What is a Jane’s Walk? How does it differ from a heritage walk?

We’ve received a valuable e-mail message indicating that it would be a useful exercise for the organizers of the May 6, 2012 Long Branch Jane’s Walk to establish a clear distinction in our minds between a Jane’s Walk and a traditional heritage walk.

We much appreciate this advice.

We’ll make changes in our outline, and in the text that will appear at the Jane’s Walk website, to take into account these comments.

The advice we’ve received is from an observer who’s attended all of the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) walks, Heritage Toronto walks, and many Jane’s Walks.

“My opinion,” the observer notes, “is your outline is a history walk not a Jane’s Walk.”

As well, the e-mail notes that according to the Jane’s Walk home page, “Jane’s Walk often takes Jacobs’ ideas to communities unfamiliar with her ideas, in order to advance local engagement with contemporary urban planning practices.”

While some Jane’s Walks, according to the website, “are focused around historical themes,” the observer comments, the site also notes that while tour guides don’t have to be familiar with Jane Jacobs’ work to lead a tour, people are encouraged to find out more by reading her books or consulting the Jane’s Walk website.

Books by Jane Jacobs, the e-mail notes, can enable a person to walk in a neighbourhood and observe principles such as the concept that parks can unite communities or can serve as a black hole that create barriers.

Similarly one can observe that long blocks without cross-streets obstruct walking or cycling in a residential community, amd that there is a benefit in having variety of new, old,  single and multi-residential housing.

An additional comment is that: Some Jane-like city planning concepts can be applied to the planned walk, David Switzer (he’s the e-mail writer; he’s given me the okay to mention him by name) says. Some of Jane Jacobs’ ideas are dated, or don’t apply, in David’s view.

“The exciting thing about this aspect is that they are contentious,” David Switzer adds: They have to be presented diplomatically but can be used to encourage engagement and debate, as suggested on the Jane’s Walk website.

We much appreciate these comments. They will assist us tremendously in planning for this event.

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