… [the walker] knows the ground is alive; he feels the pulses of the wind and reads the mute language of things. His sympathies are all aroused; his senses are continuously reporting messages to his mind. Wind, frost, rain, heat, cold are something to him. He experiences the country he passes through—tastes it, feels it, absorbs it …
—*William S Burroughs
We all walk to stay fit, but how about having more fun and gathering more information about our surroundings as we walk? A cultural walk is essentially a walking tour filled with unique people, places, and cultures. These walks or guided tours last from one hour to a full day and sometimes multiple days, depending on the location and its variety of sites to explore. These walks are shared experiences of historically significant sites that include heritage buildings, natural landscapes, food, arts, crafts, and lifestyles of people and the place. The culture of a place establishes a sense of identity and connection. There is the context of a city, its streets, structures, topography, soil, flora and fauna, and most of all, its people. These walks offer a personal, direct connection to the past and have a historical intimacy with pilgrimage journeys traditionally done on foot in some religions and in collective action like the Gandhian Salt March for freedom in Gujarat, India. Cultural walks harness the power of visual spectacle, symbolic ritual, and transformative praxis, allowing a sense of collectivity, community, and shared consciousness.
In this journey, you will learn to become an intrigued explorer, tracing the roots of a city’s existence and establishing a strong awareness of the past with the present involving your five senses of smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing. On the one hand, you will learn how to form imagery of a place and make a mental map to identify and know the differences between places. On the other hand, you will understand the purpose and responsibility of preserving a city’s cultural and natural resources for its socio-economic growth through its character via walks, pedways, bicycle routes, public landscapes, and built and natural environments.
Activity 1 – Mapping a Cultural Walk
Choose a city, town, or locality. Start by asking questions. Does the city have an old and a new part? Explore my maps or launch Google Earth to create your map of a culture walk. You can choose a map style, make a shape or line, add icons, measure distances. Open the historical imagery in Google Earth, which allows you to compare a location’s change over the years. Either take prints of each or take snapshots zooming in closely to follow the city profiles (boundaries). Use your eyes!!! Print the drawing and use tracing paper to draw a line drawing or digitally image the following items. Make separate drawings for each point stated below as you identify them and label them.
Map your Cultural Walk!
1. Paths (all kinds): Identify lines of circulation such as walkways/ pedways/ railways, roads, etc. Use different colors to designate different types of circulation.
2. Boundaries: identify profiles, edges, and lines formed by buildings/ shorelines/ walls/ or bridges.
3. Areas/ districts/ cities: Use overlays of different colors to identify different types of areas where people live, work, shop, learn, or recreate.
4. Nodes: Identify strategic foci for squares/ community gathering areas/ junctions.
5. Landmarks: Identify objects like buildings, signs, storefronts, mountains, public arts, etc., along your walk.
Complete your mapping of a cultural walk, print it, and upload it to the NEXT.cc gallery to share it with the world!
Activity 2 – Connect With the Past
All cultural walks have a history attached to it. History was made by people over time, which is why it has a personal, direct connection to the past. Trace the historical intimacy of the place and its people. Examples include pilgrimage journeys traditionally on foot in some religions or even in collective action like the Gandhian Salt March for freedom in Gujarat, India. Are such incidences also a part of your place? Find walks in the history of your city that harness the power of a visual spectacle or a symbolic ritual, allow a sense of collectivity, community, and shared consciousness. Collect their images, time, and locate them on a map to position the area of impact.
Activity 3 – mark the route!
Identify a reasonably long route for the walk from the paths on your map, coloring one course with the brightest color. Next, highlight activities along the walk from your research. Continue to refer to Google Maps to add a few more activities to your path. Identify the buildings of cultural heritage and new buildings, elements, performances, or any specific destination that adds value to the experience.
Activity 4 – engage with the route
Consider taking a day with parents or friends and observe and walk your route. Carry phones or cameras, a sketchbook or journal, and drawing mediums of your choice. A watercolor-set, charcoal, crayons, or markers help you to record what you see! These are called mental maps. Engage in wayfinding. Activate your other senses, touch, smell, and even taste. Talk and hear stories. Gather social experiences along the route with those who know the environment and changes that occurred over time. Be cognizant as you take pictures with cameras, but more importantly, with your mind. Simplify the image from your mind/ camera and draw it. The aim here is to experience the moment of surprise, also known as serendipity, and make what you see with 3-dimensionality! If you are more ambitious, record drawings on 3" x3" clay tiles and carve out the lines! Place the tiles all together to make the first-ever 3d-mural of your life’s walk!
Activity 5 – Find its significance
List the names of significant landmarks (old and new) such as cathedrals/ palaces/ museums/ events/ performances/ type of music/ poetic recitals/ tradition/ festivals/crafts objects/ terrain/ dress/ food/ businesses…anything that adds value to the identity of that city. Every city produces unique artifacts passed on from generations throughout its history. Your task is to find something specially fabricated in your community. Pick just one from the types mentioned earlier, unique to your city, and seldom found or never found in any other location. What is it? Study a little bit about it. Dig into its origin(history) and current scenario. Why do ‘you’ like it? Document it and write a short description, definition, and reason why you chose it.
Activity 6 – Add surprise!
Study the reasons that make your choice so specific for the people and the community, and the place. Determine the significance of your choice with its location. Try to imagine a new relationship between the site and the cultural walk.
Choose an existing element and add something new to it to surprise the community within the route’s extensive experience. Imagine the destination revealing something new to tell its story to the people who live and walk the path!
- 1. Which of these can become a part of cultural walk?
- 2. Which famous trail covers all three 1.1680 patriot’s house from American revolution 2. Old corner bookstore 3. Center of civic structure that survived through the revolution and massacre?
- 3. Which trail in India has a famous café that provides a unique tea-sipping experience alongside tombs!?
- 4. Can resources that are naturally available in a place, give birth to an occupation and become a part of cultural walk?
- 5. Can a textile craft become a part of cultural walk?
- 6. Which are the modes by which the cultural walks get funded?
- 7. Why are cultural walks required?
- 8. Can cultural walks bridge gaps between academic and applied theories in the fields of heritage conservation and cultural studies?
- 9. Which of the following can promote Cultural walk experience?
- A Chinese Village
- Amedabad City Walk
- Camino Trail
- Chicago History Trails
- Chicago Rogers Ave and Clark Street
- Chicago's 606
- CHicago's African American Heritage Water Trail
- Connecticut Indian Trails & Villages
- Cultural Walks in London
- Curious About England?
- Freedom Trail
- Hagerstown Cultural Trail
- Hagerstown Cultural Trail
- Heritage Trails in Medina, The Fez, Morrocco
- Historic Charleston Tours
- Historic Route 66 (drive)
- India Heritage Walks all Cities
- Indianapolis Cultural Trail
- India's Heritage Walks
- Indy Cultural Trail
- Key West Historic Walking Tour
- Milwaukee Urban Anthropology
- Milwaukee Walking Tours
- Nashville's Self Guided Tour
- Nat Geo Out of Eden Trail
- Native American Routes Chicago
- Native American Trails Library of Congress
- New Orleans Historic Walking Tours
- New York Historical Tours
- Out of Eden Global Walk to Empower/Engage/Educate
- Pony Express (re-ride)
- San Francisco Historical Tours
- Self Guided Walks London
- Syracuse Ceramic Tile Mural
- Walk Chicago Tours