Tuesday, December 5, 2017

WanderWalks for Grant-Highland Area Makes V2.0 a Vast Improvement!

The newest WanderWalks map for Grant and Highland
Last month Cherriots*, OSU Extension, and WVP Health Authority released a new WanderWalks map for the Grant and Highland neighborhoods.

The first Wander Walks map - lots of arterial walking
You might remember that the first version of WanderWalks was a collaboration with Willamette MBA students, and its routes went along many of our busiest, most unpleasant major arterial stroads. It was a great first effort, but it fell short in crucial ways.

It's hard to fault this new one in any meaningful way. It's pretty great.

Even if I have a few quibbles, they are matters of taste and detail, and they also represent reasonable renunciations. That is to say, in the big picture they are not important.

There are six new walks, mostly in residential areas. The routes follow streets and paths on which you actually would want to walk! Sometimes they follow busier streets because they need to cross railroads or make other difficult connections, but they do not go along the biggest, baddest, busiest streets.

The mapmakers also highlight many places of interest with color-coded pushpins:
  • Clinics or other health-related businesses
  • Places for relaxation, including Little Free Libraries
  • Food, including Communty Gardens and a Food Pantry
  • Activity sites, including Parks, Northwest Hub, and the Boys & Girls Club
  • Social Services, including AA, Family Building Blocks, and churches
It's also oriented, then, to people who might not employ drive-alone trips for primary transportation. Maybe people who depend on walking for transportation and who might need to be connected with social services.

The quibble?

The mapmakers made a deliberate choice for the pragmatic utility of social services and to underscore the therapeutic value of walking. (One of the tie-ins is the whole 5210 project.)

In the Rx for walking, what it misses out on is pleasure. Just the simple and direct pleasure of walking and seeing interesting things. It's about stimulating your heart and muscles first, about exercise, and not so much about the play of mind and mental engagement in a walk.

Maybe the clearest expression of this is in a walk titled "Hoover."

Marker at the childhood home of Herbert Hoover
You'd think such a walk would have a push-pin for the Hoover house, right? The City's even got a plaque there.

But no. No mention at all for why a walk through this particular neighborhood might be called "Hoover."

The stress on social services means there's no room to point out interesting trees, architecture, or neighborhood history. Again, given the choice to emphasize social services - to write the Rx "walking is good for you" - to include this class of thing could clutter the maps. As they are, the maps have a generous font size, good enough white space, and are readily legible. They're easy to take in at a glance. The renunciation is totally understandable.

But you miss out on the idea that "going for a walk is fun" and that you discover neat things as you look around.

The map is available at the customer service window of the downtown Transit Station. Probably it's available elsewhere also, but so far Cherriots and the other agencies haven't rolled out much at all in the way of publicity about it. Maybe it's in a soft launch phase, but the quiet is a little peculiar.


Tonight the Northeast Neighbors neighborhood association meets, and it looks like the next iteration of WanderWalks will be a map for the Englewood area.

On the agenda is:
Speakers: Roxanne Beltz and Jeanine Stice re: draft map and points of health in NEN
NEN meets Tuesday the 5th, at 6:30pm in the Salem First Church of the Nazarene, 1550 Market Street NE.

* You know the "distracted boyfriend" meme?

Stock imagery from the "distracted boyfriend" meme family?
Aren't these the same people in different clothing?

Why isn't Cherriots featuring real Salemites who walk, bike, and bus?!

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