"Walking With Refugees in West Bend," a Jane's Walk in Toronto, Canada in 2014. Photo by Jennifer Setters.
Jane’s Walk is inherently about stories: walk leaders and participants engage in conversations that are about the way we experience the city, and the narratives that come from those experiences.
Around the world, those stories are not just diverse, but evolving — our experiences with our urban environment change every day, and the stories of others influence our own. On a recent call with a few global Jane’s Walk organizers to discuss ideas and best practices, we learned about some of the kinds of stories that are being told around the world:
Accessibility Stories: What is it like to live in the city when you are blind, or deaf, or have impaired mobility? A set of “accessibility walks” planned for Groningen, The Netherlands this year will tell the stories of people who have different kinds of access to the urban environment.
Forgotten History Stories: What happens to cultural institutions when they shut down and fade away? A “sidewalk ballet” walk in Akron, Ohio this year will look back at the Ohio Ballet and walk through the old dance studios and performance venues that are no longer in use to tell the story of dance in the city.
Newcomer Stories: The experience of a city is very different for a newcomer learning to navigate the ins and outs of an urban environment that they don’t know very well. Various walks around the world, like this refugee walk in Toronto, Ontario, tell the stories of that newcomer experience.
Uncovered Secret Stories: Like many other cities, Groningen has many secret gardens that are often left unexplored. This year, a planned “secret garden” walk will not just uncover those gardens, but tell their stories and secrets through poetry in each stop.
Ongoing Tradition Stories: Traditionally, children would leave flowers for their neighbors on May Day; a “May Day” walk in Denver, Colorado is looking to revive that tradition by delivering carnations in Paramount Heights. This allows the stories of that tradition to be shared, along with the stories of the people that make up the neighborhood.
What are some of the stories you want to tell or hear at this year’s Jane’s Walk? How will your voice influence the way those stories are told and heard?