Answers to FAQ re: the walk

Do I have to register?

Registration through the 2020 Fringe Festival gets you:

  • A special perimeter-walking kit of goodies 
  • Access to map downloads w/ secret tips, video previews & more via the participant portal.
  • Opportunities to share & connect with other participants via discussion forum & geotagged photo map.
  • An invitation to participate in the Oct 4th reportback virtual event to share what you’ve discovered and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. 
  • Updates on future evolutions of the project. 

What is included in the perimeter-walking kit?

  • (4) limited edition perimeter passports
  • (4) ID lanyards
  • (4) reflective safety belts
  • (4) walk logo stickers
  • (4) perimeter postcards
  • (1) set of 8.5” x 11” printed maps
  • (1) one gallon ziplock bag
  • Additional resources online via the participant portal

What if I want a T-Shirt?

First edition Walk Around Philadelphia t-shirts are not included in the perimeter walking kit, but will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis for free / suggested donation while supplies last.

How should I form my group? 

  • A group of at least 4 walkers is recommended.
  • At least one of your participants should be comfortable reading maps & navigating.
  • Make sure to be on the same page as to how many hours feel comfortable to walk in a day.
  • Pick people that you feel safe with, particularly in a time of pandemic. (If choosing to walk with people outside of your immediate quarantine ‘pod’, make sure to wear masks and keep appropriate physical distances at all times) 
  • This might be an opportunity to share a new thing with the folks that you share everyday life with, or an opportunity to cultivate a rich experience with someone that you’ve been wanting to get to know better. 

How do we prepare?

  • Register via FringeArts and pick up your perimeter kit.
  • Start looking at the maps and planning your route. Think about how you’ll get to and from start and finish points, and what obstacles you might encounter along the way. Tools like satellite images and Google Streetview can help you with reconnaissance if you’re a meticulous planner, or you can choose to play it by ear and adjust on the fly.  
  • If you’re aiming to complete the entire perimeter in six  days, expect to walksome 20-mile days. You can do some shorter training walks on terrain that you’re already familiar with. 
  • Designate an emergency contact who’ll know where you are and is available to drive out to you if needed. 

What should we bring?

The only things that you truly need are sturdy shoes & appropriate clothing. That said, it might be helpful to consider the following…

  • Perimeter kit: perimeter passport + lanyard + cards + stickers + reflective safety belt
  • Walk Around Philadelphia T-shirt (available free / suggested donation +$15 while supplies last)
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Shoes that are comfortable for long walks
  • Fresh pair of socks (to switch if necessary)
  • Packed lunch, snacks & treats
  • Pack of tissues or small roll of toilet paper
  • Medication / first aid supplies – band-aids for scrapes, tape & moleskin for blisters, gold bond friction defense for chafing, anything else that you might need
  • Extra face masks (sterile/individually wrapped) and hand sanitizer for pandemic times 
  • Cash + a credit card + ID
  • Compass
  • Printed full Street map of Philadelphia (order)
  • Pre-downloaded digital map of Philadelphia (SEPTA PDF, Google-maps-offline)
  • Gallon size ziplock bag (to keep your map phone dry)
  • Two medium sized plastic bags (grocery or kitchen, to keep your feet dry if fording a creek) plus rubber bands or tape to hold them in place)
  • One larger plastic bag to keep your whole backpack dry if it rains (or to pick up trash along the route)
  • Notebook & pens
  • Camera (non-phone)
  • Cell phone (powered off or in airplane mode, for emergency calls) 
  • Smart phone (in airplane mode, with map of philadelphia pre-downloaded, for wayfinding help, GPS-tracking, etc) 
  • Chargers and/or backup batteries for aforementioned devices
  • Short length of strong rope, multi-tool & small roll of duct tape just in case
  • Layered clothing (you may get hot while walking, cold while staying put) 
  • Bright scrap of fabric or item of clothing for visibility when walking near traffic
  • Raingear

What about meals?

  • Pack a lunch / snacks / water / extra water. 
  • Nuts and dried fruit are great fuel for the road.
  • Restaurants can be great places for a break, charging batteries, etc, but in pandemic times, plan to make do without this option.

What about bathrooms?

  • Bathroom access varies around the perimeter.
  • Pack a small roll of toilet paper, just in case. If you haven’t yet tried it, the internet has answers to the question “how to poop in the woods?”
  • Due to the pandemic, some establishments’ restrooms may not be accessible. 

Will you provide turn-by-turn directions?

  • Nope. Part of this adventure is the challenge of exploring and wayfinding.
  • I’ll provide maps and guiding principles (link) but it’s up to you to choose your own path around the city’s edge. Each time someone walks the perimeter, they take a slightly different path, and each will afford new moments of discovery.
  • This link offers a preview of a past walk, if you’re curious. 

What if there’s a place that I don’t feel safe? Or an emergency?

  • You are undertaking this exploration in public space at your own risk; plan accordingly.
  • In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. A group of at least 4 is recommended so that if one person is in distress, someone can stay with them while others go for help. 
  • One of the guidelines for the walk is to prioritize safety. If there’s a place that doesn’t feel safe to you, don’t go there! You always have the option to turn back and/or go around.
  • Everyone has different assessments of risk and safety. Pick what feels safe for you, and don’t feel pressured to go somewhere that feels unsafe because another member of your group wants to or because some other group might have gone there. 
  • It’s important to acknowledge that, as we’ve tragically seen over and over in the news, walking in public places is not an activity where everyone is received in the same way. We four who first walked the perimeter in 2016 were conscious that we were doing so as white folks, and that someone who looked different than us might have encountered a different reception. The fact that people can get into problematic (or even deadly) situations for simply “Walking while Black” is a huge problem in our society. 

What about other hazards along the way? 

Some hazards might include road crossings without pedestrian passages, railroad tracks, ditches (sometimes water-filled), areas without sidewalks, active construction sites, etc. These are the types of hazards that you should go around if you can’t find a safe way through. 

Other hazards might include tripping hazards, flying golf balls, ticks and more. These are the kind of hazards that you have to keep an eye out for in the moment.

Another hazard is the potential to accidentally wander into a place you’re not supposed to be, or into a place where other people don’t think that you should be, which might result in an encounter with a neighbor or law enforcement. Prioritize safety, obey the law at all times, and explore with a spirit of curiosity & goodwill. If someone asks you what you’re up to, respond with calm friendliness and tell them about your adventure. 

What if I can’t find my way?

  • There’s no one right way around the perimeter, so any route that you choose is fine. Sometimes there might be something that seems like a looooooooong detour from where you “wanted to be” – but that is part of the walk too, and if you focus on “where you actually are” you’ll find plenty to notice and learn from. There’s a bigger life spiritual metaphor in there…
  • Smartphones / GPS devices are helpful (w/ enough battery power for the whole day!) and so are a hard copy map & compass. At least one person in your group should be comfortable with basic navigation skills.
  • If you are actually lost, ask for help from a stranger, or call a friend.

How do I get to and from the walk?

  • In general, the recommended approach has been to begin and end walk segments at locations that are accessible by public transportation. There’s also options like taxis, rideshare services, rides from friends etc… 
  • You may be able to find someone willing to help ferry you via the participant forums.

What if walking 20 miles in a day is too much for me?

  • No problem! You can walk as much or as little of the perimeter as you’d like, in whatever segments feel reasonable to you. 
  • Much like some people hike the Appalachian Trail in one single go, while others complete it in segments over many years, and still others just explore a few parts of it, you can explore the perimeter at your own pace over the course of months or years. 
  • The maps and segments  provided are  guidelines based on the way that I’ve done it in case they’re helpful, but you can start and stop  segments literally anywhere along the way. 

What if I don’t complete the whole walk?

Totally fine! Not everyone will complete it all in one go.

You’re still completely welcome to participate in the reportback event and future incarnations of the project. 

What about bad weather?

  • The applicable saying is: “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”
  • Walking is possible in just about any sort of weather, although it might affect how much ground you are able to cover. 
  • Look at weather forecasts as you plan your walk, and again as you set out.
  • Appropriate clothing is important (layers, rain gear, etc). Choose your shoes carefully, bring extra water.

What if I don’t have people to walk with?

Reach out both through your social networks and the participant forum to find people to walk with. That said, follow some common sense basic safety rules and don’t go walking off into remote areas with someone that you’ve just met online! 

What if I want to walk with a bigger group?

  • 4 people is the suggested minimum group size, but you can certainly go with a few more folks.
  • Groups larger than 8  become more of a parade/procession and may lose the potential for both wayfinding adventure and intimate conversations that arise with a smaller group. Consider breaking a larger group into smaller groups that start at staggered times or take divergent paths. 

What ages is this experience appropriate for? 

The registration through the Fringe Festival is listed for 13 & up. Minors must be accompanied by parents or legal guardians. 

Are there accessibility options?

  • Some paths near the perimeter are smooth sidewalks, others are rougher going. Because there isn’t one set route to follow, you can always pick your path to follow the terrain that is accessible to you. 
  • If you have questions about specific accessibility requirements or segments of the walk, you can post in the participant forums.

How can I share this experience?

  • While the walk makes for amazing fodder for social media, being glued to one’s phone has potential to detract from the discoveries along the way. Occasionally send updates or drop GPS pins so that your emergency contact knows where you are, and consider saving the rest of the sharing for later. 
  • Upload geotagged images to the gallery/map linked from the participant portal and share some stories via the participant forum.
  • You can also tag your posts with #WalkAroundPhiladelphia
  • Tell others about it and invite them to join in the adventure!

Can I bring my dog?

There’s nothing stopping you, but this might interfere with other aspects of your experience. We suggest that you stick to human companions for this adventure.