170 years!

As the city celebrates the 170th anniversary of the signing of the Act of Consolidation of 1854, whereby the City of Philadelphia merged with the county, giving Philadelphia it’s current distinctive shape, we’re again setting out to explore that shape on foot via Walk Around Philadelphia.

All the way around the city…

Over the next three weekends (Feb 2-19), ~150 Philadelphians will set out to walk segments of Philly’s border!

And then you’re invited to join us as we celebrate:

So much has happened in just 3 years!

While I’ve been walking the city’s edge since that first fateful artist residency in 2016, and opened up the walk invite to my mailing list in Feb 2020, it wasn’t really until that first pandemic walk in Sept 2020 that Walk Around Philadelphia became a public program.

As we set out for the next iteration of this project, it’s a nice moment to take stock of the fact that yes, while the walk just goes ’round & ’round in circles, it’s actually come quite a long way:

1,000+ participants

Over the subsequent 3 years, the walk has grown into a citywide public program that has engaged over 1,000 folks in setting out to explore the city’s edge.

And that number doesn’t count every single person who’ve experienced exhibits, nor those who’ve just heard about the walk & set out to do it on their own!

It was such a formative experience, bonding over some five hours and 10 miles with folks from all kinds of diverse backgrounds (age, gender, ethnicity, education, etc.) that I immediately signed up for two more segments!

– Graham B

Bringing neighbors together

We’ve learned that people want to walk, connect & learn.

While many barriers to access remain, Walk Around Philadelphia‘s participant pool has grown more diverse as people all over the city have started to hear about it, and we’ve brought neighbors together from all over the city and region.

“I loved hearing each person’s story and connection to the perimeter and the interconnection that I felt with each person. I also appreciated the agency JJ afforded to our group, by “handing over” the hike to the group.”

– Jolie C.

Overcoming barriers

Here’s one of my favorite things about the walk: we work together to navigate barriers and obstacles.

The group collectively decides if they want to try to get across an obstacle, or go around. And if going around, they decide whether to go to the right or left. (There’s no wrong answer, they just lead to different adventures!)

And since one of the barriers to participation is financial, I’m thrilled that folks have been contributing whatever they’ve been able to on a wide sliding scale, and that some folks with the means to do so have supported my work which has helped me offer some participants free registrations and $200 VISA gift card stipends to help support their participation.

Cultivating partnerships

We’ve also seen that organizations are excited to partner with Walk Around Philadelphia!

Cultural partners have included:

Educational partners have included:

  • Drexel University
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • Temple University
  • Ursinus College
  • The Natural Creativity Center
  • French International School of Philadelphia

Elected representatives have gotten involved:

  • City Councilmember Kendra Brooks
  • City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier
  • City Councilmember Helen Gym
  • State Representative Joe Hohenstein

Blazing the trail & pointing the way

In addition to the hundreds of trail-blaze stickers that participants have left to mark their ways ’round the city’s edge, we’ve installed our first two perimeter wayfinding installations on Penn’s Landing and at Lardner’s Point Park, with more in the works!

… and then there’s all the other Walk-adjacent things…


Walk Around Philadelphia is featured twice in the 2022 anthology Ways of Walking, as well as in JJ’s 2020 essay The Edge.


A letterpress map making project has provided a great way to invite participants into Walk Around Philadelphia‘s contemplation of the city’s border without having to actually commit to a walk.

Applying the border line over the watershed landscape by hand provides a visceral sense of the artificial nature of human-drawn lines across the landscape.

They were so entranced by the printmaking opportunity and both want to put the prints up in their rooms. And I loved the simplicity of how it showed our own imposition of borders over the existing landscape. What an elegant way to lift that up.

– Jordan B

Panel discussions & virtual events

Online events & discussions have provided ways for perimeter-walkers to reconnect off-trail & also allow for folks who might not be up for a long walk to connect to the project and learn about the city’s edge with us.

And you can check out other videos!

Retreat opportunities

Walk Around Philadelphia retreats bring a community together for a rich bonding experience anchored in lived experience of the city’s margins.

By splitting a larger group into teams and sending them to different start points to collectively circumnavigate the city in a day, a Walk Around Philadelphia retreat can accommodate a larger group while providing powerful small group experiences.

These programs are a great offering for graduating high school students, incoming college or graduate students, and for organizations or businesses looking to provide their teams innovative and memorable team-building experiences.


2023 was a big year for Walk Around Philadelphia with some special exhibit installations that brought the walk to new audiences.

We started off with a great community exhibition at The Schuylkill Center in Roxborough, followed by a sweet show at Studio 34 in West Philly and then a massive installation the full length of Cherry Street Pier.

Now there’s a new exhibit at The Cedars House in the Wissahickon through March 3, 2024, and I’m looking to share these images in other community locations around the city’s edge.

Unfortunately, none of these spaces were ADA accessible. I’d love to show some of the documentation that’s been coming out of Walk Around Philadelphia and work inspired by it in more accessible venues – if you have anywhere in mind, please get in touch!

Press coverage

Walk Around Philadelphia has gotten a good bit of coverage in the news, which has been another great way to invite folks into this amazing experience of the city.

Here are a few favorite recent pieces:

What’s next?

Where do we go from here?

Good question!

Walk Around Philadelphia as a project has evolved much like the walk itself unfolds: with twists and turns, obstacles to navigate, unexpected delays, and opportunities for delight and wonder around every corner.

One thing’s for sure:

Taking a little personal winter walk tradition and turning it into a citywide public program (and working to make that program accessible, inclusive & equitable and inclusive) has been a ton of work.

It’s been joyous work, but also too much for me to undertake on my own.

So one goal for the years ahead is capacity-building; I’ll be looking to raise money from private philanthropists and individual donors like you, apply for grants and line up partnerships and sponsorships that can help sustain this work.

I’d welcome your support and participation however you’re able!

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