October is here! I love this change of season, especially in New York. The temperature slips, scarves come out, soup simmers on kitchen stoves. Leaves blush, paint themselves with change and fall away. Time shows itself passing, and it’s the perfect season to consider what things of our own—themes, patterns, habits—we’re also ready to shed.
I find that sometimes when I take a step back and look at just how much needs to change—whether in my own life or in the world—I get disheartened and overwhelmed. I might be brimming with optimism on a day that I’ve composted, shopped at my local farmer’s market, recycled and used old clothes as cleaning rags, but then I read about melting glaciers and, in turn, feel like having my own meltdown.
This collapse—the feeling of giving up in the face of seemingly insurmountable work—is what I’m working to shed this fall. Because the truth is: no, I will not change the world, stop climate change, eradicate racism, bridge the gender gap, end oppression, or anything along those lines. In fact, the only life I have the ability to truly and deeply change is my own. And through my example, I hope that I create an invitation for others to join me in that work. And through their example, that others join them. And so on, and so on, until we have a movement and suddenly: the change is happening on its own. The change is happening. The power of people working together.
So how do I remain inspired to keep doing the work despite the enormity of the task?
Baby. Steps. Taking them. And celebrating each one because they are each worthy of celebration! If we do not celebrate our victories, however small, it becomes hard to remember why we do the work at all.
Which brings me to our October walking challenge. In the spirit of small steps toward change, we’re celebrating Walk & Bike To School Day this October 4th. There are currently 4,878 schools registered for the day (see if yours is participating) which means that kids all over the nation will be using their own legs to get to school this Wednesday. Even if your school isn’t signed up, your kids can still join the movement.
Walk & Bike To School Day is a perfect way for you and your kids to play with small scale-to-big scale positive change. By taking time to intentionally walk or bike to school (or anywhere else for that matter), you are playing a significant role in raising awareness about health and sustainability. Here’s how:
Physical Movement Is Good!
It shows your kids from a young age that there can be joy and productivity found in movement. It’s a really amazing thing that we can use our bodies for transport—they are powerful agents and we can do a lot if we take care of them! Teaching your kids from a young age to incorporate and enjoy daily movement will create healthy lifelong habits.
Taking Action To Combat Global Warming
This is also a great way to introduce ideas of sustainability and global warming from a positive, action-oriented perspective. You can explain how gas from cars and buses is harmful for the environment, and that walking/biking helps us reduce that toxic effect. Kids learn that what they do has consequence, either positive or negative; their actions have impact! Which means they are not helpless. They can really create new ways forward.
More Community = More Connection
Walking/biking builds community—both a global, environmental one and in your neighborhood. It allows for more moments to get to know the people on your block and in your school district. And being connected to a community increases our sense of social responsibility and the feeling that we are not alone (we aren’t!).
So, will you join walk to school day (and month)?? Let us know—take a photo and tag @artandeden on Instagram. We’d love to celebrate each of your steps!
For a little more inspiration as you begin your journeys:
Walking the World
Read about six of the longest walks in history. These people walked across the earth for years at a time. Including 57 year old Rosie Swale-Pope who ran through Russia, Alaska, Canada, the US, Greenland, Iceland and the UK to raise money for charity. Woah!
The Longest Walk 5: Walking Across America to Find Solutions to Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence and to Heal Mother Earth
Another literal walk for change is organized by Dennis Banks and the American Indian Movement. It’s called The Longest Walk 5. A foot journey from the US West Coast to East Coast, the Longest Walk 5 continues the togetherness, resilience and communal power that showed up at Standing Rock. As explained by AIM: “Many health issues facing Native Americans connect with the after-effects of historical trauma. Countless other Americans also suffer the effects of trauma – and we all feel the effects of the damage inflicted on our Earth. The Longest Walk 5 is a kind of search party, part of a rescue mission to heal America from the effects of drugs, violence, suicide, self-harm, and harm to the Earth.”
You can sign up to join next year’s walk—from February 20 18 to July 2018—beginning in Seattle, WA and ending in Washington D.C. You can also donate or offer to host walkers along their way.