One of the regular events that 6heads put on are Sustainability Walks. As the title suggests it is a walk in the fresh air with a sustainable theme. Usually we try and get away from the hustle and bustle of London for our walks inviting a guest speaker along for the day, but the latest one was a little different. The simple act of walking (and talking) can be really invigorating for mind and body and so it proved. Billed as a “sustainability walking debate” 18 members of our community got together in Camden along with our host/tour guide extraordinaire and friend of 6heads, Simon Cole from Hackney Tours.
Over the next couple of hours Simon led us around one of London’s most culturally rich and diverse areas as we visited Camden Market – the statue of Amy Winehouse and all – and strolled past iconic music venues The Electric Ballroom and Koko. It’s normally a busy part of London as tourists and pop culture pilgrims alike come to pay homage, but on a cool, blustery evening the unusually quiet streets made for a more reflective atmosphere. An atmosphere made for thinking and listening. As well entertaining us with a mix of local history and stories, Simon skilfully weaved Camden’s narratives of consumerism, tourism, travel and the changing nature of work into the tour and challenged us to consider how our surroundings influence our thinking around sustainability.
We talked in pairs, small groups and collectively, questioning ourselves and each other about the stories we tell ourselves about sustainability issues. We live in seemingly polarising times where extreme positions dominate and it becomes easy to disregard alternative opinions to our own; we listen to those who agree with us. It was fascinating to hear different perspectives of the complex problems we all face in unexpected ways.
We covered a lot of ground, literally and figuratively, and it was only when we gathered together for warming, restorative drink in a pub at the end of the walk that the true magic of the experience we had just shared was revealed. I asked everyone what they thought about it – and the answers were as surprising as they were wide ranging:
A healthy experience ….. I re-engaged with my surroundings ….. becoming aware of how the area changes from day to night ….. a slowing down of consciousness …..it was rewarding and humbling to be listened to ….. I connected with people who care ….. it was reassuring to be with like minded people ….. such a variety of inter-connected topics ….. I felt nurtured ….. I was reminded that there are positive forces out there ….. different context, fresh perspective ….. I’m intrigued about what’s next ….. the importance of education in the world ….
And perhaps most importantly:
“you can’t be passive when you try to solve problems…a call to action: what small changes could we all make?”
It’s this last perspective that reminded me of the true value of the evening. I believe that the first step to solving any problem is to talk about it, and by starting our own discussion about sustainability in a creative, innovative way we all planted our own little seeds of activity.
If you too are “intrigued about what’s next” then join us! We will be holding more Sustainability Walks in 2017 as well plenty of other exciting events.