My project is named after the informal paths known as ‘desire lines’. Robert Macfarlane defines these as being ‘made over time by the wishes and feet of walkers, especially those paths that run contrary to design or planning’. A way for citizens to ‘write back’, they reveal tensions between native and built environments, as well as individuals and the systems which govern them. As such they provide a unifying theme to explore pressing contemporary issues such as civil disobedience, civic duty, surveillance capitalism, and the Anthropocene. The project will take the form of an essay collection merging memoir and cultural criticism, emphasising its own heuristic approach through the temporal/spatial/personal constraints which will shape the writing as befits the desire line metaphor. Starting in 2020, a year already synonymous with the ‘unprecedented’, I will trace desire lines both in my own life and better-known mark-makers in order to examine the symbiotic relationship between individual and community, radicalism and conformity.