A recent visit to the island by the Digital Community Workspaces team (https://digitalcommunity.leeds.ac.uk/), to find out about progress on 'Exploring Past Futures' and plan the next stages of our community engagement.
We last visited Bute back in May, to launch the 'Exploring Past Futures' strand of our project 'Digital Community Workspaces' (https://digitalcommunity.leeds.ac.uk/) and meet with project leader Paul Duffy of Brandanii Archaeology and Heritage. At the introductory workshop, locals were able to examine old copies of the island's Buteman newspaper, which dates back to 1854 (http://www.buteman.co.uk/news/all-bute-s-news-since-1854-1-367291).
We're pleased to have Rothesay Library as a partner in our project. It has a great local history section and a welcoming atmosphere, acting as a real community hub! Crucially, for our project, it also provides library users with access to The Buteman archive of local newspapers stretching back to the mid-19th century. The newspapers contain a wealth of information, from council minutes to commentary on world events and offer a unique perspective on both local issues and how global events were viewed at a community scale.
Since the launch event, Paul has been working with members of Bute Youth forum to create stories which explore the history of the island on the theme of 'Past Futures' or, to put it another way, historical imaginings regarding the future of the island. The Youth Forum members worked in groups to create factual Yarn stories, based on exploration of the Buteman archive, and also pieces of creative writing.
Argyll & Bute Youth Forum exists to give the island's young residents a voice on issues which affect their community. During our recent visit we met up with Ann, who co-ordinates the Rothesay-based group, to find out how the workshop had gone and hear her thoughts about the Yarn platform. Although we'd seen the stories produced by group members it was great to learn about the enthusiasm the workshop had generated and the way in which the young participants had been inspired to research and work together creatively. We're delighted to see that creative writing pieces by Forum members are continuing to pop-up on the Yarn website three months later and pleased to learn that Ann is considering using the platform for a longer scheme of activities over the 2018 summer programme.
Other aims for our October visit were to capture photographs and audio recordings which will feature in a short film we plan to make about the project. As well as focusing on work with Bute Youth Forum, the film will feature the Rothesay Pavilion restoration project. The Pavilion team, having successfully fundraised to secure the future of this iconic building for the town of Rothesay, is inviting people to contribute to its 'Pavilion People' web page by sharing their stories, memories and photos. We hope that Bute residents past and present will create Yarn stories to tell us about their relationship with the building and their hopes for its future.