Get to Know Your City Better. Walk a Main Street—the Whole Damn Thing.
Alter your perspective of a street that you’d normally pass by on your daily commute. #100StartsWith1
We’re teaming up with our friends at Sambazon for 100 days of little ways to change our world. Follow along for the next 100 days of action (and giveaways) on Instagram @Sambazon and at www.sambazon.com/100. And don’t forget to tell us @GOOD about how you’re changing your world with the hashtag #100StartsWith1.
Champion: Tom Carroll
Action: Get to know your city better by walking a main street from end to end.
Image via Youtube screenshot
Tom Carroll, of the video series Tom Explores Los Angeles, loves his hometown so much that he’s devoted his life to really understanding what makes it tick. One of the best ways to do that, he says, is by walking. And that applies no matter which city you call home.
“Walking opens up other dimensions that aren’t accessible by car, or even bicycle. You get the subtext of a given neighborhood because you can peek down alleyways or examine the details of a cool wall,” says Tom. “When I’m walking, I feel like I’m actively learning. I’m able to satisfy my hyperactive tendencies because everything’s constantly changing. And committing to walk a certain area also means that by the time I reach the end of my path, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
Today, May 6, Tom is leading a walk down one of the major streets in Los Angeles—Wilshire Boulevard. He chose this street, he says, for reasons that can apply to any city.
First of all, it’s a long enough walk to feel substantial (16.5 miles), but not as long as another major artery in the city, Sunset Boulevard (26 miles), which at its terminus has no sidewalk, and gets dangerously curvy.
“Go with the main street that won’t be life-threatening to pedestrians,” he says.
“I like Wilshire because it was developed as a proto-freeway, and so many of us drive it all the time. Exploring a car-centric space by foot will allow us to really absorb the expansiveness of our city, as on just this single walk, the neighborhoods will change rapidly—from downtown to the Miracle Mile and the La Brea Tar Pits, then luxe Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and beachy Santa Monica. The point of a walk like this is to forever alter your perspective of a street that you’d normally pass by on your daily commute, giving you insights into all its hidden facets.”
Tom challenges you to get to know your city better by exploring one of its main streets on foot, rather than just driving through it. Whether you do this on your own, or you coordinate a group walk, be sure to post a few photos of your journey with the hashtag #100StartsWith1.
There a few more things to keep in mind, too:
1. Make sure the infrastructure’s there for pedestrians. Says Tom: “The great thing about walking is there are really no bad spaces to walk, aside from the fact that you need sidewalks or a trail to ensure you won’t get hit by a car.”
2. Map your route. If there are public transit options in your city, keep them in mind, especially if you’re going with a group. “I wanted to make sure this walk could be flexible—so anyone at any fitness level or with a busy schedule could participate,” says Tom. We’ll take breaks throughout, and we’re coordinating them to let people join us at major public transit stops (on Wilshire, that means the purple subway line and the 720 busline). Plus, if people need to step out, they can take transit home.”
3. Be safe and bring along the proper essentials. Tom’s list includes:
- A really good wide-brim hat
- At least 32 ounces of water, especially if there aren’t many public drinking fountains
- A sandwich and a few bags of trail mix (or a good mix of carbs and protein)
- Clean socks that’ll breathe
- Good walking shoes (suitable for concrete—lightweight running shoes will lead to less blistering than chunky hiking boots)
- An open mind and ears (that means only one earbud if you insist on listening to music or a podcast—it’s important to auditorily engage with the space)
- Knowledge of public bathrooms along the way (coordinate with local shop owners or seek out the Starbucks)
4. If you can, get some insight into your journey from local experts like librarians. Tom’s favorite part of doing the show is that it has allowed him to dig deep into the history of the areas he has explored in Los Angeles. “Before I explore, I try to ask specific questions of Glen Creason, the historic map librarian at the city’s Central Library. Since we’re in a major urban area, I am also thankful to have access to urban historians like Nathan Masters.” Libraries are a terrific free resource that’ll tell you if any significant historic moment occurred along your path.
Get adventurous—whether that’s today in Los Angeles or sometime soon in your hometown. Be sure to tell us that you did so by using the hashtag #100StartsWith1 and tagging @Sambazon and @GOOD, so we can find and possibly even showcase highlights from your trek online.