Join The Empathy Museum as they tour the country with an immense travelling shoebox and invite you to walk a mile in the shoes of strangers, listening to their stories.
Launching at the end of May 2018, The Empathy Museum‘s podcast and interactive art project invited listeners to hear the stories of people’s lives while taking a walk in their shoes. Housed in a giant travelling shoebox the exhibit holds a diverse collection of shoes and audio stories that explore our shared humanity.
“Walk a Mike in My Shoes aims to show how the physical act of pulling on a person’s pair of shoes has a remarkable power to connect you to them. The podcasts will act as a reminder that everybody has a story or a part of their character that may surprise you and that people should not be judged until you have seen things from their perspective.”
Walk a Mile in My Shoes features a wide range of stories covering all aspects of life. From a Syrian refugee to a sex worker, a war veteran to a neurosurgeon, visitors are invited to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger whilst listening to their story. Launching as a podcast on May 25th, episodes feature a separate, stand-alone story each week with over 150 stories/shoes collected so far. Listen to the host storytellers – among them nurses, neurosurgeons, farmers, bell ringers, driving instructors, florists and wheelchair basketball players – from the UK and across the world, immerse the listener in the stories of their lives. You can listen to the stories as a series of podcasts on acast and iTunes.
The podcasts were nominated for Best New Podcast in the 2019 British Podcasting Awards.
To mark the launch of the podcasts in 2018, the Empathy Museum toured the country with an immense shoebox containing a fully-functioning shoe shop; ‘Customers’ were invited to temporarily exchange their own shoes for a pair belonging to a stranger, before donning a pair of headphones and taking a walk with a stranger’s shoes on their feet and their voice in the ears.
“The act of squeezing into an unfamiliar and very personal item of clothing has the profound effect of bringing people closer together and, at a time when divisions are especially rife, building understanding and empathy.”
Among the stories aired on the podcasts and at the exhibitions:
- Sian Philips, who works for RNLI on the Thames, revealing her experiences of rescuing people who have thrown themselves into the water and the ways in which they respond. This podcast is about life and death but with a light touch!
- The story of Bilal, who came to the UK from Nigeria as an unaccompanied 14-year-old and how he found discipline through boxing (he has represented the UK) but also frustration at not being granted indefinite leave to remain, ending up feeling unwanted by both Nigeria and UK
- Saige Divine, a sex worker from Perth, who sees a healing function in her job but also shares some of her own prejudices about the work she does.
- Ex-convict, Gary Mansfield, who discovered art while in prison and has found it as hard to explain to his ex-con friends that he loves art as he does telling his art friends that he has been inside.
- The anonymous storyteller who was attacked on the way home from a night out and who only avoided a fatal brain haemorrhage due to the coldness of the temperature as she crawled home after the attack. Her case has now been used to inform how to treat severe head trauma.
Watch the Empathy Museum’s video for a taster of this and their other projects, listen to a selection of the stories on their website or soundcloud or come and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes at one of the exhibition dates listed below.
Walk a Mile in My Shoes 2018 exhibition dates:
25 May – 3 June: Cathedral Square, Worcester, WR1 2QE
8 – 10 June: Telling Tales Festival, Manchester
30 June – 2 July: City Hall, London
18 – 23 July: Freud Museum, London
7 – 9 September: Lakes Alive Festival, Kendal
17 – 21 September: Attenborough Arts Centre, Brighton
29 Sep – 5 October: National Trust Scotland, Moray Firth
3 – 4 October: The Future of Storytelling summit, New York.