Week thirty nine: small world, big ideas

Serendipity is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? About eighteen months ago, during a quick scan of my Twitter feed I saw an ex-colleague from the National Army Museum, who is now in New Zealand, tweeting about a game called Library Island.

This interactive training activity helps participants to explore strategy, innovation, and the messy business of working with communities. We’ve spent the last two years perfecting Library Island with university staff, health workers, museum professionals, students, and, yes, librarians.

matt finch/mechanical dolphin

This piqued my interest, as a) I really like libraries, b) I’m a museum professional and c) I’m really nosy curious about what other people are up to in the culture sector. At the time I was also doing a lot of thinking about how we could make our school sessions more playful/gamified, so I jumped on the conversation. That tweet opened up a whole new world of conversations around scenario planning and how that approach might be adapted to work with secondary school students, starting with a cup of coffee and a wide ranging chat on a hot day at the museum with Matt Finch of the Said Business School and developer of Library Island.

Fast forward eighteen months and one global pandemic…

At 7.30am on Wednesday (8.30am in Copenhagen, Denmark and 6.30pm in Sydney, Australia) I logged into a Zoom call with Matt, Teresa Swist of the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney Uni, and Kirsten Van Dam of Out of Office. This was the third zoom meeting of what’s becoming a knowledge sharing group set up originally by Matt, as the nexus, but which is creating synergies between different projects all over the world. Co-design, co-production and co-creation with communities were all part of this week’s conversation, which link back into the development of the new museum.

I can’t imagine that, without COVID-19, I would ever have had these conversations with people all over the world. Pre-corona, arranging a meeting just with someone in London would have meant building in travel time, trying to find a day when we didn’t already have umpteen things in the diary months ahead of time, and certainly wouldn’t have happened on a Wednesday morning when – in ‘normal’ times – I take the kids to school and then trek into London.

My next meeting on Wednesday – also via Zoom – was a filmed interview about teddy bears and mental health, and then a conversation about how we can make the museum into a virtual environment so we can use the building while its closed. Even my works Christmas socials were online! A party where I don’t have to get on the Central Line home afterwards, perfect.

Zoom and Teams aren’t perfect, but this year they have made the world smaller and my thinking bigger.

Christmas can start now!

I think I am finally ready for the festive season, despite announcements of mutated viruses and the invention of Tier 4 in the last 24 hours. I am sad, as we can’t go and see the older girls (formerly known as the Timeshare Teenagers) and our grandson, but I am also glad we are safe at home.

I finished work for the holidays at lunchtime on Friday after a cheery, chatty Christmas cuppa with the rest of our little learning team. In the afternoon I gave in to the demands of Thing 2 to make a gingerbread house from scratch: we’d never done that before, but when we have had kits previously the biscuit has been quite fragile and the houses have been a bit of a disaster. So, it was back to BBC Good Food, which is usually my go-to for new recipes, where we found instructions – including templates – for a simple gingerbread house. We made the gingerbread and constructed the house on Friday, then left it to set overnight before decorating with Dolly Mixtures, mini Smarties and chocolate fingers on Saturday morning. I think at least as many sweets ended up in Things 2 and 3 as on the house, but it looks really festive. Thing 2 made a mini Christmas tree as well, with a wall of jelly sweets to hold in the Smarties.

Right now I am waiting for the Stollen dough to prove – again, it’s a BBC recipe, this time by Simon Rimmer. It’s funny – there’s nothing to say I can’t make stollen at any time of year, as I really like it, but it has become part of the Christmas routine. The cake was marzipanned yesterday, and I’ll ice and decorate it in the week. I’ve been haunting Pinterest again for ideas, which is always risky.

The Zoom blanket is finally finished and was sent off on Thursday, so that’s out of the way and I can focus on a crochet commission for a friend. I enjoyed making this, apart from weaving in the ends, and the matching hat is very cute. Hopefully the expectant mum will also like it!

On the cross stitch frame I have a Lord of the Rings themed pattern, on black aida so the daylight lamp is coming in very handy. A top tip someone told me ages ago was to have a white cloth on your lap when stitching on dark fabrics, or even a light box. No one mentioned cats, which is usually what’s on my lap!

My next post will be after Christmas, so I’ll leave you all with warm wishes for a peaceful, safe festive week. See you at the end of week 40!

Merry Christmas!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Hogfather – Terry Pratchett

Bad Penny Blues – Cathi Unsworth

Without the Moon – Cathi Unsworth

Christmas films ticked off:

  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • Serendipity (2001)
  • Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion/The Runaway Bride/Voyage of the Damned
  • Blackadder’s Christmas Carol
  • Detectorists Christmas Special (2015)
  • A Christmassy Ted

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