The first weekend in May has quickly become known as Jane’s Walk weekend. That’s when thousands of people from neighbourhoods around the world join up with friends to take in free guided walks offered in their town or city. People get a chance to learn something new, discover a new area of their city, meet new (or existing!) neighbours and get in touch with the environment. Jane’s Walk helps knit people together and gets neighbours and residents more connected to their community. In my community engagement work with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, we believe that a more connected community is a safer community. That’s why I’m getting out to walk on May 4 & 5, 2013 and encouraging all of Cambridge, Kitchener & Waterloo to get out & explore!
Through the simple act of walking together and discussing what makes a neighbourhood, Jane’s walk helps connect people into strong and resourceful communities. Created in 2007 by friends of the urban thinker, Jane Jacobs, the annual series of free, volunteer led walks has grown from 27 to over 600 walks. Neighbourhoods and community groups in our community are buzzing with preparations for a weekend of fascinating walking conversations. So far, walks are scheduled in many neighbourhoods – Mount Hope Breithaupt Park, St. Mary’s, Uptown West Waterloo, Downtown Kitchener, Northdale, Lower Doon, McLennan Park, Downtown Galt – and more to come! There’s even a walk in the Mount Hope Cemetery.
YOU can lead a walk in your neighbourhood!
There’s still time to create a Jane’s Walk – it’s not too late! It simply involves planning a route, thinking through the stories, places and people you want to talk about and promoting it around the neighbourhood. You can also share the guiding duties with a few resourceful friends or colleagues. All walks are given and taken for free, and they are meant to be fun and participatory-everyone has a story to tell! Connect with a City Organizer to get started.
Here’s a walk that I led, together with the Kitchener Safe & Healthy Community Advisory Committee last year – Community to the Power of 10. Look for the very sweet community moment at the end of that story.
Visit www.janeswalk.net to get inspired, get involved, lead a walk and see what’s happening in your neighbourhood.
Who is Jane Jacobs?
Jane’s Walk is in honour of Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist whose ideas came to prominence in New York in the early 1960’s. Her observations and writing were in response to city building that focused on car-centric development that effectively cut people off from each other, their neighbourhoods and their sense of place. Jane Jacobs believed that vibrant, dynamic, healthy and safe places need a sense of connection and that local residents must be involved in their own neighbourhood and city development. Jane Jacobs’ ideas of the city as an ecosystem have influenced generation of planner, architects, politicians, activists and citizens, just like you and me.
Jane Jacobs believed in connection to place – connection and knowing a place intimately cannot be done by looking at models and inventing dream cities, rather, Jane would say, “You’ve got to get out and walk!” She would say you’ve got to get to know you place – get to know it’s history, what and who has shaped it, how it is changing, what works well, what doesn’t work… who lives there and what might be its potential for the future. Jane Jacobs died in 2006 at the age of 89 but her legacy lives on. In 2012, Jane’s Walk gathered nearly 20,000 people across 85 cities and 17 countries around the world.
Don’t miss out this year!
Juanita Metzger is a Community Engagement Coordinator at the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. A lifelong resident of Waterloo Region, Juanita lives in a vibrant Kitchener neighbourhood where residents are actively engaged in sustainability projects and education, neighbourhood parties and social events, urban agriculture and knit nights – a connected community indeed.