Brandon Anderegg

The Return of Jane’s Walk

Second annual event inspired by Jane Jacobs offers many activities.

By - Apr 27th, 2017 07:12 pm
Jane Jacobs. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Jane Jacobs. Photo is in the Public Domain.

The international walking festival known as Jane’s Walk will be celebrated in various Milwaukee neighborhoods starting Thursday, May 4.

Travel back in time to the early days of Walker’s Point and its renaissance with the polymathic guide Michael Horne. Explore Milwaukee’s historical context with the Brew City Safari walk or embark on a five-mile art justice trail. A full list of walks can be found here.

The first walk of several throughout the weekend will take off from the Plankinton Building Rotunda at 2 p.m. with a tour led by local architect Chris Socha. The walk will stop at various locations as it snakes through the city’s Downtown. Socha will pose the question of how people feel in differently built environments, according to the website.

Oh and it’s not too late to be a leader. You can lead a Jane’s Walk in your own neighborhood here.

These citizen-led walking tours, inspired by urbanist, activist and writer Jane Jacobs, are a collective movement celebrated in over 200 cities. As the revolutionary author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs is known for her lessons and ideas about how cities function and the importance of residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop.

A Jane’s Walk is actually more of a walking conversation than a tour. While each walk has a leader and a corresponding theme, discussion and participation among walkers is encouraged.

Going on a Jane’s Walk means getting to know your neighbors, meeting new people and making friends. It means learning basic concepts of urban planning and staying informed about civic issues. Conversations can be laid back or they can be serious. You can revel in the things that work in your neighborhood or you can critique the things that do not.

The timing for this event couldn’t be better, as the new documentary on Jacobs, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, is getting considerable discussion nationally.

In her book, Jacobs wrote: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

The 2nd annual Milwaukee Jane’s Walk is organized by Katharina Hren and Julilly Kohler. Kohler says that a Jane’s Walk is about creative place making and sharing ideas about what other neighborhoods have done.

“It’s like giving yourself vocabulary and experience so you look at your own neighborhood with a fresh look,” says Kohler. “It makes you a more sophisticated consumer of public spaces.”

As a kickoff event to Jane’s Walk and the Wisconsin Bike Summit, Socha’s walking tour will build off a presentation delivered at Turner Hall on Wednesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. The presentation will discuss the application of Architect Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language analysis of the urban environment and how it can help people look at and assess their own neighborhoods, according to the website.

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