Sunday, 10 March 2013

Hello, world. Let's get listening...

Over the last few months, Sarah, Katie and I have been busy laying the groundwork for our HLF-funded project, Digbeth Speaks. The best way to describe what we want to do is to create a ‘time capsule’ of contemporary Digbeth. Digbeth is a unique area of inner city Birmingham: once the industrial heart of the city, today it is primarily made up of businesses, many of which are creative/digital SMEs (small/medium-sized enterprises), and residential inhabitants. Digbeth also has thriving grass-roots movements in small, often artist-led spaces and pop-up initiatives, and there are a number of long-standing community centres.

We hope to capture an essence of all the creativity and diversity of the area for the future, especially as there is limited archive material on contemporary Digbeth, and as there are plans for its redevelopment ( Our findings will be shared via an archive in the Library of Birmingham, a website and an end of project event, where we will bring together our volunteers and participants and all of the people who have supported us. We will be recording stories of a representative cross section of the Digbeth communities in different ways: through oral history interviews, vox pops (i.e. short recorded interviews) at venues, events and pop-up festivals, as well as through social media, particularly twitter (#digbethspeaks). Stories will also be documented visually, via an online album of uploaded images, which we welcome anyone to submit.

We found out that we had been awarded the funding in November, and since then we have been recruiting a team of dedicated volunteers, having meetings, researching and purchasing equipment. Over the next few posts, we’ll bring you up to date and tell you a bit more about some of these stages that we’ve gone through. One of the most important was receiving training in conducting oral history interviews: this was a major aspect of our funding application, and the whole day was incredibly inspiring.

We’re really excited to start recording and sharing stories relating to Digbeth. We’re ready and raring to listen. What’s your story? Please do get in touch, see How to get involved for more. Likewise, if you have any questions, please direct them to us via any of the contact details outlined on this site. On the ‘about us’ section, you’ll find information about our team.

Carly Hegenbarth, Project Manager

Photos from our first few project meetings over the past couple of months:

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