Can you imagine living for a month entirely on things that can only be found within a day’s walk of your home? This is what Jess Allen did over the last month and I’ll be asking her why she did this on Twitter tomorrow night.
Jess describes herself as a “stereotypical dreadlocked-vegetarian-eco-feminist-environmentalist-caravan/yurt-dwelling aerial dancer, walking artist and academic hedgesprite with a horse” She’s currently doing a second PhD in performance, developing the practice of tracktivism with a President’s Doctoral Scholarship from the University of Manchester.
I’ll be asking Jess some questions about her work and experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #guerrillageography from 8pm (London time) tomorrow. I hope you can join us.
I’m very excited.
For a while now I’ve really wanted there to be a playful way for local children to engage with a particular historical geography of our local park. It’s called Blondin after the famous tightrope walker who crossed Niagra Falls on a 1,100 foot rope with a man on his back. The rope itself was just 7.5cm wide. This amazing effort happened back in 1859 and has recently been brought up again after Nik Wallenda made a similar crossing on a wire. Blondin lived by the park and as well as the park taking his name, two local streets are called Blondin and Niagra.
Last night I attended the Northfields ward forum in west London where I live. I had contacted my local councillor with with an idea last week and he had suggested that I brought it along to the meeting. I proposed to the crowd that we should have a line drawn 1,100 feet through the park on the path so that people can attempt to replicate his success. A sign would also be needed to explain the line, it’s heritage and to suggest some challenges to complete on it. To my amazement the idea went down very well, a vote took place and now we’re looking at designing the line into the park.
I’m excited to see how this line will act as a path for psychogeographical journeys as adventurers fear falling off the line and are drawn into other times and places. Children, families and other explorers will imagine and experience a blend of the river, waterfall, distance, sound, balance, drop, context, history, fear, playfulness, courage, geographies and pasts as they venture down the line and feel fragments of this inspirational story.
I can’t wait to try and walk the line myself.
An invitation to join an UrbanStory (non)violent walk.
Compared to many cities in the world Greater London is peaceful and relatively non-violent place. Within the city their is a mixed and complicated picture in which some people feel constantly at threat while others rarely consider their personal safety. It is the stories of violence and not peace that fill the time and space in the media and for this reason our understanding and sense of our safety is distorted (sometimes for better and sometimes for worse).
Maps can reveal the lie of cultural landscapes in the same way that spot heights and contours show the shape of physical land. These maps can be used to explore the peaks, valleys, ridges, cliffs and islands of issues that exist in and influence our lives.
UrbanStory is a new project that I am leading to physically explore, social, economic, political and environmental issues and themes. Using current data and mapping I will plan walks through (non)violent, (un)healthy, (un)creative and other ‘hidden’ landscapes that I hope you will join.
The first walk will focus on the theme of (non)violence. The route will be based on the latest data from the London Ward Atlas and the Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping and websites. With amongst the lowest recorded violent crime recorded it will probably start in one of the sub-wards of Cranham in East London and finish in St James’s Park (outside Buckingham Palace) in St James’s ward which has the highest rate of recorded violence against the person in London.
Taking place on Monday 11th July this 35km walk will take about 7 hours, but this will depend on the needs of the group. We will meet at a train station close to the start of the walk for about 11am.
If you would like to take part in this UrbanStory (non)violent walk please contact me here.