This Saturday, I will be leading a group walk around Birmingham's inner city ring road, as part of ben Waddington's Still Walking Festival. Still Walking has been guiding walkers around the city since 2008, offering a different perspective for the walker than the usual sightseeing, but also helping to enhance the touring skills of practitioners across the cultural spectrum.
I was pleased to be asked to take part in Still Walking - most of my walking is a solitary affair, and generally a mechanism or tool for making broader work. They are often exploratory in nature and act as instigators for creative thought.
I have been walking ring roads for a while, and they have been the subject of some previous works, so it is interesting to broaden out that idea into an area I haven't taken it before - namely accompanied walking.
Birmingham's ring road is about 9 miles in circumference - and is made up of a series of roundabouts and intersections / crossroads, which naturally split the route. This formation informed an idea I had about the structure of the walk. The thinking is that I am the only one to walk the full circumference, and am joined at designated stages throughout the walk by a series of walking collaborators, who will collectively act as my walking companion. No-one should be allowed to walk more than one stage with me. At the end of the walk, I will put together a composite of each of the walkers experiences and reflections into one - looking at what we saw, talked about and remembered.
This is an experiment in walking with other people, with an added pressure that they are paying to walk with me. It will be interesting to see and gauge their reactions to walking with a non-expert in terms of local knowledge, and whether they will enjoy its conversational and ambulent focus.
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