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Feedback – it’s a real thing

From Moxie DePaulitte – The Stove Herald

Throughout the year, we like to make sure we keep in touch with all our members and ensure that everyone has chance to easily express their hopes, wants and needs relating to the development of The Stove and joint creation of a better Dumfries. Whether that be more formally at the members ‘Housewarming’ event; ‘Cultural Wayfinding’ sessions; via Tea with Moxie (yep, that’s still going if you want a natter and a cuppa!); at drop in sessions; during live events; the speechbubbles project; or just casual encounters in the street: the core team are keen to hear thoughts, suggestions and ideas on how to take things forward.

Moxie at work at Guid Nychburris
Moxie at work at Guid Nychburris

The Stove has really blossomed since opening its High Street doors earlier in the year and there are lots more exciting adventure on the horizon so here is just a quick recap of the kind of things you were asking for and what we’ve done by way of response.

Spoken Word and creative writing was very high on people’s agenda and an increase in events was suggested by many. April saw Open Mouth blast onto the scene with Sarah Indigo and Eryl Shields leading performance and creation workshops with school students during the day. The success of this has led to Brave New Words being developed into a regular Open Mic night at The Stove, the next of which is this coming Friday October 30th, and is open to all (musical or spoken word, Brave New Words is open to all original writing). In the run up to Christmas, various other word based events are planned, including Wagtongues Pop Up Bookshop at the end of November and there is an open-call out for new writing for exciting art installations in the closes of the town.

Brave New Words - poetry slam September 18th 2015
Brave New Words – poetry slam September 18th 2015

A number of conversations around food were sparked at the Housewarming event, perhaps sparked by the delicious Chai Tea made by Open Jar and the Bannocks baking on the open fire in the square! People were keen to harness the power of nourishment in all its senses, suggesting gatherings; gardening experiments where people could come to learn how to grown and learn how to cook seasonal produce; cup return schemes for our café and film evenings and talks linked to food and produce. We’ve also been in talks regarding community gardens, rewilding, and working with groups around the region to provide a chance to explore the lines where the act of growing becomes art.

The amazing Alic Thompson from Social Bite talking food and social enterprise at The Stove (
The amazing Alice Thompson from Social Bite talking food and social enterprise at The Stove (

The latter was explored during our recent film season at The Stove where films such as Moo Man, Vanishing of The Bees, and The Lunchbox were accompanied by wonderful talks and equally wonderful tasty, relevant treats.

We also had an incredible talk by Alice from Social Bite who shared their journey from scratch to building an amazing network of Sandwich shops which help the homeless back on their feet and into work.

Work has started on The Stove Café which will provide a vibrant meeting place in the heart of Dumfries and a base for further creative exploration of how we think about, grow, distribute and cook food. The tender was won by Angela and Colin Green and we are very excited to see what this new development brings.

Stove members at Housewarming talking about ideas for the future
Stove members at Housewarming talking about ideas for the future

We are really keen to hear from people who might like to host groups in the early evening (for example we have a regular Craftivism (Creative Activism) workshop beginning on October 28th) which will encourage people to linger a little longer once the shops have closed, and build on our commitment to breathe new life back into the town centre.

The Craftivism workshops also touch on a couple of other points raised by members. It became apparent that people were keen to form Skill Sharing groups and to engage in Mindfulness initiatives. Craftivism encourages both and we hope will be the catalyst for other Skill Sharing/Skill Swap events to be born.

It was suggested we take ‘The Stove’ outwith the building and do more projects around the region. One such project involved The Young Stove working with a group of school aged children in the woods near New Galloway where they ran a workshop called Survival Art School and then showed the youngsters around their own show at Gatehouse of Fleet., another was the co-production of EAFS; a wonderful Off Grid Adventure in the grounds of Morton Castle that, amongst many other magical things, encouraged the sharing of food as a point of human contact and engagement, calling on that primal need to break down modern social barriers and open up a world of friendship and communication around shared nourishment.

Rajasthan heritage Brass Band at The Stove
Rajasthan heritage Brass Band at The Stove

People asked for Drumming and what a line up we gave them! Not only did we fill the day with the incredible Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, who brought huge smiles to everyone they encountered, but then an evening which gave way to a spectacular workshop with local drumming groups which brought the community together in a loud and joy filled way.
Thinking of the future vision, in addition to calls for giant water slides, segways instead of Orange Bike Schemes, permanent Block Parties, Adult Ball Pits and Drive in Cinemas, it was clear people wanted to feel the love coming back into the town centre.

Phrases like:

“Let’s celebrate what we have and what we can be rather than focusing on what we don’t. We are a vibrant town with vision. Work together to make it happen.”

“Keeping Dumfries’ heritage but being more upbeat and welcoming to new things”

“Convert dead shops into flats = get people back into town.”

“Use empty shops as art galleries/installations – artists get work shown, town gets colourful, vibrant art instead of empty shops full of litter.”

have been repeated in various forms and, although a little less exciting than gigantic bowling alleys made of foam, are a little more tangible and form a good starting place for change.
It’s obvious that the regeneration has already begun with many people commenting on what a positive difference having The Stove present on the High Street has already had but there is, clearly, much more to be done.

We had some great public sessions working with Lateral North to discover how interventions and Cultural Wayfinding could help develop Dumfries, help her be more welcoming, and make it easier (and more exciting) to navigate, just as it has in other towns; and there’s more of that to come with an event surrounding Norway House next month.The building itself has had a wide range of personalities since its birth. It’s provided a messy space for The Young Stove and other artists, been an exhibition space for a range of artists, housed workshops, meetings, gatherings and music gigs. It’s welcomed a wide range of people through its doors from immensely varied walks of life, and that makes us very proud. It’s also become an ideas exchange, a place where people can come to give inspiration and take it, to bring ideas and help them grow.

Radio DMC
Radio DMC

Music has been another hot topic for members and the public and we have been growing a Music strand since The Stove began through our Dumfries Music Conference – since 100 High Street has been open this has continued to blossom through partnerships with other local music groups, such as Small Town Sounds, Music Plus and Electric Fields. These partnerships have led to great gigs showcasing local talent such as Rudi Zygadlo, MØGEN and Mark Lyken. You can even learn guitar at The Stove now with guitar teacher David Bass.

Other things that have come up in chats include:

  • Partnerships with the Crichton Campus – exciting news on that next February
  • Fast Public Broadband – big up to Ailsa for making The Stove the first business with fibre-optic broadband in the town centre
  • Space for screenprinting – we’re supporting Upland and Maklab in trying to start a facility at Maklabs premises on the High Street
  • Classes in IT and Film Editing – our digital making suite will be taking bookings soon…watch this space
  • Support for research projects into Environmental Issues – Stove was the base for the recent Environmental Art Festival Scotland and watch out for ArtCOP Scotland @ The Stove in early December
  • More for young people in the town – the Young Stove continues to flourish and is integrated into just about everything we now do
  • Be part of making Dumfries better – The Stove continues to be a place that people come to debate and take positive action for the town…we are taking an active part in the current debate about the Whitesands and there is exciting news coming up about major improvements to the High Street.
'Not to Be Sold Separately' an exhibition by Young Stove
‘Not to Be Sold Separately’ an exhibition by Young Stove

So, let us know what you think. Book in with Moxie for a cuppa, send an email or drop our Herald a line on Facebook. The Stove is ever evolving and its quiet energy is building all the time; so get in touch and let’s see how we can sail together into the next phase.

PS if you are ever wondering what is going on at The Stove then please check our Events Calendar – here or to check back over what has been going on our Blog – here

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