Federation for European Storytelling Conference (FEST) Rome 2013

Jackie Kerin sharing the Roman experience.

With the support of storytelling colleagues, friends, my Folk Club and Hobsons Bay Council, I represented Storytelling Australia (Victoria) at the Federation for European Storytelling Conference. Following the Conference was the Rome International Storytelling Festival.

The idea for a European Federation for European Storytelling was first mooted in 2001, in Paris at the Maison du Conte in response to the challenge faced by storytellers to be recognized for their art. Behind the Federation is the idea that as a group, storytellers would have more ‘weight’ as well as providing a network for building expertise, collaborations, and the development of new storytellers.

FEST is a not for profit organization with its address in Belgium.

To be a member you have to be based in Europe. Members include: storytellers, producers and festival directors. Non members are welcome.

Since its formation, FEST has met in Oslo (Norway), Lausanne (Switzerland), Reading (England) and Toledo (Spain).

This year, FEST attracted 90 delegates. The non member guests included, Canada, Pakistan, the USA, Singapore and Australia.

The conference is a mix of discussions and idea sharing: training young storytellers, audience development, putting storytelling on the cultural map.

Many discussions were parallel to those we have in Australia eg, agreement of the function and design of a website, cultural appropriation, encouraging young tellers etc

The big difference between Australian and European storytelling, as I saw it, is the separation of storytelling as art, from storytelling as a ‘tool’ to educate, heal etc. Many of the storytellers are deeply connected to their oral traditions and focus on the folk tales from their place. I perceived less interest in original stories and autobiographical storytelling.

The next FEST Conference will take place in 2014 in the north of Sweden and should we wish to send another Australian we will need time to fundraise and apply for grants to get them there. FEST was exhilarating and exhausting. I learned much and am keen to share my experience.

I met several old friends of Australian storytellers and compiled this little film for you all.

I have also created this video of the Conference. Its a little rough (my first attempt at such a thing) but I thought it was a better way of sharing the experience with you, rather than a long email.

Brantford Golf and Country Club, Brantford, Ontario - Course Review

Brantford Golf & Country Club 

Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Architects: George Cumming, Nicol Thompson, Stanley Thompson (1919); Robbie Robinson (1960)

6,562 Yards, Par-72

Rating/Slope: 70.9/126

My Quick Review: One of the twenty best in the province.

A bit of history from: http://brantfordgolfandcountryclub.com/About-the-Club/History-of-the-Club.aspx

The course was designed by Thompson, Cumming and Thompson, a Toronto partnership of brothers Stanley and Nicol Thompson and George Cumming, the head professional at the Toronto Golf Club. While it would be Stanley who developed into the dean of Canada’s course architects, the history of the Brantford Golf and Country Club ascribes most of the credit for this design to Cumming and Nicol, who served as head professional at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ontario, for 50 years.

For 40 Years, Brantford members enjoyed this “testing course.” In 1960, proposed changes to the clubhouse, curling rink, swimming pool and other facilities, meant renovating the course. Two-time club president R. Bruce Forbes, a Brantford member since 1932, as a close friend of noted Canadian architect C.E (Robbie) Robinson and approached the designer. “We had no money- and I mean no money,” Forbes recalls. “He did it because he was a pal of mine. He never got a cent from us, although he did get a lot of free meals and golf.” Forbes is the club’s most distinguished member; a fine player and gentleman, whose self-admitted ”love affair with golf” led to roles as both president and executive-director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association and to eventual nomination to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.

Robinson, who had been given his start in the business by Stanley Thompson, summarized his proposals to the board late that year: “ I am now satisfied that I have a well balanced series of holes which will eliminate the two successive par threes on the second nine and also provide a strong finishing hole. The yardage on the first and second nine will be better balanced and combine into championship length of about 6,800 yards.

Course Review

Brantford is a fascinating routing. The golf course starts with a pair of back-and-forth holes 'up top' by the clubhouse before the golfer plays into the valley on the wonderful 3rd and 4th holes, which are ingeniously routed across the downhill drop. From the 7th to the 11th the golfer plays back up, across, and then back down the elevation change before Thompson crosses the road for a four hole stretch. Curiously, this four hole stretch plays around/across a stream, which I thought would have been the dominant feature in this portion of the routing, but not once does it come into play -- perhaps this is a missed opportunity?

There are way too many trees at Brantford. Not often do trees impede on the lines of play, though where they do, they do so very notably as at the 1st.  There aren't many trees that add any interest. As far as I'm concerned, all the trees planted in straight lines to separate one hole from another (safety aside), should go. On a related note, the mowing lines are slightly offensive. Not only are they too narrow, but in places their utter straightness contrasts harshly with a golf course that lays so naturally on the land.

Despite this criticism, I think Brantford is spectacular -- certainly among the twenty best courses in the province, on par with the likes of Weston, Kawartha and Mississaugua.

The golf course starts with a par-5 that moves left around out-of-bounds. This tree on the corner of the dogleg certainly impedes on the line of play -- an unoriginal addition I presume, though I could be wrong.

The second is a short par-4 played alongside the first and is one of a handful of holes with a shallow and wide green.

A new tee has stretched the third hole to 191 yards. The third and fourth holes show how much interest can be created by routing across a hill. The third green is one of several at Brantford that are set neatly into the side of a hill.

Number four is a great par-5 that plays from an elevated tee to a fairway that rolls, and first cants left before falling hard to the right in the lay-up area. Though the mowing lines are poor, any golfer with just a bit of imagination can see the strategic merit of the clever fairway bunkering.

Brantford is only 6,600 yards, but with several par-4s that play over 450 yards, it doesn't feel short. The first of these long par-4s is at the 5th, where a wonderfully rippled fairway ensures an uneven lie:

At the 7th Thompson takes the elevation head on, with the hole playing straight uphill to another spectacular green site. Admittedly, the overhanging tree limbs make for an improved picture, but they do not add strategic value to the hole and I cannot imagine they help the health of the grass.

The 8th is a 155 yard par-3 that plays subtly uphill and completes the golfer's trek back to peak elevation

The final hole on the opening nine is certainly a quirky one. The golfer must choose whether to lay-up well short of the 100-yard marker on this 300 yard par-4 to leave a clear view of the green, or whether to challenge the increasingly narrowed fairway near the green.

The 10th hole is a stunning and strong mid-length par-3 with a diagonal green that dips in the centre:

The 11th drops back into the valley and though the tee shot is dramatic, this is one of the least interesting holes on the golf course:

The golfer 'crosses the road' for the stretch of holes from the 12th through the 15th. One would have that the dominating feature would have been the stream that meanders through this portion of the property, similar to the 'across the road' stretch of holes at Perry Maxwell's Oklahoma City G&CC, but it goes utterly unused. Nonetheless, the 480 yard par-5 12th is a very good hole played over rising and tilted land.

No doubt trees and mow lies are an issue at the 12th as the ideal lay-up sits buried in the rough...

The tee shot at the 14th, played alongside out of bounds, is a touch too narrow to be strategic...

A spectacular par-3 at the 190 yard 15th. The green is set in a natural punchbowl in the corner of the property...

After climbing to the 15th green, the golfer enters the valley for the last time on the 16th where the tee shot is played over a lightly trafficked maintenance road. At one time, I presume, the stream ran across the 16th fairway 30 yards or so short of the green, but it has since been piped under the fairway.

The 17th is a challenging but bland hole -- a disappointing hole in an otherwise exceptional set of par-3s.

The home hole is a mid-length par-5 that once again crosses the maintenance road.

A perfectly placed bunker guards the ideal angle of approach well-placed green:

Jackie Kerin: Off to Rome to the Federation for European Storytelling Conference and Festival 2013

I’m off to Rome for the Federation for European Storytelling Conference. Its a privilege to represent my storytelling colleagues from Storytelling Australia (Vic). Seems like the popularity of oral storytelling is going from strength to strength. Look no further than UK Daniel Morden’s spectacular impact at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival.

I won’t be presenting at the FEST Conference; Australia is not a member of the Federation (wrong continent) but I have memory stick in my bag with photos and introductions from some of the finest Victorian Tellers, that I will show off with pride.

Following the Conference I’ll be working at the Rome International Storytelling Festival where I have a show, for children and one for adults. I'll be telling original stories based on material bandicooted from the State Library of Victoria newspaper indexes, tall stories inspired by the work of Graham Seal and Bill Wannan, stuff from my own head blended with urban myth and I have my indi comics/zines and original kamishibai story packs to trade.

I’ll be working with Mariella Bertelli, who will also be translating for me. Mariella visited Storytelling Australia (Vic) a while ago – some of you will remember her tale from The Decameron.

As I lay my stuff out to pack – I'm thinking it looks like I've raided one of those Aussie souvenir shops in Swanston Street but I can assure you, its all of the finest quality, original and loved. I've purchased a new memory card for my camera with the plan of documenting the experience to share on my return.

La Senora Jackie K

Thanks for your support:
and family and other friends.

Storytelling Program: Newport Folk Festival 5 -7 July 2013

Dave Davies CD Launch 
From Ironbark to Dandaloo, Dave has been bringing us poems and stories of the bush for many years now. This will be a special event as Dave is launching his CD The Man From Ironbark. The CD showcases Dave's extensive repertoire, including C.J. Dennis' The Play, Banjo Paterson's How Gilbert Died and Henry Lawson's The Lights of Cobb and Co. Come along, enjoy a poem or two, and pick up your own copy of the CD.

Newport Bowls Club, Sunday 10:30 am - 11:00 am 
Entry: Wristband or pay at door

Niki Na Meadhra (invitation to tell a story or sing a song)
Storytellers, poets and musicians are invited to join around a crackling fire with one of Melbourne's favourite storytellers. There'll be candles to light the room and spicy chai to warm the heart and loosen the tongue. Bring words to share and ears to listen. All welcome but remember this is a storytelling evening for adults.
Niki na Meadhra is the imagination behind Enchanted Evening, a monthly night of traditional tales held in the Bishop's Parlour at Abbotsford Convent.
Stories by the Fire is hosted by Storytelling Australia Victoria (Kate Lawrence and Jackie Kerin) and No Worries Curries (chai).
Newport Scout Hall, Saturday 06:00 pm - 08:00 pm 
Entry: Wristband or pay at door.

Jackie and Dharma invite the young ones to bring their big people to the Newport Festival Story Time! 

Between them, Jackie Kerin and Dharma have told stories and sung songs with thousands of children at festivals and libraries, nationally and internationally. Their love of language and the oral folk tradition is reflected in their apparently infinite repertoire of rhymes, chants, handclaps.  

Jackie and Dharma will be signing books and cds
Newport Library / Kids Zone, Saturday 10:30 am - 11:00 am
Entry: Free

The Miller's Tale. In company with Simon Leverton and The Rag and Bone Men,
The Miller, fresh from the 14th Century and smelling like a rose, is back by popular demand! Damsels beware! Chastity belts available at the door. The Miller's last appearance was at the Williamstown Literary Festival in 2012 where his tale caused much merriment.
 The Miller (aka Danny O'Connell) was originally the invention of Geoff Chaucer who sadly passed way 14 October 1400. Geoff now resides in Westminster Abbey. Danny O'Connell: raconteur, actor, singer, instrument maker. 
Simon Leverton: member of the NFFC, plays guitar, sings, is a retired Morris Dancer and the man behind Live@Newport. 
The Rag and Bone Men are a motley bunch of wannabie Englishmen who hold to the view that pie, chips and mushy peas are England's greatest gift to the world. They play Morris tunes and sing songs redolent of the rolling English countryside, and the rollicking local hostelries.
 WARNING: The Miller is rude, makes sexual references and uses language that may offend
Newport Bowls Club, Saturday 08:00 pm - 09:00 pm 
Entry: Wristband or pay at door.

For your easy digestion, this is a summary of the story telling events at the Newport Folk Festival. Preview the full program HERE

The Country Club (East), Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada - Golf Course Review

The Country Club (East)

Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada

Architect: Howard Watson

6,514 Yards, Par-71

Rating/Slope: 71.7/130

My Quick Review: Boldly routed in spots, but overall too much back and forth; The Country Club has a lot to like but it's not great.

The Country Club was once the Toronto Board of Trade GC, a fairly private golf course home to mostly corporate types. In 2008-ish, with the downturn in the economy, the 45 hole complex was purchased by Clublink Corporation. Clublink owns 20 or so private courses in Ontario (and a couple of public ones, including Glen Abbey) and offers reciprocal access to all of its courses to its members.

Howard Watson was an apprentice of Stanley Thompson and it seems was reasonably prominent in Ontario and Quebec in the 1950s and 1960s.

TCC is an interesting golf course, which shows a unique combination of Thompson's influence and the 1960s era of penal design. As is typical of golf courses of that era, the greens are large, simply shaped, and with interest created by a single large contour rather than subtle movement or slope. That is not to say the greens are a weakness -- they are actually quite fun and depending on how the pin is placed in relation to the large slope, can be difficult as well.

See, for example, the 2nd green with a ridge that splits the green front and back:

Or the 4th green with a similar ridge:

The 6th green has a bowl in the back-right:

And the 7th has a bowl in the centre-right:

The Country Club is routed over a fantastic piece of land, and like Thompson, Watson was not afraid to integrate the most wild land movements into the strategy of the holes.

At the 2nd the selection of this greensite is phenomenally well-done, shelved into the side of a hill:

A blind tee shot at the 6th over a roll in the fairway gives way to... another awesome roll:

As seen from behind, Watson uses the landform on the left to create a blind landing area:

Qurik at the 11th as the golfer plays a semi-blind tee shot to the two-tiered green:

The 13th is controversial with a bizarre centreline tree. I wonder if Watson ever thought it would grow so much!?

Tilted land at the 15th where a mis-hit approach will leave a very difficult recovery:

And, finally, the short par-5 18th from behind: