Jay Walljasper, editor of the BMC Commons website and e-magazine, is author of America’s Walking Renaissance.
The recent election spotlights how fractured America has become. Thankfully, walking offers one simple way to connect with one another. Sidewalks, streets, trails and other places we travel on foot are common ground—literally, commons we all share. They are among the few places where Americans of many backgrounds come together face-to-face, giving us the chance to smile, wave, talk and get to know someone different than ourselves. It is much harder to fear, hate, dismiss or ignore people you cross paths with every day.
An immediate need for healing America’s fissures—the first step toward working together to make justice, peace, economic equity, environmental protection and civility our common goal—is gathering diverse people in the same place. We must create safe and comfortable places to walk where people of all races, religions, incomes, ages and political views, from cities, suburbs and small towns, can interact.