After the historical centre of the City of Torres Vedras went through different transformations, the population was invited to participate in a Public Participation Forum entitled "Torres ao Centro" (a renovation program for the historic centre of the City of Torres Vedras). In October 2011, a public discussion forum was arranged in order to talk about initiatives that could be undertaken to make the centre more attractive. A working group suggested the creation of an initiative called "Walk In the Street" or "andar na rua" in Portuguese. This activity had two main objectives: To create more links between neighbours and to get people to walk the street as a form of physical exercise. The goal was to promote good relationships between neighbours as well as to raise awareness for the history of the city center.
With the objective of rediscovering local public spaces, a set meeting place in the Historic Centre on Thursdays at 9 pm was set up as a starting point for exploration. Walking along the streets, alleys and squares, groups began to chat with each other and exchange impressions and information. They told stories and shared knowledge with each other. This initiative was repeated in the Lifelong Learning Week, with a few dozen adult participants from around the city.
Some of the organisers work in the Adult Education Centre of the city. They invited their students to join the walks. They also invited experts to talk about the Historical Centre - about its evolution and its heritage. Also, everyone shares their knowledge about the city at large. It is therefore a non-formal education activity. There is definitely a neighbourhood and integration dimension to the project.
Every week, around 40 people are invited to join the activity. In general, around 12-15 people walk in the street. The people in the groups are between 55 and 80 years old. A small central group exists since two years; its members are now friends. The group is initiating a new activity in order to create a new cycle. They will now meet an association every week to learn about the various associations in the city.
The project works very well since there is a strong desire, from the participants, to take active part in the fate of the neighbourhood. They want to create links with their neighbours. Inviting experts has also been a key to success, as it has enriched the city tours. The newspaper "Badaladas" has written about some of our activities.
The concept also exists in other places. There is even an international network of "Educational Cities".