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Walking the City: London Ecologies

Join art collective Something & Son and invited guest speakers for a series of walks that explore how our every-day actions can benefit nature, rather than destroy it.

What to expect

How can our everyday actions in the city benefit nature, rather than destroy it?

Join art collective Something & Son for a series of walks around Kensington and Chelsea that explore how we can create a more sustainable relationship to nature in the city. Bringing together scientists, local historians, activists, ecologists and community groups, this series explores how the existing infrastructure of the city, from streets to communications networks, might be re-imagined creating a more equal relationship with nature in London.

Over the course of five walks covering areas ranging from Holland Park to Brompton Cemetery, participants will produce a new map that charts the histories and possible futures for a re-wilded London. Beginning with an overview of the natural history of the city, over the course of this series you will learn how it currently effects natural eco-systems of plants, bacteria, atmospheres and non-human animals. In the second part of the series, participants will visit local community initiatives and explore how we might build a better relationship with nature for the future.

Walking the City is an annual programme exploring how the act of walking can create new ways of understanding, celebrating and re-imagining the city. This year’s programme is developed in collaboration with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Please scroll down for the full programme of walks. To book a place, please select the relevant date(s) on the bookings page. The start and end location of each walk will be emailed to participants shortly before the event.

Booking information

DATES:
Thursday 25 July, 19.00–20.30
Saturday 17 August, 14.00–15.30
Thursday 22 August, 19.00–20.30
Saturday 7 September, 14.00–15.30
Sunday 15 September, 14.00–15.30

TICKETS:
Adult: £7
Student/Concession: £5
Members: £5

Walks

1. History: Remembering Change

Thursday 25 July, 19.00 – 20.30

How biodiverse where previous eras of London? What radical projects could restore biodiversity and fertility in the future? What inspiration lies in the layers of history?

This first walk in our series will help to loosen the illusion that London is fixed and static. We will be taking a dive through recent history into the deep past to see how we’ve radically manipulated the landscape through huge urban development projects and what we’ve lost to the past.

2. Micro: It’s a big world down there

Saturday 17 August, 14.00 – 15.30

It’s a big world down there:

How rich is the unseen microbial world of the city? What are the barriers to microscopic life thriving? Does microbial diversity make a safer environment?

To get a full picture of life in the city we start at the bottom of the scale. We will take soil samples of different sites to compare readings on the diversity of urban microbiology. Join us to help collect this data on the microbiome we live in and find out how it differs from other environments.

3. Macro: A more than human city

Thursday 22 August, 19.00 – 20.30

What else lives in this humanscape of concrete and stone? What spaces do we allow for our fellow non-human residents? And how do we link them up for safe passage?

In this walk we be looking at which species live in the area, where they’re struggling and where they’re surviving. We will explore ‘green infrastructure’ and how it can generate a richer, more than human community.

4. Human: Biophilia in community and design

Saturday 7 September, 14.00 – 15.30

How do communities and approaches to design work in ways that are conducive to life? How can we scale up our best practices?

We will visit human communities and projects in the area to see ways of working with and for life. In this walk we will ask how we might find communal purpose in biological enrichment and what we can learn from natural systems to design a better future at a larger scale.

5. Future: Mapping Solutions

Sunday 15 September, 14.00 – 15.30

What would we create if we put the same time, energy and resources into building ecosystems as we do on ourselves? What structures and systems can we imagine, and how could they bridge the gap between ourselves and the other 8.7 million life-forms of the planet?

The Manuals is an ongoing project by Something & Son to create an open platform of solutions and responses to the ecological crisis. Our final walk will be exploring these ideas, sharing visions and solutions. This crowd-wisdom will be woven into a map published by the design museum.

speakers

Something & Son (Andy Merritt & Paul Smyth)

explores social and environmental issues via everyday scenarios crossing the boundaries between the visual arts, architecture and activism. Projects have been selected for the New York Times Design Honor List, London Olympics Gifts of the Games and The Observer’s New Radicals.

Tom Mansfield

Tom Mansfield has a creative practice in performance poetry and pursues broad academic interests as an autodidact. Working across multiple sectors from technology and the built environment to the arts his current focus is on ‘ecological thinking’ as it relates to design and language.

Series Partner

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a residential and internationally recognised destination, hosting world renowned arts and cultural facilities, events and institutions. Home to some of London’s most visited parks and outdoor spaces, it encourages more trips by walking, cycling and public transport.