Like the Back of My Hand
This project aimed to help reconnect people with the fantastic natural, historic and cultural heritage of the Inner Forth through a series of events, activities and celebrations over the lifetime of the Initiative.
It was based on an exciting and inclusive series of activities and events linked to IFLI partnership projects and themes, but evolved over the period of the Initiative to reflect our increasing understanding of our audiences and from feedback received.
During the development period a programme of many mostly small events was devised to cover the period of the Initiative, and during the first year of delivery a number of these events, such as guided walks, talks etc were organised. Later we concentrated on delivering fewer but larger events, many of them part of the month-long IFLI Festival, to be held in September each year. We also invited partner organisations and project leads to hold events during the same period, which enabled us to offer a much bigger package of activities to attract much greater publicity and higher and wider attendance. The festival grew over the three years it was held from 27 events to 49 events. The project worked as a catalyst to encourage other organisations to hold events to promote the Inner Forth landscape. Events included boat trips to see the Forth from a new perspective, conferences, exhibitions, walks, talks and discovery workshops.
In addition to the festival, we looked at ways to reach new audiences who would not necessarily be attracted by traditional wildlife or history themed events. This included appointing an artist in residence, Darren Woodhead, who not only created his own paintings of the landscape for us to use, but ran a series of free outdoor watercolour workshops encouraging local people with an interest in art to look at the landscape in a new way. Other artistic approaches included poetry, writing, sketching, photography, and ceramics workshops.
We ran four World Wetlands Day events for secondary schools, an age group that is less well catered for by many wildlife and history organisations. These celebratory events gave young people a chance to get outside and have fun in a wilder environment, while learning about the importance and value of the landscapes on their doorstep through curriculum based learning delivered through geography, biology, art, and poetry-themed activities. Alloa Academy produced an animated film about their local nature reserve (RSPB Black Devon Wetlands, where a number of IFLI projects took place), and a film documented what they felt was special about their town. They also did some hands-on conservation work and some guerrilla interpretation!
We supported the local community at Bo’ness to develop their idea for a fun run into reality. The route went past four IFLI project sites, giving us the chance to highlight IFLI’s work to an audience of over 200 runners over the two years we organised and funded the event, who may not have been attracted to standard guided walks. The run is now being organised by the community itself, drawing on the experience and confidence they gained over the first two years, and this year over 150 people ran the course.
The project also funded the development and production of a suite of videos showcasing the importance and value of the Inner Forth, which aimed to increase local pride in the area, and encourage others to come and visit. Besides a main film, six other ‘mini-films’ were produced focussing on particular projects or aspects of the Initiative. These have now been watched by over 2000 people.
LTBMH also supported improvements to the IFLI website to make it more interactive and attractive to a wider audience. This included creating an interactive map of the Inner Forth, showing places of interest, walking routes, project sites etc, wildlife guide, gallery of local artists' and photographers work, and information about walking and cycling routes in the area.
Finally the project helped support other IFLI projects and project leads in offering a range of events to reconnect people with the landscape of the Inner Forth at many levels. These included part-funding the writing and performance of a play for secondary schools about Alloa’s history; a series of events in Bo’ness called ‘Wild About Kinneil’; and the Forth Naturalist and Historian Conferences of 2014 and 18.