Walking is so much more than ambulation and something we do for physical activity.
At Croakey, we are also interested in exploring walking as a form of journalism.
We want to marry the traditions of walking with the more recent practice of connectivity, to recast our #CroakeyGO project as something more than a platform for profiling healthy travel and cultural pursuits.
We want to develop #CroakeyGO as a form of “walking journalism” – if you are in Melbourne on Saturday August 5, please join us in a collaborative act of walking journalism (see details below).
The idea arose out of our first #CroakeyGO walk in Sydney in May (read more about this below, and also see some of the walkers’ tweets and photos), when we inadvertently had the hashtag trending nationally on a Saturday morning – without even trying to.
This got us thinking; given the collective and connective capacity of #CroakeyGO, perhaps we have a platform that could be used to profile the health concerns and issues of interest to local communities, our readers and contributors?
So we are re-launching #CroakeyGO as an opportunity for our contributors and readers: invite us to your communities, walk and talk with us, and we will help to amplify your concerns and discussions through our Croakey lenses.
(We have still to work out how to fund this, if travel is involved, but where there is a will, there will be a way, so let’s work that out down the track).
We also envisage #CroakeyGO as a useful adjunct to the Croakey Conference News Service – if you are interested in enlisting us to cover your conferences, perhaps a #CroakeyGO event could also be built into the program?
Join us this Saturday in Melbourne
Meantime, if you are in the vicinity of Melbourne on 5 August, we invite you to join us – and big thanks to Marie McInerney for plotting this itinerary:
Meet at Rushall train station in Fitzroy North (on the South Morang) line at 10.30am, to walk for 1-1.5 hours (depending on how many loops we take, how quickly we go and how many Periscope and tweet stops we make) via Dights Falls to the Abbotsford Convent (and Collingwood Children’s Farm) – you can download a visitor’s app here.
Participants can either choose to stop and wander, eat lunch at Lentil as Anything or any of the other great food outlets, walk further along the Yarra, or head into the city by bus (Route 200 or 207 on Johnston Street) or train (Victoria Station is a 10-15 min walk away) for the opening of the What If? / Murnong: Yam Daisies exhibition at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square from 2-4pm (free admission). Here are lots of ‘getting there’ details re Abbotsford.
Early in the walk is a mural prounouncing Wominjeka (Welcome) to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. Near Rushall Station is believed to be where the so-called Batman treaty was presented to the Kulin Elders, and we will walk past Dights Falls, which was a crossing place used by the Wurundjeri people, with the nearby junction of the Merri Creek and Yarra River an important meeting place. More history here.
Marie McInerney did a test run of the walk this morning, guided by sister Lea McInerney, who is a regular walker there (and was involved in developing this Tasmanian plan for physical activity, which may be of interest to Croakey readers). Marie reports:
It’s a brisk, not too strenuous walk of a bit over five kilometres, with plenty of good stopping off points for Periscope interviews and other conversations.
There are two drinking fountains along the way, but no toilet till Abbotsford. Don’t forget it’s a shared walkway/cyclists path, so keep an ear out for riders who will whizz past.”
We plan to do a number of Periscope interviews with the #CroakeyGO walkers (more details to be posted this coming week) so even if you can’t make it to Melbourne, please consider joining us virtually.
Views from the Sydney #CroakeyGO
On Saturday 27 May, a group of Croakey readers, contributors and editors set off from Manly jetty on a glorious crisp blue morning to walk through the bush to the Spit bridge.
In typical Croakey fashion, we kicked off with a Periscope interview with the group, and heard about the issues on peoples’ minds, ranging from the Uluru Statement from the Heart to concerns about doctor suicides, and the joys of cycling as transport.
Professor Simon Chapman told us about a new book he has been working on with Fiona Crichton from the University of Auckland: Wind Turbine Syndrome: a communicated disease.
Dr Megan Williams and Molly Wagner described their creative, collaborative multidisciplinary walking projects. Watch the full interview below:
We walked, talked, tweeted and took photos. For some of us Croakey editors, it was the first time we had met IRL (a low-budget, dispersed connective such as ours does not often have the opportunity to get together).
Of course, as Molly Wagner writes below, in true Croakey fashion we walked “upstream” – going against the direction of the crowd.
Perhaps this was a metaphor for our preference at Croakey for counter-narratives and for looking upstream for the sources of health and wellbeing.
It’s probably also a metaphor for the organic (aka chaotic) processes of Croakey. Our warm thanks to Professor Bill Bellew for your patience, awaiting our late arrival to the lunch spot.
Ruth Armstrong writes:
The published activities of CroakeyGo have so far focused on invigorating walks in far-flung locations, and why not?
These stories make for enjoyable reading and provide inspiration for healthy and active travel, but recently, as two Croakey editors embarked on a breathless 20-minute walk up the gentle incline from Surrey Hills to Redfern, the idea for something more local was born.
We envisaged our Sydney CroakeyGo walk as a kind of mobile meeting to plan and prioritise our activities, but when the day came one Saturday in May, we realised that the reality would be far more organic.
Sydney had turned on a perfect day for the event and, after a brief group gathering to focus our thoughts, we quickly spread out and became “lost” in the wonder of our surroundings and the physical challenges of the walk.
As we straggled along the harbourside route in shifting pairs and trios, navigating a series of footpaths, stairs, narrow bush tracks, boardwalks and even a stretch of beach, the discussions were fresh and broad ranging.
We all benefited from the moderate cardiovascular workout, the charms of the Sydney Harbour National Park, and each other’s company. We didn’t come out of the process with a new mission statement, a publication plan, or a business model for the sustainability of our activities, but below are four aspects of the day that I particularly valued.
Before the walk Melissa Sweet asked us to articulate something that stood out to us in the public health arena from the past week. There was plenty on our minds, including the recent Uluru statement, suicide in the medical profession, mental health services, public health communication, health politics, active transport, the transformative power of art, and cultural survival.
As we set off together we felt we were walking with purpose and, in a sense, in solidarity with those who struggle with, and work in the areas that we had nominated.
I was particularly mindful of others who have used or are using walking as a vehicle for championing important causes and delivering messages, such as Clinton Pryor, a young Indigenous man from Western Australia who is walking from Perth to Canberra seeking justice for Australia’s First Nations Peoples.
The Croakey team is made up of a diverse group of people, all of whom work remotely. There is no physical Croakey HQ, and our opportunities to meet have been few and far between. For us, the walk was a chance to connect in person with our colleagues, along with Croakey contributors, supporters and readers.
We walked together in groups of two or three that formed and reformed in different combinations throughout the day, as we shifted pace and focus. From past experience we know that these connections will be valuable in our ongoing efforts to make sure that important voices in public health will be heard.
Walking can be many things, including an act of celebration. On the walk we celebrated our beautiful surroundings, our physicality and each other’s enthusiasms, interests and expertise.
We photographed some of what we saw, and we shared a meal. Walking together reminded us that, in a world where there is much to worry about and strive for, there is also much to celebrate.
As we walked, we talked. We asked questions, listened, trod some common ground, and shared our experiences. These conversations help us think beyond the narrow confines of our professional backgrounds and interests, and hopefully will lead to balanced, innovative and effective collaborations.
Amy Coopes writes:
My love affair with walking was sown in childhood, nurtured in an adolescence of Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and urban rambling, and truly brought to bloom while I was living in Tanzania.
Talked into climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on a whim, I was soon hooked on high-altitude trekking, a pursuit that transported me to some of the most incredible corners of the globe.
There is nothing quite like life above the clouds.
Walking is my meditation, a panacea for all manner of ills, and sharing a journey with others is a form of breaking bread. In celebrating our connectedness to the land, the elements, the elegant symphony of our own physiology, we also celebrate connectedness to one another.
The inaugural #CroakeyGO Manly to Spit walk was a much-needed moment of communion, and of creativity, a moveable feast of the topical and topographic.
We reflected on the historic opportunities of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, on the First 1000 Days and Closing the Gap, on acts of resistance and the legacy of Windradyne.
Anecdotes and memories were shared of colleagues lost to suicide and burnout as physician mental health continues to make headlines, and we debated how best to heal a chronically sick system.
From a clifftop we watched as Sydney Harbour galloped away through the Heads and into the Pacific Ocean, a glittering expanse of blue on blue as the autumn sky bowed in thanks.
Molly Wagner writes:
We seem to be walking “upstream”. Many walkers come from the direction of the Spit Bridge whereas we began at Manly Beach.
It’s a busy, somewhat noisy walk as seeming hundreds of city people are enjoying the perfect autumn day by walking this well-known path along the harbour.
Walking, warm sunlight, the intense blue of the sky and ocean, enough physical exertion to break a sweat, sharing interests and anecdotes with new and longstanding friends; this is truly a perfect walking experience.
Melissa and I are concerned that we have fallen behind the rest of the group as we have walked, talked, taken photos and posted on social media. Melissa makes a phone call: “We are not far behind.”
We continue to walk and notice a distinct lack of acknowledgement of Traditional Owners on the trail signage. Melissa makes another phone call: “We’re not far behind.”
I check Google Maps and see that the Clontarf Reserve, our lunch spot, is only a short distance from us. When we arrive at the Reserve, we turn to see the rest of the group slowly walking from the trail along the beach behind us. We have a laugh about being the first to arrive, rather than the last.
Megan and I walk to the Spit Bridge for a bus back to the city. The bridge lifts into the sky as we approach the stairs to the highway. The highway is full of cars, buses, trucks and noise. Walking along the highway is unnerving after spending the day walking a path lined with bushes and trees.
Once again I wonder at the number of automobiles and miles of highway that cover the earth.
Jennifer Doggett writes:
The CroakeyGo walk was a fantastic way of reminding ourselves about the most important factors influencing health – environment, community and lifestyle.
It was wonderful to catch up with the Croakies I already knew and meet some new readers and contributors.
My highlights were hearing about Walking Art for the first time (a fabulous concept!) and seeing a bush turkey. I’m already looking forward to the next outing!
More views from #CroakeyGO meets Sydney
Thanks to Molly Wagner for these photos
More reading for walkers
Shameless plug: get your #CroakeyGO T-shirt