August 2008


James, Jane RH & I are all making our separate ways to London this week.  This is Jane’s last week working for Rescue Geography before she disappears off to her new job in Cork, so this is a good opportunity to thank her for working on the project.

The reason we’re all heading south is the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society.  This sounds like a much bigger deal than it is because, in truth, only a few wafer thin slithers of the geography ‘community’ actually go to this thing.  It’s not just that it’s only academics, but also the fact that no physical geographers (chaps interested in skies, rocks, rivers, coasts etc.) ever go to this.  In fact, of the human geographers, it’s mostly the environment/cultural/urban people that go.  You don’t see much in the way of economic geography there.

(Not that I’ve much interest in economic geography, which is why I like the RGS conference so much. )

So James & I are going to give separate presentations on different aspects of Rescue Geog.  My paper’s on the technical aspects of mapping and his is on… well, I’m not sure.  We had lunch yesterday and he’s been getting very excited about Deleuze recently.  Hmm, not sure how many people are going to be thrilled by French philosophy wrapped around this project, but if it makes James happy.

Went out on Sunday and did some filming with the helmet-mounted camera we’ve got:

Okay, it’s not great quality, but you’d be amazed how difficult it is to cycle and keep your head level.  This is about the best 40 seconds from 15 minutes of filming.  Still, it’ll pretty up my PowerPoint presentation a bit and that’s all that matters.  Bearing in mind that at last year’s RGS James & I did a performance piece, I suspect that the more conventional presentations we’re doing this year will disappoint some of our incipient fan club, but so it goes.

Will post more when i get back.

The morning began eventfully enough as I was woken at 7:00am by a torrential rainstorm.  While in the shower, Kerrang FM gleefully informed me that there was a severe weather warning out for Birmingham, revelling in the regional motorway chaos.  Most excitingly, it appeared that the Hagley Road was totally closed (reach for those TomToms, people) because TGI Fridays had caught fire.  The phrase ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ has never been so apt, but it left me wondering why buildings tend to catch fire in heavy rain.

Hitting the streets expecting to see a scene out of ‘Children of Men’, I was disappointed to not to find any burning cars or floods on the way into town and arrived at the MADE offices 15 mins early.   Confused, I stood in the rain until I remembered what I usually do when confused and rang Phil.

The meeting went well, anyway.  Jane is really nice and helpful, and the work placement guy Matt (geography student from UCL) was also really into it.  For the sake of clarity and brevity I’ll bullet point our discussion…

1. The October lab/expo.  With the failure of the Arts Council bid we’re slimming this down and it now looks suspiciously like the event we originally had in mind back along. 

Thursday night= launch night.  Interviewees, friends, collaborators, and maybe some others. 

Friday lunch – afternoon= professionals.  Almost like an extended lunch meeting witht the exhibition there for afters.

Saturday = open doors to public.  Not sure about publicity yet…

The actual content of the expo comes in three parts: art (piccies, quotes etc), techie stuff (maps, interactive computer stuff, helmet cam wondering around digbeth), and analysis (actual results).

2. Legacy of Dan’s artwork / RG.  Jane suggested that it would be nice to produce some materials that would outlast the expo and provide a longer legacy – this could be postcards, foldable posters and so on.  We decided that Dan would probably have some good ideas on this when he gets back from the Lebanon.

3. Spring event.  This is now up in the air without the Arts Council funding, but MADE seemed keen to keep it slated.  It may take the form of an extended meeting / gathering, or a full on end-user event (see next item).

4. Kiddie bid.  Me and Phil will be on it in sept.  We discussed working the Spring event in as the opening end-user event of the Kiddie project to get some funds.

5. Canal pilot project.  Matt is all over this – he is even working in some theory on space and place.  Jane also offered to lend a hand with the surveying.  Obviously this is all contingent on the rain ceasing before the end of August…

6. Place theory.  Matt mentioned some of the De Certeau and Lefebvre that he had been reading and noted the pertinence of theories of space and place to the RG project.  He also mentioned the idea of ‘Map discourse’ and ‘tour discourse’, and the quote that mapping space prompts stories about place… we really should get him blogging here…

That’ll do for now, I’ll blog some more about the canal project some time soon…

This is the new home of the Rescue Geography Blog.  We’ve posted archived versions of the old blog (Sept 07-Aug 08) on our website.  Essentially we were getting too much spam on the old blog host which meant that it was starting to shut down ten days into the month saying that we’d exceeded our allowed traffic.  Compulsory reading though this blog is, there’s no way it was attracting that many legitimate hits.  The host service suggested we pay to add more bandwidth.  Hmm.  So we’re here giving WordPress a go, in part because James & I are involved in a ‘creative geographies‘ event which has a WordPress blog which we’re supposed to be posting to.

Anyway, we run out of money from the ESRC in just 18 days so the first phase of the project is nearly at an end, which is a bit sad.  But we plough on.  James has just had a meeting with our new handler from MADE, Jane P (not to be confused with Jane RH who’s been employed as our researcher for the last 12 months).  He may even blog about it, who knows.  At least it all seemed pretty positive.