Sutton Coldfield means different things to different people – even different things at different times – and all sort of associations, memories and experiences affect how we identify with our town.
Telling Sutton’s Stories is a new community project, co-ordinated by FOLIO Sutton Coldfield, exploring different ways we identify with where we live by inviting you to contribute to a map of what matters to you – whether that is the town’s history, the town’s natural environment, artistic responses to the town or more.
We hope that through contributing to the map or simply exploring what others have added to the map, we will all feel more connected to our town and the community we are all part of and that you will feel your voice, and what matters to you, will be heard.
If you are interested in local history you could…
- Contribute old photos you have of your house or other buildings
- Share stories about past events you were part of or heard about from family members
- Look up census information about past residents of your house and share what you find out
- Root out the deeds to your house and see if they contain any historical information that could be added to the map
- Transcribe material from past trade directories and censuses (we can provide what is necessary, so there is no need to have online access to any database)
- Be inspired by the recent BBC programme House Through Time and see what local stories you can uncover
If you are interested in flora and fauna you could…
- Identify all the trees in your street and mark them on the map
- Take photos of the wild flowers in open spaces near you
- Shape the map as your children see it, for example by the different cats they see on the way to school
If you love drawing or writing you could…
- Paint a picture of your street and add it to the map
- Write a poem in response to the past history of your house
- Read the books which mention places in Sutton Coldfield that are pinned on the map
There are lots of ways you can map what matters to you and help us tell the different stories of Sutton Coldfield.
Anyone can and is very welcome to contribute to the map.
If you have a computer/smart phone and internet connection you will be able to add material directly to the map yourself as soon as you sign up on the Telling Sutton’s Stories page.
Click the green ‘Continue’ button on the welcome page and then the grey ‘Sign In’ button in the top left corner of the map screen. Input your email address and you’ll be able to start adding material to the map immediately.
NB. The email address you use for contributing to the website needs to be one registered either with Microsoft or Google. (If you don’t already have a Google or Microsoft account it is easy and free to get one. You can create a Microsoft account here, and a Google account here.)
If you have material you would like to share, but don’t have an email address or would just rather FOLIO did the admin of adding your material to the map, please do get in touch; we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you want to talk about memories you have and we can interview you for the website. Perhaps you have old photos but no way to make digital copies – again, we can help with that (all complying with current social distancing requirements).
If you don’t have any material yourself to add, but would like to help transcribe census reports and other documents related to Sutton do get in touch as this too is a vital part of what we want to add to the map.
How to get in touch with us
At the moment this is a pilot project designed for participation whilst we not able to hold public group events and physical distancing is required. If you have comments / suggestions or would like to contribute to the project, but are unable to do so because of the technology, please get in touch.
As a pilot project there may be bugs with the website. Whilst we have tested the website before going live, we’d really appreciate hearing about any problems you encounter whilst viewing or contributing to the map.
It is our plan, with your input and feedback, to extend this project in the future to gradually cover as much of Sutton as possible. We hope to collate the information, stories and images from the map into pamphlets, to form part of the archive at Sutton Coldfield Library. Once Sutton Coldfield Library is open for public events once more we intend to run in-person activities linked to Telling Sutton’s Stories.
Telling Sutton’s Stories is one such project and it is inspired by the concept of deep mapping. A deep map refers to a subtle and layered map with greater information than a two-dimensional image of places, names, and topography. A deep map might include archaeology, stories, memories, reportage, interviews, natural history – really anything that matters to the viewers and creators of the map. Crucially, deep maps recognise that people – and personal experiences – are central to a place’s identity.
FOLIO is indebted to Alan Cameron Wills, Robert Anthony and Rowan O’Neill for their generous support of this project. We have been particularly inspired by their work on Moylgrove History Map and Map Digi Penfro.
Please note: Even though the library services are altered at the moment and not all Sutton libraries are open for browsing (October 2020), you can access lots of resources online including audiobooks, ebooks, emagazines/comics, digital newspapers and more with your library card. If you don’t already have a library card, you can sign up for one online: www.birmingham.gov.uk/libraries
Many Birmingham Libraries, including all those in Sutton Coldfield, are open up for an “Order and Collect” service. This means you will be able to place a request to collect up to 6 items held at one of the participating libraries. Find out more.
If you are interested more generally in local history you may find these links useful:
Sutton Coldfield Local History Research Group
Sutton Coldfield History Facebook Group
Sutton Coldfield Civic Society
Sutton Coldfield Archaeological Society – no website but contact details are on this page.
If you are interested in local flora and fauna you may be interested in the Sutton Coldfield Natural History Society.