Jane’s Walks are neighborhood tours coordinated and lead by local people. Jane’s Walks value local knowledge and community building. Part of the innovation of Jane’s Walk is acknowledging that everyone has a perspective on their neighborhood – no matter how long they have lived there.
Underlying Jane’s Walk is the premise that people actually know more than they think they do about their city. One need not visit the central library to find out about a neighborhood’s history.
Jane’s Walks use walking as a way to connect neighbours, local merchants and the broader community.
Chris Winter, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of Ontario came up with the idea with Margie Zeidler, President and creator of 401 Richmond Limited, and Mary Rowe, Director at the Centre for City Ecology. They wanted to mark the birthday of Jane Jacobs a year after her passing. The idea came together in 8 weeks in 2007. There were 27 tours that first year.
Jane’s Walk is about improving social cohesion, the safety of neighborhoods and directly challenging assumptions about suburban versus urban living. It addresses issues stemming from cultural and economic diversity, empowers people to discuss neighborhood development and establish access to city decision makers to improve their communities.
Jane’s Walk also challenges the assumption that walkability can only be established in certain parts of a city – traditionally older neighbourhoods appealing to tourists.
The inner suburbs are where the affordable housing and many immigrant communities are in Toronto. The same is true in lots of North American cities. Jane’s Walk draws attention to common treacherous conditions in these suburbs, such as fast moving traffic, wide arterials, short times to cross the street and no buffers between people and big open lanes. The Walks draw attention to poor street design.