Some ideas on creating new digital materials on the Cambridge Heroes – and making them far more accessible to wider audiences
“Learn their names, recognise their faces, be inspired by their actions, and match their impact”
…is the slogan or strapline that I am still playing with in order to get across one of the main drivers for all of this – encouraging more women to get involved in local democracy and civic action like the women mentioned below did.
I was playing around with the idea of short video clips introducing the Cambridge Heroes last night, and scrawled down a top ten below.
Other names that people have mentioned include:
- Mary Allan
- Rosalind Franklin
- Millicent Fawcett
Please, please, please let me know of any other recommendations you have.
(Yes, and I have used the term ‘herstories’ deliberately.)
Before I go on, if anyone is concerned that I’m not featuring any men from Cambridge’s past in this project, that’s your job to start a project, research and produce materials for them. The job is much easier because more has been written about them. Go into any Cambridge University college and you’ll find photos, paintings, busts and statues of said men everywhere.
“That’s a bit…assertive?”
Go into said buildings and you’ll find the presence of women notable by their absence. This is my bit to help rebalance things.
“What’s been done before?”
Tamsin Wilmhurst, formerly of the Museum of Cambridge produced these wonderful boards for the museum just under a decade ago.
A selection of the Cambridge Heroes at the Museum of Cambridge
It’s strange to think that social media was still in its infancy compared to how we use it today. Even as late as 2009, websites were little more than electronic magazines which you’d passively read rather than interact with as we do with social media. Video was still in its infancy too – even though those of us upgrading to smart phones started obtaining the tools that enabled us to record video footage and upload it online.
Mobile video as a hook – or the key to opening the door to greater local historical riches
What I have in mind is something that learns from the themes of the old ‘Be the change – Cambridge’ project several of us worked on in 2014-15 on the future of our city.
Above – introducing ‘Be the change – Cambridge’
As far as the videos go, the same goes for learning from the Mill Road Winter Fair videos
Above – The Mill Road Winter Fair 2016 video medley
The first thing compared to my videos on YouTube is that these videos all have musical soundtracks on them – upbeat musical soundtracks.
The other thing I want to avoid in this series is me being the only person in the videos – as in my pilot miniseries: Cambridge – the shaping of our city
I’m glad I made the series, but I was inevitably limited by it being a one-man production rather than a team effort. That said, I needed to go through and make the 14 or so videos just to get used to speaking directly into a camera lens in public and not being fazed by the strange looks you often get when filming out and about in public. Occupational hazard.
Short, sharp, passionate, energised video clips
A number of younger friends on social media – those at college and university who have grown up with the internet, have become expert in making short video clips that are as described in the sub-heading above. Now, me being in my late 30s could never get away with being the child at heart in such videos. It’s something that only works if there is a team of you in front of camera. For those of you who have very kindly stepped forward offering to take part, there are a whole host of different roles we’ll need filling in order to make the videos have the feel that I am looking for – ie more than just one person working the camera.
For the people in front of camera, I’m looking for people who have a buzzing disposition who can break many of the negative myths about what local history is all too often portrayed as (especially when compared to the so called heroic and glorious battles of military history). In fact, Gwen Raverat, Charles Darwin’s granddaughter who spent most of her life here in Cambridge wrote some excruciatingly brilliant paragraphs in her book Period Piece (available at G David round the back of the Guildhall) on her childhood, and how she had to go to horrible dance classes dancing to awful music on an out-of-tune upright piano wearing hideously uncomfortable outfits to an audience of old ladies dressed in lace and dust. Not surprisingly in her adult years, her relationship with her mother, Cambridge Hero Maud Darwin, was more than a little strained. (Maud Darwin campaigned successfully for women to be allowed to serve as police officers – the first in Cambridge being WPC and later Sgt Annie Carnegie Brown)
Sgt Annie Carnegie Brown of Cambridge Police, via @CambridgeCops
When and where will we be filming?
First of all, not until the spring (ie when the trees have leaves on them again) that I want to start filming. The simple reason is that as we’ll be doing a fair amount of filming out doors, I don’t want us to be wrapped up in winter woolies under a grey sky trying to summon the energy to be enthusiastic about people we may have only just read about. All of the pieces to camera will need to be memorised. Still being in the process of editing footage from a recent city deal meeting, I have fresh in my mind the awfulness that was the presentations given by the men (and it was all men in terms of the officer presentations) speaking into their notes on their tablets – to the cries of “We can’t hear you!” from the audience. No cards, no notes, no autocues. Think back to Rosanna Evans who featured in the Mill Road Winter Fair video 5mins in. No rehearsals, varying her tone of voice at the right points, energy and passion in her eyes, completely engaged in communicating to the camera (and thus the viewer), knows her content inside out. Textbook stuff. (Rosanna, we’d love to have you taking part!)
“Who are you doing this for?”
The Museum of Cambridge and for the people who make up the city of Cambridge.
- Because no one else has done it before like this, because we can, because we must.
- Because we want to encourage more women to get involved in local democracy and civic action like the women mentioned below did.
Because below are the Conservative benches at Shire Hall’s council chamber, and they are currently the largest party on Cambridgeshire County Council in the 2013-17 council.
And Cambridge’s first woman mayor said the following in 1939.
Nearly 80 years have passed since she said the above. ***Why are we still having to protest this stuff?!?!***
Planning – I’m all ears
While I have a vision for what I want to achieve, I’m happy to be persuaded on where to film and on who wants to be the leads for the different historical figures. Note it won’t all be someone speaking directly into the camera. There will need to be various cut-away shots of where we need to show where we are, or perhaps a view of people researching in the archives. Ideal for those of you that don’t particularly want to speak on camera but would quite like to feature in the background – if anything to demonstrate to all of your friends that you took part in the making of the project!
So thank you to everyone who has already been in touch.
Interested? Leave a comment with an email address or leave a message on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lostcambridge/