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Reflections on Why We Walktober

Posted by Candace S on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Attendees of the Mayor's Tour walk through a City Hall breezeway

I had a brilliant friend during graduate school who worked on a constantly shifting schedule - frequent 18-hour math benders followed by 10 hours of sleep. What I found most striking about this schedule was his habit of taking long, meandering, solitary walks during those late nights of work. He said those helped him to figure things out.

My friend’s walks are the polar opposite of the ones we planned for Walktober 2019: each with a carefully planned route and destination. And yet – perhaps because we’re all volunteers who were improvising along the way – Walktober as a whole felt like my friend’s journeys through the night.

We’d originally envisioned Pasadena’s Walktober to be a celebration of walking. We simply wanted to build a sense of pride around walking as a deeply human activity, and as a transportation choice that deserves more respect.

We are so far from a culture of care for people who walk and bike in this city. And so we continue to walk, one step at a time, toward the culture of respect, fairness, and consideration that we want to see in Pasadena.

Pasadena is a beautiful city, but it’s also consistently ranked within the top 5 most dangerous cities of its size for all pedestrians and senior pedestrians, for the past 10 years. We think that’s wrong, and that our collective willingness to accept these injuries and deaths stems from a lack of respect for people walking. We believe that we can – and should – do better.

When Michelle and Anthony were killed by drivers while walking, within days of each other and the start of Walktober, that wrongness became unavoidably visceral. Neither of these people should have been killed, and yet we saw people rush to justify their deaths as unavoidable.

In this context, Walktober has become more than a celebration – it’s also become an act of witness and faith. We are so far from a culture of care for people who walk and bike in this city. And so we continue to walk, one step at a time, toward the culture of respect, fairness, and consideration that we want to see in Pasadena.

Walktober has also become an act of unexpected healing and connection. In the process of planning and presenting Walktober, we worked and met with so many Pasadenans who demonstrated a deep open-heartedness and desire to learn, explore, and build something beautiful. We are awed by and grateful for all of the many partners and attendees who made this month a success, and who brought us to another place we hadn’t anticipated.

The following short pieces and photo essays document a few of our favorite walks:

Part 1: Reflections on Why We Walktober
Part 2: Glenarm Power Plant: Seeing Things Anew
Part 3: People, Plants, and Water: Caring for the Future Together
Part 4: Bridges: Restoring Balance to a Wounded World

Tags: Walktober, why we work

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