Number three in a series of reflections from participants of The Long Walk, 2011…
I like collecting sounds & field recordings, and I returned from The Long Walk with many hours of audio. Since then I have been digging through those files, editing, labeling, and posting, happily recalling many moments along the journey.
I learned of The Long Walk through Hollow Earth Radio, an amazing community internet radio station in the Central District. Since I love walking almost as much as I love collecting sounds (the two go very well together), I decided to go. I knew that I would likely be surrounded by people I did not know — yet that felt like an exciting challenge — to jump in to something that fell outside of my normal social group.
I expected to see and hear some art and natural beauty along the walk, so nothing about that was too surprising (the walk and the artists involved offered plenty of that). What did shock me, however, was how quickly the group felt like a community. I often hear about art attempting to create community, and sometimes it happens. This was, however, the first time I saw it happen at such a pace.
This generation of community was to me the strongest aspect of The Long Walk.
There were other aspects I appreciated:
• TLW facilitated communication and not just between the walkers. All of us participants had interactions with people on the roads, trails and towns. We were often asked what we were doing, which allowed us to then have dialog about our own personal experience of the walk with folks we likely would not normally interact with. I personally always appreciate this extended, though often a little forced, interaction with my greater community.
• TLW itself acted as a framework/canvas for many smaller projects, some planned, some not. Some more intimate, maybe even excluding many of the walkers, but some inclusive of anyone who happened to be in the general area (most aspects of the walk were in public areas).
• TLW will likely generate and inspire more art still, as folks, including myself, collect, recall, reflect and refine all their thoughts and experiences that came about as a result of the walk.
• TLW was fairly big in scope, bridging the gap between art, public space, public health, transportation, community/neighborhood awareness and education.
• TLW was one of the better personal, artistic/creative and community experiences I have had in a long time.
All that said, I am curious what may come of the next walk, assuming there is one, given the popularity of the walk this year (all the walking spots were filled the same day they were open), as well as some of the criticism of exclusivity (though most of the event involved public art in public spaces along public trails).
- Christopher Bradbury
Christopher Bradbury loves collecting sounds. He hosts the radio show Gunpowder Suite on HollowEarthRadio.org and lives in the Central District. A selection of his recordings, including ones from The Long Walk, are available at http://soundcloud.com/disconnecteddot.
Photos © 2011, Long Walkers: Breanne Gearheart and Sarah Kavage.