Jane’s Walk: Cool enough for school!

If you’ve been a tourist in a city other than your hometown, you may have taken an outdoor tour of an interesting place. But have you ever thought of doing your own? How about a Jane’s Walk? Or, even better, how about the kids in your neighbourhood leading Jane’s Walk? If you teach (or your kids take) geography, civics, drama or if you just like to get out of the classroom, consider the fun of a Jane’s Walk.

Here‘s everything you need to get started.

Jane who? Jane Jacobs!

Jane Jacobs was an urbanist and she was a writer. An urbanist is someone who is intensely interested in cities and how they work. The Globe and Mail called her “one of the most influential urban-planning theorists of our time” (May 4/07, G14). In 1961, she wrote about her observations of planning and change in New York City as she watched Parks Commissioner Robert Moses raze neighbourhoods to make way for highways. She wrote a scathing criticism about post-WWII planning in The Death and Life of Great American Cities. You can read a great bio here. She was a great inspiration for me as she was incredibly pragmatic and understood the idea of landscape and how people and their environments can co-create each other. I went to hear her talk whenever I could.

A few years ago, Jane Farrow gave rise to a revolution in everyday urbanism by spearheading “Jane’s Walks” with the Centre for City Ecology in Toronto. She wanted people in Toronto to tell their own stories of their city–of the places they cherish, of the spaces they inhabit and find meaning in. She was super-keen on getting children in on the action and I helped (along with Tim Groves) to pilot the Jane’s Walk School Edition.

It is still going strong and this year they’re looking for new animators to bring Jane’s Walks into the classrooms. If you are interested check it out!

Jane’s Walks are held every first weekend in May, Jane’s birthday was May 4th  (she passed away in November 2006) but you can hold your walk anytime.

Students from Notre Dame Secondary School in Brampton animate their Jane's Walk

Students from Notre Dame Secondary School in Brampton animate their Jane’s Walk

About Laura Taylor

I'm an associate professor and graduate planning program coordinator in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. I am a planning consultant, too. This blog is to share my research on the politics of nature and the negotiation of landscape values in the city and city planning, with a keen interest in the urban-rural fringe and exurbia.
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