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Jane's Walk
23Oct
2010

When was the last time you really got to know your neighbourhood, and how well do you know it? Jane’s Walk might be just what you’re looking for if you need to reconnect with your backyard and get to know your neighbours.

Jane’s Walk is a free walking tour for locals, by locals. We love and share its vision, to create walkable neighborhoods, to promote urban literacy, and to build cities for and by people.

Formed in 2007 by a group of dedicated citizens (including Chris Winter, a GreenHero we profiled for his neat Doors Closed initiative), Jane’s Walk is all about community, knitting us together to become strong and resourceful leaders to work together and organize around issues that matter to us.

It was Jane Jacobs’ vision to have an engaged community with contemporary urban planning practices, championing the interests of locals and pedestrians over a car-centric approach to the downtown core.

It’s an exciting idea that appeals to many – even our own GreenHero Sarah Harmer led a Jane’s Walk tour in Toronto. Like Expedition Blue Planet and our own GreenHeroes.tv, the walk is about engaging citizens in meaningful discussion, and improving the livability of our communities.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’

Executive Director Jane Farrow answers a few questions about Jane’s Walk by email.

GreenHeroes: How does Jane’s Walk connect to our campaign theme “In My Backard”?

Jane Farrow: It seems people everywhere want to dig in and get things done with their neighbours. Thinking big, acting local still has lots of appeal for people, and hopefully always will.

GreenHeroes: What are the benefits of Jane’s Walk, and why is it so important to get to know your backyard?

Jane Farrow: The Jane’s Walk mandate remains simple and straightforward – to raise urban literacy; to cultivate and create cities planned for and by people; to help create walkable, livable, diverse neighbourhoods.

The walks promote these objectives by helping people tell the story of their own neighbourhoods, their own parks, places they hang out, barber shops, libraries, malls and coffee shops.

Some neighbourhoods have large reputations that precede them, others are relatively obscure and unknown, but each and every neighbourhood has stories to tell, and, as it turns out, plenty of local residents who are keen to tell them.

Jane’s Walk helps make cities and streets safe for all users by promoting walkability. We do this with educational materials, research studies and by providing organizational support. Functional, daily walking is the type of physical activity and travel behaviour that promotes healthy communities and individuals.

GreenHeroes: How can people get involved in Jane’s Walk and act in their communities?

Jane Farrow: Volunteer tour guides, ranging from municipal councillors and urban planners to recent immigrants and high school students, customize their tours with personal stories, local perspectives, insider tips and secret shortcuts.

The walks bridge social and geographic gaps by creating a space for cities to discover themselves. Just head to our website and get more information and support for how to put your own walk together, alone or with other folks from your neighbourhood.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, you can make a difference in your backyard. What actions are you taking to make a difference in your community? How are you acting locally to affect global change? Do you know someone who is a change agent in your community? Share your story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

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