Really pleased to announced that the Oral History Society now has a new environment and climate change special interest group to bring together oral historians interested in climate change and environmental issues. The group, set up by myself, Shelley Trower and Padmini Broomfield is open to all members of the Oral History Society. We hope the group will stimulate debate, information sharing and the creation of new oral history projects that relate to environmental and climate change issues. If you are not already a member of the Oral History Society please do join and join us as we grow the group. Follow this blog and our twitter feeds for news about the group but for detailed info about what the group wants to do please visit
My article Voices from a disused quarry: change making, class dynamics and technological experimentation at the Centre for Alternative Technology has been published in Oral History: The Journal of the Oral History Society. Join the Oral History Society here to subscribe or download a pre-edited version of the article here. This is a peer reviewed 7000 word academic article and goes into much more analytical depth than anything else I’ve written on the subject. It places CAT’s history in its wider social and historical context.
I’m very pleased to announce that my book Voices from a disused quarry is published today. The book tells the story of the Centre for Alternative Technology through the oral history testimony of the people who were closest to it: workers, members, friends and neighbours. Based on over 100 interviews conducted during a three year oral history project the book explores CAT’s history of technological development, it’s unique co-operative working structure, its place in Wales and the Dyfi Valley and it’s search for an environmental philosophy based on scientific understanding. The book is available from http://store.cat.org.uk/ and as an ebook from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-disused-quarry-Alternative-Technology-ebook/ Also today we are launching a new website which helps users uncover CAT’s substantial archive of documents, digital and oral history interviews now kept at the National Library of Wales. Visit it here.
Publication date announced for Voices from a disused quarry: an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology
The Centre for Alternative Technology will be officially publishing Voices from a disused quarry: an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology on September 3rd, 2015. The book is part of the ongoing Voices from a disused quarry oral history project and features oral history testimonies from over 60 project participants, plus words from me and over 75 photographs. For more information click on Books above and check out News and Dates for details of talks and events.
Last year Ariana Jordao and myself hosted five artists in residence at the Centre for Alternative Technology, enabling them to come up with a creative response to the considerable archive of oral history interviews collected through the Voices from a disused quarry project, now archived at the National Library of Wales. Two of the artists – Christine Mills and Carlos Pinattii – collaborated to create an art installation based around a table tennis table, which they named Receive and Return. We receive from the earth so we must also return something to the earth (in the sense of giving something back). On Friday we were extremely pleased to attend an event in a Bangor shopping centre where five students of composition at Bangor University presented five different musical pieces based around the themes in Receive and Return as part of Bangor Music Festival. I’ll post more about it next week and put some photos up but whilst its fresh in mind I just wanted to note that Receive and Return has taken an interesting creative journey. The central element – a map of the world – was first created in a three day workshop working with clay and plaster moulds, before being digitalised and layered as a piece of vinyl on to a table tennis table and given a surround sound video accompaniment. And now the piece has a musical layer to it. The creative process can unfold in many different directions and I wonder where it will go next but this idea of starting something in the very physical world of clay and plaster and continuing it in the spiritual world of music is very interesting. One student created a piece using instruments and the table itself, with two players playing a game in time with the music. I could picture this on a grander scale with a ping pong table in a concert hall in Wales and a full orchestra.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve blogged but I’m happy to say that I’m kickstarting the blog again. My life has changed quite a bit in the last two years. I’ve moved house so there won’t be any more posts about my steep shady garden looking over the flood plain of the Dyfi valley. I’m now living with four friends in a housing co-op in Machynlleth with a big garden and lots of life, both human, animal and plant. Incredibly its south facing with a big open aspect, and we’ve got raised beds and a polytunnel to grow in. But a lot of other things have changed in my life too and I want to reflect this in the blog.
During the last three years I have been working on an oral history project about the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). You can find out more about this at http://archive.cat.org.uk For the last few months I have been writing a book about the project Voices from a disused quarry – an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology. This will be published and launched towards the end of May.
So although there may well be blogs about gardening in the future it’s also likely that I’ll be posting about oral history, politics, arts, theatre, environmental change, environmental history, swing dancing (a significant passion!), co-op living and any other subject I think people might be interested in knowing about. So come back and join me soon. All the best, Allan
And that was the start is the name we’ve given to the first CAT Oral History Project podcast, telling the story of the first year of CAT through the voices of the people who were there at the time. The podcast includes the voices of local people who saw this strange group of people arrive in the Dyfi Valley and some of the workers and volunteers who started the work of transforming the disused quarry. Have a listen here.