I have no idea who you are, or what you, or your organisation does. I have no idea which are you work in. Is it heritage, museums, arts, local authority, specific projects? I have no idea of what you are hoping to achieve with your chosen community, and therefore, I have no idea what your stated outcomes and outputs are. I’ve written all of this with museum and heritage professionals in mind, but some of it may be completely off the mark, or it might just give you the spark of an idea. I hope it’s the latter.

What I do know is that whatever you are thinking about doing, will need some sort of target output. You’ll also be thinking about outcomes, in terms of community engagement and participatory practice.

I am going to wrap up the Practice section by looking briefly at those dull addenda to the amazing journey you’ve been on with the community, which you are now a member of, and an advocate for.

Inch in four photos – Sunrise over the island, the Fort, the King’s Grave, the Castle.

That SE-PS application form, all those months ago… what did you say you would do? Was it a publication, a website, an exhibition, a play, a collection of stories or oral histories? Again, I have no idea, but whatever it was, you’ll need to revise your thinking.


Our work on Inch had a clear goal. We were creating a virtual museum exhibit, to reflect then heritage of the island.


What form that took would be guided by what we found there and something else…

What I felt was right for the community and the project.

I can’t find the words to explain this purely emotional response to the stories I heard, and people I met. Subjectivity, improvisation and gut feelings are not the best fit to the SE-PS’ standard project application form.

In my experience, you will have a Eureka moment at some point in the process. Somebody will say something, or you’ll pick up a photograph, or you’ll be standing staring at the rocks on a promontory and the lightbulb will flicker on.

For the Inch website, I started with pages and pages of information and hundreds of images. Chatting to Niall McShane about design, we both realised that a Timeline might be the best way of presenting Inch’s history. And maybe all of that came from me staring at the strata… the layers of history on the shoreline.

Dún Inis, Inch Fort from below, and geology.

Don’t ignore that response. The unconscious mind has a way of guiding you to ideas and impulses you may never have considered, but which are created and nurtured from your life experience.

That was pages ago, but it applies here as well. Whatever form of output you anticipated will have been transformed by the community’s input. How it is presented will take your inspiration, the community’s consent and a lot of hard work.

The process element may have been 80% of the project. Creating the output will be the other 80%. I did warn you it would take more time than you had.


Ah yes, the imponderables…

What impact did your project have?

How many hard-to-reach groups did you engage with?

What metrics did you use to evaluate the impact/outcome ratio?

I can’t give you the answers to these questions, and the dozen or so other ones on the SE-PS evaluation form. But if you have done half the things in this guide, twice as well as you might have done before you read it, then your engagement will have been excellent.

And if the SE-PS don’t care what you’ve created, as long as it ticked the boxes, the community will. And they are the arbiters of excellence…

I am mightily impressed with the website, great to have so much stuff available in one place. I hope the folk in Inch are enthralled, they should be. It is a wonderful legacy.

Gosh! You have done well! Impressed. 

Thanks so much for sharing… it’s brilliant!

Well done to all involved!

Love it. An absolute gem!

Yes, they did like what we did

And that is almost that. I have a few more things to say, but as far as the actual doing, that’s up to you now.

You have the Nörsjek coffee-table components, the screws and fixings, and those little bent-metal tools. Time to make it…

Be patient

Be passionate

Be curious

Don’t panic

And one more thing, probably the most important, and something I haven’t said too much about…


Next –>

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