Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Walk with Jane

Bright sun. Spring buds and blossom. A happy crowd 100+ strong. And Belleville's first Jane's Walk enters into history. Our history. And it seems there are a lot of folks ready to celebrate the history, the vigour, the people and the potential of our downtown. Volunteer guides, volunteer helpers, volunteer organizers, a volunteer ASL interpreter, and a warm handful of speakers representing artists, downtown property/business owners, historians, and folks with challenges spoke to the need for inclusive down-towns with a human scale.

Jane Jacobs, a strong voice for 'neighbourhoods' during the 1960's slash and burn days of urban renewal in places like New York City (think about NYC without Greenwich Village) and Toronto (she's the woman who stopped the Spadina Expressway). We lost Jane in 2006. We need her and her ilk more than ever. Hundreds of Jane's Walks take place each year. Thanks to the volunteer organizers of Belleville's first ever Jane's Walk, for making those voices heard in our town on May 4, 2013.

For a little while, their voices drowned out the down-town-opposed whiners who inhabit Walmarts of the world, who wander the malls looking for diversion. For us downtowners, the day provided some exercise, some comradeship, some new information, and a feeling of pride. A walk to the market later, some farm-raised garlic and great visits with folks who power art at The CORE Centre left me feeling optimistic and proud. Jane was right.

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