JANE’S WALKS MAKE COMMUNITY CONNECTION

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Design by imagineCALGARY
Story By Dorothy Markulis

Exhilarating!

That’s how Phyllis Jividen, Akron organizer for Jane’s Walk described last year’s premier event.

phyllisPhyllis Jividen

Jane’s Walks, slated for May 1st, 2nd and 3rd this year, are a variety of volunteer-led urban walks which encourage community participation and provide an opportunity for the average citizen to make suggestions to make the area better.

“This is the second year for Jane’s Walk,” said Jividen. “Last year we had three walks with more than 60 participants.”

This year a dozen walks are planned for May 1st, 2nd and 3rd just in Summit County.

Pre-registration is not necessary, just visit Janeswalk.org/akron for a list of walks and times and where the walks will begin.


The goal for Jane’s Walk?

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“Promoting a more pedestrian friendly environment in the Greater Akron area,” declared Jividen.

Although Jividen did not lead a walk last year, she participated in each of the three walks presented.

“It was so exhilarating. I just felt the group was very involved. People said they saw things they never saw before,” Jividen said.

 

JaneJane Jacobs

Jane’s Walk, an international event, began in 2007 in Toronto, Canada, in honor of Jane Jacobs, urbanist and author of “The Death & Life of Great American Cities”. She wrote that “cities can provide something for everybody when they are created by everybody.”

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Thus, the participation walks were born.

Jane’s Walk in Akron is co-sponsored by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) and the Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP).

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According to Jividen, the walks have created an opportunity for people to speak openly and share ideas for improving the pedestrian presence in the community through better connectivity.

Jividen, a transportation planner with AMATS, deals primarily with bike / pedestrian programs.

“For the last few years we have been encouraging and promoting connectivity,” she said.

Art Walk
She said the walks are an important piece of building neighborhood cohesion.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the walks,” she added.

Jividen said she is encouraged by the response of the community to Jane’s Walk.

Arts & Culture Walk #3

“It’s been very successful. It’s making the Akron area more vibrant. It’s really exciting when you realize we’ve gone from three walks last year to a dozen this year,” Jividen explained.

 

GinaBurkGina Burk

Gina Burk, co-owner of Accent Communications, was so impressed with last year’s Jane’s Walk that she is tackling the leadership of her own walk May 2nd at noon, starting at the Mustill Store at Cascade Park on North Street on Akron’s north end.

She will lead the Canaltown Eco District walk.

“It’s the front door to the national park,” Burk said. “It’s a pretty special spot.”

The spot is very special to Burk’s heart, as well.

Arts & Culture Walk #2
“I worked with developers over the years as they have been developing the broader district for community, environmental and economic benefit,” Burk explained.

Last year she took the Jane’s Walk led by Dan Rice along Lock 3 and 4.

“What impressed me was the history,” she said.

History Walk #1
Burk said she became initially became interested in Jane’s Walk through AMATS’ Jason Segedy and Jividen who also are part of the Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability (GAINS).

“We love AMATS,” Burk said. “They put their money where their mouths are. They have a plan.”

Burk is big into building green and sustainability. She is the sustainability and brand alignment coach for GAINS.

On the May 2nd walk, Burk said she wants to share the design criteria for the district based on New Urbanism principles and experience the connection to nature for the neighborhood that was envisioned.

“Most importantly (I want to) highlight the value of a high walkability score to community health and vitality,” Burk concluded.

TomCrainTom Crain

Tom Crain, known as the Goin’ Green Guy, also has embraced the Jane’s Walk concept, so much so that he is leading one of the walks in Akron’s West Hill area – the West Hill Eco-Walk.

“This ties in perfectly with our eco-village district plan,” Crain said. “The walk will show the vision of our eco area.”

KarenKaren Edwards

His walk, co-led by Karen Edwards, will begin at the Glendale steps and focus on that area, featuring St. Vincent-St.Mary High School and several new sustainable, going green businesses in the area.

“It’s a small geographical area and the walk will take about an hour,” Crain advised.

Crain, who is a relative newcomer to Akron coming here five years ago from Minnesota, became involved with Jane’s Walk after attending a meeting promoting involvement in the neighborhood.

“I’ve always been plugged into sustainability, but I didn’t know anything about this (Jane’s Walk) but it’s the perfect way to promote a neighborhood and revitalize it,” Crain declared.

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Topics for this year’s walks include:

1.  The inside scoop on engineering
2.  Dancing in the streets of Akron
3.  South Akron – the good, the bad and the beautiful
4.  A walk through history
5.  West hill eco walk
6.  Firestone Park
7.  Canaltown eco district
8.  Walk through Wallhaven
9.  Kenmore – yesterday, today and tomorrow
10.  Nature and placemaking in the city
11.  Portage Lakes – the past, present and future
12.  Walk through Highland Square

Visit www.janeswalk.org/akron for details.

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