First words to the wise … What should the first words of a new blog be? Given that I am up to my neck in bookings for the workshops tour and cajoling donations of biscuits for tea breaks (thank you, Mr Tunnock), the only two words have to be ‘community’ and ‘heritage’.
So there it is: community heritage. And how.
I am not a fan of saying that ‘we have been on a journey’, but oh my goodness, we really have! It is only 15 months since we sent out a survey, and barely a year since we met at Birnam and put the community heritage world to rights. Eight months ago, the idea of discussion workshops with communities all round Scotland was a twinkle in the eye. Enter Karen Brown from the University of St Andrews Museums, Galleries, Collections Institute (MGCI), who secured £10,000 from the Royal Society of Edinburgh for exactly the research tour we needed.
Here it is! Today we welcome the lion (lioness?) of social enterprise, Sarah Cameron of Senscot, to open the tour as our first speaker at the wonderful Maryhill Burgh Halls in Glasgow. Dumfries follows two days later, with workshops at another 10 venues cascading throughout Scotland until we meet for a conference in St Andrews in November.
Karen Brown and Jamie Brown from MGCI have been amazing leads, and Jennifer Giles from National Library of Scotland has provided fantastic support, rallying her troops in the Scottish Local History Society so that they come to every single workshop. Jasmine Wilkie, a postgraduate student at St Andrews, has been helping organise the Glasgow gig, and between us and her links to an amazing project in Skye, she has really got the bug for community heritage! Good – we need that among the emerging museum professionals.
Notwithstanding some interesting logistical moments, we are all super excited about this and can’t wait to get started. Tents and sleeping bags are being packed for some stops (did we mention the budget was small?) and everyone is just rolling up their sleeves and getting ready to roll.
Never mind all that, the thing is the discussion: the talk, the networking, the ideas, the plans, maybe even some dreams – why not? The working group of SCHA met a few weeks ago and came to the easy decision that we will do nothing until we hear what you say. So if, as will no doubt will happen, people ask “Where is all this going?”, the answer will always be “You tell us”. And we really hope you do.