Wellbeing Weekly: Walk the Talk
17 February 2021
Walking as a way of connecting with others has felt important during these times of isolation. This week we reflect on the impact of walking together, sharing what we've learnt from our 'Walk the Talk' community project in partnership with National Justice Museum and Communities Inc. These facilitated events bring together a diverse range of people to walk through urban or natural landscapes, engaging in dialogue about social issues and themes.
Just over a year ago we held a 'Walk the Talk' session, with more than 40 people attending a guided walk through the Lace Market whilst talking about Freedom and Justice. Parmjit Sagoo, our Community Projects Producer reflects on the event:
'It was the 31st January 2020, when the UK officially left the EU and entered a transition phase. The mood was subdued, it was pouring with rain, we were fully booked yet I was worried no-one would come. But people did come, and by the time we began we had over 40 people from a range of different backgrounds with us, ready to walk together around the Lace Market, sharing their thoughts about Freedom and Justice. Despite the weather, and despite the wider context of becoming isolated from Europe, people felt compelled to be there, to feel united and connected. It was an amazing moment of gentle defiance, solidarity and togetherness.'
'Walk the Talk' sessions have been powerful experiences, revealing to us the significance of collective walking, and its ability to create a sense of community amongst people who haven't met before. We found that walking relaxes people and takes away the formality of sitting in a meeting or conference room. In this more relaxed and informal environment, people talk from the heart and more honestly.
And when we're stuck for ideas or ways to respond, walking takes away the awkward pauses or the need to fill the silence. It's fine to simply walk as companions and enjoy the environment....and it's often within these shared moments of quiet walking that we find the most inspiration and creativity.
Walk the Talk will be back as soon as it's possible, we've been busy planning behind the scenes and have exciting plans for when we can walk together again.
We also asked some more members of the team about their daily walks, here are some of their reflections on walking:
'I like to walk to and around the Arboretum, it is the closest green space to my house. Before lockdown, I used to cross it every morning on my way to NAE, hot coffee in hand. It is a peaceful walk, and I am usually greeted by all sorts of creatures. I like to observe the season changes, especially the transition between winter and spring – when all greenery comes to life – the trees, the flowers, and the pond, I saw some ducks ice-skating on it once! Walking in green spaces makes me feel calm and gives me a chance to get out of my own head as I pay more attention to the nature that surrounds us than my thoughts.'
(Mercè, Public Programming)
'My favourite local walk is to the Arboretum, especially early in the morning. I start off with a head load of worries, not really looking around me. Then I gradually notice more and more - a bright coloured leaf, a few notes of birdsong, a funny shaped cloud above. My brain switches from fretting to being interested in things beyond me. Once last summer I was walking past the bandstand at about 7am and I realised there were squirrels, blackbirds, magpies and rabbits all around me on the grass. I felt as though I was in a Disney film and half expected to see Bambi jumping out of the woods.'
(Ruth, Learning Producer)
In the meantime, keep walking, keep noticing the beauty around you and keep appreciating what's on our doorstep!