In front of the community centreHow do community-based groups find connections and learn what they might share with others? Britain is full of inspiring community-run projects, based at theatres, arts centres, allotments and museums; involving sports and crafts; run as clubs, societies or just through common interest. These groups bring knowledge, skills and passion, which is rarely celebrated and shared.

“How We Made it Happen” records a project with three very different but passionate groups that shared the value of their pursuits and meetings using community media. There are stories of collecting oral history, being a mother, finding new skills and caring for others, across Sheffield, Birmingham and Cornwall. By recording thoughts and feelings about each group’s work together, members have been able to reflect and make their learning available to others. The site outlines how other groups might approach making a reflective piece, not only about activities, but also about who they are and why they come together.

Making mediaOn this site, you will find podcasts of community radio programmes with a short introduction to the group that made each. Listening, you will hear the importance of the group to its members and how they approach their identity and actions.  Last, you will find tools that help you consider if using radio as a reflective device will help your group grow and share experiences with others, to build knowledge, skill and passion and inspire and support people in other communities.

The material here is the result of the CARM research project which ran from February to December 2012 and was funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme (URL) and supported by the Community Media Association (URL). The research team of Ann Light and Katie Hill from Northumbria University and Fiona Hackney of Falmouth University are all interested in how creative practices can support community development. In addition to the research team, there are four organisers who are partners in the project. These are Natalia Eernstman and Mac Dunlop (both in Cornwall); Deirdre Figueiredo who runs Craftspace in Birmingham; and Valerie Monti Holland (Sheffield), her company Left Luggage, offers facilitation, training, coaching and mentoring using action methods and interactive techniques.

Making mediaWhy now?

Political agendas such as Big Society mean that responsibility for public services and facilities is being shifted from government to local organisations. Community groups, grass-roots organisations and charities are taking on more responsibility with fewer resources. We think it is important that these organisations have tested ways to consider their own practices so that they can do more of the things that work well and deal with challenges and problems by learning from other groups around the country.

Making mediaWhy community media?

Community media, particularly community radio, provides an accessible means for people to create and share their own broadcasts or podcasts. There are many community radio stations that welcome people that want to make their own programmes about local projects. Having a programme available on the website of a community radio station, or nationally on the Community Media Association archive, means that people can listen to the programme anywhere, at any time and it can be easily shared through websites, email and social media.

Find out what the three different groups did. Listen to the podcasts that resulted. Or read a bit more about the research results. And learn what this project triggered and what projects will follow.

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  1. Pingback: Fiona Hackney | art & activism

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