Susan White

Amazingly, Susan White’s name alone wasn’t the most incredible swan related aspect of meeting this lovely woman on a rainy sunday in a small wood in north Leeds.

Whilst stood at the corner of a lake watching a family of swans groom themselves with the signets slowly picking up technique from their parents, Susan briskly walks up.  At once the male swan makes the trademark hiss, which for me recoils the urban myths of people getting arms broken trying to pet swans which are protecting their young.  I notice a dog out of the corner of my eye and put one and one together, but the swan continues to approach Susan hissing and rearing its tail feathers.

“Look, just wait” says Susan with loving patience, as she unwraps a full wholemeal loaf.  By this point the Swan is a mere two foot away from me and they are big big birds, I think this myth to be true and slowly back off feeling a little uneasy that this lady seems unaware.

Susan blissfully begins feeding the Swans by hand, just like you would a dog at the table, at this point i notice Susan’s dog a comfortable 10m away up the embankment with a look like experience has taught him better.

The whole family surround her and she calmly tells us of her daily routine of feeding, how she has watched the family come together and grow.  We hear of a previous batch of signets that weren’t so lucky and what she and others have done to help raise these new ones.  I account the tameness of these birds to the local community interaction and wonder if it will have negative effect, but as Susan leaves, the Swans return to the bank and don’t return for any other passer by with bread.  I feel safe in the knowledge that Swans work on a basis of trust, building rapport and mutual respect.  Does this have anything to do with the wide multi-cultural mythology built around the Swan? Is it just the regality and beauty of the bird? Or is it that people who have the gift of fearless animal communication just don’t make good news stories?


For a while now I have been looking to purchase some swan feathers for the society of swandeliers, feather in your cap and all but it never really felt right to buy these things. I see strewn all around the are some perfect and imperfect fresh off the bird, feathers!   Score !

I aim to go back to film Susan, collect more feathers for the society and take some pictures for her and the rest of the community who have helped raise these beautiful big birds. More to come as it happens with Susan White and if there are any questions for when I meet her then please add them here or on the comments section.




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Open-Sourcing a Swan Pedalo

John O’Shea’s talk at Ignite Liverpool explains a lot about where the Swan Pedalo is coming from and also a little about where it might be going next.

Of course – the best way to know what’s on the horizon is to follow @swanpedalo on twitter.

Presentation slides are shared below:

Thanks to Pedalo advocate Neil Morrin @defnetmedia for the invitation to speak at the Global Ignite Week Liverpool event. Cheers also to John McKerrell behind the camera on this video and to all the crew behind the scenes who made Social Media in Liverpool Week totally awesome!

Visit the Ignite Liverpool Youtube Channel to see some of the other talks from the evening (which were of a really high standard) – they are linked individually here:

this Weds 7pm @ the Ranch

Ahoy there!

This Wednesday, at our studio in Liverpool, we are hosting a one-off gathering to plot new adventures for the Open Source Swan Pedalo during 2011 – we really hope to see you there!

Time: 7pm
Date: Wednesday 9th February 2011
Location: Ranch Studio, 67-69 Victoria Street, Liverpool, UK, L1 6DL
(Google Map Link)

Suggested topics of discussion:

* Pedalo Principles
* Moving from the impossible to the possible
* Ready-made opportunities for action in the 2011 Calendar
* Can a Swan Pedalo truly be “Open Source”?

All input prior to Wednesday eve is greatly welcomed – over email, via @swanpedalo on twitter and the Open Source Swan Pedalo blog (including potential hosts, mechanical advice, new projects etc.) – we’ll present all of this stuff for everyone to consider on the evening.

All will finish for 9pm when it is suggested we retire to The Swan Inn (or perhaps The Shipping Forecast) for beverages.

*** Society of Swandeliers ***

As promised – a one-off Open Source Swan Pedalo meet-up is confirmed for Wednesday 9th February at 7pm (as part of Liverpool’s week of Social Media festivities) and the gathering will be taking place at The Ranch Studio on Victoria Street in Liverpool City Centre – L1 6DE.

The aim of this meet-up will be to HAVE FUN! generate & consolidate ideas and plan for future Swan Pedalo adventures.

As mentioned previously – if people are coming from out of town we’ll try and make arrangements to put you up – we have a couple of people confirmed from Leeds already…

We are going to gather together all of the current opportunities and suggested projects and develop a strategy for making some of this stuff happen over the course of 2011.

Until then – we salute you!

Pedalo Principles

(the Open Source Swan Pedalo taking a break at Andy’s workshop near Princes Park, Liverpool)

Over the last few weeks some important guiding principles have emerged which we hope will ensure good stewardship of the Open Source Swan Pedalo now that we have overcome the initial challenges of transporting the vessel and building a strong support network:

1.  There is no master plan, instead, the  Open Source Swan Pedalo is contingent, opportunistic and informal – this is a SEE WHERE IT GOES project…

2.  The Open Source Swan Pedalo requires hospitable HOST communities who can care for and accommodate it for fixed periods of time.

3.  It is desirable that communities and individuals wishing to host the Open Source Swan Pedalo make arrangements for it to be integrated into their projects and ACTIVITIES.

4.  Inventions, modifications, “pimping the swan” – these are all whole-heartedly encouraged BUT remember that the Open Source Swan Pedalo is for everyone – please don’t damage the swan for others.  RESPECT the SWAN.

If you have an idea for where the Open Source Swan Pedalo should go during 2011 – or if there is just something that you would like to try out just leave a comment on this blog.