11 things you need to know about Street Wisdom

We just love this write-up of a recent Street Wisdom Walkshop in London, hosted by the wanderful Ula Caroto!

We particularly love the 11 things Ula says Street Wisdom is about:

  1. Wandering, getting lost and finding ourselves
  2. Meeting people from all ways of life and from all over the world
  3. Connecting with ourselves, people and the environment around us
  4. Connecting to all our senses
  5. Slowing down and seeing the world through a different lens
  6. Throwing a question into the streets (or nature) being open to receiving unexpected answers
  7. Synchroncity
  8. Mindfulness
  9. Creativity
  10. Wellness
  11. Imagination

Fancy experiencing the magic yourself? Join Ula’s upcoming Walkshops Cambridge! Or stream our free audio guides and head out right now!

 

 

 

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Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

 

[Guest post] Finding better ways by Marshall Opel

We’re so lucky at Street Wisdom, because we get to work with amazing volunteers who lead Walkshops all over the world, bringing strangers together to share reflections from their wanders. One of those wanderful people is Marshall Opel from Salt Lake City, Utah, who is doing all kinds of incredible, not least with Trips Unplugged. We’re delighted he said yes to hosting this write up of a recent Street Wisdom Walkshop he led in Salt Lake City. Check out the Events page to join his next Walkshop!

 

I stood in the small grassy island of the parking lot waiting for people to show up. “I wonder if I should have brought a sign like they use at the airport?” I thought to myself. A gray haired man wearing a day pack, standard blue jeans and hiking boots approached curiously. “I knew you were a part of [Street Wisdom] because you were looking around,” Brian said as we exchanged our first greeting. At 62, Brian wants to stave off the rigidity that he’s feeling as he ages. “I don’t want to be jaded and closed off to the world,” he said while we waited for the group to congregate.

Three more friends completed our small workshop and I went about introducing the concept of Street Wisdom and giving instructions for our first of three warm up exercises. The idea is to activate our body’s internal navigation system by noticing the myriad sights, smells, and feelings that are all around us.

The western world teaches us to look ahead at what’s next. Street wisdom invites us to notice what’s in front of us, yes. But what about to our sides? Above us and below? And beyond seeing, what can we sense? Most of us think intelligence is stuck in our heads but here we’re nudged to notice a distinctly different form of intelligence. It’s more like a feeling, and on some level it doesn’t feel entirely our own. The feeling of being connected to something not in our minds and yet somehow known – that’s a space worth exploring.

 

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Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

 

[Guest post] Urban Cruise. It’s already happening.

We’re so lucky at Street Wisdom, because we get to work with amazing volunteers who lead Walkshops all over the world, bringing strangers together to share reflections from their wanders. One of those wanderful people is Marshall Opel from Salt Lake City, Utah, who is doing all kinds of incredible. We’re delighted he said yes to hosting this piece he wrote on his concept of Urban Cruise, which resonates so beautifully with Street Wisdom. Take it away Marshall! And Thank You.

 

Urban Cruise. It’s already happening.
by Marshall Opel

 

Urban Cruise. A third way to ride. 
No Wrong Turns. Awareness is expanded by unlocking zones. If you don’t go, you won’t know.
Be Here Now. Starting from where you are, paying attention to what’s actually happening. 
Seek The Sweet Spot. It’s hiding in liminal space. 
Low-Angle Lifestyle. So you can ride tomorrow. 
Catch Transitions. By letting go of the brakes. 
Find The Others. Heyo! Another human, just like me. 
Scuttle. Watch your wake. 
Are you looking for something? By urban we mean from our doorstep, under our nose. By cruise we mean autotelic- for the sake of it. Urban cruise is a practice of improvisational wandering. It’s creativity expressed through movement. Without a set route, our lines show up in the liminal space that unfolds as we go. Cruising ignites a heightened perceptivity to our immediate environment. It’s a nudge of purposeful aimlessness that opens us up to life’s happenings. 
You’ve cruised before. When you were a kid, you went outside and noticed. You were curious, “hey, what’s that over there?!” And if you’re like me, you didn’t stop going out, but your lens for noticing got fogged up. You stopped seeing the magic that’s hidden in the mundane. 
Urban cruise is free, but we have to pay for it. We do so with our precious and limited attention. Attention that’s otherwise freely extended to our inner monologue about the way things “ought” to be. The shift here is a practice of persistently bringing a relaxed attention to the world, as it actually is. 
Most simply, urban cruise is a way to spend time. It’s an opportunity for doubt and possibility to come together. When we tap in to a cruise mindset, opportunities show up everywhere and inspired curiosity syncopates the beat. 
Starting from where we are, the urban interface becomes a canvas for expression and a platform for reconnection. The world comes through our senses and life is enough, just as it is.   
So that side street, parking garage or cutty trail leading from the dead end? Go on and check it out. When you’re cruising, there are no wrong turns. Just opportunities for feedback and new understanding. 
We bank a subtle left that pulls us into a quick right. We’ve taken momentum. Tension builds and gets released into a long arcing turn. We’ve drawn our Self out and now we’re playing. Participating in the freshness of what’s right here, right now. 
When we’re cruising, possibility morphs obstacles into features. And how we respond is up to us. We can unlearn beliefs that don’t serve us. We find that lines are everywhere when we choose to see them. Maya Angalou said “life loves the livers of it.” Others are cruising, you can too.

 

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Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

 

Wisdom from the open path

We’re big fans of the writing of Geoff Nicholson. His books on walking are awesome! Check out his The Lost Art of Walking if you’re new to him.

We loved his recent-ish blog on the wisdom that walking can uncover. As Geoff says: “Walking provides endless opportunities for coming up with profundities, some of them more genuinely profound than others, though we could argue about which are which.”

Here’s some of the wisdom from the open path that Geoff shares:

‘No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.’ – Buddha

‘Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.’ – Thoreau.

‘Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood.’ – Khalil Gibran

‘Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.’ – Oprah Winfrey

Check out the last brilliant bit of wisdom from the Chelsea Physic Garden!

Thanks Geoff, keep wandering.

 

*****

Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

 

Experiencing the Street Wisdom magic – via Harry Potter!

We just love this write-up of a recent Street Wisdom Walkshop in London, hosted by the wanderful Ula Caroto!

Why not practise what Ula discovers in this strangely magical tune up: Find the beauty in everything. Give it a go, add it to your wander. And read on below to check out the Harry Potter of it all.

Fancy experiencing the magic yourself? Join one of Ula’s upcoming Walkshops in London and Cambridge! Or stream our free audio guides and head out right now!

 

*****

Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

 

Look up! And other lessons from hosting a Street Wisdom Walkshop

We just love this write-up of a recent Street Wisdom Walkshop in Athens by our host, Elpida Trizi!

Why not practise what Elpida found out and try adding a bit more Looking Up to your next wander outdoors?

 

*****

Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

 

[Guest post] Further thoughts on a good question

Inspired by Street Wisdom participant Nicole Kagan’s question, regular Street Wisdom Walkshop host Nicky Torode wrote this blog to offer some further thoughts on this question of What makes a good question?

 

A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

– Francis Bacon

At Street Wisdom, naturally, we couldn’t agree more with Francis there.

In our Walkshops – or wandershops as I call them – participants quest the streets, seeking, smelling, sensing and listening for answers to their top-of-mind question.

So, a good quest needs a good question, right? True.

But what makes a good question is the question!

Here are a few categories to ponder as you start to tune into your question.

 

Open without theme questions

Use What or How to get the juices flowing:

What is the next best step?

What am I waiting for?

What has the time come for me to invite into my life?

 

Open with theme questions

What’s the next step in my career?

What volunteering opportunities do I want to explore?

I’m at a crossroads in my love life. Show me some options for which way to go.

 

What if questions

This unlocks our thinking, takes us into the wonderous fields of infinite possibility.

What if I say yes?

What if I say no?

What if there is a half way?

 

Incisive questions

This kind of question has bounce!

We leapfrog over doubts, fears, objections and assumptions to ask thought-provoking questions to think afresh:

If you knew you had a choice, what….

If you could find time, what… 

A similar springboard question, this time from what is already known:

Knowing your values, what feels possible right now?

 

Hypothetical questions

On a Street Wisdom walkshop we invite you to ask a stranger your question to get a fresh perspective, for their first take on your topic. It’s insightful precisely because they don’t know you and don’t need the backstory.

But it’s easier said than done, surely? Well, here are some tips.

Ask perhaps, a friendly-faced barista? An eager-eyed florist outside the station?

I once asked a quiet barista, serving flat whites, minding his own. Turns out, he was a philosophy graduate. Now, the question is: did I come away with answers or more questions?

A hypothetical question like this can work well:

What would you consider if you were moving town?       

What would you do if you had a job you loved but hated the boss? 

Now, the stranger-turned-confidante might ask you about moving from where to where or what job do you do BUT it is just their top notes that’ll be helpful! It’s not an exchange.

 

Instructional/dialogue questions

It’s also worth pondering about the language and the focus.

We are in dialogue with the street so let’s talk to them directly, like our very own personal Yoda:

Streets, what’s …..

Give me…

Show me….

Tell me…..

 

Invitational questions

Or, a more invitational tone, perhaps?

Words like might, may, could invite our explorer’s mind to the streets, rather than us efforting to find the definitive answer.

What might the answer be?

Feel the air flow in, the freeness?

 

All the feels questions

I was once asked on a Walkshop whether the question had to be about positive topics only. No, it can be the thing that’s troubling you, which can include perhaps negative emotions that you’re experiencing like stress or worry.

Example of a difficult theme for a question, taken from the Street Wisdom website:

Show me some fresh ways of dealing with the grief I’m experiencing…

My word of caution is to be mindful you’re in a public space, so check if it feels like the right place and time for this topic.

You don’t have to share your question with the group but I find it’s always inspiring to hear others and can help participants savour them and land on their own question.

After the quest, it’s heartening to see surprised faces and smiles when wanderers return and share answers, or whispers of answers, they’ve gathered from the streets.

 

Coming up with questions can be addictive, wouldn’t you say?

 

We love a good question so share if you will, a question you took for a walk!

If you haven’t yet been to a Street Wisdom Walkshop, the only question to ask now is…

 

What are you waiting for?  

 

*****

Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

Thanks to rawpixel for this wanderful photo!

Exercise: The Fifteen-Minute Flâneur

What?

The word ‘flâneur’ derives from the old Norse, flana, meaning ‘to wander with no purpose’. Sounds right up our street! Those famous French flâneurs, led by chief exponent the poet Baudelaire, have inspired whole generations since. Street Wisdom participants often report they experience a bit of flâneurie on a #Walkshop: being simultaneously at the centre of things, and invisible, seeing and yet not being seen, intensely public and private at once. So, hey, let’s give it a go!

Why?

This simple exercise forces us – gently – to override our habit of heading from start to finish in the most direct way possible. It’s a way of initiating your neurology to slow down, your internal clock to stop counting, and your body to wander, to fill up a journey from A to B with un-needed steps. The un-needed steps are the freeing ones; they represent the holiday you are giving yourself, away from the lockstep and straight-ahead habits of modern life.

How?

Find a fifteen-minute gap in your day. If you really look, you’ll find one. And if not, create one. The simplest way is to nudge two adjacent tasks away from each other in your agenda until fifteen minutes appears.

Then, find yourself a street – ideally, a busy one! But that’s not essential.

Think of where you are standing as point A. Then choose another point (point B), which is a five minute relaxed walk away. Now set off for point B but give yourself fifteen minutes to get there. Yes, three times as much time as you need. The two-thirds of extra time you just gifted yourself is wander time, flâneur time. Spend it like a flâneur would. Imagine, as they did, you’re taking a tortoise for a walk. Window shop, people watch, drink it all in. If there’s a crowd, step into it and enjoy being invisible. Slow your pace. Head in the opposite direction from your destination, knowing you have plenty of time to get there. Observe. Be amused. Be curious. Take smartphone photos of things you haven’t noticed before (phone on airplane mode, mind). Maybe even sketch? Make notes. Treat yourself to an absinthe – scratch that! – cup of tea/coffee. With only half an eye, and a lazy one at that, on the clock, saunter, amble, loiter your way to your end point, enjoying the sensation of nearly being late for your own deadline.

 

Adapted extract from Street Wisdom founder David Pearl’s book, Wanderful.

 

*****

Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_

Thanks to rawpixel for this wanderful photo!

“105 minutes well spent!”

We loved a recent Walkshop participant’s write-up of Street Wisdom on LinkedIn and asked Tom if we could include it here for Street Wisdom friends and family to enjoy too. Thanks Tom!

 

*****

Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy a copy of founder David Pearl’s book Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_