How to initiate an Open Source Swan Pedalo project…

Below is outlined a process (v1) for initiating projects with the Open Source Swan Pedalo.  This process will be further refined on the Wiki and the most up to date version will be available on its own page on this blog.

1. Decide on a single Project Leader.  This person is the key point of contact – they lead on the management and delivery of the project and they take responsibility for making it happen.

2. Contact this Open Source Swan Pedalo blog in the first instance with your project idea using the comments form.  Try to give as much practical info as you have available: crucially when would the event happen? Who is leading it? And who are the partners?

3. One of the Swandeliers will contact you and begin an email correspondence and, if there is a practical feasibility for the project to happen (in term of timescales/availability) then you will be asked to complete the following process:

4. Write a project outline
This will explain how this connects with/meets “Pedalo Principles” –
Key points to address here:

  • how/who will HOST the swan? (and for how long?)
  • how will the swan INTEGRATE into creative activities of the his community (not just for show)
  • how will you ensure that the swan is treated RESPECT (i.e. not damaged, equipment looked after, safe, activities documented)

5. Share the project outline with the broader swan pedalo group by posting on this blog.


Depending on the scale of the project, it may be a good to convene a Society of Swandeliers meeting at the host location (suggest at least six weeks before the project) in order to build support on the ground.

6. put together a Project Document on the wiki (there is a section at the bottom called “Co-Ordination: ) which would include:

  • Schedule
  • Outline of each stage
  • Challenges: eg is there going to be enough people to get it in and out of the water?
  • Budget
  • Equipment Required

7. As the project develops, the Project Manager would be responsible for:

  • posting documentation on the blog
  • centralising official documents (insurances, risk assessments, method statements as required)
  • overall delivery of the project inkeeping with Pedalo Principles (summarised as: hosting, creative integration, respect and “no master plan”)

8. Documentation:
We need to do and document all of these things properly – otherwise the risk is that we aren’t maintaining the physical infrastructure (the swan) or the social infrastructure (swandeliers, blog, wiki, project integrity) and if we neglect these we are just in a swan for hire situation.

As long as these things are covered, then there is a possibility that the project may be able to happen.  Crucially:
Each outing of the swan needs to contribute back to the core operating of the Open Source Swan Pedalo.

First drafted: John O’Shea, Society of Swandeliers, 1st March 2013


A clearer system for initiating and structuring project planning and delivery may help to address the challenge faced in taking projects from the ideas stage to physical reality.

Over the last couple of years there have been many many requests to integrate our Swan Pedalo into creative projects all over the UK.  The reasons why some have succeeded and some have failed to happen are wide and varied. Sometimes the reasons why projects have not happened have been very clear: insufficient time, not enough budget.  Other times, when projects have failed to progress from the ideas stage to reality (or not been delivered in the best possible way) the reasons are less easy to define.  Difficulty getting up and running, lack of clarity around what is required, project not fitting with Open Source Swan Pedalo “principles”, poor or insufficient planning, not enough people involved – all of these are factors.

The process above arose from correspondence between John O’Shea and Ross Dalziel, Dave Lynch & Simon Derwent (all of whom have been affiliated with the Society of Swandeliers from the beginning) who are currently attempting to initiate a group of projects between Leeds, Liverpool and the Wirral.


One thought on “How to initiate an Open Source Swan Pedalo project…

  1. Hello!

    I am quite far into a project using a swan pedalo, and intended on hiring one when you were brought to my notice. At the end of May (the later bank holiday) The Lincoln Art programme are holding a public programme for two days surrounding the Brayford Pool in Lincoln. They have invited 7 artists to respond to the pool and its surroundings areas, taking into account its past current sociopolitical uses, histories folklore etc.
    I have proposed to place a swan pedalo in the pool for public use over the weekend. The swan would be modified, covered in a pattern and would also contain an audio guide that will transmit whilst the pedalo is in use.
    From looking at your blog and past events it would seem lovely to be able to use your swan if at all possible? Rather than hire from a leisure boat company.
    Please let me know what you think!

    All the best,

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