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In London, Alisa and I began by walking to The Street. This is not, however, the street of Jane Jacobs, a messy entanglement of urban experience; rather it was the corporate street of Westfields Stratford City, Europe’s largest mall. This simulacrum of the street is a space of global consumption. New York’s Shake Shack pushing up against London’s Levi Roots in an Australian development designed for maximum consumption. A legacy of the Olympic Games, it is the commercial centrepiece of the redevelopment of London’s East End. Exit Through the Gift Shop writ large.

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As we passed the Manhattan Loft Gardens, the hulking residential tower emerging behind Westfield, our thoughts turned to our compatriots in New York City, who had been Radically Walking the day prior. Alisa and I discussed the subtle blur of public and private space in London. Coming from Moscow, she is accustomed to a more aggressive policing of public space. My experience in Manhattan was similar. In contrast, the constant surveillance of Stratford and the Olympic Park is less in your face. Though we were always on camera, enmeshed in the panopticon, we were hardly aware of it.

Our walk ended in the Olympic Park, where we encountered public spaces closed for private functions. A long walk from the Marshland Gareth Rees describes, or the Grime battles of yesteryear. Instead we were treated to the corporate space of London’s Olympicopolis, where we were as likely to see ‘a banker or trader going to their job in the City and another heading off to their workshop in Shoreditch.’

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Green’s score asks how the steps we’ve ‘taken together have altered the text of the site’; ultimately, we decided they hadn’t. Our walk was not an active intervention in public space. We were wandersmanner writing the thicks and thins of an urban text in which we barely intervened. Perhaps I am not giving us enough credit and our subtle intervention had an impact of which I am unaware. Perhaps our very presence questioning corporate space will make some difference. I, however, am not so sure.

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Chris Green

Alisa Oleva
Bibi Calderaro
Clare Qualmann

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In February I walked in circles around the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This week I walked there in a straight line, transecting East London on a journey through my usual stomping grounds.

I took pictures every five minutes facing north.

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And every five minutes facing south.

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To truly engage in transecting, the route will have to be ‘walked regularly’. This is only one of five starting points. More transecting awaits.

Bram Arnold

 

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Last week a worldwide Chip Walk. Canada, England and Greece, all walking together.

Radical Stroud embarked on a poetic chip shop hop. They walked on the 199th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, their chips wrapped in Oliver Lomax’s poem commemorating the tragedy.

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Radical Stroud performed Lomax’s poem on the street. Photo: Deborah Roberts

In Bethnal Green rapid gentrification made chippies almost impossible to find. As the Stroud poets put it: ‘Such a loud and visible working class merriment/That fuelled middle class condescension’.

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A traditional chippy thriving amidst gentrification. Photo: Blake Morris

In Dartmouth Barbara Lounder and her partner Bob donned brollies and popped into cafes to escape from the rain. Along the way they encountered an anti-racist, pro immigration rally–a bright light in dark times.

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A sign in Dartmouth from an all too necessary rally. Photo: Barbara Lounder

On Lesvos Hilary Ramsden organised a walk in solidarity with refugees. Sixty-two walkers marked the miles Moria Camp refugees must travel for a free, well cooked, nutritious meal. Walking together is convivial. Except when it isn’t. A wander is not a slog. Except when it is.

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Chip Walk! Advert in Greece created by Hilary Ramsden (Photo: Cookie Arnone)

If you’d like to support Home for All in their mission to bring warm, nutritious food to those without easy access, please share their page, spread the word, and, if you can, send some funding their way. 

You can donate directly via the Home for All bank account: GR4301107620000076200228708. Bic ETHNGRAA

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Photo: Cookie Arnone

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Rebekah Dean
Home 4 All
Barbara Lounder
Radical Stroud
Hilary Ramsden
Deborah Roberts
Kal Sabir
Jon Seagrave
Robin Treefellow

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‘One day, while calmly mowing his cloud, the prince of Cloud City was accosted. The arch-rival of his kingdom, GooGooGaga (a terrifying creature, half man, half baby), approached from behind. With a mighty shove, the prince was thrown from his cloud and fell down to Earth. Landing in a swimming pool in Fresno, California, he was transformed into a seed, which floated into the womb of the woman who he would come to know as his mother.’ – Tales of Cloud City

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As a child I created what could be termed a Mythogeography, though artist Phil Smith had yet to coin the term. To escape from the drudgery of life in Fresno, I fashioned an origin story that kept my head firmly in the clouds. I walked the suburban streets muttering to myself and my cloud companions, engaged in an ongoing battle against the encroaching army of Gloomy City where GooGooGaga reigned. It was far less injurious to the mind to live in a fantasy world, far better to soak myself in unreal truths of my own making. The sky above me, vaguely mine, shielding me from the conservative repression and suburban malaise that still characterises my hometown.

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From Fresno to Santa Cruz, where the shackles of conservatism gave way to the chains of a utopian left. Romping barefoot in the redwood forests I discovered a different version of myself, one infused by Romantic poetry, the historical avant-garde, Marxist critical theory and a healthy dose of psychedelics. It was UC Santa Cruz where I first met this week’s walking companion, both of us wrapped in the spectacular bubble of banana slug life.

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Walking through Trent County Park with Newell and her coterie of Romantic poets, Stephanie and I slowed down and gazed up; we strolled at a pace more reminiscent of our years in the woods than what one might typically associate with London living.  Walking across an open field I was caught between who I once was and who I have become. The founding myths of my childhood and their expansion as a young adult still underpin my actions. They were the experiences that compelled me to walk in the first place: to take off my shoes and feel the ground underfoot, to create trips without psychedelic aids. I still battle Gloomy City–GooGooGaga remains undefeated–but on this day Cloud City was ascendant.

Penny Newell

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A-2 Update:

On 21 August Debbie and I continued our exploration of the A-Roads by walking the A2. We were joined by Lucy Frears for the first few hours of our exploration.

Thomas Bolton

Debbie Kent