Jane’s Walk Ottawa 2012

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

It’s Jane’s Walk time! On May 5 and 6, you can take part in walks exploring interesting parts of Ottawa. But these are more than just walking tours: you might be learning about what it’s like to live in the area, or about the area’s history, geography or design. What makes the walks special is that they’re created and led by local residents who’ve volunteered to share their perspectives on the city, and who’ll probably invite you to share your own stories.

In this year’s Jane’s Walks, you can:

  • Visit communities like Vanier that are undergoing urban renewal, or (re-) discover neighbourhoods such as Little Italy, the East Glebe, New Edinburgh or Barrhaven from a walker’s perspective;
  • Explore urban green or wild spaces including the parks and community gardens of Centretown, the South March Highlands Forest, Petrie Island, Brown’s Inlet, Nepean Creek or North Island in Manotick;
  • See downtown Ottawa from the perspective of a homeless person, or contribute ideas for improving Ottawa’s neglected urban waterfront;
  • Experience art in Hintonburg, music in Old Ottawa South or the culinary delights of Hintonburg or Chinatown, or learn how to find wild food in the city;
  • Discover the hidden history of Bank Street, see downtown through the eyes of historical figures, or reflect on the past and future of Parliament Hill or rail travel at LeBreton Flats.

There are dozens of walks to choose from, so have a look at the schedule on the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website and find one that appeals to you. The walks are free, conducted in English or French, and vary in length and accessibility.

I really like the whole idea of Jane’s Walk, which happens every year in cities across Canada and around the world. Jane’s Walk celebrates the ideas of Jane Jacobs, an urbanist, writer and activist who generated some innovative thinking about cities and their liveability. She contended, for example, that cities should be built for people, encourage diversity, and be walkable. You can find more information at http://www.janeswalkottawa.ca/view/?home.

“No one 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 Jacobs, Downtown Is For People, 1957.

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