Today was a thinking day. Starting a new project. Well, choosing a new project first of all.
Last weekend I went through the cards I’ve been using for the last 28 days and wrote down what project idea I had for each of them. Just the first thing off the top of my head. Today I looked back over it with a view to choosing something. As I read them I realised that a couple of them had the added benefit of helping me to clear up my physical working environment and that that is quite important to me.
So I chose the Family History one, which I’d written down as “a memorial of some kind to Tony, using the stuff I’ve got of his and about him to make a something, not clear exactly what yet.”
So today I turned this into: cataloguing, digitising and writing about the materials I have from my father (he died six months ago, suddenly and unexpectedly). I have personal documents, letters, notebooks and diaries, but I also have lots of photographs of him playing music, some recordings and then press and publicity materials. And then there are other bits that are from his work as a computer programmer, again marketing materials, but also descriptions of the work that he did for ACT/Apricot in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
So that’s it. He’s not notable enough (I don’t think) for a Wikipedia page, but it would be nice to have some sort of organised memorial to him on the web, working from all the physical evidence I have and helping his descendants know who he was.
That’s it, that’s as clear a project brief and product description as I can muster right now. I think the next thing is to have a think about what might be a realistic product in 28 days, working around existing commitments and the day job, so that I can make a better plan.
Writing this reminds me that not all blog posts have titles. I mean it’s annoying to have to come up with something. Next blog software needs to not have it as a requirement, just let me write man.
When I wrote my review of the week on Sunday, I forgot something that I’d meant to say.
I regularly forget that making Community is something that I probably work on every day. If I’m not actively doing it, I’m thinking about it. I’m writing about it or writing something that will help people connect with each other.
I have a part-time day job now. I’m Community Worker at a church just up the road from where I live. It’s lovely work and it can be challenging to do for someone who’s recent experience in community building has been mostly with people who want to be online and want to organise online – the congregation I work with are open-minded and enthusiastic about digital things but they just don’t have much experience and often default to the ways that they’ve always organised things. This isn’t always wrong but it can carry a bigger overhead, which might not be achievable or sustainable in a two-and-a-half-day week. There’s a big need to attract new volunteers and for me to delegate much more.
I managed to write a weeknote for the church website last Friday. That’s a discipline I’d like to maintain, even if it finds a different home.
I’ve rejigged my week to be Monday morning, Wednesday all day and Friday all day. That gives me days like today to do other things. Wednesday’s main thing is Sunflower Café, our dementia-friendly coffee morning and Fridays revolve around the community lunch. I’m hoping that doing that every Friday will serve as a focus for attracting those new volunteers and collaborators.
This week I’m also going to be working on making the website a bit more useful, how we bring back our dementia-friendly singing group and working up the idea of a community theatre group – aiming to do a panto at Christmas.
On Friday mornings I also have been running Tuttle (my long-running networking event for people who don’t like going to networking events) on Zoom since March last year. It’s been fun and we’ve settled to a regular core who enjoy seeing each other.
And I’m aware that blogging again regularly (in my personal capacity) is also helping to recreate and revitalise some connections that had faded away somewhat.
Today was my wedding anniversary – we walked over to Watt’s Gallery along the North Down’s Way and had lunch. I was glad to see my friend Debbie Davies’s artwork “Belonging” is still hanging in one of the oak trees outside. It looked great today against the blue of the sky and the green trees, summer came back from the dead today and it should be sticking around for a while.
So this was the week that I made a film, a podcast (even if I wouldn’t share it), chopped up some candles and learned a lot of programming.
There are two main improvements in this week’s review – one is to keep focusing on the sharing rather than on reporting the making. The making is going on, but it isn’t driven by the need to write about it.
The other is that I’m being a bit more systematic about my non-medication ADHD treatments. I’m keeping an eye on my daily practice of: meditation; exercise; diet and dietary supplements; art; reducing physical clutter; sleep, rest and other self-care activities. The last three days, for example I’ve started the morning with meditation and exercise before breakfast and made sure I got to bed at a reasonable time.
I went for a run this morning, because I was reminded, by a slight deterioration in my mental health, that I need to do physical and manual work as much as thinking and making digital artefacts.
So I just gave myself to whittling down some of these candles, chipping a bit here and a bit there, not making anything special, just playing with a knife and something to cut with it. A simple process repeated over and over as I did when I was a child.
I remember one time my parents brought home a big box of old candles that they’d been given by the pub landlord where they’d been for a drink. I mean I guess he was throwing them out and they’d said, wait, no we’ll take them home. My sister and I had hours of fun melting them, remelting them, chopping them up, burning each other with hot wax, pouring hot wax into water to make bizarre shapes.
So I’ve been revisiting that a bit and I’ll probably do some more.
This also marks a shift in these blog posts to “Share Something” rather than “Make Something” since I got a bit obsessed with only making things that I could then share, in a day and a little *sharing* of process and progress and playfulness is really what this is about.
Today, I was more gentle with myself. I pulled “coding”. Now I definitely don’t have any coding projects all set up and ready to go. But I am interested in how to automate my workflow for blogging on Hive. The process for wordpress is straightforward and handled by lots of different clients. I currently post straight to a draft post on my wordpress.com having given draftsapp my credentials a long time ago. I’d like to be able to compose in one place and then click one button to send it to wordpress and another to send it to hive. I don’t want to be copying and pasting or doing something so automatic that it reduces my flexibility.
Anyway, long story short, because yesterday what I really learned was that I don’t have to present something here for approval or be thinking of the audience at all, I’m writing for myself… long story short, I posted a little test post on the tuttleclub blog which I haven’t really used since I used it as an experiment in setting up a second account.
Notes on yesterday…
It wasn’t really a fail, because I did make something. I think I need to spend some time, not only reviewing what I’ve done, but also planning what I might do next. I’ve got lots of ideas in my head, but if I’m going to continue with this approach, they really need to be committed somewhere so that I can pick them up when I need them. So that I’d have something to start with yesterday morning (or today for that matter) without having to think almost from first principles.
In the case of podcasting, what’s notable is that I don’t have lots of audio clips stashed away, in the way that I have bits of writing, film or photography all ready to pick apart and put back together in a new form. Or if I do have a stash, it feels old and stale and a lot of work to breathe new life into it. I also feel like I’ve done the mumbling, bumbling improvised ramble character to death. It was so 2005 for me and, man, that was sixteen years ago – a different world and definitely a different me. And I’m not really interested in two-hander interviews either. There’s a new form of podcast out there that will excite me but I don’t quite know what it is yet. And making it will take more than a day’s sprint.
I pulled “Film”. That’s tricky – make a film, on a Bank Holiday Monday… starting….. now! My first reaction was to cheat it, by applying it to all of the actual bits of film that I have lying around in various states of processing.
One way of looking at this way of working (I hesitate to call it a project) is to say “OK, if you were going to work on your most important and interesting XYZ project today, what would that project be and what next right steps would you take?” To which my creative inner says “Fuck off, you’re trying to get me to project manage again.”
I do think that part of this work is to allow the bumbling and improvisation to come through in the structure. The prompt isn’t a kind of trick to make me make a film or write a book or whatever, it’s a way to safeguard today from all the other things that could come invading in, if it weren’t there and allow the bumbling to stay roughly on one path instead of going into the long grass because I can’t remember why I started this sentence in the first place.
So although there are films I’d like to make and bits of film (moving picture) that I was thinking of when I wrote “Film” on the card, it’s OK if I spend some time with old (or new!) negatives or gels or filters or plastic bags, I suppose. It’s up to me how far is too far to stretch. I don’t think Film is ever likely to be “I watched Netflix all day” but it’s not always going to be tiny sober progress towards a magnum opus.
A little while ago I made a kind of soundscape thing called Grunt & Shuffle made out of sounds I recorded within a few steps of my front door. The idea came to me today to add some visual layers to that, perhaps put some shots from down by the river together with cars speeding past on the main road and that made me think of a kind of double-exposure thing, perhaps swapping the focus from greenery to road and back again in some way related to the sounds. I popped out and shot a minute or so of cars passing (it’s quiet on a Bank Holiday) and decided not to get fresh stuff from the river but to delve into my archive.
I thought I knew how to use a cutaway in iMovie to do a double-exposure effect, but I didn’t so I had to look it up. Even then, I had to poke around a few times and then restart my computer before I got it to work properly.
I chopped the cars going past up a bit to get the rhythm that I wanted. And I took off the audio. Then I slowed it down by 50% this sets the time at about 1 minute.
I took a very short clip of my feet walking up St Catherine’s Footpath from a couple of years ago and copied it several times so that it loops over the car track. Then I saved this as it’s own file so that I could put more overlays on. I remembered to start writing some notes (you’re reading them now, isn’t that neat?!) while the cogs grind in the software machine.
Now the question is, when you’re building up layers, do you start a new iMovie project (yes, I’m still using iMovie, stop judging me) so that you’ve got something to rewind to, or do you get rid of it, knowing that it was so simple and made out of things that you have saved, and you’ve written notes to remind you of what you did anyway, so you could just redo it if you needed to but you probably wouldn’t need to. That all feels complicated, so I just cleared the workspace and started again with the new one.
I like the way that the changing light levels in the walking clip shift the double exposure effect, so my eye switches between which layer I’m focusing on.
And then I needed some greenery – I chose a shot from the bottom of Ferry Lane across the river, a bit shaky and I think the camera was a bit overwhelmed by the green and made it a bit yellow, but I tried adjusting it and messing around generally and none of it worked, so I rendered that over the top of layer one as layer two.
To complete the video bit, I added some clips of a buttercup blowing in the wind. I chopped it up and copied a few bits to fill out the one minute clip. Then I popped a fade to black on the end before going hunting for the audio.
The only copy I could find was on soundcloud and I had to fiddle to download it onto this machine. I started with the very beginning, but that was overwhelming so I picked a piece that fitted the roughly one minute of video and which was a bit more calm. And I totally obsessed about how I could get the audio footsteps and my feet on the film to be better synchronised before remembering that really what was important was the realisation of an idea. And that was complete, if not perfect.
Here you go.
I lost an hour (at least) yesterday looking for my old developing tank and thermometer, the final bits in the developing kit. Laura knew exactly where they were when I finally gave in and asked her – they were in the box that she puts her laptop on when it’s plugged into a monitor, so she sees it pretty much every day. She really can’t understand why I can’t remember that we put them in there together a few months ago when she was helping me organise. Nor can she understand why I would go through every other box in the bedroom, under the bed, in cupboards before asking her (partly because she knows that she knows where everything is)
I spoke this morning with Zosia Poulter who’s studying for an MA in Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths (thanks to lovely Sian Prime for the intro). She was interested in hearing more about my approach to gathering people together to talk and do stuff. I said yes, on the condition that I could record the conversation and publish it.
You might find it interesting if you’ve only had a little experience of self-organising conferences/events or you’ve heard of them but haven’t been able to get to one. I found it interesting to have a forum to join some of the dots for myself.
Some things that I mentioned that might be useful further reading:
I'm the founder of the Tuttle Club and fascinated by organisation. I enjoy making social art and building communities, if you'd like some help from me feel free to e-mail me: Lloyd dot Davis at Gmail dot Com or call +44 (0)79191 82825