Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Visit at Silkstone Primary School

On Monday the 7th December , the day of the first UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, The Dearne Project group, Artists Roger Head, Runima Kakoty and Loretta Cusworth took teachers and 33 children from the Silkstone Primary School to the Dearne Valley Park off Pontefract Road Barnsley.
Everyone gathered information for use in writing prose and poetry, drawing and painting in order to produce a poster advertising the opening of the first of the Dearne Projects exhibitions in February 2010.

The exhibition will run for 2 weeks and will be interactive for those visiting the Pod in Barnsley town centre.

This project exists to bring awareness to the community about climate change and the link to the Rivers project which is worldwide. The group are using art and poetry to create this interest in the general public.

Anyone wishing to join the project will be welcome.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Dearne Project - Update

Loretta Cusworth sent me this:

The Dearne Project is working with Silkstone Primary School.
The children will design the poster for the exhibition event in February 2010 and hold a school's exhibition also.
A river walk will be held on 7-12-09 with the children from the school.
many thanks

SECRETARY Dearne Project.

Friday, 6 November 2009

New Web Portal for The Rivers Movement

We have set up a new web portal which gives a one-page overview over the project and provides access to the various online activities.

The URL is:

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Dearne Project: Working with Silkstone Primary School

The Dearne Project is now working with Silkstone Primary School.
The children will design the poster for the exhibition event in February 2010 and hold a school's exhibition also.
A river walk will be held on 7-12-09 with the children from the school.

SECRETARY Dearne Project.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

"Can Art Save Us?" Exhibition in Sheffield

At the Sheffield Millenium Gallery, Brian, Lee, and myself attended the opening of an exhibition with the title "Can Art Save Us?", organised by the Guild of St. George. On display were artworks and artifacts related to John Ruskin. His work in the 19th century centred around art and the negative influence of industrialisation on human civilisation.

A part of the Millenium Gallery is the Ruskin Gallery which is hosting the Ruskin Collection, containing about 900 paintings, watercolors and drawings by artists with some relation to Ruskin, providing "images central to Ruskin's mind".

Monday, 12 October 2009

Establishment of the "Aire and Calder" Project

On 12.October, the "Aire and Calder Project" was established, modelling itself after the "Dearne Project". This will allow the group to bid for funding and have an accountable structure of management.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Brian Lewis and the Rivers Project in the Yorkshire Post

On 4.October there appeared an article in the Yorkshire Post about Brian Lewis and the Rivers Project.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The River Wakes Up

Painting by Runima Kakoty.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Runima Kakoty: River Dearne

Image by Runima Kakoty

Himalayan Balsam and Sycamore tresses.
Traces of litter and water marks
reach for the boughs of trees.
Rippling water flows through tranquility .
Wheels abandoned to water.
Reflections of rain clouds
marshmallows on a blue background.
Hues of cadmine,
orange iron ore,
colour the soil of the river bank.

River Dearne,
Mother to Barnsley,
your serenity and half hidden wonder
fill me with amazement!!

Dearne Workshop

On Saturday, a group of participants in the Rivers Project met in Barnsley at the Black Monk Inn Pub for a workshop. First we walked briefly along the river (I still have my doubts if that ditch can be called a river...)., then we met at Runima Kakoty's house where we discussed ongoing projects. One of the activities there was to define a A-Z for the Wiki that is currently in development: it has been set up last week, and the pages are being filled with content. Anyone who is interested in participating and editing the Wiki, please let me know.

Monday, 20 July 2009

"The Rivers Projects"

The title that was given to this project as "The Rivers Project" (during the Yorkshire Post Award Ceremony) has evolved into "The Rivers Projects". The original project that has started out by linking rivers in various parts of the world, now has created a set of individual projects that are part of this overall activity umbrella.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Project Developments - Now and Future

(This was sent to me by Brian)


Nidd - Harrogate
Rother - Rotherham
Don - Doncaster
Frome - Frome
Trent - Scunthorpe
Avon - Strattord
Went - Wentbridge
- Stafford


Eritrean Rivers

Aire Bridge Arts, Leeds Met University and Malham
Dearne Barnsley TUC/Cooper Gallery, Mill of the Black Monks
Calder Centre for Alternative Technology, Hebden Bridge


Two projects are outstripping the others: Malhamdale and the River Dearne


We have already collected a lot of material and we are now proposing a major gathering on Monday 10 August. Some of us hope to go up on the previous night and stay over. The main 'Meet will be 11.00 am on Monday outside the Buck Inn in the centre of Malham. This will be a 'waters' walk.

There will be a follow up to discuss plans and progress at the Friends Meeting House, Beelks Court just off Beast Fair on 10.00 am on Saturday 15 August.

The Malham Community are interested and we are talking about local government involvement and possibly inputs from the Environment Development Agency.

River Dearne

We meet at Mill of the Black Monks, Grange Lane, Cundy Cross, Barnsley (8 Minutes East from Centre of Barnsley) on Saturday 25 July 10.30am. Have a cup of tea and then walk the river. Lunch prices from another cup of tea to about 10 £ (last time it was really good veggi Food). After lunch we travel across town to Runima Kakoty's House. (Big house and Garden, the Hawthornes, Kereforth Hall Road,) for an afternoon workshop. Writing, Drawing, Creative technology. I estimate between 10 and 20 participants.

This is rapidly developing into a major project. We already have an Exhibition space in Barnsley in February 2010 for a major Rivers Project.

The local authority are interested.

Pam Oxley is already processing material.


I have had several major meetings in the near future including one with the South Yorkshire MEP. We are looking for a European Dimension.


Barnsley Barnsley February 2010
Castleford Bridge Arts. Hopefully May 2010
York To be arranged August 2010

The Rivers Project Movement

(this was sent to me by Brian)

A Rivers Project exists when autonomous individuals choose to collaborate and take action because of a united concern over climate change. The River's Movement is the sum of these singular projects,

Our enthusiasm comes from a desire to create environmental and social harmony by using the arts, creative technology and science. Most organisations concentrate on settlements or communities but rather than doing this we focus is on rivers. We believe that this concentration provides a robust focus for environmental concerns and community education. We concentrate on doing things such as writing readable government reports, poems,

We see no reason to have a strong central organisation. Each river or part of a river has its own group of people and we favour this cellular model. Groups and individuals network with each other and in that way develop their own traditions and ways of working. An individual can belong to more than one group. Collaboration comes through action by those who wish to collaborate on projects.

The Rivers Projects started out linking organisations in Gujarat and Yorkshire, and in 2009 received a climate change award (sponsored by the Environment Agency) from the Yorkshire Post. We are now international, and all the time more and more river groups in the UK are contacting us.

Towards Aims and Objectives

On 15.July we (Brian, Helen, Lee, myself) had a meeting in Brian's house to focus on aims and objectives.

Here is a summary:

Since we were meeting on 15 July Helen, Reinhold, Lee and Brian discussed the principles of the River's Project and Reinhold typed in notes. What follows are not definitive conclusions. Brian benefitted fom seeing Lee and Helen's notes they worked in isolation and sent these by early next morning.

My Rivers Project Notes (Brainstorming)

The rivers project is dedicated to creating awareness of climate change.

The people who are part in the rivers project are very concerned with climate change and its causes.

Integral community involvement

Who: Individuals that can be defined by roles, occupations, what they like to offer

Committed Supportive organisation:
Pontefract Press
Leeds Metropolitan University
Barnsley Northern College

We are an international federation of groups and individuals who correspond and support each other using email and come together for major projects … collaboration …

Main rationale: climate change awareness

Type of projects: Writing, Painting, Photography, Videa, Power Point Crafts, Creative Technology, Science of Climate, Water Technology and so on, and on

We are about Artistic and social Cultures and sharing models of practise. We are a Vehicle for exchanges

Global perspectives: rivers in different places

Disadvantage and inequality

Rather than concentrating on places and issues, we have concentrated on rivers, for we believe that many of the social whatevers.. can be looked-at from the rivers’ perspective

We are not concentrating on specific places but on rivers for they contain a variety of settlements and geo-physical….

We are seeking Harmony, not domination, Harmony and unity

The process is the core and the process can be located in art, creative technology, science but also in poetry, storytelling, gossip.

Rivers projects need not reference any central organisation
Organisations do not need to register with any central organisation
Relies on email, blog
Autonomous for individuals who choose to collaborate

A rivers project exists when individuals choose to collaborate.

This is for people who are concerned about climate change and wish to create environmental and social harmony by taking action using creative arts, technology, and science

We are international, although in the initial stages we saw the benefits of linking Gujarat with Yorkshire. Since the, other countries and rivers from other parts of the country have come into the program.

In 2009 the Rivers Project won an Award in the category "Climate Change" as judged the Yorkshire Post.
Environmental Agency ... for a joint project between groups …

The project started out linking organisations in Gujarat and Yorkshire.

Jean-Paul Sartre: 'In the case of absence of certainty action should take the place of speculative thought.'


Thank you Reinhold for this and also to Lee and Brian for our discussions. It is lovely to read all those thoughts, that we expressed individually and as a group. There is something intangible about the ‘spirit’ of the project that becomes more tangible though no less poetic when reading this collection of statements and thoughts.

I particularly like the process part – and this is what makes it tangible and intangible at once isn’t it?

‘Rather than concentrating on places and issues, we have concentrated on rivers, for we believe that many of the social whatevers.. can be looked-at from the rivers’ perspective’.

This reminds me of something Falguni said about listening to rivers. I think she was right about some of the answers to local and global problems - they can be found through sharing information ideas approaches skills and knowledge, and for that we need to learn how to listen and maybe listening to rivers is a good place to start

Best wishes



The Rivers Projects exist when autonomous individuals choose to collaborate and take action in the united concern over climate change. This goal is facilitated by the desire to create environmental and social harmony through using the arts, creative technology and science.

Rather than concentrating on places and issues, the focus is on the theme of rivers. For those participating in The Rivers Projects, the adopted basic principal would be that the river of any given locality could transcend fragile social boundaries through the unifying ideology of environmental concern and education.

The core of The Rivers Projects is in the processes and actions undertaken by its members, and so there is no central organisation, and there is also no need for The Rivers Projects to register with any central organisation. Its members are a networked group that support and collaborate through their projects.

The Rivers Projects started out linking organisations in Gujarat and Yorkshire, and in 2009 received a climate change award (sponsored by the Environment Agency) from the Yorkshire Post. Since then, projects have become international as well as expanding to more rivers in the UK.

The River Dearne Project

(received this from Brian and post it here)

River Dearne Project

Helped by a grant from The Barnsley TUC Training Trust, three Indian visitors came over from Gujarat and took part in the first two rivers Projects. We collected a lot of material which is currently being processed. I found this piece, written in one of the eight Minute sessions so interesting that I thought I would send it on to you to look at and to put onto the Blog. we think that it is by Mitali Baxi but it might be by Kiran Joshi.

In Indian scripture water is perceived as the root element of life, it is from water that life emerged. In Sanskrit we find ‘Jal Iti Jivanam’ – ‘water is life’.

The river is an ever conscious realiy. She is ever sensitive to her past, her present and her future – it is there at a time. She glows in a total harmony with her surfacing ripples and her inner vibrations. The river is indeed a journey from surviving to existing through de-becoming. The river is an integrative principle of life representing the lively traits of human existence.

‘When we touch Narmada in Gujarat, the Dearne in UK is touched too.’

Most of the cultures on this globe were formed around the rivers. Hence, river becomes a natural ‘Guru’ (teacher) to lead out all that is grand in our heritage. Today we mean to make conscious efforts to restore the primordial educative force of river for in this process is the the peace and well being of human kind.

The ‘Rivers Project’ rises to this sublime force and becomes a precursor of natural education aiming at unity and bliss of mankind.

In the afternoon we are going back to Runima Kakoty's house for a joint workshop.

Artists, writers, creative technologist and scientists are all welcome.

Brian Lewis

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Global Poverty (by Anila Q Haq)

(Written in Scunthorpe)

This earth has wept a million tears
for others it can weep no more.

The empty dry, blue, barren skies,
The marriage between the sun and rain,
The seed that refuses to take blame,
Riverbanks crumble, no place to hide.

The cracks go deep in places unseen
where rivers once ran wild and free
and soil aged onwards, slowly, patiently.

The sky that wept a trillion tears
for others it can weep no more.

Eyes that stare with out a care,
hopeless existence in deserts bare,
The hungry child that cries for life.
A mother’s heart tired, a heart of ice.
The death of many, the cry of blame

Too many lost,
Too many born -
Is now for many the very norm.

Hope torn. The cries, the pain,
The loss of much with little gain.

Brahmaputra (by Runima Kakoty)

(written in Barnsley)

Promises made,
Dipping toes in topaz water,
Conches blowing in nearby villages
Still night, velvety smoothness
Bright eyes, hopes and dreams
Fireflies twinkling over rippling waves ……

Conches no more
Water overflowing
Hopes and dreams fading
Waves dancing demons
Promises broken!!

Report from Brian on Recent Developments

( Brian Lewis sent me this on Friday: )

After starting from three Rivers in India and three in the UK, we now have people wishing to form groups on the Nidd, Went, Wharfe, Don, Trent, Avon and Frome to join the Aire, Calder and Dearne. Some rivers have two or more groups on them and people are travelling to work with each other. Considering we have no central organisation, no money and no enthusiasm for either (Editorial comment by me: actually, I do have some enthusiasm for the latter...), and that this Blog and the telephone is everything have, we are doing well.

We have had a lot of interesting mail this last fortnight. Three letters stand out.
The first one came from the Harrogate University of the Third Age and was especially interesting because it made it clear that we perhaps ought to get down to saying something about our formal Aims and Objectives. A meeting at Leeds Metropolitan University took the same line.

My initial response was to wait to see where our unusual growth pattern will take us and then pause and say exactly who we are. However the enthusiasm of Lee Gascoyne and Helen Meszaros (see the other two letters) made me rethink.

Aims and Objectives - Rivers Project

Dear Siggie

Many thanks for your email. It was appreciated. This is my personal opinion.

The Rivers Project will support groups and individuals who emerge and who use the arts, creative technology and science to return places to environmental harmony. The action at this stage emphasises adult creativity. We are very concerned about climate change and its causes. We are an international federation of groups and individuals who correspond and support each other using email and come together for major projects.

I do not see a need at this stage to spend a lot of time on Aims and Objectives. It is like asking a lover, ‘What are the likely outcomes of this relationship and can you tell me where you expect us to be in six months time.’ Those who approach life in this way are generally doomed and deservedly so in my opinion. Hitler and Lenin did it Gandhi and Jesus didn't. Organisations which last long evolve and adapt to the current environment. Some groupings emerge because of a social need. Most political parties have manifestos and their followers spend over much time defending them and the opposition attacking them to the extent that this becomes the primary occupation. Religions have their sacred books and debate minutia. Take a look at the origins of Islam for another example and compare it with the way it currently functions.

You admit that ‘making us all aware of the importance of rivers is very clear’ and further say that ‘exchanging knowledge between countries is valid’. Strength comes from actions not words.

(Author's name withheld)

This letter came following the Conference at Northern College. I loved it because it hit a lot of key concerns and was quirky. It also highlighted the disappearance of public money systems and the need for a break with the tradition of looking for a bucket full before you start to rethink.

Hi Brian

I met you last week at Northern College at the Global Perspectives conference
We talked amongst other things about Sufism, Mulla Nasrudin and how special is laughter! It helps us to think, maybe help our thoughts to bend around difficult concepts and circumstances. Maybe help us to find new perspectives. Maybe even help our souls to reach new levels of consciousness?

The conference was really timely for me with other lessons especially over this last year, formal and informal education going at such a pace that the curve is in danger of running backwards. I really enjoyed meeting a lot of people who were in some way united in trying to form a vision whether about education, being in humanity on this planet of a better world, and a better way of organising. I really enjoyed the talk from the union guy about international organising, in different ways, like with home workers and rubbish pickers. I felt like I wanted to open up the discussion to community based organising against the BNP which Searchlight is trying to do.

The talks and discussions about the Rivers Projects were utterly inspiring and fit in with a theme in teaching for me this year which has taken place in a building called ‘RAIN’ in the centre of Rotherham, which has both had a leaking roof and we (me and young people) – have flooded upstairs with our wonderful blue paint which was supposed to create a relaxing ‘mood board’ and a sense of serenity but in fact led to a near disaster whereupon our most disturbingly silent member spoke for the first time in class, created the most amazing art work and then team work and cooperation followed– the overall aim of the course – in a big clean up in the hope that we wouldn't be banned from the building!

So my heart was very open to the idea of water and rivers bonding people and used as not just a specific area for organising, we need water to survive and needs to not be polluted, we need equity, Everybody needs water, but also the imagery of water and ancient Indian wisdom.

I am very interested in being involved with exploring notions of Community and community work and community development. I have done some work on this in the past and would very much like to hear about Indian and other perspectives and approaches. When practice teaching last year in a refugee organisation I met a worker from India who was talking about welfare services adn the state and the different conceptions people have of each other in India. She said to me that everyone was seen as a stakeholder, not in the New Labour sense, but in the sense that a service user is not a ‘client’ (with two heads if you look to see how people are sometimes treated) but citizens, a service provider one day might be a service user another. I thought that was interesting.

So thank you for your part in all of that and for being a person who was open enough to share enthusiasm. It was a welcome relief. I would like to find out more. I've attached my CV it only shows one part of a person thought doesn't it?
If you have the write up about working in Rotherham with young people and unemployment let me know, if you haven't I can start it again.

Best wishes
Helen Meszaros

Lee, a painter from Barnsley, came to a meetings in Wakefield and Castleford went to the Dearne workshop at the Cooper Gallery, he then picked up the fact from the Blog and the fact that he had already started a co-operative with Reinhold, that we were going up to Malham with our visitors from India, and he drove there.

Hi Brian,

Malham was impressive. I went to Janet's Foss first and then Gordale Scar, which I climbed to the top of before walking along the ridge to Malham Cove. It's there that I bumped into Falguni, Kiran and Mitali, then dropped back down into Malham. I got your note thanks. Reinhold phoned me mid-walk to say he had to leave almost as soon as he got there (to get to Leeds airport).

I was thinking that it would be good (and may already exist) to have a running list of active participants of the Rivers Project that could be broken down roughly to artist and writers etc? The list or update could include what each member is doing and at what stage they are at.

I also thought that it may be worth while expanding the visual artists' side of the project, as a divergence from the literary content in that there could be progress workshops where the artists get together and show where they are heading, discuss deadlines and make plans etc?

If I had a list of artists on board, I would be happy to do some admin.

The offer to do some admin was especially useful and as a result the requested list is evolving. Helen, Lee, Reinhold and Brian are also preparing some definitions of what we are now calling The Rivers Movement and statements about what we are trying to achieve. We are all committed to avoiding too many meetings for we see a cellular structure that does things and not just talks about them.

We are now seeing products. Bob (Aire) is making Rivers' Silk Scarves, Rachel(Calder) a Children's book and Porl (Went) a video set to music. Rosie (Don) and Stina (Frome) a collaborative book. ZS, working with his community has written a book text analysis water problems in his home land. Brian and Runima are planning joint work on BL's epic 'The Brahma of Soljitra'. Poems are coming in, and they will be posted in other blog posts. We have already got ones by Ray (Rother), Brian (Aire) and Julie (Avon ) translated into Gujarati and two of them recorded and sung in Gujarati.

The Future

"Every artist an administator and every administator a working artist"

We are now putting together a workshop programme but two Moots (Meetings for everyone) are already on offer. Two major projects which will need a collaborative work across the arts, creative technology and the sciences are emerging: Dearne and Malhamdale.

Saturday 25 July Mill of the Black Monks, Grange Lane, Cundy cross, Barnsley S71 5QF @ 10-30am in preparation for an extended workshop at Runima's home in Barnsley in the afternoon.

Monday 10 August, Outside the Buck Inn, Malham @ 11-00am. We already have a lot of material but this will be a big project. Follow up and Friends Meeting House, Pontefract Saturday 15 August @ 10-00am to discuss and look at work which has been thought about and plan a way forward in Malham and elsewhere. THIS DATE NEEDS TO BE CONFIRMED 01977 79312.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

From the Conference in Barnsley

At the conference "Global Perspectives in Adult Learning" which was held at the Northern College in Barnsley from 3.-5.July, Brian Lewis held a session about "A Book in 8 Minutes" to which all the participants contributed a brief segment that they could write down within 8 minutes.

After collecting all the input from the participants, Zeraslasie Shiker sent this out to each participant on behalf of Brian:

Letter to participants of Global Perspectives' Book

Dear friends,

Pam is currently working on the book on 8 minutes document and we expect to send that out very soon, possibly today. Brian and I have received text from several people and since the piece from Paul Smedley is about right length we are sending that to you. Some of you might want to write additional material??.

Deadline as soon as possible but definitely not later than Thursday, 6 August 2009.

Some people are experimenting for instance Anila from Scunthorpe has sent a very interesting poem on global poverty. I have also adapted a small section of my current manuscript Eritrea: rivers, wells and water (Z. Shiker).

Additional material.

A new idea. If you can thing of a person who is alive or dead and exemplifies the idea of one world. Or a world movement which exemplifies a one world approach. Send us an example.

To illustrate this Brian takes as the man he admires and exemplifies a one world view as the Emperor Akbar a contemporary of the Queen of Elizabeth I of England. Brian writes approximately one 100 words.

“I like the Emperor Akbar because he was a great unifier. Illiterate – we think he suffered from an advanced form of dyslexia he spent more money on commissioning books than he did on his army. He practised tolerance and in his India all religions (and people with no religion) were acceptable. One of his favourites wives was a Hindu princesses who was encouraged to practise her religion. Akbar knew that religious intolerance is a great evil.”

I take Barak Obama because he showed the world that human beings regardless of their colour and background can work towards world unity. He will lead by example as he is the President of the current only super power country in the World. He appreciates global issues that factors world peace, security and cooperation. He will work across cultures. But I am not naive from my experience that people (politicians) might not live as to your expectation.

Who would be woman or man, historical or living who you admire and who's views would advance the one world order?

An example of a newly arrived text which describes a current problem and how it related to Paul's work and what changes he would like to make.

The issue of child protection is often raised as a major issue after a tragedy strikes. All too often politicians and bureaucrats wring their hands and pontificate when “the system” fails yet again and another innocent and voiceless life is destroyed.

In global terms unachievable aspirations such as the Millennium Development Goals are held aloft as propaganda to give the appearance of “doing something” and to win votes. Other European nations, particularly the Scandinavians, have a far more enlightened perspective in dealing with vulnerable children. They do not criminalise youth and when intervention is necessary it is far more effective. The proportion of children who enter the care system in these countries is far lower than the UK and there is clear evidence that those who do go on to achieve the majority of the outcomes we have set for our own children under Every Child Matters.

In my work I can only hope that practitioners I teach can make their voices heard above the political double-speak bureaucratic incompetence and criminal negligence. The ethos of “The Best Interest of the Child” is the correct one but in an effort to achieve targets, budgets and other politically motivated criteria, the practical application is lost. The fear of being judged, castigated and ridiculed by a flawed system and some sections of the media often restricts practitioners in enabling vulnerable children achieve the safety and security they deserve.
Educating children, their families and those charged with the duty of their care more holistically, will promote an environment where more meaningful progress can be made.

Paul Smedley

Zeraslasie takes on environmental programme which is affected by politics.

Eritrea is a small mountainous country located in the North-east of Africa. It has a territory of about 124,345 square kilometres, coast line of 1500 kilometres in the Red Sea, and 135 small Islands inside the Red Sea. In the North-west it is bound by Sudan, in the East by the Red Sea, in the South-east by Djibouti, and in the South by Ethiopia.

The Eritrean people liberated the country, after thirty years of armed struggle, from Ethiopian colonial rule in 1991. On 24 May 1993 following United Nations supervised referendum, in which 99.8% of its population voted for independence, Eritrea obtained independence. Until late 19th century Eritrea was not unified but the territory was ruled by local rulers. From the 16th to the late ninteenth century outside powers: the Turks, Egyptians, and Ethiopian Kings occupied parts of Eritrea taking over from the local leaders.

In 1890 Italy, a late arriving colonial power, declared the formation of present Eritrea and ruled the country until 1941. During World War Two Britain took-over Eritrea and ruled the territory until 1952. The following 10 years Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia. In 1962 Ethiopia desolved the federal arrangement and colonised Eritrea for 30 years until 1991.

Some of Eritrea's modern dams, bridges that cross major rivers, and water diversion schemes were constructed by Italy. None of those who ruled the country after Italy had selfless coordinated genuine initiatives. Rivers and water were not a priority agenda.. For the Eritrea people the agenda was a political one, self-determination while for Ethiopia's political elites it was ensuring their continuity in the country wide control.

Though there is a potential to construct hydropower stations and viable modern farms near the rivers of Eritrea, politics did not allow that to happen. Eritrea contributes water to the Nile River. Yet the people had acute problem of access to drinking water. For me this is a global issue because of politics the environment deteriorated because of non- environmental factors.

This is a world wide phenomena.

Brian/ Zeraslasie

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Meeting at Leeds Met

Brian. Falguni, Mitali, and Kiran arrive at 13:30 at Leeds Station, coming back from Malham. I pick them up and drive them to our Leeds Met Headingley Campus where I have organised a meeting with staff from Leeds Met, who are working in researching Climate Change and Green Activism. We present our work in "The Rivers Project", and I can show some of the things that I have worked on. There is the map page where the tracks related to the rivers project are shown on a Google Map. I also showed all the Photosynths that I had so far prepared from the pictures in the Rivers Project.

The second part of the meeting was devoted to general discussions about climate change, projects at Leeds Met, and how Leeds Met could be involved in the Rivers Project. Afterwards we continued talking in the cafeteria, then we went to Leeds City centre. Falguni, Mitali, and Kiran did some last shopping for gifts to bring home, then we had a pizza ta Brio. Finally, Jane took them to her place where they spend their last night in the UK - Friday morning is departure.

Thank you for visiting us - it was a pleasure to have you here in the UK!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Visiting Malham

Monday and Tuesday, the visitors from India travelled to London. But on Wednesday they are back in Yorkshire, to see Malham and the sights there related to the river Aire. I drive to the Northern College Barnsley to pick them up. The ride to Malham takes longer than expected. I had chosen the route through Halifax, which I was told later was unadvantageously slow. Brian is already waiting in Malham, but we cannot reach him because the mobile phone reception there is weak.

Since this is the first time our Indian friends are in Yorkshire, it is essential that they see at least one ruined abbey (thanks a lot, Henry VIII). We pass by the Bolton Abbey, then drive over the Barden Moor to Embsay, through Skipton, then further to Gargrave and finally to Malham where we arrive shortly after 13:00. Brian has organised a workshop for 12:00, but there has been some organisational problem, and the workshop will begin at 14:00. In the meantime we have a meal at the Buck Inn. Afterwards, Brian has the workshop meeting - it was then decided that Falguni, Mitali, Kiran and myself should visit the nearby Malham Cove. There are Peregrine Falcons that can be watched through telescopes.

Lee has driven independently to Malham to see the sites there, Gordale Scar and the Cove. I had planned to meet him, but then was unable as I had to leave for another appointment back in Leeds. Our Indian friends stay in Malham and return to Leeds on Thursday.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Conference in Barnsley

Jane Weatherby has organised the conference "Global Perspectives in Adult Learning", for which our visitors from India had been invited. I can participate on Friday evening, but in Saturday morning my Smart car has some trouble - a noise in the engine makes me worried, and I visit a station. They cannot find anything, and since the noise had been gone, I keep going on to Barnsley where I arrive 2 hours late.

I had never been at the Northern College. A great location, with a nice view over Barnsley.

Falguni has presented the work about the Rivers Project, and I just join the conference when Brian makes a comment.
Later Brian hosts a session about "a book in 8 minutes", where every participant is writing a brief reflection - they all will then later be bundled into one book.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A Day in Stratford-upon-Avon

Since our visitors from India had arrived the week before, several activities had taken place in the Yorkshire area. But I was not able to participate in them, because I was travelling in the US. I returned on Tuesday, and at that day Brian travelled with Falguni, Mitali, and Kiran to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The travel to Stratford had been full of unforeseen difficulties, which Brian may some day tell about. They visited Julie Boden who guided them around the area.

On Wednesday, one day after I had arrived ok, I drove down South to Stratford to pick them up and bring them back to Barnsley where they stayed at the Northern College. It is almost a 3 hour drive down the M1, then southwest towards Warwick. Very warm and sunny weather.

At 12:00 sharp I meet Brian in front of Shakespeare's birth house. Shortly afterwards also Falguni, Mitali, Kiran, and Julie are there.

We visit the Shakespeare House, where an automatic installation with a narration is presented to the visitors. Then strolling around Stratford. Getting some refreshments at the Black Swan Pub.

Then we drive to Mary Arden's House/Farm outside of Stratford. She was the mother of Shakespeare. The farm shows typical life around the end of the 16th century.

We get some food at TESCO. The restaurant there is closed, but we do not care and take a table. In the past, we Germans occupied countries - nowadays we just occupy tables (thank god!).

The drive home takes longer than planned. The M1 at J25 and 26 is closed because of construction. For one hour there is stop-and-go traffic only, and then we make our way around Nottingham. My car has a few slight flaws: the internal ventilator only works after it gets a good kick with the foot, the engine appears to have difficulties do drive uphill, and the radio does not work at all. So we provide our own entertainment - each of us has to sing a song. I am being advised that as a driver I should not too long clap applause while steering the car. With a brief pitstop at a rest station, we arrive at Barnsley around 11pm. I bring then Brian home to Pontefract, then I drive on to Leeds. Am at home at midnight.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Welcome to our visitors from India!

Falguni, Mitali, and Kiran have arrived well here in the UK.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Conference: Global Perspectives on Adult Learning, Barnsley, 3.-5.July

In conjunction with the visit by our project partners from India, a conference is held at Northern College, Barnsley, on 3.-July - 5.July, with the topic "Global Perspectives on Adult Learning".

What is the conference about?

This conference considers the relevance of globalisation and
international development for teaching and learning in the post
compulsory sector. It explores how thinking globally can open up
new possibilities, deepen understanding of our place in the world
and provide better skills for a global economy.

Who is it for?

Educators working in the post compulsory sector, including
HE, FE, voluntary and community and trade union.
Join us for opportunities to:
  • Discuss issues and challenges
  • Share ideas, good practice and resources
  • Foster opportunities for collaborative work
  • Residential or non residential options

Speakers and Workshops include:

Linda McAvan Labour MEP, Yorkshire & Humber, Chair of the European
Parliament Fair Trade Working Group
Dr Jan Eldred Associate Director (International), NIACE
Professor Falguni Bharateeya University of Vallabh Vidyanagar,
Anand, India
WIEGO (Women in Informal Earnings Globalizing and Organizing)
Brian Lewis Pontefract Press
Louise Mycroft Course Leader for University of Huddersfield’s postcompulsory
teacher training programme at Northern College
Good practice forum
... and more

Friday 3 July 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Saturday 4 July 9.30am - 4.30pm
Sunday 5 July 9.30am - 12.30pm

Free parking
Limited childcare places (6 months to 14 years)
Access for people with disabilities
Refreshments and meals included

The participation in this conference is FREE.

For more information email or
telephone 01226 776000

To reserve a place online, visit:

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Visitors from India

In a few weeks, our partners from India will visit the UK, to complement the visit in India which we had undertaken back in November. A set of workshops is planned around Yorkshire rivers, for creating art and writing relevant to those rivers.

These three visitors will be our guests from 22.June until 10.July:
Falguni Bharateeya (Department of English, Nalini Arts College, Vallabh Vidyanagar)
Mitali Baxi (Life Skills trainer)
Kiran Joshi (Assistant teacher, R B Patel High School)

Online Tools

For easier collaboration in this project, a public Google Group has been set up:
This group allows discussions and acts as a repository of ideas.

Furthermore, the Google Calendar of this group is publicly visible here online.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Letter by MP Yvette Cooper

Yorkshire's Finest Environmental Awards 2009

The Climate Change Award Given By The Environmental Agency
The Gujarat Rivers Talk To Yorkshire Rivers Project

Can I thank you and the university for the support you are giving to Brian Lewis and his colleagues and congratulate you all for having the imagination to develop the Rivers Project and to be acknowledged as the winners of the Environmental Agency's Climate Change Award.

Brian Lewis tells me that without the commitment of Dr Rajendrasind Jadeja and his friends/colleagues it would not have developed in such a positive way. As a token of the fact that this is a co-operative venture he intends to pass the trophy onto the university on his next visit.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Ed Miliband) made the award on a civic occasion but as a result of this joint effort three members of the UK Cabinet knows about the Gujarat Rivers Talk to Yorkshire Rivers Project. Like your organisations we see the battle against climate change is a world wide problem.

The delegation led by Professor Falguni Bharateeya will be made most welcome when she comes to Yorkshire to take part in the Global Perspectives in Adult Learning conference. I hope that I am able to meet them when they visit my constituency.


Yvette Cooper MP

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Meeting in Castleford, Sagar Gallery, 28.May 2009

The following meeting notes were prepared by Zeraslasie Shiker.

Second Rivers Meeting 
Bridge Gallery, Castleford 
28 May 2009 
Zeraslasie Shiker

The Second Rivers Meeting held at Bridge Gallery, Castleford on 28 May 2009 was the continuation of the First Rivers Meeting which was held in Wakefield on 18 May. Professional Artists who participated at the meeting in Wakefield and other interested artists were present. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss in the ideas of the artists involved in the project.
Brian Lewis introduced the participants with the agenda of the meeting. The agenda include:

  • Blog about this project: Voices from Gujarat and Yorkshire Rivers at
  • rivers project progress talk - Brian Lewis
  • project financing email - Roger Head
  • workshops - Brian
  • Northern College Conference on Global Perspectives in Adult Education - Jane Weatherby
  • possible Rivers Project exhibitions

Brian and Reinhold Behringer explained to the meeting that written materials and pictures in the rivers project are posted in the ‘Voices from Gujarati and Yorkshire Rivers’ at Reinhold in addition showed sample pictures of rivers and the importance of the blog to the idea of the rivers project. 
In continuation to the work on the project, Brian on 25 May met with Ahmed Lunat, an Indian poet from Gujarat in Batley to collect more information, stories and poems of Gujarat. In addition, he spoke on the phone with interested artists about the project, among others, he discussed with Roger Head on how to finance the project. A document containing Roger’s ideas on how to fund the project is distributed in the meeting.

A form on the dates and venue of future workshops related to the Rivers Project was circulated in the meeting so that each participant could look on which event to attend. The events include:

  • Hebden/ Calderdale artists meeting, Monday, 8 June 2009, 3 pm to 7pm
  • workshop Cooper Gallery Bansely, Saturday, 27 June 
  • Hebden Artists meeting, 28 June
  • Hebden Boat Trip, 28 June
  • First Dearne Meeting; Riverside event River Dearne, Sunday, 2 July
  • Conference on Global Perspectives in Adult Learning, 3 - 5 July
  • Malham Meeting

The Participants of the meeting ticked the event(s) they are interested in. The artists who did not come in to the meeting will be contacted.
Discussion was held on what the participants could contribute to the project. Each participant spoke about his/her ideas or plan. Many of the participants want to work with others. The points are as follows:

Susan and her husband travelled to Calder River, took some pictures which circulated at the meeting. She produced DVD from the pictures and motion of the river that was played in the meeting. She proposed joint efforts to develop her idea.
There is an idea of organising exhibitions that could be related with the rivers project at Cooper in Barnsley, York, and Castleford Bridge.
David Wilders is planning to pull together stories and poems of Aire river and work on the idea of collect clay for Calder river
David/ Harry has an idea of a sculpture on the Aire river related with the rivers project and applying his painting skills.
Brian is working on a river paintings in India, epic poems in Indian goddess, and a poem about Yorkshire. Brian wants to know any one who likes to contribute.
Zeraslasie has started collecting and documenting stories on rivers, wells, and water in Eritrea.
Bob has an idea of making a map of Calder River, and pictures of the 50 bridges of the Calder river.

Reinhold has an idea of creating Google group on the rivers project and to further develop the rivers blog. The group is at Members are invited, but can also ask for group access.

Roger Head has idea of working in getting a fund for the project. A document containing his idea is distributed on the meeting.
Rosie and Liz have not developed their idea but are interested in contributing something in the project. Liz showed interest in Harry’s idea of collecting clay from Calder River. She told the meeting that she might consider her painting skills in the development of the idea.
Rachel with her husband, mother and father will produce a number of pockets involving small books and pictures covered with glass. Other participants are interested in her ideas and spoke of joint development.

One of the mottos of the Rivers Project is: "Every administrator is an artist and every artist is an administrator."

Other emails will follow in the next few days. These will include:

  • More on Workshops and Showcasing
  • Links with other artists
  • Conferences

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Summary of Meeting on 18.May 2009, Art House Wakefield

Records of the Rivers Project Meeting
First Meeting of the Calder Group
Art House, Wakefield
18 May 2009

Author: Zeraslasie Shiker

A workshop on the Rivers Project was held on 18 May 2009 at the Art House in Wakefield. Nineteen people who have varied professions including writers, translators and interpreters, poets, artists, musicians, scientists, and academics participated at the meeting. At present, the project includes Yorkshire, India, and Eritrea.

Brian Lewis, author of the project, coordinated the meeting together with Prof. Reinhold Behringer from Leeds Metropolitan University. This meeting was intended to move quickly into an operational phase, following the Environmental Award 2009 from the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Post.
In his opening presentation Brian introduced the meeting to the Rivers Project and outlined the visit of a group of professionals from Yorkshire to India. Brian spoke about the tour made by a team of UK professionals into India, and experience shared and lessons learned from the visit. The presentation was supported by pictures of rivers and other events captured during the tour in India. Reinhold supported Brian with the PowerPoint presentation and explanation.

Visit to India

The Yorkshire group who visited India included Brian Lewis, publisher, author, and painter; Reinhold Behringer, Professor of Creative Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University; Ms. Beccy Stirrup, WEA creative writer; Jane Weatherby, photographer and Overseas Development Northern College; Ruth Dass, inter-culture expert; and Jenny Marsden, writer at Pontefract Press.

The group visited different parts of India including the Narmada river, and gave a presentation in a conference held at the Institute of English Training Academy where 11 universities and about 300 students participated. They also visited a Hindu Temple, and attended a folk festival event.

The Rivers Project

The meeting discussed that the mission of the Rivers Project is to pull together people of different regions or countries of the world because of a shared responsibility. "We believe that the talents of artists, poets, film makers, musicians, and writers are major influence in this broad radical programme," said Brian.

We already have links between communities of English, Indian and Eritrean through the work in the Rivers Project. Brian's books on rivers and floods including "The Toll Bar Floods", and "Yorkshire Speaks to Gujarati Rivers" were shown in the meeting. The books are of high quality and affordable.

Discussion took place in the meeting, and David Wilders, a poet from Castleford, read his poem 'Aire River – Source to Castleford'. Its Tigrigna translation by Zeraslasie Shiker was read to signify the importance of inter-cultural communication in the environmental project. Tigrigna is a major working language in Eritrea.
Brian during the discussion asked each participant in the meeting to describe the Colder river in few words. Here are the collections we made:

it flows down Calder dale
it is navigable
it used to be mucky now it's clean
a heron sits regularly on the weir
leeches are present
it is known to flood every 10 years
it is a canal
I have studied on it
food originally
now mucky
a source of Transport
flows through Lancashire
has six legs
have channels
crosses a river
is erosive
source of pollution
learned about it in school
runs through traditional industrial area
canal boats
changes colour
close to its source
runs parallel to train line
wheel in the river
flows through Kirklees
fast flowing
source of food
driving over M62
environment Agency will not let you in

State of Progress

India - documentation of stories, songs, and perceptions on ecology, water and climate change developing by Kiran, Mitali, and Falguni.
Eritrea - documentation of stories on rivers, wells, and water in Eritrea began by Z. Shiker.

Forthcoming Events

26 May: Brian Lewis and Paul Medlock Meets Ahmed Lunat (Gul) in Batley (Gujarat Assoc)

28 May: Castleford Second Calder Meeting in Wakefield

8 June, Meet Hebden/ Calderdale artist/activists; Third Carder Meeting, the Centre for Alternative Technology, Hebden Bridge
Brian Lewis – 2 Sessions The Rivers Project (First 3 pm and Second 7:00 pm)

22 June: Gujurati colleagues (Falguni et al) arrive

27 June: Workshop Cooper Gallery Bansley.
Rivers Project (The Dearne) – Ian Clayton First Dearne Meeting

28 June: Big Riverside event River Calder, Hebden Bridge. Meeting starts at 11:00 am at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Train, Leeds to Hebden Bridge departs at 9.13 am arrives at 9.51 am; or departs at 9.45 am and arrives at 10.14 am.

29 June: Toll Bar School and Toll Bar Floods

2 July: Riverside event River Dearne, Bansely. Second Dearne Meeting at 10:30 am. Car park Mill of Black Monks, Grange Lane Lundwood Barnsley.
July, Mystery Plays starts at 7.4 pm

3 July: Harrogate at 2.00 am university of the third Age.
Northern College Conference, three days. Global Perspectives in Adult learning, start at 6:00 pm. Some residential places.
4 July: Global Perspectives in Adult Learning. All day. Being mindful of the Globe – The Rivers Project. Books in an Afternoon – Pontefract Press
5 July: Launching of Global perspectives in Adult Learning

Arising from the discussion

How is the project financed?
The rivers project has no funding
Project looks very important so it could get funding
Should Brian put more effort into searching funds

India Visit:
should we travel to India on plain without good reason? Brian's response was 'The visit was important. We met and spoke and listened to the views of people of varied professions: artists, poets, academics, students and community heads. A link or contact point between the two peoples is established.'

Contribution to the Project

The professionals who came to the meeting asked how to contribute to the Rivers Project. Most of them showed readiness to contribute to the work of the project. Points collected include:
I want to involve the general public performance film poetry, general painting etc.
All of my work is made for the average person in the street to enjoy.
What effect will this project have on climate change?
Is there a limit of participants?
How will this connect to India?
How long is the commitment to the project – beyond 3rd July?
Does it have a physical impact?
Why not research the original meaning of the river names and their origins?
what level of independent involvement be expected?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Award from Yorkshire Post

This project, also known shortly as "The Rivers Project", has been presented with an Environment Award by the Yorkshire Post in the category "Climate Change". Brian Lewis and Jane Weatherby accepted the award from the hands of the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, at an awards dinner at the Queens Hotel in Leeds. The evening was moderated by TV presenter Julia Bradbury.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Visiting Heptonstall

Brian Lewis and I visited Heptonstall and had a walk around the old mills in the valley below. But first they paid a tribute to the burial site of poet Sylvia Plath whose grave is on the Heptonstall cemetary.

The Colden Valley has interesting ruins of industrial mills, now overgrown by trees. Nature took back what it once owned.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Visiting Hebdon Bridge

On Sunday, 5.April 2009, Brian Lewis and I visited Hebden Bridge, for exploring some sights of early industrialisation and the relevance of water. We stopped at the Centre for Alternative Energy, where we got a nice guided tour through their facilities.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Brian Lewis: new video

Contrary to previous planning, Brian Lewis was unable to travel to India this January 2009. Therefore, he sends his greetings to the project partners in Vallabh Vidyanagar with this video message, in which he describes the current state of the project.