And this is precisely the secret held by all those who go by foot:
life is prolonged when you walk.
~ Erling Kagge
January 4, 2020 – Follow Ken as he retraces the footsteps of Harriet Tubman on a 140-plus-mile sectional hike along the Underground Railroad Byway from Poplar Neck to Philadelphia. Click here to go to my Blog page to learn more.
Sin Cita/Without Appointment was a two and half week, 215-mile walking journey across Puerto Rico, September 7 – 20, 2019. It was a symbolic effort to mark the second anniversary of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, by members of four arts and culture organizations.
Our intention was to explore what’s possible when people look inward to revive traditions and cultural practices that support the spiritual and material development of communities. While we achieved some of our goals, unfortunately we didn’t fully meet our objective due to a disagreement that erupted between the hikers and the film crew that abandoned us. Undeterred by the film crews lack of commitment to the project, the hikers pressed on and successfully completed the mountainous journey alone and as scheduled.
Sometimes not everything goes as planned.
While the walk was not captured in a series of video vignettes as planned and no documentary film was created, the hikers completed amazing interviews with artists, community leaders and others along the route who expressed the change, growth, joy, and adversities that residents on the island continue to experience today.
Before the walk, Ken began collecting messages in a book from people on the street he met in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and across Puerto Rico. It was to be presented to the next democratically elected governor of the island but still remains unfinished. It is his hope to complete the journal during his next walk around the island after the pandemic ends and it is safe to return.
All of this was inspired out of the climate there, and we believe little efforts like this can sometimes have big impacts.
Starting in Isabela, in the northwest corner of the island near where Hurricane Maria rejoined the sea, the group walked a diagonal trajectory across the Cordillera Mountains to the southeast coast where the storm first made landfall in Yabucoa on September 20, 2017.
“As a collective we have been working in the Puerta de Tierra neighborhood of San Juan for the past two years, acknowledging the communities unique working class history through a series of workshops, multimedia reports and public murals. This walk is a continuation of our commitment to engage with communities in Puerto Rico and support their efforts in rebuilding,” said Keir Johnston, co-founder of Amber Art and Design.
In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated vast tracts of land across the archipelago of Puerto Rico, leaving in their wake an unprecedented natural disaster, exacerbated by a man-made disaster – by way of the U.S. government’s willful negligence in providing a timely or adequate response to the crisis.
The organizations and individuals participating in the Sin Cita/Without Appointment collaboration are: ArteSana (www.villacarmenatelier.org), a San Juan-based community museum and art space dedicated preserving the cultural legacies of Puerta de Tierra; Amber Art & Design (www.amberartanddesign.com), a Philadelphia-based public art collective that facilitates social/economic/political transformation through the arts; and Ken Johnston, (www.ourwalktofreedom.com) an intrepid hiker responding to the call of social change, history and ancestral spirits.
Sin Cita/Without Appointment was born out of our shared interest as a group of concerned international artists focused on ways of advocating community partnership, collaboration and the development of individual cultural expressions towards the advancement of social justice and in defense of basic human rights in Puerto Rico and beyond.