So this is where everything is supposed to be finished and bundled up in neat little packets ready to be sent out into the world for people to unwrap and enjoy. Except, well, things have not exactly worked out as planned. I have plenty to show for where I am, most of which will become available over the next few months, so please come back from time to time to see updates
The first and most important thing that has resulted from these projects is the many friends that I have made among the data fellows. There really are some special people out there who are just so thoughtful, and creative, and friendly, and patient, and caring, and interesting, and interested, and inspiring, and humble, and odd in the best possible ways. The major thing that struck me about the cohort ( I won’t name individuals for fear of embarrassment) is just how encouraging they were. Not in the American way of exclaiming how amazing everything is, but rather in a more thoughtful way that showed how much attention they had invested in your work. Pointing out little things you’d said; phrases that resonated, or took them off on another path. Almost every time these were things that I, or other fellows, had not noticed in our own work or didn’t think were important, and it is only really when I started looking back at my time with this cohort that I noticed how much this had happened. So, thank you, all of you for changing the course of all of our fellowships in some way. You are all lovely people.
On to my outputs…
An Assortment Of Things
Back in the summer I gave a talk to Pervasive media studios alongside two such colleagues Pete Quin Davis and Kathy Hinde titled Data Nature. The talk and subsequent panel discussion (which can be found here). focussed on looking at data from nature in unconventional ways. It was during the preparation of this talk that I first noticed the particular form of encouragement and support that us data fellows specialise in and I am so grateful to Pete and Kathy for getting me involved in this in the first place. There are many ways to use and measure data, most of which connect human experience to systems that are intended to deliver change. It was unusual for me to give a talk to a non-scientific audience and I really enjoyed it. The panel afterwards was also enlightening and inspired me to pursue my ‘Authors project’ In the natural world and in human health, there are connections between what we observe in nature and what we sense through other means that can change us. From a Biological perspective, whether we know it or not, we seek stability, to adapt to our current situation. We seek a “new normal”; whatever that happens to be at any given time. By sensing and adapting to our environment, we are in turn, better placed to make sense of and respond to further change
Over the last year along with several colleagues in the school of science, we have formed a new research group focussing on Life, Health and sustainable environments. During the inaugural round of public talks Myself and an Invited speaker (Kathy Hinde fitted the bill perfectly and I’m sure that she’ll be involved in some of our upcoming research once things get off the ground. For the time being the pages of the LHSE are not available to the public, but all will be revealed once the (currently delayed) 2021 Research Excellence Framework is completed.
I have Been busy talking to my colleagues at Bath Spa and have some collaborations up and running with the Travel and Nature writing MA course and have contributed to a writing exercise. I am also in discussions with the Creative writing BSc course to do something similar
A research project with one of my dissertation students who is a joint honours student between Creative writing and Biology (how lucky was I to found him!) is examining the effect of light condition on the creative process whereby a group of writers undertake creative exercises under controlled light conditions. I hope to publish this work in the Autumn
In November 2020, I was fortunate enough to gain a residency at the Studio Palace yard Mews, but due to the restrictions and subsequent lockdown I have yet to be able to take this up.
The Authors Project
The main focus of my fellowship is something that has been postponed, rejigged, rescheduled and reformulated many times. The authors project seeks to interview nature writers in situ, taking them through areas and environments that they have covered in their work and revisiting it along with the extra detail supplied by a state of the art spectrometer. It’s a year long project that will run in the weeks either side of the spring and summer equinox, as well as the longest and shortest days of the year. I’m planning on recording these and releasing them a series of podcasts along with a summary of the light data collected during each one
Unfortunately, I have been unable to have the risk assessments signed off for for use during the COVID-19, pandemic, but I have several authors ready for a nice long walk, once the restrictions on field research are lifted. As part of this project and through conversation with some of these authors, I have had an Invitation to appear physically on a Podcast in the spring and am also in the process of writing an application for funding for a PhD student to carry on with this work as I think that it has the potential to be far bigger than just a series of audio interviews. Please do feel free to get in contact if you are interested in taking part in this work or working in this area of research.
The Sun Also Rises
When I first started to think about this final blog, I was a little disheartened by the delays, cancellations and postponements to so many parts of my work. Had I made the most of the situation? Could I have done more, or should I just be grateful to survive the year? Putting all the areas of my work in writing, in one place, has allowed me to reflect on the experience of how the work came to be and how it evolved. All of which was in ways that I don’t think that I would have produced on my own. As I come to the end of this fellowship I realise that I have achieved the one thing that I set about to do from the beginning; to find a new way to work and to grow my passion for research into new and exciting areas.