Weeknotes 23: Walking, talking and planting

  • Started this week by meeting with Terry about the EASA Walking & Reading project. Brilliant, fascinating meeting. Left with a huge stack of references to source and brush up on relating to Kinder trespass, Ramblers, and the various movements since then. Terry was very generous and patient with me, given that I am relative newcomer to this area, and the movement itself.
  • Met with Jim on Tuesday and shared our (both scholarly and general) interest for mountain biking. Conversations around cosmopolitics, access, indigenous trail building (etc. etc.) are quite rare on a bike ride, and there is something about being in the forest that helps to think through some of the specifics and implications of theory, even if it is only for the short moments before dropping in to a track. The day was going well until I ran into a tree and broke my bike, but I somehow escaped with a couple of scratches to myself. Occupational hazard, I guess.
  • Tuesday night saw another Bolehills session. Rather than finishing lips or wheelbarrowing top surface I planted 30 tree saplings in the side areas among the jumps (a not-uncontroversial intervention in the group). The saplings look like such a tiny and insignificant intervention into the huge jumps that have been built this last year. Interesting talking to Dave about the ways the trees on the first straight protect the jumps and generally make them easier to maintain. So the hope with these saplings is that in several(!) years, these might do the same. What’s that old proverb… the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is today?
  • Wednesday was an office day. Meetings about research-through-design, and how this plays out in the school.
  • Then a meeting with Emma and Sarah to put together the EASA workshop. Always super inspiring talking to these two. Feeling super excited about the brief. Next jobs are to put together the route, various ‘happenings/scores’ and reading pack.
  • Yesterday was my first walking interview with J in Stainburn forest (it was going to be riding, but J had injured himself and was unable to). J was incredibly generous, taking me through all of the official Forestry England tracks that he works on, as well as some of the wild trails. We ended up walking and talking for four hours (looking forward to transcribing that!) The walking talking method proved interesting and tricky in equal measure, I think it probably provided more legible data than a ride would have done, but the slow pace definitely changed the nature of the conversation — we focused a lot on details of the trail and what had been done, and perhaps less on general reflections or insights (which I think would be more likely on a ride, because the speeds and movements in relation to the place would change and suggest different kinds of conversation). So I think its important to think about the kinds of experience as well as insight that I am after when it comes to these interviews, and how aspects (e.g. routes, type of terrain) might dictate the nature or flows of conversation.

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