This month is Black History Month across our nation, and Oregon Walks is rolling out our We Walk: Black Walking Initiative. This program highlights the need for Black people to feel safe walking in the public right of way or on trails and recreational spaces in Oregon. The need for Black Portlanders to reclaim their space along pedestrian walkways has been documented by PBOT (PedPDX: Walking While Black Report) and by the experiences shared by Black Portlanders (Walk The Talk, Talk The Walk: Affinity Groups).
“Race-based discrimination—both interpersonal and institutional—gets “under the skin” of African-Americans and contributes to the racial disparities in health. This happens through internal processes of the physiological stress response system, and also through limited access to the healthy environments and lifestyles found in some neighborhoods (clean air, healthy homes, walkable streets). The combination of internal physiological responses, coping responses, and segregation in disadvantaged social and physical environments have a significant impact on health outcomes.”
-The African American Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile
This insert from PBOT’s PedPDX: Walking While Black Report, states in clear terms that the lack of comfortability Black people face when walking in Portland directly impacts their physical and mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking for adults 18 – 65 & older, through its ‘Active People, Healthy Nation’ program.
Oregon Walks believes that Black experiences must be heard, but it is also the organization’s mission to empower people to walk in any community or natural space. During February we will upload weekly walking routes for people to go for walks on and share their experience (a picture preferably) via social media, tagging Oregon Walks! This part of the walking initiative is geared so that folx are not gathering and aiding in the spread of Covid-19, but leaving it up to the individual to walk the routes at their leisure. At the end of February we will take all the photos and create something special to share back with the community! The impacts of Covid-19 have taken a serious toll on our community and walking is the only outlet available to most.
The “Creating Community: Bridge Meadows to New Columbia” route in North Portland is a fun walk and many references to Gladys McCoy, the first Black elected official to public office in the state of Oregon. #WeWalk #BlackToNature #BlackWalkingInitiative
This route along with other AARP Oregon NeighborWalks are made possible by an incredible team of volunteers who develop and lead these walks. #NeighborWalks #WeAreWalkingHere
We want the community to SHARE your physical activity successes on social media using:
#OregonWalks #BlackToNature #WalkingForJustice #BlackCommunitiesWalk #Walking #ReclaimingtheRightofWay #WeWalk #BlackWalkingInitiative #BlackPhysicalandMentalHealth
Check out our partner, Black to Nature
Black to Nature is an online platform that brings the Black community together through nature, including walks. We will be sharing and promoting walk routes online on our website and on Black to Nature.
We Walk Route 1
‘Who Knew It Was Luuwit’ route in the Parkrose neighborhood. Luuwit View Park is a beautiful gem tucked away in East Portland that is a great space to bring the kiddos and enjoy its beautifully designed walking paths. Route information can be found here:
We Walk Route 2
The “Black History in Portland” route on historic N. Williams Ave highlights key historic buildings, landmarks, and art installations., including the Historic Black Williams Art Project.
Take some time to not only walk but learn about the rich and changing history of Williams Avenue. Route information can be found here:
We Walk Route 3
The “Albert Arts District” route on NE Alberta is a great walk is joined by a history-filled walk guide sharing the history of this well-known corridor and those communities and community members that contributed to its rich and vibrant history.