By Ashlee McMillan
“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’
Jane Jacobs was an American- born Canadian writer and urban activist who had an interest in community based urban planning.
In 1961, she wrote the inspirational book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Her book primarily focused on critiquing modernist planning policies that she believed were destroying many existing inner-city communities. Jacobs sited New York City’s Greenwich Village as an example of a vibrant urban community. Jane preferred urban designs that focused on redundancy and vibrancy. This was in opposition to modernist urban designers who believed in order and efficiency.
Her book played a major role in the urban development of Toronto. Jacobs was actively involved in the campaign to stop the Spadina Expressway.
The first weekend of May coincides with Jane’s birthday. In order to cherish her ideas and legacy an annual walk has been organized in her honor. This walk has been designed to get people out to explore their neighborhoods. Jane’s Walk was created in Toronto in 2007 and since then it has grown rapidly; in May of 2010, 424 walks were held in 68 cities in nine countries.
Unfortunately, we’ve missed the walk this year. But we can all honor her by incorporating walking into our daily lives. Walking is good for your overall health, it creates safer communities and it can connect you to people in your neighborhood who share similar interests as you.
Jane’s Walk has used social media as a means of effectively communicating their message to people all over the world. If you would like to learn more you can about Jane’s Walk check the following: twitter, facebook, flicker, and delicious.