Those who have traveled to Italy may have become enchanted by the custom of la passenggiata. It is the tradition of taking leisurely strolls after the work day is done, to unwind, socialize with family and friends, and keep abreast of what is happening in the neighborhood. An organic form of placemaking, it creates and sustains community. AmericaWalks is an organization that believes in the power of walking as a catalytic change agent that encourages personal, environmental, and economic health, as well as social equity. They are currently offering micro grants of up to $1,500 for projects that make walking more accessible, convenient, and appealing.
The 2017 Community Change Micro Grant
The purpose of this program is to help communities make themselves more conducive to walking, as well as expand the diversity of people and organizations working to promote walkable places. Projects should encourage newcomers to walkability efforts and take steps to create a culture of inclusive health. Examples of successful entries may include neighborhood walking maps, public art that makes walking routes more engaging, and advertising that spreads awareness of existing walking programs.
Selected Examples of Previous Winners
What is interesting about this grant is its wide variety of awardees, from a local Humane Society to police associations to business alliances to nature trails. Walking programs can indeed be a pathway for projects that benefit the public good in multiple ways:
- Ysleta del Sur Pueblo– The Every Body Walk project supports community walking trails and traditional tribal events.
Cleveland Police Foundation – In partnership with the Northeast Ohio Medical University HPAC Program and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, upgraded Safe Route to School signage to promote the health benefits of walking, as well as safety tips in an area that has seen a violent crime increase.
- Rogers Park Business Alliance– This Chicago alliance is developing a digital, interactive walking map of public art in the area.
- Latino Kids Health – The Walk While You Wait Program in Montebello, CA, provides patients in waiting rooms the opportunity to take staff lead educational strolls while they wait for their doctors.
- Worthington, Ohio– Walk Worthington started a series of community walks, each with a cultural different theme, including excursions before local concerts.
- Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork – The Swan River Nature Trail received a renovated entryway, and new paving and signage for easier use.
- The Humane Society of Greater Kansas City– Pack Walk! encourages people to walk their four-legged friends through its Dog Behavior Enrichment Groups. It also provides community education, and free leashes and collars to low income pet owners.
Did You Know...
Most of us already recognize how good walking is for our physical health. We are also aware that walkable cities reduce collective carbon footprints, air pollution, traffic congestion, and dependence on external energy sources. But did you know that:
- Walking is conducive to creativity? Thoreau said Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. Stanford psychologists agree with him. Researchers in one study found that "creative output" rose by an average of 60% when subjects walked.
- Walkable cities infuse local economies? They can increase property values, create jobs, and encourage people to spend locally.
- Walking helps save money? Individuals spend less on transportation, and highly walkable municipalities may spend less on road maintenance and traffic accidents.
Applying for the Community Change Micro Grant
The deadline is November 10, 2017. Eligible applicants are tribal organizations, state and local governments, nonprofits, schools and school districts and academic institutions. Straightforward online application.
- See how Denver is putting people first, not cars, along its Colfax Corridor:https://blog.ecivis.com/grant-impacts-colfax-corridor-denver
- Watch a free webinar from Scott Lane and Smart Growth America on successful elements needed for Complete Streets:https://blog.ecivis.com/complete-streets-an-economic-analysis-beyond-numbers
- Learn more about walking audits in eCivis' interview with civic innovator Dan Burden:https://blog.ecivis.com/bid/104760/Walking-Audits-Interview-with-a-Civic-Innovator