Women’s Walking Club Gains Traction in Philly
The popularity of Philly Girls Who Walk illuminates the power of social media.
When Bianca Solari founded Philly Girls Who Walk in April, she was looking for a way to get out of the house and socialize that didn’t involve drinking. As people get older, she says, it generally takes more effort to make friends. The 29-year-old social media pro (she works in digital for Lululemon) found the answer on social media, where she came across the New York-based group City Girls Who Walk. Solari reached out to the founder and asked to start a chapter in Philly; once she got the go-ahead, the Fairmount resident hit the ground running, setting up an Instagram account and spreading the word on local Facebook groups like PHILAQUEENS. To Solari’s surprise, the first walk, in May, brought out more than 100 women.
“I was excited that 10 people were going to show up and then when 100 girls showed up, it was so heartwarming,” Solari says. “Our last walk, across the Ben Franklin bridge, brought out roughly 175 women.” She attributes the popularity to the fact that “it’s very low-commitment. You’re just walkin’ and talkin.”
Walks are announced one week at a time, generally a week before they happen, on Instagram and on PGWW’s GroupMe account, which has more than 1,000 members. Walks are about three miles long and last from 45 minutes to an hour. In the summer they’re starting at 6 or 7 p.m. to avoid the daytime heat. Solari frequently puts out polls on GroupMe to figure out best routes and times for participants.
And sometimes, the strangers you walk with become the friends you march with. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a group of women who met on a PGWW walk marched together for reproductive rights, sending Solari a photo after the fact.
Post-walk, those who wish to continue the party are encouraged to do so. Solari partners with local businesses for activities, like a happy hour recently held at La Peg. Bars and restaurants interested in hosting 100-200 women are encouraged to reach out via Instagram or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.