Participants United, University of Central Lancashire, Preston

The Geezers were participants in the Connected Communities project ‘Participants United’ which ran for most of 2011, involving Ann Light and led by Paul Egglestone of UCLAN, to look at constructive styles of community participation in academic research projects. 

After an initial set-up workshop at which the men considered who they would like to meet to continue to develop their ideas (in this case, British Waterways, the authority responsible for canals and rivers at the time), Loraine, Toby and three Geezers (Ray, Ted and John) travelled to Preston for a summit of discussions about participating in research.

What was most notable about the Active Energy contribution was the way that the research had moved out of the hands of the original team based at Queen Mary University of London who brought Loraine and the Geezers together. Although the Geezers had lots to say about being participants in a research project, they were exemplary of a different form of relations, where the men led the work and the team round them ebbed and flowed as needed to make their intended innovations a reality. This was no university project, even though it emerged from one.

Sadly, no one from British Waterways made the trip to join the Geezers in their discussions, despite a long optimistic exchange with the local branch. But the spirit of innovative research models was a good complement to citizen innovation on the tides.