We don’t just walk for the exercise. Exercise is good but saving democracy is better. That’s why your kickoff and finale events--and possibly other events en route--are so important: it’s how we educate and energize other people to join our cause.
Your kick-off event should have an energizing, inspirational feel, and your finale event should leave people feeling connected to the movement and each other, and with plenty of ways to take action. Events are a great time to turn out the local community and snag a few last- minute walkers. Think about what will appeal most to your audience: an inspirational speaker, a band, a chant, a song? Are there community leaders like the mayor, state representatives, pastors, or principals who you can invite to speak? Or, for indoor finale events, a documentary, panel discussion, or play? The Rebellion has a list of resources, speakers and entertainers who might be willing to help.
To help build community and encourage full participation in groups of around 40 people or less, we recommend starting or ending your walk in a big circle and having each person shout out a word that describes how they feel, or a few words introducing themselves and why they turned up to walk. For larger groups, the leader can simply ask walkers to introduce themselves to the person next to them in the crowd and describe why they came out in 20 seconds.
Don’t forget the practicalities: food, restrooms, parking, tables and seating, set-up and clean-up, and other logistics for your events. Churches and community institutions like libraries and recreational centers frequently open their doors for such events, and you may be able to use volunteers or donations from your local Panera Bread or other food store. When planning logistics, be aware that more than just the walkers will be attending your events, especially the ending event.
The Rebellion has a list of national organizations that have helped out with our walks in the past, whether with promoting, joining the walk, or assisting with events. Feel free to contact them for help in those roles. Also, if you are in New Hampshire, contact us directly-- we have extensive lists of local non-profits and businesses that have helped out with our walks!