It’s been a big year, particularly for Walk Around Philadelphia

There’s a lot for me to be grateful for:

2022 brought the 9th & 10th iterations of the perimeter walk….

(That’s another ~200+ miles of adventures around the city’s edge!)

2022 also included:

Partnerships with The University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University & Ursinus College introduced more young people to Walk Around Philadelphia and allowed for another unique retreat experience.

Three Philadelphia City Councilmembers participated in this year’s walk programming too!

photo: Lisa Marie Patzer

The walks themselves were, as always, spectacular experiences full of wild discoveries, surprises, challenges and the strange magic that comes of this deceptively simple experience of inviting citizens to set out to explore the border of the place that they call home.

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 Brent

Before I tell you a bit more about what all happened this year, here’s an invite for your calendar:

Save the date: December 17th!

Join us ’round the fire in the courtyard or get cozy in the community room…

Walk Around Philadelphia year-end celebration

This informal indoor-outdoor event @ The Cedar Works will feature cozy couches & a campfire, tasty treats & a slideshow & more. Join us!

Much has unfolded …

Starting in February…

The February 2022 walk was the 7th annual, and my 9th total trek around Philadelphia’s perimeter.

It was also our biggest winter signup yet, with 95 folks expressing interest, and 59 of them actually joining segments of the walk.

Here’s a recording of the reportback.

The Feb 2022 walk took us through some snow, but not nearly as much as the 2021 one

Mind you, the original idea was supposed to be that September was the larger public iteration of the walk, and February was the quiet contemplative version on my own or with just a few friends…

I’ve let myself get swept away a bit with both my own enthusiasm for sharing this unique experience of the city with others, and the delight that others have taken in it.

Moving into 2023, one of my challenges is going to be moving slowly and figuring out how to right size my own capacity limits w/ the growing interest in the walk…

… into the spring…

One of the thing that Walk Around Philadelphia has been missing has been ways for folks who aren’t able to (or don’t want to) dive into an all day hiking adventure to connect to the project.

The spring brought a few new ways for folks to plug in:

A virtual panel discussion on Access to nature on the city’s edge brought perimeter-walkers & interested folks together with leaders from some of the areas that we walk through during the walks: Riverfront North Partnership, Cobbs Creek Ambassadors & The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.

A new letterpress map project allowed participants to make their own prints of the city’s border.

“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.
Created in conjunction with PPEH’s 2022 Ecotopian Toolkit project. Check out the exhibit at Independence Seaport Musem!

A new trail sign on Penn’s Landing points the way to environmental education centers, parks & green spaces, waterways and treatment plants along with industrial and toxic waste sites.

Hopefully this is the first of many; please get in touch if you have a location on the city’s edge that would like to host another one…

A new anthology edited by my original perimeter-walking pal Ann de Forest, Ways of Walking was also released in May.

This collection of essays includes a version of my essay “The Edge“, along with another reflection on the walk by our fellow original perimeter walker Adrienne Mackey, whose Cross Pollination artist residencies in 2016 created the space from which Walk Around Philadelphia was born.

… and the 10th walk!

The 10th walk had a couple special milestones, including our virtual launch event w/ ASL interpretation, 124 distinct participants (many of whom walked multiple segments), and a really special closing event at Cherry Street Pier.

This iteration of the walk was bookended by City Council members…

… with Jamie Gauthier joining the first day of the walk…

Jamie represents the district that I live in, and it felt special to create an experience where she could walk a few miles alongside one of the neighbors who’d been evicted from the block that I live on…

… and Helen Gym joining us for the closing celebration event at Cherry Sreet Pier.

I first met Helen through community organizing work over a decade ago, and I’m excited by the prospect of her candidacy for mayor. She is pretty rad, so keep an eye out!

photo: Christian Hayden

With Kendra Brooks having joined our panel discussion earlier in the spring, it felt like an exciting milestone to have three city council members plug into the project.

Access to nature at the city’s edge – w/ City Councilmember Kendra Brooks

(If you have any other strategic partners that you think would enjoy participating in Walk Around Philadelphia, please invite them to the year-end celebration / open-house on December 17th!)

Of course, while having City Councilmembers participate can feel fancy…

… it’s all of the other neighbors participating that makes these walks really special…

(Here’s a group from the 2nd-to-last-day in front of my How Philly Moves Mural – I love that my two biggest projects both celebrate the entire city and intersect in physical space…)

… and the new perspectives that we get on the city as we set out to circumnavigate it…

(Every time it’s different! Here on the southern Delaware River border, a recently demolished building opened up a view of the SS United States that I’d never been able to see in my 9 prior perimeter walks…)

… and while the perspectives & experiences of the city itself are some of what draws participants to the project, another important facet is the potential for new relationships.

We might start off as strangers, but as soon as we set out in a spirit of exploration together, it’s easy for camaraderie to develop…

Special thanks to Ursinus College (a few students pictured here) & Drexel University for signing on as sponsors of the walk & bringing student groups to participate…

I wish that I’d had this opportunity to experience the vast scale of the city when I was their age!

Thanks also to the Kelly Writers House @ Penn & WXPN for providing an on-air opportunity to celebrate Ways of Walking & Walk Around Philadelphia via LIVE at the Writers House.

(I had to make it back to West Philly from Bridesburg at the end of walk day 6 for this recording session… it was close!)

Perimeter-walker Temwa shares some reflections on her experience of walking the city’s edge…
Yes, with WPO too!
photo: Temwa Wright

Listen to episode 151
of LIVE at The Writers House…

Bringing it all together…

Huge thanks to Cherry Street Pier for providing us a venue on the city’s edge to host a special in-person closing event for the 10th walk.

Participants were able to connect and compare notes on their experiences of the city’s edge…

Photo: Zachary Christman

This was a great opportunity for me to introduce the project to some folks who were new to it, share a bit about how we’d gotten here, and preview next steps …

(HUGE thanks to my dear friend Zach for this image and having helped me trace the city outline on the pier’s floor, along with GIS / mapping help and endless support over the years.)

It was also a great opportunity to make art together…

Photo: Christian Hayden

… and share laughs…

(while applying temporary tattoos of Philly’s unique shape…)

… and make more of those letterpress print maps of that same shape.

(Huge thanks to Matao Dreskin & The Soapbox Community Print Center, as well as Mary Tasillo @ Common Press for helping me with this new media this year!)

Photo: Christian Hayden

What a gift to be able to close out the evening with music from the ever-excellent West Philadelphia Orchestra!

(If you haven’t yet bought their thematically appropriate ‘Tour de Fili‘ album, I’d highly recommend it!)

… but wait there’s more!

Five days later, I found myself back on the city’s edge facilitating another walk experience…

photo: Jenna Ferman

It was a pleasure to again work with the SNF Paideia program at Penn on another Walk Around Philadelphia retreat experience.

With routes assigned at random to our small groups, it was sheer luck that I and one of our fellow walkers ended up on the particular segment of the Delaware River border…

… where their family member happened to work at the paperboard processing facility that we got a spontaneous tour of.

I’d walked by this place (at least) 9 times before, and never had a clue what happened in there.

Did I mention that each walk is completely different? I’ve circumnavigated Philadelphia 10 times and have yet to get bored, nor failed to be surprised…

Closing out the year…

After facilitating the retreat, I closed out the week with hosting a block party for my neighbors…

Wrangling three large community events in one week was probably a bit too much, and I definitely needed some time to recover.

The fall brought some time to catch up, and family travels abroad.

I hadn’t seen my mother, grandmother, nor this old pal since August 2019!

Since then, I’ve been back to focusing on my work as a massage therapist in West Philly, with some recent continuing ed Thai massage training offering me some new techniques for working with pre-natal clients.

(Need a good holiday gift?
Yes, I offer massage gift certificates.)

The Walk Around Philadelphia year-end celebration @ The Cedar Works will be my last public invite of the year.

It’s an informal drop-in anytime situation and I’d love to see you there!

Looking ahead…

I’ll be curating a walk-themed exhibit in the gallery at The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in the new year.

The next walks…

The February 2023 walk will be going counterclockwise, with some days restricted to limited capacity, and some days (*) open to larger groups, parade-style…


February 10 / 11 / 12*

February 17 / 18 / 19 / 20*

February 24 / 25* / 26*

Help make it happen:

I need your help to continue to develop Walk Around Philadelphia.

The walk has evolved from a 5 day artist residency to a citywide project with hundreds of participants, and that’s more than I can sustain on my own.

Please consider making a one time or repeating contribution if you’re able to help me continue this work. Thank you!

Photo: Bonnie Paul