It’s walking, talking, place building

How do you keep the conversation going, and expand one person’s ideas on what city life should be? You ask locals to walk around towns and start conversations themselves.

So that is the idea behind Jane’s Walk, held on the first weekend in May every year. The event honours the work of writer and activist, Jane Jacobs. She wanted to see a more pedestrian friendly version of urban planning take focus. As Jane’s Walk explains:

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 we focus our organizational energies and resources.

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 helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.

Jane’s Walk helps make cities and streets safe for all users. We encourage people to get out and walk not just for recreation, but for basic tasks of daily life, shopping, schools and work. Walking not only improves health, it increases social cohesion and connection.

Anyone can host a walk, and they happen all around the world. A date to mark in your calendars for next year as an opportunity to promote your area, improve your street’s walkability and gather your community in conversation.

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