Walk through time

Jane’s Walk helps res­i­dents learn and ex­plore Syd­ney

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY JEREMY FRASER CAPE BRETON POST jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

Jane’s Walk helps res­i­dents learn and ex­plore Syd­ney.

Mary Dob­son al­ways wanted to learn more about the his­tory of her com­mu­nity and that’s just what she did Satur­day.

The Syd­ney res­i­dent was among 30 peo­ple who at­tended this year’s Jane’s Walk, a cit­i­zen­led ur­ban walk­ing tour in­spired by the work of Jane Ja­cobs. The walk, which takes place across the world each year, is aimed to bring peo­ple to­gether to ex­plore, talk about and cel­e­brate their neigh­bour­hoods.

The Syd­ney event was no dif­fer­ent with walk­ers stop­ping in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the city to learn more about its his­tory.

“I knew it was go­ing to be in­ter­ested to learn about the city,” said Dob­son. “I’m learn­ing about my own com­mu­nity, not to men­tion be­ing out and en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful sunny day.”

The two-hour walk started at the mon­u­ment to the orig­i­nal Mem­ber­tou com­mu­nity off Kings Road, near the Syd­ney Med­i­cal Arts build­ing, then con­tin­ued up Kings Road, mak­ing stops at dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions

be­fore end­ing at the Mer­chant Mariner mon­u­ment on the board­walk.

“I was quite im­pressed with the mon­u­ment where they moved the Mem­ber­tou com­mu­nity,” said Dob­son. “I had never seen the mon­u­ment be­fore, so I was re­ally in­ter­ested to hear about the move that was forced upon the peo­ple to move to their cur­rent lo­ca­tion.”

Paul Mac­Dougall, who has been or­ga­niz­ing the event in Syd­ney for the past three years, said he con­tin­ues to have the walk each year be­cause peo­ple like it.

“There has been a lot of in­ter­est, es­pe­cially now with the dis­cus­sion of the down­town maybe be­ing de­vel­oped up and new things hap­pen­ing as a more pos­i­tive vibe — now is the time to talk more about it and show things to peo­ple they may not know,” he said.

“It shows in­ter­est­ing stuff in the com­mu­nity that you may not re­al­ize. This isn’t re­ally a for­mal thing — it’s sort of a re­laxed kind of thing — but has peo­ple lead­ing it and guid­ing it. It’s all about ed­u­ca­tion.”

Jane Ja­cobs was an ur­ban­ist and ac­tivist whose writ­ings of­fered a fresh, com­mu­nity-based ap­proach to city build­ing. She had no train­ing as a plan­ner, but her 1961 trea­tise, “The Death and Life of Great Amer­i­can Cities,” in­tro­duced ground­break­ing ideas about how cities func­tion, evolve and fail. Ja­cob’s died in April 2006. Mac­Dougall would like to see more com­mu­ni­ties be­come in­volved in the an­nual Jane’s Walk event, not­ing it would be nice to see walks in Glace Bay, New Water­ford and the North­side, as well as other com­mu­ni­ties.

“Ev­ery com­mu­nity has some­thing neat and some­thing in­ter­est­ing to see,” said Mac­Dougall. “The more you do, the more you see, the more you learn about your com­mu­nity, the bet­ter it is for you.”

Mac­Dougall said he is plan­ning to have Jane’s Walk next year in Syd­ney. Any­one in­ter­ested in help­ing or­ga­nize the event or want­ing more in­for­ma­tion is asked to email Mac­Dougall at paul_­mac­dougall@cbu.ca.


Paul Mac­Dougall, Jane’s Walk or­ga­nizer, right, speaks to a group of 30 peo­ple who par­tic­i­pate in this year’s Jane’s Walk event on Satur­day. The group is pic­tured learn­ing about the his­tory of Syd­ney on the city’s board­walk.


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