Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reminder: This weekend is Jane's Walks

Jane's Walks in Toronto.

Explore the city, meet the neighbours hear the stories and share your thoughts. All walks are free and open to the public, just show up at the meeting location and join in.

The ones I'm thinking of attending are below. It seems like a really good year... some overlap, but it's still gonna be a bit of a cut-show with some tough choices. Any other ones jump out at you?


Saturday morning options:

Dufferin Grove Park and its friends
Saturday, 11 to 7, and I'm sure later.

Park friends will be stationed in various parts of the park—at the bake ovens (baking), the marsh fountain (with gardening), the cob courtyard (working on the cob wall), the adventure playground (junior builders), the park clubhouse (with early-days accounts), the outdoor rink (playing ball-hockey and skateboarding), the campfire circles (cooking over the fire), the puppetry fieldhouse (building puppets), and in many of the other places where things happen at the park.

This Jane’s Walk tour will run as a wandering self-guided tour that you can do at your own pace by visiting the various ‘stations’ in the park.

There are two walks, 11 to 1 and 4 to 6. Plus there's pizza-making at the oven from 12 to 2, and a campfire with good farmers' market food from 5 to 7. As well, Isabel Peres, the park's first campfire cook, has agreed to come back and cook Guatemalan dobladas at the campfire beginning in late morning. (Isabel is in the little 1994 park movie) that's linked on the website.

This walk is especially suitable for three kinds of people: (1) children, (2) hands-on, how-to, DIY people and (3) people who want to talk about community engagement in public spaces. To get a map of the ‘stations’ go to


Saturday afternoon.
King West: Exploring Pedestrian Infrastructure
Guided by Dylan Reid (Dylan Reid is co-chair of the Toronto Pedestrian Committee, and a senior editor at Spacing magazine.)
Saturday 2pm, 2 hours.

Our walking experience is shaped by a whole range of infrastructure that we hardly notice. This walk will be an opportunity to delve into the details of the city that affect our walking, for better and for worse - curb radii, curb cuts, pedestrian countdowns, crosswalk rules, desire lines, tree pits, pedestrian clearways, sidewalk boulevards, and more. And we will talk about the city policies and politics that govern these details.

The Other King
Guided by John Gillanders and Christian Huggett
Saturday 2pm, 2.5 hours.

Trace the past with us as we walk through the King/Parliament neighbourhoods...
The King-Parliament area comprises Corktown, Moss Park, St. Lawrence, West Don Lands, and the original Old City of Toronto, settled by John Simcoe in the 1700s. Many of the buildings in this area are designated heritage buildings or are of historic significance.

360 degrees – Grange Park as a time machine
Guided by Max Allen
Saturday 5pm, 1.5 hours.

The focus is on the invisible civic processes behind the visible architectural facades. The structures, built between 1817 and 2009, include The Grange (a Georgian manor house) and the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Anglican church of St. George the Martyr, the historic row houses of Beverley Street, University Settlement, the early RCMP headquarters, the concrete apartment tower at 50 Stephanie, two condominium complexes (Village by the Grange and the Phoebe, which was built on the site of one of Toronto’s first Negro churches), the Ontario College of Art and Design, and the park’s crowning glory: a vandalized public washroom.



Neighbourhoods 101: Theories of Place-based Community Organization
Guided by Diane Dyson
Sunday 9:30am, 1.5 hours

Wandering through one Toronto neighbourhood, this walk will explore the practical applications of sociological and political theories at a local community-level.

How are urban disorder and collective efficacy connected? How were Toronto’s priority neighbourhood areas identified and what’s a better alternative? How does “third place” improve dense social networks or “CIM”? And what does game theory have to do with gentrification?

\\ OR below, \\

Queen and Spadina - 100 Years Ago
Guided by Steve Brearton
Sunday 10am, 1.5 hours.

This community isn’t the vision of utopian planners or earnest environmentalists. It exists in Toronto. Or rather existed. One hundred years ago, the group of streets that bordered on Ogden Junior Public School near Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue offered residents the opportunity to work, shop, play and prosper.

In fact, the 100 or so houses that lined Bulwer Ave., Soho and Phoebe streets and Spadina boasted access to services and resources we can only dream of today. In an era when walking was the norm, proximity was the way neighbourhoods were organized.

So today, as we cast our eyes increasingly outward for models of sustainability, perhaps we would do better to explore the local villages that thrived in our midst.


So, gonna try to make the Diane Dyson walk just to for this:

Corridors of Power
Guided by Jonathan Goldsbie
Sunday 11am, 2 hours.

There are a handful of individuals and organizations that exert disproportionate influence on Toronto’s municipal politics and on its elections in particular. And, lucky for us, most of their offices happen to be within a few blocks of each other. Power brokers, fundraisers, lobbyists, and the convenors of the rich and connected — there’s value in associating these abstract forces with concrete locations (even if we aren’t actually able to go inside a lot of them).

What are the Economic Club, Empire Club, and Albany Club? What’s the deal with the Toronto Board of Trade? And why did certain power players choose to coalesce around Adam Giambrone? We’ll be charting out the key events and turning points of the election thus far, on top of the small grid that is the Financial District.

Sunday afternoon is another tough one.

Lanes of Runnymede
Guided by Madeleine McDowell, local historian
Sunday 1pm, 2 hours

The lanes of my father’s childhood and my own, some of the barns, a pigeon coop, dairy remnants; the recollections inspired by the back alleyways of a child’s life and the magic of youthful imagination along with a few historical photographs: across Jane Street the beginnings of one of the most important Voyages of Discovery in North American History, an Aboriginal site and a Designated Heritage Tree that makes a poet’s heart beat happier and another lane.

+: I also partially grew up on Annette near Runnymede and have almost no knowledge of it.


Soraren-Wabash Railway Loop
Guided by Doug Bennet, Chair, Wabash Building Society, and special guests
Sunday 1pm, 1.5 hours.

The walk will start at the corner of Sorauren and Wabash avenues, at the southwest entrance to Sorauren Avenue Park. You’ll learn about the history of the park and the street itself (it wasn’t always called Sorauren) before we head north to begin exploring the area’s colourful industrial past.

The railway corridor cuts through this area and we’ll explore the 150-year history of the railroads, up to the present-day Railpath development and the controversy over the Metrolinx diesel train plan.

More industrial history awaits along Lansdowne, then to Wabash, where the tour will conclude with an update on the proposed Wabash Community Centre situated in a 100-year-old linseed oil factory… what promises to become the greenest community centre in Toronto if not all of Canada.

or, depending on timing...
St. James Town SEED Walk: Safe Engaged Environments-Disability
Guided by SEED Project Staff
Sunday 2pm, 2 hours.

You will hear stories about the original development of St. James Town, North America’s largest social housing building, access and safety as well as what might be the very last of Sherbourne’s chestnut trees, all portrayed from the perspective of residents with disabilities.

You never know what stories exist in your own back yard until you ask people, and this is a perfect opportunity.


Chicken Fat Perambulation
Guided by Adam Sobolak
Sunday 4pm, 2 hours.

A project consisting of a series of 2-hour guided walks up Yonge Street. The end point for one becomes the starting point for the next. Ultimate destination: Steeles. Guided by the awkward, imperfect soul of the city; the awkward, imperfect soul of ourselves; the awkward, imperfect soul of pure chance.

A touch of architecture, a touch of history, a touch of psychogeography, a touch of urban exploration, a whole lot of psychodrama, in a way that only Adam Sobolak—onetime CIUT late-night fixture, executive member of the Toronto Architectural Conservancy, and all-around urban gadfly (not to mention author of the immortal “Pioneers Of Modern Design: From Britney Spears To Christina Aguilera”)—can manage. Don’t expect the over-authoritative or over-systematic; it’s one continuous interactively animated sensual shimmering urban riff and vamp.

... and then collapse.
Other possibles: (Sat. 10:30, 1.5 hr. Adam Vaughn)

It may rain (so far) Saturday and Sunday, but warm as well. Bring
an umbrella, some coffee, and see you there. I'm also up for a patio beer inbetween walks if you're out and about.

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