With annual organisation of ‘urban walks’ in the framework of the Jane's Walk initiative since 2011 IPoP advocates for benefits of utility walking in Slovenia. Together with local partners IPoP already managed to intitiate 73 walks in different towns and cities across Slovenia and engaged at least 1400 interested walkers. IPoP supports the organisation by promotion and support to local organizers.
IPoP advocates for walking with urban walks. Walking and talking together as a method enables learning about benefits of walking by experience. IPoP believes that benefits of walking for citizens as well as for cities: their natural, built, social and business environments can be promoted most efficiently this way. Walking and talking contribute to the process of overcoming the obstacles in the traditional thinking and practices of mobility.
The problem we try to address is that the benefits of utility walking were not recognised at all in Slovenia. The society became one of the most motorised in Europe, with high level of car dependency, but the public opinion still equals the motorisation with prosperity. The promotion of everyday walking is so a troubled task, but the issue is slowly gaining wider acceptance.
IPoP thereby found the Toronto based initiative of Jane’s Walk ideal to lean on the promotional strategy. It gives additional credibility and visibility to IPoP’s efforts. It started in 2011 when first four Jane’s Walks in Slovenia were organised together with partners in Ljubljana. Next year a handbook was printed and offered as a manual for the organisation of walks. It is still available online. The organisational framework is rather simple. Every year IPoP organises a preparatory meeting and interested organisers are gathered to share the experience and expectations in advance of walks. The idea is that walks are planned to last no longer than hour and a half and having few interesting stops to meet local people and discuss perspectives of walkability. Close cooperation with local administration is advised as well as early and in depth communication with local media. Organisers are stimulated to report live on social media and to write a short brief about the walk, stating the number of attendees and interesting observations. IPoP promotes the initiative, inviting new local organisers, offers any kind of support to organisers, including regular updates and reminders by e-mail as well as individual support either by phone or e-mail, covers the communications with national media, manages the year active Facebook page and announces and reports on the walks on its dedicated website.
In 2012 with the second round of the walks in Slovenia, IPoP prepared a printed handbook for the local organizers of Jane's walks. The aim of the handbook was to initiate the debate about the quality of public space in relation to walkability. For that reason, we translated the term "walkability" to Slovenian language as "hodljivost". In three years of campaigns we can already see the adoption of the term and thus understanding of the concept to the media language.
Until now together with partners IPoP managed to support organisation of 73 Jane's Walks in different Slovenian towns and cities and to engage at least 1400 walkers. IPoP serves as a hub for annual urban walks, supports the local organizers and communicates via mass and social media. Every year new cities are joining Jane's Walks and wider media response is reached. Some of the cities have walks organised every year while others joined just once. Jane’s Walks became recognised and expected by media, municipalities and citizens. Thereby broader national walking campaign is actually maturing as well and it is hard to deny Jane's Walk initiative a certain influence.
The planned national walk to school campaign and Jane's Walks in Ljubljana European Green Capital 2016 is planned to be the next step to a higher level of awareness of benefits of utility walking in Slovenia.