Next open meeting – this Wednesday, 7pm

We’ve got our next open meeting this Wednesday (20th November), 7pm in the Bar Billards Room, Golden Ball in Bishophill.

Will be discussing how to develop further our timeline of York’s radical pasts (which we started at the Clement’s Hall local history day), our project on ‘how decisions about heritage’ are made in York, our radical take on the 1WW commemorations, our next York social talk and much, much more… Hope to see you there!

Notes from Open Meeting, 3rd March, 1.30-3.30pm, Miller’s Yard

The meeting opened with an update on progress since the last meeting. Martin and Helen discussed the meeting with Richard Taylor at the City Archives. The Archives are reimagining themselves as not being only the archive of local government but also covering civic engagement in York more generally. As such, the Archives are broadly interested in collecting digital items we collect and might also be open to non-digital items. Ideally we would be collecting in TIFF (photographs) and Wav. (audio) formats but there is a recognition that this might not be possible because of the formats in which people already have items and access to equipment. Richard did also say we needed to get consent forms signed – based on the model available of the Archives website. Adam led this into a discussion about how we were going to proceed with collection. It was proposed that we take a two stage process – now we focus on encouraging people to take part and while we note the preferred formats we don’t make this in any way a requirement and then at some point near the end of the year we consider the next steps in terms of archiving, including consent and considering the quality of formats where possible. Helen to update the website with the preferred format information.

In terms of the boxes to be used for a ‘real life network’, a meeting has been proposed by Beth with Lucile and Laura. Laura has suggested shops to approach to host the boxes.

We discussed approaches to oral histories. We agreed again that interviewing each other would be a good place to start. We though the ideal interviewer would be someone who knew something about the interviewee’s activism and involvement but not too much – otherwise it would not feel like a very spontaneous interview. Plans were made by those present to kick this off.

Alongside interviews, Nick mentioned a format something like Radio 4’s The Reunion around certain events/campaigns. This is a format that encourages different memories of things to come forward and creates space for disagreement and multiple interpretations.

We discussed the event talked about at the first meeting. It was thought that while a event about radical music at some point would be brilliant, that to organize an event primarily for the purposes of fund raising was very hard work, especially if no-one had particular expertise in that area. However, Nick did suggest there might be scope for tagging along with Food not Bombs at gigs they cover and doing short interviews outside and/or setting up other times for interviews.

We discussed getting together the logo and a leaflet. Laura had offered to write the text and Nick said he would approach a friend who is a designer to see if she could help realized his vision for a logo (of York, Alt, His…).

In terms of the website, we looked at the category cloud and thought it was working ok and that the emphasis on ‘how to…’ on the pages was ok for the time being. An issue to return to as the project develops. Martin to have a look at a links page/reading list.

The next meeting will be on 3rd April at 7pm April 2012 at the Corner Pin pub.

Notes from Feb. 4th Meeting

A first public meeting of York’s Alternative History was held in the York Central Library on Saturday 4th February 2012.  This was attended by a wide range of people, some York born and bred, others new to the City, some young and some well seasoned, although less than a dozen in number.

Helen introduced the meeting, as she and Laura have been talking about this project for over two years. The publicity surrounding the York 800 ‘celebrations’ had helped move this project forward, as the York 800 activities are likely to focus on the mainstream, and governance, and risk missing out some of the more colourful, interesting, influential and ordinary-person-centered history.  Helen explained that this blog and a facebook page had been started, and a certain amount of other preparatory work, but that only a few people had so far been involved, and now it was time to open it up to more people, and gather ideas about how the project might take shape.

The meeting participants introduced themselves, with some brief information about their particular interest or involvement in York’s Alternative History.  Amongst the group was a publisher of green and alternative literature who holds a vast personal archive, a committed anarchist, an archaeologist with a keen interest in social history, a fan of punk music involved in York Stop the Cuts, a feminist who’d been involved in innumerable social justice and equality protests and groups, a Union member intent on correcting the accepted history about a strike which happened in the 19th Century, an environmentalist active in poverty reduction and for many years, the drug subculture and its music, and a young student ‘doing politics’. 

We then discussed ways in which peoples’ stories could be collected and shared.  Helen had organised a widget on this blog called Soundcloud, which would allow interviews to be recorded and played back.  The video-sharing site Vimeo was also suggested as a tool.  Laura had already been collecting some oral histories as part of another project, and these could be used.  It was suggested that we could interview each other, as a starter!

We are aware of the Jewish History Trail which has made use of a podcast which members of the public can listen to whilst walking round the City.  We wondered about doing something similar, but would start with a paper map for people to put pins in with information about places of interest, such as York Arts Centre, Gillygate Wholefood and Alligator.

A question was raised about moderating and editing/proofreading posts, and it was decided that if an author wrote something in their own name, their spelling and syntax should be left as they wrote it.  However, we could offer a proofreading/editing service, and if someone wished to make use of this, then group members would be available to do this.

We wondered if we would need funds for some of our activities, and a fundraising event was discussed.  We decided that a small fundraiser and awareness-raiser would be a good first step, using a City centre venue and asking for a band, poet or singer-songwriter to come and perform, alongside some information being presented about the project. We aim to have this in late April or early May.

We discussed a logo and one participant said that they would put something together and bring that back to the group to see if it was suitable.  We also discussed our links with other institutions, such as the York 800 team, the York City Archives, the University.  It was thought that we ought to retain some independence, but work with these bodies where it was prudent.

We agreed to meet monthly and the next meeting will be on 3rd March, 1.30-3.30 at Miller’s Yard.