The Walking Reading Group (Part II)

I met two of the three members of The Walking Reading Group at a Deveron Arts Friday Lunch. Their manifesto, as highlighted on their website, is as follows

The Walking Reading Group is a project that facilitates knowledge exchange in an intimate and dynamic way through discussing texts whilst walking together. In this reading group the table is broken up by the street and the dominant voice is replaced with the sound of conversation partners talking simultaneously. Anyone can participate and the walks are free to attend.

The Walking Reading Group is a project run by Lydia Ashman, Ania Bas, Simone Mair.

Presenting at the lunch were Ania Bas and Lydia Ashman, who were travelling around Scotland as part of a Go See adventure supported by a-n.

Their collaboration involved a series of curated events where the participants received a reading list prior to meeting and starting a walk all loosley connected to the subject of participatory arts. Ania and Lydia survey the walks prior to the start of the walks and where possible include features into the route, although the environment of the walk and the places they walk through are not as important as the conversations that take place. The walks take up to 2.5 hours and usually end near a pub or cafe to facilitate and opportunity for discussion after the event should people wish to do that.

Lydia and Ania talked about the series of walks as a series of 'editions', which they've now carried out in both London and Bilbao. They were funded by Arts Council England and supported by a number of organisations they already had connections with. They had been inspired by a Dutch collective called 'If I can't Dance, I don't want to be part of your Revolution', whos rules they adopted and augmented for the project. They wanted to address the issue of character differences and participation in book groups and that not everyone participated equally or got their voice heard. They promoted the event through organisations and sold it as a CPD event both in their application process and marketing. The funding also allowed them to commission a graphic designer to help produce a publication for each of the participants.

I can see connections with the Psychogeography field of practice and by curating the reading, focusing the discussion and converging elements of different participatory approaches their participants no doubt had an enriching experience. Some of the feedback was incorporated into the documentation from the event and included quotes such as

'its a relief to be able to pay attention to an idea and a person'

'I experienced unexpectedly apt conversations...'

I need to think about how much I 'curate' and 'evaluate' the walk from Aberdeen to Rhynie as well as the event on the 19th August when I have people together...there is potential to hold a walk as part of the discussion meal and whether we discuss things on the way or not will be interesting to consider. Do I set homework prior to the event? what questions will be important? how much could chance be important to the experience? how do you bring all the discussions together at the end and work out a plan of action?

#walking #reading #participation #methodology #documentation #limitations

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