Insta walks slash mobile public spaces

I joined Blacknation, Tastemakers Africa and Creative Nestlings on my first ever Insta walk this past Saturday.

I often hear people across the city referring to themselves by specific identifying labels; artists, musicians, bankers, entrepreneurs….creatives. This always makes me feel uncomfortable…this idea of reducing myself to a label. This is partly because of my fear of our obsessive culture of naming, categorizing, in grouping and out grouping. Part of my fear was that this meet up would be just another ‘cool kid slash hipster on the margin’ initiative with absolutely no substance or relevance to reality. It turned out not to be.

Before I get ahead of myself, Insta walks are literally walks around a specific part of the city with an intention of getting those with a shared interest to engage on said interest. The basic idea is that strangers would connect and share experiences while exploring the city together. 

I think we’ve all been acclimatized to the idea of networking over cocktail parties and ‘events’ which can be very alienating and uncomfortable to many of us. Networking events are never really about making real human connections and forming friendships. It’s all about ‘selling yourself’ and leaving with stacks of business cards whose owners don’t even know your name. This reviled quid pro quo view on human relationships. 

Although insta walks can definitely be seen as a way to meet like minded people with whom you may want to collaborate in the future, I think they serve a much bigger purpose of normalizing a culture of being interested in strangers and human stories. 

I often complain about the lack of public spaces in our city. Spaces where young and old can meet in their ordinary and most comfortable versions of themselves, expressing their passions and interests. Liveable cities are human centric in their design. They don’t require people to step out of their ‘ordinary’ lives to be engaged citizens. They are designed with a deep understanding of how people move and experience their surroundings. 

I think insta walks can play a critical role in being the ‘mobile public spaces’ that allow residents to be more aware of their surroundings, to engage in conversations about the kind of life they experience around them and seeing the city through a different, much slower, more contemplative lens. 

Nkgopoleng MoloiComment