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Walks

Station to the Sea Peace Walk & Talk

The Peace Walk & Talk was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of the first bombs dropped on Swansea during World War 2 on June 27th 1940.

This event marked the beginning of a three-phase, ‘Marking the Past, Making the Future Project’, on the themes of war, peace & sustainability. At the heart of each of the three separate but related events was a conscious emphasis on ‘peace-making’ – building connections to one another, promoting dialogue and a sense of our shared endeavour as well as an acknowledgement of our differing backgrounds or views. All three events in the series in some way looked back at the history or traditions of Gower in order to look forward to build a sustainable, resilient and peaceful future.

The Peace Walk & Talk took place on June 27th 2015 and was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of the first bombs dropped on Swansea during World War Two on June 27th 1940. In terms of ‘Marking the Past, Making the Future’, it was of the three events, the most consciously focused on war and peace.

This day-long event began with a peace talk by peace activist and earth pilgrim Satish Kumar and then and walk of six miles, with activities along the way. The walk was from central Swansea, site of the main devastation caused by the bombs to Mumbles Hill, Gower; the remains of gunning placements and look-outs. It was designed to highlight the connections between Swansea, it’s history of devastation during the Blitz and the important role of Mumbles and Gower in the protection of the coastline of Britain during WW2. Another theme was looking back into the past and casting forward into the future, contemplating what kind of Britain and world we might be creating or remembering in 75 years time. The date of the walk coincidentally fell on UK Armed Forces Day.

The Peace Walk & Talk captured people’s imagination and word of mouth spread immediately and the event was full to capacity very quickly. The event was free to all and people came from a wide geographical spread throughout Swansea and further afield in Cardiff and the valleys.

Satish Kumar spoke about his peace walk as a young man to all the nuclear capitals of the world that began in 1962 and the ideals that compelled him and his friend E.P Menon, to leave their homeland of india to walk for two years without a penny in their pocket. You can hear a voice recording of Satish’s talk further down in the ‘resources’ section. His main theme was how we as world citizens can bring peace into every area of our lives, in small not just big, public actions. He also interestingly touched on the difference in approach and intention between a ‘Peace March’ and a ‘Peace Walk’. Satish and many of those who came to hear him speak waved the thirty or so walkers off who were each given a white peace handkerchief to wear.

We walked to the sea along the route of bomb-blasted Swansea, through a crowd gathered to celebrate Armed Forces Day and towards the sea. We then walked in silence onto the beach to the sea-front war-memorial to hear a poem by Siegfried Sassoon and write messages of peace on our white handerkerchiefs.

Walkers were met along the route by local artists offering creative interventions – actor (Phil Ralph), dancer (Catherine & Georgie Bennett and singers/musicians (Aled Warwick & Margot Morgan). After reaching Mumbles Hill, walkers participated in completing an installation of 60 white Peace Flags with walk artists-in-residence (Erin Rickard & Sean Pouston).

American Peace activist and author on leadership and social change, Margaret Wheatley welcomed walkers at the walk destination and gave a compelling talk about our individual roles as peace-makers in the world and in our lives. She spoke powerfully about the dangers of being a self-righteous peace activist and perpetuating the divide between us (the peace-makers) and them (the war-mongerers). The day finished with sharing the intentions for peace we had written before going went our separate ways leaving the flags waving gently in the wind.

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Walks

The Walk That Reconnects 2014

Walking the 56km of The Gower Way for four days, inspired by Joanna Macy’s change and empowerment process ‘The Work That Reconnects’.

In early 2014 Emergence was approached by Swansea’s ‘Love Your Countryside’  festival with an invitation to present an Emergence project in the local area. The organisers were interested in a project that might link the two areas of ‘Gower’ and ‘Mawr’ to the North-East and South-West of the city. The outcome of this was the ‘Walk That Reconnects’.

After looking at these two areas on various ordinance survey maps, I discovered the existence of ‘The Gower Way’ a 56km mid distance linear footpath that connected the historically Welsh-speaking Mawr with English-speaking Gower, mapped out by The Gower Society to celebrate the Millennium. The distance of the walk was much less than the previous 2012 Land Journey and over very different terrain – more undulating and less ‘wild’ than the area around Machynnleth, Cadair Idris and Plynlimon. In addition unlike our earlier event there was to be no culmination of the walk in a large scale conference. I started thinking about whether or not rather than walking to a conference the walk itself could be the conference. I began to think about a new form of a journey which might offer walkers an opportunity for deep connection with self, other and the landscape that trusted that the act of connecting through walking was transformative in itself. The ‘Walk That Reconnects’ was born…

The 2014 Emergence Land Journey offered much more than just a 4 day, guided walk through some of the most varied and beautiful countryside in Wales.It was also an opportunity to connect with issues of deep ecology and sustainability with fellow walkers, facilitators and artists. The ‘Walk That Reconnects offered participants an opportunity to consciously walk into a sustainable future together. Inspired by the ideas of eco-psychologist, spiritual teacher and activist Joanna Macy and ‘The Work That Reconnects,’ it combined a multi-stage land journey, outdoor conference and walking workshop all in one event.

The intention behind the Land Journey was to offer an opportunity for deep dialogue, concentration and reflection on the things that matter and the things we take for granted. The group was taken on a physical journey and inner journey designed to “build motivation, creativity, courage and solidarity for the transition to a sustainable human culture.”

We hoped that this would present a life changing opportunity akin to a vision quest, secular pilgrimage or threshold moment in life, enabling us all to slow down, become embodied and to step into a place of greater awareness of our potential as change makers.

Lucy Neal (co-founder LIFT/Transition Town Tooting/Playing For Time) and Fern Smith (co-founder Volcano Theatre/Emergence) facilitated the group, supporting participants through Joanna Macy’s powerful ‘grief and empowerment’ change process. Each day offered a chance to connect with inner intentions and outer landscapes with an awareness of the many feelings, thoughts and emotions that are present within us at this time of ‘The Great Unravelling’ or ‘The Great Turning’ – from gratitude and appreciation to pain and grief.

Our hope was that we would be supported by the beauty and resilience of the natural world through which we moved and the knowledge that we were not ‘walking alone.’ In community we attempted to create the conditions for each of us to move into a more expanded ‘ecological self’ uncovering our essential inter-connectedness with one another and the world.

It has been said many times that if people are unable to imagine a positive future, they won’t create it. The intention of ‘The Walk That Reconnects’ was to create a space, both real and virtual, where inspiration, optimism and the possibility of change could be nurtured and practical action planned. Our collective question was ‘could we, as artful human beings and creative thinkers, help ourselves and others to imagine the world we want, and literally bring it into being?’

The walk followed the existing route of The Gower Way. This 56km South Wales long-distance walking route traverses post-industrial, urban and rural terrain, moving from upland moors to the Irish Sea, passing through the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – The Gower Peninsula. Gower is widely known and much loved as a popular tourist destination, however the region known as Mawr is less well known. It was here we began our journey, savouring the dramatic panoramas, solitude and wildness of the hills North-East of Swansea that mark the beginning of The Gower Way. We travelled from East to West, following the direction of the sun, beginning in Penlle’r Castell, high up in Mynydd y Gwair and ending at the sea shore of Worms Head, Rhossilli.

There were daily, unannounced visitations and artful encounters with local gatekeepers, artists and stewards of this ancient land. Every day, we were met by an artist who offered us a gift – poem, mediation, song, story or work of art. Artists Tanya Syed, Emily Hinshelwood, Philip Ralph, Aled Warwick, Erin Rickard and Sean Poulston surprised, provoked, disturbed and ‘broke open’ the walkers. Each day the walkers walked with more trust into the territory and connected with one another and the challenge of how we can live a sustainable life more deeply.

Walkers were hosted by people living on the land through which we travelled as staying at designated campsites and were for one night the guests of the community of ‘Three Crosses’ gateway village to the Gower.

The Walk That Reconnects had a deep and lasting impact on everyone, the 24 walkers, group facilitators, mountain leaders, visiting artists, hosts, cooks, camp support team and those we met at Three Crosses. People formed new connections, saw their work and life in different ways and laid the foundations for new projects and processes. We created community and were transformed by the process in ways it was hard to predict when we set out initially. The changes in all of us continue to this day….

The 2014 Emergence Land Journey facilitators:

Lucy Neal is a theatre-maker, writer and community activist interested in how celebratory events act as a catalyst for change. She is currently writing Playing For Time – Making Art as If The World Mattered, a handbook of creative practices that inspire the shift to a more ecological age for publication in March 2015. The project is supported by the Arts Council EnglandTransition Network and the Arvon Foundation.

Co-founding director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) from 1981-2005, she is Happiness Associate on the Happy Museum Project re-imagining museums for a changing world; co-author of MMM’s Sustainable Ability; co-inventor of the Case For Optimism and was facilitator of Emergence Land Journey (North Walk) in 2012. She has also undertaken The Work That Reconnects residencies with Joanna Macy in Holy Island, Scotland and on the banks of the River Thames. She was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to drama and lives in Tooting, where she has been an active member of Transition Town Tooting since 2008.

Fern Smith is a theatre practitioner with over 25 years of experience in performing and teaching with Volcano Theatre. In 2010 she was the Arts Council of Wales Clore Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme. She is a trained as a Work that Reconnects facilitator with Jenny Mackewn and Chris Johnstone, co-author with Macy of ‘Active Hope.’ She is a CSTA registered craniosacral therapist and MTI holistic massage therapist, Relational Dynamics coach and celebrant trained by Dead Good Guides. She is also founder of Emergence, a Wales based project that encourages artists to recognize their role as change agents. She is joint author of a new report ‘Culture Shift’ due for publication later this year commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales highlighting the role of artists in the transition to a sustainable society. She has recently been inspired by the work of Suzi Gablik to create ‘The Re-enchantment Project’ with her partner Philip Ralph, the aim of which is to create spaces for ‘celebratory activism’ by means of maximum participation and minimum administration!

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Retracing Our Steps 2013

Emergence revisits the 2012 Land Journey North route with a small group of participants inviting reflection on personal and professional developments since the last journey, and continuing the dialogue with the land begun in 2012.

In 2013 we re-visited the NORTH route of the original Land Journey.

Taking time to walk and reflect is an opportunity often missed in our fast-paced technology-driven world. On 29th August Emergence participants completed a five day walk retracing the beautiful and varied North route of the 2012 Emergence Land Journey. This facilitated walk provided an opening for a deepened dialogue with the land and our place within it by engaging both mind and body in its journey across mid-Wales.

This project which we hope might become an annual event, retraced the route of the original 2012 five day Emergence Land Journey through mid Wales. It was an opportunity to participate in a walking dialogue informed and influenced by the great landscape through which we moved. The walk followed a route which begins and ends near the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth and climbs Cader Idris the great Summits of this remote and expansive part of Wales. People were invited to join the journey for as little as one day or all five, picking up and continuing the threads of the dialogue. The walk was offered as a space to slow down, re-wild, reflect, explore creative ideas and co-create projects in service of life on earth.

The journey took place between 25th and 29th August 2013.

The invitation was to join a qualified mountain leader and co-creators of the Emergence Summit Fern Smith and Lucy Neal for as little as one day or all five. It offered a chance to connect with others and to share where we were collectively and individually in this time of great transition. The journey followed the original route of the Emergence Land Journey and was made accessible to those unable to commit to walking the entire route. Evenings saw an opportunity to meet and cook together, share stories and ‘pop-up’ creative activities.

The dates and routes were as follows;
Day 1 August 25th Pantperthog
(nr Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth) to Ynysymaengwyn (nr Twyn)
15km

Day 2 August 26th
Ynysymaengwyn (nr Twyn) to Llanllwyda(Nr Abergynolwyn)
10km

Day 3 August 27th
Llanllwyda (nr Abergynolwyn) to Dolgellau (via Cader Idris)
12km

Day 4 August 28th Dolgellau to Aberllefeni (wild camping)
13km

Day 5 August 29th
Aberllefeni to Pantperthog (nr Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth)
9km

Quotes

“This is really a very historic occasion for us in terms of telling the story of our time and questioning the values that we live by”

Lucy Neal

“Reconnecting with the land is reconnecting with ourselves…pushing ourselves beyong our comfort zone forces us to discover aspects of ourselves we never knew we had”

Eleanor Flaherty, Mountain Leader

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Walks

The Summit 2012 – Land Journey

A five-day Land Journey tracing two elliptical routes across mid-Wales, inviting a deepened dialogue, concentration and reflection on the things we take for granted.

Two elliptical walks across the beautiful and varied terrain of mid-Wales, facilitated to engage participants in a deepened dialogue with the land and their place within it. Curated and designed by artist Simon Whitehead, the five-day walk opened the 2012 Emergence Summit.

The plan to organise the Emergence Summit for 2012 was hatched in Summer 2011. Surprisingly this felt like relatively short notice to mount something of this scale especially as we had done nothing like it before. Following the success of the previous one day gatherings the event at Centre for Alternative Technology always had the potential to be more ambitious. Our thoughts were turning to the hosting of the Olympic Games in London in 2012. The vision of carrying a torch for a life-sustaining future inspired this new partnership project with CAT.

The decision to call this ‘a summit’ was a bold one especially for a small arts and sustainability project which had only been going for a year and had so far only organized a number of relatively small-scale events. As we began to dream and have conversations about what form this could take, an idea emerged to organise a land journey or pilgrimage to CAT prior to the gathering itself. CAT is such an extraordinary flagship to sustainability and we also wanted to celebrate the fact it was here in Wales at all! We knew that people might think that we were organising an event in the middle of nowhere – CAT of course is close to the old capital of Wales, Machynlleth. We thought we would make a feature of this by making the actual journey to the destination an integral part of the event itself. All of us on the team had had powerful experiences and worked on projects that involved making a strong connection to the land. This idea captured all of our imaginations and we felt that the Summit would not be complete without an element of the project which connected us to the ground on which we stood and the extraordinary landscape of mid Wales surrounding CAT. It soon transpired that we were now committed to organizing not one event but two in one; a conference and a land journey – and then not just one land journey but two!

The Land Journey therefore represented an integral part of the Emergence Summit. The term ‘summit’ accurately described what we thought we were organizing. The connection with both ideas and geography was not accidental – a summit is elevated, allowing for a birds-eye view, a place of wider vision and potentially of a brief respite from the journey where one can sit and reflect on the work done, effort already expended and the company in which one travels.

We approached the Wales based artist Simon Whitehead with the request to create a concept and route for the Land Journey. Simon’s commission involved him creating two long distance walking routes starting and ending at CAT which delegates walked in the five days preceding the conference. Some words from Simon’s notebook…

Shape of the walks:
Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Greek: élleipsis, “omission” or “falling short”)
In linguistics an ellipsis can be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence, When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy or longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech
Drawing 2 ellipses to the South and North of Afon Dovey I began to change their scale in relation to the different topographies and territories encountered and with the knowledge that these forms would contain the equivlalent of 5 days walking..
I then worked with available pathways and highways contained within each ellipse and the forms became altered and more collaborative with the shape and and geology…what emerged were 2 Kidney forms, one larger than the other..
Both routes are distinctively different, in ways reflecting the landscapes and cultures of the 2 areas. They also offer up choices and different constellations of endurance, rhythm and experience..

Some challenges:
Walkers walked across beautiful but sometimes unforgiving landscapes often in excess of what their body or equipment was capable of
Mountain Leaders were experienced at working with army recruits but had never led artists interested in sustainability
Feeding forty-five walkers local, ethical and nutritious food at campsites often fifteen miles away from the kitchen in which it was cooked
Managing expectations of those who wanted to make art more than walk and managing expectations of those who wanted to walk more than make art
Assessing and looking after personal safety of walkers in mountainous terrain

Some headline facts:
Dates of land journey; 1st – 6th September 2012
Number of people on land journey; 45
Number of visitors to land journey; 10
Two groups of walkers walked for five days and average of fourteen miles each day
One group walked from CAT out to the mountains and back to CAT in a northerly clockwise direction, the other in a southerly anti-clockwise direction
Each day there were ‘visitors’ and ‘happenings’ in the landscape by local people and invited artists encountered by the walkers without prior knowledge of them happening
Food artists Touchstone Collaboration created a kitchen from scratch at CAT preparing locally sourced, tasty and inventive food assisted by a small team of volunteers
A small support team looked after each route, bringing food, tents, rucksacs etc
A large bell tent was erected each day on each groups’ campsite for evening meetings and gatherings.
Each group was led by two Qualified Mountain leaders and one group facilitator.
Simon Whitehead, land artist and craniosacral therapist designed the routes and organized the creative visitations.
The two walking groups celebrated and feasted together at the start and end of their journey with a specially prepared meal at CAT.
The land journey finished on the evening prior to the arrival of the other one hundred and twenty or so conference delegates.

Quotes

“The shape of the routes came whilst walking in a small studio and thinking about the land north and south of the Dovey. I was walking the form of an ellipse. It had a certain momentum and offered openings and uncertainties, whilst keeping its integrity…I kept walking.”

Simon Whitehead

“Only a week has passed but the city is steadily rising up to drown the quiet hills. I can feel the land drift from my body like smoke. The walk is becoming a memory. But it’s a memory that has changed me forever. Great shifts have happened in me. I’m noticing changes in my character. Having been so happy with a bare minimum of possessions in all weathers, I now feel slightly bemused by, and less attached to, all the things my house is crammed with. I’m asking myself what I really need.”

Ansuman Biswas

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