Gems in the Garden Neighborhood Walks in honor of Jane Jacobs 2014

Gems in the Garden Neighborhood Walks in honor of Jane Jacobs 2014

In 2014, the ECC held two Jane Jacobs walks in the ECC area.

1. May 3rd beginning at 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Julia Robertson & Nate Salazar guided us through the beautiful Douglas Neighborhood. 

2. University Gardens self guided walking tour that is still available and can begin any time you like. This guided tour comes complete with a map, and interesting tidbits for significant points of interest in the neighborhood. From start to finish this walk takes between 75-90 minutes. 

Background:

Annually on May 4th and 5th there are a series of free neighborhood walks scheduled all over the world in honor of Jane Jacobs. Both Jane’s Walk and  Jane Jacobs Walks are all walking tours that helps put people in touch with where they live and with each other, by bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves. Since its inception in 2007, Jane’s Walk has happened in cities across North America, and is growing internationally.

A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work and play with words like these:

“No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.”
-Downtown is for People, 1957.

The main Jane’s Walk event takes place annually on the first weekend of May, to coincide with Jane Jacobs’ birthday.

The Jane’s Walk audience includes:

    • Anyone who enjoys getting to know their city and neighbours.
    • People who want to participate in meaningful conversations about the social and built future of their neighbourhoods.
    • People engaged in the work of building cohesive communities and improving the walking environment.
    • People who want to change their cities and neighbourhoods, for example to narrow the gap between the haves and have-nots in our cities and towns.
  • Youth and children who experience the impact of current transportation choices disproportionately, but who are rarely consulted on their aspirations for walking or cycling.4558842806_1b98e6e62d_o

Walkability is a quantitative and qualitative measurement of how inviting or un-inviting an area is to pedestrians. Walking matters more and more to towns and cities as the connection between walking and socially vibrant neighborhoods is becoming clearer. Built environments that promote and facilitate walking – to stores, work, school and amenities – are better places to live, have higher real estate values, promote healthier lifestyles and have higher levels of social cohesion.

When you think of an area you like to walk, it probably has certain conditions or features that make it walker-friendly. For many that means wide well-maintained sidewalks, benches, good lighting, direct routes, interesting stores, buildings and amenities. For others it might mean shady green spaces, quieter routes or places where strollers, dogs and scooters are welcome. Walkability is a subjective measurement – some people like to stroll quietly on sidestreets, while others seek out the hustle and bustle of busy commercial districts. Often these subjective considerations are about our desire to be safe, other times it’s about aesthetic preferences.

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Examining the walkability of a neighborhood, town or city is an important factor to consider when thinking about making places more welcoming, livable and safe. Areas where lots of people are around, shopping, going to work or school, or just hanging out are considered more desirable living places which promote social connectedness, healthy lifestyles and reduce car dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Jane’s Walk was inaugurated on May 5, 2007 in Toronto by a group of Jane Jacobs’ friends and colleagues who wanted to honor her ideas and legacy. They decided upon a simple, adaptable, and what would prove to be, an internationally successful concept – free neighborhood walking tours led by local volunteers. Mary Rowe, Margie Zeidler, Chris Winter, Alan Broadbent and Ann Peters made the first Jane’s Walks happen that year with 27 tours. Attendance and buzz exceeded all expectations. CBC broadcaster Jane Farrow, one of the inaugural tour guides, quickly came on board to explore how Jane’s Walk could be shared with other cities. That fall, she organized the event in New York City, making sure to include a range of neighborhoods outside the core and in the process showcased an exciting variety of perspectives on city-building and community organizing. It was clear that Jane’s Walk filled a need people had to talk about issues affecting their neighborhoods, and as such, had unlimited potential in helping communities find their voice.

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Since then, Jane’s Walk has been successfully exported and adapted to 75 cities in 15 countries in 2011 with 511 neighbourhood tours offered. The event and its namesake, Jane Jacobs, mobilizes local residents to get out and share the stories of the urban spaces they know and love, to meet neighbours, to explore common cause in making improvements and celebrating their successes. Jane’s Walk has expanded beyond the confines of an annual event by researching urban and suburban walkability conditions in association with Paul Hess of the University of Toronto Geography Department. We are also engaged in consulting with planning firms and municipal stakeholders in how to make the city more walkable and welcome the input of local residents. Jane’s Walk has been adapted in schools and used both in classes and as an extra-curricular activity. The City of Toronto has made good use of our bank of neighbourhood tour guides, getting employees out on ‘discovery walks’ and getting to know how their policies have an impact on people and places. Through all this, Executive Director Jane Farrow has become an important and authority on city building and the role of walking in knitting our cities and residents together. In 2010 the Toronto Community Foundation honoured her with a Vital People grant which she used to travel to the international Walk 21 Conference where she was invited to present on Jane’s Walk as a mechanism for cultivating urban literacy and civic engagement.

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Internationally, things get more exciting each year, with Jane’s Walks offered in cities including Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, St. Petersberg, Ljubljana, Sao Paolo, Guadalajara, and 12 walks in Tel Aviv & Yaffo, Israel in 2011.

In the US, Jane’s Walks has really taken off with 25 cities coming together with a roster of 64 walks in such places as Anchorage, Austin, Baton Rouge, Chattanooga, Boston, Kansas City, New York City, New Orleans, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, among others.

Jane’s Walk is clearly hitting the mark with a wide variety of cities, towns and neighbourhoods, proving that people want and need opportunities to reach out and get to know the places they live and work, and find common cause in city building with the people with whom they share space.

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