Thursday, 1 May 2008

thinking about walking the herepath

For a good few weeks before the herepath walk, i think about how i can contribute to the event artistically. i am interested in the possibility of encounter, meeting and conversation, and of course i want these to just 'happen'. yet i'm going to an event where there will be lots of opportunities to meet, talk, and i want to maximise these. i am reluctant to do too much, to interfere with the walking, or worse to take other people towards something they don't want to particularly engage with; i don't want to construct anything where i have to say "excuse me, could i ..."

I consider these things:

- giving out pre-addressed postcards asking people why they walk in the blackdowns.
no go: so what really, people feeling obligated to complete, superficial responses, awkwardness and neediness in distributing them

- carrying something symbolically around the route
no go: can't think of anything significant, so what anyway, richard long did it so much better

- a mini printed card to give away to other walkers/riders with listing of all the things that are passing by / through Neroche landscape while we are walking the Herepath (a list of things on the move). or a quote relevant to walking....
no go: participation for the sake of it, everyone's doing their own thing so why get in their faces?

- plant wildflower seeds or plants for butterflies as i walk the route. i like this idea and begin researching appropriate seed sources or plants.
no go: gavin is clear about the need for 'native' plants to distribute and spread themselves without importing seeds or plants from elsewhere.

This is very important in relation to my thematic:
what do we consider to be native in a landscape that has undergone continual change?
at what point in our pastoral history are we freezing the landscape in order to call something native?
what does it mean this term native when applied to this context: to originate in a land? to be born in a landscape and live in it? to come from that place and stay in that place?

I understand what G means, and immediately see me ordering scabius seeds from some web site to distribute in the Neroche as meaningless. but i'm also left with a feeling of complexity and blur. at what point is something native in a porous and changing ecology and environment, and who decides where and when that line is?

Then in the observer (20th april), a very interesting article on kinder scout in the peak district. 'the mass trespass in 1932 began a revolution that opened the countryside to millions' - the article went on to track the environmental damage caused by walkers, and ended with this invitation:

'The 76th anniversary will be marked by a 'mass' planting event on the early May bank holiday weekend organised by the National Trust. Walkers and volunteers can go to help plant cotton grass while they are on a walk.'

I email G and J with the link to the article and suggest some kind of collection / re-distribution seed / plant bank for walkers to use in the Neroche landscape as some kind of legacy for the project. if the Neroche scheme is opening up this environment to more people, how can they help to sustain it as well as use it?

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