Park Life: Connecting with East London

Hackney Council group shot walk Victoria Park small

Connection! That’s what it’s all about. To our environment, to each other and ultimately ourselves. Sound a bit out there? Well increasingly research shows that being out and about is good for us. Not just physically but mentally too.

On Sunday I led another walk for Hackney Council, this time around Victoria Park. And the evaluations were telling – almost all registered an improvement in mood after a couple of hours breathing in the ozone of the People’s Park, but also chatting and making new friends.

It wasn’t just the history – both conventional and radical – that ranged from ancient myth to the Industrial Revolution and World War Two via Suffragettes and Chartists. It was the company, the stimulation and the physical act of walking that mattered too. Hackney Tours is all about connecting with the world as much as possible – asking more questions and generally being nosey about where you live.

Quite often when you peel away the superficial layers, there are all sorts of hidden stories beneath the everyday. Especially in East London. And when you trace the roots, they take you off into places and ideas you might never have dreamed of.

Everything is connected, hence the #HackneyRhizome tag I’ve been using. Everything leads to something else, as anyone who’s ever searched the internet knows full well. A door leads into a room of ideas and stories where a door leads into…

So come and get curious with me on a walk around your own backyard if you’re local, or come on over and dive into Hackney if you’re not. There’s myth, history, philosophy and so much more. And it’s right at our fingertips, if you know where to look. And – echoing John Ruskin – if you know how to look. It’s a state of mind. It’s connection.

Check out Hackney Council’s Walking Together programme for opportunities to get out and about to stimulate mind, body and soul. Sign up to the Hackney Tours mailing list to keep up with evolving walks to get under the skin of East London.

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