On March 1 of 2010, Jonathon Stalls started walking in the seaside town of Lewes, DE. He kept walking for the next 242 days. He had only the pack on his back and his loyal dog, Kanoa, by his side. In November 2010, Jonathan arrived in San Francisco, CA. Eight and a half months passed, and he had walked for more than 3000 miles. While Jonathon lead an effort generating over $500K in loans to entrepreneurs through Kiva.org on his KivaWalk, that cross country trek was about more than one organization.
Jonathon walked to reconnect with America. He walked to meet people, to see the country, and to test the assumptions he held true in his heart: people are good, we share many commonalities, we are built to walk, and that life is about the journey, rather than the destination. See, when you travel at 3MPH (Jonathon’s common phrase), you see the world differently. You are on the ground, you feel the street and the people. Each block has life and personality. Each mile is adorned with real life and real things.
By slowing down, you see the details. You really learn the places you visit, rather than just passing through them. Suddenly, just by walking, the world becomes smaller and more connected. Instead of speeding around, you absorb your surroundings, and in turn you make yourself vulnerable for your surroundings to absorb a little bit of you.
In 2012, Jonathon started Walk2Connect, a for-profit social enterprise headquartered in Denver, that seeks to cultivate a culture of walking. Through Walk2Connect, he hopes to show citizens in our fair city and beyond that the advantages to walking are myriad. There’s the philosophical, which we’ve already covered above. And there’s the physical. Human bodies are built to move, and walking is all too easy to ignore in a desk and car culture. The health benefits are staggering. Even 30 minutes of walking a day can vastly improve your energy, circulation and more.
There’s also the interpersonal benefits. When we walk, we open ourselves up to our neighbors. People can say hello and wave. We can engage with the sounds of the birds and the streets. We can connect to other humans. There’s nothing that pairs better with walking than conversation, and through conversation, we broaden our perspectives and continue to learn.
As a walker myself (Beanstalk’s Nate), I haven’t owned a vehicle larger than a bicycle since 2002. There’s nothing better than meeting neighborhood dogs to pet, seeing the life within the city, and telling other walkers good morning. It beats road raging at inconsiderate lane changers or zoning out into a screen to avoid contact.
By following Jonathon Stalls’ lead, we can all learn to slow down, savor more, and gain a deeper connection to our world. Life moves too fast as it is, so it just makes sense to experience the world at 3MPH. It is truly all about the journey after all.