Walk leaders: Mojca Črnič and Petra Vertelj Nared (Paz!Park) in cooperation with KUD Plac
Text by: Petra Vertelj Nared
Photographs by: Petra Vertelj Nared
As the participants of Jane’s Walk started arriving at the city square in the centre of Metlika, a small medieval city in Slovenia, there was a bar open, and a few people sitting in it. But for the most part, in this place which was once known for its vividness, shops selling handcrafted goods, and numerous small bars, the walkers were crowded together with cars whose drivers were looking for a place to park.
The situation was more than appropriate for a discussion about youth on the sidewalks. Pedestrian safety, and the attractiveness of the local streets for everyday living and walking around, were topics relevant to urban youngsters in a small car-oriented town with a high level of unemployment. The mixed-age group of participants agreed that the city square should be made a pedestrian zone, emphasized that school children need a safer route to the school, and even proposed some rearrangements. One of the participants, who had once been a student in the primary school, pointed out that what had been missing in her school days was an outdoor classroom.
Such a classroom, she said, could encourage the students to go outside more and would offer a cosy environment for learning and socializing. Participants also suggested that a local youth centre which offers social and cultural events should hold these activities outdoors, perhaps in a nearby park.
This would stimulate the use of public space and park maintenance efforts. Given that walkers were accompanied by the deputy mayor and members of the cultural society KUD Plac, there is reason to hope that these ideas for change will be observed and realized in the near future.