Monday 22 July 2013

What do you want in your garden?

Space Probe 2 was at Kings Heath Community Centre Garden last Thursday.  We had a picnic and asked people what they would like in their garden.  We used a range of activities, from reviewing maps to find disused spaces in Kings Heath, making scarecrows, drawing what we want, interviews and eating butternut tereme with rice and flapjacks.

This is the second event in a growing number of events looking at space in Kings Heath, coordinated by Kings Heath Centre for Space Exploration.  On 7th August we're looking forward to a series of streets closing to cars and opening to play across Kings Heath for National Playday.  There'll be more space probes later this year, and Sustrans will be starting a very exciting pilot in Kings Heath looking closer at streets and how we could use them better, so loads to look forward to!

Here's five minutes from the interviews and a few photos:

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Desire Lines

The start of the Spen Valley Greenway & the Calder & Hebble Navigation Canal
The start of the Spen Valley Greenway & the Calder & Hebble Navigation Canal for SE2320
 © Copyright Nigel Homer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
We have been conducting a 'communications audit' in Education Technology Team at University of Birmingham, Med School.  I've also been a part of space exploration in Kings Heath, and last week I went to the first meeting of an exciting Sustrans project to transform Kings Heath -  This is a national programme that will focus on engaging local communities in the redesign of areas around schools & elsewhere with a view to making them safer and more attractive for walking & cycling.  Sustrans presented some fabulous means of engaging local residents in re-designing roads around them in a range of different settings, from rural to city centre.

At first it may not seem so obvious what similarities a 'communications audit' might have with a street re-design, but the first, and most important one is desire lines.  Put simply, design using 'desire line principles' is about following routes that people take, and incorporating it into a plan or design. For a 'communication audit', it's about finding out how people, individuals within an organisation and outside it, communicate, and designing a 'communications strategy' around those desires.

The temptation with street/path designs and communication strategies is to look for the most efficient, quickest routes.  Where this falls apart is failure to consider the people using them.  It may be that 'people' have found a more efficient route, or that a route has other advantages to people using them.

At Spen Valley Greenway, Richard Harris talks about 'desire lines' to shortening routes, and 'lines of desire', lengthening routes to develop a 'relationship' between the people using the route and the route itself:

"Lines of desire, curve and gently tilted paths rise above...concerned with the way people move through a space.  I hope the relationship is parked and then develops as people continue on their journey - at whatever speed - and that this relationship continues to develop in subsequent journeys and pauses along the way."
His commments echo Gaston Bachelard in 'The Poetics of Space'.

In communications, I think this means looking at the most efficient communications media, the communications that most people use, as well as communications that might inspire people, take ownership of that communal 'space' to reflect and continue to develop in subsequent 'communications'.

For instance, blogging or twitter may be effective communication channels, but as a team we may decide to rely more on storify partly for qualities of efficient communication of the information we want to communicate, but also to recognise the patterns of communications we already use, and to reflect and inspire learning and develop confidence in communicating our ideas in our own space.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Paganel Stories

After a truly eventful week, Paganel Archives is officially open.  On Friday 28th June we had a jam packed archive room - a room full of archives, stories, and some of the incredible creative responses children have made over the last week, and throughout the history of the school.

At the beginning of the week we had interviews with 24 local community representatives, including two former Head teachers from Paganel Primary school and many previous Paganel pupils from the very start of the school to the 1980s.  Every child in the school took part in those interviews which were all transcribed and prepared for our team of creative practitioners to work with every class (much thanks to Birmingham Archives and Heritage Outreach Team for support in that).  Meanwhile our Yr5 crack Archivist team have been preparing the catalogue, guidance on archives, and a tour for everyone in the school.

On Friday we combined with 'Parents in Paganel' to put on a top notch exhibition of our archives, archives inspired work and the Paganel Archives project, with cream cakes.  We were joined by our MP Gisela Stuart, Chris Upton, Local Historian and Senior Reader at Newmann University said a few words, and four of the children from our archives after-school club cut the ribbon to symbolically open our archives.  The archives themselves were so packed with parents, children and former pupils, it was hard to move.

Here are a few photos, clips and links to some of the stuff from last week:

Also see Paganel Primary School youtube channel for clips of Bobbie Gardner making songs with yr6, yr5 archive tour, yr4 making poetry with Roz Goddard, yr3 drawing a story with Prof Tom Jones,  yr2 photography with Brian Homer, yr1 Drama with Pyn Stockman, Songs and outdoor play with Clare Chapman for Nursery and Reception, all inspired by Paganel Stories from the interviews on Monday & Tuesday!

It is a repository archive so most of the collections are stored in the archive room at Paganel Primary School, which is open to public by appointment on Friday afternoons. However, our catalogue is available online here .
We are also working on a school website and There’s a bit of a backlog of material to put up, but we’re working on it and soon all the interviews, photos, film clips and other written material will be available online. Also try the school youtube for latest updates and some great short clips from ‘Paganel Stories’ week –
Paganel now has the first ARCHON registered repository archive in a state primary, and also the first weekly archive after-school club I’ve heard of – see
It’s really impressive to visit, and we are working on making easier to search and navigate through online too.