May 2, 2013
by Canadian Architect
Jane’s Walk celebrates the ideas and legacy of urbanist Jane Jacobs by getting people out exploring their neighbourhoods and meeting their neighbours. Free walking tours held on the first weekend of May each year are led by locals who want to create a space for residents to talk about what matters to them in the places they live and work. Since its inception in Toronto in 2007, Jane’s Walk has expanded rapidly. In May of 2011, 511 walks were held in 75 cities in 15 countries worldwide.
The main Jane’s Walk event takes place annually on the first weekend of May, to coincide with Jane Jacobs’ birthday. Jane’s Walks can be organized and offered any other time of the year by enthusiastic local people or organizations, although the first weekend in May is where organizational energies and resources are focused.
Jane’s Walk honours the legacy and ideas of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning. Jane’s Walk often takes Jacobs’ ideas to communities unfamiliar with her ideas, in order to advance local engagement with contemporary urban planning practices. The walks help knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.
Thousands of people have taken part in a Jane’s Walk. Past walks have explored a wide range of urban landscapes, from social housing slated for redevelopment to areas with a rich architectural and cultural heritage, to teen hangouts and secret gardens. Walks are led by individuals and small groups. Some are focused around historical themes more than geographical areas: for instance, some strolls have been built around ideas like urban forestry, gay and lesbian history, places of relevance to the homeless, the history of “skid row,” and urgent planning matters facing certain neighbourhoods. The walks offer a more personal take on local culture and issues. They are not a tourist-driven initiative, but rather an insider tour of a neighbourhood that helps open up a friendly and engaged discussion amongst interested participants.
To find our more details about Jane’s Walk in your city, please visit www.janeswalk.net.