Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, Alexsys Frierson is a student in Temple University’s graduate program in urban planning. As a 2022 summer intern in PEC’s Philadelphia office, she leads community outreach for the relaunch of the TrailOff mobile app. Produced in collaboration with Swim Pony Performing Arts, TrailOff uses immersive audio to create a compelling narrative experience for users of the Circuit Trails network. Learn more about PEC’s role here, and find audio of the stories here.
Wonder what this year’s PEC Trails internship is like so far? Well, here’s a fun update on what I, Alexsys, have been involved with.
June was a busy month full of events for TrailOff to get involved with the community and to have the community get involved with Philly trails! The TrailOff team, which consists of PEC and Swim Pony members, attended First Friday at Cherry Street Pier, Movie Night at Bartram’s Garden, Movie Night at Gateway Park, Pridefest in Phoenixville, a Writer’s Workshop at Artworks Trenton, and many other events.
Community outreach in existing communities is an essential step for us as we continue to develop the app and create accessible trails. Community events are always a learning experience. With each environment we introduced the app to, the TrailOff team had to develop new approaches to get people’s attention and encourage them to download the app (hello marketing skillset!).
At the Bartram’s Movie Night event we were able to do a group walk on the trail for the story Chronicles of Asylum by Li Sumpter. The group consisted of a few parents and their children in which the parents placed themselves in the story in order to enhance the children’s imagination.
At the Writer’s Workshop at Artworks Trenton, participants heard from Erin McMillon about her process in creating the story The Inside Outside on the D&L Trail. Participants were able to take a step into her mind to understand her creative process, walked around outside to enter a new environment to absorb information and gather ideas, and ended the event by creating and sharing the plot of a story they came up with during the workshop.
June was a fun and very active month of experiences, and we appreciate everyone who came out to these events to show support.
One of the coolest things about the app is that, using GPS, the story unlocks as you progress along the trail. Once you open the app, there’s a map view of all 10 featured trails within the Philadelphia and Jersey region. So you have the option to choose which trail you’d like to listen to for the day.
One of my favorite stories is The Land Remembers by Jacob Winterstein at the John Heinz Refuge Trail (the fishing icon next to the Philadelphia International Airport on the map). Now, don’t worry: if you don’t know how to get to the trail’s location, there are directions at the bottom of the page that the story is on explaining how to get there by car or public transportation. There’s parking information as well right next to the Trailhead button, which will open your map (Google, Apple, etc.) and will pinpoint the exact location of where the story begins. It’s very important that you don’t skip the start of the story at the trailhead, where you’ll get a vital orientation.