Encounters and conversations between trail designers lead to the writing of common texts, in order to formulate and share our practices.
METROPOLITAN TRAILS MANIFESTO
1. We believe that we live on the ground.
2. We believe that we are an urban species that belongs to the land.
3. We believe that ways are older than houses – and that walking is dwelling.
4. We believe that our metropolitan areas have developed beyond our conscience, so that we need to explore these intimate terra incognita.
5. We believe in fighting mass media pernicious distortions of reality by walking.
6. We believe in itinerant hiking through urban ranges and in tourism at home.
7. We believe in lines and GIS, and getting back and forth from maps to the field, because the more you study a city the more you dream about it. We believe that metropolitan walking lines design new experiences for everyone.
8. We believe that the suburbs of the metropolises of the world share common features. Multicultural suburbs are a matrix of our future societies.
9. We believe that it is the responsibility of city centers to be aware of, and reverent to, the huge and beautiful body of their metropolitan areas, in order to put together a common metropolitan culture.
10. We believe in a world community of metropolitan walkers and trail designers, harbingers of an anti-bullshit revolution.
Swedenborg Center, London
22 September 2016
This manifesto was written by Paul-Hervé Lavessière and Baptiste Lanaspeze for the launching event of the InspiralLondon Trail in 2016, where it was read aloud with Charlie Fox and Julie de Muer.
Produced for a showcase featuring archives of the realization of several Metropolitan Trails, this charter sediments more than a decade of practice, by many collectives, in France and in the world. It aims to share our practice and to open up new conversations with new territories and new trail designers.
We move the hiking practice towards our urban and peri-urban spaces, and we change the world. Suburbs, motorways, airports, pavilions, industrial zones, wastelands, fragments of countryside… Walking these territories diverts them from their functional uses and makes a new experience possible.
The idea that we in the West have of nature—dreamt of as “virgin”, devoid of humans and the marks of human presence—has appeared with the practice of hiking and landscape painting, which appeared with the railways and paint tubes.
A century and a half later, the number of humans on Earth has increased tenfold, the countryside has been depopulated, one human out of two is urban, our landscapes are largely modified by human action, natural cycles, both local and global, are disrupted, the sixth extinction of life on earth is accelerating—and artists have been documenting these inhabited, modified, bruised, living territories for several decades. We are rediscovering that we are inhabitants of the Earth among others.
Today we walk differently, and we walk elsewhere.
Based on the aesthetic foundations laid by the American artist Robert Smithson, the philosopher Guy Debord or the Italian collective Stalker, urban walking practices have settled in many territories, at the very beginning of the 21st century, seeking to offer quality facilities to the general public in peri-urban spaces, in Bordeaux, Marseille, Tunis, Avignon, Paris, Milan…
70 years after the invention in 1947 of the long-distance footpaths (GR, “Grande randonnée”), we are launching with this charter an approach incubated since the realy 21st century, with the design of the first official Metropolitan Trail (the GR2013), closely followed by Istanbul, London, Tunis, Paris…—and preceded by a process initiated in 2000 by Yvan Detraz and the Bruit du Frigo collective in Bordeaux. Metropolitan Trails are a kind of walking itinerary that explore other territories, and mobilize another culture than that of the classic trail. Although the Metropolitan Trails are now developing all over the world, those in France can receive the “GR” label: this dual identity allows for the crossing of cultures and audiences, and gives rise to creative misunderstandings.
Produced for a showcase assembling archives of the realization of several Metropolitan Trails, this charter sediments more than a decade of practices, by many collectives, in France and in the world. It aims to open the conversation with new territories and new actors.
Marseille, November 2017