Project image
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$1,020
pledged of $8,000pledged of $8,000 goal
14
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jun 13 2013
$1,020
pledged of $8,000pledged of $8,000 goal
14
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jun 13 2013

About

Quick and Easy:

If you're here, then you have decided to take a look at Grits n' Haggis: A Southerner Goes to Scotland. So what is this project all about? In short, it is a slice-of-life piece that seeks to offer Americans a glimpse into real life in Scotland, shedding the trappings of generations of stereotypes and misconceptions. The question I want to answer is essentially this: Behind the kilts and plaids, underneath bagpipes and beyond haggis, what does it mean to be Scottish in a modern world?

This project is modeled on William Least Heat-Moon's seminal Blue Highways. In Blue Highways Least Heat-Moon sought to find the soul of America in the people he met traveling its back roads. Using my experiences growing up in the American South as a way to offer a sympathetic, respectfully objective perspective, I want to conduct a similar study in Scotland, traveling the country and telling its story in the words of the people who make it their home.

How exactly am I going to do this? I will keep a running log of my research and findings online. Through blog posts, photographs, videos, and even through social media like Facebook backers will be able to follow the journey as it happens. The lines of communication will also be open so that backers will be able to comment and send me their ideas while I'm in the field. This is a collaborative project and we will all be working on it together from start to finish - everything from picking destinations to talking about the findings as they appear.

And when it's all done I will gather everything together and edit it into a 250-300 page manuscript. I am an academic, my interests are academic, but I have no interest in writing a strictly academic book that most people would never want to read. That's no fun for me and it's not useful for you. Instead, I want to give you a real slice of life that the everyday person will be able to read and enjoy.

Qualifications:

So, why am I the man for the job? 

For starters, I have actually lived in Scotland. As an undergraduate I studied at the University of Dundee and traveled extensively on a very limited budget. I also forged a number of close friendships and made plenty of professional contacts across the country through the University of Dundee and various Scottish historical societies.

I am a published author (http://caravel.sc.edu/author/cjohnson2/). My research partner, James Strickland, and I traveled to London on a grant from the University of South Carolina in 2012 to study the English Free School movement. We subsequently published a comparative study on our findings in the University's undergraduate research journal, Caravel.

I am a member of the American Folklore Society, and organization of over 2,000 professionals, academics, and enthusiasts dedicated to the study of folklore and the preservation of our cultural heritage.

And finally, I am a PhD student at The Ohio State University.Here, my focus is in Scottish folklore and folksong, with an emphasis on how they are used in creating national identity. The data I collect during this trip - all of the stories, photographs, interviews, conversations, and my own daily notes - will be used for more than just this book. I will be working on, in addition to this project, establishing a research foundation for my dissertation. I plan to gather enough material for at least a few journal articles and perhaps even a full-length scholarly book on the subject of identity and perception in contemporary Scotland. 

Why is this important?

I am telling you all of this to let you know that I am a serious researcher and not just some kid looking for a fun time overseas. I actually care about finding the answer to these questions and about showing Americans that you can't just pigeon-hole an entire nation, that the Scots - and even the definition of what is "Scottish" - are more than just what popular culture tells us.

Proposed Budget: $8,000

As you can see, the budget is minimal. To ensure the greatest amount of contact and the least amount of separation, I intend to live and travel frugally.

Travel to and from Scotland: approx. $1,600

Voice recorder, external hard drive, research materials: approx. $400

Camera/Video Equipment: $500

An appropriate bicycle: approx. $300-400

Hiking tent: approx. $300

Food expenses for two months: $1,200

Hostel/Inn stays: $1,200

Incidentals (ferry fares, etc.): approx. $400

Publication Costs: $2,000 (should a publisher not express immediate interest, I will use these funds to self-publish copies of Grits n' Haggis: A Southerner Goes to Scotland for my backers)

 All materials unable to be transported back to the US (ex. the bicycle) will be donated to charity upon leaving the country.

Detailed Proposal:

The first step in this journey is actually arriving. I plan to fly into Edinburgh and stay in St. Christopher’s Inn in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. From here I will branch out into the local *ahem* establishments and meet with locals over a few pints. There is also the chance to meet people in the hostel lounge during the evening and the morning the next day. The following afternoon I will meet with my contact at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies and venture into the school’s archives and collections. My contact will also put me in touch with interesting locals, guide me toward locations around the Edinburgh area to visit, and offer suggestions for my future travels. Following this, I will purchase the necessary equipment for my journey (bicycle, hiking tent/sleeping bag, rucksack, recording equipment, notebooks, etc.).

From Edinburgh, I intend to head southeast to Pencaitland and the Ormiston Yew Tree. I plan to find lodging in a hostel in the area, but, that failing I will seek out a suitable campsite for the evening. I intend to spend a day in Pencaitland before beginning to head west toward Falkirk.

In Falkirk I intend to visit the usual historical sites and local pubs, but will also spend some time near the Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boatlift installed in 2002 and represents state-of-the-art engineering prowess indicative of a nation actively moving forward into the twenty-first century. Overall, I plan to spend two days in Falkirk visiting with locals (possibly following-up on leads from the University of Edinburgh).

From Falkirk, my next destination will be Glasgow. I expect to spend two days in travel on my way to Glasgow. Once I arrive I will take lodging at one of the local hostels, preferably the West End Backpackers Hostel, and explore the what the city has to offer. I plan to spend three days in Glasgow meeting with people and meeting with my contact at the University of Strathclyde. I will apply the same general methods from my previous excursions, with the possibility of extending my stay in Glasgow for another day or so.

After I finish my work in Glasgow, I will set out north toward Loch Lomond. Given the historical and cultural associations that Americans tend to apply to Loch Lomond, I will spend at least a day travelling around it and meeting with people from towns and villages nearby. I intend to spend at least one evening camping on the Loch shores.

From here I will proceed northwest to Oban. Because of changes in the terrain (it becomes significantly more difficult to traverse north of the Loch) and my interest in stopping in towns along the way, I expect this leg of the journey to take between four and five days. Along the way I plan to stop in Inverary and to take the long way around so that I can stop in Lochgilphead. In Lochliphead, as removed as it is from main population centers, I hope to gain my first real selections of the Scottish rural perspective. Upon arriving in Oban, I plan to spend a day acquainting myself with the locality and planning the next leg of my trip. I want to take a ferry to the Isle of Mull and to camp there for three days. During this time I will bike north along the coast to Tobermory.

In Tobermory I will take the ferry to Kilchoan and then set out east toward Fort William and Ben Nevis. This being the Highlands proper and the territory largely rural, I expect the going to be much slower.

I will set out west toward Mallaig and the ferry to the Isle of Skye. I will spend four days on Skye before coming back to the mainland and leaving from Dornie to Fort Augustus. Here, I will follow Loch Ness north to Inverness. I expect my travels from Fort Augustus to Inverness to take a full day and to spend at least two days along the Loch and in Inverness meeting with locals.

From this point forward is where backer input will become most important. North of Inverness, Scotland becomes mostly rural and incredibly hilly. Ultimately, I plan to end my mainland journey in Thurso where I will catch the ferry to Stromness on Orkney. I will stay at Stromness for two days, venturing north to visit the ruins of Skara Brae near Skaill and the Orkney stone circle. I will also make contact with a local friend of mine who works as a fisherman and will take this time to interview Scottish sailors and the isolated farmers of Orkney. From here I will head east to Kirkwall. I will stay a further two days in Kirkwall, spending a portion of the time in Tankerness and around the small villages along the eastern Orcadian coast.

The Kirkwall ferry offers the opportunity to travel far to the north to the Shetland Islands. The Shetland Islands are, for those who do not know, very near to the Norwegian coast, and in terms of isolation, there are few places in the United Kingdom that one can go where the modern world holds less sway. I will spend a full week here visiting small villages and farmsteads, returning to Lerwick in the evenings. After this, I will take the ferry to Aberdeen.

In Aberdeen I plan to meet with my contact at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Scottish studies. I will stay in a local hostel and take several days to rest and compile my findings. During this time I will continue to seek out meeting and interviews with people and will explore the locale in hopes of random meetings that may contribute to the project.

From here I intend to take the coastal road south toward Dundee. In Dundee I will meet with several friends from my undergraduate studies and with professors at the University of Dundee. I expect the trip south from Aberdeen to take approximately three days with some time built-in for visiting towns and notable sites. In Dundee proper, I expect to spend two days in the city and visiting my contacts at the University of Dundee.

From Dundee to Perth, and then to Aberfeldy and Loch Tay. I will follow Loch Tay south toward Killin, spend several days in the area. I plan to camp near Finlarig Castle and, as this is a largely rural area, visiting with locals and exploring locations/meeting with people that are suggested to me. From here I will make my way southeast to Stirling and then to Edinburgh, spending a few days compiling my findings and conducting some last-minute fieldwork.

Overall, I expect the trip to take approximately two months (1,100 miles to cover with down time between legs for interviews and research), with room for the possibility of two and a half. Obviously, on a trip like this there are going to be setbacks and unexpected factors will absolutely play a part in the itinerary, but that is actually what I hope to happen. The unexpected often offers the most interesting opportunities for interaction and, consequently, the most compelling personal stories for my readers. Though most of the locations will be planned out (in a general way) beforehand, the majority of the interactions and conversations will be left to chance. In this way I will be able to maintain a more authentic presentation and stay closest to the spirit of the project – to tell the story of Scotland in the words of the people who actually live there.

Writing Style:

For an example of my writing style, my photography, and the origin of the title Grits n' Haggis: A Southerner Goes to Scotland, feel free to visit my somewhat-dated blog from my time studying in Scotland: http://gritsnhaggis.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/edinburgh/ and my facebook page under photos: https://www.facebook.com/christofer.johnson.5?ref=tn_tnmn

Risks and challenges

The central purpose of Grits n’ Haggis: A Southerner Goes to Scotland is to present a candid look into real life in modern Scotland. My central focus will be to gather enough material in the form of interviews, photographs, anecdotes, stories, songs, and real-life interactions to produce a viable non-fiction book.

For general travel, I plan to go mainly by bike. In biking across the country and stopping in for the evening and for meals, I hope to maximize my opportunities for chance meetings and maximize my direct contact with everyday Scottish people. This will work to enrich the entire experience and bring yet another level of nuance to the book. This is perhaps the most risky aspect of the entire project as the time it takes to travel, the distance covered, and even the bike's ability to survive the entire trip are in question. In the first two cases, weather will be the main factor to consider. This being Scotland, I expect it to rain for at least more than half of the time. I will continue to bike through light showers, but will seek shelter for anything more significant. As for the bike itself, I will purchase, in addition to other general supplies, a small stock of repair parts (inner tubes, plugs, chain links, etc.) for the eventuality of a breakdown. I actually expect this to happen at some point and intend to incorporate the ensuing experiences into the project. This will provide an excellent opportunity for an unexpected stop and the chance to meet new people. Should the failure be catastrophic, I will, of course, walk to the next town with a bicycle repair shop and try again.

Lastly, there is the actual process of publication. It is my intent to approach Ashgate Publishing Ltd., Lonely Planet Publications Ltd., the University of Exeter Press, McGraw-Hill, and The Ohio State University Press among others with the finished manuscript. That being said, the publication process can sometimes be languorously slow and is often fraught with other pitfalls that only arise in the moment. I feel that the subject matter of this book will be interesting and engaging enough, however, to stave off the worst of the manuscript rejections and put Grits n’ Haggis: A Southerner Goes to Scotland on the fast-track to publication.

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    Tin: You are my Tin Backers - Those that don't have much to give, but nevertheless give freely. Backers at this level will receive access to daily blog updates and have the opportunity to contribute ideas to the project as it advances. They also have my heartfelt thanks.

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    Iron: Backers pledging $25 dollars or more are my Iron Backers. Backers at this level will receive a commemorative t-shit, daily blog updates, and will have the opportunity to contribute suggestions and ideas as the project advances.

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    Bronze: Backers who pledge $50 will receive a copy of the resulting book - Grits n' Haggis: A Southerner Goes to Scotland. They will also receive daily blog updates and have the opportunity to contribute observations and opinions as the project advances.

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    Silver: Backers pledging $100 will receive a copy of the resulting book, a commemorative t-shirt, and the opportunity to actually pick one of the trip's destinations. Backers at this level will also receive daily blog updates and have the opportunity to contribute observations and opinions as the project advances.

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    Gold: Backers pledging $500 or more will receive a copy of the resulting book, will have the opportunity to choose three destinations/activities for the trip, and will be included as contributors in any resulting academic publications. In addition to this, they will be granted full access to all research materials including interviews, videos, and photographs. Backers at this level will be considered research partners and afforded all of the benefits that go along with that distinction. They will also receive daily blog updates and have the opportunity to contribute observations and opinions as the project advances.

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    Platinum: Platinum-level backers will receive everything from all other levels and my undying gratitude. Backers at this level are not only financially gifted, but are also truly devoted to the advancement of cultural research and preservation.

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Funding period

- (35 days)