First publications

In advance of the publication of the With Our Ears to the Ground book, which will go to selected  libraries in Hertfordshire, we have published the main chapters of the as Diffusion eBooks –  books to download print and make up published using Bookleteer.  The With Our Ears to the Ground book, will go to selected libraries in Hertfordshire, we have also published the main chapters as Diffusion eBooks –  books to download print and make up published using Bookleteer.  Booklets to make, carry in your pocket, browse in your own time, rather than read on screen.

The publication draws together the multiple layers of ideas and experiences we found across different communities and it is designed to reflect those ideas and voices.

You can download the books here:

Transport
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A4 US Letter 2.1MB

Movement
Download A4 US Letter 2.6MB

Listening
Download A4 US Letter 2.3MB

Community
Download A4 US Letter 2.9MB

Getting Involved
Download A4 US Letter 3.5MB

Perceptions
Download A4 US Letter 3.1MB

In mid 2009 we (arts organisation Proboscis) travelled around Hertfordshire meeting over 280 people from Watford, Stevenage, North Hertfordshire and Broxbourne. We set out on an autumn day to drive up through Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Hoddesdon, over to Ware and Stevenage then Letchworth, up to Ashwell, down to Pirton, Hitchin across to Watford and back to London. It was a journey through old and new; market towns, new towns, agricultural land and urban centres. In the weeks that followed we put our ears to the ground and got to know Hertfordshire and its communities through the stories of its people. We researched urban centres, towns and villages and travelled through the county in cars, trains, by cycle and on foot, on narrow lanes and motorways.

We talked to people in groups, individually, inside, outside, in pubs, cafes, community centres, libraries, at home and at work. We gathered their opinions and experiences of their communities, what it’s like living in their neighbourhoods and what gives them a sense of belonging. These experiences, whilst locally specific, are relevant to Hertfordshire as a whole. We met people between the ages of 5 and 94, from many cultures and backgrounds, from small organisations, schools, community groups, urban centres and rural villages. We captured their views through informal conversations on the street, hosting a stall at the local market and visiting community groups. We ran a creative workshop with a youth group and collected stories through other activities and events. From this research emerged the six themes of Transport, Movement, Listening, Community, Getting Involved and Perceptions, which now form the basis for the project publications.

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Meeting Polish Ladies

On a cold winters evening, I headed to Hatfield to meet Michal and some of the Polish community. Arriving there it was really busy – everyone was heading to the park for the fireworks and bonfire night. When I arrived at the Fire Station where the group were meeting, the meeting was in mid flow – moving from Polish to English, it was amazing to listen to the beautiful language.
After their meeting, I spoke to three ladies who stayed behind to talk to me. One of them has been in the UK for over 20 years and the other 2 only a few years. It was really interesting to hear how the area has changed – 20 years ago, Eastern Europeans were seen as a novelty, now they are at times perceived more of as a problem. We talked about what it’s like for them living here, the language barriers, both in terms of actual language but also the subtleties of language and intonation that only a local can sometimes understand, how they are perceived, the frustrations of being over qualified for the jobs they are doing, how they fit in with the wider community, their cultural differences and many more. They all spoke of their desire to be doing things that were not only for the Polish community but were also part of the wider community. Their frankness and honesty were greatly appreciated.