If I walk.

Get out of locomotive mode; be an album not a single; walk as a system in a system noticing systems. Do you know things as things – or do you know them as processes?

– time is your habitat.

The language of movement is of one thing displacing another; if my foot goes there, the air must go somewhere else. The displaced air breezes past a dried tuft of winter-worn grass and shakes loose the bug.

Even in this way, I am thinking linearly. As if one cause leads to the next effect and so on and so on until the end. I am instigator. Rather than thinking, what displaced me? What inspired me to movement? I am the acted upon.

Why move by foot – not choose another form of locomotion? Why is it a line, not a smear of charcoal?

What happens to my community when I walk through it? My presence presents; a narrative of departure and arrival; the cliché of journeying – as if the burden of movement is to change and connect – agitate some sort of transformation.

Feel a heightened sense of everything. Disappear the self into surrounding. Get connected.

– immense pressure put on something so    pedestrian.


And yet it does. One foot follows the other, then the next, then the next. The wild west as foot steps out, brain turns, shoots neurons.

– draw, a line that represents your path. What do you see…smell? Are you -disappointed – still you? How fresh is that air you just took in? – sometimes the orphan burns down the house that took her in. I read that in a book once while walking. I thought briefly of asthma.

Is that rural healthful air; urbane or urban?

Don’t forget your feet have feeling too.


If I walk from Halifax to Burnaby maybe then they’ll listen; ‘oh, now I can see she means business’. Cause amplified by ten toes, five a stride.

Those who disregard the intelligence in movement perilously sport blinders to their habitat. Thought disguises itself to be an entity outside of time. But movement can’t shed that skin. The history of walking is the history of thought plus movement; the history of romance to place, of romancing self discovery. Revolutions contained epidermally, transcribed across landscapes; delightfully garnished with blisters.


4elements has undertaken 15 years of work along a path toward community transformation. We came to walking for many reasons, one of which was out of a need to connect people back to place and to facilitate stewardship of our under-valued island landscapes. We did this the simplest most accessible way we knew how; by showing up – and walking. Throughout our history we’ve come at issues of community, identity, culture and place from many different angles: curatorial projects, archival research, exhibitions, community consultation processes, school programs and outdoor art-making. This blog entry looks at the political aspects of act of walking; it responds creatively to one of our Fieldbook Project community walks, where I observed and conversed with community members about the relationships between walking and political agency.

  • Patricia Mader, 4elements Living Arts