Last year, I had a bizarre idea which came to fruition. Now, I’ve got another one, which may, or may not, go in the same direction.
In February 2010, I ran the Social Media Train event (see here and here). This started off with what I thought was a silly idea, and ended up, on a snowy February day, with a large group of people turning up for an unconference in Sheffield and then piling onto a train to do stuff with social media as the vehicle rattled it’s way to Huddersfield and back.
The genesis of this idea was my frustration at spending a lot of time on that particular train route, which, in the winter, rattles for 90 minutes through the dark, seemingly stopping at every small village in the Pennines. I suppose it was about putting to bed one of my pet hates, or even fears, and enlisting the support of my social media networks in doing so. Hopefully, those who came got something out of it too.
So, this idea has a similar root. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that another pet hate of mine is Wakefield Kirkgate station . I have dubbed it the worst station in the country, although I think somewhere else was officially given that title (if so, I can’t believe the judges ever visited Wakefield Kirkgate). Some people think I am joking about Wakefield Kirkgate, but, it’s neglected, wind-swept, desolate environment is a stark reality, particularly to the woman who was raped there in 2008.
So, like last year’s Penistone Line journey, This idea involves trains, social media, and slaying some demons. And, there’s a serious point to it as well. I have no idea what the people of Wakefield are doing to tackle the problems of Westgate station, I have chatted to some people in the council, and I know there are plans afoot, although whether these have withstood the public sector funding cuts, I don’t know. But, if we can do a little bit to help kick start a process of a wider public awareness of the state of the station, and, perhaps, encourage others to take an interest in its future, then we will have done some good. Maybe we won’t do any of this, but we could have a good time any way.
As I’m writing this, I haven’t actually been to the station for several months, and I certainly haven’t checked out how feasible what I am proposing is. I will do that soon, but, meanwhile, here goes. I am proposing that we hold an event at the station on the Pecha Kucha format (Leeds colleagues will know this as the Betta Kultcha format). These events are fun and informal evenings where a succession of speakers present to 20 slides which move on at 15 or 20 second intervals. They are quirky and ribald, with lots of audience participation. I think it is just the sort of event to brighten up a horrible environment and start the process of getting people to change their attitudes about a place.
Now, as I say, I have some work to do to work out the practicalities of this. When I initially thought about it, my idea was to run the event on the central platform island, on a warm spring / summer’s evening. But, then I thought, if we’re doing slide presentations, we need power. I don’t know if we could bring power to that part of the station (anyone got a portable generator?). There are buildings on the site, but I have got an idea that they are unsafe and not able to be used. And, of course, even if we solve the power issue, there is the weather.
Still, I am going to press on and see if all this is feasible. If I did it, would anyone come?