It’s difficult to fully convey the richness of the Cool Tan Arts Community Legacy Walk I went on with some colleagues on Tuesday 10 June.
The route taken, from Hackney Museum eastwards through the borough and concluding on the fringes on the Olympic park (where lingering and casually holding cameras is received with a distinct air of distrust), gave a cross section of Hackney’s history, people, and the different urban forms that characterise the borough.
Each of the guides who joined us brought something unique and informative – be it the history of a school or churchyard, their own memories of places from years before, or their opinions and expectations about the rapid changes taking place in Hackney. This personal touch helped the walk feel like a journey of communal discovery rather than just a tour, learning from and about other people in order to better understand the place.
Inevitably the Olympics dominated the picture at times and became much more noticeable through the second half of the walk, both in terms of the visible changes taking and yet to take place, and the conversation. The reason I say that it is difficult to convey or indeed fully appreciate the richness of the experience is because spending time being introduced and educated to the borough by the group of knowledgeable and clearly passionate community members raised in my mind far more questions than I could have expected. In search of the answers I feel the best thing I can do is to return to the borough to join more legacy walks in the future and witness and understand the very present changes that are occurring over the coming weeks and months – and I can think of no better endorsement than that!
CoolTan Arts has been awarded a Transformers grant, funded by The National Lottery, through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, and managed by the East London Business Alliance.