Walk21, the annual international conference on all things walking and pedestrian, is taking place in Toronto next week (Oct. 1-4). The program is full of interesting sessions, but unfortunately it is out of reach for most citizens — the conference is mainly aimed at professionals, and the registration fees are prohibitive.
Fortunately, to encourage citizen involvement, the City of Toronto has helped to encourage a whole series of community events around the conference, including special events and pre-conference workshops.
The special events include:
Walking Life — a art exhibition themed around walking that opened in early September. There is one more week to see it: it is open 12-5 every day on the 3rd floor of the Gladstone Hotel, until Wednesday October 3.
Streets to Screens — a set of films about walking, showing Tuesday Oct. 2 at 7:00 pm at the Bloor Cinema, sponsored by the Toronto Public Space Committee.
The Great Queen Street Psychogeographic Walk — a walk along Queen Street from Roncesvalles to the RC Harris Filtration Plant, starting Sunday Sept. 30 at 2:00 pm at at the Queen, King and Roncesvalles intersection, sponsored by Spacing magazine and the Toronto Psychogeography Society.
You can also warm up to the walking theme by taking part in Nuit Blanche on the night of Sept. 29 and the Sept. 30 Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market.
There are also a whole series of workshops being prepared around the conference, several of which are open to the public. Here are three that I am planning to attend:
Our Streets — inserting oneself into the municipal process: a discussion for the everyday person on how to bring pedestrian change to their neighbourhood. Sponsored by TCAT, featuring Paul Bedford, the former Director of Planning for the City of Toronto; Janice Etter, a citizen activist who will talk about the campaign that led to the ban on new drive-thrus; and Paul Hess, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography/Program in Planning at the University of Toronto.
Sunday September 30, 1:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.
Cecil Street Community Centre, 58 Cecil Street
Getting out of the Box: An Introduction to Cultural Revolution and The Anatomy of Pedestrian Zones — a lively presentation followed by panel discussion, by Streets are for People!
Monday October 1, 4:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.
Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Room 302n
â€˜Re-Imagining Our Streets’ Design Charette, sponsored by Streets are for People (taking place right after Streets to Screens, above).
Tuesday October 2nd — 9pm to Midnight
Tranzac Club — 292 Brunswick
In other words, even without attending the conference, there are plenty of events to get citizens thinking about walking and working for a better pedestrian city.
photo by Adam Krawesky