Jane’s Walk Kitchener
Jane’s Walk is a series of free neighbourhood walking tours that helps put people in touch with their environment 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.
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 helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.
All Jane’s Walk tours are given and taken for free. These walks are led by anyone who has an interest in the neighbourhoods where they live, work or hang out. They are not always about architecture and heritage, and offer a more personal take on the local culture, the social history and the planning issues faced by the residents. Jane Jacobs believed strongly that local residents understood best how their neighbourhood works, and what is needed to strengthen and improve them. Jane’s Walks are meant to be fun, engaged and participatory – everyone’s got a story and they’re usually keen to share it.
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 focussed around historical themes more than geographical areas, for instance, some strolls have been built around ideas like the history of the bicycle, gay and lesbian history, places of relevance to the homeless, the history of ‘skid row’, and urgent planning matters facing certain neighbourhoods.
Jane Jacobs knew that cities were complicated and resistant to easy fixes – but that the solution lay within. “Being human is itself difficult, and therefore all kinds of settlements (except dream cities) have problems. Big cities have difficulties in abundance, because they have people in abundance. But vital cities are not helpless to combat even the most difficult problems.”
And so, in the spirit of Jane Jacobs, you are encouraged to ‘get out and walk’, to talk about your neighbourhood, and get to know your neighbours.
Ten Tips For Jane’s Walkers
1. Wear sensible shoes – something cushy and supportive. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fashion. After all, Nancy Sinatra recommends boots made for walking.
2. Dress for the weather – all walks go rain or shine. It’s easy to stay warm and dry if you layer up and bring an umbrella if it looks like rain.
3. Plan your Jane’s Walk itinerary ahead of time. Confirm the dates and times your tours are offered on the website just to make sure you’ve got the right information. Leave enough time to get between tours.
4. Ask questions – offer insights. Jane’s Walk works best when the tour has a friendly, conversational feel. Introduce yourself to fellow walkers, volunteers and guides. Be curious.
5. Consider attending walks in neighbourhoods you already know and even live or work in, to deepen your appreciation and networks in the area.
6. Cultivate your curiosity – venture farther afield and find out what is wonderful about neighbourhoods you’ve only heard about in the media or didn’t even know existed. Be adventurous.
7. Take lots of pictures, savour the sites and sounds. Stop in at a café, pub or restaurant and linger. Develop your own impression of an area and share it with others.
8. Get in close – in order to hear the tour guides stand close to the speakers. Remember to leave enough room on the sidewalk for people to pass by and make sure to cross at the corners.
9. Sign up for the Jane’s Walk e-newsletter, send us your feedback and thoughts on the event and consider supporting this work with a tax-deductible charitable donation.
10. Thank the hosts and volunteers for giving their time to this thrilling insider’s guide to local communities.
Where: This year we have four walks in Kitchener.
When: May 5 & 6, 2012
For more information on walks please click here.
Last year: here