Apparently, in 1840s Paris, it was very trendy to wander around with a tortoise on a lead to make sure you were gong at the right speed to truly experience the city – so can anyone lend us a tortoise?
Unfortunately, no-one had a tortoise to spare that day but a sufficiently slow pace was set, ‘recording our feelings as we go, in the spirit of the flâneur (“a person who walks a city to experience it”).’
Exploring their surroundings in this unusual way meant the walkers started to notice things that had escaped their attention before, and wonder online what that plant is, or why someone saw fit to place a pylon right next to someone’s house. They concentrated on derelict buildings and building sites, reflecting on what was there before and what’s to come. They explored local historical sites, discovering the Weoley Castle ruins ‘completely by accident’ and taking the time to wander around. And they discovered ‘random things’ that just happened to catch their eye whilst they had the time to stop and investigate further.
And the best bit about it was the whole B29 perimeter walk odyssey was recorded on the site by Pindec, who incorporated everyone’s comments, photographs and audioboos into her blog post about the day. This meant readers were able to share the walkers’ journey – read about their findings, see what made them stop and think and listen to what they had to say out loud.
Taking a different style of journey that makes you look at your area in a new light like this is a great way of generating interesting and unusual content for a hyperlocal site. You could try a Tortoise Walk like the B29ers, or try something a bit different if a snail’s pace isn’t your style. If you’re stuck for ideas The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel is a good starting point, and the website has an Index of Experiments for you to dip into and play with. Fancy ‘Taking a Line for a Walk’ or ‘Blind Man’s Buff Travel’? Or how’s about a messy hybrid of the two? Mis-guide.com is also worth delving into, leafing through their book A Mis-guide to Anywhere has given me an idea or two.
Have a think and go exploring your area in weird and wonderful ways, either as a group or on your own if you’d prefer. Just be sure to record each new discovery and how you came about it, so your readers can share in your adventure.