You know spring has officially arrived when you start to see and hear news about the annual Jane’s Walk Festival. Jane’s Walk is a series of free, citizen-led walking conversations inspired by urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs. Hamilton has been participating since 2013.
The “Walk” honours Jane’s ideas and legacy. Although she was not a formally educated planner, Jane had great visions for city design. And her body of work has had a profound influence on planners, architects, politicians, and activists alike.
Jane Jacobs thought of cities as adaptable ecosystems that thrive when communities are designed so that home, work, and play are all within reach. She believed local residents should have a voice in how their cities develop, and encouraged citizens to get to know more about the dynamics of their neighbourhoods. In her 1957 essay “Downtown is for People” she wrote, “No can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.”
Jane’s Walks are intended to get people walking and talking in our neighbourhoods. They invite us to come out and see for ourselves what makes our city great. Walks are organized and led by everyday Hamiltonians who want to share what they know about special places in the city and typically last from one to two hours. Walks are an opportunity to meet our neighbours, make new friends, learn something new or share our knowledge. We can join a walk in a neighbourhood that we know or choose a walk somewhere we’ve never explored.
To date, hundreds of participants have enjoyed walks throughout the lower city, on the mountain, and in Stoney Creek, Dundas and Ancaster.
Jane’s Walks give us an opportunity to have meaningful conversations about the past, present and future of our neighbourhoods – from the architectural aspects to the psychosocial and environmental impacts that affect our everyday lives. The walks also provide us with a platform to make our voices heard inside City Hall.
Staying informed and connected on a local level was important to Jane Jacobs. In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities she wrote, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
To find out more about our 2018 walks and how you can participate please visit janeswalk.org/Canada/Hamilton or find us on Twitter @JanesWalkHamOnt or Jane’s Walk Hamilton on Facebook. This year’s dates are May 4th, 5th and 6th. Hope to see you there!