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?

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