The global initiative of Jane's Walk is inspired by activist and urban studies scholar, Jane Jacobs. In her practice Jacobs emphasized that cities should be shaped by the residents that occupy them and Jane’s Walks provide opportunities for people to tell the stories of the spaces where they live, work and play while also building new relationships within their communities.
Founded following her death in 2006 by friends and colleagues, this program provides materials and resources for any community to develop, lead and facilitate a walk in their community. The walks are meant to initiate conversations about place and civic engagement while also sharing new narratives about how neighborhoods are activated by the people within them.
These citizen-led walking tours are open ended in structure and can be adapted to the region or facilitators as needed. Person’s interested in participating can search the website to see if a walking tour has been led in a neighborhood near them already and contact a regional organizer, or they can initiate a new walking program in their neighborhood. Examples of past Jane’s Walks include a tour by two brothers showing their favorite spots in a local park, a city counselor talking about a proposed construction site and a tour of vacant movie theaters in Santos, Brazil.
All of the Jane’s Walks are documented and posted on their website. Facilitators can write blogs about their experiences, connect with other facilitators or submit photos and written reflections to the annually published Jane’s Walk Annual. The website offers numerous supports for cities, schools and individuals interested in starting their own Jane’s Walk including presentation slide decks, webinar trainings and resource kits. The program offers a fun way for participants of all types to engage with their city and a global network of civic activists.