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{walking story} a walk in Stroudsburg, PA

A couple weeks ago I went to New Jersey and Pennsylvania to visit extended family with my partner, Ben. It was a meaningful trip sharing meals and climbing piles of snow with our nephew. Check out their forge. I had a day to myself and wanted to roam an unfamiliar area on-foot. I decided on a 6-mile walking loop in Stroudsburg, PA (Lenni Lenape tribal lands).

I took my time. I watched birds. I touched trees. I took plenty of breaks. The photos above are glimpses from both edges of my walk. The first two are in the early morning as life wakes up with a rising sun. The frost. The quiet glow. The third one nears the end of my route on the Levee Loop next to Brodhead Creek.

Slowing down in this way helps me feel things. Compassion - as the trees reach over the still pond. Awe and wonder - as I kneel down to be with the patterns living in a village of fungi. Humility - on a wide grassy path with slowly swimming ducks. Then grief. It comes in waves. It rumbles as I move with such grave tragedies and harmful division taking place in Palestine genocide, Tigray genocide, South Sudan, Israel, across the U.S., and more. I ask the natural world around me, "how can so much disconnected power-gripping, ceasefire-blocking political leadership possibly co-exist under the same sky that nurtures moments and places like this?

It can often still feel fuzzy in the realm of answers, clarity, or action after all these feelings move with me on walks. Sometimes I am more troubled or agitated then when I started. Sometimes beauty gets the best of me, and I'm 100 times lighter and more hopeful. I am; however, always feeling more creative, more open, and more alive to what is really going on inside of me and around me. If you are around on March 2nd (and in Colorado), you might be interested in an 18-mile walk (co-hosted with Naveed) connected to these themes.

Per usual on my walks, I am also constantly scanning the built environment for what is working or not working to help invite, support, and protect people who walk, use a wheelchair, and take the bus. The photos below are moments in time that tell important stories of mobility, community, connection, access, and public health.

Left: Southbound into Stroudsburg two blocks from Main St - unsafe, confusing, and inaccessible (video). Middle: Some good examples on Main St. - public art, plenty of benches, curb extensions to slow traffic, mature trees in detachment. In many areas, town centers will get improvements but getting to them is often unsafe or impossible without a car. Right: Typical North American bus stop - hard to see sign, missing bench or shelter (rain, snow, heat, wind). People are left waiting/standing for 30 min to an hr +. Transit riders deserve comfort, safety & dignity.

Walking in nature and on everyday roads is humbling. The interactions I have with people I pass by. The gifts of sunlight peeking through branches. The blazing yellow goldfinch. A driver's middle finger because I'm walking "too slow" in the crosswalk. The cat from across the way that runs up to do a tail-around-the-leg figure eight. It all just inspires me and breaks my heart at the same time.

A walk in Stroudsburg, PA

by Jonathon Stalls, Walking Artist with Intrinsic Paths


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