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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Facebook Friday: Putting one foot in front of the other

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As the name suggests, every Friday Spacing profiles Facebook groups that are using the social network to articulate their experiences and share information about Toronto.

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Inasmuch as Torontonians differ culturally, socially, and economically, they all have one thing in common: they are all pedestrians. That is why I decided to search for Toronto-based Facebook groups that are dealing with the socio- political issues surrounding pedestrianism.

Groups such as Pedestrian Sundays Kensington and Pedestrain Sundays Baldwin Village, for example, are using the social network to promote monthly neighbourhood street festivals. By celebrating local community, culture, and ecology, these events help to engage and connect outside residents as well as change people´s preconceptions about our urban streets. Moreover, the fact that these events are being promoted as foot-friendly is encouraging Torontonians to slow down, enjoy the cityscape, and to talk to their fellow pedestrains; people that we often forget to acknowledge while bustling along the sidewalks.

Other groups are using Facebook to create and promote social get-togethers. Nature Walks & Walking Tour and Toronto Penguins Running Group, for instance, use Facebook to organize meeting places for like-minded foot patrollers. These groups, like so many others, are allowing Torontonians from around the city to get together and chat, be inadvertently acitve, and enjoy the urban scenery.

Personal pedestrainism doesn´t only benefit ones own health and happiness however. It can also be a means of supporting larger social causes. I support the Walk to Cure Jevenile Diabetes, Pride Run –> 5Km –> 3-legged and Backwards?!!, Relay for Life Walk, and Support Cindy and Tomarra’s 60km Weekend to End Breast Cancer Walk are but a few examples of how pedestrism is being made political and how Torontonians are taking action by literally being active.

Finally, groups such as I heart walking in the rain!, Extreme J-Walking, and Mysterious Phantom smells of Downtown Toronto; really! what the hell…. are simply having fun with Toronto´s foot culture. That being said, they reflect the larger cultural mosaic of people and lifestyles that hit our city´s pavement every day and the degree to which people are willing and able (thanks to netwoks such as Facebook) to express this fact.

photo by Bouke Salverda


One comment

  1. Don’t forget the groups which attack slow-walkers.

    At McMaster we had one about slow-walkers in the student centre, and I know I have seen similar groups for Toronto.