We've called our mid Wales case study Tair Afon (Three Rivers). These rivers are the Ceulan, Leri and Cletwr, they run through our case study area and connect up on the way to the Dyfi Estuary where they run out to the sea. We decided to focus on the rivers, rather than just looking at obvious social centres, in order to be more inclusive of people located in more remote areas, and to take into account a wider range of water related issues.
On the train back from a two day Hydrocitizenship meeting - which took place in the Lee Valley - Shelagh (Creu-ad) and Andy (Ecodyfi) got to talking about dowsing, or divining; the ancient practice of locating water under the ground using an L or Y shaped rod or twig. Shelagh mentioned that this method was used to locate the best spot for a well on her land, and Andy mentioned something about a landowner discovering that the water under his land was not flowing in the direction that he first thought...
So then I got to thinking... how many rivers are there under the ground? What about the subterranean landscape? What about man made rivers or sewers? Are there only three rivers?
This then led me to do a quick bit of internet research into 'sewer art' and I came across the work of a photographer based in Toronto, Michael Cook. Cook has spent ten years 'Imaging and Imagining Water' underneath the city. He refers to his work as type of 'citizen geography' that has 'informed community groups, academic projects, and the official work of planners, landscape architects, engineers and archaeologists'. Through his work he has been illuminating invisible landscapes, places that are neglected and would otherwise be ignored by the people living above. Cook uses his photographic practice to shine a light on, illuminate, make visible, and therefore effect change.
"one of the problems is that people don't see what happens to the water after it comes off their roof. You can tell them really abstractly that it causes an overflow somewhere. But they don't see all the spaces that connect between their house and the lake the way they see the streets that connect them from their house to the lake" (Cook 2013)
Photograph: Michael Cook. See more on his blog 'Vanishing Point'
In Cook's work, his photographs have created a connection where there has been a disconnect. So, what are the disconnections in our case study areas? Where are the invisible rivers? How might arts and humanities research practices shine a light on them and in doing so draw them to the attention of people, planners, politicians, engineers etc?
We set up this community to try and raise the profile of the creative water related research that is taking place in the UK and internationally. Members of Hydrocitizens can keep their own blog, engage in debates on the forum and stay informed about important upcoming events.
Because the community has many members and is linked up to so many different sites through the wiki, blog and forum, its pages rank highly in search engine results. So it's a great platform through which to raise the profile of the things that you do. We currently average between 1000 and 1500 page visits each day. The more content that members produce the more visits and the greater the chance of others encountering your work.
To help extend the reach of your work even further, we share all blog posts on Twitter and on Facebook. This means that anything that you write will connect with many others through mainstream social media.
There are two things that will make your posts more appealing when they appear on other social media platforms:
1) Try to include a photograph. When posts appear on Facebook, pictures make them look much more attractive than they would if they only included plain text.
2) Think about your title and the first line of your post. This is what will appear on Facebook. So you want it to be attention grabbing.
If you already have a blog or a website, then Hydrocitizens is an excellent tool for directing traffic to the work that you are already doing. You can even add an RSS feed so that your Hydrocitizens blog updates automatically whenever you update your existing external blogs.
Please get in touch with me if you need any help.
I've just been in contact with Kate Rew, founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society. She suggested that some of the society's 23,000 members might be interested in the kinds of posts that Hydrocitizens has been sharing on Facebook. These are the posts produced by members of this community. They include blogs, forum discussions and wiki entries.
The Outdoor Swimming Society's manifesto is as follows:
The Outdoor Swimming Society believes that it's time British swimmers had more fun. In the early 1900s there were river swimming clubs and lidos all over the country, but outdoor swimming died out as indoor pools came in.
We believe it's time to get back to the joy of swimming under an open sky. Water needs no roof! Our manifesto:
- We believe swimmers have too long been held in chlorinated captivity! Everyone with a set of bathers should be set free to immerse themselves in nature
- We support all those keeping lidos open and lakes and rivers clean
- We promise to enlarge and celebrate the beauty of every day we can by going for a nice outdoor swim
- We pledge to take our friends with us so they can join
- We embrace the rejuvenating effects of cold water and undertake to strip and dip wherever we can
I imagine that this website would be of interest to many of you... perhaps some of you are already members?
They have created a wild swim map which you can visit here.
I noticed that one of the wild swims marked on the map relates to the Dyfi near to the mid Wales Hydrocitizenship team. See here.
Also of interest was the Big Jump. On Sunday 12th July 2015 tens of thousands of people from around Europe will all be jumping into rivers at the same time (2pm, BST). Find out more here: http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/events/?id=102
Anyone interested in jumping?