Soundwalks September 2019 - how it went from this end
Over the month of September, Soundtails was involved in Soundwalk September 2019 (SWS19) —initially Soundwalks Sunday until it grew too big. Soundwalks September is the initiative of Andrew Stuck, founding director of Museum of Walking in London, who worked in collaboration with international polyglots Geert Vermeire from the Milena Project and techno whizz Babak Fakhamzadeh. Soundwalk September is underpinned by an understanding that we are all, to varying degrees, negotiating and experiencing sites and cities differently to what we were even 20 years ago and for many of us, this is often made possible, for better or worse, through mobile phones. SWS is all about celebrating the rich new school of sound walks now available and how they are, I believe, opening new and exciting opportunities up for us to experience the world around us: or in some cases, dance or simply close our eyes. From the mosaic of stories on the Echoes platform to the powerful work ‘Consent’ by radio journalist Chris Brookes in Saint John’s, to the global Hush City Soundwalks project by Antonella Radicci. From Poland to Sau Paulo, to the love of sound and dancing or listening and cultural tourism, Soundwalks September now serves for an important vehicle for engaging people with the sound/storied world around us.
When Soundtrails were invited to be part of SWS19 and what promised to be an international event, we had to think through how to do this given the distances that Soundtrails covers, let alone the bushfires across much of the country, and the late notice I gave people. I was thankfully out on assignment in NSW and after discussing the event with our Soundtarils communities and trying to share the spirt of what was on offer, we were able to lock in six of our Soundtrails communities to join in with SWS19: Uralla, Amidale, Goonoowigall, Walgett, Nambour and the Aboriginal Diggers in Moree.
Sound Walks September 19 was a great success and we will surely look to do it again next year. It allowed us to explore together, as communities and artists, what’s available on Soundtrails in a variety of ways. Andrew Parker in Uralla used blue tooth speakers to take listeners around the streets and into the parks, while here in Nambour, we used headphones and made a morning of it, stopping for coffee and chat at the end. Whether it was Aunty Noeline Briggs Smith sharing the simple moment of her ancestral connections with Sharon Cooke in the Aboriginal section of the Moree cemetery, or Walgett making it a bigger cultural event and bringing in the kids from the local schools and listening to talks from elders who recall the Freedom Rides: each community did what worked for them given the time and resources available.
SWS19 has afforded us a clear framework to celebrate some of the many Soundtrails that are now freely available and it helps us feel we’re part of a bigger community. There’s lots to be learned for us in this. Thanks everyone who’s been involved, and a special big thanks to James Rose from JJ Media, for all his work sending out press releases and engaging the media during the course of the month, and to all the others involved on the day:
· Aunty Noeline and Sharon Cooke - Diggers Soundtrail Moree
· Lee Herden – Armidale Catholic Precinct
· Andrew Parker and Clare Campbell – Uralla
· James Rose – Nambour
· Rebecca Trindall – Walgett
· Peter Caddy and Aunties Hilda Duncan and Beryl Hepi - Goonoowigall