Jane’s Walk!

In honour of the philosophies of one of the modern era’s most famed urbanists, on May 5th, I will be channeling Jane Jacobs to bring residents of the Heights neighbourhood a tour of four elementary schools and one former school site. For more info, click on the poster below or visit the Jane’s Walk microsite HERE.

So, you are still curious about what a Jane’s walk is? Read the publicity in the local paper, Burnaby Now, or continue reading below.

In it’s purest form, a Jane’s walk is all about getting local residents of an area out to talk about the neighbourhood in which they live in. What matters most to them? What does our neighbourhood look and feel like when we’re zipping past it in our automobiles? The Heights Neighbourhood Association is taking this concept to the next level. A long established community organization, they want people to think about their neighbourhood from the context of the people who are most likely to set foot on the ground – the kids!

Starting in about the early 1960s with her first book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs wanted people to reflect on the destruction she was observing in New York neighbourhoods, where good, useful places were coming down in favour of sterile, master-planned towers. It’s a bit of a complex story, but at its most basic point Jacobs advocated for a consideration of the needs of everyday folk. Ideal neighbourhoods are ones where kids can play on the street, because residents are connected to the street. You can still have shops on the ground floor, but you also have people living above. Eyes on the street is the best safety and security device!

Things Jacob’s didn’t appreciate? Think urban renewal schemes. Massive New York blocks being torn down in the 1960s by Robert Moses, a master planner with questionable motives. A top down view that saw buildings before people – a separation of uses: Work in one place, live in another place, and play in yet another place, and make it so the only way to travel between all those places is by car. Truth be told, a downtown can be a scary place at night if nobody lives there, and conversely, a suburb can be a pretty dull and painful place for kids if they need adults to get them anywhere fun! But I suppose now days, kids are telecommuting with iPads and massive multiplayer online games, so who needs the outdoors anyhow!? But I digress!

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Now, reward yourself by joining myself and others on May the 5th on a walk between 4 schools and a ghost school…

View Jane’s Walk Burnaby Heights in a larger map

See you then!

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