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Stories from your neck of the woods

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We were taken aback with the quality of submissions in the Neighbourhood Narratives writing competition, with stories about natural places as well as the built environment.

Cherry the winning story by Conchita Navarro Saez is part personal memoire, part story about how different landowners treat trees, and it was clearly a story that spoke to our judges. Geoff Nicholson, author of Walking on Thin Air, commented:

“A winning combination of warmth, intelligence, the familiar and the surprising.  What more could you ask for?”

The runners up are Howmore Church: A Pilgrimage by Vanessa Wright, Carrying Trees to Clark Park by Ann de Forest and Time Less by Arthur Sparrow. It was a tough call for several of the judges, as the quality of the submissions were so good that as voiced by judge Pam Smith, Senior National Consultant for Gardens and Parklands, at The National Trust any one of these three could have been worthy winners too. Pam wrote:

One thing I loved, which was unexpected, was the range of experiences, happy, strange and sad associations with place. I also was intrigued that some were accounts of memories that I had similar experiences of. Reading them all together initially and then dipping in and out randomly was quite a physical experience, very appropriate for tales of walking and memory.

Winner Conchita takes away a prize of €100, Silver membership to walk · listen · create for a year, and a specially commissioned artwork by Alban Low, who created the promotional image for the competition page. Each runner-up receives a prize of €30.

This writing competition was a new adventure for walk · listen · create, previously we have run poetry and flash fiction competitions, while Neighbourhood Narratives was very much aimed at those who can craft factual stories in a creative way.

The competition was run in association with our Placecloud platform, that offers anyone the opportunity of adding their own factual story as an audio Viewpoint (as they’re called in Placecloud speak) about the places in their own neck of the woods. We have invited the authors of the shortlisted competition submissions to record their pieces and upload them to Placecloud. There are already three such Viewpoints available including this one by Richard Westcott called Birds of passage at Bradwell from the Essex coast, as well as two further, from the heart of New South Wales; Jason Richardson‘s Dead Heart of the MIA and Jamie Derkenne‘s Little Forest.

This was much to do with the support we had from Orana Arts, who not only provided a €100 cash prize and membership of their organisation to an Australian author of a winning story, but also supported us with social media and digital marketing. So we are also delighted to announce today that the story Still Standing: Dandaloo Church by Sharon Bonthuys is the winner of the Orana Arts sponsored prize for regional New South Wales entrants. Kim V.Goldsmith, the Australian judge wrote:

Reading the Neighbourhood Narratives submissions was like taking an armchair trip around the world—so many lovely, interesting places were captured in the entries; all places that people very obviously have strong, emotional connections with. The Australian ‘voice’ was very strong and I’m thrilled to see three talented regional writers in the shortlist. Sharon Bonthuys ’Still Standing: Dandaloo Church’ is a very worthy winner of the Regional NSW category. It’ll be great to hear some of these stories feature on Placecloud

Alicia Leggett, Executive Director, Orana Arts writes

Congratulations to Narromine-based writer, Sharon Bonthuys on her win in the Regional NSW category of the Neighbourhood Narratives competition! Her story captures the history of a place in the heart of the State that could very easily be lost over time. Partnering with walk · listen · create on Neighbourhood Narratives was a wonderful initiative to not only capture and share some of the wonderful place-based stories we know exist across Regional NSW, but an opportunity for regional writers from Australia to test their storytelling skills in an international arena. Supported by some of our regional writing groups, the format of flash, creative non-fiction was a great starting point for many who may not have tried writing in this style or entered a competition before. We were pleased to see Regional NSW so well represented amongst the entries

Keep an eye out for our annual poetry and flash fiction writing competition that we will launch later this month, and why not register on Placecloud and try your hand at uploading your own audio story as a Placecloud viewpoint.

We want to thank our other sponsor Bathscape Landscape Partnership, and for the support we received from the Urban Tree Festival.

Feature images provided by Conchita Navarro Saez of her mother, Cherry, in the grove of lime trees in Alexandria Park in London, and the grove as it is today.

Andrew Stuck

Andrew Stuck

Founder Online Jury 2022 Online Jury 2023

Andrew is the founder of the Museum of Walking, created to bring people together and to make and showcase walking pieces and performances. Andrew also is a podcaster, interviewing creative people who use walking as a catalyst for their practice. Talking Wa...

One thought on “Stories from your neck of the woods

  1. I have enjoyed reading everyone else’s stories and a few stood out…so thank you for choosing my story Cherry. Nice surprise, most grateful. Nice for Ally Pally too, and I hope Friends of Alexandra Palace Park. And thanks very much for the kind comments/reviews. It means a lot.
    – Conchita

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