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Stoke: Introductory Session

27th November 2013

The introductory session took place on Wednesday, 27th November, 3pm – 6pm at CoRE, Enson Works – a centre for training and showcase for refurbishment technology in Longton. Following an invitation from Danny – our project facilitator in Stoke-on-Trent, ten community participants came together to find out about the aims of Pararchive and how they could identify, explore and tell their own stories within the project. The participants present at this session were Pat (environmental activist and ex BBC radio journalist), Janis (Development Manager for Young Enterprise, Staffordshire), Phil (artist and designer), Jane (cultural project coordinator), Claire (Workers’ Education Association Coordinator and technology activist), Elise (Heritage Project Manager), Alan (retired worker/H&R Johnsons Tiles), Ray (academic, filmmaker and Director/Staffordshire Film Archive), David (academic and cultural activist), Jayne (community activist and scout leader) and Ruchit (PhD Researcher/ Heritage). Participants were encouraged to think about engaging with stories or issues about the people, buildings and industry that continue to define the unique ceramic cityof Stoke-on-Trent today. Some interesting ideas for stories that came up included environmental and urban greening, heritage and media, digitisation of archives, young people and pottery, the identity of the ceramic city and how this is communicated and family work history among other things.Despite some uncertainties about how precisely to move forward, there was a noticeable feeling of excitement at the end of the session about the numerous possibilities that Pararchive could offer. For example, reflecting on her impression and what she would like to achieve on the project, Jane noted:

It’s been really interesting meeting with people from different walks of life with different skills and experiences […] It’s a very exciting project I think. I wasn’t quite sure what I was letting myself in for. From my point of view, it’s very much about just finding out more I think. Is this something that I would like to be involved in in the longer term? I definitely am. I think there’s so much potential in what we could do and I could do. I’ve got really to try and focus in a bit on things. But I think it would be fantastic for me on a personal level to benefit from everybody else’s ideas and skills. I hope that by the end of it, I will be able to use – just be much more better equipped to use and access everything that there’s out there already.

Alan appeared to echo the same sentiment too:

I came in with the expectation of being bored, to be quite honest with you. That’s the way I am. But I feel […] there’s a right attitude here. The right people are here to get the information we need […] I feel there’s a lot of positive results here today. I shall definitely come to the next [session] anyway.