Philip John thought his #TAL11 Unaward was really super (photo by Joseph Stashko)
As is tradition at our unconferences there will be will be some glittering Unawards prizes at #TAL12. Hyperlocal innovation and excellence will be rewarded with the best Latifs (‘Where Choice Meets Price’) has to offer. In the past this has included a child-sized Superman costume, an oven glove, a Michael Jackson alarm clock and a broken walking stick.
We’re hoping you can help us by suggesting the winners in these and any other categories you can think of:
Best investigation/investigative reporting
Best community engagement
Best council coverage
Most innovative use of data
Please give us your suggestions in the comments box or on the #TAL12 Google group. The TAL team will then get thinking on the very best prizes for the best in hyperlocal!
Since I relocated to Cardiff in late December last year, I’ve naturally been getting my bearings with the city’s hyperlocal landscape. There’s certainly plenty of activity, with a wide variety independent websites and online voices for the city’s neighbourhoods and communities of interest.
Before I moved here I already knew of Llandaff News, a voluntary project by journalist Joni Ayn which sadly stopped publishing late last year and MyWhitchurch, a community forum created by Matthew Lock in 2005 to help local residents become better informed and connected, which has since been redeveloped to also include a blog/news style format. However, after settling in I soon became aware of other emerging new hyperlocal websites.
The first I found via twitter whilst searching for mentions of my new neighbourhood of Pontcanna, a small village near the city centre. Pontcanna Hub was created by Fran O’Hara, who taught herself WordPress over the Christmas break, to support the local residents’ group her, Flip White and Simon White have kick-started in their campaign against the development of a chain supermarket store in the area.
“It was two campaigns that started it, in the summer,” said Fran. “There were rumours that Tesco was going to take over one of the smaller shops at the top end of Pontcanna and then we heard from a developer that he was in talks with supermarkets…and that was right in the middle of the more residential part of it. Both these have come back on the agenda right before Christmas. A lot of people were either confusing the campaigns or we wanted them to do specific actions so we thought if we set up a website, it would enable people to have somewhere to go, which is why we called it a hub. The other thing is there’s a lovely community feel but there’s all these rumours! So it was a good pace to capture real voices and actually what’s happening and then the flip side of that would be that you can communicate to press, council etc. what it’s going to be like here if they do let these supermarket chains move into what is essentially a small urban suburb. That was our primary aim and then as part of that because it’s a very community based area there were lots of other things like the cycle routes across Bute Park, all these other things that we felt people had been involved in or were interested in, we could flag those up as well.”
The campaign and its use of the web to galvanise local support has been particularly effective – in light of the issues raised council officials recommended rejection of the plans to the planning committee, resulting the proposal being taken off the agenda of the last meeting.
Last month I was kindly invited by Philippa Davies to speak at the WordPress Users Wales meetup about how I’d used WordPress to build the Birmingham community website Digbeth is Good and trained others looking to do the same across the UK with Talk About Local.
There I met Nicole Rugman and Geraldine Nichols of roathcardiff.net, ‘a hyperlocal news and information resource for Roath, Cardiff’. It keeps the neighbourhood regularly informed of local news, arts and cultural happenings and coverage of the Made in Roath arts festival. The website also has a Roath People category, where you’ll find reflections on Roath life by local people from Baroness Randerson to Matt Jarret, who likes ‘local pubs where old people argue about diseases and the lounge still smells of smoke more than 4 years after the smoking ban was enforced.’
Roath Cardiff began in June 2011 after a chat in the local pub between Geraldine, Matt Appleby, Huw Thomas and Ed Walker, who was working at yourCardiff at the time. Much of the curent Cardiff-themed online activity can be traced back to the work Ed Walker and Hannah Waldram, beat blogger at Guardian Cardiff did whilst they lived and worked here in 2010-2011. As well as broadening the scope and depth of local online news provision they also worked to roll out digital skills in the city and encourage further online activity, starting Roath and Canton social media surgeries and the Cardiff Blogs website and networking events, all of which were sustained after Ed and Hannah relocated to new jobs in London.
A brand new hyperlocal website on the scene is Heathlands.us, started by Richard Wenner on 18th February to celebrate the Heathlands (CF14) area of Cardiff, bring local personal and public archive materials to life and connect residents online and offline with a Jubilee Street Party. Richard is hoping to train up a team of active citizens to help build up the new site and take ownership of the Heathlands profile.
Over on Facebook, Paul Byers has kick-started the open group Connect Cathays, for an inner-city area that’s undergone a rather serious ‘studentification’ over the years. Paul, who says he was inspired by attending the #TAL11 Unconference in Cardiff last year, hopes to use the group to encourage better communication between local residents, students and non-students alike. There are plans in the pipeline to build an accompanying Connect Cathays website and provide local training so residents can use it to tell their stories, voice concerns, promote events and activities and also work with relevant local data to draw out the key issues affecting the area.
And then there’s the sites for and by specific Cardiff communities and communities of interest, such as Cardiff Eastern Post, which focuses on Asians living in Cardiff, Take Root, ‘a central place where people can connect with others interested in grassroots change in Cardiff’ and Amy Davies’ beautiful Cardiff Arcades Project, celebrating the city’s unique Victorian shopping arcades and the independent shops within them, a fantastic example of how you can use the web to help your local high street.
All of this makes Cardiff feel like an exciting and well-connected place to be. Although I’ve only just moved here, I find I’m not at a loss for things to do, people to meet and social media surgeries to get involved in. This is one of the great things about a city with such an active online community, it helps newcommers navigate their new social as well as physical local landscape and make those much-needed human connections quite quickly. For me, it’s making Cardiff feel more like home.
We at talk about local have just about recovered enough from what was a very busy but brilliantly thought-provoking #tal11 unconference (and a surprise attack from some zombie goth nurses) to give you a collective memory post of links and content that people have kindly published.
Some unusual attendees photographed by Ellie Stonely
Many thanks to all of you who came The Atrium in Cardiff on Saturday 2nd April and made it such a fantastic day. We were pleasantly surprised not only with the great turn-out but the good number of new and local faces who bought lots of new ideas and discussions with them – such as the potential for Welsh language hyperlocal sites with Huw Marshall and Rhys Wynne and the citizen activism discussion with Mark Parker.
Photo by Hannah Waldram
There were also discussions kick-started by some more familiar faces, such as working with the BBC with Philip John and ‘I’m a Hyperlocal Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ with Hannah Waldram. And there was quite a bit from the talk about local team – Karen Strunks started the day talking about her 4am project, Clare White led a very fruitful discussion on hyperlocals using Facebook, I ran a workshop session based on Postcode Stories and William Perrin ended the day discussing the future of hyperlocal.
Photo by Sarah Hartley
The #TAL11 hashtag was very busy on twitter throughout the day. You can view all of the tweets of on the #TAL11 Cover It Live! or on the #TAL11 TweetReach report document. Quite a few have posted photos on Flickr of the day – if you were one of them, please add them to the TAL11 Flickr Group pool. People have also been posting their thoughts and reflections after the event – here’s a few links:
Cardiff gets Hyperlocal – Sophie Patterson of The Atrium wrote a round-up of the day, with a good introduction to terms like ‘hyperlocal’ and ‘unconference’ for newcommers.
Notes from #TAL11 – Hannah Waldram’s notes and thoughts from the day and the sessions she attended, which included hyperlocals working with Rightmoveplaces.co.uk and the Postcode Stories workshop session (short film above).
So there we have it – another TAL Unconference and Unawards is over. Please comment if I’ve missed any good links out. As Clare has said, there are plenty of ways to keep the conversations of the day going so be sure to do so if you were inspired into wanting to take action. The talk about local team thoroughly enjoyed the day and going by the posts attendees have written, everyone else did to0, which is why we’re hoping to be back with another one sometime soon – watch this space!
As Dave Briggs once said: “Monday will be the most depressing day of your life”. You spend Saturday chatting, listening and getting all buzzy with too much coffee and cakes. Sunday chewing over all the ideas you heard, reflecting and plotting. Monday will be the day you put it all into action and by next Friday we’ll have changed the world!
But then real life restarts and before you know it you’re back at the next unconference looking around wondering how everyone else ever finds the time to do all this cool stuff and getting inspired afresh.
Still, let’s not be too hard on ourselves. We could be back in the old days, only ever going to conferences where you sit frustrated for a day, listening to people you’ve never heard of saying things you don’t agree with. We could feel compelled to use the word ‘silo’ too often and be forced to watch TV without a backchannel upon which to make snarky comments. Hooray for the internet! Now we can keep talking and supporting each other, wherever we are. The tools and ideas are all around us, it’s all about how we use them.
Here are a few ways to keep talking:
The Exchange TAL page: some places where you can ask for help – this page needs updating, please add anything you know about
The TAL Unconference email group, which includes current discussions on how hyperlocals and people living in regeneration areas can support each other
The #TAL11 hashtag. On this embed you can read over all Saturday’s chatter from the beginning and follow all the links you meant to bookmark, and of course obviously continue to tweet and follow the hashtag – a lot of detailed write-ups will be emerging from the sessions over the next few days
Keep an eye out on Twitter for other upcoming unconferences, or organise one in your own area. At risk of being accused of digitally stroking Dave Briggs too often for one blog post, his guidance on organising a Govcamp-type event is unbeatable. Often these are organised by geeks for geeks, but they don’t have to be about anything technological at all. If you want to do something smaller, you can take your inspiration and make use of the platforms of such things as Meetups, Social Media Surgeries, Barcamps and Teacamps. And of course, you’ll only have a year to wait until #TAL12!
As ever, more suggestions are welcome in the comments.