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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Janes’ Walk Previews May 7th and 8th 2011

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This year’s edition of Jane’s Walk Montreal features 25 neighbourhood explorations on May 7th and 8th.

Spacing Toronto recently interviewed Jane Farrow, the executive director of Jane’s Walk Toronto where the tradition began in 2007 to honour the legacy of Jane Jacobs. Farrow describes Jane’s Walks as “a way to celebrate neighbourhoods by getting locals to share their neighbourhood specific knowledge with interested parties. It also serves as a form of civic engagement by getting residents involved in their neighbourhood, or at minimum, thinking optimistically about civic engagement. Its other goals are to connect people, narrow social distance and increase social cohesion.”

The schedule of Montreal walks is hosted by the Urban Ecology Centre.

Here are a few that piqued my interest:

O Bairro Português de Montréal, hosted by local author Mary Soderstrom, explores the history and presence of the Portuguese community in the Plateau (she’s written a book on the topic, as well as a post here in Spacing Montreal).
Meet : Parc du Portugal, 4231 St-Laurent, Saturday May 7th (in English) or Sunday May 8th (in French) 11 h

Mégaprojets: retombées néfastes ou bénéfiques ? is hosted by the folks from CURA, a group affiliated with McGill’s urban planning department that has been involved in grassroots projects around the Turcot interchange and in the MUHC megahospital.
Meet : Métro Vendôme, near the 105 bus, Sunday May 8th at 13h

Montréal et le “Red Light”, looks at the red light district in Montreal from the glory days of prohibition to the present. The walk is led by Donovan King, who is close to the burlesque scene and was involved in the movement to save Café Cleo.
Meet : Midway Bar & Salon, 1219 boulevard Saint-Laurent, Sunday May 8th at 16h

Three different walks in Parc-Ex focus on the interplay of various immigrant communities in public space. Take your pick:

L’histoire sociale et religieuse de Parc-Extension, led by the Société d’histoire de Parc-Extension
Meet : Métro Parc (in front of the station), Saturday May 7th at 14h

Métissage urbain à Parc-Extension, led by Vrac Environnement / Éco-quartier Parc-Extension, in collaboration with the Comité citoyen de Parc-Extension
Meet : In front of Parc Metro (rue Hutchison), Saturday May 7th at 10h30

Immigration et occupation de l’espace dans un quartier urbain: le cas de Parc Ex, led by Regroupement en aménagement de Parc Extension (RAMPE)
Meet: Parc metro (in front of station), Sunday May 8th at 13h

But while immigrant communities have had an important hand in shaping most neighbourhoods in Montreal, many young LGTB flock to the Gay village in order to define themselves within the queer culture that is found there.

L’expérience des jeunes qui arrivent dans le village gai led by the Coalition jeunesse montréalaise de lutte à l’homophobie (bilingual) explores their impressions of the neighbourhood.
Meet : Corner Ste-Catherine et Amherst (in the park), Sunday May 8th at 13h30

A number of other walks focus on gardens, greenspace and food security, in NDG, Rosemont, downtown, the Plateau, and Villeray. I think it makes sense to stay close to home in order to be able to contribute one’s own knowledge of the neighbourhood and to meet other people who are equally passionate about community building.