Thursday 7 June 2012

Conference Update: IWA /CRT waterways volunteering conference (Feb 2012)

A major event within the waterways world is the transition of British Waterways into the third sector. A real example of the ‘Big Society’ restoring this National treasure into the custody of the Nation. A joint conference had been orgainsed by the Inland Waterways Association and the emerging Canal and River Trust. Invitations had been extended to waterways organisations. The canal side was brought to life on a cold February morning by over 150 waterways interested enthusiasts. We had been asked to provide an ‘image’ and a short paragraph explaining what that image meant to us (see image and text below). The photographs were proudly displayed around the conference centre and demonstrated decades of fighting – either nature or beaucroacy - to restore the waterways.
The start of a highly organized day commenced with the workshops breaking out to study the photographs and choose one image. I was struck by the fact that a lot were of structures some brought to life by people but very few featured a boat!” The intensity of the day did not slacken but whilst we all came from a different start point we all shared a common destination – the recognition and importance of the waterways – but people are at its heart.
The day was summed up by Lynne Berry, a transitional trustee of the new charity. -“The canals were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and now they are at the start of a Social Revolution” When I get home and my family ask “what have you done to-day?”  I will be able to tell “We had a cup of tea, we nattered and we started a revolution.”
More Than Just a Boat - this is the image and text (below) that we shared and discussed at the conference

More than just a boat
The waterways corridor is the gateway and the boat the key that unlocks the door allowing a variety of people to enter into a world, which has always been there - but they have never experienced.

The pace of the journey introduces the individual to landscapes, vegetation, wildlife, heritage, architecture and creativity whilst enabling communication with each other and nature.

It is used as a means to improve interaction between generations, cultures and communities acting as a catalyst for personal development.

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