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Neighbourhood Change

Your mission:

What’s happening to this neighbourhood? Who’s leaving, and who’s moving in? How has this street’s appearance changed over the last few years? Do the people who live here feel like they’re not going to recognize the place in another year or so? You’re going to get a sense of how the neighbourhood is changing, by gathering facts and by asking people here what they think is going on.

At the beginning of the walk

Ask the walk leader if you can speak to the whole group for just a quick minute at the beginning of the walk, OR if they can present these questions themselves. Give the participants one or two of these questions to think about during the walk:

•  Keep an eye out for storefronts that have changed recently. Please tell me what you remember being there before, and when it changed. Bonus question: Did you ever shop at/go to the thing that used to be there? Will you shop at/go to the new thing?

•   Name one thing you miss or don’t miss at all about this neighbourhood a year or two ago

•   Name one thing you wish someone would build here

As you walk

Keep an eye out for the following kinds of things, and especially, for any signs that they are changing. You don’t have to keep track of everything on this list! This is just a set of suggestions. You might find it useful to pick 3 or 4 topics to focus on. During the walk, look for these things, and whenever possible, ask your fellow walkers, and the walk leader(s), what they know.

•  Housing: Where do people live here? Are residential buildings tall or short, old or new? Are there apartments over storefronts? Does older housing look run-down or well maintained? If there are front lawns, is the grass cut and are there gardens?

•   Public space maintenance: Are sidewalks, traffic lights etc well maintained? Are there trees, gardens, flower boxes, etc? Are there garbage containers, and if so are they overflowing? Is there litter? Is the grass cut in public areas?

•   Local economy: Do you see small/independent businesses, or big chains? Do you see any Help Wanted signs? What kinds of businesses do you see? (Do you notice any patterns, eg a lot of bars, a lot of furniture stores) Is there anywhere to buy groceries?

•   Do you see graffiti? Murals? Public art? What kinds of religious institutions do you see? (eg mosques, churches, synagogues) and what type are they (eg storefront or huge cathedral)

•   Language: Are there signs in languages other than English? What languages can you identify? Are there a range, or is there one language or cultural group that is predominant here?

•   Transportation: Are there any new bus or streetcar lines, or subway or LRT stations, or are any being built?

At the end of the walk

Check in with the walkers, and ask them what they noticed. You can also ask a few people if they’d be willing to be interviewed for just 4 or 5 minutes. Here are some things you could ask them:

•  How do you feel about this neighbourhood?

•   What did you learn about this neighbourhood on this walk?

•   Do you think it’s changing rapidly? Do you wish it would stay the same, or change faster?

•   What specifically would you like to see change here?

•   Is there anything that scares you about what you see happening here? 

•   Is there anything that you think is unfair about what’s happening to this neighbourhood, or any changes that are just a bad idea?

•   What makes you feel optimistic about this place’s future?

•   Did anything the walk leader said change any of your thinking about this place?

What to submit

•   Name 10 specific changes that have happened or are about to happen here (big changes or small)

•   Name 5 things the walk leader (or others) said that you or other walkers found interesting, or that changed your perspective

•   Sum up the changes that are happening here. What were the main points that you noticed and that other people mentioned?

•   Give any additional observations, things you noticed, things you’d like to add

Talk to your walk leader and/or City Organizer to find out how they would like you to submit your report. There may be more information that they would like you to include.

Please also send your report to the Jane’s Walk Project Office via stories@janeswalk.org! We love getting reports from walks around the world, and sharing them on our blog, social media feeds, and in the Jane’s Walk Annual, our yearly compilation of global walk stories.

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Contributors: Aisha Syed, Nadia Halim This guide was produced by the Jane’s Walk Project Office. For more information about Jane’s Walk, or to find a walk near you, visit janeswalk.org. You can contact us at info@janeswalk.org.