To really get to know a person you need to walk a while with them...
This is the foundation for Ken Duncan's Walk a While project, which has been running for more than seven years now.
Ken was inspired to initiate this project after experiencing the dire needs in some of Australia's most remote indigenous communities. As a landscape photographer, Ken has spent a great deal of time in and around these communities and has developed many strong friendships. Ken asked some indigenous elders what they thought of photographers and film makers visiting the indigenous lands for their crafts and the community response was that many people passed through, took what they needed and gave nothing back to the community. Thus, the idea for the Walk a While project was born.
Many Indigenous people are extremely isolated and lack the necessary skills to become self-sufficient. The primary goal of Walk a While is to work with the youth in these communities - to encourage them in the creative arts and to equip them with the tools and skills they need to tell their stories into the future. Currently working closely with the community at Haasts Bluff, 250km from Alice Springs, Ken's vision is to create a framework which can eventually be rolled out across other communities.
"If we can help facilitate the kids in the arts then this is the most powerful way to assist them to tell their stories and be free from the welfare mentality that exists in a lot of these communities," Ken says. "One thing I've realised with indigenous people is that a lot of outsiders visit wanting to carry out short-term projects in these communities. But you have to be prepared to walk a while with them before you can really have meaningful relationships, because they won't open up to you until you've shown them it's not just some casual thing."A Christian initiative, Walk a While is founded on the strong belief that reconciliation is not just about government policy - it's about people walking together. That's when true reconciliation will occur.
A number of exciting projects are in the pipeline. Sometime in 2011, we hope to run a reconciliation and arts concert in Central Australia, where artists from different genres and different cultures can meet and build relationships. Ultimately, we plan to start an Arts Centre at Haasts Bluff, which will be manned by a married couple to become a creative hub for learning. The centre will provide ongoing support and encouragement for the community's youth, a facility for continuing visits by other artists, a gallery and small theatre to showcase and sell artists' work and the coordination of travelling national and international exhibitions of artists' work.
Walk a While requires ongoing public support to ensure its success. To make a donation via PayPal click the donation button below.
This is a non-profit organisation, but donations are not yet tax deductible. Your generous donation will go directly to the indigenous community, which will return your support tenfold.
In the near future, a Foundation will be established to accept tax deductible donations. To receive Walk a While updates from Ken, join our VIP club - it's free! Go to the home page and click "Join Now"