Reclaiming the hides - a radical(ish) bird walk

11 June 2016


Venue: A park or a canal - or maybe a field - in East London.

Organiser: Matthew Cunningham

Years birding in London: seven. Years dreaming of an end to capitalism: 30+. Years finding tenuous and whimsical connections between utterly unrelated things: about 42.

This outdoor seminar will follow the form of a guided birdwalk in an inner London park. However, instead of the identification of as many species as possible or hunting down a rare LBJ*, the objective will be to explore the radical examples set by birds, and to reframe birdwatching as a pursuit rich in rewards for anyone with an ounce of revolutionary zeal.

For all recorded history people have projected their hopes, fears and existential rubbish onto birds, and sought to crowbar out of them a profound understanding of the human world. As flawed an approach as this is, the premise of this walk/talk is that revolutionaries, radicals, utopians and trouble-makers can do the same.

The precise content of the walk will be based (very) loosely on the wildlife we encounter, but it will more than likely include references to the disestablishment of nation states, Peter Kropotkin, polyamory, Silver Mt Zion and direct action tactics. And as the walk/talk will be firmly participatory, I would welcome others’ contributions, too.

Knowledge of British breeding birds is not required. Indeed, I’d prefer you forget any you have as it will probably interfere with my own half-baked hypothesising. (LBJ* = little brown job, an affectionate description that applies to the most apparently bland-looking native British songbirds.)