After attending and take part in last year’s skyride in Leicester as a media volunteer for Citizen’s Eye community media hube, I decided to come back as a cyclist this year.
Unfortunately – thanks to East Midlands Trains deciding to put on a bus replacement service between Loughborough and Leicester, this wasn’t meant to be – you aren’t suppose to take a bike on the train without booking it (which is frustrating for a 10 minute journey at the best of time) and bikes not allowed on the bus, I had to leave mine at home, get the bus and contribute to the traffic on the road instead (boo!)
Nevertheless, I get to be a media volunteer again and help man the fort at the Phoenix Square where a media centre has been set up by citizen’s eye which aims to cover stories that the official sponsors, Sky, won’t.
For more context about what the media centre does, check out the post I wrote last year, where it was the first of its kind for Citizen’s Eye – and all part of an experiment towards the London 2012 Olympic Games in running an independent media centre for two weeks during the games and as part of #media2012 – a national network of citizen journalists that I am helping to coordinate as part of my PhD.
What’s different from last year?
Apart from the awesome new Ride Leicester volunteer t-shirts, speaking to John Coster (the editor of Citizen’s Eye) and the volunteers who were here last year, the coordination between official event organisers and the media reporters has been practically seamless. Last year, it was all a bit experimental, what with the last minute change of route to go through the (at the time) under-used cultural quarter and past the Phoenix, nobody expected the amount of people to come through the doors of the centre. Logistically, this year they are much more prepared, with extra staff, food stalls outside and offering an event menu for people taking part – which has helped maintain a calmer atmosphere in the space (and definetely good for the Phoenix) – and something to consider next year for those who are taking part in a #media2012 event in a space with an ‘official’ event happening in the background.
Like last year, has been lots of meetings of volunteers ahead of this year’s skyride during the community media cafe that Citizen’s Eye runs on a Tuesday. This year, they’ve had the benefit of hindsight – where they have made the decision not upload everything that has been taken, but instead to select and edit the best of the content which has made everyone feel a lot more calmer and not as pressured to find a wifi connection or be chained to their computer for the entire day. Also, some of the volunteers have decided not to cycle so they can focus on capturing quality content, not just the most content.
Raising awareness for Citizen’s Eye, Community Media Week/Centre and #media2012
I’ve spent a lot of time just promoting citizen’s eye and #media2012 and explaining *exactly* what community media is to the people who have came over to ask what we are doing. Doing this has been really interesting in itself, because I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position where I’ve just chatted to ‘the public’ (I’m careful to use that expression) about the stuff that I normally leave for the internet or for academia or for those who are already part of the thing. It’s funny when somebody asked me “what do you get out of doing this?” – as in, how do you know if it was a success, but actually, there could be two of us here and it would still be a fun and productive way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Just lying around…
I think there is loads to be learned from activities like this – and it is nice to be part of something that relys on people power to *do* stuff- not the corperate sponsors. I’m hoping that *next* year I will finally get to do the ride, even if it means bringing my bike down the night before and camping out.
Edit: Some of the content from the Skyride