@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
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    July 1st, 2012mardixonCulture, Literacy

    London Children’s Story Centre Discover is based in Stratford, and very easy to find off the Tube. I recently visited to see the new SuperHeroes exhibition and to learn more about StoryCloud, a new web-based app that is an online story library.

    My first site when I walked in was cake! They have a lovely café at the entrance which was very relaxing and allowed you have a snack before paying admission fees.*

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    April 7th, 2012mardixonCulture, Literacy

    Seven Stories in Newcastle is an absolute gem of place even if children literature isn’t your forte. I first heard about them three years ago via Twitter and since then I’ve been pining to visit.  All I knew was they had so many events and activities, and indeed children’s authors visiting that I wanted to meet and be part of.

    As I was up in Newcastle to see Tynseide Cinema’s creative activity, I finally had a chance to see what I’ve been missing  and lucky for me there was an Adult Tour available that day.

    What. A. Treat.

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    November 27th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    Ever look back on your school life and think ‘Glad I don’t have to do that again!’  Imagine dealing with the typical school issues (opposite sex, hierarchy of groups, invites to parties … this is before we even get into grades) when you also have a disability?  Then imagine the disability is a physical one.

    That is the challenge that meets August.  August was born with a facial deformity. He is approaching grade 5 and after dealing with surgeries and hospital visits most of his life, his parents feel he is ready to bridge from home schooling to main stream school.  August lives with his very loving parents, older sister Via who is ‘normal’ and his dog Daisy.

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    October 10th, 2011mardixonInternational, Literacy

    This is the time of the year when my tweets tend to shift from museums and miscellaneous to literary (and miscellaneous) as the Frankfurt Book Fair is one of THE literary events that most of my literary friends are either going to or part of.  Publishers, authors, agents all seem to flog to Germany for this International event.   At the same time, there are a lot of literary festivals this time of the year (such as the brilliant Cheltenham Festivals  which those who can’t get to Germany prefer to attend.

    I love books.  I love reading, I love going to libraries and book stores and searching new books I didn’t know existed.  I love the feeling of leaping into a book – becoming a bystander in the scenes that I’m reading.  Charlotte and I are fortunate to sometimes receive books from publishers  to review which has spurred her love of reading even further.  And recently, I even received an acknowledgement in L.A. Weatherly sequel Angel Fire. [Thank you!]

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    September 12th, 2011mardixonCulture, Literacy

    After reading @samatlounge  EveryThink: What do you think, Sam Missingham? I started to think about where I see the trend of social media heading.  It seems that, even two years ago, social media was still labelled a kid’s gadget.  You know the stereotype I’m talking about – only ‘kids’ are on Facebook, and only kids were ever on MySpace.

    However, it now seems, slowly but surely, different industries are starting to remove their blinders and recognize they need social media now more than ever.  However, I’ve also been watching how many go in heavy handed relying strictly on their brand name.

    This doesn’t work – especially not on Twitter. Yes you will get the followers flocking like the little birds to a new tree but unless you give us a reason to stay, we will leave.  And when we leave, we will find another tree that meets our needs.

    Consumers have a clear idea of what they want from companies (whether it be book, cultural, IT or fabric industry and everything in between) but companies do not always provide the information desired.  They provide what THEY feel consumers want.

    For me, this is why there is a clear need for a Social Media Strategy regardless of the size of your company or brand.  The big names I have seen flying wingless in the wind have been the ones that clearly do not have a strategy.  They look at social media as something everyone can do – which as Sam pointed out, is not always the case.

    The strategy does not need to be a complicated document but there needs to be guidelines for those you allow to represent your brand.

    Bottom line:  Social media strategy is the puzzle piece that will differentiate those who survive long term and those who don’t.

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    July 9th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    The Wenlock Olympian Society hosted their 125th games on the gorgeous new fields at William Penny Brooke school**.  As a member of the Society, I volunteer to help Paul Hutchinson document (film) the days events.  Paul owns the very successful Virtual Shropshire and is the official video-grapher for the games.

    As part of the day, we interviewed as many people as we could from Event organisers, President of the Society, car park detail, program sellers and everyone in between.  It was a fascinating day to get to listen to the stories that every volunteer had to share. 

    A few weeks ago, we were told there was a special guest attending  – Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport who would be escorted by our Local MP Phillip Dunne.  It was already agreed that the Society would have dedicated interview time with him and that Helen, the Society Press Secretary, would interview him first, and I would interview him after. 

    Then the News of the World scandal hit this week which related to BSkyB.  Up until his arrival, we were unsure of how the events of the days would be – would he still arrive? Would we be granted an interview? If yes, would we be limited in what was asked?

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    July 7th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    This week, Johanna Anderson put out a tweet asking if anyone wanted to join them in Birmingham for a court hearing regarding libraries.  As it happened, I was able to arrange my schedule to be able to attend.  To be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what the hearing was about, but felt as it was virtually on my door step, I should show my support, if nothing else by just being there (which is essentially all I did).

    These articles tell the story:

    The BookSeller 

    Gloucestershire

    If you prefer the Twitter version:

    @MarDixon #savelibraries They secured judicial review AND no libraries will close – woot! Well done @Jo_Bo_Anderson & team for all the hard work.

     

    Meeting Johanna, Nancy Graham and Demelza was the icing on the top.  These stanch library advocates feed of each others energy throughout the day (as did I!).  The court hearing itself would have been much more intimidating had it not been for us knowing we weren’t alone. 

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    July 2nd, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    On Friday, July 1st I had the honor of spending the day with director of the Pop Up Festival Dylan Calder.  With a sponsored train ticket from London Midlands, I was able to see three amazing authors as they inspired 3 different classes from 3 different schools at 3 different events in one day. 

    I originally heard about Pop Up Festival when we attended the Children’s Laureate announcement as they had two Pop Up Festival Ambassadors at the BookTrust event.   I was able to talk to them and their usher for the day and that is when I found out about this incredible literacy program which works with inner city schools over several months with the assistance of, well, a lot of people (authors, illustrators, publishers, volunteers, etc). 

    The premises is schools are invited to choose a book they would like their class(es) to work with.  The teacher is then provided with assistance/resources to help with getting the kids to really digest the book – this could be in form of workshops, creating design & technology lessons, etc.  The culmination is the children then being invited off site (really cool off-sites like the British Library or Foundling Museum) to meet the author and discuss what they learn and for the author to also learn what the kids learnt from their books.

    At the end there is a huge two-day event called Festival of stories that has so many amazing authors and activities that I would challenge anyone to not find at least one activity that didn’t amuse them!

    This Post is about my Day with Pop Up Festival (click Read More).

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    June 28th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    Yesterday, I went to my library to donate some books (not to the library, but to the Friends of Bridgnorth Library for a book sale we have scheduled soon).  As I was running this errand on the way to Rainbows, I really didn’t have much time to stop but was so grateful I did as out of the corner of my eye, on a prominent table by the entrance, the yellow of We Love This Book magazine caught my eye. 

     

    I knew about the magazine from Twitter (of course) and was itching to get my hands on a copy. While there are local indie book shops around me, none were close enough for me so finding the magazine on my doorstep was brilliant!


    A quick peruse of the Contents and I was immediately impressed with the quantity of articles within the 82 pages.  However, it wasn’t until I was able to read them today that the true quality of the magazine shines through.  This magazine is a taster plate of all the best items on a menu at a fine bookshop. 

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    June 16th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    My daughter Charlotte was one of four kids chosen by Book Trust to be invited to Children Laureate announcement after she wrote an email nomination (she nominated Nick Sharratt but Julia Donaldson, ala Gruffalo, won). 

     

    From that, we had a heads up that Ed Vaizey was going to be speaking at the event.  For those that don’t know, on January 16th I tweeted Libraries are important because [fill in & RT] #savelibraries on Twitter and it went WorldTrending (thanks to Neil Gaiman and Jack Schofield) and there was a lot of attention to the hashtag. The responses I received were heartfelt and meaningful and showed how, world-wide, libraries were a necessity, not a luxury.  I was put into a position to speak on behalf of libraries, something I hope I did with dignity.

     

    From that, I started to tweet Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt to find out how they would answer the tweet.

     

    Can everyone PLS RT Day 121: Dear @edvaizey & @Jeremy_Hunt Libraries are important because [fill in & RT].#savelibraries

     

    I talked it over with Charlotte and said if possible, and as long as it didn’t take away from her very special day, would she mind if I had a quiet word with him.  She was more than happy and here is where I’m going to go into Proud Mom mode. 

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