Tonight I watched the movie Gandhi for the 3rd or 4th time (an amazing movie – borrow it from your library if you haven’t seen it), and Gandhi’s 240 mile salt march toward independence from British rule reminded me of the power of walking. His trek to the sea inspired millions, and our choosing to walk has power, too. Choosing to walk is healthy, it helps us know our neighborhoods (and neighbors) better, it brings us closer to the natural world (in many cases), it helps us slow down and gives us time to reflect on what’s important, it lessens our chances of being in an accident, we don’t have to worry about running over beasties or destroying habitat, it reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, it’s cheaper than driving, it reduces our negative impact on the planet, and it can inspire others.
If you live in the Portland metro area and need a reason to step out, check out Metro’s new Walk There! 50 Treks in and Around Portland and Vancouver. The free guide (you can also have it mailed to you for a $5 shipping and handling fee) offers “explorations of newly acquired urban natural areas, scenic parks, historic neighborhoods and fascinating main streets. Detailed maps and route descriptions will help you discover the region’s rich history and varied landscapes while you enjoy the benefits of walking.” As a bonus, all the walking routes begin and end near public transit stops.
Another resource that might be helpful is Walk Score. Walk Score ranks more than 2,500 neighborhoods in the 40 largest U.S. cities. You can type in your address in one of these cities and see the “walk score” for your neighborhood. It’s certainly not a perfect tool — for example, my neighborhood, which is definitely not walk-friendly, received a fairly high score because of such elements as a nearby grocery (7-11) and restaurant (McDonald’s) — but, it’s a place to start, and it certainly promotes walking as more than just exercise.
And, of course, there are all sorts of walking clubs and groups and meet ups — and neighbors and friends who would probably love to have a walking buddy.
And, can you imagine how the world might change if more of us Westerners walked more often?
John and I have started walking more for errands, and sometimes I walk to his workplace to walk him home. It makes us feel good to be able to leave our car at home and to know that walking is just one more powerful tool we have in striving to live a MOGO life.
How do you exercise the power of walking?