Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

Today’s session was on Nomads and Citizens. I thought it was quite interesting – learning about “New Age Travellers” and the movements in Britain in the 80s, which seemed similar to US movements in the 60s, as well as the portrayal of these nomads by the government and media as “others” who were different and like a scourge, who needed to be eradicated. We learned about legislation that has been used to curb the travellers saw some clips of police violence during the travellers’ attempts to have a festival (strangely enough edited out of the original newscast in the 1980s) – makes you wonder about some things. And the media here appears that a lot of it seems to lean slightly right of center (as opposed to what I think about American media being more left of center) – so it’s interesting to compare raw footage of events with the way the British media portrayed events.  Though I think it’s quite interesting for me to link these travellers to the communalists in America in the 1970s and what I’ve learned in STS. While maybe not as nomadic, they did have back to the land, utopian, communal ideas and spiritual experiences through drugs, and things like that. Though it seems to me that many of their communities out in the deserts in America failed to survive because they ran out of money, and had to go back to “regular civilization,” while people in Britain were able (for a while at least) use the welfare system, which probably increased their negative reputation. But in the end, the American communalists searched for their “out of body” experiences in other ways – for instance through computers, and the fledglings of the internet, which was some stuff I learned this past year!

Today was the visit day for new (or looking for a uni) students – tours and everything (I think one walked through our dorm halls), saw Kriss getting ready to do a tour, and the lunch line was very long! But it was alright – had a glazed salmon which was very good!

In the afternoon, we got to meet with activists who were pretty cool. One, James, had made a video for a community organization, and gave us some tips on editing, interviewing, and the whole documentary making process.  After that, we got to interview them for our videos, which was great, and we got a lot of great footage. We also had time to meet in groups which was also wonderful, since our group got to get our topic more focused and come up with some more focused questions, so our following interviews should be more relevant and really help a long way in supporting our video.

At lunch break, Katie and I tried doing some mini karaoke in my room – Adam came and joined a bit later too. Coming back from class, Nicole and I did a quick game of bowling with water bottles and oranges! (Unfortunately Brendan delivered me the news that it won’t be an Olympic sport. Shucks.) Brendan, Adam, and I stayed in the dorms, mostly trying to get a head start on blogging and the night’s reading. The others went to meet with some of the volunteering kids, and ended up watching a movie and bowling I believe. We had dinner at the Digby Diner (or canteen?) – hamburger patties, chips, veg – though they had a lot of salads tonight, including a dessert pasta thing and a sweet couscous. After that, Adam and I headed out!

Contemporary Art - it's a tape player
We took a 72 bus to Barnes, but realized we would have to wait for a train for 20 minutes. It was 1914, and the Camden Arts Centre where we were going closed at 9pm – so not much time. We went back up onto another 72 bus (empty though, so that was nice to get seats!) We got to Hammersmith and took a line into Westminster where we took the Jubilee up to Finchley Road. We got out of the tube and realized we didn’t look up which way to go! There was a map at the bus stop which we looked at and started walking…and didn’t see anything. But we kept going, and found it – it looks like it used to be a house, but now an art centre. It was rather small, only a few rooms, but there were some interesting things. There was a huge room, with tape machines (or recorders) at both ends, and the tape ran around the wall between the two machines. One made sound, while the other didn’t – we weren’t sure what the purpose was, or if one was just broken, but it was interesting to look at. (Contemporary art I suppose). There was also a film that was shown on 2 side by side 16mm projectors, one with a 20 second delay. Which was pretty cool – though I think it’d be awesome if there were portions that would line up with the 20 second delay and “interact” or something. There was a room with a huge plaster curtain draped across it, with plaster molds of flying figures poised to fly above the curtain – interesting that if you look from some angles, you can see the hollowness of the molds (only like half of them were open), but it was cool to see – they were modeled on ancient statues. Last we saw a film about the last cosmonaut – about a cosmonaut trapped in space for 10 months. It was interesting, because space scenes were in English, while earth scenes were in Russian. Also, video was shown (edited or not, I’m not sure) to be scratchy and jumpy, with snow and noise in the picture. It was also shown non-chronologically which was interesting too.

You can see all the way down the train!
Harry Potter!
People camping out for the Harry Potter Premiere at Trafalgar Sqaure
We went back to the tube station, and got on the district line train WHICH WAS SO COOOOL!!! It was a doorless train, so you could walk between the carriages, connected by accordion style connectors. You could see down the whole train, and watch as it turned and bounced! It was a very new train, and had very nice seats too! If there weren’t other people, we’d have run up and down the train! At Baker Street station, we got a picture of Sherlock Holmes in the station! The next tube had sofa like seats instead of single seats (there were armrests, but the benches were made of one cushion instead of separate ones) - so I made Adam bounce up and down a couple times! Then we took the tube down to Trafalgar Square, where the Harry Potter premiere is tomorrow night! We couldn’t believe it! It was amazing! There were fences, a huge sign, huge lights, people camped out (literally! – probably for entry bracelets – only 8000 for tomorrow – we didn’t know, or we’d have tried to find out how to get them), banners with the houses on them, it was an amazing, unbelievable experience. If you had told me I’d be in London during the last Harry Potter movie premiere a few months ago, I would’ve that you were crazy! Noticed in the Metro and Evening Standard, they both described fans as “Potty” – I wonder if that’s a regular British term now. Don’t really hear that in America much – except for Oprah 9 years ago saying “We’re having an Harry POTERRR POTTYYYYYYYYY!!!”

Westminster at night is beautiful
After that, we walked down through Westminster, past Parliament, which looked just beautiful at night, so did the London Eye across the river – unfortunately my camera battery died! We kept going, into a hotel building we thought we could go through, but didn’t seem like it, so we turned back, and went past a sketchy part on the unseen side of Waterloo – there was one stair going down that we passed which was all graffiti – we walked past that. We ended up basically walking around 3 sides of Waterloo instead of 1 – so next time, we need to figure out how to get straight there! But we made it, and got onto a train to Barnes (at first it seemed like we were the only ones, but then others got on). 1 more academic session to go tomorrow – Progress and Sustainability!

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