University of Bristol: Bridging Histories project helps city explore its past

Bridging Histories will take people of all ages through a series of free educational activities to connect with others, learn about the past, and create positive change for the future.

The open-to-all project will encourage individuals or groups such as schools or streets to share what they create on the Bridging Histories website.

Among the activities within the project are sharing ‘I am from’ poems and pictures, sharing a recipe and a story to go with it, finding out about the history of your street; learning something new about your family history; being a monument detective; and being a changemaker – doing something simple to make a positive change in yourself or the world around you.

Participants will automatically be entered into the Summer Stars Competition and the Changemakers Competition, with the winners of the Changemaker Competition receiving £100 – £1,000 and a session with a mentor to develop their changemaking further.

Winners of the Summer Stars competition will receive £100 and a chance to feature in a Summer Stars series, where people from different walks of life will be hosted to share what they have made and talk about their experiences. By completing four or more activities, Bristol participants will also be eligible for a Certificate of Participation from the University of Bristol.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Everyone experiences the consequences of the past differently. The Bridging Histories project will help us all build a better understanding of Bristol’s story by learning about our origins and our journey. Part of the process will involve looking at significant events and their meanings and making sure we share stories with generations to come. This work will be an important step in helping us live with difference.”

Bridging Histories will also soon be launching in London and learning groups in cities and countries globally will be joining over the summer and upcoming year.

Co-chairs of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, Deputy Mayor’s Debbie Weekes-Bernard and Justine Simons OBE said: “Our diversity is our greatest strength so it’s important that we learn about all aspects of our past. By listening to the voices and experiences of others, we can be properly informed about our history and use this to help shape our future. That’s why we are so pleased to see the launch of Bridging Histories in Bristol and London.’’

The Bridging Histories project is directed by Dr Joanna Burch-Brown, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at University of Bristol, and is the first major project of the We Are Bristol History Commission, which was set up last summer to lead conversations to help Bristol to better understand its history and ensure that everyone in the city can share their views on how that is reflected in the future.

Dr Burch-Brown said: “This is about celebrating our city, ourselves and each other, connecting, learning our history, getting new skills, and making a positive difference.

“People from every walk of life will be invited to join in. The project welcomes all ages, political views and social groups, aiming to help people connect with others, learn about the past, and create positive change for the future. We want to tap into peoples’ creativity and expertise. We’ll be helping each other get the tools we need to make positive changes in our communities.

“We’ll start with sharing our own experiences and learning about each other. Then we’ll take a dip into history, and we’ll finish with making a difference in the world today.”

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