Street Wisdom: Unlocking Hidden Answers

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Katy Lang Tweet Us @walkarlington@walkarlington August 8, 2019

Katy Lang was previously Program Director for Active Transportation. She started living car-free in Arlington in 2010 and is passionate about finding great running routes and safety for people walking and biking.

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When we’re focused on getting to our destination, we don’t always pay enough attention to the journey. Street Wisdom helped us do that.

How often do you walk down the street, focused on your destination, perhaps listening to a podcast, thinking about the day ahead or what’s for dinner? If you’re like me, this happens on about 99% of the walks that I take.

That’s why Street Wisdom is so cool. Street Wisdom is walking-based problem solving. It’s a concept developed by David Pearl and is based on the idea that the environment and people around us are full of inspiration that we typically overlook or ignore. A Street Wisdom event gives participants time, space, and guidance to tap into this knowledge source to find new answers to life’s tricky questions. Instead of blowing past everything around us, we take the time and open our senses to receive new stimuli.

Last Thursday, WalkArlington hosted Arlington’s first-ever Street Wisdom event! It was a powerful experience for us, and we hope to do more. Read on below for more on Street Wisdom and our discoveries.

WalkArlington People on a Walk

What did we do?

We first went on a series of short walks around Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City to open our senses to the world around us. These were a kind of meditation in reverse where we paid sharp attention to what was happening. Next, we walked and focused our attention on a burning issue for us. Some of us were in search of career advice, others were curious about where retirement could lead them, and a few sought inspiration to make new connections.

What happened?

Although we were unsure what would happen at first, everyone came away with a newfound understanding about their burning issue. For example, one person who was looking for a new hobby kept noticing the variety in their environment on their walk—they shared the example of noticing each car was a different color—and realized that they love variety and don’t want to limit themselves to just one hobby. In our follow-up conversations, the group agreed that the experience reminded us of meditation and that we would like to mimic some of the techniques in our everyday walks to bring greater clarity to our lives.

What’s next?

I’m grateful for the time away from the daily grind to focus on life’s tricky questions. I’m going to try and incorporate more mindfulness and attention into my walks and see what I notice.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to more walks around Arlington with you all! Check out what other walks we have coming up, and be on the lookout for our next Street Wisdom event.

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