Welcome to the MOOC of the Metropolitan Trails Academy.
You will find on this page the 5 lessons of the Academy. We invite you to circulate freely between this page and the "Resources" page.

How to draw a route

On a map or in the world, at the scale of a metropolis or neighborhood, solo or in a group … everything starts with a route.

The fundamental practice of our community of metropolitan walkers—what makes them so unique and gives them an identity—is their ability to make route proposals.
How should you go about designing a route? What tools should you use? Where should you start? With a map or directly in the field? What kinds of emotions should your trail elicit? What are some rules of thumb in trail design? Are routes a spatial or temporal art?
In this lesson, the route is conceived as a fine art.

How to create a community

The life of a trail exceeds its line. It cannot be reduced to its route: it is made up of the living communities along its way.

On your walks, as you designed your trails, and during your scouting missions, you brought walkers with you and met locals. You shared your walking experiences with friends and family. Clearly, you are not in this alone.
How can you bring a trail to life? How can you create the conditions for a shared trail? How can you share your scouting missions? How can you gain a loyal following? How do you keep the conversation going?
This lesson offers keys to fostering a “local learning community”: a group of fellow walkers who develop a shared local culture.
Download lesson 2

How to tell a metropolis

As we walk the trail together, we discover vast galaxies of stories, which beg to be assembled, told, and shared.

Metropolises are connections that come together in stories. All of these stories are the lush material from which a city is made.
Yet most of our narratives at the scale of a metropolis—narratives belonging to the realms of tourism, politics, and the media—are truncated and lacking.
What narrative can encompass the vastness of a metropolis? How do trail routes and narratives intersect? How can we collect the stories of a trail? How should we assemble them? What types of narratives do we mean here? Forgotten grand narratives? Local narratives? Infrastructural narratives? The ordinary stories beneath our maps?

Download lesson 3

How to become a guide

There are thousands of ways to be a guide, and we are not interested in dictating how you go about it. Here are some guidelines either to help you get started or to improve your guided walks.

Some walkers show an inclination to lead others, notably those with cartographic skills (creating a route, locating themselves in situ on the map) or a capacity for storytelling (either through their eloquence or their ability to orchestrate a polyphony among fellow walkers).
How can you go about introducing people to a metropolis? How can you prepare your walk? How can you strike the right balance in your commentary? What are the secrets to a successful shared experience?
People expect guides to be reassuring (in their guiding and respect for everybody’s time) and interesting (imbuing the spaces traversed with humor or attentive details).
Download lesson 4

How to produce a trail

A Metropolitan Trail is drawn (lesson 1), explored (lesson 2), told (lesson 3), shared (lesson 4), and made official (lesson 5). We briefly touched on questions of production in previous lessons. Let’s dig in a bit further now.

How can we, together with the right number of partners, produce the 4 previous stages (route, community, story, guide) in a seamless and coherent way? How can we negotiate an official route? How can we build a community of partners around a trail? How can we give shape to the stories that emerge? How can we build a consistent walking program? How much time does that all take? How can we build a budget?
The skills you will need assemble: mapmaking, partnership building, publishing, project management, administrative and financial steering, etc.
This lesson is for people, local communities, and institutions with experience in coordinating cultural, infrastructural, or other projects, or who are interested in acquiring such experience.
Download Lesson 5