Posts filed under 'Society'
Hippily Crippily #02
Step into Ems Coombes’ Hippily Crippily world of Grand Days Out.
This week she’s listening to the sounds of Sangat, pulling beards, and shouting out to her posse down at the Barbican Theatre and B-bar.
During Ems’ research into setting up Strictly Collaborative – her proto theatre group – she visited Holton Lee and the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive in Dorset. She took our steam powered recording devices, and these are the results.
May 27th, 2008
posted by Jess Sains
‘Terrorism’ has come to Exeter this week. On Thursday May 22, 2008 (perhaps to be known in the future as 22/5) a small bomb exploded in the Giraffe restaurant in the new Princesshay shopping centre in Exeter city centre.
Since then there have been a lot of labels placed. The ’suspect’ (label one) is a ‘gentle giant’ (label two), who has been ‘radicalised’ (label three) to the Islamic faith and there is the biggest label of all (label four) that he ‘has a history of mental illness’.
So, already we have been told a good deal of loose information about a man whom I have only seen in a fuzzy photo with blood all over his face. Information. Or labels? Labels have so much connotation in them, they can effect how people are viewed by ourselves and others for their whole live. Yet, we – and particularly our media – slap them on people on a daily basis. David Cameron is a ‘Old Etonian toff'’, others are ‘yummy mummies’, ‘hippies’, ‘addicts’, ’scroungers’ or ‘terrorists’. All these labels bare with them connotations; the yummies will be dressed up to the nines, driving a 4X4 and castigating any woman who works whilst her children are young; the scroungers will be on the dole, perhaps - another label here - a bit chavvy or having too many children for good tax-payers comfort. Most dripping with unspoken intuitions of all of these labels are the two ‘terrorist’ and ‘mental illness’.
‘Terrorist’ means, in this day and age, that you will kill anyone for a cause. A few years ago the unspoken connotations might have included things like ‘Irish Republican Army’ or even possibly something to do with anti-vivisection, now what hangs in the air is ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, ‘Bin Laden’, ‘September the 11th’. Sitting in the darkness at the very back of all these words are falling towers, smoky tube tunnels, blood soaked faces, death.
We live in an age where all media events are played out on our screens. I, like millions of others, was sat watching the television when the second plane hit the World Trade Centre, was enthralled to the news by the time the Tavistock Square bus was blown up. All this instantaneous action and reaction makes labels all the more pervasive. They are thrown out there, stuck on a person before we even know what’s happened. I remember when the first plane had hit in 2001 sitting there watching and the reporter telling us all that the attacks were suspected to be by ‘anarchists’. I knew that wasn’t so straight away. ‘Anarchist’ is a label I wear; my ‘anarchism’ is something to be proud of, an ideal, yet I know that for others my label is something quite different. I am likely to be ‘trouble’, ‘rebellious’, I have ‘issues with authority figures’ – I might even throw bombs… we all wear so many labels – ‘loud’, ‘fat’, ‘thin’, ‘rude’, ‘boring’ – that some almost seem to lose their meaning. But that’s just it, they are both meaningless and yet the connotations hang in the air around us, they are stamped on us, they make us “other” and “other” is scary.
That’s what labels are, ultimately; making someone unlike oneself. That makes oneself there person who is ‘OK’ and the other the one who is outside the circle, who is different. It is only when we peel off the labels that we can truly see the person:
I am an anarchist. I am a daughter. I am fat. I am loud. I am a sister. I am a politics geek. I am a partner. I was home educated.
I am Jess.
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May 24th, 2008
posted by Cptn
There’s even more action than usual in Mutley next week with the Mutley Greenbank Festival, kicking off on Monday with a party in a park which includes friends to the republic, Lemanis. But before you put your dancing shoes on have a gander at what else is going on in the weeklong events that focus on arts, the environment and the community.
The week of events launch on Monday May 26 at the Levinsky building, Plymouth Uni, and there’s stuff for old and young including activities and circus skill and animation and dance, films and a cafe. (starts at 11am)
Also on Monday is the Party in the (Moorview) Park, featuring the cool sounds of Drinking Peanuts,starting proceedings at 1pm. Followed by Duncan Thorne, “and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buddha Om, the man behind the Acoustic Café evenings at the Fortescue pub. Tim Page, legendary blues guitarist and singer, will be performing with Bekah Billington, and Lemanis will be bringing their complex and interesting mix of harmonies, backed by an orchestra of wind, brass and string instruments. The evening sounds commence with get-up-and-dance local band The Bernies, followed by The Wireless, just back from a festival in Nice, and are set to crescendo with the ever popular Mad Dog McCrea.”
But that’s just Monday, there’s stuff going on every day culminating in a two-day Big Days in the Park event in Freedom Fields Park on Saturday May 31 and Sunday June 1.
Combine this with craft fair, art events, environmental afternoons and workshops and courses and you’ve got one heck of a hip and happening week, cunningly planned to co-incide with half term, in everyone’s favourite bit of the city.
We cannot live on love alone
May 24th, 2008
posted by Cptn
Chagford is stepping into Change your Footprint week, May 27 to June 3 with both feet.
On May 31, at noon Mukti Mitchell, author of The Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles will unveil solar panels from and composting from Proper Job.
Later in the day Mukti will be leading a free workshop on How to Live a Low Carbon Lifestyle between 2pm and 5.30pm at the Jubilee Hall Chagford, suppoted by CASE (Chagford Action for Sustainable Energy).
At 7.30pm the Jubliee Hall will show the films Power of the Community and Carbon Weevils, a Forkbeard Fantasy film, plus discussion.
Earlier in the week top selling author of The World Without Us Alan Weisman will be speaking at Chagford church on Tuesday May 27 at 7.30pm.
On Sunday June 1 between 10am and 3pm, there will be fun down at the Chagford Allotments including a composting workshop with Nicky Scott of Devon Community Composting Network at 11am. For more details, contact Chagford Allotments chair, Chris Licence on .
On June 3, Satish Kumar will be at Jubilee Hall at 7.30pm. Tickets from the Big Red Sofa on . Get in now, we hear the tickets are going fast.
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May 23rd, 2008
posted by Cptn
Devon is the new California, doncha know. And one of the indicators are the slew of fine wines that are popping up, so it’s with great pleasure that we can inform you that friends of the republic Kenton Vineyard (’nestling in the foothills of the Haldon Hills’) will be opening its gates to the public from Sunday May 25.
And to celebrate the vineyard’s first birthday, and the uncorking of English Wine Week, there will be a first birthday celebration, with cake. Plus, an exhibition of painting by Jo Talbot Bowen and vine trails are free for the afternoon with a fun nature trail for children under 12.
During the week (May 25 to June 1) the vineyard will be open every day from 11am to 5pm, for the rest of the open season, which ends on September 25, the hours will be Thursday and Sundays 11am to 5pm.
With barely time to take a sip there’s a behind the scenes tour on Tuesday may 27 at 3pm (£6) and Saturday May 31, noon to 4pm there’s a fundraising event for RNLI, with all trail proceeds going to the charity (£2 adult) with a wine quize and prizes and refreshments.
And the wine week ends with a bookable tour with the winemaker, it takes an hour and you get a glass of the stuff.
Phew, you’ll need to put one to chill now.
your republic needs you
May 23rd, 2008
Fit for purpose
Agriculture can be a bit of a hot potato, in more ways than one, which is why a group of experts got together at the stannary stump of Exeter University’s Centre for Rural Policy and Research to discuss “Is Devon’s Agriculture Fit for Purpose?” And here’s what they told us.
“The jury consisted of key stakeholders including Devon County Council, Clinton Devon Estates, Small Farms Association, Duchy College and Churches Together in Devon. They heard evidence from five expert witnesses drawn from the county’s land management, environmental and research communities who had 15 minutes to present their evidence and then be questioned by the jury.
“It is known that agriculture is a major contributor to national emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, both powerful green house gases (GHGs). There are a wide range of actions that potentially can be taken to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture and it is against this background that the jury considered Devon’s current ability to face the challenges posed by climate change.
“The first witness to present evidence was Dr Dave Chadwick, a senior research scientist from North Wyke Research, who gave an overview of the issues pertaining to methane and nitrous oxide emissions. He identified examples of best practice such as not exceeding crop requirements for Nitrogen; spreading manure at appropriate times and conditions; and establishing permanent grass and woodlands.
“Paul Gompertz, director of Devon Wildlife Trust gave his personal perspective on the issue that Devon’s agriculture was not fit for purpose, arguing that Devon’s agriculture cannot be thought of in isolation and there was a need to do more than just produce food from the land. There was also a need to transform food production and distribution systems.
“A University of Exeter employee based at Riverford Organic Vegetables, Mark Howard, argued for a no confidence verdict, pointing out that agriculture needs to reduce its dependency on oil as current farming and food industry practices were essentially converting fossil fuels into food. This could be changed by the use of organic production systems, addressing food distribution networks, minimising food importation and expanding the use of renewable energy. In response to a question from the jury he agreed that reducing the estimated 30% of food ‘wasted’ in the home would make a contribution to reducing GHG emissions and agreed that Devon farmers had a role to play in educating consumers.
“The regional director of the NFU, Mel Hall argued that there were more positive than negative opportunities by having a more diverse industry; biofuels, Rural Development programme funding, local scale solutions for farming and flood management to name only a few. The key issue is about being prepared and knowing what the food the industry needs to do to respond to new challenges. She advised that farmers can adapt but will need assistance in responding to the climate change agenda. It was noted that farmers in the uplands face particular difficulties in adapting given their current precarious economic position.
“The final witness of the day was Mark Robins, RSPB regional policy officer and chair of the Regional Environment Network. He argued that chances for biodiversity, in particular farmland birds ability to adapt to the rapid shift in climate change were slim. He felt that the case for the cultural and symbolic strength of farming in Devon meant that farming should be at the heart of finding solutions to the climate change challenge. It was not something that could be left for the government and agricultural policy but required mobilisation of Devon’s communities, environmentalists, farmers and consumers.
“The verdict from the Jury was that “We believe that Devon’s farming is fit for purpose today. In terms of the future, the jury is out”. The Jury made the observations and recommendations that there is a need for a strategic overview of the county and improved understanding of land use planning. There is a need to develop likely scenarios of future change and build a strategy around these. The jury had some concerns about science and research and development, recognising that it is a national issue but were concerned to ensure that the county and the farming industry were linked in to sound research and science. This would help inform the industry to make the changes that are necessary. Finally, more active market place experiments were necessary as this would be the only way to find out if farming is fit for purpose by testing the theories.
“Dr Matt Lobley, Centre for Rural Policy and Research was encouraged by the jury process developed in conjunction with the County Council, he said ‘The jury represented a range of key stake holders and high powered opinion formers who all agreed on the verdict and backed the outcome in a short period of time. This endorsement will assist in influencing decisions made across the county as the organisations who can make a difference all have a shared understanding of the issues.
“He added, It was a great way to canvas opinion and the expertise of a large group of people. The recommendations will go to the Devon Rural Network who can give a steer of the type of priorities for the future and it is hoped that this will influence decisions made across the county. ‘
“The jury concept as a means of tackling complex subjects has been trialled by the government with the citizen jury.”
May 22nd, 2008
Appledore arts a’coming
posted by Cptn
If you’ve spent an afternoon watching youngsters and oldsters crabbing on the Appledore sea front, you’d be forgiven for wondering how the whole town turns into a massive arts festival from Thursday May 29 to Sunday June 1. But arts epicentre it becomes for the Appledore Arts Festival, attracting the great and the good.
Over the next couple of days we’ll be looking at a couple of the artists who are taking part in this year’s Appledore festival, but for now, content yourself with a brief overview of what’s going on on the North Devon shore.
The theme for this year, fittingly enough, is The Earth, for as Satish Kumar, director of Resurgence says: “The Earth has inspired great art for centuries. It is a wonderful, natural muse.”
And there’s a literal usage of earth for some of the artists. Jill Abey and Jackie Smallcombe use cob for sculpture and sculptured buildings.
Sculptor Peter Randall-Page will be present, talking about Granite Song, a collaborative project with the photographer Chris Chapman, which celebrates their local mid-Devon landscape. And sculptor David Brampton-Greene will be on hand, as will potter Svend Bayer.
Paul Lewin will be running a two-day masterclass in the rare pigment of Bideford Black.
Add to that the films, dance, artists trail open gardens, door knockers, and you’ve got an excellent wide ranging event for all ages.
To find out more, of what’s happening on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, visit the website. Or download the brochure.
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May 22nd, 2008
The science of art
Back at the start of March there was the fascinating ESRC Festival of Social Science Week. We mention it now because Claire Packman’s article (below) included, among others, Tony Hill, who’s taking part in the Flipside Film Festival tonight in the Laws of Nature/Downside Up event, at Plymouth Arts Centre at 8.30pm. Read on to find out what science and art can do for each other, and get a quick insight into Tony Hill
“South-west-based artists found themselves head-to-head with scientists and social scientists at a unique event in Exeter.
International experimental filmmaker Tony Hill and Falmouth artist Robin Hawes were among the invited speakers at Science in the Dock, Art in the Stocks: Convex/Concave, a one-day public workshop.
Part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science Week, the event took place at Gallery Terracina, an old warehouse that sits on the dockside between the river and the canal at Haven Banks, Exeter. Against the background of an exhibition of work by Nicky Thompson, Deborah Robinson and Caroline Burke, other speakers included sociologist of science Professor Harry Collins, expert in animal vision Dr Julian Partridge, ocean biologist Dr Samantha Lavender and psychologist Dr Ian Gordon.
“Convex/Concave brought together artists and scientists to share ideas about vision and perception and to engage with one another’s work and modes of representation,” explains Deborah Robinson, artist in residence at Egenis, the Centre for Genomics in Society, based at the University of Exeter, which organised the event.
“The gallery has been fulll for the whole day and evening,” says Gallery Terracina owner Cristina Burke-Trees. “The access to scientists and artists in such a relaxed atmosphere really appeals to everyone and we had some very interesting discussions.”
Director of Egenis Professor John Dupré says the experience was productive for everyone.
“Complex biological and biotechnological phenomena seem very different from a sociological or visual arts perspective,” he says. “Bringing the different views together in context can be illuminating for all sides.”
Tony Hill’s work has been shown at many art galleries, including Tate Britain, and at international film festivals. His short films explore different ways of looking at the world.
“The medium of film has great potential for seeing in ways unlike normal perception,” he says.
“Using a wide range of unusual techniques I am exploring familiar environments in such a way that we must see them with new eyes.”
Many of Tony’s films have been made with purpose-built equipment. His ingenious camera mounts enable complex and seemingly impossible movements.
He showed short extracts from a number of his works, including Too See, Downside Up, Water Work and Expanded Movie. He also showed the whole of the brief but remarkable A Short History of the Wheel.
“I’m trying to undermine our perceptual habits and recreate a sense of wonder,” he says, an aim in he which he succeeds admirably. The audience was spellbound.
Ways of seeing are very much at the heart of the work of Robin Hawes, who showed a series of photographic images produced as part of Private View: The Nature of Visual Process, a collaborative project with cognitive neuroscientist Professor Tim Hodgson.
“My creative practice revolves around the ways in which evolution and the human brain have shaped the nature of our internal experience; our understanding of the external world and the influence this has in determining a common notion of ‘reality’,” Robin says.
“This project highlights the interanlly constructive and indiosyncratic aspect of visual perception. In essence, each time someone contemplates a work of art, that work of art is re-created internally by the brain. The project set out, in part at least, to make visible this hitherto internal, unique and unshared nerological event.”
In his closing summary Professor Bob Witkin expressed his concern that society tends to centralise science and marginalise the arts, particularly in education, where children are encouraged progressively to detach from their own visceral experience in interpreting the world.
Responding, Professor Steve Hughes, co-director of Egenis, who conceived the workshop, expressed the hope that events of this kind, which reveal what artists and scientists share, will help to reverse any marginalisation of one by the other.
• Tony Hill, Laws of Nature/Downside Up event, at Plymouth Arts Centre at 8.30pm. £6 (or £4.50)
(Image from Tony Hill’s Downside Up)
your republic needs you
May 22nd, 2008
Watching the council
posted by Cptn
While you’re waiting for your the next episode of Monk, or whatever it is that’s your viewing pleasure on Thursday afternoon, take a gander at the Devon County Council annual meeting, which will be broadcast live on the internet on Thursday May 22, at 2.15pm.
But don’t despair if you didn’t catch it live, you can pick up the recorded show when you fancy, either at home – or even at a library. (It’s all a bit like The Apprentice, really.) Explore Devon County Council’s interactivity.
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May 21st, 2008
posted by Cptn
In this ungodly age, it’s refreshing to know that a much-loved Sunday Service will continue – the Exeter to Okehampton trains.
After the announced sale of Dartmoor Railway the county council secured the the Sunday Services which has operated each season since 1997 as part of the Dartmoor Sunday Rover network of buses and trains.
Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, told the PRSD: “This saves this popular service for this summer which is great news for everyone who enjoys using the Sunday trains.
“It is already a very popular service and hopefully more people will be tempted to come along and show their support. Unfortunately, the buffet and model shop at Okehampton Station and the buffet and visitor centre at Meldon are closed at present and the Dartmoor Pony train is not running this season.
“Other than that it will be business as usual and The Friends of Dartmoor Railway are hoping to arrange some catering. In spite of reduced ancillary services while the service is restarted the Sunday Train will enable lovers of Dartmoor as well as those who don’t yet know to get access this wonderful National Park.”
And here’s some more general info from the press release:
The Dartmoor Sunday Rover commences this year on Sunday 25 May and runs until Sunday 21 September. Connecting with the train at Okehampton are buses for Tavistock and Gunnislake, from where the Tamar Valley line trains run to Bere Alston and Plymouth. Bus service 82 across the centre of the Moor completes the Grand Tour back to Exeter.
The Sunday Rover Ticket will be available at the same price as last year, £6 adult and £16 for a family of up to five people, and this provides bus and rail trips all over Dartmoor and on buses further afield. Single and day return tickets are also available.
A leaflet giving full details of fares and times for the trains and buses will be available soon from bus stations, main railway stations and Tourist information Centres. Bus and train times are available from Traveline on 08457 200 22 33.
May 18th, 2008