2016 / 2017: A memorable first year in the life of GW

Festive seasonal greetings to one and all.

Here at GW towers we have been taking stock of the past year, which has been our first year of shoe-string but vital life.  There have been so many changes in the world, and the scale and scope have at times felt bewildering and overwhelming.  But the one thing it has assured GW folks is that this space and coming together to work on the projects we do remains potent, purposeful and prescient.  Through GW I have met and made some wonderful new supporters, mentors, colleagues and friends who through encouragement, general cheer-leading and involvement, helped to launch  GW from what started as a desire to create space for conversations, workshops, radio programmes and creative productions to generate time and space for people – especially those who might otherwise find themselves being talked over or ignored by mainstream editorial meeja – to cultivate and continue interesting and engaging comment and reflections about life to make tangible changes in how people see, understand, envision, and live in the 21st century world.

The first project to kick start Geography Workshop was the ‘Er Outdoors series of radio programmes focusing on the intellectual creative and scientific works of women.  Thanks to the support of Ed and Michael at Resonance FM, we were able to develop a series of programmes, the first three aired between April and July 2016. While the first programme (pilot) attended to creative writers and artists across genres and forms (my thanks to Lucy Furlong, Morag Rose, Karen Lloyd and Alison Lloyd), the following two programmes (2 and 3) which aired in July concerned the works of Walking Women Artists and connected with exhibitions of the same name at Somerset House in London and in August at Forest Fringe in Edinburgh. My deep thanks to Dee Heddon, Cathy Turner, Sharanya Murali, Sue Porter, Amy Sharrocks, Clare Qualmann and Kubra Khademi) The summer and autumn has seen outdoor recordings in Manchester and Salford, and sound and radio training to widen the scope and possibility for future outdoor /mobile programme recordings in the series with broadcast plans for early 2017.

We have also worked with the Alternative School of Economics (artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck) in discussing themes surrounding radical alternative education (with specific attention paid to the work of teachers, parents, students, academics and artists in the 1980s through the publication Contemporary Issues in Geography and Education (CIGE) at The Rabbits Road Institute at the Old Manor Park Library (Ways of Working: Radical alternatives in education) in April 2016.  Later in the year in October, Jo was invited back by Amy and Ruth to the Rabbits Road Institute (Old Manor Park Library) in East London to present alongside Alice Corble, the auto-didactic cultural traditions of learning, and creative community librarianship in the recent past and contemporary landscapes of public libraries (Spirit of ’64 in 2016: Public Libraries as Emancipatory Spaces) at the launch of the Rabbits Road Institute’s own special library collection.

Plans are also in the pipeline for developing multimedia resources to widen engagements and discussions connected with themes of knowledge production and learning. Practical publishing and production skills are also on the cards. 2017 is looking busy already as work begins on a season of exhibitions in late 2017 that will enable hopeful and constructively critical ways of being to keep minds and eyes open, connected and invested in equitable, hopeful and peaceful futures. Behind-the-scenes strategies are coming together to envisage greater work across the arts and sciences, across communities and geographical scales. Exciting times.

Sending lots of love, light, peace and grateful thanks to all who have joined in and enriched the work of GW so far (it would not exist without you), and to all who will be taking part in the fun and intelligent creativity in 2017.

Jo X

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