Accessible Document

To complement the With Our Ears the the Ground publication we’ve added a large print text document in .pdf format of the text from the book which we hope will be useful for people who wish to use a text to speech screen reader or read onscreen.

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Final Publication

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We have just received the first bound copy of our publication for With Our Ears to the Ground; a project by Proboscis commissioned by Green Heart Partnership with Hertfordshire County Council to explore peoples ideas about community. The project focused on four very different types of community in order to get a broad range of opinions across the county.

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I’m really excited to see the final version and especially happy with the middle tracing paper insert of scenes and people Orlagh and I encountered during the project. The book draws together the multiple layers of ideas and experiences we found across the different communities we met in Watford, Stevenage, North Herts and  Broxbourne and it is designed to reflect the many ideas and voices we encountered. It is organised in the six themes of Transport, Movement, Listening, Community, Getting Involved and Perceptions the emerged during the project. The book contains drawings, photographs, quotes and writings. It can be read in any direction and you can interweave the pages of the three sections  as you read, to find new perspectives.

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The With Our Ears to the Ground book, will go to selected libraries in Hertfordshire. 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.

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We have a small number of copies please contact us if you would like to acquire one.

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. You can download them here.

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
Download
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.

Herts Memories

Thought people might be interested in seeing information on this website- a community archive. There’s lots of information from all over Hertfordshire, from a wide range of people. It’s another dimension to the info which we are capturing through With Our Ears to the Ground. http://www.hertsmemories.org.uk

Walking to Pirton

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I walked to Pirton from Hitchin Station; heading out of town and the along the Hambridge Way foot path – or at least I think that’s the way I think I went, at any rate I looked at a map and thought I could walk so followed what I thought was a good route. I did have my kick scooter with me to help me get across Hitchin and I expect some people thought I was an odd site on a child’s scooter heading up a farm track. It was a gorgeous morning and I realised that being able to walk from one town to another on country paths without every seeing a road must be rare. It really brought home the diversity of Hertfordshire. So I arrived in Pirton feeling very relaxed to meet 4 ladies,  one of whom, born in Pirton, remembered walking and cycling everywhere for miles around.  We spoke about communities old an new,  farming life in the past, how small developments of housing in a village can in fact double the size of a community and how change can be isloating for some and an exciting part of life for others.

School and community

Our session on the Priory School, Hitchin was with the School Voice a group of representatives from all school years. They had many perspectives on community, what is means and how to make better places and neighbourhoods to live in.

Is School a community? I think people don’t really consider school as a community despite it being a community, because its drummed into your head that community is the word around you – its like where you live, its not focused in on your actually a community at school and you’re actually a community where you hang out , people dont see it as that.

What is a community do you have to have similar interests? No because you can have completley different people all linked in with one thing… it depends on whether your community is focused on a subject and that’s the only thing you share or if its a friend community where you have some things in common but you are also your own person at the same time.

Markets, Jobs, new Housing

Back in Stevenage this week and Orlagh and Nicola set up outside the Job Centre with a large map of Stevenage to stop passers by and chat about their communities. It was a great morning with around 30 interviews from many many walks of life. At the same time I went to the InTown Training Centre and chatted to the workers and one of the new clients about the needs for the service in the current recession and how it is a key link between various communities in Stevenage.

Over to Great Ashby where I met with three residents to discuss the new community that has developed in this large newly built area.  We talked about how communities grow and develop,  how simple things like availability of parking facilities can cause tension between neighbours, the availability and routes of public transport can isolate people, the proximity to the countryside and wildlife and what it is like to live somewhere that seems to constantly be expanding with more houses being built.

The next day we set up for a morning in Watford Market stopping around 30 market goers to discuss the people and places they live in as well as the market and its role in the community. Voices and opinions were wide and diverse though peoples love of the indoor market and its huge importance to old people shone through.

Finally we arrived at North Herts college for a wonderful session with a supported learners Launch To Work Scheme. This group of young people with learning difficulties,  and their workers were  full of fun and laughter and we mapped the many groups they belong to discussing what is important about the groups, exploring what constitutes communities.