett and Karine Dorset, joined Seven Days in Seven Dials to create download, print and makeup publications using bookleteer.com to accompany the exhibition. Here are their thoughts on the week:

My role was to put together and produce a publication of the walking tour that took place… First we mapped out the places we were going to go and the route that we were going to take then we set out on the journey. By the end of the day we had taken pictures, collected facts and had most of the content for the eBook. On the Wednesday I spent my time at the shop in Covent Garden, editing photos and text, rearranging the eBook template I had already done and actually start putting in some content.
Friday we were in the studio. I began to finish the book, did some editing and rearranging just to make sure that the eBook was correct., printed off copies and ran them down to the shop in Convent Garden for display for the opening show on the project. It was a great experience and I had great fun working with a big range of different groups of people, I would love to do it again in the near future.
” KD

Seven Days in Seven Dials for me was a lovely experience. I spent seven days in an area called Seven Dials which is located in Covent Garden. I spent the seven days documenting different groups of people as they gathered various information about seven dials….All in all I highly enjoyed my time at Seven Dials. It was nice to meet young people that are on the same FJF scheme as myself and are trying something new and out of the box. I think the Empty Shops project is very creative and I would gladly do it again. At times it was hard work but the hard work most definitely paid off.” SB

You can see images here

and read more on the artistsandmakers website.

Empty Shops Pitch Up & Publish

March 17, 2010 by · Comments Off on Empty Shops Pitch Up & Publish 

Proboscis is collaborating with Dan Thompson of artistsandmakers.com to run a series of bookleteer Pitch Up & Publish events alongside his Empty Shops Network Tour. Last week we were in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex and this week (Friday 19th March) we’ll be in Carlisle, Cumbria, with future visits planned for Coventry and Margate.

Join us to get an intro to creating your own eBooks and StoryCubes with bookleteer. Follow bookleteer on twitter or the bookleteer blog for more information.

Browse eBooks and StoryCubes made with bookleteer.com

Professional Development Commission: Articulating Futures by Niharika Hariharan

February 26, 2010 by · Comments Off on Professional Development Commission: Articulating Futures by Niharika Hariharan 

Articulating Futures was a 4 day workshop held at Chinmaya Mission Vidyalaya in New Delhi between the 17th – 20th November, 2009. As a collaboration between narrative designer Niharika Hariharan and Proboscis, the workshop investigated how through innovative thinking young students could be mobilized to voice issues that are important to them.

I had the opportunity of working as an intern and project assistant at Proboscis while I was pursuing my Masters at Central Saint Martins, London in 2008-09. Needless to say, the experience at Proboscis was invaluable, giving me important insights into the various processes of design thinking as well as management.

On completing my course, Proboscis offered me a professional development commission. The commission is granted to emerging young artists and designers to help them kick start a project of their own interest giving them an opportunity to showcase their capabilities to the ‘real world’.

Giles Lane and the Proboscis team worked with me through the entire process of my project Articulating Futures right from ideation up until the execution. Proboscis was an important member of the think tank that helped shape this commissioned project. They not only provided me with the required materials to execute the project but also a platform to share and discuss my work with creative practitioners at a global level.

Articulating Futures has been an extremely satisfying project to me as a designer and a thinker. It has allowed me to explore and share my ideas as an emerging professional in the field of art and design. And finally, it has given me the confidence to further pursue, lead and manage projects and ideas. Needless to say these are all desired and necessary skills for a future creative practitioner working in the industry.

Post the completion of my education in London, this Professional Development Commission by Proboscis was an ideal platform for me to progress towards a career in the field of art and design.

Niharika Hariharan
February 2010

view/download the Hindi/English eNotebooks
download the Project Report PDF 2.1Mb

Hertfordshires Many Voices

October 30, 2009 by · Comments Off on Hertfordshires Many Voices 

We have been working on Ears to the Ground for around 3 months now and the phase of being out there talking to people and doing activities is almost over with our energy now being focused into how to condense over 200 voices and quotes into a small publication. We’ve been roving around Hertfordshire meeting young and old, talking to them in groups, in their homes, at events. As well as the many people and groups we have met we have; set up a stall in Watford Market to talk to market goers,  set up outside Broxbourne Station to speak to commuters, set up a  map outside  Stevenage Job Centre and annotated it with post it notes of comments from Centre users and ran a drawing workshop with a youth group. We’ve taken our anarchaeology approach of using informal and creative approaches to excavate layers of meaning and understanding. I’ve enjoyed all the people we met who have been so generous, and as I go through the hours of recorded audio  two of my favourite quotes so far have been from the Meriden Comunity Centre Community Bar on the Meriden estate in north Watford, and the list of what young people saw around their Neighbourhood in the Chells area of Stevenage.

In the Meriden  community bar we asked: How long have you been here?

1962 I moved onto this estate.
I was going to say half past seven.
I’ve been a member of this club for years since it first opened.
I’ve been here so long I’ve worn a hole in the carpet.
You certainly don’t get any trouble in here fighting or all that, its just all mates really I suppose
Like a big extended family
We come down here to insult each other
Don’t know what we’d do without it, we’d sit indoors and watch telly.
We’re all living round here so we don’t need to drive.
The atmosphere, you know, you come in and you know you’re not going to get into any trouble.

And in Chells Manor Community Center we went for a walk with the youth group and after making a large drawing we asked: What did you see and draw?

I saw a fox
I saw the pub, shops, chip shop
I saw, a cat , a man smoking
I saw a tree and a road and an aeroplane
I saw a red flower, a broken glass
I saw myself
I saw a load of people at the youth club
I saw my house
apparently we saw a train going up a tree
I never saw two men shooting each other
I saw darren
I saw houses, dogs,
I saw the green, football, cricket, cycling down fairlands
nothing else

The book will be published in December.

Pitch Up & Publish 1 Slideshow

October 21, 2009 by · Comments Off on Pitch Up & Publish 1 Slideshow 

The first event was a fun evening and everyone who attended created at least 1 eBook each, with the exception of Matthew who managed to create two lovely examples. Thanks to everyone who came (Christopher, Fred, Kati, Matthew & Sara), and the team (Karen, John & Stefan).

The next Pitch Up & Publish will be on Thursday 5th November 2009 at our studio in Clerkenwell.

Arteleku: My Map is Not Your Map

September 23, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Today I’m travelling to San Sebastian, Spain to take part and give a presentation at the workshop, My Map is Not Your Map. The workshop is hosted by Arteleku and coordinated by José Luis Pajares (gelo); the other presenters are Lize Mogel, Fabien Girardin and Julius von Bismarck.

My presentation (Thurs 24th at 19.00) will be an overview of Proboscis’ projects exploring place, public authoring and sensing conducted since the 2002 (e.g. Urban Tapestries, Social Tapestries, Feral Robots, Snout, Sutton Grapevine & Sensory Threads. Proboscis’ work has always focused less on the technological than on the relational nature of linking human knowledge and experience to place – why and how people tell stories and construct narratives around the places they inhabit and which hold meaning for them.

bookleteer – Pitch Up & Publish

September 21, 2009 by · Comments Off on bookleteer – Pitch Up & Publish 

DSC_0112.JPG
Starting in October we will be running regular informal evening workshops for people to literally pitch up and publish using bookleteer.com. Initially these will be held at our Clerkenwell Studio for up to 15 participants – all you need is a laptop and some content (text /photos/ drawings etc) you’d like to create and share as eBooks or StoryCubes (shareables). We will provide free user accounts to bookleteer and guide you through the steps of preparing and generating your shareables to share online, via email or as physical publications. Once created you can publish them on your own website or, if appropriate, we can publish them on Diffusion.

Update: The first workshop will be held on October 15th 2009 between 6.30-9pm at the Proboscis Studio.

To reserve a place please email us at diffusion (at) proboscis.org.uk Participants will be asked to make small donation to cover materials (paper/printing ink etc) and refreshments (beer).

DodoLab PEI

August 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on DodoLab PEI 

Alice Angus and Giles Lane are currently participating in the latest DodoLab in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada where we are working alongside Andrew Hunter (Chief DodoLabster), Barb Hobot, Laura Knapp and Lisa Hirmer, as well as a group of students from Mount Allison University led by Dr Shauna McCabe.

DodoLab PEI is being hosted by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and is exploring a number of issues related to green space in the city, notably the Experimental Farm there.

DodoLab eBooks & StoryCubes on Diffusion

alright!

July 1, 2009 by · Comments Off on alright! 

alright! from Proboscis on Vimeo.

A film made by Sutton Youth group about the qualities that make up Sutton-in-the-Isle, a village in the Fens. Using cut up paper and some pretty low tech processes and a lot of laughing, this was made in under two hours one evening.

Sutton Grapevine

June 4, 2009 by · Comments Off on Sutton Grapevine 

This week we are back in Sutton-in-the-Isle for Sutton Grapevine our  story gathering and sharing project commissioned by ADeC.

From 3rd – 9th of June we’ll be roving around the village gathering and recording stories in many ways; from hanging out at the election, the community shop, the pub and the community spaces with a large village map, to visiting local clubs and individuals, to hosting a storytelling dinner with the residents of a street, to running workshops and going for walks. As the village continues to change through growth, movement and migration the initiative aims to let local people explore place and identity.

Alongside this we’ve integrated storytelling and news sharing (by email and with a WordPress blog);  sound recordings (via the free podbean and AudioBoo podcasting servicees and the low cost Gabcast telephone-to-MP3 podcasting service); photo sharing (via the Flickr group pool); social connections (via the Facebook Group) and news feeds (via Twitter). We will also be adding in some of our own inventions like StoryCubes and Diffusion eBooks to make tangible things that can be passed around, as well as the digital media.

Should you find yourself in the area please come and find us in Sutton to add a story to the Grapevine or  join in remotely.

We will be back during Sutton Feast Week from the 1st – 5th July with an exhibition and audio broadcasts at St Andrews Church and around the village.

See you in Sutton!

Poster sutton 3

Jump In workshop

May 1, 2009 by · Comments Off on Jump In workshop 

As part of our contribution to the Creator Research Cluster, Giles Lane, Sarah Thelwall (mycake) and Tim Jones (Solar Associates) organised a 1 day workshop at The Rookery in Clerkenwell to explore how small arts organisations could explore working with research departments in universities, and develop the case for becoming Independent Research Organisations. The workshop brought together around 20 participants from a wide group of artists and creative professionals, many of whom are already in collaborations with universities, to share experiences and insights into collaborative practices.

The workshop was partly inspired by Sarah’s Troubadour study for the Creator Cluster (due to be published in June 2009 by Proboscis), the executive summary of which was circulated to all the participants. It drew on the experiences of Proboscis (already an IRO since 2005), Blast Theory and Scan who have all maintained long term partnerships and collaborations with universities stretching back a decade or more. The AHRC was also represented at the workshop and was helpful in identifying the probable routes needed to be taken to achieve IRO status in the current climate.

The participants agreed to set up an informal cluster of interested parties who wanted to take the process further.

Participants: Giles Lane (Proboscis); Sarah Thelwall (mycake); Tim Jones (Solar Associates); Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield); Helen Sloan (Scan); Julianne Pierce (Blast Theory); Rob La Frenais (Arts Catalyst); Tassos Stevens (Coney); Ruth & Bruno (Igloo); Glenn Davidson (Artstation); Rachel Jacob (Active Ingredient); Evelyn Wilson (LCACE); Gini Simpson (Queen Mary); Annamaria Wills (cida); Carien Meier (Drake); Ben Cook (LUX); Tim Harrison (ACE London); Isabel Lilly (Stream); Joanna Pollock (AHRC); Nick? (A Foundation).

Absent Friends: Bronac Ferran (boundaryobject); Julie Taylor (Goldsmiths); Lorraine Warren (Southampton); Ted Fuller (Lincoln)

Funded by the CREATOR Cluster, part of the EPSRC’s Digital Economy programme.

UrbanSense08 Workshop

November 6, 2008 by · Comments Off on UrbanSense08 Workshop 

The third in a series of workshop on the theme of urban sensing, UrbanSense 08 took place in Raleigh, North Carolina in November 2008. The workshop explored ideas, prototypes and realised projects around participatory sensing. Karen Martin made a presentation of ‘Participatory Sensing for Urban Communities’ which described the Robotic Feral Public Authoring and Snout projects which Proboscis had created in collaboration with Birkbeck College, University of London.

Read the paper ‘Participatory Sensing for Urban Communities‘ (PDF 650Kb) by Demetrios Airantzis (Birkbeck College, University of London); Alice Angus (Proboscis), Giles Lane (Proboscis), Karen Martin (Proboscis), George Roussos (Birkbeck College, University of London), Jenson Taylor (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Here is the workshop abstract:
Sensing is going mobile and people-centric. Sensors for activity recognition and GPS for location are now being shipped in millions of top end mobile phones. This complements other sensors already on mobile phones such as high-quality cameras and microphones. At the same time we are seeing sensors installed in urban environments in support of more classic environmental sensing applications, such as, real-time feeds for air-quality, pollutants, weather conditions, and congestion conditions around the city. Collaborative data gathering of sensed data for people by people, facilitated by sensing systems comprised of everyday mobile devices and their interaction with static sensor webs, present a new frontier at the intersection between pervasive computing and sensor networking.

This workshop promotes exchange among sensing system researchers involved in areas, such as, mobile sensing, people-centric and participatory sensing, urban sensing, public health, community development, and cultural expression. It focuses on how mobile phones and other everyday devices can be employed as network- connected, location-aware, human-in-the-loop sensors that enable data collection, geo-tagged documentation, mapping, modeling, and other case-making capabilities.

http://sensorlab.cs.dartmouth.edu/urbansensing/

Constructing Conversations

October 20, 2008 by · Comments Off on Constructing Conversations 


Constructing Conversations from Proboscis on Vimeo.

A film for the Perception Peterborough project, documenting the creation of a 3 dimensional ‘map’ of creative visions overlaid over the city. The film was shot during workshops facilitated by Proboscis in Peterborough Museum in September 2008.

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