It has been a while since I have embarked on a GTO (or much in the way of creative writing at all for that matter). I have been otherwise occupied. Why? Happily, the reason is the subject of this GTO.
In retirement I developed my habits of walking, cycling and writing into something more like lifestyle choices. Combined with photography, I found myself outside often, roaming in new places, observing with pleasure, feeling fortunate and interested in the many ways and forms of life and ecosystems around me. It costs little, the prep is fun, the exercise is great and every outing opens your eyes that much wider and your mind expands that much further and you just feel good.
I found myself privileged. Here in Victoria there are so many diverse natural places to savour. Even where environmental degradation has occurred there is often evidence life will find a way. (Whether with or without humans takes on less and less significance exploring as an individual. You barely register on the scale of things so you don’t matter one little bit. You are simply lucky to be there and to bear witness).
I started mapping, photographing and describing these places for others to share. It seemed a good retirement project – to spread the feelings of well being experienced in diverse green spaces . To identify low cost beneficial outdoor activities for other people. To put walkers in these spaces as discoverers of beauty and advocates for deterring misuse and champions of habitat improvement.
Since then I have been asked to transform this hobby into project work for local government and a health promotion charity. As grateful for such opportunities as I am, and as good as that has been, I now finally get to the specific subject of this GTO.
Over the past six months I have been working on a new and wonderful project: “Walking and Rolling: accessible walking paths for people with disability”. Our inclusive team has co-designed an audit tool for assessing walking paths for accessibility. I have been co-auditing accessible walks beside people with disability.
We launched the first 24 Victorian accessible walks last week in a joyful celebration on a glorious day. We have made the audit tool publicly available as a free to use resource for people with disability, carers, families and land managers to do their own assessments and publish accessible walks they identify. Accessible walks are for everyone. There are more to come.
This is an incredibly worthy GTO for me to have fallen into. To my colleagues and the people with disability who have helped make this happen, I will be appreciative to the end of my days. In the meantime, let’s keep going!