I’m really pleased to share the work that my colleagues and I have been doing over the past year in a our most recent annual report. So new, it’s not yet hot off the press, the 2015-16 annual report is a snapshot of the work we’ve done between April 2015 and March 2016 to support individuals, communities and organisations across Dudley borough.
‘Flush and grow’ is a great title for a project. This is what Bayer Street Allotments Association have called their new project, which will help people in Coseley grow more green-fingered thanks to a grant of £10,000 from Awards for All. It’s been both fun and fascinating to support this group of volunteers who’ve given so much of their time to the community in recent months.
Have you ever wanted the chance to try something new? Do you know someone that can shabby-chic, build or mend and do you think ‘Oh I wish they would show me how to do that!’? Do you know any amazing makers, bakers, growers, creators and think they are so awesome they should share their skills and knowledge to inspire others? Can you do something amazing and would love the opportunity to share how to do it with others? If so Trade School Dudley is just the thing for you!
Be a teacher, learner, co-founder or all three! Join me on Tuesday 7 June 10am-1pm at DY1 Stafford Street, Dudley to find out more!
Trade School is a non-traditional learning space that runs on barter where anyone can teach a class! People with a skill or talent that they can teach to others propose a class and ask for a small barter item from learners. For example, if you teach a class about making butter, you might ask students to bring cream, jars, bread, recipes, music tips, or help with something like finding a flat.
Learners sign up for classes by agreeing to bring a barter item for the teacher. Everyone has something to offer!
You could learn how to bake bread in exchange for potted herbs, teach basic bike maintenance in return for recipe suggestions or books, and learn how to use social media and the internet by bringing wool or materials. You can teach a class about anything you are passionate about –and say what you’d like to receive in exchange.
The Trade School network is made up of self-organized barter-for-knowledge schools across the world. It started in 2010 with a small group of friends in New York, but they now have Trade Schools in over 50 cities internationally. You can read more about trade school by visiting their website.
Residents in Wrens Nest, Dudley have run a number of pop up trade schools and how to session over the last 3 years. This summer we are hoping you will help start Trade School Dudley and Trade School Coseley, because wow people can do incredible things and have the most amazing skills to share!
A magic moment for me is when Wrens Nest ran a trade school so people could learn how to make jam. I got chatting to Stuart, a local resident, about growing and he explained how his garden is overflowing with plums that he didn’t know what to do with. I told him about a baking project that a seven year old girl had started and said that I was sure we could make use of his surplus supplies!
The following week whilst the Seed and Feed growing gang were meeting, Stuart popped along with bags and bags of plums. One of the gardeners had harvested some beans from his garden and shared these with Stuart as thanks for the plums. We all sat staring at the ample pile stacked before us and thought ‘Right, what can we do… ‘ Steve, one of the gardeners, suggested that they would make great jam and it just so happened that he knew how to make it, which was a good job ’cause the rest of us didn’t have a clue! So Jam Trade School popped up.
Steve asked that learners brought barter items that included jars to put the jam into, anything that supported the gardening project, anything useful for baking or a surprise. People brought barter items including jars, tomato feed, pots, flour and one lady shared her grandmother’s recipes.
Our youngest learner was just five and our oldest was in their seventies but everyone came together to learn, have fun, share and take home some of the best jam ever tasted! There was even time to make upside down plum pudding! And Stuart who had donated the plums in the first place got a bowl of pudding, a jar of jam and some new friends in his community.
Other Wrens Nest Trade Schools have included gardening, crocheting, seed balls, how to make an insect home and relaxation techniques. There is something magical in seeing someone who has a skill like crocheting or jam making showing someone else how to start, the spark of passion being passed from one person to another, the patience and encouragement, the laughter and fun. It really is quite wonderful!
So come on, who’s up for bartering knowledge and getting Trade School Dudley on the go?!
Join me on Tuesday 7 June 10am-1pm at DY1 Stafford Street, Dudley. This session is for anyone interested in being part of starting, or teaching or learning at Trade School Dudley or anyone simply curious to know more. It will be a friendly, informal chance to find out about how Trade School started. Find out what types of activities you might do as part of a Trade School founding team or join a conversation about what the first season of classes could be.
Calling all passionate growers! Come and join us to hear about some of the exciting growing projects happening in the borough and find out how you can be involved in a new urban growing project at DY1! Tuesday 3 May between 10-12pm at DY1, Stafford Street, Dudley.
To get you excited let me tell you about some of the amazing things that people have started growing across communities in Dudley.
I’m really pleased to share the work I and my wonderful colleagues have done to support individuals, communities and organisations last year. The Dudley CVS Annual Report outlines how we’ve been connecting and inspiring people and organisations to achieve positive change and championing their work. It covers the year April 2014-March 2015.
One of the best things I do in my job at the moment is work with residents in Coseley who are leading the Big Local programme, along with my colleagues Neil and Donna. We’ve recently been testing out new ways to support people with ideas who want to start activities. We have worked hard with residents to develop a process which embraces the underpinning ethos of East Coseley Big Local: to start with what is already available around us.
Doris and Vusa live in Coseley and want to start a weekly out-of-school education, recreation and mentoring programme for 8 – 14 year olds. They agreed to help test our new process. A month ago they joined Dudley CVS staff and four residents from the East Coseley Big Local Core Group. We started off by sharing some examples of inspiring projects from other places around the world. Doris was interested in Singledingen, a project started by neighbours in a park in Rotterdam, and Hackney Pirates, an amazing out-of-school learning adventure started by a teacher and local people.
Then we introduced our Ideas Canvas, which prompted conversation about what Doris, Vusa and other members of their team bring in terms of passion, skills, experience and knowledge. Together we identified who they might like to meet to help them get started. Something we asked which was a bit of a surprise to Doris and Vusa was: ‘What could the children bring and contribute to the programme?’ They hadn’t thought about this before, but readily considered ways that children could share their talents with each other, and be supported to take on leadership roles.
Another surprise was that we were able to help Doris and Vusa to cut their costs for 2 taster sessions by about two-thirds, by re-thinking some activities with them, and by sourcing materials and equipment that could be borrowed from local groups. This was possible due to members of local groups being involved in the Big Local Core Group, added to by the local knowledge of Dudley CVS officer Neil Langford. An unexpected outcome of bringing people together in the way we did was that after also hearing about a children’s holiday club which was planned at Darkhouse Baptist Church, Doris volunteered to help out with it. And in turn she had offers of help for her taster weekend.
Made 4 Kidz, founded by Doris and Vusa, now has a lovely bright website, a Facebook Page and two taster sessions running this weekend at the Rainbow Community Centre. Leaflets have been delivered to households in the area. Please do help spread the word.
Also do let us know what you think about connecting people and resources in neighbourhoods, and any experiences you have of doing it.
Directors Kate Beale and Chris Campbell have been presented with an award from Dudley CVS for achieving the local Building Blocks kite mark.