How to Chalkwalk

How To Chalk Up The Streets

^^vid from our #gerakbersama chalkwalk by Indonesia Feminis! 


Sidewalk chalking is a fun, safe, and super easy way to bring awareness to street harassment. Chalking allows you to create slogans, quotes, or drawings that can be displayed on sidewalks or walls in public spaces (streets too, IF they are closed off from traffic like during CFD). The cool thing about chalking is that you can do it with just one or two people, or you can unleash a whole fleet of HOLLA-chalkers on your city and take over the place! Here are the steps you should take when preparing to chalk up your town:


  1. Get the materials needed for your chalking expedition. Those materials are: sidewalk chalk. No, really! That’s it! You are totally welcome to create stencils to take with you but you really only need chalk.
  2. Pick a location to chalk. Busy areas (like Car Free Day  locations) with lots of foot traffic are definitely best. It’s a good idea to go out before there are too many people on the streets so that you’re not totally in the way, but you also want lots of people to walk by as you chalk so that you encourage them to engage you in conversation about what you’re writing and why you’re writing it (and they will talk to you!). Be aware of laws about vandalism as it pertains to sidewalk chalk in your town. Some cities don’t allow it and others do. If yours is a city that has laws against chalking, you might consider getting permits to chalk in certain locations or talk to business owners near where you plan to chalk and get their support. In our experience here in Jakarta, we usually send a letter of notification to the relevant authorities about our upcoming chalkwalk. We haven’t had any trouble thus far, and it’s usually other citizens (not authorities) that ask about the legality of the chalking (just let them know it washes away, no problem!). 17523670_1285998774814749_7118501246145161272_n
  3. Think about catchy slogans you want to tag up the sidewalks with. Some good ones include: “My name is not [baby/cantik/sst/etc.]!” “‘Hey, baby” is no way to say hello!” “Stop telling women to smile.” “Street harassment is not a compliment.” “We don’t want your catcall!” “My dress didn’t ask for your opinion.” “Everyone has a right to feel safe on the streets.” “I’m not a cat; don’t whistle at me.” Be creative and come up with something short, sweet, and to-the-point that you think will grab people’s attention. Don’t forget to write “hollaback!” and/or your soc med handles, too. You want people to know who’s taking a stand!
  4. Assemble your team. Who is going to go spread the word with you? Maybe it’s just you, and that’s great! Maybe it’s your organization or company. Maybe you’re dragging a couple friends with you. Or maybe you make a Facebook event letting all your followers know that they’re welcome to join and holla with you! 
  5. Start chalking! Head out and just start drawing! You’ll get the hang of it as you go, but there’s really no wrong way to chalk. Make sure you’re on public sidewalks and not private property, though! You can get kicked off public property or even talked to by police for tagging someone else’s land.
  6. Guard the chalk. Seriously, this is a tip that we have learned the hard way. There needs to be a volunteer in control of the chalk at all times, or you will end up with unrelated and/or inappropriate messages spamming your chalkwalk. It’s a good idea to have some water handy to wash away any unwelcome messages.
  7. Take photos of your work. You’re going to want to show off to all your friends, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr! Don’t forget to use #chalkwalk and #hollabackjkt in your posts! 19366595_1357744597640166_6437698209977943290_n
  8. Engage the people walking by. Some people will walk right up and want to ask questions about what you’re writing. This is GREAT. It’s an opportunity to spread the word and bring awareness to street harassment and the fight against it. Ask if it’s ever happened to them, ask if they want to join in, thank them for stopping and chatting. People WILL show interest, so be ready to chat them up!
  9. Ignore the haters. You may find that once people (particularly men) read what you’re writing on the streets, they choose to harass you even more. Keep your chin up and hollaback in whatever way feels right for you. They’re just proving, in a public space, why the work you’re doing is so important. Haters gonna hate, and they just may walk away thinking about the behavior they just engaged in in a new light.

That’s it! Chalking is one of the easiest ways that you can join the fight against street harassment. It requires very little planning, no artistic ability (though that helps, if you happen to have it!), and just an hour or two of your time. Get out there and HOLLA at your town!

**this guide was originally written by Hollaback! Boston and adapted by Hollaback! Jakarta

This post is also available in: Indonesian