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Since we first rose on two legs, walking has been fundamental to human beings, intertwined with our survival and our psyche.
Deakin’s Dr Cristina Garduño Freeman is embarking on a project to capture the significance of places for people. Using a mobile app that maps and enables the sharing of walks and photographs, she hopes this information will influence corporate interests, planning decision makers and the public on the future of their environments.
“The iPhone was completely new in 2007. Seven years later it is ubiquitous. It frees us up to do things in situ - and we are only just beginning to explore the possibilities,” said Dr Garduño Freeman.
Working within Deakin’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, Dr Garduño Freeman - along with a team of academics from the Cultural Ecologies Group and the School of Information and Business Analytics - is hoping that her unique CmyView app will allow people to map, collect images and record their reflections as they take a walk through natural or urban landscapes. She is confident that the app “has the potential to influence policy decision makers concerning the places people care about.”
In her bid to develop the technology and methodology required, Dr Garduño Freemanis calling on the help of crowdfunding, through the Research My World joint venture between Deakin and Pozible.com, to raise the $6,000 needed to develop the project to ‘proof of concept’ stage.
Just a small contribution will help to get this project off the ground!
Dr Garduño Freeman explained that a key goal of CmyView is to offer a new approach to the consultation process of urban and environmental planning.
“In contrast to the usual discussion groups, surveys, workshops and advisory committees, the CmyView app could make the consultation spatial, bringing together collective and individual experiences by connecting physical and virtual social environments,” she said.
“Unlike apps currently available, CmyView will allow us to create a platform and mobile tool that provides information that can be analysed and added to a database for use by councils and other bodies.
“It will provide strong evidence to councils, who are increasingly being required to listen more closely to their constituents. For instance, the City of Melbourne now has a participation hub and the NSW Planning and Environment Department now has a community participation charter.”
As one example of how social media can be used to reflect people’s connection with place, through her PhD, Dr Garduño Freeman researched a project involving a bakery that joined with volunteers and social media to make an impressive 800-kilo cake of the Opera House.
“In the past, activities like this would not have been of interest to academia, but now we are realising that, in fact, they are ways for people to engage with architecture,” she said.
The Rebecca Solnit book “Wanderlust” describes the profound relationship between walking, thinking, imagination and culture. Recalling famous walkers such as Rousseau, Wordsworth, Gary Snyder - and fictional walkers like Elizabeth Bennett - it urges human beings to allow time and space for walking.
“Walking is about much more than fitness. It provides an opportunity to reflect, engage and participate in the moment,” said Dr Garduño Freeman. “CmyView will help to take this one step further as we go along the technological path.”