So after nearly a year with Future Works, I’ve reached the end of my journey and it’s time for me to move on. I’m writing this final blog post from a very different place to where I wrote my first blog back in November 2015. I’ve left Sheffield and the world of academia behind to move down to the big smoke and attempt to be a young professional so it seems worthwhile reflecting of one of the more unique experiences of my academic career!
Over the course of my work with the Stories of Change project I’ve tried my hand at a number of activities – some I expected and some I certainly didn’t. I’ve delved into the archives at Matlock, trampled around factories-turned-museums and scrambled through the Peak District. I’ve learnt a huge amount about Sheffield, the city I called home for four years, and expanded my horizons far beyond its hilly surroundings to exotic locales, such as Belper, with the help of invaluable guides like Brian and Mary. But alongside the more expected academic side of the project, there have been more surreal moments. Finding myself trying to write a song about energy with Spotify-certified singer in a Peak District cottage was certainly one of them. Trying to film an interview with a former Rolls Royce Executive and green energy start-up funder in a rainy co-operative project just outside Derby was another. I definitely won’t claim I’m an expert at many of these things but through my historical background I hope I’ve been able to add more to some of the context alongside the more futuristic elements of the project like robotics and clean energy that other members of them team have been looking at.
In the end I like to think I’ve been able to contribute to the project in a meaningful way, producing, amongst other things, pair of maps which will provide a great visual resource for people trying to understand the history of this part of the world and, as with so much of history, help to understand how things might change in the future. Indeed as time has gone on I’ve realised truly that this project, while rooted in the past, has really been looking to the future and while we may not directly change it, hopefully we’ll encourage a few more people to think differently about some of the big questions we all face. I’d like to thank the team for everything and wish them all the best for the future. It’s been quite a journey of discovery and I hope when the project’s finished people enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed helping make it.