I’ve read a couple of pieces recently that throw a new light on the objectives behind Jane’s WalkCHICAGO.
One of them was a very nice article about Gabriel Kahane recently in Urban Omnibus, about how he’s inspired to write music specifically about the idea of place, “as a setting, subject, and device.” His most recent album, The Ambassador, uses ten songs, each tied to a street address or building, to explore Los Angeles’ representation and reality. As far as I know, no one’s done this for Chicago, but his comments resonate with me, and what I hope for Jane’s Walks.
There’s an interactive map based on the album on his website. http://ambassadoratlas.com/ .He posted it because “The way many people consume music now has changed what is considered a complete cultural artifact. A lot of people have told me that the interactive online map — inspired by Infinite Atlas — deepened their experience of the songs. And I think that if you are engaging with the booklet, the lyrics, and the dedications, everything you need is there to get a full experience.”
So while we’re not yet able to produce “a complete cultural artifact,” our Chicago walks are intended to stimulate ideas that participants might not have had before. These might include:
• Talking about aspects of the built environment that they have never been aware of before;
• Synthesizing their previous knowledge of Chicago history with specific details about the neighborhood or park they have visited;
• Observing similarities and differences between their own neighborhood and the one they’re visiting;
• Enhancing their appreciation of historical, sociological and visual trends that extend across neighborhood boundaries.
We’re in the process of posting this year’s Walks on Eventbrite and on janeswalk.net, so come see whether the new Maggie Daley Park, Jackson Park, urban farming in Kenwood, or other urban treasures might do it for you!
I’ll write about another piece I read next week…