Set the alarm for stupid early. It was 4.45am when we hit the streets. Crouched upon the ground, chalking up giant chickens for an early morning ‘promenade event’, I did not expect to learn new things about my own City! Here are my unexpected lessons from the streets of Adelaide:
- Homeless people are humans too. And some of them are really friendly. I felt a strong sense that the streets were theirs, not ours, at this time when people are usually tucked up at home. We were chalking on their turf. But a bunch of friendly folks sleeping rough wandered over for a yarn and checked out our work with a confidence that I have rarely seen during daylight hours. It opened my eyes to the de-humanising experience homeless people are subjected to by general society in daylight hours.
- There is a huge army of street sweepers out there! Every corner we visited featured the droning sounds and flashing lights of a sweeping machine. High vis humans, broom in hand, leaf blowing, pavement scrubbing; I had no previous concept of the scale of this army! Unfortunately, one of the chickens didn’t make it. Who pressure washes a pedestrian lane? Apparently Adelaide does!
- The first wave of office working foot traffic hit the streets around 7am. A scowling swell of power walkers, takeaway coffee in hand, rushing to work with zero engagement with the world around them. Here I am, crouched on the ground creating a giant rainbow chicken. Not a usual sight, surely? But not a pause, not a look to be seen! My chicken and I were invisible. The second wave of foot traffic commuters, the after 8am crew, are more aware, relaxed and friendly.
- When you’re doing chalk art at a time of day which is essentially night time, don’t forget your head torch. Old style yellow street lights suck the colour out of the world and you just can’t tell what colour you are using!