A Year of Collaboration

As I begin to reflect on all that I’ve experienced in 2011, I’m mostly excited about the projects I’ve been involved in with a bunch of other people. I, like so many other creatives, spend a huge amount of time in my own space working by myself on projects that interest me (or pay the bills) so these collaborative efforts have been a real breath of fresh air.

I began to consider the importance of collaboration while tweeting as part of EasterLive, an amazing project organised by Share Creative and supported by a number of organisations. Easter Live aimed to have loads of people telling the Easter story from the perspective of many different characters and perspectives. At the end of the project, some participants commented on their frustration that other people used the same characters or the timeline was a bit messed up but I thought it was an incredible project. It really made me think about the reality of the events of the week running from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and I believe God worked in people’s lives despite the messiness of how it may have appeared online.

a quick aside – I had a conversation with a good friend a couple of days ago about whether the church allows this sort of messiness or whether, as we strive for perfection in everything, we have lost the space for God to work in the ‘cracks’. 

The next collaboration I was part of was iMass at Greenbelt. The service looked at digital media as a theme for worship and also how new media can be used as a participatory tool during a service. A small group of creatives from the North East were at the heart of writing iMass but the group who ran the service came from all over the country. It was great to see so many different ideas coming together to form a service and again, although it was not as smooth as we may have liked it to be, God met with people in that hour and participants went away considering how the church can engage with digital culture.

a quick aside – The discussion on tweeting in church continues and we actively encouraged tweeting during iMass by having a live twitterfall projected throughout and encouraged people to tweet as part of the intercessions and peace.

In October I had the privilege of being on a discussion panel at the Christian New Media Conference. It was fabulous to sit on a panel with @vickybeeching, @goannatree, @KatherineGreen1 and @jonathankearney, people with a passion for Jesus and creativity. The discussion felt like a collaborative effort in itself but one of the most interesting points that came up was about how awkward collaboration can be and how digital media goes a long way to solving issues of communication when working on projects together at a distance.

as an aside – there are exciting plans for all sorts of projects in 2012 forming from discussions held at the Christian New Media Conference. One in particular that I’m excited about is anewloom – gatherings that seek to encourage and inspire creatives through exploring, discussing and sharing. WATCH THIS SPACE!

Image of an angelWhat I have noticed in the last couple of months is that people are now using social media to purposefully crowd-source ideas and material. This is definitely the case with @onlinecarols, a collaboration organised by @vahva bringing together 20 different people to provide an online service of 9 lessons and carols via a posterous blog on December 24th. I’ve signed up to a creative retelling of Matthew 2 v1-12, the visit of the Magi but it’s been a pleasure to design the avatar for the service too. Sadly I’ll be unable to be involved in the service when it goes live at 2pm, but that’s the joy of the web isn’t it, it will then be available for years to come…

as an aside – after the great success of @poppy_tweet, I wonder how many new styles of service will begin to appear on social media? I hope that people continue to explore this form of sharing God’s story as I think it has incredible potential to be experiential in a way that perhaps churches have lost in their strive for perfection as previously mentioned.

Lastly, and probably the most exciting collaborative project of all, is The Littlest Star. I say it’s the most exciting because no one set out for it to be a project at all, it just sort of happened. You can read more about the project on Richard Littledale’s blog and here on BigBible in a post from a couple of weeks ago. In summary, The Littlest Star is a story written by Richard Littledale who emailed it to me saying he felt it may deserve a greater audience – I loved the story and offered to illustrate it. To cut a short story even shorter, Richard collaborated with sponsors, designers, printers, volunteers and the Shooting Star CHASE hospice to have a printed A6 book being sold for charity within A WEEK! – that is the power of collaboration, long may it continue.

Have a blessed Christmas – I look forward to working collaboratively with you in 2012.

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