Bridge North East: Steven's November blog
Bridge North East works with Arts Council England to connect young people with great art and culture across the region – you can connect with our work on the Bridge NE webpage on this site, follow us Twitter and receive e-news updates.
In this regular blog the team takes a less formal tone…these blogs are a place to present new and sometimes still-forming ideas; opinions; experiences; excitements and the personal perspectives on being part of the lively Bridge North East team – as well as sometimes asking for your ideas, opinion, experiences, excitements and reflections.
Steven from the Bridge North East team shares his thoughts…
Note: I’ve just read this blog back and thought, Crikey! I’m good at stream-of-consciousness waffling this early in the morning if I put a computer in front of me and think ‘Blog’. I thought about editing / hacking-out lots of personal related bits that no one is bothered about, but then I thought that it’s all my context – the context in my head anyway – in which I operate in the world, and the context in which I’m wearing my ‘Bridge North East Coordinator hat’ today. So I’m leaving it as it is and letting it remain an honest ‘brainstorm’.
I’m typing this sat on the 7.03am train from Newcastle to London and an almost Russian, red winter sun is waking up the bare Birch branches of the scruffy-beautiful fauna lining the tracks passing through County Durham; Pre-Darlington. It’s the day after Obama has been re-elected as President of the US of A for a second term in the White House, so there seems to be an osmotic crowd-consensus in thinking of ourselves outside of the UK/Euro-centric context; including that of the US…and everywhere else America has an effect upon. There’s a ‘Glocal’ (global-local) flavour in the takeaway coffee this morning.
I’m heading London to observe and participate in a Trinity College London’s Artsmark Trainers / Validators day aimed at welcoming the newly appointed Artsmark Validators (70 from 300 applicants we’re chosen to act as Artsmark validators for schools to cover the country) and Validator moderators. I think we’ll be going through the new and exciting draft Validator guidelines / criteria / handbook for assessing and encouraging schools to achieve Artsmark or Artsmark Gold. We might even get a sneak peak at the new Artsmark logo before it’s revealed to the public later this month! Trinity College London’s head office is also, as I learnt yesterday, in Vauxhall, Albert Embankment next to the (fortified) Secret information Service and MI6…Artsmark and Arts Award certainly are in safe hands!
Now streaming through Durham.. the Cathedral wears the morning mist like a scarf. I sit here thinking about what I can write about and before I know it…
Ferryhill► apologetically flickers by on the right-hand side like a zoetrope. There’s not been a station stop there since the 70’s. It’s where I grew up. It’s a hard place for a young person to do so and not expect more from the world.
…Maybe I can’t escape the nature-nurture baggage of hailing from a small-town (mentality), from growing up in a withering on the vine, ex-mining town, and having had shaken off the stereotypical, but sadly true, childhood vestiges of a low-income / free school meal / ‘problematic home life’ background…Maybe I’m just naturally overly sensitive or concerned…But more likely, it’s probably because I’ve got two small children of my own growing up in our current ‘seat of your pants’ gloomy economy…Either way I’ve been concerned (more than ever before) by the ripple effects emanating from the world-wide impacts from the amazing race for the appointment of a super-power leader…
Thinking about what impact our generation’s leaders and policies will have on the futures Children and Young people feels big and worrying, especially in light of the drastic national changes, restructures and closures across education and Local Authority Youth Services…what will the world landscape look like in 10, even 20 years? What will the next generation have to deal with? What legacy will our generation leave them?…something to be proud of?…something to build upon?…something in need of decades of reform and fixing?
Sat here, trundling along the tracks, is making me think along the lines of “Where we’ve come from, and where are we going?”
What I can be sure of…is that the next generation is in safe hands. Especially if the young people from the recent quality event for young people for Arts Council England are anything to go by. This event was hosted and Co-organised by Bridge North East in partnership with our colleagues, Jame McKenzie Blackman and University of the First Age.. The event, imaginatively renamed to “How Do We Know It’s Propa Belta?”, was a national platform for young people from all corners of the UK to come together to lead their own discussions to inform the Cultural sector’s debate about ‘Quality’ within work for, by and with children and young people. You can see the seven principles, the ongoing debate and relating blogs etc here.
One young person’s stand-out point from a presentation was in examining one piece of policy which aimed to “…give children and young people a sense of ownership over arts and culture activities”. The very good point from the young person was “why are we only allowed a ‘sense’ of ownership? _Why not simply; Ownership!_”…maybe we need to re-examine all our ‘grown up’ policies and listen more regularly and closely to children and young people…from them we can learn. A lot.
Sitting here on the train, gently swaying in carriage D, seat 54A, I’m still preoccupied with micro-macro sense of ‘Glocality’ this morning. One person who has inspired me on the world-stage recently; giving me another Obama-flavoured HOPE for the future comes to mind. It’s the quite frankly brilliant 10 year old Caine Monroy. An American boy, who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad’s used car parts shop.
I’m genuinely inspired by this young person and think a lot of us adults working in the arts and culture sector can learn a lot from him! He’s embedding learning through his own creativity and as a result his discoveries will probably stay with him forever. He’s problem solving, emotionally and creatively engaged in his ‘work’, learning and imaginatively reflecting upon his constantly evolving arcade whist he builds and improvises his cardboard enterprise, setting up systems, following his imagination, day-dreaming and developing a rather sustainable future for himself. Check out this video about him here.
Now passing Doncaster… Everyone on the platform seems to be yawning and rubbing their eyes , wearing smart winter work macs, with steaming takeaway coffee’s in hands as standard issue to their daily routine.
Grantham Station just blurred past… the computers about to run out of battery, the group of men next to me who’ve been drinking cheap lager since 7am have started talking about the “youth of today”, with (usually) a negative youth stereotype uttered in every other sentence and anecdotal stories about their ‘bairns’ and their ‘bairns’ mates’. I don’t feel that they need to be so critical about the next generation. The kids are alright! – as a wiseman once said.
Don’t know where I am on the track now… 30 mins from Kings Cross and the Birch lined track of home is long gone. It’s all scrub, brambles, Ash and a few Oaks.
Time to look forward to discovering the new framework details behind the new and improved Artsmark; to seeing our Trinity College colleagues; to maybe seeing an armed guard as I walk past MI6; to seeing St. Pancras station; and to building new bridges.
My next blog will be about why if feel Ken Robinson’s thinking in Education and Creativity get’s me excited, and I’ll look at some interesting digital platforms which can be used for Youth Empowerment.
Time to close up.
Time to Ctrl+S.
►By the by; if anyone wants to explore a place with local folk-law involving a murderous wild boar, a Frenchman, a trick, and several carved pointy stakes…Ferryhill is for you. I’d recommend a visit. I love it, unconditionally, with anthropological nostalgia, and believe it has helped me see beauty in the bleak and opportunity in meltdown; and that’s just on a market day).