Dave RGP has returned to
his home planet of Cardiff in
an attempt to rescue his
clutches of the vile gangster
Jabber the Nonsense.
Little does South Wales know that
Dave has secretly
begun construction on a new
social project even
more powerful than the first
dreaded WordPress Blog.
When completed, this ultimate
weapon will spell certain doom
for the large number of problems
preventing him from restoring balance
to the Gower…
OK, I’m marginally sorry for my part in writing that vastly self serving lead, but it mostly wrote itself, so I can’t take all the credit.
And honestly, I’m pretty thrilled about things at the moment.
So as some people may have noticed I’ve let this project lapse a lot in the last few months, and I actually feel guilty about that. However, as ever, there were good reasons.
After writing my biomythology triology, I was kind of amazed at the response I got from it. I had engineers who worked on The Eastgate Centre getting in touch with me, pointing out very legitimate and constructive criticism to my piece. I also had the maddest piece of luck in what is already a tale of iterative serendipity; I met Rupert Soar himself at a conference, and we went and had a pie. Rupert gave me a significant amount of his time at the start of the year, for which I am very grateful. He also put me in direct touch with Mick Pearce, which was going above and Beyond (biomimicry).
Mick then gave me a significant amount of his time, and I really got to know the Eastgate Centre inside out, from the mind behind it. I have never been more fascinated by a single thing in my life (though Pokémon is still up there). Through a Skype interview with Mick I got to learn the intricacies of how the building works, the processes and science behind it, and what he contributed to Rupert Soar and Scott Turners ongoing work. I also got to learn how I write, which was almost the most valuable part of the experience.
I wrote that article but I didn’t post it here.
I submitted it to the Guardian/Wellcome Trust Science Blogging competition, and was shortlisted to the top 10.
I cannot now and probably never will be able to describe that feeling, but I also never considered myself a great writer.
I attended the awards ceremony and got to bug the hell out of people like Alok Jah, Maggie Phillbin and Dr Helen Czerski. I took absolute and massive advantage of that, but you gotta grind and hustle if you want to make the difference.
Around the same time, I applied to volunteer a piece with Friends of the Earth on their new campaign Big Ideas that Change the World. While I thought I’d just send over a piece I’d already written and that would be it, a wonderful man called Phil invited me to their offices in London this summer and spent a fair amount of his time teaching me about how FoE approach blogging, about the editing process, and FoE also financially supported me to go to conferences in Alloa and London to chase down more stories for them.
After being able to meet Mick Pearce in the flesh at the Living City Symposium put on by Resonate Arts House in Alloa, I told him I wanted to write another piece, including more about the social and political story of Eastgate. He then bought me lunch one damp and inspiring summer afternoon in East London. I hope at some point I get to return the favour.
Insert indescribable moment number two here.
Around the same time of the Guardian award ceremony, which was also around the same point as my MSc graduation ceremony, I finally found a job. I’m not a professional writer now, though I never specifically wanted to be. I work for a small energy consultancy in South Wales, and get to apply all the things I’ve been trying to learn for almost a decade to the real world.
Moment number three.
This full time work, plus the process of tying up all the loose ends from all the opportunities above is what’s slowed this blog down. It also meant that my work with Friends of the Earth has slowed down considerably, though Phil is giving my bro a chance to pick up the slack, and he *wants* to be a writer. He’s always been better at it than me anyway. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to pick up the same pace on the Biomimicron again any time soon…
Me and one of my oldest partners in [petty] crime have been kicking ideas at each other for months about developing this single blog into a network (though the Leveson Report put us off that), then into a number of other things that weren’t quite a blog or a network, then I got a job and moved back to the same city as him, marginally more wise and massively more inspired than I was when I left.
We’ve had an idea.
Weirdly, lots of others have had the same one, they just haven’t quite done it yet. So we’re all going to do it together.
Like Star Wars, and all epic series, the main cannon has come to something of a conclusion. Story lines have been tied up, characters have developed. Thankfully, no friends have become enemies, and (also thankfully) some ‘enemies’ have become friends. The audience (and author) has some closure.
Also like Star Wars, and all great franchises, it’s going to milked for all it’s worth, combined with other semi-relevant products, and developed into something that’s not the Holy Trilogy, or even the Unholy Trilogy, but an Extended Universe with its own cast, its own events, and its own identity.
We’re calling it SWEEF.
South West Engineering and Environmentalist Forum.
We’re getting engineers, environmental scientists, architects, local community groups, students, professionals and the public all into the same arena to see if we can work hard to make things faster, better, stronger in our urban environment.
‘We’ initially was just P and I. We started talking to other people though. In the last few months ‘we’ has grown to a few of our old and some newer ones too.
Indescribable moment 4
Our focus is distinctly local. Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Bristol. Having got to know some of the people I’ve met through my work on here, most of you are not even on the same continent, let alone the same coast, but please. Rack your brains, and push the word out through any channel you have available. We’ve just started getting our act together, but we’ve done our part as fast as we can. If you can help us out then maybe we’ll get everything back on track before we’re living like Mad Max.
The planet is facing the greatest problems it’s ever faced, ever. So whatever you do don’t be bored. This is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.
P.S. I know that a few people who might see this are out in Ohio studying the Biomimicry PhD at the University of Akron. I applied to the course, and was accepted, but unfortunately, my Weltanschauung (thanks Suzanna/Jonas!) of “Do absolutely everything” isn’t perfect this time.
Special thanks to Peter for helping me out with the application process, and to Alëna Iouguina for all the support she’s offered the Biomimicron. One day I’m sure our real life paths will cross, and not just our virtual ones.
(Incidentally, the point at which I was accepted was indescribable moment 5.)