'Snow scenes: exploring the role of place in weather memories"

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography

Abstract

Research background/ context
The concept of place has been seen as providing more meaning to a spatial location by "endowing it with value" (Tuan, 1977 : 6), not only through naming (Edwardes, 2009) but by attempting to understand the place values used by people in appreciating, enjoying, and valuing the environment (Kruger and Jakes, 2003; Norton and Hannon, 1997; Ehrenfeld, 1993). Capturing a richer picture of a person's in-field experience involves measurement of physical properties of a spatial location as only the first step, the next challenge being to acknowledge a greater 'sense of place' and to represent "the memories, experiences and patterns of behaviour we associate with that locale" (Ciolfi, 2004). Moving or walking through a place, however, is thought be significant in helping to build a multi sensual experience of that place while novel technologies are opening up new opportunities for people to narrate, layer, intervene in and contribute to these experiences of places as they move through them (Butler, 2007). In this project, we are interested in developing innovative public engagement methodologies, including locative media technology, that will allow us to gain a better understanding of how a sense of place informs, and is informed by, popular understanding of local climate and weather.
Place has been pivotal to the production, reception and circulation of climate knowledge in the past (Naylor, 2006) and continues to inform how contemporary climate debates are framed. Recent surveys are also suggesting that discourses about climate change need necessarily to be situated within people's locality, as a means of increasing its saliency. Local circumstances, the "everyday experiences and locality", or the situated nature of climate are increasingly being recognised as fundamental to understanding how the public perceives, responds and adapts to climate change (Lorenzoni and Pigeon, 2006: 80; Palutikoff et al., 2004). Particular relational contexts - the places people live and work, their histories, cultures or values - have been identified as critical for understanding how different groups of people in different cultural contexts comprehend weather and climate (Slocum, 2004). Place can also make scientific histories of weather and climate more meaningful to wider publics, by situating knowledge and the work and ideas of particular actors within their geographical, social and cultural contexts (Elwood and Martin, 2000). There have been recent calls for reconsidering "what climate means for people and places and the relationships between people and places over time" (Hulme 2008: 7), with emphasis being placed on particularizing experiences of climate change through investigations of the impacts of weather at the local level (Livingstone, 2012). The proposed collaborative project seeks to address this imperative by exploring innovative ways in which public understanding and experiences of local weather, and specifically experiences and impacts of snow and unusually severe winters, can be captured, represented and shared. One of our specific goals is to develop multimedia based mobile phone applications to test how stories and experiences (based on archive/oral history material) can mix with participants' own thoughts and experiences while in the field and moving through a particular space. These methodologies will help to capture the way in which people, and communities value places (Hein et al., 2008), something that is of increasing value to policy makers, planners and designers in the environmental and tourism sectors.

Work to date
The proposed work capitalises on research conducted as part of two projects funded under the Enhancing the Role of Arts and Humanities Perspectives on Environmental Values and Change initiative. Both projects have investigated records, accounts and memories of past weather and climate in remote areas of upland Britain created during the twentieth century. 'Snows of Yesteryear' has gathered memories of extreme weather in Wales from the general public, through a presence at public events, an online blog (http://eira.llgc.org.uk/), twitter account and local/regional media, the project receiving publicity through BBC news and on local BBC radio. In addition, hundreds of pages of archival material has been digitised and made freely available online through the photo-sharing site Flickr. These materials (journals, diaries, almanacs and literary works) are all housed in the National Library of Wales, and all contain valuable documentary evidence relating to experiences of past winters in Wales. The public memories from the archival research have been developed into a performance work which provides historical context and understanding of the ways that communities have experienced, responded to, and survived extreme events through resilience and adaptability. 'Weather Walks, Weather Talks' has similarly collected popular memories and opinions on weather and climate change through interviews with members of the general public (Weather Talks,(http://www.talkingjobs.net/player/poweredby.cfm?brandLink=climate&key=qwerty), and, in its second part (Weather Walks), has focused on experiences and records of the weather at Great Dun Fell in the north Pennines, particularly focusing on the archival and published materials of climatologist Gordon Manley (1902-1980). The creative output of this project is a narrated walk for the RGS-IBG 'Discovering Britain' series (http://www.discoveringbritain.org/) which is accompanied by an experimental mobile phone application that incorporates a route map with a variety of media including audio, text, image and video, all inspired by the archival materials consulted.

Reasons for collaboration
Both projects have used archival materials relating to weather and climate to engage with the general public on environmental change and related issues. For 'Snows of Yesteryear' through social media channels and public performance, and, for 'Weather Walks, Weather Talks' in the form of interviews, a narrated walk and mobile phone application). Identifying the most effective methods of translation of archival materials into digital resources is a key focus of the proposed collaboration. Here there is a strong case to be made for comparing and sharing resources, expertise and methods between the two teams, in order to expand regional pictures of past weather and climate, and to maximise the dissemination and impact of the research already completed. The geographical locations chosen by both teams have resulted in cold winter weather, particularly snow, dominating the narratives in the research materials utilised by both projects. The present projects thus share an interest in severe winters and snow falls in upland Britain during the twentieth century and the 'snow champions' that have observed, recorded, and tackled them. Recent harsh winters (from 2008-2009 and 2009-2010) experienced in Britain have resulted in snow re-entering both the public imagination and the policy and planning spheres of local and national government. 2011 saw community snow wardens (equipped with salt, shovels and vests) recruited in York, Devon, North Lincolnshire, Sandwell and other places, with similar initiatives in place for the coming winter at a growing number of local councils, including a widely reported appeal for 'Snow Champions' in Cumbria, and a government campaign 'Get ready for winter'. Although predictions indicate that snow falls across Britain will be reduced as a result of global climatic change, snow presently remains a weather phenomenon that is loved and enjoyed, yet also feared for the disruption it causes, particularly in regard to mobility and transport.
Gordon Manley, the central figure of 'Weather Walks, Weather Talks' project conducted extensive research into snow in Britain utilising the records of early weather observers (often in the form of diaries and journals similar to tho
 
Title Snow Scenes Exhibition 
Description An exhibition of composite snow scenes, past and present based on the Joseph Hardman photographic collection based at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Public engagement and involvement with the project 
URL http://lakelandarts.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/snow-scenes-exhibition-abbot-hall-coffee-house/
 
Description Outputs are currently being prepared, but the project has allowed us to engage a variety of publics in discusison about extreme weather and weather memories with a view to excploring how experiential understanding of weather, specifically when linked to place, can inform popular understanding of climate change.
We drew on the findings to inform part of an exhibition managed and curated by Manchester Museum on 'Climate control'. (held between April / May 2016 and August 2016). Digital composite images produced as part of this project were on public display at the exhibition. We also conducted an extended postcard/ memory initiative during the exhibition whereby people attending the exhibition had the opportunity to write down their memories on a weather related postcard which we designed for the exhibition. We are in the process of analysising the 500 plus weather memories written by the public onto the postcards that resulted from the work.
Exploitation Route We have developed and trialed a multi-platform public engagement methodology that can be applied in other projects including our own. We have also developed a walk for the Discovering Britain initiative of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers. This is a publicly available guided audio walk, currently being finalised.
Sectors Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.abbothall.org.uk/coffee-house-exhibitions
 
Description Our findings were used in an exhibition being run by Manchester Museum, entitled Climate Control. We had a display of composite digital images from the project at this exhibition which will ran from spring 2016 to Autumn 2016 at Manchester Museum. We also conducted a postcard based weather memory activity through which the public recorded their weather memories on a postcard, We are in the process of analysing this material now.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Collaboration with Royal Geographical Society with the INstitute of British Geographers 
Organisation Royal Geographical Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution We are providing material which will be used for the preparation of educational resources for Geography teaching in Schools
Collaborator Contribution They are helping to identify the most appropriate material and case study material for use in educational resources
Impact This is still in development
Start Year 2013
 
Description Manchester Museum 
Organisation University of Manchester
Department Manchester Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project findings and some of the project media were used in a puiblic exhibition on Climate Control held at the Manchester Museum, Manchester, between May and August 2016.
Collaborator Contribution Manchester Museum provided space and support in kind for a postcard experiment we ran as part of the exhibition
Impact We have in excess of 500 weather memory postcards completed as part of the exhibition and which will provide the basis for a piece of additional research. The curator and PI of the project are in conversation over a potential PhD studentship (AHRC CDA).
Start Year 2016
 
Description Community event in Appleby, Cumbria 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and involvement with the project

We received lots of weather memories through our various channels following the event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/snowscenes/2014/03/10/exploring-images-of-snow-and-winter-past-2/
 
Description Discovering Britain audio walk 2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This is a publicly available audio guided walk through the environmental and climate history of the Strata Florida Abbey region of Central Wales produced for the Royal Geographical Society- with the Institute of British Geographer's Discovering Britain initiative

This is currently being completed but it is intended to have an impact on public engagement with the environmental history of the Strata Florida region
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation on Snow Scenes at WCEH 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked lots of questions and discussion

the presentation led to an on line article about the development of work on composite photography
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://environmentalhistory.net/field-notes/2014-hall/