There was an encouraging turnout for last night’s meeting on “Community Voices in a Digital Age”. It started with a presentation by Gordon Wells of some of the easy-to-use online platforms that are integrated in the Guthan nan Eilean project. This included two live demonstrations of the Ipadio audio-recording function which instantaneously converts a telephoned voicemail into a webpage with sound embedded.
First to go was Iain Caimbeul, the project manager for the Soillse inter-university Gaelic research network, who, speaking in Gaelic, explained the main aims of the organisation and what it was keen to explore in partnership with island communities.
In the second test run local resident Volker Labitzke, speaking in English, compared his experiences of learning English and Gaelic, and talked about how he felt his language learning helped him to settle in his new home.
In the second half of the meeting there was open discussion of ideas for supporting language, and particularly Gaelic, development in the community. The new “Guthan: Voices” tab on the Am Pàipear website was cited as a new opportunity for “lifestyle” contributions, in writing or speech, from members of the public. Also highlighted were community drama, community lunches, and community radio, as well as the importance of links to schools and young people, though it was noted that the use of Facebook and Twitter is by no means restricted to the younger generations! The meeting finished with Volker remarking on the enthusiasm within the group, and the desire to see some or all of the ideas mentioned taken forward as a result.
Future meetings may continue to be held in Balivanich, but there is no reason why interested parties in North or South Uist should not prefer to meet closer to their own homes. Or individuals may feel inspired to work on their own! Gordon is happy to assist in any appropriate manner, and can be reached on 07879 644984. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, engagement with the new media affects patterns of language use – a topic which Soillse is keen to explore.