Monday, 11 June 2012

Amazing Month Of May

A May Zing!

Back in March, when I was reviewing my 2012 goals, I blogged about how I was going to make the month of May a month for me.

And that is exactly what I did. I made no plans. None. I blocked the days out in my google calendar with a firm NO, just in case I was tempted to start filling up the blanks in my diary, or start taking on requests for my time.

I booked the first week of the month off work, and for the rest of the month my only commitment was to my work at talk about local.

Let me tell you, this was one of the best things I've done!

I can't believe how well my plan to not plan worked out!

For the last few years I have kept a very tight reign on my schedule, work, how I spend my time, where I spend it, with who. My diary is normally full for a couple of months in advance. I've made more time for work and projects and self development than I have friends, chilling out and 'going with the flow'.

I had nothing planned for May and yet so much happened!

Actually, nothing much happened in the first week lol. I just chilled, pottered, watched films, read..... that thing called Relaxing.

But after that, things started to seemingly fall right into place. A random encounter gave me the opportunity to stay in London for 10 days. Why not?! As long as I'm online I can do my work.

I was determined to make the most of every minute.

I went to the Tuttle Club, which inspired the Birmingham Social Media Cafe

I was invited to meet the Rabbits in their warren in South Kensington

The Rabbits introduced me to Socialcam and I made my first video..

I checked out the Natural History Museum

And I met up with one of my oldest friends (25 years I've known him, and I deserve a medal!). We went to  the British Museum, and then checked out Soho and tons of shops.


I met up with David Mellor and had wonderful cocktails at the fabulous Paramount Soho. It's my new favourite cocktail place. Make sure you book yourself in, even if it's just for cocktails. The stunning views over London from the 38th floor are worth it. It was then I had my first 'NYC' feeling! Something, I've been craving for such a long time!

Thank you for the copy of your book David! 

And then THIS happened....

A Facebook conversation with my best friend from school in Ireland. We were the bestest of friends from about 9-13. We had so much fun back then and all we did was laugh and laugh....

Friend: Hey, are you in London? If so, how long for? Would love to see you!

Me: Yes!  That would be ace. I'll message you my number :)

Friend: Hey, brilliant. I will call you tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday evening? Where are you staying?

Me: Great! Tomorrow eve would be good. I'm in Stoke Newington

Friend: You are joking??? That's where I live. Xxxxx Road.

Me: No wayyyyy! I'm staying on that road!!

We were literally 2 mins away from each other on the same street! I couldn't believe it!!

If I hadn't kept the month of May clear I wouldn't have had the chance to stay in London. If I hadn't stayed in London, I wouldn't have been re-united with my best friend, who was living on the same street as me!

We met up the next day and as soon as we met we were laughing and laughing just like we used to. And it just so happened that she was having a family party the following weekend (last weekend) and her Mum and Dad were coming over from Ireland. Her parents are ace her Dad used to teach English in our school.I couldn't miss the chance to see her parents and the rest of her family and so I went back to London last weekend and had a jolly Jubilee time! I storify'd my Jubilee Weekend adventures.

And it just so happened that I got an invitation for the Brave New Ventures event for the same weekend, so that fitted in really well and I was able to go to that and it was amazing!

I had an awesome time in London. Here's a few other pics and things from my time there...

So all this non-planning and just allowing 'life' to happen was really, (much to my surprise), rewarding!

What's that saying? Life is what happens when you stop making plans? It's certainly felt this way.

I think this is a great point in the year to have a think about the rest of 2012.

Because I didn't get a place on the Clore Fellowship Programme, I have the rest of the year quite clear. (I kept my diary clear just in case I got a place).

I've had a good taste of London and I LOVE IT! It's given me the Big City Fix that I have been craving since NYC. It's obviously not New York City, but it has the potential to meet a lot of my needs, and at least it's closer and more achievable than New York. Not that I am letting go of my NYC goal by any means, but London could be a good step in the meantime.

It's actually been great to have FREE TIME! I've not let myself have any, or at least a good chunk of it, for a few years and I had really forgotten what it was like. I've tried to keep Sundays as Me-Days, but other than that I've kept myself so busy. May has given me the chance to just enjoy things at a different pace and join in with life as it happens instead of trying to control every minute of every day. It's been quite liberating, and perhaps there is room for me to go with the flow a bit more....

So, thank you May! And thank you to everyone who made it awesome! 

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Saturday, 9 June 2012

I am not a Clore Fellow

In February I decided that I would apply for a place on the Clore Leadership Programme.

What is the Clore Leadership Programme?

From their website:
The Clore Leadership Programme is an initiative of the Clore Duffield Foundation which aims to strengthen leadership across a wide range of cultural activities. 
This includes the visual and performing arts, film, heritage, museums, libraries and archives, creative industries and cultural policy and administration.
I had been watching the Clore space for a few years and deemed myself ready to apply for one of the 25 places using the 4am Project and my experience as the basis of my application. I thought there was a very slim chance that I would secure a place, and that it was worth a shot even with the knowledge that the competition would be fierce. If you never try, you'll never know!

As the title of this blog post has already revealed, I didn't get a place. When I received the letter in late April, it didn't come as a surprise, but I was glad to know their decision one way or another so I could make plans for the rest of this year and next. I had to keep my diary clear on the small chance I would be accepted on the course; as the Leadership Programme is quite a commitment time-wise, would have taken up some of the latter part of this year and the first 6/7 months next year.

Even though I didn't get a place, going through the application process was a worth while endeavour! There were multiple parts to the application, and it really gave me a chance to review where I am, what I am doing, what I have achieved, what I contribute in cultural terms and where it all fits in together.

There were quite a few questions to answer, such as 'Why apply now? Why do you want to lead? Give an example of when you demonstrated leadership..'.

As I mentioned, the main basis of my application was the 4am project and of course, my experience.

If you haven't heard of it, the 4am Project is a ground-breaking, creative, collaborative arts project based around photography, and it's a project where I've demonstrated my leadership qualities by using my vision and planning to engage a diverse global audience.

To date the Project has engaged thousands of people in over 50 countries and has amassed over 6500 digital images in its archive.

It's a thought-provoking project which has inspired and challenged participants, from the absolute beginner in photography to experienced photographers. Motivating people around the world to get out of their beds at 4am is no mean feat!

Chiado/Cais do Sodré [4amproject 4:00am]
Photo by Pedro Pinheiro
I think the project is a platform for people to improve on their photography skills and their artistic potential as it asks them to do something out of the ordinary. It challenges people’s concept of photography and directs them to an exciting and positive experience which leads to them being able to show their art to the world, inspiring them to continue their creativity.

...the end of the world
Photo by Steve Anderson
Being the figure-head and driving force of the Project I do my best to lead by example and have shown my ability to inspire others into taking action and participating in an exciting art-form. I've used my creative drive and ambition for the project to reached a wide and diverse, actively involved audience.

4am Project Project Brutal Birmingham Library 24th April 2011

In my application wrote about how the 4am Project has increased access to the visual arts by engaging individuals, who have enjoyed the medium of photography as an art form and how in turn this has developed participants personal and professional growth in the photography medium.

I also mentioned how the project contributes economically to education in the arts sector; students of photography have used the Project as part of their course work and I offer my insight as a leader in the photography field by sharing my knowledge and speaking to students and photography groups. Also 4am Project website itself provides a source of inspiration and reference and I hope the project will leave a legacy for future artistic practice.

4AM Project – Birmingham City Library 08
Photo by John Garghan

I run the 4am Project in an environment of economic difficulty through my sheer grit and optimism. In this climate of financial difficulty, I think that now is an especially crucial time to nurture, engage and encourage people to involve themselves in creative art forms.

I nourish and replenish the Project by encouraging people to develop their skills and interests in the art and photography world, and I hoped that the Clore Programme would help empower me in creating a sustainable model for leadership in the arts sector. That's not to say I can't do that on my own, but sometimes it's nice to get some help and support. It's an ambitious project, but where there is a will, there is a way!

94/365: Warner & PCH
Photo by Jaubele1

One of the things that I love about the project (although of course I am biased!) is that it's inclusivity means that anyone can take part. I haven't put any restrictions on age, location, gender, or photography ability.

It's had an inspiring effect on participants, observers and established artists and has been very favourably reviewed by the media.

Crazy photographers
Photo by Hrish Thota

The 4am Project inspires, affects and challenges; from people experiencing an often unseen time of day, to taking part in a community collaboration, to challenging participants to learn more about photography. It's a unique photographic collaboration and offers great potential to engage people in photography and in turn supports people to develop their skills and ambitions.

I hoped that a place on the Clore Leadership Programme would enable me to forge and establish new connections and skills, which would support my leadership opportunities and in turn, support others better and empower them. I was ready for the challenges that the programme would bring!

A place on the programme would have been amazing and given a me a boost in terms of self development. However, it's also not the end of the world that I didn't get a place. I'm used to forging ahead with my own learning and personal development and making and creating my own opportunities. Going through the Clore application was worth it as it made me stop and properly review what I'm doing now, what I want to do and where I want to be and I'm very glad I took a chance and applied!

A huge thank you to Helga Henry, Will Perrin, my best friend and my ace mum who gave me their help, support and advice during the Clore application! :)

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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Brave New Ventures: Mission Report

You may already know that recently I was recruited by Brave New Ventures as Chief Information Officer.

The date of Monday 4th June had been set as the date for me to complete my secret mission for BNV.

In order to be fully prepared for whatever tasks may be waiting I arrived in London a couple of days earlier, under the guise of a visitor for the Jubilee....


My stealth paid off and I went by undiscovered as a BNV agent as I took in the sights and sounds of London.

The day of my mission had finally arrived! I could barely sleep for excitement the night before.

I unpacked my uniform...

I don't normally wear t-shirts, so did my best to glam it up a little! 

I was allowed to bring an assistant with me.
Our rendezvous point was by the statue of the engineer at Euston station. Gathered en masse were fellow recruits ready for their BNV mission, many of who were dressed in boiler suits and boots. They looked hard core! I began to wonder if my skirt, t-shirt and bling combo would cut it!  

We were led by BNV staff to the Head Quarters where there was a lot of serious activity going on.

My worst fears soon immediately materialise when I was handed A BOILER SUIT TO PUT ON!! (can you imagine?!) There is photographic evidence of this, but it will never see the light of day, will it Joanna?! 

Everyone complied with the orders and instructions that were being given by BNV staff. We were dressed how they wanted us dressed, tagged with wrist bands, and queueing in an ordering manner. 

We were given the opportunity to exchange our currency so that we could make purchases when we were through to the other side. 

And what is the other side like?!

Like nothing you will have experienced before! 

London felt like a million miles away. 

What you will find is a multi-storied 190,000 square foot area that is yours to explore! You will discover something new at every turn.

The BNV staff will make sure you are kept busy too. Expect to be given tasks to complete, and missions to execute. Remember why you are is your mission to secure the future!

Well, I hope that has answered your questions and enlightened you about Brave New Ventures

What do you mean, no?! 

Okay, let me snap out of character! *snap* 

I'll try and fill you in, but I will have to leave some details for you to find out for yourself...

It was easy to forget during my mission that we were there to see a film. The set that has been created is not only huge, it's immersive. You will spend a good couple of hours getting involved in the film that you are going to watch later! 

What film?! I'll pretend you didn't ask me that. It's a secret, remember!

But by the time you settle down and watch the movie you will have met all the characters, and will have lived through what some of them live through in the film.

Can you tell us any more?! 

Yes. Go, go, go!! You really won't have had a cinema experience like this! This is one of Secret Cinema's biggest productions yet, and it won't disappoint. The event lasts about 4.5-5 hours. This isn't just watching a film, this is playing a role in the film, on an amazing set, with actors and other BNV 'employees', all working together on the same mission! 

A few tips....
  • There are several bars there, and they serve lovely cocktails as well a spirits, cider and beer 
  • Wear flat shoes
  • Don't wear too many layers - you will be too warm. 
  • You can buy a meal there if you are hungry, and if you are both hungry and feeling extravagant you can got to the Secret Restaurant with food from top chefs and flowing champagne. 
A big Thank You to Secret Cinema for a night to remember! 

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