Jane Jacobs: An Icon for Citizen Action

Verdun's Jane Walk on May 6 begins here at 10 a.m.

As Quebec students prove that lots of people can make change together, it’s worth talking about an extraordinary woman who inspired a series of great walks this weekend.

Jane Jacobs was an urban activist who believed that cities are ecosystems with their own logic and dynamism that changes over time according to how they are used. She was born on May 7, 1916 and died in 2006, but her birthday is still celebrated through citizen-led walks all around the world.

In her most famous work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which was first published in 1961 and reworked in 1992, Jacob’s argued that local residents should have more say over their environment and pedestrians should be able to move easily throughout any city. She also argued in favour of reusing old buildings instead of tearing them down and said that human-sized density instead of sprawl was a priority.

Janes’ Walks are designed to make citizens more active in ensuring that they have a say over what happens in the neighbourhoods they love.

In Montreal, the Urban Ecology Centre (http://www.urbanecology.net/walks) promoted a series of 50 walks, many of which happened today. There are still 23 happening tomorrow though, including one by Véronique Landry along the shoreline of Verdun. It begins at 10 a.m. from Montreal island’s oldest country home, the Maison Nivard de Saint-Dizier, a two-storey stone cottage built by Gilbert Maillet for the Congregation of Notre Dame nuns in 1710. It ends with a picnic at 11:30 a.m. at Parc Monseigneur J.-A. Richard.

 

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Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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