This a collection of stories from the Street Wisdom event held in Frome, Somerset as part of the World Wide Wander led by RSA Fellow, Brett Sadler.
Firstly, thank you again for this interesting experience. I’m still pondering on it and expect that its full impact will unfold over time. It’s certainly a technique I will use again.
As you know this was my first visit to Frome. I therefore experienced a particularly powerful combination of the close attention paid to something new, unexpected and charming, and the overlaid ‘discipline’ of the purposes behind the walks.
So had it not been for the event I still wouldn’t have seen this lovely town, let alone bothered to walk around it slowly and attentively on a wet morning!
My question had been something like ‘How to live this next phase of my life in the best way possible?’ The context being that I retired from my substantive London-based career in December and moved to a new place (Wells) in August.
I’ve loved the new pattern of life so far with the best imaginable balance of continuing part time work, fun and new activities. Now, with my relocation, I am trying to lay the foundations of a good, healthy, purposeful (and long!) older life. I’ve done a lot of the practical/tactical things to make this possible. Now those arrangements need to settle, form deeper roots.
I went to a concert in Wells cathedral on the evening of the Street Wisdom walk and with the backdrop of soaring polyphonic music this thought formed itself: ….. Wells is a beautiful place to live and I don’t regret my choice, but I’ve been conscious throughout of its small size, elderly and non-diverse population. Something as simple as a visit to Frome reminded me that I need to focus outwards, not inwards to this small place. The cathedral especially has had a huge impact on me spiritually, the aesthetic, musical and intellectual impact – even social links. But I can’t expect this small place /small community to be enough yet – I’m 63 not 83!
So one answer to my question that came quite literally from walking the streets of somewhere equally beautiful but busier and more diverse (and yes I know, it’s hardly inner London!) is about focus or balance. Places and organisations in Wells have dominated my thinking in recent months but they need to settle into being the background, not the whole of life.
(I also dreamed that night of being on a journey, deciding NOT to alight at my planned destination but to change direction!)
by Maureen Boylan
I love our local town, and walk around it a lot, but nearly always with an agenda or simply to get from A to B. The walk made me take time out, to look at the streets in more detail and interact with it in a different way. I saw things I’d never noticed before, from interesting architectural features to useful paths and amenities. I also went into places I’d not normally visit, and talked with different people, including an old family friend I’d not seen for a long time. For me the walk reinforced the value of getting to know a place and its people well, over a long period – the value of making somewhere your home.
by Keith Harrison-Broninski
My story: Much of the week prior to the event had been focused on gathering information and trying write content for my website.
My question: What is my offering? Brought some initial insight:
Searching for value (looking at the rubbish in a rubbish bin), leaving the unwanted, acknowledging what’s there.
Recognising value, looking beyond the ordinary, appreciating what is overlooked.
Realising the process was as much about the way I lay out my shop as what I sell:
Less is more – 2 second-hand clothes shops cutting back their stock to show their best items on sale.
Holding space to create deeper awareness.
Yes, it was a deep experience. Thanks 😉
by Jez Le Fevre
I very much enjoyed the experience.
There is so much to notice when standing still for a while and quietly observing what is around. I like the way in which animals and birds sometimes emerge from their hiding places and awareness of sound is heightened.
I found myself drawn to a dead end lane which I hadn’t been up before, so I set off along it not knowing what I might find. I was soon rewarded by the sight of a magnificent tree with maroon leaves and an enormous trunk. It must have been very old. I stood for a few minutes gazing at it and pondering its age when a long skinny tabby and white cat suddenly appeared and dashed across my path before I could get a good look at it.
Having become distracted, I turned to walk back and immediately became aware of a faint sound which I think was Chinese music coming from one of the nearby houses. Then a solitary old man with longish white hair and a wooden stick hobbled out of an opposite garden heading in the direction of town. I wanted to study him but I was unable to without being noticed so I headed off back from whence I came.
I must have been in the lane for only five minutes and yet there was so much to see and hear, it was quite a magical experience.
I will visit the lane again because I so enjoyed seeing the hidden old trees and it felt very peaceful there despite being so close to town.
by Deb Miles