The Dennistoun Connected Communities Festival involved a group of over-65s from a local sheltered housing facility at Milnbank Housing Association (MHA). In a collaboration between Dennistoun Library (Glasgow Life) and MHA, seven participants worked alongside a researcher, Dr Claire McKechnie-Mason, to explore ways in which they could represent their lives in Dennistoun through creative practices, including writing, drawing, colouring, collage, and memory jars. Weekly sessions took place between 12th May and 9th June 2015. The Connected Communities Festival, which was open to the public, took place in Dennistoun Library on 16th June 2015. With support from MHA volunteers and support workers, and Glasgow Life staff, opportunities to participate were provided at MHA sheltered housing complex and Dennistoun Library. Refreshments were provided by Dennistoun Library and MHA. Transport, when required, was provided by MHA. £250 worth of materials was provided by MHA. Given the level of support given to the project by MHA and Glasgow Life, funds awarded by the AHRC were put towards the production of a film about the process and outcome of the Connected Communities Festival work. This film was screened at the festival and sent out to other case studies for use at their festivals. The film is available here
In order to connect two of the Representing Communities branches during the process of preparing for the Connected Communities Festival, members of the two Scottish case studies in the Cromarty and Dennistoun groups were asked if they would like to write to one another in the form of postcards, messages in bottles, and pen pal letters. They were asked to describe life in Dennistoun and Cromarty to one another and to ask any questions they may have about each other’s’ lives and histories. Researchers on the two case study branches discussed at length the value and opportunity for live chat between the groups via Skype but this was decided against due to technological challenges and the limited technical knowledge (as well as lack of inclination amongst the Dennistoun group) of the people we were working with. More traditional forms of communication allowed for more artistic expression and meant that the groups felt comfortable with the activities.
The Connected Communities film, made by Lindsay Goodall of Beau Films, has made a major contribution to the Dennistoun case study. It revealed snapshots of life in a sheltered housing complex and offered perspectives on the value of the kinds of activities we provided through the project. Another major outcome of the Connected Communities Festival project has been to galvanise and consolidate community relations between Glasgow Life and MHA. Having worked together on Connected Communities, Library Manager at Dennistoun Library and the Housing Support Worker at MHA now have a working relationship that did not exist before. This has resulted in home visits to the sheltered housing complex, which sits at the opposite end of Dennistoun, to take library books to residents. This service was not available before the Connected Communities project was undertaken.
Dr Claire McKechnie-Mason
Researcher, Representing Communities