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Archive for the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ Category

Made in Knowle West

On a sunny May afternoon a group of adults and children made their way from Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) to the nearby Springfield Allotments. We were taking part in a Bristol Food Connections workshop to forage for local ingredients and learn how to turn these into summer drinks.

The gathering grew throughout the afternoon until there were more than 30 adults and children. Many joined us from nearby Knowle West Children’s Centre.

During the short walk to the allotments we started foraging, stopping to collect blossom from a cherry tree growing near the road.  Local residents in the group discussed how they use these public park areas – from grazing horses to watching the hot air balloons to collecting blackberries.  The area we walked through is known as ‘the Bommie’, apparently because of the bombs that were dropped in the war.

On arrival at the allotments, run by Knowle West Health Association, we were met by Steve Griffiths who gave us a tour, including poly-tunnels, beehives and a chicken coop. As the children looked for eggs and stroked the chickens, the rest of us turned our attention to Susanna Wallis from Company Drinks.

Company Drinks is an organisation based in Barking and Dagenham that aims to remember some of the old East End traditions including the hop picking season – six weeks a year when women and children would move out of the city to go picking on farms in the countryside. The organisation also wants to address issues around children losing the ability to name plants and flowers and engage people in a rural activity within an urban setting. Susanna was keen to connect with the work that we have been doing on the Who decides what’s in my fridge? project.

Susanna pointed out plants and fruits that we could use to turn into summery drinks. We split into three teams to collect rhubarb, a pretty pink flower called flowering currant, and dandelions. When our baskets were full we regrouped in the cool retreat of the allotment roundhouse to learn how to make the cordials.

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We picked off the petals of the dandelions, flowering currant flowers and the cherry blossom, which would later be steeped in a hot sugar syrup to make the cordials. Susanna mentioned a variety of other cordials that they make and work well: Japanese knotweed, cola, blackcurrant and apple, fizzy crab apple and manor house pear. Susanna had brought some tasters for us to try – and the cooling cordials helped refresh us after our ramble to the allotments and foraging.

As we plucked the petals and chopped the rhubarb we chatted and shared experiences of using the green spaces of Knowle West and the beautiful nearby countryside. The area has a proud history of foraging and residents shared how people came to the park to catch rabbits, as well as sharing tips about which herbs and plants are good for eating and using as remedies. We now know that pink clover flowers are supposed to ease period pain!

We didn’t have time to the finish the drinks then so we took everything back to KWMC to finish overnight. Participants were invited to stay for an evening event of food, discussions and tasting drinks.

This event was one of three Cook ‘n Converse events held in May as part of the Bristol Food Connections festival. Knowle West Media Centre would like to thank all partner organisations involved in the event that made it such a success – Company Drinks, Food Connections, Knowle West Children’s Centre and Springfield Allotments.

A food project that’s close to home

Yasmin Thomas has just finished as a Junior Digital Producer at Knowle West Media Centre. Here she looks back at her time working on Who Decides What’s in My Fridge

“I have lived in Knowle West since the age of four, but I didn’t know that my first role in the media and arts sector would flourish here. I was one of eight Junior Digital Producers (JDP) recently working at Knowle West Media Centre on the Who Decides What’s in my Fridge? project. Being a JDP was a paid position for six months up until the end of April 2016. Our role was to collect data from the community to explore the barriers that communities face accessing food locally.

“From October 2015 we received a series of intense training sessions to provide us with the skills we would need to work on the project, including workshops on understanding key themes of data ethics and data visualisations. We also developed our multi-media skills such as photography, filming and coding.

“Our first step in terms of data collection was to research the priorities of local residents when they shop. We put together a simple activity using mason jars labelled as ‘cost’, ‘nutrition’, ‘taste’ and ‘appearance’ for participants to choose from. We worked hard to make the data collection process fun and also ensured that community participants had a say in guiding the project.

“Over time we progressed our data collection methods into building an interactive survey in the form of a life-size fridge filled with models of food and questions. This successfully aroused curiosity in the community to get involved in the project  The Fridge was taken on “tour” around Knowle West to collect the data. We went to many of the different clubs and community groups to try and reach a full cross-section of the community. You can see a video that one of my fellow Junior Digital Producers made about the ‘Fridge Tour’ here.

“After we had collected the survey data we analysed the results and visualised them as part of a new website that we created for people to explore what we have found.

“We launched the website and displayed the data collected from the Fridge by holding a pop-up interactive exhibition in an unused shop. It used to be a fruit and veg shop on Filwood Broadway but it closed down in recent years, along with many of the other nearby shops. We promoted the exhibition by inviting other community organisations and local growers to take part, organising an ‘Eat and Greet Food Marketfor a day. We had a successful turn-out and had an additional 40 participants take part in the Fridge survey on the day.

“What I have learnt is that community participation is successful when part of the project’s aim is to improve quality of living, whatever that might be. Knowle West is in the process of a regeneration plan, but the 20 year long wait is vastly aggravating the locals, which I found out during my experience of community engagement. The community has campaigned for a supermarket in Knowle West for more than 20 years, and are fed up of community consultations and viability studies that ultimately come to nothing.  

“With that in mind we started to look at alternatives to supermarkets that could improve food accessibility, for example a local food market. We don’t have a supermarket but we do have lots of nearby green space for growers and events!

“The experience of this project has developed my understanding of the community that I live in and how the locals do their utmost to keep it alive, whether through clubs or classes. While my time as a Junior Digital Producer has now come to an end, after living in Knowle West for 22 years I’m now playing the role as an activist for this project. It is a project that’s close to home  – literally! – and I’m going to stay involved.”

To find out more about the work that the Junior Digital Producers did on the project take a look at the website they built, with a live survey and interactive data visualisations at www.KWfood.org

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‘Green’ pledges are right on the button

This summer young people from South Bristol joined with KWMC to kick-start a new programme of sustainable activity.

On Wednesday 12 August Knowle West Media Centre unveiled 15 ‘green’ pledges to mark our continued commitment to reducing our environmental impact – and a group of young people did the same.

The Do 15 in 15 campaign was launched by Bristol 2015 in April this year, to encourage people across the city to pledge their support for Bristol’s year as Green Capital and commit to do something to help make Bristol a healthier, happier city for everyone.

On 12 August staff and young people involved in our summer activities pushed the Bristol 2015 ‘pledge button’ and formally launched their pledges.

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KWMC is based in an award-winning sustainable building and throughout our 19-year history we have helped people use digital technologies in ‘smart’ ways so they can reduce their environmental impact. Recent work has included monitoring electricity use and training local people to ‘upcycle’ office furniture.

Our Director Carolyn Hassan explains: “Some of our Do15 pledges focus on expanding our existing work – such as using innovative digital monitors to measure heat, noise and air quality and ensure that we have a healthy working environment for staff and visitors. Others will maximise the potential of our building, such as relying more on rainwater collection and cultivating the outdoor space to include a beehive and more fruit and veg plots.”

Other actions are new, such as the pledge to reduce single-car journeys by purchasing an electric bike for use by staff, and implementing a car share scheme.

Young people aged 9-18 devided their own Do15 pledges at KWMC and they released three pledges each day during their summer programme, which ran from 10-14 August and coincided with the button push event. The group imagined what Bristol could look like in 15 years if all of the Do15 pledges are achieved – and the challenges and opportunities that could result in a new set of environmental promises in 2030…

For more information about Do15 visit the pledge website. Read our pledges here.

 

Run to Knowle West: Call for Artists

The fast-paced fitness challenge returns for its second year! The event is part of Filwood Gets Fit and we are offering an artist, or group or artists, the opportunity to engage with the event.

Run to Knowle West celebrates the unique layout of the area around the Northern Slopes and how we navigate the landscape. It begins at the bottom of the Novers Steps on the junction of Parson Street and Lynton Road and finishes 183 steps later at the entrance to Knowle West Health Centre. In 2014 the event marked the start of Filwood Gets Fit and provided a crossover with Lost & Found, a KWMC project.

The deadline for submissions is noon 1st June 2015, the event will take place on 8th July 2015. Download a copy of the Artist Brief here.

Please contact dee.canavan@kwmc.org.uk for further information.

KWMC helps Filwood Get Fit

A community festival is coming to Knowle West – and it will support everyone to become more active, whatever their age and ability.

From 7th – 12th July, Knowle West Together, a group of local organisations including KWMC, will be running Filwood Gets Fit. The week will include some special activities, including the ‘Run to Knowle West’ on 8th July and a ‘Dot to Dot’ walk on 12th July. It will also celebrate the activities that are already happening in the BS4 area – from sports teams and walking groups to gardening and children’s clubs.  Many groups will be offering free or reduced-price ‘taster’ sessions.

Why should Filwood Get Fit?

Our physical health can have a big impact on our quality of life. According to the Council’s latest Quality of Life Survey (2012), levels of physical activity in Filwood are lower than the city average. The number of households with a smoker is higher than the city average too. We want to help to change that for the better – we hope that by doing something active we’ll all feel healthier and happier. 

For more information download the Filwood Gets Fit Programme or contact Rachel Clarke at Knowle West Media Centre.

Filwood Gets Fit logo

The Urban Forager – what foraging means to me

Watershed Executive Chef Oliver Pratt talks passionately to Knowle West Media Centre about foraging & cooking with wild ingredients. Oliver hosted Wild Thing, the Food Connections Festival event at Knowle West media Centre.

“Although I didn’t know it back then I have been a forager all my life. It all started as a kid, walking in the woods, exploring, asking questions and looking at the vast array of plant life around me. Only being allowed to pick the things my parents said were safe to eat I was learning that food originated from the wild. As I got older so the outdoors became a challenge, often seeing how long we could live out in the woods and whether it was possible to survive off the land alone. The answer to that question was quite simply: No. With our limited knowledge and skills it was in fact exceptionally hard if not possible at all.

25 years on and I have a more holistic approach, picking up facts and information along the way from a range of sources has led me to one conclusion. Foraging is a primeval instinct deeply rooted in all of us, it has gone hand in hand with our evolutionary progression and mental development where we survived as a species by being able to identify and catalog the subtle differences in plants; their shape, texture, taste and smell and that by using and developing all of our senses to define what was edible and what was not. These days there is no need to forage for survival, food is farmed, packaged and even delivered to our door and the ancient art of being a hunter-gatherer is slowly being lost.

Or is it?

I now live in the city but wherever I go I find myself identifying a whole range of plants all fit for eating. Bay trees, rosemary, thyme, wild parsley, valerian, lavender, wild cabbage, mustard, horseradish, rosehip, hawthorn and elder to mention but a few and I realise that although the landscape has changed my ancient instincts have not: I am a modern day hunter-gather; I am an urban forager.

When asked what is it I enjoy about foraging then my answer comes from observing other people whilst on a wild camping trip to the Wye valley. Their fun and joy at immersing themselves in nature, the excitement as they discover a bounty of food that is edible; identifying it, picking it and taking it back to the camp to cook. It goes right back to our basic self, our basic being where we were connected to the land for survival and by doing that, by tapping into all our senses and using them it feels good.

If foraging helps us stay connected to the land, appreciate it more and as a result help preserve it then that is a great thing. ”

 

 

Foraging Chef Oliver Pratt

 

Spring event explores ‘wild food’ heritage

What is ‘wild food’?  Could you find your own?

As part of the Bristol Food Connections festival, Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) held a unique event on Saturday 10th May that investigated, explored and celebrated wild food. We partnered with Source Food Hall & CaféWatershed Café Bar, and local wild food experts to share the know-how of people who have foraged, caught and raised food on the Knowle West estate for generations. The event, titled ‘Wild Thing’, included:

– Preparing and cooking demonstrations – Saturday Kitchen style – using locally sourced ingredients, with local experts in conversation with food professionals

– A panel discussion exploring the legality, ethics and health benefits of sourcing wild food including plants and fungi, rabbits, pigeons and fish

– Tasting and local produce market with a chance to network

– A wild foraging walk with experts

– An exhibition of KWMC’s extensive work on food in the community

– Playful instant feedback mechanisms and real-time documentation

Following a collaboration with Pieminister we offered an exclusive ‘rabbit hop’ pie, created just for the event. Source and Watershed also served dishes inspired by Knowle West’s wild food heritage during the festival. Experimental foodies, chefs, and people who were new to the idea of catching and foraging wild food attended the event. The event was, we hope, a thought provoking and delicious experience for all!

For more information visit the event page or contact Penny.

Project to tackle social isolation in Bristol

As Christmas approaches and news reports highlight increasing loneliness among older people – an innovative health project is working to tackle isolation in South Bristol. The Social Mirror project is being piloted in the Knowle West community to link people aged 65 plus and 18-25 to local activities that could help their health and wellbeing.

We’re working with the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce and Manufactures (RSA) as part of a research and action project to improve people’s social inclusion. We’re trialing Social Mirror at the William Budd Health Centre over a 12-month period and hope to reach 300 people by the end of March 2014.

Patients are asked to complete a short questionnaire via an app on a tablet computer and are then given a ‘social prescription’. This directs them to community activities or groups such as coffee mornings, sports classes or local history clubs – instead of being prescribed drugs or other health interventions.

Project Manager Gaia Marcus from the RSA commented: “Scientists have found that feeling lonely over long periods of time can kill you: being emotionally isolated can be as fatal as smoking, and common illnesses made worse by loneliness include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, and cardio-vascular diseases. Social Mirror is a way of linking local people to local activities and groups, using local knowledge. It’s a bit like an automatic magazine quiz: you answer questions and, if you need it, Social Mirror can issue you with local ‘community prescriptions’ based on your interests… from a walking group to a photography class…”

KWMC’s Sue Mackinnon added: “This project has been very well received by the community – and the feedback from those who have joined a group has been really positive. It’s great to know we are making a real difference to people’s lives and helping to tackle the growing problem of isolation, especially among the elderly.”

Recently retired local resident David Bird says taking part in Social Mirror has made him feel ‘life is worth living’. He was given a prescription for a walking group and has never looked back. He says: “It has changed my life. I would recommend it to anyone. I wasn’t doing anything; I’d been a recluse and for three days a week I wouldn’t go out of the flat and the weight was piling on. I’ve now lost a stone and I can talk to people quite freely which I couldn’t before.”

Mary Hall runs a lip-reading group at Knowle West Health Park for those with hearing loss. She has had referrals from Social Mirror and says her group really benefits those who attend. She explains: “They come and meet other people like themselves and compare notes to their heart’s content – it’s much less isolating for them. I reckon I keep people out of doctors’ surgeries because of depression. They come once a week and we are like a family here.”

For further information about Social Mirror visit www.thersa.org or view the Social Mirror project.

For the Love of Bread – new film about Knowle West’s Bread Group

Find out more about bread making in Knowle West – watch the new Baking Bread film on YouTube.

The Bread Group get together every Thursday at Knowle West Health Park to bake and sell their popular bread and to socialise. They love it – and they welcome anyone to join and learn. The Bread Group are being championed by Knowle West Media Centre’s ‘Do What You Love’ Green and Digital Business programme.

The film was made by students of FdA Digital Media Production at City of Bristol College as a Community Liaison Production.

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Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
Bristol
BS4 1NL
+44 (0) 117 903 0444
enquiries@kwmc.org.uk

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