Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair 2018

Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair 2018

AHSS was represented at the Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair for the first time this year.

Held at University of Glasgow, Rutherford-McCowan, Crichton Campus, Dumfries on 10th March.

Participation by the Society had these four aims –

  1. Representing the built environment at an event otherwise devoted to the natural environment.
  2. Raising the profile of the AHSS as a local and national organisation.
  3. Interacting with visitors in an enjoyable way to encourage them to pay more attention to the historic built environment.
  4. Increasing membership of the AHSS and a greater interest in and attendance at the society’s events.

The Fair ran from 10-3.30 and is estimated to have been attended by 400+ people, with probably about 250 children and young people. The AHSS display was attended by 100+ of these.

As well as advertising the Society’s work and events it was a requirement of the Fair that every participating organisation should have an interactive element. The AHSS contributed this aspect by concentrating on a display of the variety of Scottish housing on display boards. Visitors were offered a choice of four envelopes, each containing pictures of four houses. Visitors were asked to place them in chronological order and then on a time line. They were encouraged to talk about them. They were then directed to the static display and asked to choose which two, of the many on show, were not Scottish. This done they were encouraged to design a house of their own, using the materials provided. They were encouraged to talk about building types, favourite buildings etc.

The interactive display worked well, catching the visitors’ attention and holding them for up to 20 minutes. The drawing, cutting and pasting was popular with more than the children and resulted in about 30 interesting pictures to add to the display boards. The youngest visitor was 6 months, the oldest 80+. All appeared to enjoy participating and there were very few who showed no interest though it was important to approach them directly to catch their attention.

A quick evaluation against the four stated aims was undertaken.

  1. It appeared that the AHSS was the only organisation representing the non-natural environment and thus made an important contribution which was commented on by both visitors and organisers.
  2. Reasonably effective at this within the limits of 100+ people. It was noticeable however that people chose to be more directly interested in local problems such as The Cruck Cottage and its recent fire.
  3. Successful at this with clear enjoyment and involvement shown by both children and their parents with both students and older people also showing interest.
  4. Probably of limited value. Some 3-6 people showed interest in joining and a few more in the events programme. This included several students at the University of Glasgow.

The question as to whether it is worth another go next year is answered by

‘probably’, but it would need more people to help with the display and a wider and more challenging range of activities to hold the interest of the older age groups. AHSS participation at the Environment Fair 2018 can be considered a successful first try. It demonstrates, however, just how much effort is required for a modest return and that the Fair as a whole enjoys a higher benefit ratio than the individual participating organisations. Another time it will be worth demonstrating more sustainability and the embedded energy which old buildings have which is wasted if they do not continue in use.