Explore Everything – Maybe

Last month, I heard a radio interview, with Bradley L. Garrett, who had just published a book, Explore Everything, Place-Hacking the City.

Place-Hacking? You say, what?

Battersea Power Station, South London, United Kingdom
Battersea Power Station, S. London, UK,       photo courtesy Bradley L Garrett

All over the world people are exploring abandoned, ignored or under-construction sites. Using teams, they infiltrate supposedly secure corporate and state sites. Mr. Garrett is an ethnographer, who wanted to uncover their motivations and principles. In other words, he joined a group in London and explored with them.

My regular readers know that I encourage you to explore, but pretty much stay within the lines (public space, leash your dog, pay park fees, etc.)

These explorers take risks and are insatiable for exciting urban exploration. They create their own entertainment, needing so much more than channel surfing.

Victorian drain
Victorian drain, photo courtesy of Bradley L Garrett

I can appreciate their efforts and excitement at exploring tall buildings, undergrounds, sewers and more. But I felt myself becoming more and more judgmental as I read the book. I had to keep reorienting myself and then realizing, I’m not the best person to review this book.

The Shard
View from The Shard, S. London, UK, photo courtesy of Bradley L. Garrett

To see more pictures, visit Stills on Garrett’s website.

Also, some of Mr. Garrett’s theories about what the explorers achieved were beyond my dim thinking.

However, while I wasn’t buying one the premises, that the explorers were engaging history and reforming it – I think that questioning who decides what is history and how shall it be presented is a valid claim. I’d love to see the underground station that was Churchill’s war room. Why is it off limits? How can we access it?

Is it valid to compare the thoughts in “we had the right to explore the pyramids” and “you can’t explore closed stations of the London underground?”

Anyway, fascinating read. Thoughtful.  And full of people who seem to understand the danger of what they’re doing and don’t need or ask to be saved. Sometime consequences? Arrest and jail. Opposed to those who run out into nature and find trouble. Sometime consequences? Expensive rescues and talk show appearances.

When I contacted Mr. Garrett and asked what site he would revisit he said, “Battersea Power Station is the obvious choice. It’s an amazing building, a place of rare historical value and a beautiful ruin, imbued with immense cultural value, right in the middle of London.”

Please visit that location and others at his website, Bradley L. Garrett. He has a new book coming out about urban exploration as heritage placemaking. Click the image below to go to Explore Everything.

Explore Santa Rosa?

I decided to do a small explore of Santa Rosa.

We have derelict buildings – a few that we seem to like that way. We can’t decide if we’re going to restore the city’s oldest building and/or surround it with condos. (Carrillo Adobe, 1837)

We can’t seem to decide what to do with an old cannery façade. Though, a restored building next to it thrives as  theater and dance spaces. The day I took these pictures, I heard voices on the other side of the wall – it had already been hacked and a cop car appeared, right on cue.

Our tallest buildings are low-income apartments, surrounded by 1-2 story homes and offices. Exciting? Not unless you’ve never ridden in an elevator before.

The other tall building belongs in that famous category of ‘we can’t decide anything’ – the godawful looking AT&T building, which is only saved by a Ned Kahn wind-driven sculpture on the west side. Explore? No drive by quickly, we know it’s ugly. Or if stopped at the light hope that the wind is making waves on the sculpture.

Occasionally, gates to the Santa Rosa Creek under City Hall are opened. Not sure I need to see that.

Downtown Santa Rosa Creek
Downtown Santa Rosa Creek

Recently, a sewer replacement project in my neighborhood, did not seem appealing for exploring at this size or at the 52” size.

Explore at risk. Me? I’m sticking to reading books and blogs. Though when I think about seeing a real painting and its reproduction…or being in the forest and looking at a picture…

See you on the trail!

Lynn Millar

Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

5 thoughts on “Explore Everything – Maybe

  1. Thanks once again…this time for a very unique post, Lynn; this gives us a wider perspective on exploring, wherever we might be.

  2. Lynn, your sensible voice is one that I hear over the clever “place-hacking” Bradley Garrett. His book sounds interesting but your take on it is all I need. Thanks for the post!

  3. This is a wonderful article, Lynn. I loved seeing the wonderful photography by the group. I see they have no fear of heights!


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