Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries is a proud delivery partner on a Landscape Partnership scheme called Miner2Major. The scheme, supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, encourages local communities to get involved in projects that celebrate the diverse wildlife, important habitats and rich heritage of Sherwood Forest. This year Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries, Miner2Major and artist Jess Kemp have been working together to deliver a fabulous Big Draw project in Nottinghamshire.
Working (almost) as planned, and thanks to the ever flexible ethos of The Big Draw, we created a drawing activity that could be accessed remotely. Together we’ve reached out to local community groups to retain communication, creativity and spirit. For many, it has also been the first introduction to the Miner2Major Landscape Partnership Scheme, but it won’t be the last, as their fantastic work will continue to 2023. The Big Draw has provided us with a powerful platform to highlight the Miner2Major work as well as engaging, educating and supporting local groups during these difficult times.
The work produced can be seen in a touring exhibition until July 2021 in Inspire Library Galleries and will then adorn Miner2Major festivals and events from 2021 to 2023.
- Beeston Library Gallery: Saturday 17 October to Thursday 17 December 2020
- Worksop Library Gallery: Thursday 14 January to Sunday 28 February 2021
- Mansfield Central Library Gallery: Weds 3 March to Weds 21 April 2021
- West Bridgford Library Gallery: Wednesday 2 June to Wednesday 7 July 2021
We hope you enjoy this interview with Steve Little, Scheme Manager of Miner2Major!
Interview: Matilda Barratt in conversation with Steve Little.
To begin, could you share a bit about yourself and your background with our audience?
Hi, I’m Steve and I live just outside Nottingham with my wife and cat. I am a project manager and have been involved in projects that involve people, communities, heritage, nature and culture for most of my working life. I’m a nature lover and am happiest when I’m outdoors.
Could you tell us about Miner2Major? What is it all about?
Miner2Major is a Landscape Partnership scheme and we are based in the Sherwood Forest area of Nottinghamshire. Through a varied programme of projects and activities we are connecting with people from local communities to help better understand, explore and protect the diverse wildlife, important habitats and rich heritage of the legendary landscape of Sherwood Forest.
To give you a flavour here are a few of the projects we are delivering: creating, connecting and restoring heathland habitats; surveying important and rare species in the area and improving the habitats they live in; teaching heritage building skills; helping to interpret the well-known and less well-known characters connected to the area; a primary school project focussing on the industrial change from 1850 to 1950; improving and encouraging use of the many trails and rights of way in the area; planting new hedgerows and trees; delivering a diverse programme of engagement activities, courses and training. This illustrated display gives a good overview of the whole scheme: bit.ly/3pwo2Ug and you can find out more by visiting our website: www.miner2major.org.uk
The scheme is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (thank you National Lottery players!) and is managed by a partnership of of local authorities, conservation groups and community organisations who have been working in the Sherwood Forest area for many years.
[Image credit: Major Oak c1900 (Inspire Picture Archive, Edwinstowe Historical Society)]
And what is your role within the Miner2Major project?
I am the Scheme Manager so I oversee the whole programme. It is a really interesting and rewarding role and no two days are ever the same. I get to work with some fantastic organisations and passionate and knowledgeable experts and to connect with a diverse range of people from our local communities.
What makes Sherwood Forest so special, and why is it so important to celebrate and restore?
If you mention Sherwood Forest the first thing most people think of is Robin Hood. Robin is a really important part of the history of the area but dig deeper and there is so much more;Viking history, a Royal hunting forest, famous connections (Nel Gwynne, Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron), impressive ducal estates (known as the Dukeries), the industry of mills and coal mines, internationally important habitats and rare and special species, to name but a few.
To give you an idea of the natural importance of the area, the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, once part of the 10,000 acre Royal Forest of Sherwood, contains a thousand ancient oaks most of which are known to be more than 500 years old. The most famous of these, the Major Oak, may be nearly twice that age. The reserve has the highest concentration of ancient trees in Europe and provides habitat for very rare invertebrates, particularly beetles, flies and spiders, many of which rely on the decaying and ageing timber of the veteran trees. The surrounding heathland habitats support a diverse range of insects and ground nesting birds such as woodlark, nightjar and tree pipit.
Important biodiverse habitats like these are increasingly under threat and it is essential that we collectively take action to preserve them for the future.
[Image credit: John Smith]
Inspire: Culture, Learning & Libraries are Sponsor Partners of The Big Draw Festival. This year, Inspire’s Big Draw events were done in partnership with Miner2Major - could you tell our readers a little more about this partnership?
Inspire are pivotal to the delivery of Miner2Major. They manage and deliver our community engagement programme and our community courses and training. We benefit hugely from the knowledge, experience and creativity of their teams and the connections they have with the communities across our area. It is a new relationship for many of our other partner organisations and the relationships they build will be an important part of the legacy of Miner2Major.
Could you share your thoughts on this year’s Big Draw Festival theme The Big Green Draw: A Climate of Change? Does it resonate with you and your work?
This year’s theme for the Big Draw really chimes with our work. The relationship between people and our living environments and ecosystems is very much what we are trying to achieve with our nature-focussed projects. We want to help people learn more about the beauty, biodiversity and value of their local natural habitats, the associated health and wellbeing benefits and the importance of looking after it for the future. Our other aim is to encourage people to get involved and volunteer some of their time to support the cause. This could be anything from joining a local conservation ‘Friends of group’. helping with species surveys, and hedgerow tree planting, or simply helping to spread the word. During the Covid-19 lockdown periods many people have made a closer connection with their local environments and experienced first-hand the value of natural spaces to our health and wellbeing. The Big Green Draw really helps to get that message across.
[Image credit: Margaret Holland]
Finally, we’d love to hear a little more about the work that you did together with Inspire and Jess Kemp to deliver The Big Draw 2020?
Inspire came up with the idea of producing Miner2Major themed bunting for the Big Draw and identified Jess as an artist to work with. Jess is a very talented artist and we have been thrilled with the results. Jess had planned to run workshops with local groups where they could silk paint their designs on to bunting triangles. The Covid-19 situation meant that this wasn’t possible so Jess and the team at Inspire came up with the idea of sending out Covid-safe kits to groups so that they could take part remotely. The exhibition will tour local libraries into next year and we will continue to add to the bunting by sending out more kits and, hopefully, running some face-to-face workshops if it is safe to do. After that the bunting will be used at festivals and events.
Thank you Steve!
If you were inspired by this interview with Steve and would like to find out more about Miner2Major, head to their website here.
To find out more about Big Draw Sponsor Partners, Inspire: Culture, Learning & Libraries, visit their website here.
Registrations are open for The Big Draw Festival 2020: A Climate of Change! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.