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Walking Prompts


To accompany Ways of Walking, editor Ann de Forest has created several sets of walking prompts. People lucky enough to have attended one of her events have received these on folding cards, but you are welcome to copy them from here if you like (for your own personal use, please, not commercial use). Each set of prompts, inspired by a particular essay in the book, offers ideas for your own walking adventures.

How to Walk on Stolen Land

(Inspired by "Finding Purchase: Walks of Witness on Stolen Land" by Nathaniel Popkin)

Route: your choice—urban, rural, suburban
Duration: your choice (at least 30 minutes)
As you walk, ask these questions of the places you pass through:

  • Who owns this place?

  • What do those owners use this place for?

  • How did they acquire this place?

  • Who has the right to walk here?

  • Who possessed this place before, if anyone?

  • What did they use this place for?

  • How did they acquire this place?

  • What change would surprise them most?

  • What here would they find familiar?


After the Walk

  • List the various places you walked through and write down your observations.

  • You may return with more questions than answers. If so, dig deeper to discover the history of the route you took.

How to Take a Liberating Lunchtime Walk

(Inspired by "Aberrant Angeleno" by Ann de Forest)

Route: from your workplace and back
Duration: 20–60 minutes
On your lunch break, pick a route you have never walked before. As you walk,

  • Set an ambling pace.

  • Pretend you are an explorer in uncharted territory.

  • Let curiosity steer you off course.

  • Open yourself to surprise.

  • Engage all your senses.

  • Discover at least one new thing.

  • Walk back by a different route.

  • Repeat the next day.

  • Invite others to join you.

After the Walk

  • Draw a map of where you walked. Mark the places that made an impression.

  • Give those places names particular to you and your experience.

  • Give the entire territory you walked through a name as well.

  • Add to your map daily.

How to Walk a Perimeter Line

(Inspired by "The Edge" by JJ Tiziou)

Route: border of your city, town, or neighborhood
Duration: as long as it takes (can be done in segments)
Before you walk:

  • Identify the boundaries of the place you live on a map (paper or digital).

  • Choose a starting point.

As you walk:

  • Follow the border line as closely as possible, within reason.

  • When you meet a barrier, simply go around it.

  • Note the differences between one side of the line and the other.

  • Note what other kinds of borders you encounter.

  • Talk to people you meet. Do they know they’re on a border line?

  • Pause along the way: reflect on where you have been and where you are going.

After the Walk

  • Reflect on discoveries and surprises.

  • Go to your city/town/neighborhood center. How do you experience it after you’ve walked the margins?

  • What places on the edge would you like to explore further? What places would you like to share with friends?

How to Walk with a Ghost

(Inspired by "A Walk with Hawk" by Dwight Sterling Dunston)

Route: your own neighborhood or some other place you know well

Duration: your choice (at least 30 minutes)

Invite a loved one who is no longer with you to walk beside you. Feel their presence. Act as their guide as you walk to:

  • Places that they may know—how have these changed?

  • Places where you share memories—recall those memories with them.

  • Places that are special to you.

  • Places that would surprise them.

As you walk, notice:

  • Your loved one’s observations as well as your own.

  • What do you experience differently through their perceptions?

  • What are the places you most want to share with them? Why?

After the Walk

  • Sit down and write a letter to your lost loved one. Tell them about the walk you just took together.

  • Tell them about other places you love that you wish they could experience.

  • Tell them how you have changed since you were last together.

  • Thank them for their presence in your life and on this walk.

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