Here at Nook, we have a passion for people, places, and properties. There is a reason that we say people first, for what makes a neighborhood special if not the people who live there? Welcome to #TastemakerTuesday, where we’ll feature the visionaries in our favorite nooks who are dedicated to building a better community through their talents.
There’s that famous bit in L.A. Story when Steve Martin gets into his car to drive three houses down the block. Then the other great scene in Swingers when all four friends drive from one bar to another in four separate cars. It’s a stereotype of Los Angeles more well known than the casting couch; it’s a song and it’s a movie.
Nobody walks in L.A.
Except, they do. Many, many people walk in L.A, and take the Metro. Urbanist writer Alissa Walker is one of the literal trailblazers for walking in the sprawling city of angels. She was taking photos of her feet in different parts of the city she loves before that was an Instagram “on the beach” cliche.
“Living in cities is personal. Writing about cities also has to be personal - that’s how we make change.”
That is the mantra beneath all of Alissa Walker’s urban writing. When she rebranded from Gelatobaby, her “silly blog about ice cream” to A Walker in LA, she became someone who Los Angeles desperately needed at the time: an advocate for exploring the city on foot. She even won the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship for her thesis that to understand the future of arts journalism, you have to ride the 704 Metro Rapid bus.
I first met Alissa when we spoke on a panel together about Walking in LA, for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, along with actress/cycling Enci Box, actor and activist Ed Begley Jr and Casting Director Cathy Reinking. We were brought together to give hope to people who wished to live in a more sustainable fashion, who wanted to explore their city during their commutes, and pursue their work in the entertainment industry. Alissa told us about her walk to the event, from Silver Lake to West L.A., and all the famous spots she saw along the way. My two bus commute suddenly seemed meek in comparison.
Many times people can’t comprehend biking or walking to places because then they’d arrive all sweaty, or women are afraid that the wind will whip up their skirts. In response to her years of inquiries, Walker decided to lay out what’s in her bag, including leggings, water bottle and a quick makeup fix. Using anything besides a car is surely more of an effort, but Walker believes the connection you gain to your surroundings is worth the extra time and thought.
Currently, the Urbanism Editor for Curbed, Walker (yes, that is her real last name) will cover how infrastructure, policy and transportation shape a city. She’s already found herself in the middle of tourists who want to see the Hollywood sign and residents who will do anything to keep them away, including put up fake street signs that say “No Access.” Since the City of LA closed the Hollyridge Trail last year, Walker has updated her guide.
More of her writing is found on Gizmodo, where she was Urbanism Editor from 2013-2016 and covered such topics as climate change, Bear Cams, self-driving cars, baby monitors and Philadelphia’s plan to fight crime with neon murals. The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and one of our favorites Dwell, among many others. For ten years she was a Design Journalist on DnA: Design and Architecture, a popular program on KCRW where Walker interviewed local designers on the cutting edge.
She has a young walker in training now, and you’ll find the young pedestrian’s photos sprinkled throughout Walker’s usual terrain of exciting LA spots, sights you’ll never see from your car and cool events like QuiltCon.
Photo Credit: Amoeba Music