By Kathryn White
Artist and Pedestrian Dignity advocate Jonathan Stalls’ new book, “WALK: Slow Down, Wake Up, and Connect at 1-3 Miles Per Hour,” comes out Aug. 16, and two North Denver dates have made its launch tour.
Stalls will host a discussion on his experiences and transformative approach to navigating communities on Aug. 23 at the Denver Public Library’s Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch and on Sep. 12 at West Side Books (details at end of story). The book includes a collection of Stall’s essays and walking practices, ranging from stories along his 242-day walk across the U.S. to advice pieces to help people deepen their own experiences of walking through different and familiar neighborhoods.
Stalls has woven his own illustrations throughout the book with stories from collaborators like Pam Jiner of Montbello Walks, 2017 GirlTrek Organizer of the Year. The book speaks directly to the issues of race and class, refusing to shy away from Stall’s observations about access to resources and safety.
“The book is pushing some edges around what you’d imagine a nonfiction book to be,” Stalls said.
For Stalls, walking or rolling at what he describes as an unhurried pace can shift our relationships with one another, the landscapes, and the built environments we spend time in. North Denver is a good place to explore these themes.
Stalls’ Aug. 23 event, starting at the Corky Gonzales Library and heading to Paco Sánchez Park, takes place near the Colfax Clover, the interchange surrounding West Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard that sits on 29 acres of land.
It’s the site of much discussion, largely because it has proven to be dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists and is a barrier to services located nearby. It’s also not far from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) headquarters office, Stalls emphasizes, noting theny, “There’s a lot there that tells the story of disconnect around pedestrian mobility and safety.”
Safety issues were brought home, tragically, in September 2020, when North Denver resident Tim Campbell was struck by a driver that ran a red light as he crossed the street in his wheelchair.
The intersection of Irving Street and West Colfax Avenue, where Campbell was killed, is the westmost point of the Colfax Clover. It is home to Corky Gonzales Library, heavily used bus stops, Cheltenham Elementary, apartment buildings, and five lanes of car traffic headed to or from downtown, Federal Boulevard, I-25, Mile High Stadium and residences and services nearby.
Stalls has walked with residents, activists, politicians, and planners—across the Denver Metro area and well beyond— to observe what’s working and what’s not for people who get around by foot, wheelchair, and public transit. His TikTok account @pedestriandignity has nearly 110,000 followers and regularly features sidewalks that spill out into busy traffic with no crosswalk (or even a stop sign for car traffic), or narrow unpaved footpaths where wide paved sidewalks would be needed to enable safe passage to bus stops.
“There’s something about the practice of walking or using a wheelchair through a community,” Stalls said. “It forces humility, in a way. If you’re only driving through your neighborhood, you can compartmentalize a little too easily, isolating yourself from its complexities. The gifts of walking and rolling are just so much more room for waving and connecting and stumbling upon the stories. That’s one of the main invitations of this book: the practice of stumbling upon in a humble way.”
The 1-3 miles per hour Stalls writes about is a pace a car won’t even register, and a fitness tracker would say doesn’t count for much. But Stalls’ essays, observations, and suggested practices point out the many things it does do. One of which is opening our eyes to a more complex array of experiences. To learn more and to RSVP, visit .intrinsicpaths. com/walkbook.
WALK EVENTS IN NORTH DENVER
Tuesday, Aug. 23: 5-6:30 p.m. WALK Book & Pedestrian Dignity Experience with Denver Public Library at Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch, 1498 Irving St. This will be a combination walk/roll event from the
Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales library with book reading/signing at Paco Sánchez Park.
Monday, Sept. 12: 5 p.m. Pre-Author Talk Walk/Roll and 7 p.m. author talk at West Side Books, 3434 W. 32nd Ave.