“Place, home, and ‘roots’ are a fundamental human need and they
shape our cultural identity” (Butler 2001, 366).
Facilitator Jeb Kilbourn met with participants who planned the walking tour of Queer is in the Eye of the Newcomer. Similarly Jane Jacobs, writer and activist, was involved in grassroots organizing against development projects that were our of sync with the needs of neighborhoods. Visiting www.janeswalk.org allows you to lead a walk in your neighborhood. In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs wrote: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
The website reads: “Jacobs believed in walkable neighbourhoods, urban literacy, and cities planned for and by people. That is, for a city to work, the people who live there must be involved in decisions about how the city grows and is run. Staying informed about civic issues, learning the basic concepts of urban planning, and meeting the people who make the decisions are all good ways to do this — and are all things you can do on Jane’s Walks.”
Walk Guide Tips are applicable to the objective of my own manifesto that is centered around gentrification, and changes in the urban landscape of Los Angeles. A tip includes:
Plan a route: Photocopy a map of your proposed neighbourhood using our Create A Walk mapper. Think through the stories, places and people you want to talk about, then plot it out. […] Here are some questions to brainstorm that should help you figure out your route and highlights. What are some important meeting spaces in your neighbourhood? What spaces are you most proud of in your neighbourhood? What are some important green-spaces? What are some interesting short-cuts you take? Are shops and amenities accessible? Is it easy or possible to walk, bike, use transit or drive a car? Do any buildings have unusual marks or features? Are there any old buildings that have been reconfigured into different uses? Where do you feel most comfortable? Are there any important historical spaces in your neighbourhood? Where do you not feel safe? Why? What is a space that you really dislike? Are there any places that mix retail, business and residential? How do the buildings ‘interact’ with pedestrians at the street level? Are there spaces you would like to see change? Is there an important question or issue that people should talk about?
These are among the questions that will help me assess which parts of South Central Los Angeles I am going to plot on my map. Living in this part of LA for a short period of time, I was still privileged to seeing the changes that were taking place, the displacement of individuals and how spaces were changing causing individuals to move in and out of certain areas that were being renovated or changed. Jane’s Walks take place during early May. It will be interesting to check back with the website at that time and see what walks I can take part in.