We, the people behind Metropolitan Trails, wish to formalize our practice with the aim of sharing and spreading the word on what we do.
To that end, we have written this charter and founded the Metropolitan Trails Academy. This charter was adopted in Athens on February 8, 2020.
1. ARTS OF MAKING
The cityscape is made up of a diverse array of actors—urban planners, engineers, developers, elected officials, as well as residents and users (with their particular vernacular and local expertise). Artists and architects take over the inhabited world as an in situ creative work/space. Our relationships to the land and our human habitats are vital concerns for the arts.
(For culture and art our relationship to the land and our human habitation is of vital concern.
2. WAYS OF MOVING
The modern city has become increasingly marked by the dissociation dissolution of public spaces and transportation links. Infrastructure facilitating hypermobility fragments our urban landscapes, depriving us of foot ways to walk, which is so essential to human health.
3. MENTAL MAPPING
Living beings create representations of where they live. Yet there is a growing gap between the reality of our urban landscapes and the representations we devise. Large swaths of our cities are left out of our mental mapping. Meanwhile, most of our urban narratives are the products of marketing.
4. PLACES OF LEARNING
Our learning spaces tend to be dissociated from our living spaces. Our modern urban environment does not speak to us, since we have not been equipped to read it. School curricula tend to neglect urbanism and ecology, failing to prepare citizens with the tools to take part in the pressing concerns of our century.
In the twenty-first century, societies are on the threshold of a fundamental renegotiation of their relationships to the Earth. Reintegrating our cities into the biosphere involves radical changes to urban infrastructure alongside the implementation of new ideas and effective practices.
Now therefore, we propose :
Metropolitan Trails are routes. They are lines akin to the strokes of a paintbrush, the thread of a melody, or the sense of a sentence. They are works of art formed out of physical and legal continuities (contingincies) within a terrestrial space. They have an author—usually a collective author, since they are created in collaboration with local authorities and communities.
2. PUBLIC SPACES AND TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
These physical continuities are public spaces on a metropolitan scale. By inviting users to reconnect with urban walking, Metropolitan Trails invite citizens how to free themselves from cars. They bring cities back to a human scale, returning daily movement back toward the body. With a view toward a post-carbon world, what they propose is the slow use of the city.
The trail is a narrative line that tells the story of our lands (places). Metropolitan Trails immerse us in a galaxy of urban stories, freeing us from the monopoly of mass media. In response to the breakdown of grand narratives (modernity, progress, nation states, etc.), we set off on foot in search of other local stories.
Metropolitan Trails provide opportunities to express different forms of knowledge, to learn, and grow at all stages of our life. Our mission is multidisciplinary and grounded in local geography. As a complement to school curricula, Metropolitan Trails become an outdoor (open) university, where students and teachers overlap. By connecting our knowledge to what is on the ground, they turn the world into our (a) school.
5. TOOLS FOR REINHABITING THE LAND
The metropolis is a site of acceleration, disconnection, and de-localization. At their core, Metropolitan Trails seek to expose the crisis we face in our relationships with the Earth, by provoking/inspiring/inviting us to walk through landscapes built for vehicles, venture outdoors in places made for indoor dwelling, and create connections across fragmented landscapes.
Architecture, agriculture, botanical features, watersheds, abandoned spaces, energy infrastructure ... Metropolitan Trails expose visitors to other lives turning habitual environments into spaces that speak to us, inviting us to influence its evolution.