Creative workshop summary

The ‘Unlocking the creative learning city’ workshop presented a unique opportunity to bring together a group of South Asian women from the Dhek Bhal community with our research team and a local community artist.  The workshop took place on 7th June 2017, with  participants drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, from Pakistan and India. Many of the participants work within and across multiple sectors and roles. It was this diversity of background and experience that led to really fruitful discussion about the participants’ individual learning experiences.
In the opening session, Magda Buchczyk (University of Bristol), Eleanor Shipman (Something Good Something Useful) and Zehra Haq (Dhek Bhal) set the scene for the day, placing the workshop in the context of the Reinventing Learning Cities Project. In the afternoon, the group embarked on a design of a collaborative textile project. Drawing on the conversations about personal learning,  the participants were encouraged to experiment with a selection of materials to create a large embroidered patchwork which will be presented during a public exhibition, Learning City: A Self Portrait, taking place from 25 August in Hamilton House, Bristol.


This workshop, funded by the Brigstow Institute, was a one of the two events, exploring the creative possibilities of some of the research themes.

A short description of the activities and the piece by Eleonor Shipman can be found here: http://somethinggoodsomethinguseful.com/learning-in-the-city-embroidery-with-dhek-bhal/

 

Presentation during the 12th International Annual Ethnography Symposium

We are pleased to announce that Keri and Magda will be giving a presentation to the International Annual Ethnography Symposium in Manchester in August 2017.

In 2017 the ethnography symposium takes as its theme the question of politics and ethnography in “an age of uncertainty”. The paper “Materialising urban learning infrastructures” will be part of the “Infrastructures of education” panel.

Keri and Magda will argue that by paying attention to the materiality of the learning city, we can grasp the channelling structures and ways in which different modalities of learning are made visible and embedded in the urban fabric and the social life of the city.

 

Conference website: http://www.confercare.manchester.ac.uk/events/ethnography/

Capture

 

 

 

Learning encounters with a toddler

‘Bristol is the first city in England to become part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities’

‘A Learning City is defined as a place which uses its resources to promote inclusive, lifelong learning in education, families, communities and the workplace’

As a young family raising a toddler in this culturally opulent city, this accolade prompted a desire to discover and document the myriad of learning opportunities that Bristol boasts as a recognised UNESCO ‘Learning City’.

Over a period of three months, we have used photography to ethnographically document our family learning encounters as a research resource for the ‘Reinventing Learning Cities’ project.

As we embarked upon this exciting project as a family, we had resplendent plans to further connect with the city in which we live; a chance to explore learning opportunities in areas of the city less well known to us, to engage with the plethora of cultural projects, opportunities and visual stimuli that Bristol extends. As parents, we are desperate to capitalise on this tender age and developmental stage of our toddler, his unreserved enthusiasm for learning and his capacity to absorb and engage with information in such a starry – eyed and impartial way.

As we have progressed through our research journey, it has become overwhelmingly clear to us however that we have been enamoured and enraptured by the wealth of learning opportunities on our doorstep and in surrounding communities.

library

Our research and ethnographic documentation from a toddler’s learning perspective, parallel our initial aim to connect and discover new areas and opportunities across the city and instead proffer a love affair with our local and surrounding communities as an area to live and learn in as a young family.  Whilst this brings about some feelings of failure on our part to meet the research brief that we prescribed for ourselves, as we strive to be globally and culturally attuned parents, I can’t help but refer back to the UNESCO definition of a Learning City – ‘a place which uses its resources to promote inclusive, lifelong learning in education, families and communities’. I feel that that our research findings unreservedly champion the idea of community learning and celebrate the local opportunities accessible to us.

Rather than showcasing a cross – cutting breadth of learning encounters across the ‘Learning City’ of Bristol, our photographs instead capture the subject of community love and living in Bristol from our toddler’s perspective and illustrate learning outcomes from our everyday mundane activities, connecting with people and places in our local community and trips and visits all within walking distance from our family home. Furthermore, it was important to us that we only documented learning encounters that were free or that were part of general living costs such as food shopping for example, to ensure that what we recorded would be accessible for everyone.

It is our aspiration that this research project serves as only the foundation and mere beginning of our family learning journey in this vibrant Learning City. If I refer to the quote by Mother Theresa ‘Love Begins at Home’, in the context of our ambition for our son to have a lifelong love for learning, I certainly do hope that our infant learning narrative is testament to that.

Jessica Tomico – Community Researcher

Call for artists to deliver workshops

We are excited to announce that the call for artists to take part in Unlocking Creative Learning Cities collaborative project is NOW OPEN!

Dhek Bhal and University of Bristol are proud to announce a new collaborative project to inspire new art co-production and storytelling activities. The project is set to bring art to the Dhek Bhal community. To do so, we are looking for artists from any discipline who want to work with Dhek Bhal to create a collaborative artwork inspired by Dhek Bhal users’ stories.

What is Unlocking Creative Learning Cities?

Dhek Bhal, a community-based charity, has been working with the ageing South Asian population in Bristol experiencing social isolation and vulnerability. This project is building on their unique legacy of culturally responsive services to explore the use of participatory art methods, ethnography and storytelling in enhancing Dhek Bhal’s work in health and wellbeing, and share it with broader audiences across the city.

The artworks will be designed co-productively during two workshops with individuals who are Dhek Bhal service users. Produced during storytelling and critical making sessions, the workshops will explore how the city acts as a medium for learning as seen from the perspective of the ageing South Asian respondents. Each workshop will be designed in a culturally appropriate manner, including men-only and women-only sessions and sharing reflections and food together. As the sessions will be supported by community interpreters, they will provide a welcoming environment, encouraging the participants to recall stories, share with others and think creatively about their experiences.

Why should you apply to be an Unlocking Creative Learning Cities artist?

We expect participating artists to have an interest in developing connections with the local community. Participants will be primarily provided with opportunities to:

  • Develop a unique collaboration with Dhek Bhal and the University of Bristol researchers
  • Showcase the resulting work at an exhibition in Coexist, Bristol  in August 2017
  • A workshop honorarium of £300 per session. We will also provide a small budget for materials and post-production.

You will need to be available for one or two workshops:

  1. June 2017 10:00 – 16:00 Dhek Bhal women’s group
  2. July 2017 10:00 – 16:00 Dhek Bhal men’s group.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please email us a selection of art production options suitable for the group activity with a short description of your past experience and interest in this project.

Email: magda.buchczyk@bristol.ac.uk

Please feel free to contact us with any further queries.

The deadline for applications is 10 March 2017. The shortlisted artists will have an opportunity to meet the project team on 17. March 2017 to discuss ideas further.

womens-project

Paper on addressing global challenges in Bristol during EURA Conference in Warsaw 2017

We are pleased to announce that our project will be presented during the European Urban Research Association Conference in Warsaw. The focus of the conference revolves around the concept of urban networks and multi-scalar spaces. It enables us to think about cities as political agents shaping their presence on the global political and economic arena. It also provides scope for treating inner urban politics and policies as signs of downscaling.

Our paper will be part of a wider global challenges theme. The theme addresses the implications arising from conceptualising cities as nodes in a global network; increasingly vulnerable to global challenges related to environmental changes, demographic dynamics, and infrastructure failures. Our paper demonstrates a case study of an interrelated networked-structure developed in Bristol as a way to address global issues of urban resilience on a local scale.

More details about the conference: http://py.wgsr.uw.edu.pl/eura2017/

smart

Exploring the learning city through art and storytelling

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded seed-corn funding by the Brigstow Institute for a collaborative project with Dhek Bhal.

For three decades, Dhek Bhal, a community-based charity, has been working with the ageing South Asian population in Bristol experiencing social isolation and vulnerability. This project is building on their unique legacy of culturally responsive services to collaboratively explore the use of participatory art methods, ethnography and storytelling in enhancing Dhek Bhal’s work in health and wellbeing, and share it with broader audiences across the city.

The project will involve a combination of storytelling workshops and art production. Produced in collaboration with local artists, the artworks will explore how the city acts as a medium for learning as seen from the perspective of the ageing South Asian respondents.

Watch this space for more details about the initiative and the exhibition dates!

Brigstow Institute: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/brigstow/

Dhek Bhal: http://www.dhekbhal.org.uk/

20170117_152441

Looking at life through a learning lens

The first thing we were asked to do when recruited as volunteer community researchers was to complete a learning timeline. If you don’t know what that is, it looked like this:

20170109_152601

At first, I thought this would be easy and wouldn’t take too long. Then I got started. I pored over the timeline for some time – much longer, I’m sure, than was intended!

I found myself thinking back over my life in an entirely new way – as a life of learning. Taking the broad definition of learning suggested by the note at the top of the timeline, I got lost in thought about the volume of learning, both formal and informal, that takes place over the course of an average life.

The timeline also made me wonder about the learning experiences that were most important to me. Sometimes I had experiences that were sad or painful from which I learned deep and enduring life lessons.  At other times, I pursued learning deliberately and determinedly to improve myself or move my life along.

A couple of hours later, I sat with a heavily annotated page in front of me. I had resorted to grouping my learning into lists and columns that looked in danger of falling off the page. I suppose I had failed in the task of brevity. But I am not sorry. For the first time, I had viewed my life through a learning lens, and it was far richer than I had expected.

It is surprising that this simple exercise could reveal so much or be so uplifting. It awakened in me a sense of myself as a dynamic, growth-oriented creature, constantly learning, daily acquiring new knowledge and skills. Much learning, it seems, happens simply as a consequence of being alive; it feels like an inextricable part of being, a sort of life-force – one that we all share and can tap into.

I am looking forward to conducting the research I have planned as part of this project and I hope that I can share this sense of wonder at our universal ability to learn with others.

Helen Bolton, Community Researcher