Sunday, 8 May 2016

AFTER THE WEEKEND

The Kick and Push Pedestrian Society (KAPPS) would like to thank those who attended our Walkers Weekend over the past weekend. We appreciate your support and your donations to the Renfrew Hospice
We want to extend special thanks to:
  • The Renfrew Hospice for their partnership,
  • Finnegan's Restaurant for welcoming us
  • Kelly and Susan at the Library
  • Joanne and Erin at the Rec Centre
  • Speakers and helpers Doug H-W and Lara M
  • Media Support from
    • MyFM
    • Ashley at Star 96
    • Theresa and Sherry from the Renfrew Mercury
    • Helen at the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association
  • poster services from Renfrew Printing
  • the many merchants who put up posters
Thanks to those who came out to support us.
See you next year or this month on the trail,
Walk More !
Ray

Thursday, 10 March 2016

ANNOUNCING THE 2016 WALKERS' WEEKEND

We're very pleased to announce the repeat and expansion of our very successful Walkers' Weekend from last year. This year we will repeat the Film Festival with two new films, on the Friday and Saturday evenings, followed by the KAPPS walk on the Sunday morning. New this year will be several other events. The planned weekend is April 22-24.
Once again, the event will be a combination of promoting walking as a recreational activity in the County, especially our KAPPS project, on one hand, and, on the other, a fund-raising vehicle for the Renfrew Hospice. The 2016 Hike for Hospice will follow our event by a week. The program is still in development, so watch for more announcements here.
So far we have selected our two films. Friday evening we'll screenthe Australian bio-pic, Tracks, (see IMDB details at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2167266/ ). It tells the true story of Robyn Davidson as she sets of on the first solo walk across the Great Western Desert, a journey of some 1,700 miles. The Saturday feature will be The Way Back (see IMDB details http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1023114/?ref_=nv_sr_1 ), another true story set at the end of the Second World War. In it, a group of prisoners in a Russian Gulag prison decide to escape and walk 4,000 miles to India.
On the Saturday morning, in cooperation with the Renfrew Library, we are hosting a Walkers' Panel, where several speakers will present their own unique experiences of different kinds of walking. On the Saturday afternoon we are developing a short workshop of interest for walkers. On the Sunday morning, the KAPPS group will sponsor its monthly walk along the K and P Trail. They will set off from downtown Renfrew for a 90 minute walk, returning back to town for a brunch and a short presentation at a downtown eatery (to be named soon).
The weekend promises to be full of fun for walkers of all skill and interests. Mark your calendars now.

Yours , on the journey,
Ray
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks ~ John Muir

Thursday, 3 March 2016

WALKING AND SOUND

WALKING AND SOUND

Walking is a naturally rhythmic activity. Once you find your pace you will notice that cadence, that’s called the beats per minute (BPM). We can use this cadence to layer the practice we are doing. We can incorporate some auditory input at that BPM which will reinforce our walking practice and make it more stable and deep. The typical auditory methods we have are counting and recitations.

Counting is the simplest and it can be counting steps or breaths. When you are walking, if it is slower in pace, you can synchronize your step, usually alternate steps, as in every left step, with the breath. This would mean each time you plant the left heel and move forward, you do it with an out breath. In our temple practice, we may do this kind of slow pace walking and use the moktak (wooden drum) to maintain that cadence. This works well with a slow indoor pace, but becomes awkward as we increase the pace and BPM.

If the pace is faster, you can count the steps in between out-breaths. This would mean you count the left foot/out breath as 1, then count the subsequent steps to the next out breath. This might mean you count 1-2-3-4-5 steps (depending on your pace) and then another out breath and begin again. This kind of step/breath counting is a very supportive addition to outdoor walking which maintains your concentration. This is one of the simplest ways of layering breath, step and cadence.
 
Walk a mile in anybody's shoes ...just walk
Ray

Sunday, 28 February 2016

TREADMILL WORKSTATIONS

I was investigating the latest workplace wellness fad - treadmill desks. There's a variety of them (here's one - http://www.nextdesks.com/treadmill-desk?gclid=CKmas_yAm8sCFQmqaQodxqYCLA ). You can get powered ones or what is called an "incline model, which has no motor but relies on gravity to get you to drive the belt against an incline. There are beautiful high-end models , up to $4k and there are bargain designs where you can retro-fit a desk and a surplus treadmill.
Basically, the idea is to get you off you ass while working, a "step above" (so to speak :) ) the standing workstations that appeared a few years ago. It seems we can be as lazy with the standing versions as just sitting all the time. We need to move to benefit from a standing workstation. 

Do we really want our kids (or ourselves) having more excuses to avoid being outdoors and staring at screens?


While I laud the efforts to get us more active, it seems to me we are missing a few critical points:
1. Walking on a treadmill is hardly a substitute for a brisk walk in a non-work natural space. Perhaps what we need more than high-end fitness equipment crossbred with desks is more opportunities to interrupt work with exposure to natural environments?
2. Do we really want to find new ways for our kids or ourselves to spend less time outdoors and staring at screens in an isolated space?
3. How does getting some exercise while staring at a screen cultivate any greater sense of our physical lives? Its not that different from the banks of gym-people watching Ellen DeG while they workout?

I'm more inclined to ask questions about the nature and form of work in our lives. We are being engineered to be less and less autonomous individuals and more like "units". I can't see how these desks are step in the right direction.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

WALKING AND GENIUS

In his new book, The Geography of Genius, Eric Weiner proposes that genius is not something resident in an individual but rather the product of certain conditions in the person's social, political and physical environment – their geography. One of the common threads for geography and genius in Weiner's findings is walking. Charles Dickens walked through London at night working on plots, Mark Twain was known as a constant pacer. Many of Greece's most important philosophers walked to the Agora, into life and chaos, which fed the imagination.

There is, in fact a wonderful book which documents the role of walking in the life and work of centuries of great Western minds. A Philosophy of Walking is a fascinating work by Frederic Gros. He writes:

Walking is not sport. Sport is a discipline, "an ethic, a labour". It is a performance. Walking, on the other hand, is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found. If you want to go faster, don't walk. Do something else: drive, slide, fly.

Creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter, according to a study co-authored by Marilyn Oppezzo, a Stanford doctoral graduate in educational psychology, and Daniel Schwartz, an Education professor at Stanford.
The study found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.
"Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking. We finally may be taking a step, or two, toward discovering why," Oppezzo and Schwartz wrote in the study published this week in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

Weiner was interviewed on CBC's The Current a few days ago. Hear the interview here:

The Stanford article is here:

Yours , on the journey,
Ray
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks ~John Muir

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

TRAIL PLAN AND LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The recreation department in the town has recently approved its master plan for our favourite municipal park, Mateway Park. If you have a chance to look at this document it is available online, see my previous entry for the address.

Below is the text of a letter to the local paper, the Mercury, which summarizes my reaction to the plan and the reality of the way the park is currently being mistreated by motorized vehicles.

The recent release of the development plan for Mateway Park by the town's Recreation Department was a reassuring and welcome document for those of use who routinely use the park on foot. It was further reassuring to see that, after the major facility, the trails are the most used and valued parts of the park. As the leader of Renfrew's recreational walking group, The Kick and Push Pedestrian Society and as a regular dog walker at Mateway, I am pleased at this. I think the Department shows real foresight in looking at ways to further improve the area, especially the ideas of an outdoor cross-fit area and improved accessibility for wheelchair users and less mobile others. This really acknowledges both ends of the ability spectrum, as it does of the importance of recreational walking for a healthy community.

For these plans to work, the Department is going to have to address what I see as a major obstacle for us foot-powered users. This is the night-time use of the trails by various motorized vehicles. In recent months the few yahoos who are unaware of the purpose of these trails have chewed up and damaged trails, making them unsafe for pedestrians. With the most recent snowfall, another group of 4-wheeling truckers have utterly destroyed the trails for walkers, skiers or snow-shoers. I am disappointed that this inappropriate use by a few makes it unusable by so many. Its not as if there aren't kilometres of proper seasonal roads which are open to motorized vehicles.

The signage in and around the park is either absent, illegible or, in places, where the signs are so old, seems to approve motorized vehicles. There are very few obstacles to motorized vehicle travel on the trails. A few open barriers which would not affect pedestrians would go a long way to discouraging vehicles. Hopefully, there is something which would get the message across to motorized vehicles without having to rely on any enforcement or fines. There is not much use to imagining a great park if the property's managers allow uncontrolled misuse that discourages intended users from enjoying the trails.


Yours , on the journey,
Ray
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet
Thich Nhat Hahn