European Week of Regions & Cities
Brussels 9-12th October 2017
A wide ranging sequence of workshops and event in Brussels, that will attract academics, poiticians and business organisations. We think there are elemental workshops that those of us, working in the social economy, will find useful.
Particularly useful is the opportunity to build new networks of contacts ahead of the social, political and economic schism that awaits us in the UK.
The European Week of Regions and Cities and its workshops, debates and networking activities are addressed to:
members of the European Committee of the Regions, members of the European Parliament and national, regional and local politicians;
European, national, regional and local government officials and experts in the field of managing and evaluating cohesion policy programmes;
representatives of private companies, financial institutions and European and national associations;
journalists from European, national, regional and local media outlets;
researchers, PhD or masters students and practitioners in the field of European regional and urban policy.
The typical participant is from the regional or local administration and new to the event, and is travelling to Brussels specifically for the event.
Discover now the 130 workshops, networking events and project visits organised in Brussels as part the 15th European Week of Regions and Cities!
Under the headline ‘Regions and cities working for a better future’, the programme tackles three main themes:
Building resilient regions and cities – #LocalResilience
Regions and cities as change agents – #TakeAction
Sharing knowledge to deliver results – #SharingKnowledge.
28 partnerships of regions and cities, 14 Directorates-General of the European Commission, several networks, associations and other institutions have partnered up for it. The Opening session takes place on 9th October in the European Parliament.
The JDRF One Walk Cambridge event is taking place again on Sunday 11 June, 2017.
If you haven’t signed up yet, why not get your friends and family and sign up today?
”The One Walk Cambridge is a family friendly event, that has something for all ages and abilities, from the littlest legs to the briskest power-walkers with our 5km or 9km route. Visit our walk village at Christ’s Pieces with refreshments and activities to keep the whole family entertained”.
You can join hundreds of people across the country walking and raising money for type 1 research this Spring! See you there?
Following on from our recent article on book binding in Barcelona, we seem unable to escape our thematic journey on-line towards the bound artefact.
As booksellers and literacy project specialists we are especially interested in the concept of the book as a seasonal highlight, as to be expected at this time of year. The conversationsEast team were very pleased to see book-binding as part of the programme of the recent Chelmsford Ideas Festival for instance.
The opening lecture for the Centre, post-renovation, was Artistic Bookbinding in the Twenty-First Century, delivered by the American book historian and conservator James Reid-Cunningham. See more below…
The lecture, The Poet of Them All, concentrates on a remarkable collection of Shakespeare editions in miniature from the holdings of the Yale Centre and in concert with collectors Neale and Margaret Albert.
The richness, skill and indeed, even fun, of such collections is beautifully captured in the Reid-Cunningham lecture. The expressive art and craft skill of the binder in the twenty first century is also visually well expressed in the discourse. In an age of electronics it is sometimes easy to forget the power, even magic, generated by the carefully crafted, masterfully bound book. Whatever its size.
There is much to enjoy across the whole of the Yale Center for British Art. Research at the Yale Center benefits from concurrent funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, encouraging a wide programme of lectures, study and talks to disseminate the findings of the Center. As you would expect from such a world centre of excellence.
We particularly liked the Center’s new education programme Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of the Arts in Education. Using the great visual resources the Center holds to create interest in and higher utility in reading. Art becomes the book, becomes the writer!
Giving books is a great idea over the festive holidays, getting the family into an art gallery or museum is even better. We visited Seven Stories in Newcastle earlier in 2016, so we know you can achieve the same ‘Yale’ effect without a visit to Connecticut.
Part of our work, with sister projects, is as booksellers and publishers. It has been interesting to reflect that we are in a continuing tradition, dating back to the 18th Century.
When we are talking to our partner publishers, or delivering projects overseas, it all feels rather contemporary. But good writing and creative, imaginative work for children is what led us to the work in the first place. It is a timeless pursuit for every cohort we supply and engage with over the years.
Matthew Grenby writes…
”The rise of children’s literature throughout the 18th century.
By the end of the 18th century, children’s literature was a flourishing, separate and secure part of the publishing industry in Britain. Perhaps as many as 50 children’s books were being printed each year, mostly in London, but also in regional centres such as Edinburgh, York and Newcastle.
By today’s standards, these books can seem pretty dry, and they were often very moralising and pious. But the books were clearly meant to please their readers, whether with entertaining stories and appealing characters, the pleasant tone of the writing, or attractive illustrations and eye-catching page layouts and bindings.
Early writing for children
This was new. At the beginning of the century very few such enjoyable books for children had existed. Children read, certainly, but the books that they probably enjoyed reading (or hearing) most, were not designed especially for them.
Fables were available, and fairy stories, lengthy chivalric romances, and short, affordable pamphlet tales and ballads called chapbooks, but these were published for children and adults alike. Take Nathaniel Crouch’s Winter-Evenings Entertainments (1687). It contains riddles, pictures, and ‘pleasant and delightful relations of many rare and notable accidents and occurrences’ which has suggested to some that it should be thought of as an early children’s book. However, its title-page insists that it is ‘excellently accommodated to the fancies of old or young’.
Meanwhile, the books that were published especially for children before the mid-18th century were almost always remorselessly instructional (spelling books, school books, conduct books) or deeply pious. Yet just because a book seems dull or disciplinary to us today, this doesn’t mean that children at the time didn’t enjoy it. Godly books of the sort produced from the 1670s by Puritans like John Bunyan are a case in point.
James Janeway’s A Token for Children (1671-72) gives what its subtitle describes as ‘an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children’. These children lie on their deathbeds, giving accounts of the sins too often committed by children – idleness, disobedience, inattention to lessons, boisterousness, neglecting the Sabbath – but tell those assembled round them that salvation awaits all who renounce such wickedness, and they explain how happy they are to be going to their eternal reward. Hardly fun, we might think, yet memoirs and letters, as well as continuing sales over more than a century, testify to young readers’ genuine enjoyment of these descriptions of heroic and confident, if doomed, children.
The 18th century
In the first half of the 18th century a few books that didn’t have an obviously instructional or religious agenda were published especially for children, such as A Little Book for Little Children (c.1712), which included riddles and rhymes ; and a copiously illustrated bestiary, A Description of Three Hundred Animals (1730), the second part of which was published ‘particularly for the entertainment of youth’.
But the turning point came in the 1740s, when a cluster of London publishers began to produce new books designed to instruct and delight young readers.
Thomas Boreman was one, who followed his Description of Three Hundred Animals with a series of illustrated histories of London landmarks jokily (because they were actually very tiny) called the Gigantick Histories (1740-43). Another was Mary Cooper, whose two-volume Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (1744) is the first known nursery rhyme collection, featuring early versions of well-known classics like ‘Bah, bah, a black sheep’, ‘Hickory dickory dock’, ‘London Bridge is falling down’ and ‘Sing a song of sixpence’.
The father of children’s literature
But the most celebrated of these pioneers is John Newbery, whose first book for the entertainment of children was A Little Pretty Pocket-Book Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly (c.1744).
It was indeed a pretty book, small, neat and bound in brightly coloured paper, and Newbery advertised it as being sold with a ball (for a boy) and a pincushion (for a girl) – these toys were to be used to record the owner’s good and bad deeds (by means of pins stuck either to the black side of the ball or pincushion, or the red). Newbery’s books perfectly embodied the educational ideas of John Locke, who had advocated teaching through amusement.
But Newbery has become known as the ‘father of children’s literature’ chiefly because he was able to show that publishing children’s books could be a commercial success. This may have been because he made most of his money from selling patent medicines, and by publishing for adults
Nevertheless, his children’s book business flourished, and, following his death in 1767, it was taken over by his descendants, surviving into the 19th century. Newbery was a great innovator too. He produced the first children’s periodical for example, called The Lilliputian Magazine (1751-52), a miscellany of stories, verse, riddles and chatty editorials.
And his most famous work, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes (1765) has a good claim to be called the first children’s novel. It tells the story of a poor orphan, Margery, who makes a career for herself as a teacher before, like a less glamorous Cinderella (with no fairy godmother, balls to attend, or glass slipper), she marries the local landowner who she has impressed by her honesty, hard work and good sense.
A rapid expansion of children’s literature
The reasons for this sudden rise of children’s literature have never been fully explained. The entrepreneurial genius of figures like Newbery undoubtedly played a part, but equally significant were structural factors, including the growth of a sizeable middle class, technical developments in book production, the influence of new educational theories, and changing attitudes to childhood.
Whatever the causes, the result was a fairly rapid expansion of children’s literature through the second half of the 18th century, so that by the early 1800s, the children’s book business was booming. For the first time it was possible for authors to make a living out of writing solely for children, and to become famous for it. Children’s literature, as we know it today, had begun”.
Continuing our theme of ‘Northern Energy’, we were in Newcastle upon Tyne this week and, on Friday afternoon, took time to visit Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. They have an important exhibition and research project into the donated archive of the writer Michael Morpurgo. Below is what we thought.
”Michael Morpurgo Exhibition 2 July 2016 – Sunday 2 July 2017, Newcastle UK. A Lifetime in Stories.
Through one of our our sister projects, Books go Walkabout, an international delivery system to get authors, illustrators and poets, and their books, to corners of the world previously unreached, we have an abiding interest in children’s literature as you would expect.
The Seven Stories Morpurgo exhibition is certainly about a fantastic canon of work dedicated to the young imagination. However, the research team have extracted illustrative and delightful insights into, and evidence of, the writing process, using the archive generously donated to the Centre by Michael Morpurgo in 2015.
What the display and featured narrative does offer, in the broadest terms, is an insight into the creative process, the research and writing of a book, much of which in this Seven Stories gallery has taken place before the arrival and dominance of the word processor.
Not only an exhibition in praise of the work of Michael Morpurgo, but an illustration in itself of what can be achieved with a simple notebook and a pen or pencil. The imagination does not need an elecrical socket and plug to thrive apparently!
Some key exhibition elements:
Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943, and his early life was beset by sadness and conflicting tensions. It was interesting to see the detail of Michael’s school, home life and reaction to his early experiences in the British Army. This thematic thread of war and militarism can be traced through the exhibition, as in Michael’s life. His mother’s grief at the loss of her brother in the Second World War was an equally powerful emotional driver for the writing.
In 1962 Michael met his future wife Clare, and it was the summons home by his mother, with the pretence of an imaginary illness, that offered the opportunity for them to get married, against the prevailing condition that cadets of the Royal Military College Sandhurst must be single. A signal turning point in a creative life which solidified his pacifism, well evidenced and illustrated by this exhibition.
His first short book, published in 1974, was It Never Rained, an interconnected narrative about five children. By 1999 Mopurgo was ready to publish Wombat Goes Walkabout, with wonderful illustrations by Christian Birmingham. A great story about digging holes and how a wombat can save the day.
1982 saw the release of War Horse, perhaps Mopurgo’s most famous creation. The exhibition offers the visitor a display of many of the notebooks, first drafts, corrections and re-typed double spaced manuscripts that drove the creation of this seminal work.
This series of displays offers, we thought, a powerful illustration of how writing is both a physical and an intellectually layered process, but which requires a gritty determination to see the story through to the final end – publication. It is this revisiting and deterministic approach to his craft of writing that makes a Mopurgo novel so dramatic and engaging we suspect.
In the exhibition narrative Michael Morpurgo states that his engagement with a story ‘…can be measured by the size of his handwriting in his notebooks‘. The smaller the hand written text the more intensely the creative muse has gripped him that day.
To an archivist this is vital in determining the writers emotional condition on any particular creative day. As his pen moves rapidly across the notebook page, Michael has left a marker, a measure of intensity, for later researchers seeking to determine his emotional or creative state. Something a plastic keyboard, no matter how powerful the micro-processor it is connected to, could ever offer the interested reader in years to come.
Looking at the Morpurgo ‘war’ material, we pondered on what must be a pivotal issue for the contemporary archivist or researcher. With ready access to technology, publishing processes and cloud storage – how will future archivists and seekers of process engage with material that is electronic and resting, potentially, in a thousand different formats, storage facilities and locations around the globe.
Interestingly, MIT Technology Review has just published an article on the use of computing and data mining techniques to show that there are, it contests, only six basic ’emotional arcs’ in storytelling. These are…
…a steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.
We are intense users of the notebook and pen ourselves, in our ordinary workaday lives, but have to recognise that research and analysis would now be immeasurably diminished without technology. We wondered, travelling through the Michael Morpurgo exhibition, an historical audit trail of the creative mind, what other contemporary children’s and young adult writers take on ‘techno’ is today?
Perhaps this is a Seven Stories seminar series in the making? Pen or Processor, the creative methodology in contemporary children’s literature. We would buy a ticket! (Ed.)
A visual treat:
Towards the end of the exhibition content is a section dedicated to Michael Morpurgo’s artistic collaborators, the artists who have contributed to the written work.
It offers the visitor a fascinating insight into how the imagination is populated by the story, how the psyche is suggested a character and landscape by Michael Morpurgo’s writing. It is also, within the context of this article, a soaring endorsement of the power and durability of putting a hand to paper. Surely no machine can replace the creative evocation of story by the artists below?
The work on display includes artwork from Quentin Blake, Gary Blythe, Peter Bailey, Christian Brimingham and Tony Kerins amongst others. We particularly warmed to the diversity of images in the exhibition that depicted the sea. Whether Kensuke’s Kingdom or When the Wales Came, the original cover art to be seen provokes an imaginative dream of action, wind, water and a tale to be told.
It was wonderful to see this collection of individual artistic work within the context of the Seven Stories Michael Morpurgo exhibition. But each artist has a separate body of work which is lively, imagination capturing and enchanting in equal measure. We hope you can use the links above to explore this on-line collection ‘gallery of galleries’ too.
Getting to Seven Stories NE! 2PQ :
If you leave the impressive Newcastle Central Station and turn right down towards Quayside, you can turn left along Quayside and walk, past the Pitcher and Piano until you come to St. Ann’s Steps on the left. Ascend them. At the top, look back down the river to the bridges receding into the distance. Turn and cross the road and right down to Cut Bank on the left, following the river left along for a couple of hundred yards and Seven Stories will apppear on your right.
The journey there, if the sun is shining, can be as uplifting as your visit to The National Centre for Children’s Books. This is a fascinating insight into the work of our national story teller. Seven Stories offers a whole rainbow of experience around ‘the children’s book’, whether a holidaying family looking to stimulate young imaginations, a visit to the cafe and bookshop, or a serious academic look at the sweep of children’s literature.
‘Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from Michael Morpurgo through support from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature’.
Source: Seven Stories web site. Accessed 09.07.2016 See http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection/collection-highlights/michael-morpurgo
The North as a digital, innovative powerhouse for change and growth…
The great Northern Powerhouse concept has it’s detractors, as well as those who warmly embrace vast spendiing on infrastructure projects betwixt North and South. The whole designed to energise a swathe of our country, and its economic and social infrastructure, at a stroke.
Larry Elliot, writing recently in The Guardian, declares that the Centre for Cities think tank has the right view and that George Osborne is wrong. Namely that investment is needed in cities and conurbations ‘North of Watford’ in order to achieve the right mix of enterprise, social energy and innovation.
In his article Elliot looks at the productivity and infrastructure links between several Randstadt and Rhine-Ruhr cities. Already much more productive than similar cities in the North of England, he argues, the real difference is that investment has been made in the cities, not between them.
Whether transport, high speed internet or enterprise culture are stimulated, the key difference on the Ruhr/Randstat axis is the level of skills available to feed growth in research, output and market identification, he argues.
A new RSA report argues ‘… for a departure from the usual way of ‘doing tech’, where digital businesses operate in siloes, often untethered from the places in which they operate. It is within the North’s gift to forge a different path…’
It is this focus on the sub-region, on the drivers of city based innovation, that when aggregated as evidence creates a new paradigm of achievement for the wider region. The sweeping gesture, the Osborneian grand statement, is proven only by examining the microeconomic context of the city regions as an ensemble, we would argue.
In this new report from the RSA (.pdf), Benedict Dellot et al approach the North of England with this city hinterland and regional sectoral analysis in mind.
The new work, Digital Powerhouse (.pdf), uses the digital economy of the north of England as both metaphor and research instance to examine and make suggestions for development. The findings are striking…
‘…the North’s digital economy is creating jobs at ten time the rate of the region’s non-digital sectors. In the last five years the productivity of the digital economy grew by 11.3%. The figure was 2.5% for the non-digital economy’. Source: Infographic, p.2 of Digital Powerhouse
The DIgital Powerhouse report makes fourteen profound recommendations to capitalise on the digital premium recognised in the North of England.
These range from the creation of a ‘Procurement Powerhouse’ social enterprise to link tech businesses with public sector procurement processes. An adjunct to this suggestion is a move to persuade public sector commissioners and buyers to declare a ‘problem based’ commissioning approach, affording opportunities for innovators and researchers in the tech sphere to be just that, innovative, in order to get a seat at the table of ‘government spend’.
Similarly Dellot et al call for a new ‘contract portal’, suggested to bring together opportunities to supply both the public and private sectors with tech innovation. Also on the supply side, the report suggests the championing of ‘tech co-operatives’ in the North. Striving to achieve critical mass and drive to market by tech innovators in the North, through closer co-operation and affiliation.
The regional recommendation aspect of the report make it easy to argue that this research could be the basis of a meta-development framework of policy and practice for any region with growing technology sectors. North or South.
As Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK says in the report ‘…this report shines a brilliant light on all the assets and opportunities already underway which serve as a foundation for the growth of the new Digital Northern Powerhouse‘. Source: Burbidge, introduction: p.5 Digital Powerhouse
Benedict Dellot of The RSA has recently authored a new report on the growing phenomenom of Maker Spaces. There’s one near you…did you know?
The report defines MakerSpaces as ‘…open access workshops, hosting a variety of tools, from 3D printers and laser cutters through to sewing machines and soldering irons’.
These unique spaces attract hackers, roboticists, traditional engineering and technical enthusiasts, along with a variety of arts and craft specialists. There is something of a William Morris, Arts and Crafts revolutionary aspect to their public face. Offering as they do, spaces for making and experimentation in a collaborative and supportive atmosphere.
Morris would have it that you should ‘…have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. Perhaps in the 21st Century, in a MakerSpace context, their motto should be ‘…beautiful, useful and technically collaborative’. (…great sign over every MakerSpace door?…Ed.)
As part of the RSA report (Ours to Master…)a survey finds that people, when asked, express an interest in Maker philosophy and practice, and would be interested in accessing such facilities. The survey found…
26 percent of people regularly make things for their own use, 49 percent fix things that are broken and 21 percent modify products to better suit their own needs
57 percent would like to learn how to make more things they and their families could use
61 percent would like to have a better understanding of how the things they use work
78 percent think our society is too materialistic and our economy too dependent on consumption
43 percent often feel confused by the pace of technological change and struggle to keep up
24 percent would be interested in using a makerspace in the future
‘Ipswich Makerspace is a Suffolk based group of like minded makers who get together to learn, build and experiment with a huge variety of hardware, software, and technology in general’. (Source: Ipswich Makerspace, December 2015) See more here.
‘Chelmsford Makerspace is a non-profit, community of makers in Chelmsford. We are a group of makers and hackers that get together to share tools and knowledge’. (Source: Chelmsford Makerspace, December 2015). See more here…
‘We are developing a maker workshop offering affordable access to basic equipment such as workbenches, pillar drills, soldering irons, sewing machines and saws etc’. (Source: Colchester Makerspace, December 2015). See more here…
‘Hitchin Hackspace is a community organisation devoted to providing everyone with a place to explore all kinds of creative technologies and crafts’. (Source: Hitchin Hacspace, December 2015). See more here…
Thank you to Benedict Dellot for another interesting and cutting edge report. It is interesting to see old concepts of craft and sharing being developed in contemporary communities, to deliver accessible, technology related products and learning. ‘Social engineering’ in its purest form perhaps?
We are surprised, in our brief survey of MakerSpaces in the East, to find no representative group for Norwich. If you know of one, use our contact form and let us know. We’ll run a supplementary piece to spread the word about them, if we missed an opportunity to do so here. Happy making! Ed.
You can follow IETT news on Twitter too: @Tide_Turning
The web site features not only regular news and featured ideas on the pages of The Tide, the IETT web journal, but also regular newsfeeds from a variety of sources across the education landscape.
Monographia is a growing web resource of research papers and conference contributions that mark key themes for IETT groups. The Debate – filmed is a growing archive of videos that go to the nascent movement’s campaigning and research aims.
If you have an interest in educational reform, or the social inequality agenda, we commend this site to you…Ed.
Developing your project web presence?
The conversationsEAST team are keen to offer web support to socially focused web projects in the East of England.
We are particularly happy to support projects led by RSA Fellows, as our donating Partners at SmithMartin LLP, are keen supporters of the Society. We would also like to support the planned development of IETT groups in Nottingham and Oxford.
At the event will hear about the new glycaemic targets from Matt Williams, and the role of the research nurse from Criona O’brien, diabetes research nurse at the University of Cambridge. So why not come along and join us.