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CityMakers: Jane’s Mob will bring together people to launch this year’s Jane’s Walk

By Nickie Shobeiry on May 1, 2018

Nickie Shobeiry is Apt613’s correspondent at Synapcity, Ottawa non-profit for civic engagement, connecting people across diverse communities to share perspectives and create positive change.

Jane’s Mob, the festival launching Jane’s Walk, is happening on Thursday, May 3rd at Parkdale Market Park, bringing people together to celebrate their space. There’ll be storytelling about Hintonburg, live music, speakers, a scavenger hunt, art installations, lawn games – and more!

The idea for Jane’s Mob started during Synapcity’s Kitchissippi Talks in January. A group of CityMakers dreamt up a placemaking event. Now it’s happening – and you’re invited!

In that group was Dennis Van Staalduinen, Executive Director of the Wellington West BIA and seasoned Jane’s Walker. Reflecting on Kitchissippi Talks, Dennis recalled, “It was an amazing group of really cool people, sharing ideas about making their community better. The group I was in worked towards the idea of celebrating a public space by taking a Jane’s Walk and turning it inside out. By the time [Kitchissippi Talks] was over, we had our basic plan and we pitched it to Jane’s Walk!”

Also at Kitchissippi Talks was Alex Enkerli – ethnographer, anthropologist and more. “If you look at the event, it includes everything we were talking about during Kitchissippi Talks!”

Alex is also a saxophone player, and will be playing music at Jane’s Mob. “It’s not meant to be just a performance – it’s having fun with sounds while people are gathering.” Also playing music is Kitchissippi Talks alumni Ken Hoffman, partner at One World Inc.

“Part of creating community is creating opportunities for people to join together, have fun together,” Ken said. “Music can be an important part of that. Unfortunately, we have come to see music, and art in general, as ‘spectator sports’ where we might gather to watch others perform. There’s a growing movement of community-based art that is centred much more on participation, and that’s what I’m hoping to contribute to Jane’s Mob.”

There’s a growing movement of community-based art that is centred much more on participation, and that’s what I’m hoping to contribute to Jane’s Mob.— Ken Hoffman, musician

Dennis will be giving a talk about neighbourhood names. “Parkdale Market exists in a really weird space between different areas of Ottawa,” he began. “It’s in a grey zone. I like to play around with how people perceive and name the places around them, and how that changes how they interact with it.”

For Alex, he hopes that people will leave with the sense that the space belongs to them, as a community. “Jane’s Mob is inclusive. It’s not about showing up, talking at people – it’s about engaging with people.”

The amazing Jane’s Walk Organising Committee are behind making Jane’s Mob a reality. On the team is writer Courtney Symons. “It’s going to be the most beautiful kind of mayhem you can imagine,” Courtney said. “I’m really excited about the multitude of voices who will be a part of this event, and the best kind of craziness you can imagine. Organised chaos, though!”

For Courtney, Jane’s Walk was what familiarized her with urban planning. “I went in so totally blind to the topic but I’ve been welcomed with open arms, and I’ve learnt so much. My hope is that people will be inspired to get out in their communities. Maybe they’ll meet someone they’ve never met before, and get excited about the city that they live in.”

It was Angela Plant who introduced Courtney to Jane’s Walk. Not native to Ottawa, Angela realised she didn’t know much about its history and quirks. A lover of travel, she said, “I stumbled upon Jane’s Walk and realised it was a great way to explore my own city and have the curious eye that you have when you travel. Sometimes it’s not really about the city, but rather the perspective to being open to the city, and what it has to teach you.”

Reflecting on Jane’s Mob, Angela said, “I hope people will leave with a renewed appreciation – or a new appreciation! – for Kitchissippi. Like with all the Jane’s Walks, I hope people will feel connected to their city.”

It’s hard to imagine it will be anything but, especially with CityMakers like Leigh Thorpe working towards just that. Leigh has been a part of Jane’s Walk since it expanded from Toronto to Ottawa in 2007. “My underlying motivation [with Jane’s Walk] is to try to foster local democracy, to get people talking to each other, so they recognize their common needs and goals, to work together to achieve them.”

Jane Jacobs inspired and empowered citizens to connect to their space – and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Jane’s Mob.

Jane’s Walk is a festival of free walking tours happening in cities all over the world including Ottawa-Gatineau on May 5 and 6. Jane’s Mob is happening on Thursday, May 3rd, 6-8pm at Parkdale Market Park. Event is free – register here. Follow Jane’s Walk Ottawa on Twitter, Facebook and online for more.