What does it mean to be a river-hunter in suburbia? Trailing the Loughton Brook
We picked up this restful, beautifully-filmed (and scored) little video from our @alteruk21 Twitter feed. It's where John Rogers, author of This Other London: Adventures in the Overlooked City, does one of his regular selfie-travelogues through the natural, and sometimes mysterious, pathways of London and its outer areas.
John's work is an answer to nature-deficit disorder, and a source for our biophilia - in exactly the place where it needs to be. Read his 2013 essay on the revolutionary nature of urban walking. There's a politics in all of this, too:
Urban walking is now promoted as a leisure pursuit, with posses of rambling groups herded on to sanctioned routes and heritage trails that double as cycle highways. Although paths such as the Greenway in London give city-dwellers a chance to stand outside the urban soup to float atop like a toasted crouton, sooner or later they sink back into the mire.
The reality of the street is what we need to confront, as increasing proportions of the public realm are quietly transferred to private ownership. Whereas there was a long and hard-fought battle to establish the right to roam over private land in the countryside, a fellow urban rambler, Andrew Stevens, remarked to me recently that there is no comparable right to roam in the city. Take Mais’s and Maxwell’s advice to “constantly trespass” and you’ll soon find yourself pursued by members of the expanding army of private security guards.
Though psychogeography today has largely been adopted as a creative practice, its radical potential remains latent. The walker is more likely to notice the changes taking place within the urban environment – less prone to the stresses and anxieties of overcrowded public transport and congested roads, not as susceptible to whisperings that the city is a place of danger, a zone from which we should seek refuge behind the gates of the latest development of luxury apartments.