Trailblazing Dialogue Walks for Scotland

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking” Fredrick Nietzsche.

The neuroscientist Shane O’Mara in his recent Guardian article describes walking as a superpower, that can make us healthier, happier and brainier! “Our sensory system works best when they’re moving about the world”. He’s not alone in recommending the many virtues of walking and cites Bertrand Russell, Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, Aristotle, Nietzsche and Dickens as avid proponents of walking.

We too have been exploring the benefits of walking in our work and lives, with a sense that our ambles can be “a journey on foot, and a journey through states of mind” – T.S. Elliot
We have been prototyping the use of dialogue walks, curious to see how strangers made connections; listened deeply to each other; shared their biographies, personal ambitions alongside their aspirations for a future Scotland. Below we share some of the initial feedback on our research on the art of dialogue walking – what we are learning and what’s our next step?

Initial Reflections of the Dialogue Walk with regards to Collaboration


Not enough time

Not enough resources

No one listening

Nothing in common

Not enough trust

No courage

Never enough time


We made time

It was free

We listened to each other

Shared our stories

Trust came along the way

Courage, too

It only took the time we had.

Some themes that are beginning to emerge:

Space to reflect

“Really interesting, insightful and reflective – it allowed me to articulate a lot of things I’ve been thinking about and challenged me to be honest”

Opportunities for connections

“Lots of crossovers between our lives were revealed”

“Connections, similarities and unpacking. Seeing the pressure that the cities of Edinburgh housing is having on the city (with a great metaphor of seeing an extinct volcano [Arthur Seat] as feeling this.). I attached a picture that came to mind of the demolition of Dumbiedykes from it’s old tenements to what it is now.”

Relationship building

“Eye opening, thought provoking, enjoyable, productive… during the walk our encounter developed its own dynamic – the important moment for me was getting to know and trust someone I had not met or worked with before.”

“I was not only able to get to know a colleague better but to really explore their opinions and perceptions about the kind of Scotland we would like to build. It was inspiring how her experiences working within social services and the wider public services shaped the areas of work she would like to focus on in the future – all focusing on creating system change to tackle the systemic issues we face in Scotland…. It was a fascinating experience. The dialogue walk was a much better means to (fully) meet and get to know someone, and the output (creative ideas and areas of work together) was much more positive than I think it could have been if we had met for a regular meeting in the office.”

Future potential

“I’d love to do walks like this with people I don’t know on a regular basis – it’s a great way to expand networks, make new connections and maybe catalyze new ideas.”

Interested to find out more?

We will be exploring the outcomes of this research, at our Fire Starter Event ‘Trailblazing Dialogue Walks for Scotland’ on the 28th January, 4pm-7pm. Please click here and register to secure your place for this event. We will also hear from Professor Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen, The Deveron Project, the artist Anthong Schrag, and many more. All these speakers have been pushing the boundaries of our understanding of why walking is an essential to our lives. This event is aimed at anyone interested in how we can use walking and dialogue to have deeper more honest conversation, stimulate creative thinking and action.

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