New Advocates

Walking College

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What is the Walking College?

The Walking College is an interactive, online educational program for walkable community advocates. Each year, Walking College Fellowships are awarded to community change agents working alone, in organizations, or in professions such as public health, planning, transportation, or education, who demonstrate:
  • A passion for making their communities more walkable and livable, and a vision for what that would look like;
  • A desire to develop a network of peer mentors and learn to advocate more effectively for walkable community policies and funding;
  • A willingness to invest personal time and energy in training.

What are the Walking College’s learning objectives?

  • Communicate effectively with a variety of audiences about the benefits of a walkable community;
  • Recruit and inspire other local advocates to join the movement, establish an organizational structure, write winning grant applications, and fund-raise;
  • Organize public events, programs, and communication campaigns that emphasize the need for improved walkability;
  • Engage professionals in multiple fields, including public health, planning and transportation, on the ways walkability affects their priorities;
  • Navigate the structure of local and state government and engage elected officials in conversations about walkability;
  • Design and implement effective policy campaigns, such as reducing speed limits and requiring complete streets;
  • Research, understand, and communicate data to support campaigns.

What skills will Walking College Fellows acquire?

The curriculum has been designed to nurture the development of the “hard” and “soft” skills that are necessary to become effective change agents.

“Hard” skills include:

  • The science behind the benefits of walking;
  • Ability to evaluate the built environment, master the public policy process, and understand how projects can be funded with local, state, and federal dollars;
  • Knowledge in specific campaign areas, such as access to transit and “Vision Zero.”

“Soft” skills include:

  • Communications, relationships, and building trust;
  • Fostering a local advocacy movement with diverse stakeholders;
  • Engaging effectively with decision-makers.
Who are the Walking College Mentors?
The Walking College is a national peer learning community. The following experienced walkable community campaigners helped design the Walking College and will serve as Mentors by facilitating video-interactive coaching sessions with small groups of Fellows:
  1. Jeanne Anthony, Independent Consultant
  2.  Anamarie Garces, Executive Director, Urban Health Partnerships
  3. Kim Irwin, Executive Director, Health by Design
  4. Robert Johnson, Director of Consulting, PedNet Coalition
  5. Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston and Board Member, America Walks
  6. Molly O’Reilly, Board Member, America Walks and Board Member, Idaho Walk-Bike Alliance
  7. Robert Ping, Technical Assistance Program Manager, WALC Institute
  8. Lisa Quinn, Executive Director, Feet First
  9. Jonathan Stalls, Founder/Lead Itinerant, Walk2Connect
  10. Jim Stone, Executive Director, Circulate San Diego
  11. Ian Thomas, State and Local Program Director, America Walks (course manager)

What are the course expectations?

  • Commit at least 5 hours/per week to the 15-week program
  • Complete all assignments and attend all webinar presentations
  • Attend and participate in all video-interactive discussion forums
  • Attend Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place in Vancouver, British Columbia (funding assistance will be provided)
  • Develop a “walking action plan” for your community
  • Work hard and have fun!

What is the Course Curriculum?

Module 1: Why Walking?

After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:

  • Discuss why people walk and the history of car-oriented design in the US
  • Identify the cross-cutting co-benefits of walking and walkable communities
  • Explain how walkable communities increase social equity while gentrification reduces it
  • Summarize the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and the principles of Vision Zero, Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets campaigns
  • Research, understand, and communicate data to support campaigns

Module 2: Developing Leadership

After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:

  • Describe and practice leadership qualities, and conduct self-evaluation
  • Discuss systemic discrimination and equity, and practice cultural competence
  • Engage diverse audiences, facilitate discussions about the benefits of walkable communities, and create a shared vision
  • Establish an organizational or coalition structure, write winning grant applications, and fund-raise
  • Develop the outline of a strategic plan for your organization or coalition

Module 3: Building a Movement

After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively and build trusting relationships
  • Recruit and inspire other local advocates to join the movement
  • Organize public events and programs that encourage people to engage in walking
  • Design and implement communication campaigns that emphasize the need for improved walkability
  • Develop a draft Action Plan for future events, programs, and communications

Module 4: Designing for People

After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:

  • Evaluate the built environment and identify features of walkable design
  • Describe the impact of land-use, zoning, place-making, and traffic calming on transportation choices and behaviors
  • Explain pedestrian safety best practices and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements
  • Engage transportation professionals in the ways walkability affects their priorities
  • Develop a draft Action Plan for walkable community projects

Module 5: Changing the System

After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:

  • Describe the domains of planning, transportation, and public policy
  • Navigate the structure of local and state government and engage elected officials in conversations about walkability
  • Engage professionals in multiple fields, including public health, planning and education, on the ways walkability affects their priorities
  • Explain the difference between advocacy and lobbying
  • Develop an draft Action Plan for an advocacy campaign

Module 6: Planning Campaigns

After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:

  • Practice “strategic thinking” and “strategic planning”
  • Explain what is meant by a “campaign,” and describe the process of campaign planning
  • Discuss the components of Vision Zero, Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets campaigns
  • Design and implement effective policy/communication campaigns, such as reducing speed limits and requiring complete streets
  • Develop a three-year “goal-oriented” Strategic Campaign Plan for his/her community
  • Develop a one-year “task-oriented” Strategic Campaign Plan

If you have questions …

Contact Ian Thomas at ian@americawalks.org