<![CDATA[Cymerau - NEWYDDION / NEWS]]>Sat, 21 May 2016 00:06:24 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[Cymerau Cynulliad y Gwanwyn | Spring Gathering]]>Mon, 16 May 2016 10:24:03 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/cymerau-cynulliad-y-gwanwyn-spring-gatheringPedwar diwrnod o ddigwyddiadau, gweithgareddau a dangos ffilmiau.
Four days of events, activities and film screenings. 
26-29 Mai 2016
Mae hyn i gyd am ddŵr! It’s all about water!


Programme of Events

Please also find the programme on Facebook: ​https://www.facebook.com/events/214875785564114/
For more information please phone ecodyfi: 01654 703965. Everyone welcome! Croeso i bawb!
Find event details of Facebook

'Water Surgery' (Pop-up Event)

Gyda/With Jess Allen
Edrychwch ar ddigwyddiadau eraill ar gyfer amseroedd a lleoliadau lle gall hi ymddangos.
See other events for times and venues where she may appear. 

'Beached: The Final Landing' (Event)
Gyda/With Jane Lloyd Francis a/and Gwilym Morus-Baird
Dydd Iau, 26 Mai Canolfan Ymwelwyr Ynyslas | 6:30yh taith gerdded fer | 7:30yh o dan do ar gyfer y prif ddigwyddiad. Thursday 26 May | The Ynyslas Visitors Centre | 6:30pm for a short walk | 7:30pm indoors for the main event.

'Y Gors' (Film)
Gan/By Anne Marie Carty, Nick Jones, Dafydd Sills-Jones
Dydd Gwener, 27ain Mai | Neuadd Isaf Neuadd Goffa Tal-y-bont 7:30yh.
Friday 27th May | Tal-y-bont Memorial Hall (Lower Hall) 7:30pm.

'Edafedd-dwr / Water-yarn' (Film)
Gan/By Ffion Jones
Dydd Gwener, 27ain Mai | Neuadd Isaf Neuadd Goffa Tal-y-bont 7:30yh.
Friday 27th May | Tal-y-bont Memorial Hall (Lower Hall) 7:30pm.

'Water Shed'
Gyda/With Helen Kennedy a ffrindiau/and friends
Dydd Sadwrn, 28 Mai | Gerddi Cymunedol Y Borth. Dewch draw unrhyw amser rhwng 10yb a 4yh.
Cysylltwch â 01654 703965 i gael cyfarwyddiadau.
Saturday 28 May | Borth Community Gardens. Come along any time between 10am and 4pm.
Call 01654 703965 for directions.


'Stories, Songs, Science & the Sea'
Gyda/With Lynne Denman, Erin Kavanagh a/and Peter Stevenson
Dydd Sul, 29 Mai | Hostel Ieuenctid Y Borth. Taith a Gweithdy 11yb-4yh | Perfformiad gyda’r nos 6yh.
Sunday 29 May | Borth Youth Hostel Walk and Workshop 11am-4pm | Evening Performance 6pm.

<![CDATA[Ar Lan y Leri]]>Fri, 22 Apr 2016 10:27:26 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/ar-lan-y-leri
We would like to invite you to a Social Evening : Siop Siarad
In the Babell Chapel Dol y bont
At 7.30 pm on Thursday April 28th
To enjoy a cuppa and cake, listen to some music and gather stories.
Gwilym Morus Baird and Jane Lloyd Francis are creating a journey down the Leri to be told in music, poetry and prose. We need your stories and experiences of the river, its sources, tributaries, flows, eddies and surrounds to weave into this work.
They can be stories from the past or for the future, personal, mythic or made up, we will also invite some special expert guests to help provoke and inspire our discussions.
It ‘s all about water.
Please do join us if you can. Croeso i bawb.
<![CDATA[When policy and real lives collide]]>Tue, 22 Mar 2016 09:58:25 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/when-policy-and-real-lives-collide
Gwilym Jenkins | Image by Ffion Jones
During my visit to retired farmer Gwilym Jenkins this morning, we discussed issues from a farming perspective that often we shy away from. Policy, environmental activism, pasts and presents. What became very clear is the fact that governmental policy since the war has influenced and affected land use. Governments encouraged a productivity and intensive farming that inevitably became damaging to our environment. It is now the job of schemes like Glastir to rectify that damage.

In my current creative thinking around the subject of Hydrocitizenship, I am attempting to weave narratives which complicate our perhaps black and white view of farming activity. Using a narrative of compulsory dipping during the 70's to the early nineties, I draw out a story of ignorance: an ignorance of the OP chemicals that the government were asking farmers to use for twice yearly compulsory dipping, and an ignorance from farmer's about not only the chemicals, but how carefully managed the waste needed to be.

Gwilym explains how before the government grants were introduced 'willy nilly' in the post war period, farming was a much more social activity. Never profitable, but the farmers were their own masters, and they treated their land with respect. Farmers would look out for one another, helping each other out at shearing time to wash the sheep in the rivers, ploughing and 'plygu sietyn' hedge-laying. He suggests that had the grants during this period been for encouraging skills such as hedge-laying, stone walling, clearing ditches etc. the damage might never have occurred. It was during this time that grants were given for clearing hedges, spreading fertilizer, weed-killing etc. and of course, farmer's took the money; but with it  came a change in attitude towards the occupation, and farming became less social and more interested in profitability.  

Gwilym and I stood on the bridge over the river Ceulan, near his home. He mourned the loss of the fish in the river, and wanted to know why they were no longer there. I felt his sadness when he looked over at the clear water. Neither of us had a concrete answer...he told me that when they used to dip the sheep nearby, the river was full of fish. They stopped dipping fifteen years ago and he noticed about five years ago that there were no longer fish here. We walk back to his home, stopping to admire his yearling bulls who are still wearing their winter coats; their hair curled messily on their warm, fluffy heads.

 In his house, I admire his collection of photographs on the wall; his many grandchildren and all of their achievements. Nestled amongst them, is a black and white image of his wife, and his wife's friend standing on the bridge that we've just visited; smiling elegantly for the camera. Gwilym talked about how early electricity came to Talybont, and how the mills were the reason for this. Hydro-electricity seemed to be common in and around the village at one point, he told me that he didn't understand why more small-scale hydro-electric schemes weren't installed locally instead of the wind turbines.

There are less of Gwilym's generation left in the local area now. Less farmers who have the skills that would have inevitably been a valued asset to any farming enterprise. Less farmers who remember such drastic changes in not only agricultural policy and agricultural innovation but also in the social aspects of the farming culture. In order to move forwards, we have to look backwards and try not to repeat the mistakes of previous generations.

<![CDATA[Sgwrs gyda Ffion Jones- artist a ffermwraig yn Nhal-y-bont ]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 08:49:58 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/sgwrs-gyda-ffion-jones-artist-a-ffermwraig-yn-nhal-y-bontDetholiad o sgwrs gyda Ffion Jones, sydd yn artist ac yn ffermio yng nghanolbarth Cymru. Mae Ffion wedi cwblhau PhD ym Mhrifysgol Aberystwyth, a oedd yn cyfleu bywyd ffermio i'r cyhoedd, drwy ddulliau celfyddydol. Mae hi hefyd wedi ei chomisiynu gan Cymerau/Hydrocitizenship i archwilio perthynas ffermwyr gyda dŵr, ar hyd yr afon Leri.
Ffion Jones. Llun: Sara Penrhyn Jones 14/08/15
Sara: Beth yw dy gysylltiad gyda’r ardal yma? Be dan ni’n ei weld tu ôl i ti?

Ffion: Dyma lle ‘dw i’n byw, nawr, yn Nhal-y-bont, ond 'dw i'n wreiddiol o Fachynlleth, wedi symud yma tua chwe mlynedd yn nol.  Nawr 'dw i’n byw yma gyda fy nghariad i, a fy merch fach ar y fferm. Ni’n ffermio fan hyn: defaid, ac ychydig bach o wartheg, a cheffylau. Dim ffermio ceffylau, ond mae pobl yn rhentu stablau ac yn cadw eu ceffylau nhw fan hyn. 

Sara: Sut fyddet ti’n disgrifio dy gysylltiad di gyda’r tirwedd, yn yr ardal hon?

Ffion: 'Dw i wastad wedi bod yn berson sydd yn hoffi bod tu allan, ac make fy nghysylltiad i gyda’r tirwedd yn naturiol wedi dod o fy mhlentyndod ‘dw i’n credu, ac o’r ffaith fy mod i’n ferch fferm o Fachynlleth.  Felly ro’n i allan o hyd.  Ac mae’n bwysig, wrth gwrs, efo ffermio, i fod allan efo’r anifeiliaid ac i edrych arnyn nhw bob dydd, ac i tsecio fod ganddyn nhw fwyd a dŵr ac yn y blaen.  'Dw i'n nabod Talybont wrth gwrs achos 'dw i’n byw yma, ond dydi’r cysylltiad ddim mor ddwfn efallai.
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 30/11/2011
Sara: Beth oedd pwynt dy PhD, a beth oedd hynna yn ei olygu o ran y ffordd roeddet ti'n byw dros y cyfnod yna?

Ffion: Roedd y PhD yn ymwneud â ffermio, ond hefyd gyda chelf. Trio ffeindio ffordd o esbonio sut beth yw bywyd fferm i’r cyhoedd. Dyna beth oedd y prif nod. Doedd y gwaith artistig ddim i’r ffermwyr eu hunain. Ro’n i wastad wedi teimlo fod 'na lot o farn am ffermio a chefn gwlad yng Nghymru, ac mae’r gwahaniaeth rhwng y bobl sydd yn dod yma i wneud ‘outdoor pursuits’, pethau hamddenol, cerdded ayyb, mae 'na ryw fath o 'disconnection' rhwng y bobl yna a’r ffermwyr, ro’n i’n teimlo.
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 14/12 /2011
Ro’n i eisiau creu gwaith oedd yn trio esbonio iddyn nhw, a siarad am y tensiynau rhwng y gwahanol bobl oedd yn defnyddio cefn gwlad. Nes i wneud pedair mlynedd o waith maes, sef ethnography, a bod gyda’r bobl yma, a gwrando yn astud ar beth redden nhw’n dweud, a chymryd lluniau.  Ac wedyn ro’n i’n gwneud gwaith pob blwyddyn- gwaith ffilm, gwaith perfformio ayyb.
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 22/11/2011
Sara: Wrth gwrs roeddet ti’n gyfarwydd gyda’r diwylliant yma yn barod, ond cafodd unrhyw beth newydd ei ddatgelu drwy’r broses yma? Sut fath o ddarganfyddiadau nes di, ti'n meddwl?

Ffion: ‘Dw i’n credu mai’r prif ddarganfyddiad o’r broses wnes i oedd y perthynas rhwng y ffermwyr a’u hanifeiliaid fferm, ac mor gymhleth oedd y berthynas yna rhwng y defaid mynydd Cymreig ar ffermwyr eu hunain. Roedd o lot fwy cymhleth nag o’n i wedi -  dim bod i heb sylweddoli, ond ro’n i bron rhy ofnus i ddweud mor bwysig oedd y berthynas yna rhwng yr anifeiliaid a’r ffermwyr. 'Dan ni ddim yn meddwl am ein hanifeiliaid fel darnau o gig, neu arian, yn rhedeg o gwmpas ein tir. Dyw e ddim fel na, mae o’n berthynas  mwy, mwy fel rhywun efo’u plant. Dach chi’n teimlo'r un cyfrifoldeb tuag atyn nhw, a dyna oedd fy mhrif nod: meddwl am ffordd gallwn i siarad am ffermio a chyfleu hyn i bobl, yn enwedig os does ganddyn nhw ddim byd i gymharu fe efo. Achos dyw o ddim yn waith, jest bywyd. Does dim gwahaniaeth rhwng bywyd a gwaith. Ti ddim yn dod adre ar ddiwedd y dydd a dweud: 'that was a good day in work'; mae bywyd a gwaith yr un peth. Felly roedd hynna yn rhan o’r broses, i ffeindio dulliau i siarad am hynna. 
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 22/11/2011
Sara: Beth am yr ochr gelfyddydol, mewn ffordd roeddet ti yn dy gymuned dy hun, ond roeddet ti yna yn holi a chymryd lluniau. Sut ti’n meddwl oedd pobl yn ymateb i’r gwaith roeddet ti’n ei wneud? 

Ffion: Ar y cychwyn roedd ychydig o bryderon - 'ti mor agos i’r ymchwil'- ond o’n i’n teimlo mod i wedi gweithio gyda hunan-fywgraffiad o’r blaen. Ro’n i’n teimlo mod i’n gallu creu bach o bellter rhwng fy hun a beth ro’n i’n edrych arno. 'O’n i ddim yn poeni ond o’n i yn meddwl fod bach o nerfusrwydd am y ffaith mod i’n edrych ar fy nheulu fy hunan.  

I ddweud y gwir, rhan bwysig o’r PhD oedd y ffaith mod i tu fewn i'r teulu, a thu fewn i'r fferm ro’n i'n ei nabod,  ac felly roedd y gwaith yn fwy dwfn. Allwn i ddim bod wedi gwneud y gwaith yna heb y profiad o fod yna o fod yn blentyn ar y fferm,  a gweithio gyda fy nheulu.
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 14/12 /2011
Sara: Ti di sôn am berthynas ffermwyr gyda’r anifeiliaid, ond beth am eu perthynas gyda’r tir? Achos un o’r pethau 'dw i'n teimlo fel person tu allan i fŷd ffermio- mae pobl yn aml yn sôn am ffermwyr fel gelyn yr amgylchedd. Oes gen ti deimladau am hynna, nes di ddatblygu dros y PhD?

Ffion: Mae elfennau yna, ond achos fod fy nheulu fi yn rhentu’r fferm, maen nhw'n teimlo’n gryf am y tir, wrth gwrs, ond efallai fod hynny'n ffactor. Mae 'na bolisïau newydd amaethyddol wedi dod i mewn,  a rhai sydd wedi gorffen, sydd yn canolbwyntio ar agweddau amgylcheddol. Weithiau, mae 'na ryw fath o ‘blanket like approach’ i bawb, ond dyw pob fferm  ddim yn elyn. Mae 'na rai, wrth gwrs, dydw i ddim yn siŵr am agribusiness, ond ffermydd mynyddog, mae hynna llawer mwy cymhleth.  Os ti'n tynnu defaid oddi ar y mynydd mae pob math o bethau yn tyfu, fel brwyn a choed. Byddai rhai pobl yn hapus efo hynny, ond beth am y bobl sydd eisiau cerdded? Ti ddim yn gallu cerdded dros y mynyddoedd wedyn, a fyddech chi byth yn gallu mynd a defaid nol yna os yw hynna digwydd. Felly mae llawer o broblemau, a thensiynau rhwng bob mathau o bobl i wneud gyda ffermio mynyddog yng Nghymru, a Phrydain 
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones
Sara: I bobl tu allan i ffermio yng Nghymru, be ti'n meddwl yw'r stereotypes?

Ffion: Backwards, hen ffasiwn, pobl sydd ddim yn hoffi gweld pobl ar eu tir- ac i ryw raddau mae hynna yn wir. Mae’n dibynnu be ti'n neud ar eu tir nhw. 'Dw i’n cofio fy nhad wastad yn gallu bod bach yn grac yn gweld pobl yn cerdded, achos roedd pobl yn gadael giatiau ar agor, ac roedd rhai pobl wedi torri ffens achos doedden nhw ddim eisiau cerdded drwy bach o bog. Scramblers, wastad yn torri chaeniau oddi ar giatiau ayyb, ac mae o yn boen pan mae pobl yn ymddwyn fel 'na.
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 14/12 /2011
Sara: Efo prosiect ymchwil Cymerau, elli di ddweud sut fath o brosiect celfyddydol rwyt ti 'di cynnig, a pham?

Ffion: Ro’n i wedi gobeithio  defnyddio rhai o’r technegau ro’n i wedi darganfod yn ystod neud y PhD a rhoi'r amser i wrando ar bobl yn eu lle, felly ro’n i wedi gobeithio gweithio gyda ffermwyr ar hyd yr afon Leri. Fyddai ddim yn gwneud gwaith celf gyda nhw. 'Dw i jest eisiau gwrando arnyn nhw yn eu hamser eu hunain, a gwylio nhw’n gweithio a thrio ffeindio storiau'r afon o’u hochr nhw, a beth mae’n ei olygu iddyn nhw. 

Sara: Oes gen ti syniadau am be ti'n disgwyl darganfod- o gwbl?

Ffion: Oes- mae Tal-y-bont yn le gyda hen ddiwydiant o felinau gwlân, a chloddio am blwm, Felly fi'n credu bydd na storiâu yn gysylltiedig gyda hynna, yn dod allan o’r sgyrsiau yna. Falle ddim. Mae diddordeb gen i mewn prosesu gwlân, felly bydd hynny’n ddiddorol i glywed amdano. Falle  golchi'r defaid yn yr afon yn yr hen ddyddiau, cyn iddyn nhw stopio gwneud hynna. Pethau fel 'na.
Llun/artist: Ffion Jones 28/11 /2011
Sara: Efo ti, ydi dŵr yn rhywbeth ti di meddwl lot amdano, o ran dy waith, a dy fywyd? Mwy, efallai, na phobl eraill yn yr ardal? 

Ffion: Dydw’i i ddim yn credu mod i wedi meddwl lot am ddŵr. Mae dwr jest yn rhan o fywyd, fel chwarae yn yr afonydd pan o’n i’n blant. Rhedon ni allan o ddŵr pan o’n i’n ifanc, dwi’n cofio, a buom ni allan i'r afon i nôl dŵr, a dyma nhw’n palu bore-hole yn nhy mam a dad, pethau fel 'na. Mae 'na wastad pin points yn llwybr bywyd ble mae dŵr wedi chwarae ar ein meddyliau efallai.  Hefyd, fan hyn ar fferm ni, does dim afon 'da ni, felly rhaid i ni ffeindio ffordd o unigryw o gael dŵr i'n anifeiliaid ni. Felly lawr fanna, mae yna lyn bach a 'dan ni 'di pibellu dŵr o’r llyn, a'dan ni di cloddio i mewn i danciau’r anifeiliaid. Mae gennym ni drainpipe water collector. Pethau fel na, rhaid i chi feddwl am tsecio ar y dŵr i'r anifeiliaid o hyd. Achos dan ni ar dop Talybont, a mae’r dŵr lawr yn y gwaelod, rhaid i ni ffeindio ffyrdd o gael dŵr i’r anifeiliaid. Hefyd 'dw i'n credu yn y gwaith PhD o'dd dwr yn chwarae rôl yn rhai o’r delweddau. Mae 'na ‘recurring watery themes’ yn y gwaith, yn enwedig yn y ffilm olaf nes i.

Sara Penrhyn Jones yn cyfweld Ffion Jones. Llun: Lena Penrhyn Jones 14/08/15
Read more by Sara Penrhyn Jones
<![CDATA[Slowing the flow-in practice: Conversation between Hydrocitizens]]>Wed, 03 Feb 2016 09:02:50 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/slowing-the-flow-in-practice-conversation-between-hydrocitizensThe following is an edited transcript of a conversation between Jane Lloyd Francis, Community Artist and Farm Manager, Liz Lewis-Reddy, Head of Living Landscapes, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, filmed and recorded by Sara Penrhyn Jones
Location: Jane Lloyd Francis’ farm, Aber Cegir, Mid-Wales
Date: 30th July, 2015

(Liz shows how water moves through the landscape by using a model. A short video which brings together some of these thoughts, and offers a demonstration of how water can be kept in the uplands can be seen here: link to be added)
Slowing the Flow- understanding the basics. Dr Liz Lewis-Reddy demonstrates the principles with model and watering can. Video Still: Sara Penrhyn Jones, July 30th 2015.
So Liz, I’m really intrigued and very interested in the work that you’re doing up at Pumlumon. Particularly because I’m working along the river Leri, that has suffered severe flooding in the past, and I know that you and the Montgomeryshire Trust have got a scheme underway to alleviate some of the problems to do with flooding.

Effectively the Pumlumon Project came about because it was recognised that there was a number of threats in the Welsh uplands; threats to biodiversity, which was our first interest as a Wildlife Trust, but also threats to the way that people engage with the landscapes. Agricultural income was falling, the environment was declining, and these were all thought to be very separate things, until we started looking into the situation a bit more closely and we discovered that they were all very tightly interlinked.  So the way that the land was being managed, or not managed, was having a significant impact on the quality of the environment that was up there and therefore the quality of habitat and the different types of wildlife that you would encounter.  As the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, we looked at it closely and decided what would be the best route to address some of these issues. The first thing we came to was that we had to work with the people who were actually managing the land themselves. So it wasn’t a matter of us as a wildlife trust coming in and working directly on the land, independent of the communities who lived there.  It was something that we very much had to work on in partnership and in collaboration, so that everything we did was sustainable and viable for the long term, and wasn’t just going to be just another short-term impact, that was forgotten about in a decade or so.  

Key to all of this, the underlying theme was how water was impacting these habitats up there both in terms of what was falling out of the sky, and how it was moving through the land, taking away some of the nutrients, relevant to agricultural production, but then as a consequence, polluting the rivers downstream, affecting people’s drinking water, and the amount of water that was flowing out of the mountains.  There’s three-metre annual rainfall in the Pumlumon mountain range, which is a significant amount of water, if you think of three metres as being in the region of a storey and a half of an average building. So it was very important that we addressed that situation which is how water moves through that landscape, and the impact that it was having on various communities, both ecological and economic, and social communities in the area.


I wonder how things have changed then on the mountain, historically? Did it used to be different to how it is today?

The biggest difference is probably how people have interacted with the mountain and the surrounding hillsides and the lowlands. There used to be much more of a people-based community up in the mountains. People would move their stock up into the mountains in the summertime, and take them off in the winter. There were many more people living up there and engaging with that landscape, so in some ways being able to react to the changes that were taking place environmentally much more quickly. Nowadays it’s much more a case of people taking their stock up and leaving them there for long periods of time, and not necessarily living up there with them and then taking them off and moving entirely into the villages and towns downstream. So whereas you used to have a community of people who were migrating between the lowlands and uplands with their stock, it is only the stock who are migrating these days, and the type of stock was changing as well. So whereas in the past you would have had a mix of cattle and sheep, now it is predominantly sheep, because of the cost of managing cattle, and of course, bovine tuberculosis is a big issue with moving animals about.

The Welsh Government or UK Government’s incentives, post-war, were all about food production, and so that had two impacts on the upland landscape. Firstly, there was more pressure for sheep-based meat production because it’s a much quicker turnaround than cattle and it’s a much lower intensive system. Secondly, you were trying to change the habitat that is present in the uplands, so that they were more productive for this grazing animal, effectively draining some of these very, very wet habitats, drying them out, so that grasses could become a much more dominant member of that community, grasses being what the sheep were eating. 

So here we have a model of what happens when we get three metres of rain, falling on the uplands, and without anything to take up that water, perhaps you can show us what the consequences would be?

Sure, what we have is a model that we created to demonstrate how water moves through the landscape. (Describes how this works with the visual aid of the model- which at first doesn’t absorb any water- and with a watering can). As you can see if I pour water, straight from the heavens, on to these very flat habitats, it just flows straight off . (Demonstrates how ‘houses’ underneath are flooded as a consequence) This is the worst-case scenario in terms of what the habitat would look without any absorption properties whatsoever. (She then uses pieces of felt to represent how peat can function in this system).  Peat soil is effectively decaying sphagnum mosses, and what happens is because these habitats are very wet, you end up having an anaerobic digestion of this plant material, and that happens over centuries.  It’s not something that happens quickly, and it’s not something that happens in a matter of days; these are centuries of peat bog accumulation, in these very wet, warmish, environments. They build up, and build up, and in some places in the Pumlumon hills you can have up to seven metres of peat. There is a need to restore these very drained peat-bogs so that they can start absorbing some of that water, rather than just stopping that flow, because this isn’t a concrete dam; it’s just slowing the flow, and that slowing is so essential to how it will affect downstream communities.  

Crucially, it isn’t just what’s going on in the uplands that will have an impact on how that water moves through the landscape. If you think of the gullies that surround a lot of our upland rivers and streams at the moment they just tend to be scree, and shingle, there’s not much vegetation, but that’s a combination of the fact that we’ve had a lot of mining history in the area, so it’s altered a lot of the chemical constituents in the surrounding landscape, but also because sheep  have been allowed free access across most of the mountain, which means that they will selectively pick out little trees as they start to grow up. However, if you exclude stock from these very agriculturally marginal areas,  then you can have gully woodlands coming up. Trees have very complex and deep rooting systems and what that effectively means is that when water flows through the landscape, if you’ve got tree roots either through gully woodlands or hedgerows, then it slows the flow of the water, and a significant amount of that water is taken up by the trees themselves. 
Gully Woodlands can help to prevent flooding. Video Still: Sara Penrhyn Jones, July 30th, 2015
There are a whole range of solutions that you can look at in terms of ensuring that the water flowing off the mountain slows in its flow, and a lot of that nutrient uptake that would have been washed into the sea actually gets taken up by the surrounding communities. But also crucial to the solution is a permeable agricultural landscape.  As you get down into the lowlands, if the soil compaction in the surrounding agricultural fields is quite low and the root penetration of the grasses and the plants within the agricultural grassland is quite deep, then that in turn will play its part in terms of slowing the flow of the water and the movement of that nutrient through the system. (She demonstrates that a more diverse landscape in terms of the habitat features and the health of the ecology improves the absorption now taking place, and reduces flooding downstream). Although not perfect, we have a healthier, more robust environment, that is providing a service to the communities downstream, in terms of how that water is managed as it moves through the landscape, slowing the flow, taking the peaks off those flooding events, and enabling those nutrients that are coming off the mountainside, to be absorbed by some of those communities on the mountainside, but also the communities down in the agricultural landscape.
Working to protect houses downstream, which themselves can also help to manage water responsibly. Video Still: Sara Penrhyn Jones, July 30th 2015.
How do you think we can make these communities more aware of the work that you are doing, and what part might they play?

I think the key thing is to make sure that we engage at every level, so at the moment we spend a lot of time working with the landowning community, working with farmers directly, but you’re absolutely right. The next step is to bring in the people who live in those towns and villages, that are being impacted by flooding events, or by impacts on their water quality, and explaining to them what it is that we do.  We can actually work with them to make a difference as well, because it’s not just what happens in the uplands, it’s about what you can do downstream, whether its ensuring that your septic tank is emptied, or whether it’s making sure that your  garden is not just a concrete slab, but allows  water to flow. It’s also being more clever about where we build structures, so being aware of the environment that surrounds you, so that you’re working with nature, rather than working against it.


So we’ve talked a little bit about individuals perhaps taking some more responsibility for taking up water, growing things rather than perhaps concreting over things, do you think there’s a place for community initiative?

The most important message that we’d like to get across is that all individuals have a role to play in the water as it moves through their community and the way that they use water. It's exactly the same argument that people make about the energy  sector, which is that the responsibility doesn’t necessarily have to be in the power generation but in how people use that power. It means being aware of when they’re wasting power and only using it when they need it. The exact same principle applies to water, so for example, when you’re watering your garden, it makes a lot of sense to have water butts, which catch rainfall off your roof rather than pulling the water out of your tap. Or, for example, if you have a garden that doesn’t have bedding that is very permeable to water, so a lot of people like to put down big tiles, which obviously are nice to walk on, but the water then doesn’t permeate through the ground. It forces the water into different places. There’s lots of really innovative ways that you can make your garden more permeable, no matter how big that garden is, whether it’s only a couple of square metres or whether you have a whole acre to play with. Trees and shrubs are really crucial as well. You can get advice about from your local wildlife trust or your local community organisations about these deep-rooting, complex-rooting system plants. When you’re talking about wildlife gardening, it isn’t just about the species that are at the top of the soil but how they interact with the soil beneath the surface as well that is so crucial.  We have to become much more responsible and aware of the water we use, and how we treat the water that’s around us, to make us much more engaged with our local environments.


Is it surprising that the Montgomeryshire wildlife trust is getting involved? You’d normally expect you to be involved in wildlife and habitat management, but isn't this stepping outside your remit a little?


In the past the wildlife trusts origin was all based on protecting those remnants of the wild landscapes that surrounds us, and our remit is still very much that. However, I think that we’ve recognised over time that the nature reserve idea, those jewels in the crown, if you don’t have the crown, the jewels are just scattered across the landscape. So we need to have a joined up network, of healthy, robust environments, gardens, and farmland, and all aspects of the environment form part of this. So we’ve recognised that we’ve have to work outside the boundaries of our nature reserves, with farmers, with private landowners, to maximise the gain for the environment. What’s really crucial is that now the scientific community is presenting strong arguments that a healthy and robust natural environment is very, very tightly related to a healthy and robust economy, and that of course then has significant effects on our social environment.  So it’s all very much inter-related. We as a wildlife trust – it’ s no longer just about what’s outdoors- it’s about how people engage with that landscape, and the quality of their lives, as well.


How do we get more people aware of what’s happening upstream do you think?

I think it’s a consequence of who we are as creatures that we tend to focus on our own patch, rather than looking wider and you can see that replicated in the way that we manage our municipal services and even the way that the wildlife trusts are set up, that they’re very locally based.  That has it’s benefits because then people can be tied into what’s going on, local to them, but it also removes from the potential to see the bigger picture, and I think that one of the key ways that you can engage local people in the bigger picture is through models like this,  because you can see that if you start to take things away, at a local level, it has an impact, directly, on you, but you don’t necessarily understand the impacts that are going on upstream, and they are crucial to how you are being affected at a local level.

So we’ve been talking mainly about water and how water moves through the system but a key element of the uplands and associated in particular with peaty solids is the amount of carbon moving through the system as well. Peat bogs have an accumulation of carbon, over centuries, that if released into the environment, would have a significant impact on the UK greenhouse gas emissions, and the way that release occurs, is through that drainage, that post-war agricultural modification of the uplands to drain these landscapes and make them more grassy for sheep production.  What happens is the layers of that peat bog become exposed and as they expose they dry out and dissolve into that water that’s moving through the system, and that carbon gets released through that dissolution in to the water, so along with all those nutrients, that flow of water down into the lowlands, you ‘re getting all this carbon being released as well.  If you restore, if you reverse that process, block up those ditches, and enhance the quality of that habitat, that carbon that is at risk of being released, is locked away and prevented from being emitted, and crucially, more and more carbon starts to accumulate because the natural process of growth and decay in peat bogs has been restored.


How can people support the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust?


The Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust is leading on this Pumlumon project.  However, our wildlife trusts throughout the UK  (there are 47 of us, and we’re usually quite local and county based) are delivering that message of a high-quality environment resulting in high-quality habitat for wildlife, but for people too.  If you want to become involved with your local wildlife trust, whether you live in Montgomeryshire, Ceredigion, or elsewhere in the UK,  then the best thing to do is become a member, get involved, find out what we’re doing. There’s lots of advice and support, for example with the wildlife gardening, and how to become more water-aware that we can offer you, and you can work with us. If you don’t want to become a member, it’s just having access to those resources, information, that can enable you to do something on your own piece of ground, that will help you support this initiative and the wider environment.
Read More by Sara Penrhyn Jones
<![CDATA[Water sketchbooks]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 09:47:32 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/water-sketchbooks
​Thinking Biblically about Borth. Most of it was built in the late 1800's. I suppose the Victorian/Edwardian love of money overcame their Piousness.
Lots of Houses and businesses having big money spent on them still .... is it human nature to ignore the obvious proximity of disaster - whats to lose and gain? I'm going to talk to some of these people.
I was stuck at an office computer when I read Gwilym Morus-Bairds blog post on the poetry surrounding the Leri River. A strong sense of melancholy and cultural loss , it seemed very dark, I thought about all the people , good ,bad and indifferent , whose lives and music flowed down from the mountain through the Leri ,I  sketched this in biro and tipex . .
Read more by Boz Groden
<![CDATA[Pumlumon Project- 'Slowing the flow' with the local community]]>Tue, 19 Jan 2016 09:25:21 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/pumlumon-project-slowing-the-flow-with-the-local-communityThe Pumlumon Project, established in 2007, takes its name from the mountain at the centre of its project area, across 40,000 hectares of Cambrian uplands. It's led by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, and described as as a 'pioneering, science-based project to revive the ecology and economy of the Welsh uplands'. It works with connections: those that exist upstream and downstream, between people and each other, with and through the natural environment. Sustainable agricultural incomes, healthy habitats and biodiversity are all considered as compatible parts of the same end-goal. Underlying all of this is the focus on improving water management for the benefit of all, human and non-humans alike. 

The Pumlumon Project's ethos of working with the communities who are already connected to the land makes it a particularly relevant project for the Hydrocitizenship team to consider. 
Dr Liz Reddy-Brown, Head of Living Landscapes, Motgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Interview: Jane Lloyd Francis/Photograph: Sara Penrhyn Jones July 30th, 2015
This map below shows the Pumlumon project area, which is just beyond Borth and Tal-y-bont, the two main villages in Cymerau, the Welsh case study for Hydrocitizenship. What happens upstream is highly relevant for the villages in the surrounding area. Especially, as Dr Liz Lewis-Reddy from the Trust points out, there is a three-metre annual rainfall in thePumlumon mountain range. She helps people to visualise this by comparing this to the height of a storey and half an average building. Clearly, the way that water falls on these uplands, and then moves through it, will have a huge impact on the surrounding area. Much of these villages have suffered terrible flooding. The source of three rivers are to be found here too: the Wye, Rheidol, and the longest river in Britain, the Severn.
I spent a day in July 2015 talking with Liz about this project, in the company of community artist and farm manager Jane Lloyd Francis. As an artist who has also been commissioned by Cymerau, Jane has been quick to see that the Pumlumon project enacts some guiding principles for what 'Hydrocitizenship' might mean on the ground. A farm manager herself, she has worked directly with Liz, and feels passionate about the benefits of the Wildlife Trust working with farmers to manage the uplands. It is farming, which began here in the Neolithic period, which has shaped the character of these hills, and continues to do so. 
Jane Lloyd Francis. Interview & Photograph: Sara Penrhyn Jones, July 30th, 2015
The sheep farmers of Wales have certainly not been presented in a very favourable ecological light of late. Notoriously, in George Monbiot's book, Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life. I discuss his representation of Pumlumon in this book here. Interestingly, Monbiot claims that an insurance company was interested in buying and reforesting some of the Welsh uplands because it realised that 'this would be cheaper than paying out for carpets in Gloucester'. Apparently, they did not act on this because of anticipated political difficulties. Such difficulties might include the impression that the Welsh hills were being 'cleansed' of hill farmers for the benefit of English towns. The memory of the drowning of Welsh villages, such as Capel Celyn, in 1960s, still very much alive in the Welsh psyche. This drowning brought water- as it turns out- for industrial purposes in towns like Liverpool, who have since offered an official apology. There are contemporary controversies over the ownership of that water, which has significant financial value, diverted from Wales
Capel Celyn, Photo: Sara Penrhyn Jones, June 14th, 2015. This local remembers the village before it was drowned, and recounts that residents were given a choice to leave the graves of relatives and loved ones behind, to be drowned, or dug up and relocated.
The Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust is very overt about it's mission to work with the communities (including farmers) who are connected with the Welsh Uplands. As Lewis- Reddy explained:

'Effectively the Pumlumon project came about because it was recognised that there was a number of threats in the Welsh uplands; threats to biodiversity, which was our first interest as a wildlife trust, but also threats to the way that people engage with the landscape. Agricultural income was falling, the environment was declining, and these were all thought to be very separate things, until we started looking into the situation a bit more closely and we discovered that they were all very tightly interlinked.  So the way that the land was being managed, or not managed, was having a significant impact on the quality of the environment that was up there and therefore the quality of habitat and the different types of wildlife that you would encounter.' 
Pumlumon. Photo: Sara Penrhyn Jones, July 30th, 2015
I was fortunate to be able to film an interview between Jane Lloyd Francis and Dr Liz Lewis-Reddy, and through this process I reached a better understanding of the work of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. Their conversation is edited and published here.

Essentially, the Trust is working to restore very drained peat-bogs in a landscape that has suffered from intensive sheep farming. They have explored and promoted a range of solutions to this problem, such as advocating for some agriculturally marginal land to be kept sheep-free. This would allow trees and shrubs to grow (in gullies for instance), drawing water from the land with their complex root systems. There are benefits to all if nutrients can be drawn and held in the landscape, rather than washing into the sea. Such measures to restore the peat, and hold water in the land will also slow the flow of water downstream and help with flooding. Locking carbon into the peat will help to control emissions, relevant to climate change. Helping to explain these connections to the communities involved is an important aspect of the work.
Jane Lloyd Francis' ongoing exploration: Ffynhonnell:Source (part of a collaboration with Jess Allen: Drop In the Ocean). Photo: Sara Penrhyn Jones March 23, 2015
It may be natural to focus only on what's happening upstream, but the principles of hydro-citizenship apply downstream as well. As Liz explains:

'The most important message that we’d like to get across is that all individuals have a role to play in the water as it moves through their community.'

This means being far more conscious of water, for example: using it responsibly, thinking about how to make our own gardens more permeable, making sure that septic tanks are empty, and collecting rainwater. A particular characteristic of ecological citizenship is that it shifts more weight towards responsibilities, rather than rights (as Andrew Dobson explains here): 'The source of the ecological citizen's obligation does not lie in reciprocity or mutual advantage, but in a non-reciprocal sense of justice, or of compassion.' Although acts of ecological citizenship can provide direct benefits for individuals and communities, that is not the primary motivation. Rather than having some kind of contract with the state, we have a set of obligations towards strangers, 'distant in time, as well as in space' (p6). Thinking of 'downstream' and 'upstream' responsibilities means acting in real, physical ways, but also conveys something more abstract; it is a commitment to act for those that we may never know, including the non-human.
Water but- may seem unnecessary with all the rain and flooding in UK, but our water crisis is complex. Photo: Sara Penrhyn Jones, May 2014.
What is perhaps most interesting about the work of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust is that they see every aspect of the management of the uplands as being interlinked. Everything starts with the local, but becomes significant on a far greater scale. In fact, it is the framing of these landscapes, and their communities together, that first attracted Jane Lloyd Francis.
Jane Lloyd Francis' act of 'Hydrocitizenship'- planting hedgerow on her own land. Video-still: Sara Penrhyn Jones, June 30th, 2015
Recognising that her own farm was ideally situated to slow the run-off into the Dyfi, Jane planted hedgerow on her land, to compliment the bog area which was also soaking up water. Jane's neighbours subsequently became interested in making similar changes to their own land. As Jane notes:

'I think that method of word-of -mouth communication is something that works particularly well here in Wales, and is probably more effective than any other form of marketing or trying to force policies on people.'
Connecting with and through water. Jane Lloyd Francis, contributing/performing Sea Urchin. Artist: Jenny Hall and collaborators, Cymerau launch, Borth. Photo: Sara Penrhyn Jones, June 20th, 2015
Towards Hydrocitizenship, as a research project, does aim to connect communities with and through the natural environment, with a particular focus on water. It does also try to promote the idea that citizenship should be (re)configured to include a shared sense of responsibility for our natural resources, such as water. We would all like to see positive, sustainable, ecological change. I think that Jane was right to see a connection between the ethos of Hydrocitizenship, and the Pumlumon Project:

'I think it’s necessary to go to events and explain what’s happening, and also to give power, to empower the individual and small communities, into believing that what they do matters, and it’s not always that they give the responsibility to someone else, to government agencies, to water authorities, that it’s always someone else’s fault. Because there’s an awful lot that we can do as individuals and communities, and I think that people don’t realise that really. I also don’t think that they would expect Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust to be leading such an initiative and I think it’s important to explain that to them.' 

Indeed, the Wildlife Trust may not be the first organisation to come to mind when considering the issue of flooding, and its effects on human communities. Yet Liz presents a compelling argument:

'What’s really crucial is that now the scientific community is presenting strong arguments that a healthy and robust natural environment is very, very tightly related to a healthy and robust economy, and that of course then has significant effects on our social environment.  So it’s all very much inter-related. We, as a wildlife trust – it’s no longer just about what’s outdoors. It’s about how people engage with that landscape, and the quality of their lives, as well.'

It does certainly seems like a false distinction to separate the ecological and social.
Read more by Sara Penrhyn Jones
<![CDATA[Sketchbook interactions around water in Borth]]>Wed, 13 Jan 2016 10:01:33 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/sketchbook-interactions-around-water-in-borth
Working as part of the Cymerau project , I am investigating how water shapes the lives of people in the Leri catchment area of mid Wales. These sketchbook pages contain rough cartoons and ideas from people in my home village of Borth , a narrow strip surrounded by sea and bog . They have  peculiar attitudes to the apparent vulnerability of the community.
​As the project continues , I produce finished cartoons of peoples contrasting experiences and values around water, and contribute to a map of water experience.
The intention is to use humour and accessibility to connect with people who may find recieved notions of fine art and academic discussion  irrelevant to their lives.
In the course of conversations , I have found attitudes and stories concerning death, drug use and ignorance, as well as appreciation and joy.I take an inclusive approach to my work , and the simplicity of graphic art can deal with some difficult experiences.
I spend a lot of time surfing . I can say without reservation that supposedly 'cool' and 'in touch' water users such as surfers are among the most ignorant and hypocritical of all people that use the sea.
Read More by Boz Groden
<![CDATA[Talking Shop/Siop Siarad: December 3rd :Saint Peter's Church Bont-Goch]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2016 10:06:51 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/talking-shopsiop-siarad-december-3rd-saint-peters-church-bont-gochNovember 2nd 2015

Meeting at Saint Peters Church Bont-goch with Richard Huws, Dewi and Tegwen Evans and Emyr Davies to explore the possibility of using the church as a venue for a community gathering - A Talking Shop/Siop Siarad gathering stories for our project, Ar Lan y Leri.

Despite the damp chill of the church the meeting turned out to be positive and enlightening. So often when I enquire whether people have stories or memories of the River Leri, they say they don’t, yet inevitably as the conversation develops all sorts of intriguing fragments and stimulating images emerge. I think it is an interesting point as this response is emerging as a common one. I wonder whether people don’t value their own stories or are just out of the habit of telling them?

On this occasion a lot of interesting information came to light, the nine bridges between Craig y Pistyll and Talybont, we named them all but you will not find these names on the local OS map.  These names only exist now in the memories of the older generation who have used them throughout their lives.

They also told the story of grave in the churchyard marking the last resting place of the “old man of the road” an unnamed tramp whose body was found drowned in “Crochan Tomas”, a nearby whirlpool. Tomas used to be familiar and affectionate name given to anybody whose name you might not know or remember.

Saint Peter’s is the only public space in the village of Bont-goch, I found it a challenging venue as it is a stark and formal building badly in need of damp proofing, all interior space taken by traditional pews. It made me wonder how we would succeed in drawing people to our proposed gathering. We pressed on and a date was set for December the 3rd.

The format of the event involved inviting four experts each with a particular view on the river and its catchment.

Dr, Liz Lewis Reddy from the Montgomeryshire Wild Life Trust was invited to tell us about her Pumlumon Living Landscapes Project, a project engaging local farmers in a programme of land management specifically aimed at holding more water in the uplands and slowing run off amongst other objectives.

Jess Allen – An Environmental Walking Artist, acclaimed for cutting edge work in her field, Jess has already created several significant bodies of work themed around issues to do with water and was invited to share her methodology, philosophy and projections for the future. Jess is also working as an artist on the Cymerau Project.

 Dr. David Moore from Dwr Cymru – Welsh Water, is responsible for the engineering works of the whole of South West Wales including the recently upgraded the water treatment plant in Bont-goch. David was invited to share his knowledge of water management for public consumption.

Hilary Tallis came as a representative of those who have been severely affected by changing weather patterns and in particular the floods of 2012. Hilary was invited to share the dramatic events that unfolded on her farm after a landslide diverted the river through her property and the subsequent personal effect this has had on her and her family.

So, the experts are invited, the posters are posted and the advertisements placed. A choice of water or wine is offered as an enticement and to loosen tongues. The weather on the evening was about as dreadful and as relevant as it could be. Horizontal driving rain was sheeting the local lanes. We upped the heating and decorated the walls, put out the crisps and hoped….

Then to everyone ‘s surprise the old church door started creaking and our guests began arriving, finally including the invited scribes for each group we were nearly thirty people so not a bad turn out on such a night! A surprisingly diverse group of people, some who had lived in the village all their life, new generations- one attendee was two - those who had lived nearby but had moved away and total newcomers. many who would not have had the opportunity to meet in this way.

Each guest was allocated a coloured label associated with each group so that we were evenly placed. Each expert spoke for 10 minutes and then encouraged general questioning and conversation for 20 minutes before reluctantly disengaging themselves and moving along to the next group.  Shelagh Hourahane ‘s  boards for note taking made good tables to gather around and people were inventive with their seating arrangements. Very quickly the room was full of lively unstoppable debate and a buzz of engagement.

Meanwhile Gwilym Morus Baird, my collaborator in this project, was listening in, processing and recording ready to produce a musical response to all the material being gathered, a mini pilot for the end result of our overall project. At the end of only two hours Gwilym sang our stories back to us, they can be heard on this link and his performance concluded the evening.

Finally, the church welcomed and cocooned us from the howling gales and torrential rain with quiet and warmth. This place, a repository for many generations of memory it holds so many significant moments of peoples lives; of births, marriages and deaths.

It made me wonder about the many other neglected churches in rural areas, that maybe with a little love, investment and flexibility could become community hubs. Centres where people could gather on a regular basis, to talk over their concerns, make plans and develop resilience for the future that we are inevitably going to have to deal with as the weather becomes increasingly violent and unpredictable.

 Wouldn‘t that be a great outcome?

By Jane Lloyd Francis

<![CDATA[Cymerau Autumn Gathering]]>Fri, 18 Dec 2015 14:27:38 GMThttp://www.cymerau.org/newyddion--news/cymerau-autumn-gathering
On Thursday 19th November, the Midwales Cymerau team held a fantastic event to mark the end of the Autumn season of work by local commissioned artists.

The event was in Talybont village hall and the artists came to showcase the work they had been doing.

Jo Munton showed some fun animated films made with 2 local schools about water. Many school children and parents came to the event, and the kids had a red carpet moment- so were dressed to impress!

Y Gors presented some the film they have been working on about Cors Fochno (Borth Bog). This is a work in progress though their creative vision shone through as well as some beautiful and haunting music.
Gwilym Morus-Baird performed traditional songs as part of the Penillion yr Leri project, where he composed music to verses written by local Welsh speakers. To hear some of these songs check out: www.gwilmor.com
Peter Stevenson introduced and showed his film filmed around Borth about a story written in 1858. To watch the film see it here: www.cabinetofcuriosities.moonfruit.com/films/4588864757
During the break- Jo Munton taught parents and kids how to make an animated film and some of Ester Tew's work from 'Water water everywhere' was projected.
Cymerau raised £155 for WaterAid and the local RNLI selling cakes, drinks and with a raffle. This would not have happened without the amazing help parents from the local schools.
Images by Tom Gunn Words by Lucy Morus-Baird (ecodyfi)