Talk the Walk

Format Tours Neighbourhood Platform

City Timisoara, Romania

”Talk the Walk” is a public invitation for strangers to come to a meeting point on a Sunday afternoon. Here people get to know each other and walk together for a few hours in their city to visit interesting places and interact with local storytellers. This very simple activity creates connections, sheds new light on sometimes unknown or neglected places, builds confidence of city inhabitants to tell their stories and promotes a healthy life-style. Each event has a host, 2-3 storytellers and max 30 participants walking for 2-6 km.

City's inhabitants tend to overlook opportunities to meet and interact with each other and feel lost outside their daily paths. Talk the Walk is a very simple tool to bring strangers together and have them talk to each other while discovering inspiring stories of their city.
Additional benefits:
- features walking and movement as a healthy habit
- rearranges perceptions of distances and promotes slow mobility
- brings community problems and initiatives into the spotlight with the potential to activate untapped potential for collective action

People Power Find your team!

You need people with the following profiles / skills: one who likes to organize, one who likes social media communication, one who likes taking photos / making videos, several friends who know many other people in town. Start an Excel with story tellers and people passionate to talk about local projects and civic campaigns, heritage sites, creative businesses, etc.

Communication Setup communication channels

A Facebook page and a dedicated email address to communicate with the tour participants is a good start. Optional tools: a cloud storage for your team, a newsletter tool; a video channel; a blog.

Things you need Definitions of hosts and storytellers

The tour host is a sociable person who knows the route and the storytellers, breaks the ice in a group of sometimes complete strangers, knows funny games that can be done in the street, asks good, friendly questions to encourages people to talk among themselves between the stops. This person arrives first to welcome all participants with a smile and leaves the last, making sure the last storyteller is not stuck with a pile of tea cups to wash.
The storytellers are inspiring people who have some stories to tell. In Timisoara we have had professional tour guides, heritage experts, community activists, artists, people with disabilities, social services managers, school teachers, priests, entrepreneurs or simply people narrating their childhood memories. They do not necessarily have to join the whole walk. Sometimes they tell the stories while walking, other times they welcome the tour with cups of tea in their warm space.

Production How to plan a tour

The organizing team needs to define a route, a host and 2-3 storytellers. In the very cold or very hot seasons it's nice to end the tours in places that can serve free tea or lemonade. The route should have a balanced mix of walking and listening (in Timisoara we choose routes of 30-45 min walk that are done in 120-150 minutes). We sometimes feel inspired to find metaphoric names that connect apparently disconnected dots.

Communication Let the world know about your tour

In Timisoara we realised that just making a Facebook event can be a recipe for disaster because we end up with either too few or too many participants. To increase the commitment and improve the communication with the potential participants we have set up a very simple registration system by filling an online form. No names are collected, only email addresses. Those registered receive one email of confirmation and one email with the tour details and the meting point; Sometimes they might receive notifications if tour details are changed or summary emails after the tour with details and links to storytellers or places in case they want to keep in touch.

Misc Knowledge management

One aspect of our project we would like to improve is the archiving and the management of the content we come across. The facebook page tends to become a messy place while we would like to have a somewhat coherent digital archive with people and places featured in the tours. If we ever get funding, we will work on a nice website. 

Misc Celebration

From time to time we should remember to celebrate - either with eye catching statistics like steps towards the moon walked collectively or by posting portraits of inspiring storytellers.