Abstract: The Walk as Point of Exchange - Blake Morris

The Walk as Point of Exchange: Local Practice in a Global Context
Blake Morris
Postgraduate Researcher
University of East London

The Walk Study Training Course (WSTC) is a methodology developed by the New York City based Walk Exchange. WSTC is a six week educational project that focuses on 'walking as both practice and subject, addressing a wide range of ideas through the common activity of walking' (Walk Exchange, 2014b). The course is based in a non-hierarchical approach that views participants as equal partners in the learning experience and emphasises the transmission of embodied knowledge.

WSTC 5, conducted as part of my research at the University of East London, focused on how walking can be used as a form of international exchange. The course consisted of twelve walkers: eight based in London (including myself), and four distance participants in New York City. London walkers participated in four group walks, while walkers in New York went on four independent walks.

WSTC 5 asked the following questions:

How is a walk a point of exchange? What kind of knowledge is developed by walking, and can a walk also transmit that knowledge? Can local walking practices translate globally, and what changes in that translation? (Walk Exchange, 2014b).

In this presentation I will propose that walking as method of embodied exchange between participants in varying locales. Through the exchange of walking exercises, participants are able to share embodied experiences of their local walking practice. For WSTC 6 we will further develop this exchange method, with the course focused on exchanges between dispersed groups. To do this, we will solicit proposals to curate one of four walks for the course, based on a common theme. The course will be open to anyone, anywhere in the world, who is committed to doing the readings and participating in all four walks. Through the development of this practice, the Walk Exchange hopes to connect global concerns to local practice.