As part of Cal Walks’ work, we foster connections between advocates at the local level and coordinate statewide policy advocacy with our local partners. Here in Santa Clara County and San Jose–where I’m based–we work both with a coalition of individual residents and community-based organizations as well as with city and county agencies.
This year, a large part of our San Jose focus will be our partnership with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and city staff as we work together on the first full year of Vision Zero implementation, and we’ll have more to share in the coming months. We’re also getting our new encouragement program, Walk San Jose, up and running. We’re honored to receive support from The Knight Foundation–which recently announced its latest round of San Jose funding–for the Walk San Jose project. This project is also supported in part by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) project. The PICH funding covers, among other expenses, the translation of all the project materials into Spanish and Vietnamese.
The premise of Walk San Jose is simple: a series of community-identified walking loops across the city, each focused on a different neighborhood and its people, history, architecture, public art, natural resources, and more–the possibilities are truly endless. The loops are intended to be explorations of a community’s assets, as defined by the residents and community leaders themselves. The overarching goal of Walk San Jose is as simple as the premise: Let’s expose residents and visitors to our city’s diverse communities; let’s facilitate meaningful and actionable conversations among people on local issues, opportunities, and challenges; and let’s do this while promoting increased physical activity, community building, and advocacy for creating healthy, safe and vibrant neighborhoods–all through the lens of walking.
On January 12, we hosted a “Loops + Lunch” kick-off for stakeholders from across the city to begin to build support for the project and to gather feedback at this beta phase of the project.
While we debuted the first 2 loops at once, the remaining 4 inaugural loops will be established via community-led processes. The vision is that stakeholders will workshop to map their community assets, prioritize them for a loop, and conduct walk audits as a part of the planning process. One overarching goal of the project is to empower residents to have a voice in the processes that affect walkability and pedestrian safety, all while celebrating what makes these communities so wonderful.
Each loop will debut publicly with a celebratory group walk, culminating with reflective, connecting discussions over food and drink at an establishment within that neighborhood. After the debut walk, the loop cards will be available in shops, libraries, and offices throughout the community. The 4”x 6” loop cards are free, handheld, and self-guided. And if the design looks familiar, that’s because we’ve teamed up with City Fabrick, the nonprofit urban design studio that created the Walk Long Beach loop cards.
Please join me on a walk soon, and get in touch about how we can help curate a loop in your neighborhood.