Just a quick posting.  We’ve started piloting walking interviews as part of the ‘communities’ work package, where we’re investigating how people living in Balsall Heath and Ordsall experience the creative economy within their neighbourhoods.  I’ve previously done work using walking interviews as part of investigating sense of place in Digbeth, but Balsall Heath poses some interestingly different challenges.  This is not the least because where Digbeth is primarily a working area with not many passers-by, Balsall Heath a has much more active streetlife during the daytime so, in a close knit community, researchers on the street can be highly visible leading to questions being asked as to who were the strangers seen walking around…

Paul and Saskia had already run one pilot when Saskia and I went out on Friday to talk to a second participant.  The weather was somewhat biblical, but our interviewee nonetheless was enthusiastic to show us around for 45 minutes in squally downpours.

GPS data from a walking interview

Paul is also keen to try capturing GPS tracks of the walks and I recorded Friday’s on my phone.  I’ve anonymised this track as we need to get permission from participants before publishing.  As you can see, we didn’t walk terribly far, but spent quite a bit of time hanging around on street corners discussing various features in the landscape as my trainers slowly filled up with freezing rain water.  I think the participant was a lot hardier than me!

We’re going to meet shortly to think through the pilot walks and how we’re going to use this technique appropriately for the neighbourhood contexts we’re working in.  Hopefully we’ll report back on our thoughts about this soon.

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