This is a guest blog post from America Walks for the monthly theme Commit to Action. America Walks is a national non-profit organization advancing safe, equitable, accessible, and enjoyable places to walk and move by giving people and communities the resources to effectively advocate for change. For more on this month’s theme, join the conversation on social media using #CultureofAction now through March.
The new year is a great time to reflect, recharge, and plan ahead for the year to come. At America Walks, January is our time to recommit to how we are going to work with our network to advance safe, accessible, equitable, and enjoyable places to walk and move. For 2020, we’re all in for a Culture of Action. This theme will give us the opportunity to do some of what we do best- celebrate existing work of our network of community change agents and challenging them to find new ways to advance and engage around topics of walkability.
Now more than ever we need decisive and concerted action around walking and walkability. Pedestrian fatalities continue to rise and too many communities face unjust barriers to being healthy and active. The tireless efforts of our community change agents are increasingly important as we see more people killed or maimed while walking. If saving lives isn’t enough motivation consider this- walkable communities also improve physical health, economic vitality, and environmental sustainability. The time to act is now and America Walks is at the forefront of providing resources for communities across the US to be empowered to create change today.
Our first act of 2020 was to award 19 Community Change grants to communities across the US who will use hard work, passion, and innovation to create opportunities for friends, families, and neighbors to be active, healthy, and engaged. We’re installing Story Walks, creating bus stop toolkits, and going on walks with four-footed friends. America Walks can’t wait to walk alongside these grantees as they tackle walkability and know they will have inspiring stories to share with our network.
Want to join us on our year of action? Consider applying for the Walking College to start taking steps to change the world. Over the course of the program, Walking College fellows learn the basics of walkable design, how to navigate the public policy process, how to effectively engage decision-makers, and how to foster a local advocacy movement. By the end of the program, you will have completed a blueprint for a series of short- and longer-term strategies to tackle an identified problem in your community that , when addressed, can improve walkability . Applications open February 3rd on the America Walks website.
Don’t want to wait until February? Anyone can be part of a walkable transformation today. To get involved in your community, consider these action items:
- Use your head: dive into the data related to pedestrian fatalities and use it to inform your advocacy. Learn more about the issue, stay vigilant to distractions like victim-blaming, and don’t let the issue disappear from the public debate
- Use your feet: get out and do a walking audit with friends, neighbors, and your local elected officials to show them what’s being done well and not so well on the streets in your community. Never done one before? Check out our guide for inclusive walk audits here and we would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to AARP’s comprehensive guide too.
- Use your connections: encourage others to join you on the walking path by inviting colleagues to a walking meeting
2020 is a year for action so join us now in making some change.