Chris Gibson's blog

Reflections on Cultural Mapping Lounge @ Viva La Gong

On Saturday Nov 7th a team of CAMRA researchers (Chris Gibson, Andrew Warren and Ben Gallan from UOW; Lisa Andersen and Josh Edwards from UTS) staffed a stall at the Viva La Gong festival in Wollongong. We asked festival attendees to spend a few minutes of their day with us to record their views about where 'cool' and 'creative' Wollongong was in their city. We recorded what they said on MP3 recorders, and asked them to draw on maps as they described in words where 'cool' and 'creative' Wollongong was in their minds.

Where is cool and creative Wollongong?

A postcard campaign is under way in Wollongong from today, encouraging the public to participate in a cultural mapping process as part of the CAMRA project. From this, we can build a better picture of the creative industries in Wollongong - from a grass-roots perspective - and what places and activities people think make Wollongong an interesting place to live.

There are four ways you can participate:

1. Join us in the Mapping Lounge @ Viva La Gong: Sat 7 Nov 2009 at McCabe Park

Bogans: curse or cultural asset?

Last week the local Wollongong media ran stories about how the suburb of Albion Park has appeared in a list of the national Top 10 most bogan places.

Far from being embarrassed or angry, local residents have embraced the new tag. The local newsagent ran a 'Bogan-day' on which locals turned up to buy the paper in flannies and ugg boots, and since then the local talk-back radio has been filled with callers debating whether or not the 'bogan' tag is something to be angry about (a term of derision, simply illustrating middle-class snobbery elsewhere?) or a source of local pride.

Festivals in rural and regional communities

One of my research threads has been on the significance of festivals for rural communities. I hope to see this thread continue to blossom under the CAMRA banner as our project progresses.

A report for public consumption, based on a previous ARC grant I held from 2005-2008 (with fellow CAMRA-man, Jim Walmsley), has been released and is available both online and in hard copy.

'Culture' for regional development: has the coin dropped?

On Monday and Tuesday I was at the Australian Regional Economies Conference in Parkes, NSW. Invited to give a keynote about my research on the significance and contribution of festivals to rural and regional communities, it was also an opportunity to reflect on what recognition there is for 'culture' amongst regional development thinkers.

At the conference were people from many different backgrounds: council economic development officers; state government folk; shire mayors; businesspeople (and myself and my colleague John Connell as the token academics!).

Cultural mapping using real maps

One thing the project will explore is how we use maps to store, analyse and convey information about cultural assets in regions. We know alot about qualitative research methods, but only recently are we starting to mesh these with actual mapping technologies. Options include using Web 2.0 platforms like Google Maps, or even in-car GPS systems, all the way through to state-of-the-art Geographical Information Systems (which we can thankfully appropriate from the scientists!).

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