Creating a more diverse, inclusive adventure culture means expanding our understanding of what adventure is.
Part of the challenge defining ‘adventure’ is identifying the characteristics of adventure that should form a broad definition. This is why, this month, we put four questions to adventurous folk ranging from outdoor eco-psychotherapist Ruth Allen through feminist media founder Erin Monahan to world-renown photographer Chris Burkard. We asked what adventure is to each of them, what adventure used to be, what has changed their perspective and what they see as a big challenge for the adventure community.
Better than definitions, though, is seeing playful, unexpected and thought-provoking adventures in action. That is what this Edition is about.
One common idea of adventure is to escape into a place unknown and remote. But what if the unknown is where you already are - your city, perhaps? The Midnight Run, started by poet and playwright Inua Ellams, is premised on this idea and uses nighttime walks and artistic play to delve into urban culture and society. We spoke with artist and Midnight Run facilitar Andy Craven-Griffiths to learn more.
The notion of the humble walk as high adventure runs through the Edition. We were delighted to speak with radical walker, ‘counter-tourist’ and professor Phil Smith (also known as Crab Man) about the transformative possibilities in walking in novel ways. We also asked artists Clare Qualmann and Claire Hind about Ways to Wander: a rich collection of creative walking ideas they recently edited. Both conversations beg the question: what would happen if we walked in wacky ways?
Somebody else reworking the idea of far-flung adventure is artist Miranda Whall, who in an attempt to forge a more equal, intimate human-landscape relationship has been staring at plants and crawling through Welsh countryside dressed as a sheep and a badger, covered in GoPros. We had to speak with her.
None of this is to say adventure shouldn’t be pushed in more obviously epic directions. These can be equally surprising. Alicia Colson, archaeologist and ethnohistorian, writes beautifully on this note about archeology as adventure, both as field expeditions and as a journey into deep human history. Another environment harbouring remarkable secrets to our past and future is space - the greatest wilderness of all. On this note, we spoke with astronomers Sheila Kanani and Megan Arno about space exploration as adventure.
Beyond experimenting with playful adventures, it is useful to zoom out and think about how adventure is framed culturally. We spoke with two people doing this in different ways. Activist and writer Harriet Wood introduces us to the act and idea of ‘unexploring’, with implicit critiques of traditional exploration. And Kristin Jacobson tells us about what her new book calls The American Adrenaline Narrative: the world’s dominant type of adventure today, with far-reaching implications.
One implication here is who is celebrated as adventurous - a vital consideration is adventure is to be inclusive. Filmmaker and adventurer Frit Sarita Tam writes openly on this note about the challenge of finding a foothold in the adventure world as a gay Chinese woman with few role models to look to.
Any understanding of adventure is cultural, but also individual, which means it can shift. To round out this month’s Edition Paralympic gold medalist Steve Bate MBE tells us about his perspective on adventure, and how it shifted as he lost his sight. And doctor Stephen Fabes, to celebrate the launch of his first book, about cycling six continents over six years, writes about adventure, ultimately, as a ‘change of tack’. And last but not least, Andy Middleton, Chief Exploration Officer an early B-Corp company TYF Adventure, shares why, in the midst of a global pandemic, we face our greatest adventure yet.
This month we dive into and explore the challenge of defining 'adventure'. Creating a more diverse, inclusive adventure culture means expanding our understanding of what adventure is.
Read all of Edition 3 below...
Dr. Megan Argo
Dr. Megan Argo is a Lecturer in Astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire and a Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society. After studying at the University of Manchester, she worked in Western Australia and the Netherlands, before returning to the UK in 2013. She has been lucky enough to observe with some of the best radio telescopes around the world, in Europe, India, the USA and Australia. Her passion for sharing the wonders of the universe with children of all ages has taken her from northern Scotland to outback Western Australia, via rural India, the mountains of Columbia, and cosmopolitan South Africa.
Clare Qualmann (left) is an artist and researcher working across a wide range of media; from drawing and sculpture to text-works and live art events. Her work often takes the form of walks. Among other projects Clare was a founding member of the Walking Artists Network. She is the co-editor of Ways to Wander, a collection of 54 intriguing ideas for different ways to take a walk. Other projects include walkwalkwalk, Footwork, Perambulator, Spinning Stories and East End Jam.
Alastair Humphreys is a British Adventurer and Author. He spent over 4 years cycling round the world, a journey of 46,000 miles through 60 countries and 5 continents. More recently Alastair has walked across southern India, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, run six marathons through the Sahara desert, completed a crossing of Iceland, busked through Spain and participated in an expedition in the Arctic, close to the magnetic North Pole. He has trekked 1,000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert and 120 miles round the M25 – one of his pioneering microadventures. He was named as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the year for 2012. Alastair has written 12 books.
Dr. Sheila Kanani is a British astronomer and the Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer at the Royal Astronomical Society. She has presented programmes for the BBC, and is dedicated to improving the representation of girls and women in physics and identifying new ways to take astronomy and physics to underrepresented communities. Her children's book, How To Be An Astronaut and Other Space Jobs, written with illustrator and graphic designer Sol Linero, was published in 2019 by Nosy Crow and was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award.
Chris Burkard is an American photographer and artist, based in the California Central Coast region. He photographs landscape, lifestyle, surf, outdoor, and travel subjects. Burkard takes a photojournalistic approach to make editorial projects, using multiple media. He uses natural light to capture humanizing moments.
Frit Sarita Tam
Frit is an adventurer and loves exploring the outdoors in as many ways as possible: climbing, hiking, skiing, cycling, paddleboarding and wild swimming. As an adventure filmmaker and photographer, she’s happiest when she also has a camera in-hand, shooting underrepresented adventure stories for her film studio, Passionfruit Pictures. She is regularly fuelled by crisps and chips.
Harriet is an activist and writer whose work focuses on human rights and sustainability. Ninth Wave Global is an independent, international organisation working to generate space for investigation and positive change in environmental, community and social settings, encouraging quiet, humble and slow exploration of places and people through itinerant projects across Europe and the Americas and as part of long-term community-based work and collaborations in south-east Mexico.
Kristin J. Jacobson is a Professor of American Literature, American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey. Her latest book, The American Adrenaline Narrative (2020), identifies a new genre of travel and environmental literature and examines the genre’s significant tropes from an ecofeminist perspective.
Phil Smith wears many hats. He is a playwright, performer, activist, researcher, writer and radical walker. His work uses walking, site-specific performance and mythogeography to encourage people to burrow beneath the official and the obvious. His most recent work includes The Pattern, “a handbook for exploration, embodiment and art making in strange times” produced in collaboration with artist Helen Billinghurst, and Bonelines, a “dark novel set in the 'Lovecraft Villages' of Devon” inspired by Phil and collaborator Tony Whitehead’s disparate discoveries during a series of ‘hyper-sensitised’ walks in the area.
Genny was born and raised on the lovely, sunny island of Aruba in Southern Caribbean; which isn’t where you would typically foster dreams of travelling to anywhere cold for a prolonged period of time. As a little girl she dreamt of being an explorer looking for lost tombs and pyramids from ancient Egypt and spent many an afternoon scouring through my family’s encyclopaedias reading up on the great discoveries that had been made in the early 20th century.
Miranda Whall studied at the Royal Academy Schools, London and Goldsmiths, University of London. She has been a full-time lecturer and the director of the Creative Arts Degree course at Aberystwyth University since 2006. She has exhibited her work internationally for many years and has been the recipient of many Arts Council England and Wales Grants and Residencies, she was awarded the Major Creative Wales Award in 2012 and in the same year was artist in residence in Spain, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand and Wales. Recent solo shows include Passage, at The Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Art (ICIA) 2015 and Crossed Paths at Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown Wales, 2018. Whall’s multiplicitous crawling, staring, walking, growing and travelling practice is a practice of getting close, of becoming a creature of the mud, the matter and the flesh of the world, an exploration of our need to develop a non - hierarchical, more ethical and more complex relationship to our environment and to our relationship to non – human others: plants, animals and technology simultaneously. Through performance and film Whall develops an economical, conscious, cultural, meditative, radical, transformative and socially engaged practice.
Bex Band is an adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community Love Her Wild. Her expeditions have included hiking 1000km across Israel, kick-scooting the length of the USA and crossing the Jordan desert. She believes that everyone should be able to access adventure as it builds confidence and connects people to the natural world.
Andy Craven-Griffiths is a poet and playwright from the UK. He is a previous Glastonbury Slam Champion and BBC Verb New Voice. His debut play, Joygernaut, is about kindness and was halfway through a national tour when lockdown started. The remaining dates are being rearranged for Spring 2021. Andy is currently studying for a PhD in creative writing (University of Leicester, 2020). You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
After qualifying for and practicing law in England, Absar felt that the corporate world had damaged his vibrant childhood personality. He left his career and moved to Pakistan in a journey of self-rediscovery. With a sincere appreciation of life and a sensitive connection to the natural world, he explored his home country, hoping to reconnect with his inner peace and passion, and found them both in nature, which eventually led to his co-founding TACTACK.
Erin Monahan is a romantic libra with an intense Scorpio moon and Virgo rising. Erin is a writer, mindset coach, speaker, facilitator, rock climber, and founder of Terra Incognita Media (www.terraincognitamedia.com), a feminist response to the outdoor industry. Her work focuses on environmental justice, interrupting toxic masculinity, and empowering fellow raging feminist killjoy entrepreneurs to step into their truth and power. She holds a BA in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Learn more about her work (and sign up for her newsletter) on her website at www.erinkmonahan.com.
Co-Founder of Adventure Uncovered, James is an ex-Marketing Director, part-time photographer, volunteer, and writer, spending as much time as possible in the ocean or on mountains. He's obsessed with cabins, sustainability, and enjoys the intersectionality between human and environmental stories and challenging the status quo.