Wednesday, 13 October 2010

CITY RIGHT OF WAY c.r.o.w. blog

We have created a separate blog specifically to document the City Right of Way c.r.o.w. walks but will also keep posting notification of future c.r.o.w. walks on this blog too.

See c.r.o.w.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

CITY RIGHT OF WAY (CROW) Alley Way Walk, Saturday 2nd Oct., 2 pm Ormeau Bridge

CITY RIGHT OF WAY (CROW) Alley Way Walk, Saturday 2nd Oct., 2 pm Ormeau Bridge

Following the 'City Right of Way' meeting at PLACE, the first walk, suggested by Niamh McDonnell is an alley-way walk in the Ormeau Rd area. The aim of the walk is to see how far one can get through this area of the city by using the alley-ways, and testing their semi private status.

This walk will place on Saturday Oct 2nd. Walkers convene at Ormeau Bridge at 2pm, all welcome!!

Suggestions for future walks also welcome.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Talks about Walkls: Stalker Visit Follow up discussion Report by Alice Woods PLACE 7 / 09 / 10

Following the success of Rome based urban research group Stalker’s visit to Belfast, a round table discussion was held today at PLACE. The discussion focused on various issues, predominantly centred around the questions raised by Stalker on their visit and the questions that we have begun to ask ourselves about the city following the work done by Stalker.

Aisling O’Beirn of Flaxart studios, who were instrumental in organising the research trip, began the discussion by introducing Stalker and their philosophy and detailing the activities that the group engaged in whilst in Belfast. Aisling explained that one of the main motivations for bringing Stalker to Belfast was in the hope that a larger ‘mapping project’ may be initiated in the city. As Aisling and others who were present at many of the Stalker events, talked about the walk which took place – they agreed that we should attempt to continue and build upon the philosophy of learning and information gathering through walking. As Stalkers beliefs suggests, although an organic process, a walk should be planned with a route to follow (loosely) and an overriding question giving reason for the walk. Along the planned route, deviation and exploration are encouraged and seen as valid ways of learning new things about an old city. Distraction is essentially at the core of what they believe and a walk should follow instinct rather than road.
When Stalker came to Belfast, they led a group along what was once the Number 77 bus route and through such deviation and exploration they came to a number of conclusions; they felt that Belfast was a difficult city to walk with many boundaries unable to be traversed. Their ideals that a walk should be fluid, meandering and playful were difficult to practise in a city of walls, gates and locked doors. Through these observations, many questions were raised about the issues of public and private space; who controls these ‘buffer zones’? And what does it mean for the city and its inhabitants. A suggestion was made for one day of the year to allow freedom and complete right of way for the city’s inhabitants. The physical barriers in Belfast were striking to Stalker and through the eyes of a stranger became striking too for those on the walk, what could happen in these lost and forgotten, ‘in-between’ spaces? What are the alternatives to walls?

Mike and Aisling brought up the issue of the way in which we view spaces and the opportunity for looking at something on a different scale or from a varying perspective. They put forward the example of the public gardens in which Hydebank young offenders centre is situated – a number of fir trees are planted in the grounds, but only when viewed from above does one realise they are actually planted in a Union jack formation.

On to the issue of conducting walks in Belfast, the idea that the walk becomes a medium for information gathering was spoken about. The mapping element; which in Stalkers case is the ultimate end product (on a physical sense) should be a non-hierarchical, collaborative effort – using Google maps and the blog as a starting point, the map should become multi-layered with strata of photos, video, text etc gathered by those who took part. The map should become a multi-layer document which evolves over time.

We discussed varying ideals of philosophies to look to for further inspiration, such as the ‘transect walk’ style – using a local guide to create a narrative and the project, ‘Ambulation’ done by the Plymouth Arts centre. It was also suggested to look at Georges Perec’s book, ‘Species of Spaces and Other Places’.
The issue of deciding on a walk and a purpose for the walk was then raised, it was suggested that the walk could coincide with FABs current work on connection in the city, an architectural planning style map has been created and it was put forward that this ariel map could be build upon by adding extra dimensions as previously discussed.
When thinking about the practicalities of walking in potentially contentious or hostile areas which in themselves are often impenetrable, we agreed that strangers were afforded more privileges in the city than inhabitants and so an element of interest of theatricality may prove useful. There may also be a facet of exchange, or giving something back to the city from the walk to gain allowances. There was also the acknowledgement of the inherent difficulty of gaining a strangers perspective in your own city.

A popular suggestion for a walk was an alley-way walk, trying to see how far one can get through the city by using the alley-ways moving through the city in semi-private spaces and also moving through varying periods of architecture and experiencing the impact of that. Work is now being undertaken to research and organise the walk through an area of Belfast through these often ignored veins and capillaries of communities.

Meeting Report by Alice Woods

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

See the Stalker Route 77 Walk on Google

The green line shows the route of the 77 Bus.
The blue line shows the route that we actually walked
View belfast in a larger map

Monday, 16 August 2010

Talk at Belfast Exposed: Friday 13th August, 2pm Change Gaze to Change the World

The Stalker talk at Belfast Exposed, Change Gaze to Change the World, was well attended with around 35 people. It was the last event of Daniel Jewesbury and Aisling O’ Beirn exhibition Belfast Exposed

Stalker talked about their model of practice, giving examples of previous projects, such as working with Roma Community in Rome to make a house for the Roma camp in the city and replicating a movable, suspended Islamic ceiling from copper wire hung from different lengths of rope. The ceiling was constructed using the skills of Roma and Kosovar migrants in the city of Rome. It was an example of creating a network through doing. Stalker and the 'ceiling' travelled throughout the Arab world. The ceiling and the house gave Stalker the opportunity to talk about various forms of action that might be useful in the Belfast context.

A productive discussion followed where we talked about Thursday's walk and the idea of using walking as a strategy to develop a City Right of Way. There was considerable interest in the audience in pursuing this. Potential walkers please keep an eye on this blog.

Suggestions of possible walks in the city welcome.

Venue: Belfast Exposed, The Exchange Place, 23 Donegall Street, Belfast, BT1 2FF

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Primavera Romana - Walking for a U Turn: Common Design Practices for Social Change

Stalker's talk 'Primavera Romana - Walking for a U Turn: Common design practices for social change' was well attended with a full house at PLACE

Primaveraromana is a common design project activated by Stalker in order to generate and share social knowledge and awareness on urban changes. This by sharing, with more and more people, the experience of walking across and mapping the changes of the contemporary roman post urban territories. Primaveraromana is promoting the general states of citizenship together with local communities, associations, researchers and artists, in search of new practices, poetics and politics of coexistence in the emerging byondcity dimension.

Stalker used this case study to outline how walking is core to their practice as a way of networking and linking different sets of people involved in various forms of self organisation. They also presented the idea that participation in the walks is an active way to experience the city. Whilst on the walk you are not passive being led by a guide but you become an essential element of the walk and an active participant in debates about the city.