Its that time when we look back over the year just gone, and forward to the year to come. So here’s a round-up of what the Grant Rule Trust got up to in 2015 and what we’re involved in for 2016.
2015 started with one Trustee in Pakistan, one in Newcastle and the other in Kent. However, this did not prevent us from discussing and progressing the work of the Trust. We have refreshed the website to better reflect our support for the “balanced capital” approach to cultivating inclusive communities and continue to research ideas about how to measure, promote and celebrate a balanced and sustainable approach to life, the planet, and everything.
Grant Rule Trust Events 2015
We ran a number of events last year, starting off on Friday 7th March with “The Rise of Captain Swing”, a show written by Tonbridge folk singer/songwriter Bob Kenward. In words and songs, Bob tells the story of the Captain Swing riots of the 1830s, when dispossessed tenant farmers rose up in violent protest against the tyranny of the landowners. Sue Watson, Liz Randall, Roger Resch, and Alan Castle joined Bob to perform the show at St. John’s United Reformed Church, Marsh Green.
It was a very enjoyable evening, which raised £83 for the Trust after costs had been deducted.
On 28 May Round House Folk once more contributed the music for our now traditional pre-Folk Ale ceilidh at Markbeech Village Hall, ‘A Dance For Grant’.
The music continued over the weekend of Friday 28 – Sunday 31 May for the 13th Pigs Ear Folk Ale. We failed to get the weather order quite right, with temperatures more like March than May, but other than that the festival was a great success. Keith Rule did his usual masterful work organizing the wealth of local musical talent into a varied and interesting programme, and an army of volunteers too numerous to mention put up/took down tents, sold tickets, stewarded campsites, MC’d, hosted sessions, fetched, carried and shifted willingly and cheerfully to ensure the magic happened. Special mention is in order for Chris Basford, who provided a superb sound system in the marquee; Charles Laver who always supplies the lights; St John’s United Reformed Church who loan us chairs and tables, and the usual army of elves in the shape of Ian Blackford and the Lingfield Scout Support Crew who put up and take down the marquee “just like that”.
The Folk Ale runs as a self-contained entity, with monies from ticket sales covering the costs associated with running the festival. However, Folk Ale volunteers staffed a bar in Markbeech village hall throughout the festival, and the Trust benefitted by £241 from the sale of dance tickets and bar sales.
Arrangements are underway for the 2016 Folk Ale, with Alan Austen, Linda Smith and James Kerry recruited to the committee, replacing John and Jan Barden who stepped down due to John’s health issues. They join continuing committee members, Amanda Hedges, Keith Rule, Sue Rule, Lyndsey Rule, Andy Blackburn, Andy Lower & Liz Lower.
We decided to use the 3rd Grant Rule Memorial Concert, held on 10th October 2015, to promote House of Lost Souls, the band Lyndsey put together during her Masters degree course at Newcastle University. House of Lost Souls made a huge impact at the Folk Ale (for some people, not only those related to Lyndsey, they were the highlight of the weekend) so we thought we’d give them an evening in concert to further promote them to a southern audience. Also on the bill were popular local folk group Sloe Gin.
The concert was a magnificent occasion, and very much enjoyed by a highly appreciative audience of about 50 people. HOLS won new fans, and made some useful contacts. Thanks to the generous terms on which St John’s URC allow us to use the church for these events, the Trust achieved its financial goal of breaking even – with two bands to pay for, it was unlikely that the event would generate a financial return. We haven’t yet found a way to measure the profit in social capital it generated.
Our final event of the year was on Friday 4th December, also at St. John’s Church. “Now ‘Ere’s A Story!” was a celebration of Music Hall written and performed by Mitch Feral, with Jo Strimmer on the piano. It was a highly entertaining and informative show, though unfortunately we failed to generate much of an audience for it. Thanks to Mitch’s generosity, we managed to break even on this event.
Lyndsey, Helen and I met up in Newcastle for a few days in June to spend some family time together and discuss the Trust. We agreed to revise the website to better reflect our support for the “Five Capitals” approach to creating sustainable, inclusive and prosperous communities.
We also spent some time working on a presentation on the Five Capitals, which I delivered to Tom Gilb’s annual, week-long “Gilbfest” seminar on 22nd June. There was some interesting discussion and feedback from the software and value measurement specialists gathered at Gilbfest, which will be valuable to us in taking forward the work of the Trust.
On 10th & 11th November, Lyndsey and I attended Tom Gilb’s workshop ‘Start Up Planning for Entrepreneurs’, held at the premises of the British Computer Society (BCS) in London. Tom’s approach to quantifying value is potentially extremely useful to the Trust, but we need to do further work on it. In particular, it made us realize that we need to refine the objectives of the Trust further, so that they can be broken down and quantified. This will begin to give us measures of balanced capital relevant to the Trust’s activities.
In September, we held the first ever Trust exhibition stall at a Motor Show organized by the Edenbridge Chamber of Commerce. This was a family day out, held at Gabriel’s Farm, Edenbridge. The stall featured some of our partner organisations including Friends of Eden’s Meadows, Edenbridge Area Traidcraft and Sustainable Edenbridge (specifically, promoting the latter’s forthcoming Apple Festival).
The stall was “manned” by myself, Lyndsey and Jean Gibbons, who brought some Traidcraft items to sell. We also had second-hand instruments on sale, and ran a lucky dip, raising £28 for Trust funds. However, the main purpose was to raise awareness of the Trust and its objectives in the local community, and to generate creative conversations. While we only engaged with a handful of people, it was a pleasant day out, and a worthwhile exercise in helping us understand better how to present the Trust and communicate our aims.
During the course of the year, the Pig’s Ear PA kit was hired out on 4 occasions, generating £300 for Trust funds. Andy Blackburn has taken a key role in maintaining the PA kit and managing the hiring of it. Thanks also to James Kerry (former recipient of a Trust bursary to attend Folkworks Summer School) who generated the bookings, and also took on setting up and using the kit. We did have to get the kit PAT-tested, the cost of which was shared by the hirer, Frank Smith.
Last but by no means least, the remaining members of the Pigs Ear folk group (originally Grant, Sue, Keith and Lyndsey Rule) have formed Free Range Folk, a loose collection of local folk musicians who get together to play for the local events and good causes Pig’s Ear used to get involved with. Free Range Folk were out and about on a number of occasions in 2015, including Kent Wildlife Trust Festival of Wildlife, various special visitor days at Bough Beech Reserve, and Sustainable Edenbridge Apple Fair. Thanks again to James Kerry, we also played at Edenbridge & Oxted Show on August Bank Holiday weekend, the fee for which was donated to Trust funds.
While I have the leisure to pursue Trust activities directly, the experience of both the other Trustees is invaluable in shaping our work and our objectives, so I thought it worth including a few words about them.
Helen continues to work for the Department for International Development, which brings a whole new insight to Trust matters. In recent years, she has worked on DfID programmes in Pakistan, Somalia and Syria and also studied humanitarian work in conflict zones.
Lyndsey is currently working as Farm and Site Trainee at Chiltern Open Air Museum, having achieved her Masters in Music from Newcastle University during 2015. Although this may seem like a change of direction, I am sure Lyndsey’s interest in our emotional and spiritual connection to the land as expressed through music will be enhanced by a greater practical understanding of how farming used to be done. She is still active musically (when the ploughing and haymaking allow!), with the release of House of Lost Souls first CD due imminently. We hope she – and House of Lost Souls – will be able to take a full and active role in this year’s Folk Ale.
Bearing in mind our remit of “cultivating inclusive communities”, there are three “communities” where I will be active on the Trust’s behalf in the next few months:
- Music and musicians, with an emphasis on traditional folk music
- My local community of Edenbridge
- Sustainability and environmentalism
The Trust plans to be involved in organizing the Pig’s Ear Folk Ale and Dance for Grant in June 2016, and to run another Grant Rule Memorial Concert in October. However, generating sufficient audiences for the additional events we ran in 2015 proved something of a struggle, so we don’t plan to repeat the Spring or Christmas events this year. We rather plan to support others who are planning events in the local area.
I am in the process of evolving what was formerly the newsletter for Pigs Ear (“Pignews”) into a regular bulletin promoting live music in the local area under the title “Live on the Border”. You can subscribe to this newsletter on the home page of the Grant Rule Trust website.
During 2015, I continued to work with Sustainable Edenbridge to research and promote ideas of sustainability, and with Edenbridge Area Traidcraft, promoting fair trade around the world. At the end of the year, I volunteered to take on the role of Chairman of Sustainable Edenbridge, and was elected at a delayed AGM held on Thursday 7th January 2016. The group plans to run a series of public talks on various aspects of sustainability during the year with the aim of increasing membership of the group. Details of the programme are available from www.sustainableedenbridge.org.
During 2015, I represented Sustainable Edenbridge at meetings of the Edenbridge Partnership, a forum for groups and organisations working in the Edenbridge community. One of the issues discussed extensively at Partnership meetings was the matter of communications and co-ordination between the many organisations, clubs, societies and businesses in Edenbridge. There also seemed to be a need for more active promotion of the very active community life of Edenbridge, which related to the difficulties I experienced in getting word out about the Trust concerts run during the past year. I have therefore created a Trust project to set up a community website, enjoyedenbridge.co.uk, focused on promoting what’s on in Edenbridge and the Eden Valley. The Trust will fund the set-up costs and regular updates to the site for a period of 12 months, after which time it is hoped that advertising revenues will cover on-going costs. I anticipate that promoting this site and the service it offers will enable me to open conversations with the various people in the Edenbridge community and find out what further role – if any – the Trust might be able to play.
Through the good offices of Gill Humble and the Edenbridge Business Innovation Zone, the Trust has engaged a young man who has recently completed his University degree in computing to create and manage the Enjoy Edenbridge site until he secures a full-time position which will further his career. He is really interested in getting into the computer games business, so if anyone knows of any openings, do let me know.
We also aim to work with BIZ to provide event promotion services to local community groups. BIZ is an initiative set up by Gill Humble early in 2015, to help young people who are finding the transition from education into work difficult, whether through learning difficulties, lack of confidence, or a troubled past. BIZ initially employed three young people, with the aim of creating an enterprise that would keep them usefully employed in a supportive atmosphere. It is an amazing, dynamic, and fun place to be and Gill Humble has overcome some real challenges to get it up and running as quickly and successfully as she has. There have been some knotty problems and setbacks along the way, and I have acted as sounding board and tried to offer moral support and useful advice, but mainly just stood back admiring Gill’s energy and commitment. We hope 2016 will see BIZ thrive and continue to build confidence and skills in the young people it serves.
Sustainability and Environmentalism.
We are continuing to research and gather knowledge about sustainability, in relation to our commitment to “balanced capital thinking”. Helen and I attended a meeting of the Guardian Sustainable Business Group on 12th January, and we continue to look for networking and learning opportunities as well as working with Sustainable Edenbridge.
In an extraordinary coincidence, in December 2015, I was contacted through the Trust website by Nick Winder, the leader of a project called COMPLEX. COMPLEX is an EU funded project that has brought together an international team of 17 partners across 11 European countries to explore new energy technologies, new ways of using landscapes and new policy instruments to support the transition towards a low carbon society.
Nick’s enquiry was actually about Grant’s courting dulcimer, which is advertised for sale on the Trust website. However, in the course of correspondence, he shared a paper on the work of his project, which he thought we might be interested in. You can download a copy from the Knowledge Bank page at the Trust website www.grantrule.org/knowledge-bank
Following a further exchange of emails, Nick has invited me to attend the close-of-project meeting and conference in Sigtuna, Sweden, from 19th – 21st January 2016.
So, a busy and interesting year ahead for all of us. I am pretty confident Grant would have approved.