Vox-popping for ‘Be the change – Cambridge’


Preparing some of the ground for our event on Saturday 13 September at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge with some thoughts of people in my community – as well as being a one-man-poster campaign.

Unlike my election campaign of 2014 (see the archive here) where it was all about me and my ideas, all things Be the change – Cambridge are about the issues and ideas of the people of Cambridge. And how better to do that than invite people onto camera to raise their issues? At the same time, it’s all valuable learning for me – a process that is very different to the academic-based learning I was brought up on. Here are what four of my friends, all with very different life experiences had to say:


I’ve not explored playing with the credits in the editing software I’ve got. My previous digital video for the Cambridge Buskers and Street Performers Festival was the first time I had properly stripped video pieces of their audio and replaced them with a single track.


The learning point from the vox-pops was all about improving audio. In this case, filming outdoors means an external mic with a wind shield is essential.

Want to say your piece to camera?

Please get in touch!

My template for this is as follows:

Three people recorded separately stating:

  • Name
  • Where they are from
  • What one big change they would like to see in Cambridge

I then follow this with a final clip of a fourth person who has identified the change they want to see in Cambridge and has started taking action to make that change happen – as Steve Turville of Limoncello on Mill Road has done with the Cambridge Lakes Project (See here). The project Steve has taken on is massive: Turning an old flooded quarry slap bang in the middle of residential East Cambridge into a leisure facility for the city. Have a look at this presentation I filmed earlier this year (2014).


There are a number of people I can think of who are also ‘being the change they want to see in Cambridge’. Helen Holmes and Jenny Debenham are two such people who are working across a number of projects to make Cambridge a sustainable food city. See one of their ideas here.


Also see Cambridge Sustainable Food City here.

My point? There are a number of very inspiring people already doing some great things. I see my role as one helping others to get involved in what is already going on, and bringing people together to get their own ideas off of the ground.

The limits of blogging and text-based social media – and the importance of traditional awareness-raising.

One of about 50 'Be the change - Cambridge' posters I have put up across the city of late. This one kindly hosted by Clowns Cafe on King Street
One of about 50 ‘Be the change – Cambridge’ posters I have put up across the city of late. This one kindly hosted by Clowns Cafe on King Street

My thanks to all that have allowed me to put posters up in their windows/on their premises to advertise the event. The only outright refusal I’ve had so far? Tescos in Fulbourn. Postcard-size only they said. Their shop, their rules I guess. Not the same as my local supermarket – a Budgen’s franchise where I used to work. Kris – featured in the video works there & was there when I worked there well over 15 years ago. If anyone has seen how South Cambridge has changed over the years, it’s him.

Ward-to-ward across central and south/east Cambridge

It reminds me of some of the street-pounding I did in the election campaign – only I was a lot more timid then. The printing of posters on my home printer (which hates me for what I’m putting it through – I’m sure!), laminating & displaying of them is something that feels more ‘automatic & zombie-like’. Put on some headphones, turn up the music & sing like the world’s not watching. Yeah – pumping out a Bros double-bill. I have no idea what the international summer school students thought of me as they headed to their end of season parties at the colleges.

When it comes to community notice boards outside the centre, we don’t really have a consistent approach. As it turned out, the Tescos board wasn’t really much of a board. The acres of glass made the display they had look a little feeble. Other supermarkets have done much better jobs, but there is still room for improvement for all to attract a real ‘community feel’. Even a site such as Addenbrooke’s Hospital – which is the size of a small town anyway, has a notice board tucked away from where most of the staff, let alone the public hardly frequent. A huge missed opportunity.

Cllr Johnson and the Cambridge Societies’ Fair

I first blogged about this event back in spring 2012 – see my blogpost here. Richard (as he was then just a candidate standing for election) backed the idea very early on.


In 2014 the idea got into the Cambridge Labour Party manifesto and upon taking control of the council, Cllr Richard Johnson found himself as an executive councillor with the communities portfolio. He’s kindly invited me to be part of a working group to make the event happen – which I’m delighted to accept. And we have a date for that event too!

Cambridge Societies Fair: Sat 28 February 2015 at Cambridge Guildhall

It was published in the Cambridge News here – but not online yet.

The announcement of the Cambridge Societies Fair in the Cambridge News
The announcement of the Cambridge Societies Fair in the Cambridge News


As the article states, if you’re interested in helping organise the event, please contact Cllr Johnson at richard.johnson [at] cambridge.gov.uk

It’s also nice that the Cambridge News wrote an op-ed welcoming the fair, even though part of me wanted to shout: ‘Oi! It was Puffles’ idea!’

"It was Puffles' idea! Twitter says so!"
“It was Puffles’ idea! Twitter says so!”

The real news story is the co-operation between several different people to get to this stage. In the grand scheme of things it’s not so much who comes up with the idea, but who are the people that work together to make those ideas bear fruit.

Sequencing things post-Be the change – Cambridge

This event for me is a nice follow-on from ‘Be the change – Cambridge’. If anything, I’d like to see Anglia Ruskin Students Union and Cambridge University Students Union putting on a community action gathering for further education students in and around Cambridge at the end of January 2015. Its purpose? To get them interested, generate ideas & gain some momentum, and then unleash them all onto the Cambridge Societies’ Fair. Can you imagine what this could do not just for community action in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire but also for local democracy with a general election coming up? Remember that Andrew Lansley MP is standing down, so South Cambridgeshire is guaranteed to get a new MP. Without the incumbency factor, we could have a much more lively general election campaign in South Cambridgeshire than we’ve had for years.

So…things looking bright locally on the community action front?


But we need your help.

Want to help us make it happen? Join us on Saturday 13 September at Be the change Cambridge. Arrive at 9:30 at Anglia Ruskin University’s East Road Campus – volunteers in dark blue hoodies will be there to greet you!

  • Standard tickets £10 + Eventbrite’s £1.25 booking fee
  • Concession tickets – free (with no booking fee)
  • Under 21s  & ARU students – free (with no booking fee)
  • Event volunteers & activists – free (with no booking fee) – and a free hoodie!

Tickets available at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/be-the-change-cambridge-tickets-12158252661

Many bridges. One Cambridge. It’s your city.

Be. The. Change.


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