Jane’s Walk: City Planning as Community-Engaged Scholarship
For the first time on May 4th & 5th, Providence will join 85 other cities around the world in celebrating Jane’s Walk—a festival of free walking tours led by locals about what matters to them in the places they live and work. Nate Storring is a first-year Public Humanities MA candidate who is serving as the Providence City Organizer for Jane's Walk. Read on!
Jane’s Walk celebrates the legacy of urban thinker Jane Jacobs by getting people out exploring their neighborhoods and meeting their neighbors. Jacobs first made a name for herself working as a writer in New York City, where she wrote her most famous work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She advocated for cities planned for and by people, as well as a holistic understanding of cities as complex living systems—the result of the intersecting plans and lives of many city dwellers—rather than as simple collections of buildings, streets, and statistics. Later in her life, Jacobs and her family moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she wrote several more books about economics and ethics in the urban realm.
When Jane Jacobs died in 2006, several of her close friends in Toronto initiated Jane’s Walk as a living memorial for her work. Rather than advocating her ideas as a one-size-fits-all dogma—which Jacobs despised—the Walks give a voice to the specific observations of local residents, whom she believed understand their cities best.
This year, Providence will host six walks around the city:
Saturday, May 4:
- 10:30am: Providence’s Jewelry District: An Important Historic Neighborhood in Transition Once Again
- 1:00pm: 40 Years in Providence
- 1:00pm: Making and Remaking Olneyville
Sunday, May 5:
- 10:00am: Smith Hill Saunter
- 12:30pm: Understanding a Northern Elmwood Neighborhood
- 2:00pm: Exploring the “Lively Experiment”: Religious Freedom and Providence’s Communities