Walking is… free

Something I love about Street Wisdom is that it’s free. In a world where everything seems to have a price tag, it’s just really refreshing. As the Street Wisdom line goes, “you don’t pay fees, you pay attention”. But what does it mean to be free?

I was recently in Los Angeles – the city you famously cannot walk in (you can). One of the first things I found out about was a service called The People Walker. People pay to be “walked” by one of their trained Walkers. I immediately took a taxi to Hollywood.

My Walker was called Chuck; he set up The People Walker in fact. He told me people use his service for lots of reasons: fitness goals, safety concerns, to meet new people, as a kind of informal coaching, to keep moving as they age, to get back into society after some time out.

We meandered up to the Observatory and Chuck – who looks a bit like Walt Whitman – told me the fascinating story of the Welsh industrialist, philanthropist and attempted murderer Griffith J. Griffith whose money had built it. I technically hadn’t paid for this story, so I was reminded – as ever – the best things in life are free.

I paid $45 for one-and-a-half hours (it was almost two by the end so I got extra time for free) and I loved meeting Chuck. I enjoyed paying him and I told him a bit about Street Wisdom. I’d never have done that walk without him, so it was well worth it and I could imagine using it for shorter walks. Their new app will make it a bit like Uber for pedestrians.

Chuck’s resemblance to Walt Whitman led me to Song of the Open Road, which begins: “Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,/ Healthy, free, the world before me,/ The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.” Notice Whitman’s words: “light-hearted”, “free”, “wherever I choose”.

There’s more to say on this, but for me that is exactly what Street Wisdom does. It reminds us – in a light-hearted way – that we are free to have a “Wherever I choose”. And you can’t pay enough for that kind of priceless information.

by Philip Cowell

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