Local Inspiration

Everywhere means something to someone

Everywhere means something to someone – you don’t have to own it or even see it every day for a place and its stories to be important to you. The combination of people and commonplace histories make places what they are – you don’t need a spectacular building, celebrities or an exciting history to make where you live stand out.

Celebrating your environment

‘Common Ground’ have inspired many communities to base creative projects on an aspect of the local environment – a river, field, orchard, piece of woodland or stream. In the past these things would have been the basis for local folklore whereas now we hardly know the name of the waterway that flows through our neighbourhood or the copse of trees on the outskirts of the village. You could use your local area as inspiration for a creative writing project – a book of poetry, short stories or a play, which is then performed in the community centre, hall or church. For ideas about celebrating your community through maps, songs, the visual arts or traditional festivals; please visit www.commonground.org.uk.

Traditional festivals

Plough Monday is in January (the first Monday after Twelfth Night), Chinese New Year is in February, Eid-al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) is in August, Apple Day is on October 21st, Bonfire Night, Diwali and the Day of the Dead are in November and Tree Dressing Day is the first full weekend in December (dates of some of these festivals vary according to the lunar calendar). These are all great opportunities to celebrate different cultures, customs, the seasons, environment and local crafts.

If there is an event or an old tradition that used to happen in your community, you could revive it through involving local groups in the research process. Well Dressing is a popular tradition in some parts of the country and there are inter-village competitions, community suppers with entertainment, parades, workshops and exhibitions all based on the art of dressing a well.

Community Plays

Community plays are one way of getting people of many talents involved in a big project. Reminiscence work with older members of the community can result in a drama based on recollections. Are there any historical events that could be dramatised? The process of building a play involves many different skills from writing and performing, through to set building, costume, make up and props, lighting and sound. A role for everyone! You could video the performance, take photographs which could then be exhibited at the library or school or make a DVD or book of the story with a copy for every house in the locality.

Maps

Maps bring the community together to chart the aspects of their locality that they value. They have helped communities stand up for their home, renew pride of place and inspire people to take an active role in shaping the future and the culture of their locality. A map could show the journey people who made from their country or town of origin to Cambridgeshire or Peterborough. A parish map helps you to identify what your community or neighbourhood has to offer and exchange ideas on what needs more attention – culturally, historically or as part of the economic life of the village.

Idea: You could ask each group in the community to contribute and maybe employ an artist to advise and inspire groups and then display the finished work in the local library, community hall or school. The map doesn’t have to be to scale and can be used to illustrate walks, events, historical stories, traditional events that used to happen (and you may wish to revive), buildings, people and flora and fauna. Another way of doing this could be an A – Z map of your village – an alphabet of local distinctiveness! For more ideas, go to http://commonground.org.uk/portfolio/parish-maps/

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