“Walking with Thunder” takes second stroll on Millennium Trail

BEST PALS Conrad Beaubien and Thunder the donkey walked their second trek on Wednesday for 'Walking with Thunder', a monthly walk on the Millennium Trail from Oct. 2020 to May 2021 to raise funds for assist artists, artisans, field naturalists and others set in their practices to creatively invent opportunities for small, safe and welcoming gatherings in studios, work settings and outdoors. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)




To commemorate the western portion of the Millennium Trail, a local artist has been ‘Walking with Thunder’ to take a close-up look at every day life during this time of social isolation and rapid change. 

With their second trek under their belts ‘Walking with Thunder’ is led by storyteller Conrad Beaubien.  A monthly stroll along the Millennium Trail from Oct. 2020 to May 2021, the event is a community-engaged, site-specific, temporary, public art program to animate a western section of the Millennium Trail with ‘Thunder’,  a donkey from Noble Beast Farms.

The stroll is offered in partnership with The County of Prince Edward, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, the Prince Edward County Trails Committee and Noble Beast Farms.

Beaubein explained ‘Walking with Thunder’ is storytelling of today; it’s an exchange with an audience through new media and conventional means of communication. It’s also a mission to raise funds to employ established artists and field naturalists to help evolve mental health programs in support of those in need in our current era.

“The idea was to try and offer something to break isolation and engage peoples creativity in the times were living right now,” Beaubien stated. “Thats been fundamentally what its all about, there is a ‘Walking with Thunder’ fund that we will be doing on go-fundme.”

The effort will financially assist artists, artisans, field naturalists and others set in their practices to creatively invent opportunities for small, safe and welcoming gatherings in studios, work settings and outdoors. 

These inspired all-ages engagements are intended to further mental wellness in a time of heightened loneliness, stress and anxiety.

With an art contribution from Andrea Pillar of Ember Studio along the trail between km marker 8 and 9, right by the bridge, made the walk that much more enjoyable. Pillar’s handmade clay bells hang from a tree with the sounds of the wind in synchronicity with the bells making the sounds harmonious in with natures sounds.

Andrea Pillar’s handmade bells along the Millennium Trail. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)

“I came out to the first walk with thunder a couple weeks ago,” expressed Pillar. “I was walking behind and I saw the two figures of thunder and Conrad and I said what that donkey needs is a bell, an I was in the process of making bells for my daughters wedding this summer which did not happen so I’ve accumulated quite a few and at first it was just a bell for thunder and then I was talking with Victoria Taylor further on and I love synchronicity when things just hit each others notes and I thought thats a community project we can share. People making clay bells we can hang along the Millennium Trail is my hope and wish and one day the trail in various places will have these magic sounds people may not even know where their coming from. So we will see where it goes.”

With this walk taking place on Remembrance Day and with regular ceremonies taking a pause due to COVID-19, John Burns had planned to go out into nature by himself and play The Last Stand on his bugle when Beaubien convinced him to join the walk and blow his horn along the trail at 11 a.m. followed by two minutes of silence.

DeRAIL, an alternative platform for dialogue and collaboration across disciplinary, geographical and ideological boundaries, is founded and co directed by landscape architect Victoria Taylor and designer and public art curator Gelareh Saadatpajouh. With their collaborators and supporters their vision is to inspire and expand the public dialogue around contemporary art, peacemaking, landscape and the experience of the outdoor spaces we share.

To learn more about Walking with Thunder please visit www.walkingwiththunder.com

To learn more about DeRAIL please visit http://derailart.com

To learn more about Noble Beast Farms please visit https://noblebeastfarms.com