From surfers in the South East of Scotland to Somali history walks in London’s East End, we welcome the ten community stories projects we will be supporting along our walking routes
Last year, we launched “Tales from a Slow Way,” a community stories project that would enable us to commission creatives and groups to work together to produce original stories situated on Slow Ways walking routes.
The stories could cover just about any topic, we just asked that they help to inspire more people to contribute to and use our network of Slow Ways; walking routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns, cities and thousands of villages. The stories could take on any format from film, music and art, to photo-essays, zines, and creative writing.
We were especially keen on seeding stories that will help strengthen and create community – stories that are inclusive and diverse. We wanted to do this to better understand and illustrate the variety of ways people see and connect with Slow Ways.
From the incredible 250 applications that we received, we are now delighted to announce the ten that will be part of our upcoming programme
Serena Coady x Female farmers of Shetland
Serena is set to hike the Slow Ways trails across the Shetland Islands to report on an unsung part of the agricultural community: female farmers. She will produce a photography series, feature story, and short documentary that captures the farmers on their home turf, following their busy daily routines and their vital roles in Scottish agriculture. She is excited to capture Shetland’s immense natural beauty: its wild coastline, iron-age ruins, and of course, Shetland ponies.
Serena Coady is a London-based journalist focused on telling the stories of people who live in geographical isolation. She is also a solo traveller and hiker. Her work has appeared in The Independent, CNN, i-D, Dazed, South China Morning Post, Vox, Refinery29, and Harper’s Bazaar.
Fred Garratt-Stanley x Lewes Community Football Club
In the UK, non-League football is an important source of community pride and togetherness that rarely gets the respect it deserves. Fred seeks to shine a light on the innovative, community-centred work being done at one of the world’s most progressive football clubs, East Sussex-based Lewes FC. Part travelogue, part reported feature, Fred’s story will trace the Lewalf Slow Ways path across the South Downs into Lewes, to communicate the important role football can play in bringing communities together and providing representation for people from all backgrounds.
Fred Garrat-Stanley is freelance football and culture writer published in GQ, Vice, Huck, NME, and more. Based in South London, he is a huge non-league football fan and regularly attends lower league matches across the capital and further afield, documenting those trips on his blog, Stanchion.
Jess Green x Leicester Rape Crisis
Jasmine House at Leicester Rape Crisis will host a healing walk along one of the Slow Ways routes with a small group of young female survivors of sexual abuse. The walk will focus on the unique healing aspects of walking and nature, and will end with a creative writing session with poet Jess Green where the young women the charity supports can express the feelings they experienced. Bringing their young people to the Slow Ways route will allow Leicester Rape Crisis to support them in a safe environment and use the power of nature and walking to process the trauma they have faced.
Leicester Rape Crisis is a charity based in Leicester that supports female survivors of sexual abuse, sexual violence and rape. They have been active for over 30 years and work from the ethos of women supporting women, providing a safe space for women and girls to process and heal from sexual trauma.
David Lyons & Mike Guest x Wave Project and Surfers against Sewage
For a lot of people, surfing means barrelling waves in Hawaii, sun-kissed Californians and Aussies in board shorts, but in the southeast of Scotland, the weather is cold and the water is colder. The committed surfers in the area, however, are making a positive impact far beyond the confines of the sport itself, whether it’s the Wave Project supporting the mental health of young people or Surfers Against Sewage campaigning against water pollution. Writer and surfer David Lyons and photographer Mike Guest will be creating a zine to celebrate the characters, stories and nature of the southeast coast of Scotland. Their zine will be based on the Slow Ways route from Dunbar to Eyemouth, which connects the only two surf shops in the southeast of Scotland: Coast 2 Coast at Belhaven and St Vedas at Coldingham.
Mike Guest is a photographer from Edinburgh and self-confessed salt water addict. As well as working for major brands, Mike works with community initiatives, including recently facilitating a group of young creatives in Caithness exploring their relationship with the ocean.
Dave Lyons is a writer and charity communications professional who surfs regularly on beaches between Dunbar and Eyemouth. He has written about surfing in Scotland previously, most recently for Adventure Uncovered and Scottish Island Explorer.
Somang Lee x ESEA Sisters
London is home to ESEA Sisters, an East and South East Asian women’s community group which creates safe spaces where Asian women can exchange knowledge and experiences as a minority group living in the UK, and for whom walking is a core activity. As a woman of Korean heritage, Somang grew up feeling that women who looked like her were often portrayed as weak and subservient, in stark contrast to the vibrant and strong community of women she knew. By capturing the many voices of ESEA’s walking group through personal interviews and illustrated maps in a colourful ‘field guide to walking’, Somang hopes to make their stories visible and show how outdoor adventures can build personal confidence and strengthen community bonds.
An award-winning illustrator and projection artist based in London, Somang Lee trained at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. Her creative practice is informed by her love for nature and outdoor adventures and her aim is to create illustrations that are both beautiful and useful – making use of the wonder of nature, to inspire others to get out there and be part of it.
Nazia Sultana x Sustainably Muslim
Environmentally-minded volunteer group Sustainably Muslim were first brought together when they created a brand new community garden in Canning Town in the summer of 2022. They will be walking a Slow Ways route through east London while having conversations about their three guiding interests: community, nature and Islam. Nazia will be working with a videographer to capture those conversations, identifying different plants and trees along the way and creating a plant ID book that can be shared with the local community.
Sustainably Muslim aims to inspire & empower Muslims to serve the environment & their community through education & social action.
Lillie Aissa x LEC Minorities
LEC Minorities are a self-described group of mates studying the environment at Lancaster University. All from different backgrounds, their experiences contribute unique perspectives to the male-dominated, Eurocentric heteronormative study of the environment and the environmental sector. They will mark the end of their final year by walking from Lancaster to Yorkshire, reflecting in particular on their experience of attending university during COVID-19 and the diversity crisis within the environmental sector. They aim to analyse and film the socio-ecological landscapes around them using their training, resulting in a fresh and creative short film representative of young people in the UK exploring nature today.
LEC Minorities are a community of final year LEC students, studying Geography, Ecology and Conservation. As the world changes, they believe skills like collaboration, creativity and diversity of thought will be integral to the future.
Fatuma Khaireh x Numbi Arts
The Somali community of London’s East End has resided in the area for over 150 years, but its history is gradually being erased by the process of gentrification and redevelopment. Working with Numbi Arts, an East London-based Somali cultural organisation, Fatuma aims to document and share an oral history walk that seeks to preserve and highlight the little-known history of the community and serve as an inspiration for other communities to replicate this model of local archiving. The oral history will be made available as a podcast and available to be listened to by anyone interested in following along the route.
Fatuma Khaireh is a multidisciplinary creative with a focus on audio. She has produced works for arts organisations such as Somerset House and Four Corners Gallery. As an audio producer, she has have worked for cultural and journalistic bodies such as the BBC and The Guardian, as well as commercial brands such as Adidas and Net-A-Porter.
Roseanna Gooder x Swiss Cottage School
Every Slow Ways route is a collaboration between the path and those who walk it, and Swiss Cottage School hope to create an interactive sensory experience for people with learning disabilities on a walk of their choosing. Using visual prompts, the sensory story they create will have exploratory aspects at various stops along the route such as feeling different textures in a wood or smelling plants, to assist students in processing spoken language and written text. The art work symbolising each experience and the accompanying text will be created by the young people attending the Swiss Cottage School.
Swiss Cottage School, Development and Research Centre is a community-maintained special needs school in the London Borough of Camden. Their research-informed curriculum and passionate community create innovative learning opportunities to promote holistic development
Rachel Murray x Deafinitely Women
Deaf-initely are a group of deaf and hard of hearing women from the Midlands who share a common love of being outdoors. They aim to walk a new route as a group, supporting deaf and hard of hearing women in sensory-exploration of new areas and activities along the way. In doing so they challenge themselves physically, emotionally, geographically and creatively. By sharing their experiences through this project, they hope to encourage others to test their boundaries and experience their walks with a new perspective.
Rachel Murray is, in amongst other things, a storyteller and passionate about walking. She is often to be seen wandering in the Derbyshire Dales muttering stories to the wind and the odd sheep. She tells stories in all manner of places; from caves to castles, care homes to cafes and schools to shopping centres.
With many thanks to our project partners for their role in the selection process
Soraya Abdel-Hadi, Founder, All the Elements
Soraya is an award-winning writer, artist, and advocate for women and diversity in the UK outdoors. In 2021, she was named Lonely Planet Sustainable Storyteller. She is also the founder of the All The Elements – a community working to increase diversity in the UK outdoors.
Phil Young, Co-Founder, The Outsiders Project
Phil is the co-founder of The Outsiders project, an outdoor sports platform and agency championing diversity in outdoor sports. The project is run by TCO London, who are also the owners of Huck Magazine, a magazine that celebrates independence, seeking out the people, scenes and movements around the globe who are challenging the status quo. Phil is also a co-founder of Black Trail Runners.