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Walk of Life Game at Manchester Museum

Tagra (right) showing VSAs how to play the Walk of LIfe
Tagra (right) showing VSAs at Manchester Museum how to play the Walk of Life

Last week I filmed a thematic collecting interview with Sumir Tagra and Jiten Thukral  at Manchester Museum about a game that they have created called Walk of Life. Tagra and Thukral are artists based in New Delhi in India and they came to Manchester Museum to train Visitor Assistants and volunteers how to play the game so that they can lead sessions with members of the public over the summer.The idea of the Walk of Life  is to make people more aware of water conservation issues.

karma cards in the Walk of lIfe
karma cards in the Walk of lIfe

Walk of life is a board game in which up to six players play a number of rounds, moving a boat shaped vessel containing the players’ markers. Each player is given a cup containing a set amount of water. In each round they select ‘Karma’ cards from a pack and act on what the cards say: if the player has done something good for the environment such as planting trees, they receive water credits; if they have used water in an unsustainable way they have to drink a certain quantity of the water in their cup; or the effect may be neutral. Players may draw a card which tells them to spin the roulette wheel which can have negative consequences for that player and the players sitting either side if the wheel indicates there has been a disaster which affects the community’s water supply.

Spinning the wheel
Spinning the wheel

As the game progresses some players may experience a water deficit and if they have credits they can take some water from the communal reservoir held in a decanter on the table. This reservoir is finite and very quickly a point is reached where the supply in the reservoir is no longer sufficient to meet the player’s requirements. In this situation, unless helped by another player, the player ‘in deficit’ has to drop out of the game.

The last two players at the end of the game
The last two players at the end of the game

The nice thing about this game is that players can play competitively or collaboratively, in which case there is a greater chance of more players reaching the end of the Walk of Life. The fact that the pieces representing the players are in a boat makes the point that so far as water is concerned we really are all in this together.

Playing the Walk of Life game.
Playing the Walk of Life game.

In the game I played last Thursday players were trying to support one another and even so only two players made it to the end of the game. This makes you think about our shared dependence on water supplies and our communal interest in ensuring that water supplies are used sustainably. When I interviewed them for Manchester Museum’s thematic collecting project Tagra and Thukral told me they were very encouraged to see that players were implementing some of the actions that resulted in water credits in the game at home: for instance not running the tap when brushing their teeth.

I thought this was a really good way to encourage people to think about the issue of water sustainability in a non-preaching way that is actually a lot of fun. The only thing I would say is that this is the first board game I’ve played where at the end of the game I’ve had to dash off immediately to the loos to spend a penny!

 

 

 

 

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Thematic Collecting: Water – Transport in the Ancient Greek Bronze Age

An interview with Commodore Manolis Petrakis, Chairman of Crete Maritime Museum, talking about the reconstruction of a Minoan ship from the ancient Greek Bronze Age. The interview was filmed in the Minoan Ship Museum in the harbour area of Xania in October 2015.

 

 

Boxing Day floods

Over the Christmas holidays, I had a dramatic experience of on one our Thematic Collecting themes when the Calder Valley where I live was flooded.

The same view after the flood had subsided
The same view after the flood had subsided

There had been substantial amounts of rain on Christmas Day which continued on Boxing Day. It was quite staggering how quickly the waters rose and went away again, just in the matter of a few hours.

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The obvious question when such a dramatic event happens is ‘Is this just bad luck or are we starting to see the effects of climate change?’

Well, as with a lot of these things, it is not clear. The Boxing Day floods taken in isolation were an extreme weather event and not by themselves evidence of climate change. Evidence of climate change can only be seen in long term patterns such as global temperature increases since the 1800s. Saying that, warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler, potentially leading to more rain. Much of December had been exceptionally mild in the UK.  Many climate scientists predict climate change will bring more extreme weather events such as this. An interesting article on this debate was published in the Independent.

The main lesson I think we should take from these events up and down the country is that these kinds of things are very likely to happen again. Resilience to flooding is the best strategy.

Thematic Collecting: Water – the Tipper Toilet

A short interview with Meg McHugh,  Acting Head Curator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester,  talking about a Victorian water-saving toilet design which was ahead of its time

 

 

Freshwater springs at Stoupa in the Peloponnese in Greece

Thematic Collecting: Water – A short interview about freshwater springs at Stoupa in the Peloponnese in Greece

Thematic Collecting: Water – Springs in Stoupa, Peloponnese

Stoupa in the Peloponnese
Stoupa in the Peloponnese

Christine and I have just got back from a relaxing holiday in the beautiful resort of Stoupa in the southern Peloponnese in Greece. At the Welcome party to provide holiday makers with information about the resort and its attractions, our host Mary talked about the fresh water springs in Stoupa. When you are on holiday in Greece you are often recommended to buy bottled water because the water in the taps has a higher mineral content and it can upset your tummy if you’re not used to it but you don’t have to buy bottled water for drinking in Stoupa because they have fresh water springs literally ‘on tap’.

Spring water on tap in Stoupa
Spring water on tap in Stoupa

Water falls on the Taygetos mountains to the north of Stoupa as rain or as snow during the winter and makes its way through the limestone until it rises to the ground surface in the resort. There are places in the resort where the spring water has been tapped and you can fill your bottles with it for free. This public amenity is both healthy for consumers and good for the environment because it avoids plastic bottles going into land fill. There are also springs in the bay at Stoupa and they look a little bit like whirlpools on the surface of the sea. When the springs occur in the sea they are known as ‘glyphathes’ (pronounced glee-far-theys). The amount of water is quite considerable and we were told that there was sufficient water to supply the whole of Messenia in the western Peloponnese. This does have the unfortunate effect of making the water in the bay a bit colder for bathers. We did hear about one spring close to Kalogria bay used by intrepid Dutch bathers who steeled themselves for the cold water in the sea by immersing themselves in the spring beforehand. Apparently if you could brave the icy flow the sea was a doddle…

Spring in Stoupa Bay
Spring in Stoupa Bay

Finding out about the springs and seeing them in the bay struck a chord with me because of the thematic collecting project about water at Manchester Museum and I made some enquiries to see if Mary would be willing to be interviewed about them on camera. Naturally I was delighted when Mary not only agreed but asked Dmitri at the diving school in nearby Kalogria to take part too. Dmitri had dived on the site of the springs and was happy to talk about them on camera.

Interviewing Mary and Dmitri about the springs
Interviewing Mary and Dmitri about the springs

Dmitri told us that the flow of water from the springs was so strong that it would push the divers back, and because it was fresh water it reduced visibility at the boundary with the salt water in the sea. It doesn’t seem to have any effect on the fish or other wildlife. As an added bonus Mary and her husband John kindly took me and Christine out in their boat to film one of the glyphathes and they really are spectacular. I’ve been working since I got back on editing the filmed interview with Mary and Dmitri and hopefully shall be able to share some footage with readers in the not-too-distant future. As far as we were concerned it was one of the highlights of our holiday and we shall certainly go back. However, until the permissions are granted what better than to watch the Greek documentary (link below). Footage of the glyphathes or underwater springs showing the divers can be seen from 5.05 on the counter.

It crossed my mind that we might expect to find archaeological material associated with the springs but Dmitri told me they were of more interest to geologists than archaeologists and that dye testing had shown the water made the transit from mountain top to the sea in about a fortnight. The other thought I had was whether seeing the glyphathes in the bay had inspired any mythological tales. That’s something to look into separately and I’ll keep you posted.

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