Follow along on Experience Life’s Instagram as Katy Bowman celebrates her 41st birthday by walking 41 miles through her community in search of local food and small-scale farmers.
What if we could make ourselves, our communities, and our planet healthier just by moving more? It’s a question I think about a lot. I’ve spent hours and hours both exercising and teaching others how to exercise, but the deeper I go into the study of human movement, the more I feel compelled to put my movement toward a broader benefit.
Many have done this, right? Walk-, run-, and dance-a-thon fundraisers are huge and impactful. These events reflect the conscious choice of hundreds of thousands of people to dedicate their physical activity and time to the benefit of others. If we were to talk movement permaculture — an idea I present and flesh out in my book Movement Matters — movement fundraisers are a more “stacked” version of exercise because you’re tending to multiple functions at the same time: personal exercise, caring for others, and engaging in community.
As a mother, full-time worker, and global citizen, I’m always trying to figure out how to approach things efficiently. No, this doesn’t mean multitasking but stacking — choosing an activity that meets multiple needs rather than trying to do multiple activities at the same time. So, I thought: How can I stack my annual birthday trek?
In case you didn’t know, my birthday is March 4th. As in, March Forth! (Even my birthday seems to say “Get moving.”) I love celebrating, and I especially love celebrating with my body. Last year I walked 30+ miles to celebrate the end of my 30s (you can read about that adventure here).
After lots of pondering (on a long walk, as you can imagine), I decided that I’d walk through my own community in rural Washington (vitamin Community) to educate myself (vitamin Awareness) on the parts I often whiz by in my car.
Specifically, I’m going to move my body to find local food — to meet the people and see the operations behind the plants and animals I depend on for my own survival. I’ll do this to see just how close — walkable, even — fresh food is to me.
Stacking my birthday even further, I’ve decided to make my walk a fundraiser. I live in a very rural area where growing is a relatively easy feat, but there are people doing the much tougher and necessary job of growing in urban areas, like Ron Finley, a.k.a. the Gangsta Gardener. I’m dedicating my birthday walk to the Ron Finley Project, and will ask supporters to donate funds to support Finley’s amazing Los Angeles community garden (#savethegangstagarden), which is currently threatened.
Here’s my plan in a nutshell: I’m turning 41, so I’ll spend two days walking 41 miles through my own community, specifically to visit all the places and people who are practicing small-scale farming for a living. I’ll be taking over the Experience Life Instagram March 3 and 4, using the hashtag #willmoveforfood and sharing photos along my journey so you can see all the ways people are taking action. Follow along on Instagram and you can also celebrate with me!
Here are some simple ideas to get you moving — and to help you feel closer — to your food and community on March 4 (or any other day for that matter):
- If you get your coffee through a drive-thru window, park and walk inside.
- Better yet, walk to get coffee — or to buy produce at the grocery store or farmers’ market.
- Pick some herbs from your garden or an indoor pot (or plant a pot of herbs today!).
- Set out on foot to find an abandoned fruit tree or an edible wild plant (a.k.a. food!).
- Chop your veggies by hand instead of using the food processor. (Ten thousand bonus points if you’re making a green smoothie!)
Heck, you can even sit inside and use the Internet to find the location of local farms, food banks, and community gardens. Or jog to a pie-eating contest. There’s no wrong way to do this. The point is to simply become aware of how our personal movement relates to what and how we’re consuming.
Share a photo showing that you #willmoveforfood (and use the hashtag so we can see you)! I want to see all the ways your movement can get you closer to your food and community.