Lead a Walk 2018-05-10T15:21:29+00:00

Lead a Jane’s Walk!

Anyone can lead a Jane’s Walk because everyone is an expert on the places they live, work, and play. Jane Jacobs believed that the people best equipped to understand cities and make decisions about them are “ordinary, interested citizens”. She intuited that getting to know our neighbourhoods and each other is the foundation of city-building. Jane’s Walk Leaders help people get to know their communities by gathering people outside of their homes, offices, and cars to exchange knowledge, tell stories, and share experiences.

To find out how to get started leading Jane’s Walks in your city, get in touch with your local City Organizer. If you don’t see your city listed, that means there is no active organizer there. You can lead a walk on your own, or become the City Organizer yourself!

What makes a walk a Jane’s Walk?

Jane’s Walks are often walking tours, but they can also be bike rides, poetry readings, performance art, games, and more! There are three things that make a walk a Jane’s Walk:

  • Free, volunteer-led, and open to everyone
    There can be no registration, fee, or donation associated with leading or participating in a Jane’s Walk.
  • Non-commercial and non-partisan
    They cannot be used to promote a business or a candidate running for office.
  • Seek to promote dialogue
    Jane’s Walks are dialogues that seek to engage participants in conversation. They are not walking lectures.

Getting Started

You can put together a Jane’s Walk in as little as a couple of days. Once you’ve decided to lead a walk, get in touch with your City Organizer for specific instructions. It’s a little different in each city, but here’s how to lead a Jane’s Walk in 5 simple steps.

Decide on a topic, theme, or neighbourhood to explore.
Think of a place or idea you’d like to explore in your city. What do you know that you want to share with your community? What do you not know that you want to learn about? What do you care about and wish others cared about, too? What do you love about your city? What would make your city better? For ideas and inspiration, check out the city pages, where we’ve compiled photos and stories from walks that have taken place around the world.

Plan your route and discussion.
Plan a route and stops. Walks can happen anywhere, from bustling downtowns to suburban neighbourhoods. Most walks include 3-7 stops, but many walks are much longer or shorter. Decide what you want to talk about. Remember that this isn’t a lecture and you don’t need to be an expert in history, architecture, heritage, or urban planning. A Jane’s Walk is a unique story about how you see, interact with, and feel about a place or topic. Pick a date and time. Most walks happen during the global festival in the first weekend of May, but they can also take place all throughout the year — both day and night.

Consider accessibility.
While the nature of some neighbourhoods, routes, and the act of walking itself mean that not every walk will be fully accessible, we hope you will be conscious of accessibility and thoughtful about your route. Try to strike a balance between talking, movement, and rest. Think about stops that have access to water fountains, restrooms, benches, and shaded areas to recharge. Consider terrain, curbs, staircases, gates, and other barriers that could hinder someone’s ease of movement. Think about whether there are portions of your walk with dim lighting, underpasses, strong odours, excessively loud noises, traffic, or large crowds. Everyone experiences space differently, so think broadly and empathetically about what could make others feel physically vulnerable or even unsafe. Also consider how you will speak on your walk. Avoid jargon and brainstorm ways of speaking and asking questions that will engage a wide range of participants. Think about what language you will speak and whether you might want volunteer translators or interpreters.

Get the word out. 
Your City Organizer can usually help with this, but you should also promote your walk yourself. Create a Facebook event or share on Twitter. Your City Organizer may have official hashtags and social media accounts they use to promote walks. Talk to neighbours, store owners along the route, and friends! You can also ask local community groups to help spread the word.Invite journalists to your walk and add it to any community event listings in local newspapers or magazines.

Lead your Walk!
You’re all ready, Walk Leader! Go for it, share your stories, and don’t forget to have fun!