Giving Thanks is a new campaign to create digital memories that bring the people of Southampton together in a shared celebration of the city and its communities.
Launching on 26 November to coincide with Thanksgiving 2020, it is being delivered as part of the ongoing city-wide Mayflower 400 programme and aims to not just mark the anniversary, but to bring people together as best we can in these days of social isolation, through generating an understanding of difference and encouraging an attitude of gratitude.
The public is being asked to share, through social media and using #MyGivingThanks, photos, images, videos, stories, poems of the things for which they are grateful; that could be their pets, their parents, or their local park.
There are online activity packs available to help communities, families and businesses get involved.
The scheme will be open until Valentine's Day 2021 and is supported by the Barker-Mill Foundation.
Cllr Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes, Communities and Culture, says: "During this difficult time, it's more important than ever to celebrate and share the important things that make a difference to our lives every day, however small.
"We hope Southampton people from all ages and backgrounds get behind this campaign and show both the positive can-do spirit and the camaraderie and kindness of our great city."
Tim Jobling, Barker-Mill Foundation trustee, adds: "Giving Thanks couldn’t have been launched at a better time - it’s been a tough year for all and this campaign gives the people of Southampton the opportunity to really showcase those things they are thankful for and highlight the fantastic community spirit of the city.
"The Barker-Mill Foundation is absolutely delighted to be supporting the campaign and the wider Mayflower 400 project which has bought and will continue to bring so much joy to the city."
Throughout the campaign a selection of ‘thanks’ will be published on the Mayflower 400 website and through its social media channels.
With funding from Arts Council England, artists Shared Space and Light will pull the community-generated social media content together and, in partnership with Northam Community Centre, work with communities in Northam and Kingsland to make a new digital artwork that will be shared online in March 2021.
This will tell the story of the city and its people using motion graphics and 3D animation. The project is also supported by Southampton-based literature development agency, ArtfulScribe, who will be posting poems that respond to a theme of gratitude on social media throughout the 10 weeks.
Part of the programme will be curated by GO! Southampton and will be timed to give thanks during the Christmas festive period.
They have commissioned City Eye to capture films of some of the city’s key workers, highlighting the vital work they are carrying out across our community during the pandemic. The films not only thank our key workers and community, but also show the importance of supporting one another at this time.
Project partners, Southampton Voluntary Services (SVS), initiated this programme of Giving Thanks activity. Through SVS, small community organisations will be able to access training and small funds to support participation in the project during January 2021.
The campaign was initially designed to encourage activities like street parties, picnics, coffee mornings, but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a move into the digital environment.
The project also owes a debt to Native American Wampanoag partners. The idea of giving thanks is central to the Wampanoag culture, through ritual, ceremony and the sharing of food.
It is the story of the Wampanoag people coming together with the Mayflower passengers which inspired the US national holiday, Thanksgiving. The programme opens with a new film made by the Wampanoag people expressing their thoughts on and explaining more about the Thanksgiving traditions.
Miles Bernadett-Peters, representative of the Mashpee Wampanoag people, says: "To follow the meaning of Thanksgiving is to be thankful, to be respectful, to be caring to other people, to be giving. Not just to you and your own, not just to you and your family, but to strangers, to homeless people, to people who have nothing, people who are just trying to survive. That’s what the indigenous people did for the people who came across the seas on the ships."
Giving Thanks runs from 26 November 2020 to 14 February 2021. More information is available here and at #MyGivingThanks.
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