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An Experiment in Youth Work, Experience and Web 2.0


Part 1

Promoting activism and the Sharing of the Gimi Website.

In October last year I was approached by Charlotte Simpson or more friendlily, “Charlie”) of to see how we could work together to engage young people in the promotion of the Gimi website, a website for 13 – 19 year olds living in North Yorkshire. The site is is a repository for information about things to do throughout North Yorkshire, from sport to music, arts activities, outward bound experiences, gigs, workshops, festivals etc… Essentially, it’s a website for young people to find out about stuff to do in the area. There are details about upcoming activities and events for young people, plus advice, news and there’s the opportunity for young people to have their say.


Our key team for the project are:

Charlotte Simpson – Gimi Co-ordinator and enthusiast.
Ross Anderson – video & stop animation genius.
James Koppert – MC’ing, general Hip-Hopness and inspirational optimist.
… and I’m involved in all the sessions helping the young peeps upload stuff, tag the Gimi facebook page in their posts and generally create content.

Here’s a video of a robetic interpretation/personification (Robotification?) of Charlotte/the Gimi website combined: Gimi the Robot (made by Ross).

Our Goals

From initial discussions with Charlie, we felt that a great way to involve young people and to engage them in talking about and sharing links to the site, was to get help them create Things, Stuff… essentially to make a piece of art. The purpose of this is threefold:

  1. Make Art Have Fun – We believe that making art is good for people. It’s good to learn new skills. It’s good for self esteem. It’s a form of expression and by making something good, we make something that lasts that we can remain proud of.
  2. What better reason to share a website than “I’m on it” – There’s plenty of examples of this around the web with photographs/videos and tagging (tilllate.comfacebook, vimeo) and rather than just images, if we create Stuff then that is shareable beyond the friendship groups of the participants. Plus, if we can get people talking about these things, they become social objects in their own right.
  3. Through the sharing of the artefacts we made together, we can drive traffic to the website by showing (potentially new) people the great activities and art we’ve made and give them a flavour of the interesting things that the Gimi site has available on it.

We wanted to encourage the YP’s to “Like” the Gimi facebook page and start talking about it on their Facebook profiles (and with their friend in real life too!). We also want the young people involved to start interacting with the Gimi site and facebook page after the days’ activities. Furthermore, we want to use these activity days and the artefacts created as social objects and case studies; to engage adults and young people alike in the sharing of the gimi web assets (in addition to the website and facebook page there is also the Gimi twitter account)…

This is what we did…

Climbing The Wall

Session 1 – Carlton Lodge

The view from the wall

So, during the first session we held an outward bound day at Carlton Lodge. After the ice-breakers, the morning started with a session on the indoor climbing wall (actually it started with me slipping on the ice outside Carlton Lodge, but it was mainly my pride that got hurt), followed by archery training, and a little bit of competitive (but Safe) archery gaming. All the while, Ross was helping our team capture video of the activities to compile later for the website. I took some snaps on the old iPhone and created Gimi Flickr Set.

After lunch, we broke off into groups and in rotation, made video interviews, compiled the video footage Ross had shot in the morning and started to help the young people link to the Gimi website, like and link to the Gimi facebook page (via the young people’s Facebook profiles) and to tag and share videos, whatever pictures we had from the day and my audioboo.

To Be Continued…

This was the first session of two within striking distance of Northallerton/Skipton, the second one focussing on Animation skills with a further session in Scarborough to make and release a song in a day. We’ll be blogging about the next two sessions shortly, but first and foremost, here’s the first video featuring and made by the young people who joined us on the day itself and edited by Ross.

So far, via the Facebook page and the youtube channel itself, the video has had over 270 impressions. Not bad for a start really, especially given that this post is the first blog to feature the video in question (the rest of the sharing being primarily via Facebook).

… Requires Continued Involvement

Another challenge for Gimi is to engage the people working for and on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council; to have them submit and publicise events through the site, to promote it actively to the young people they are working with and further spread the good things that Gimi can offer. It’s a cycle really, contributors must submit content for the site in order for the site to be useful to young people, they must also encourage young people to use the site to develop a community and for the site to self perpetuate. This a common and traditionally difficult challenge for county councils and other public bodies; to find their voice safely in an online world.

With this in mind, I’m meeting a steering group at NYCC tomorrow to talk about the benefits of this kind of approach. I’ll let you know how it goes.

To this end, if you have an interest in this post, whether it’s an  interest in youth work, in the idea of experiences, or in the functions and possibilities available thorough Web 2.0 then please do comment below… even if you just think we’re doing good work then please do offer your thoughts, and share this post on twitter, facebook, through word of mouth and tattoo it to your arm.

Thanks in advance.


2011 – I Don’t Do Resolutions


New Years Resolutions by Gillian Berber

So I’d rather hoped to post this during January but hey, I’m a touch late… soooo…. New Year eh? It’s always a time for reflection on what we’ve done with the past year and new vigour for what to do with the coming 12 months.

I happened upon this post on the WordPress encouraging us to blog more often and with links to handy motivators and topic starters. I do want to blog more so I’m starting right now, sooo…

I pledge to post once a week for all of 2011.

It’s quite a scary commitment, but I have to say, I feel my best when I’m blogging often, therefore I’m going to make use of, and follow and get inspiration from the community of other bloggers. Also I’m finding that the idea of as a purely musicish blog as a tad limiting. Since joining the blogging and twitter communities I’m finding that I’m thinking more of music as part of culture (a hat tip to Andrew Dubber on this one), furthermore, I’m finding the need to fight for the arts in general and champion amazing events, so let’s see where the blogging takes us this year.

It won’t always be up here that I post mind… Sometimes it’ll be a blog, and 2011 sees the start of a few more musical ventures that I’ll be posting about/to. Firstly, and in conjunction with the marvellous Ben Denison and Ed Waring, there’s…

Musical Conversations

Still very much in Beta, project number 1 is There’s plenty of content that needs to be added and some of the info up there is blatantly incorrect (we didn’t hold our first #mcon in December for example) however we want to get this up and running and hold our first no later than February we’d hope.

The idea is (open) sourced, an extrapolation of the lovely Emma Bearman’s (The Culture Vulture – for whom I’d also love to write this year) Cultural Conversations. The format will be simple. If you’re interested in music then we’ll be having conversations about it. You set the agenda for the night and we break off into groups to discuss. You may find yourself a learner in a number of sessions, or you could lead one. That’ll be determined on the night. We’ll have beer also.

The Arts Hive

Again very much in beta, myself and a bunch of people who work with young people in Yorkshire are looking to provide a hub for advice and skills when working with young people in the arts: Music, visual arts. The Arts Hive (again) also needs populating with content but we’ll keep you posted as and when we get stuff up and running there. It’s a bit fuzzy concept wise too but essentially we’ll be a cross-artform workshop community specialising in working with young people. (That’s not to say we’ll turn down projects with adults, just that we’re focussing our efforts there).

If you already read my blogs, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments, sharing, likes, and good will along the way. If you have any thoughts on what’s written, please do chime in. We want you involved.


Skipton Songwriters

In the latter part of 2010 I was very fortunate to work with a bunch of bright minded young people at a project organised by the ace Matt Burrows of 6K and CYC (Connecting Youth Culture. The Skipton Songwriteers are a group of aspiring young songwriters and facilitated by the awesome, inspirational Claire Thompson of Skipton Library and with assistance from Matt Burrows we threw a show together to showcase their works during December. There’s more to come this year with their first meeting on the 18th of January (find out more here) and what’s more we’ve introduced a whole raft of young people to the wonders of blogging, soundcloud, and to the benefits of sharing.

And much much more…

So, I suppose it’s about time I blogged about some stuff over at and brought peeps up to date on our plans for the band this year… See you over there Shortly

2010 – A Review of a busy year – Q4


(Cont’d from Q3 here)


Unconvention was upon us.

I was ecstatic to be speaking at this ace event. I attended Unconvention Swansea and loved it. It’s where I’d first met Andrew Dubber, Lykle de Vries, Ben Walker and Steve Lawson (though I’d met him earlier in the week) to name but some… and this time I got to meet a whole load of new awesome people:

Nick FitzsimonsRich Dale, Laura Kidd, Jarvis Cocker, Billy Bragg, Dave Carter and many more… also got to see Clutch Daisy, Jeff Thomson, Ruth Daniel and Simon Harrison again which is good… and I was doing a load of blogging:


November started with the first Yorkshire Musicians’ Social Media Surgery (in conjunction withJohn Popham and “Get CTRL” with performances from Gary StewartWilful Missingand David Henshaw

Ed and I went to meet the Music Producers Guild to talk about why exactly they want to ring-fence “Pro” membership (I can’t see any benefits to the Associate Membership category) and didn’t get quite as far as we’d hoped. I think we wanted different things to the directors we met; for the MPG to be a vibrant place with open communications with a broader membership. I feel, as do many producers I know, that the MPG should have a weight and breadth to their membership. The MPG “About” page has a mission statement which says:

“The MPG represents and promotes the interests of all those involved in the production of recorded music…”

Right now however, it’s just not representative, I still feel that they’re promoting a lot of the wrong stuff, and fail to understand what modern music fans and music producers are, and how they behave…

We tried though.

We also tried to catch our train and failed, but we got to hang out with the ace @mikehillier, @mrfurrball, @scottishpenguin and @frankilfman … then straight into the 6K Residential – an annual joy to work with the awesome, vibrant young minds on music they want to make. To show the power of people, we made this single-shot, iPhone video of a song made for sharing.

Speaking of bright young minds, the great “Making it Happen in the Arts” course run by Charlotte Stuart at Lancaster University continued with two sessions on Creative Entrepreneurship with Charlotte and Simon Harrison. I’ll be working with Lancaster Students in the coming months on this too so plenty more to come I hope.

Hannah and I attended a great called the Absolut Experience and blogged about how we can all learn from it’s magnificence here. Truly fantastic.

Also, we went to Simon Wainwright and Lu’s baby Fred’s Christening. Aw.


Well three things dominated December. There was the Hope and Social Snowball on the 4th (the 4th seems like a significant date this year, Funbus and Snowball both on 4ths I believe!). There’s plenty more on the prep for those here and here (which are WELL worth a gander), but here’s the lovely Laura Kidd’s video of Living on a Prayer/Looking For Answers:

Then aside from worky work, it was my Birthday, and Christmas and that meant I got this:

Roadworn 1972 Fender Telecaster Custom in Sunburst

Happy Chrimbo me, and a happy new year to y’all!


So what was I doing online? On, the busiest day of the year was October 22nd with 465 views. The most popular post that day was Is turnover the barometer of “Worth”?, thanks in no small part to this tweet from Andrew Dubber. Closely following were EMI and Sony are Not “The Music Industry”, Ed’s controversial Open Letter to The Music Producers Guild and Tim’s So, you’re thinking of starting a music venue?. I posted 437 items on flickr andI tweeted around 3832 times (anyone know how to find this out definitively? I’m using an average here). I played shows with Hope and Social, Gary Stewart, Jason Feddy, The ELFM Next Generation and multifarious young peeps. I recorded with Rosie, The Shadracks, Sky Larkin, Hope and Social, Contra, Jason Feddy, Meet Me In Vegas, Josh Giddings and a bistro full of people. I blogged 40 times across, and aside from the interview…

All in all…

… Seems like a busy year to me.


Have I missed anything critical out? Any glaring omissions? What was your highlight of 2010? Aaaaand… what’s in store for 2011…?


UPDATE: ‘ve amended the above post (as of 12/01/11) further to an email from Mick Glossop, a director of the MPG. To be clear, Mick has not requested the change, however I feel it only right to remove information he didn’t want contained in the post. I apologise to Mick for any upset caused.

2010 – A Review of a busy year – Q3


(Cont’d from Q2 here)


The start of July saw the culmination of the Rock Orchestra project with performances at Culture Shock festival – “a mini Glastonbury for young people”. Great also to see The Shadracks, Rosie and Josh Giddings all in action in front of good crowds.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hope and Social did some great dates up and down the country, The Yardbird Club – Grimsby, On a boat in Oxford, The Duck and Drake – Leeds, Mojo – Manchester, Deershed Festival – Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, a moved date at Rehab – Harrogate, another moved date at the Hare and Hounds, Birmingham and Simon did his first ever solo show (supporting Field Music) at Harrogate Theatre. Also, Gary Stewart got his new drum kit.

Despite it being holiday time for my awesome wife and I, July was a bloggy old time!

I was ecstatic to be asked by Kyle Bylin to have my first ever interview on Hypebot, I argued “Worrying About Monetising Your Music Is Holding You Back” on Creative Deconstruction.

Tim Hornsby guset blogged here on with his first post “Sod’s Law“, and Ed Waring posted this much commented on Open Letter to The Music Producers Guild (sighs).

The holiday was pretty good also! It felt like I got a promotion while I was away… I got asked byRoo Pigott to speak about Creative Entrepreneurship at Resonator in Sheffield, Steve Lawsoncontacted me about meeting with MPs to discuss just how things like the DE Bill can damage the music industries and by Andrew Dubber to speak at Unconvention (a music industries event that was part of putting me and Hope and Social on the right path).


Holidays continued into August and Ed’s ace (and hotly debated) Open Letter to The Music Producers Guild continued to cause quite a stir, resulting in Ed and I going to visit MPG founders and directors later in the year. On my return from Thailand Hope and Social were straight into two Festival headline shows, first at Deighton Fest and immediately onto Moor Music Festival.

Back into 6K work from there, Rock Schools, Songwriting Workshops, Mentoring. Great fun!

Sky Larkin released “Kaleide” which opens with “Still Windmills”

It’s released three weeks early too due to a leak of the album by one of the journo’s supposed to be reviewing it. They, and their label Witchita responded fantasticly by rushing the album out via Great album. Highlight for me? Tiny Heist. Go listen and buy!

We also had an amazing time on Hannah’s Birthday in La Rosa in Whitby. Go hire the whole place, it’s amazing!


We started September with the Hope and Social Funbus. 70 people on an open-topped double decker and what fun it was. 3B couldn’t make it so the fantastic Will of Trunk Films and Gavin Freeborn stepped into the breach:

Revellers atop the hsFunbus – By Gavin Freeborn

H&S toured again and Ben, Ed and I went to meet up with the lovely Emma Bearman of The Culture Vulture – we’re hoping those plans come together this coming year. It was through Emma that I happened upon the ace Fire Walk With Me event (which I failed to get around to blogging about, sadly). It was brilliant…

Claustrophobic, weird and wonderful happenings in the black lodge, a cherry pie competition, many Laura Palmer-alikes wrapped in polythene, magic, music. I hope there’s more to come

More gigging, including shows with Arthur Ribgy in Liverpool and in London at the ill fated Luminaire. Love that place, gutted it’s going.


The year’s round-up continues and closes on Monday with Q4 – October through December

2010 – A Review of a busy year – Q2


(Cont’d from Q1 here)


Unsurprisingly, we released “April” in April.

And we blogged about the making of every track. We also toured in April… dotting dates around so as not to disrupt Simon’s noew-found father/son relationship too much. We started with Emma McPartlan’s ace Cuckoosfest – always carnage, always a giggle – then onto Halifax, Leeds, Chaddersley Corbett, York, Harrogate and Leeds in one day and Leeds again. Loasdafun. It’s good to gig.

The Shadracks came to finish their EP:


Not very welcoming is it now?

In May, and on the back of Come Dine With Us, I argued that Music is Not Our Currency. Hope and Social continued touring with dates in Ripon and Hartlepool and I started working with Cloth Cat, a community organisation in Leeds. I was mainly working with homeless males, doing guitar workshops and the like… Kinda tricky at times (see pic) but sometimes very rewarding.

I also started working with ELFM on their Next Generation stuff. An amazing project which began with a three day drive to create a full hour of live radio – from scratch.

Go and have a look at what they do. This involved the lovely Next Gen bunch and the wonderful people of ELFM. Thank you guys, keep fighting the good fight!

These ace young people approached their task open-mindedly, with dedication and we ended up running for nearer two hours on the day of broadcast. Amazing people. Here’s hoping they get the funding they need to keep these young people of east Leeds involved. Hear the hour they made and see the video here.

Tigers That Talk at the Musicathon

May also saw the ELFM Musicathon, a 24 hour live broadcast with no pre-recording whatsoever: Jingles, music, spoken word. I Love ELFM. It’s a fringe event of Live at Leeds… and I spoke alongside the lovely Whiskas, the esteemed Sean from Drowned in Sound and some tit from the NME at the Live at Leeds unconference.


June saw Hope and Social headline Rough Beats Festival and for me, the continuation of a lot of projects, ELFM’s Next Gen, Homeless peeps songwriting/guitar workshops, Rock Schools at Rochdale (Rockdale as it’s been nicknamed) mentoring with Rosie, The Shadracks and Josh Giddings, and a one week intensive session at Harrogate High School working on a Rock Orchestra project for CYC (Connecting Youth Culture – affiliated to 6K). Great fun this, bright minds working on cool songs with a band rhythm section and wind section. More on this tomorrow.

June also saw one of my favourite successes of 2010. One of the young people I worked with all year at Rochdale made it into music college. I’m told that the music workshops made the difference from her not engaging with education whatsoever to gaining a place at a music college. Best job-satisfaction ever.



It’s July through September tomorrow… Keep your peepers peeled on this link as of midday!

2010 – A Review of a busy year – Q1


.. of a busy year.

Seems like quite an eventful year now looking back at it. Here’s a quick “blow-by-blow” of stuff that happened.


Hope and Social were working on our first album since Jason and Ash had left. It was surprisingly natural to start working with James Hamilton, Simon Goff and Gary Stewart on what became April… and we toured.

Ed and I were also very privileged to get to work on some great music such as the David Henshaw and Joseph Lawrenson record “So Short of Time”. Gorgeous.

and Sky Larkin were working on the album to become Kaliede.

I was also working with Rosie on what became their Charlie Don’t Surf EP.

as well as The Shadracks first EP “Ill Repute and Aftersun” (more on that later in the year).

In January I also had my first meeting with Barnaby Aldrick of 3B Media, from which a load of lovely brilliant things sprung. More on those later too.

Work with 6K Vision (for North Yorkshire County Council) continued (I work with The Shadracks and Rosie through 6K, as well as deliver rock-schools, songwriting workshops, band/artist mentoring) as did the music project I work on with young people in residential care at Meadows Care – a school with a difference.

Blogging wise I wrote this piece on The Reality of Fan Involvement up on Creative Deconstruction, which led to some great stuff later in the year.


Tweeted Town Names for M.O.T.

Hope and Social started recording “April“. It was time to get the bare bones down and between this, rock schools and workshops that was the majority of February taken care of. At chez Hope and Social were tweeting out requesting town names for Marching on Through, and planning what was to become our “Come Dine With Us” event. This idea started off as a cheese and wine night whilst recording… it soon became something much grander and one of my favourite moments on our album “April”.

February was also Leeds’ first Tuttle club (which rose and fell in Leeds in 2010). It was good but the people there were in the main people I knew. Good while it lasted, I hope Tuttle gets a new Leeds home, a new owner and new vigour in 2011 (I’m looking at you Simon Wiffen).


We had to save 6 Music in March if only because of Tom Robinson. The beeb threatened and then withdrew it’s closure of 6 Music threat due to public demand. Whilst I still think 6 Music is flawed, the likes of Tom Robinson, and locally Alan Raw with their “BBC Introducing” shows are a beacon of independence in a sea of mediocre mass-market blandness in music radio. Long may they continue.

I was working on a couple of Rock Schools, one in Nidderdale, one in Rochdale, and I started working with ELFM on their Next Generation project

Hope and Social Sent a blue jacket out on tour Jacket on Tour, we introduced the Come Dine With Us Team and we contunued to work on April by asking who wanted to Come Mix With Us… and on the 27th of March we held our first Event of the year, Come Dine With Us, our first event venture with the lovely 3B Media too resulting in some amazing photos, and these two awesome videos (told you that meeting with Barnaby was a good idea).


Most importantly though, Simon Wainwright (@socialsimon) and Lu Etherton had their first nipper. Baby Fred.

Next post on Q2 tomorrow… stay tuned.

The Absolut Experience


Online and event lessons from a multinational

At the back end of November I spotted a tweet from @absolutuk

Absolut Tweet

… not a lot of detail there – rather cryptic in fact, though it did involve Vodka, so I thought it’d be worth checking out. I followed the tweet trail through to @absolutuk‘s feed and saw that there was indeed an experience to be had. We weren’t given full details, just a taster. Now that the Absolut Experience tour is over I wanted to talk a little about the event, how right Absolut got it and the footprint the Absolut Experience has left.

The Experience

On arrival, my awesome wife Hannah and I were greeted by a doorman of gigantic proportions (that’s anyone over 5 ft 8 to me yeah?) and an exuberant, white overall wearing host asking us how we found out about the experience and introducing us to a tunnel of rain.

Yep, Rain. Indoors!

We gladly took the provided see-through brollies and traipsed, nay, danced through the tunnel of rain to the tune of “Singing in The Rain” and entered the building (Project Space Leeds – well worth checking out!).

Playful Mirrors

First up, after the obligatory (and amazing) Absolut Espresso Martini, we’re thrust headlong into a room of rotating, triangular mirrors eagerly playing games and interacting with us. We’re immediately convinced of the aceness of the event and we’ve set our brains to “play” mode (you can see us playing with the playful mirrors in the flickr slideshow below)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Absolut Experience, posted with vodpod


Next we’re treated to ambient music, created for us in real time by slow-spinning turntables graced with Absolut bottles, and crystal glasses spinning in a field of wind-chimes. Geek-wise, this flicked my buttons as all three turntables were mic’d up and playback combined all three tables’ sounds of their very different glasses (champagne flute, wine glass and tumbler) to make a constantly changing, never repeated ambient installation. Simple yet elegant.

Next, we’re off for a one-minute cocktail – a joint effort between ourselves and our next trusty barman. Nom nom nom… and we’re off into the UV/String Maze.

The UV - String Maze. Photo by @hebemedia

The idea of the maze is that you are given a ball of string and told to make the maze harder for the person coming after you as you pass through. It’s a living maze and it gets harder as the night continues. Again, very playful (the concept of play, and the idea of playfulness have been hounding me of late. I believe in the power of play). No sooner are we through the maze and we become part of a percussion circle, using upturned buckets, hi-hats and the iconic Absolut bottles. 5 minutes of rabble-rousing noise and we’re through the door and we’ve become artists… well, most of us.

Make Art Make Art

5 of us are now greeted by an artist and art critic, with beret, sitting around our fellow “experiencer” who is now our subject. We have to draw him… without looking at our page. Carnage. You can see the pose and the outcome on my flickr pages or the slideshow above. Then we’re off to write a novel… Live… and between us all. Amazing fun.


… an amazing gag this. We head into the final part of the experience – a giant 30 ft wide table-tennis table with 5 or 6 of us per side. We prepare (with lunges and other warm up exercises) and start to ping-pong with the person facing us. 30 seconds go by before the shout of “New Balls Please!” and with that, 2 or 3 hundred pin-pong balls are fired across the width of the table from a giant air-cannon. Amazing.

A couple more drinks at the bar and a couple more at Mojo and the night’s complete.

Good Nights End at Mojo

All that remains to say is thanks for the experience, and thanks also to fellow revellers, the Hebe Media peeps we met on the night who also helped make it a bag load of fun… Their blog on the event (from which I stole shared the picture of the maze) is here.


Why have I blogged about it up here? What is there for artists to learn from this? Well, as per myinterview on Hypebot a few months ago, it’s reinforcement to me again that events are what drive happiness. What’s more, the event remains something that I want to tell people about, and I’m recommending following Absolut on Twitter, and I’m buying Absolut because I want to give back a little for the ace experience. There’s a lesson in this for bands and artists. Give people experiences they’ll treasure and the joy they experience will come back to you many-fold.

The online footprint that the Absolut Experience is leaving is massive. Have a look at the tweet, tag, blog and mention counts on It’s quite staggering! I’ve been telling everyone about this event. I’ve raved about it to friends and family, I’ve tweeted about it, I’ve posted this blog here, it’ll go up on twitter and on facebook. I’ve tagged the whole set on flickr with Absolut and recommended their cocktail iPhone app to anyone who’ll listen. I am not alone in this…

So, go forth and create something special. Gigs are gigs. Make yours an event.


Forgot I’d put this audioboo up…

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