Header photo: "Kaloleni Estate Walk," Kisumu, Kenya -- Caren Omanga photo
The 2015 Jane’s Walk festival is coming up in two months, on May 1, 2 and 3. Are you thinking of leading a Jane’s Walk this year, or organizing a festival in your city? To fire up your imagination, take a look at these five creative, inspired walks that took place in cities around the world last May.
1) Brisbane, Australia: “Kurilpa Quick Step: Dancing across the peninsula”
“Come for a guided tour of the dance floors of Kurilpa to demonstrate planning and urbanism. The venues are as varied as the dance forms, from ballet in an old boot factory to skanking in a carpark. The tour will look at adaptive use of buildings, how to keep the dancefloor (culture) going and a healthy night life.”
Does your city have a rich history of dance, theatre, or other arts? A walk is a great way to explore that history and its influence on neighbourhoods. Get in touch with local arts organizations, and you’ll probably find lots of people with stories they’d like to share.
2) Granada, Spain: “Lost Beiro: Walk along an erased river”
“Pasearemos desde el barrio de los Pajaritos hasta Casería de Montijo sobre el río Beiro, uno de los ocho ríos que bañan la Vega de Granada, atravesando nuestra ciudad de Noreste a Suroeste. El embovedado de este río, finalizado a finales de la década de los 70, conllevó la desaparición del río en la imagen de la ciudad, desconociendo muchos de sus visitantes, e incluso de sus habitantes, la existencia de este río borrado.” (The walk traced the route of the Beiro River; since it was buried, in the late 1970s, many of the city’s residents are unaware of the river’s existence.)
Many cities around the world are built over buried rivers, which still run underground through large tunnels. Does a secret river run under your city? Find out, and see if you can follow its route!
3) Jerusalem, Israel: “Sound Walk in Morasha”
"הליכת סאונד הינה סוג של השתתפות פעילה במרחב הצלילי, המזמינה את המשתף לחוות את המרחב הגיאוגרפי תוך השמת
דגש על חוש השמיעה והאובייקטים הצליליים במרחב."
(A Soundwalk is a way of experiencing the geography of a place with an emphasis on sound and hearing.)
On a sound walk, participants are silent for stretches of time, as they focus on listening to the sounds in the environment that surround them. Afterwards, you can talk about what you heard: Were there any natural sounds? Were there sounds specific to the time of day, or the season? Should the neighbourhood be quieter -- is sound pollution a problem? What do the sounds of a place tell you about what it’s like to live there?
4) Kisumu, Kenya: “Kaloleni Estate Walk”
“We will be stopping and talking to people in the estate. How can we make the city safe for women, as the city grows? How do we involve women in the process?”
After this walk took place, walk organizer Caren Omanga told us, “We in Kisumu City had a great Jane’s Walk. We met in the morning at Kaloleni Estate to chat about the route we were going to follow, then we divided ourselves into four groups. I was in the group that went to the Chiefs’ offices and the neighbouring streets. We concentrated on how to involve women in the growth of their city. As we remembered Jane Jacobs and her efforts, it was also fun to briefly stop and talk to our community on issues affecting the growth of our city. The issue of women not being safe in the city came out clearly.”
Do you belong to, or work with, a group of people whose voices aren’t always included in conversations about where your city is going? Ask the people you know if they’d like to participate in a Jane’s Walk. Are there communities in your city whose stories and perspectives don’t get heard often enough? Consider reaching out to leaders in those communities and inviting them to get involved.
5) Toronto, Canada: “Convenience Stories”
"Convenience stores act as a microcosm for each unique neighbourhood in which they reside. Through the stories we share, we are drawn to our convenience store as the barometer of the neighbourhood. This Jane’s Walk will explore and ignite a love and appreciation for convenience stores that you never knew you had."
As this walk revealed, your local corner store can tell you a lot about your neighbourhood. What kinds of food does it sell? What else is on display -- plants? souvenirs? children’s toys? Who works there? If convenience stores aren’t so common in your city, is there another feature of your cityscape that everyone takes for granted, but that is full of stories when you look at it more closely?
The author enjoying one of the stops on the "Convenience Stories" walk -- Alison Sexton photo