Too much stuff going on – it’s exhausting!

….Or is part of it a symptom of being stuck to the small screen in lockdown?

Think of it like all of the scandals engulfing Boris Johnson’s administration but like the sketch below:

***Too much news!***

Plus I’m still trying to work out how to embed my new crowd-funding page into this blog of mine.

I’m hoping that the above might work, [Spoiler – it should have looked like the above but it didn’t embed!] but if not, and you are willing and able to support either my local democracy reporting and/or local historical research on the town of Cambridge, please consider a small subscription and click here. I’m still learning with WP and probably will continue to do so until the end of my days!

“What do we get in return?”

Good question. For a start, hopefully more and better videos – the one below being the first of a trio of videos on Cambridge’s first regional plan for the old Cambridge County. (Then just Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and a bit of East Cambridgeshire).

I made this using a smartphone app that public sector comms expert Dan Slee taught me at a training session in London before Lockdown.

Monthly subscriber presentations/Zoom confs on either an item of local history, and/or an item of local democracy.

I purchased a Zoom upgrade for this. Furthermore, very positive feedback from my first online presentation to the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History at the crucible of Cambridge town’s modernisation in the early 1800s persuaded me that while many of us are still heavily restricted, these would be a welcome break to the routine of the past year.

On local democracy issues, I propose looking at very big picture things rather than which politician said what about whom and when. For example with the next round of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan already having commenced, there are going to be a series of issues that politicians, planners, and even developers are going to have to come to terms with – such as the water shortage.

Commissioning more young people to create pieces of art and music along local Cambridge historical themes.

It’s going to be a hard task raising enough in subscriptions to get to this stage, but a number of students I’ve worked with over the past couple of years have already demonstrated proof of concept. My take is that they are the ones to engage new, younger audiences in the past and the future of our city – and the way to do it can’t be through weighty, wordy academic pieces.

Digitising back catalogues of long-lost publications

The Cambridgeshire Association for Local History has back catalogue of annual reviews going back over 70 years. They’ve given me permission to digitise and upload these incredible records of our local history. It will however, take a bit of time, but the difference it could make to future researchers could be significant – in the same way that I have benefited from the digitisation carried out by the British Newspaper Archive. Keyword searches of their newspaper collection enabled me to discover the party political work of Eglantyne Jebb in Cambridge (for the Liberal Party) before she founded Save the Children. This part of her history had been somewhat lost following her death in 1928.

I’m also thinking about some short workshops or series of workshops on how Cambridge functions. The reason is explained below by the Executive Director of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign (of which I am a member).

Above – from Roxanne DeBeaux. And bear in mind that it’s part of her job to be familiar with the structures of local government. And not just her – it’s also one for journalist Ben Hatton, Cambridge’s Local Democracy Reporter who I interviewed last week for the Queen Edith’s Community Forum.

Above – the full exchanges between Mr Hatton and myself, where the former had to go into great detail to explain the structure of local democracy in Cambridgeshire.

The above illustration is from Smarter Cambridge Transport.

In order to fund future community online hosting requests, I now need to start asking for subscriptions, or simply charging a market rate as I can no longer afford to keep self-financing these things.

Also there’s my health – which some of you may have noticed is not in the greatest shape

Many of us have struggled – we’ve all faced the same storm but not in the same boats. It took me about two days to recover from hosting that online interview. A similar amount of time too with my talk on local history earlier – even though those were both online. It sounds crazy doesn’t it? For those of you unfamiliar with Spoon Theory see here. My spoon count seems to have fallen, and so the amount of tasks I should normally be able to do has fallen as well. Hence recharge time takes longer.

Above – chronic fatigue in and around my eyes.

That’s the bit people don’t see with hidden illnesses.

Inevitably all health appointments have been on hold – not that our underfunded NHS has anything suitable for the condition I’ve suffered from for years. At the same time, the pandemic has amongst other things persuaded me that post-lockdown something has to change. So that starts with another GP appointment (my first since my CV19 first dose) next week.

“Anything on the local elections?”

Decide for yourselves by questioning your candidates and casting an informed vote. You don’t need your polling card on the day.

There are so many new candidates that I think it would be a disservice to try and do an in-depth analysis on the 160 or so city council candidates. My plan is to do a video review of the results and how the political land looks in the aftermath. There are too many uncertainties built into these elections for me to want to predict the outcomes.

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