Jane’s Walk “Power, People & Possibilities”

GetLeadOutBen 1

Social and Environmental Justice in South Riverdale, Leslieville and Riverside

Saturday May 2 11:00 am Meet at the Dark Horse (630 Queen Street E. @ Carroll Street.) The walk stops at five spots in the community and lasts about 1.5  hours 

Jane’s Walks 2015 are  walking tours that build community by getting  neighbours together and by discussing local urban issues.  There are about 200 Jane’s Walks in the Greater Toronto Area during a three day Jane’s Walk Festival May 1-3. Other cities in other parts of the world are doing walks too. See Jane’s Walks

I’ll be one of the “special guests”  of  Councillor Paula Fletcher. First you will visit two parks and the Ralph Thornton Centre and then head  to the church-yard of the Queen St. E. Presbyterian Church (Queen St E. at Carlaw Ave.) beside the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. It’s not a long walk from the coffee shop to the finish. I will look forward to chatting with you about the  “get the lead out” struggle and success.

To me Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) has been a legend who I have looked up to for 50 years. She authored many books including The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In 1968, she left the United States and settled in Toronto.

At that time, John Phillips and I had a gallery on Baldwin Street just two blocks south of the University of Toronto. Jane Jacob sent students to interview us about our attitude towards wide sidewalks. Really, I had never thought about sidewalks one way or another. But after living on the street and being asked by different students, I became aware of the importance of sidewalks to the building of  our very tight community on Baldwin Street.  I  awed Jane Jacobs as she voice her opinions and took on many of  our city’s planning and transportation issues.  She kept questioning and challenging throughout her life.

It is a delight to be asked by Paula Fletcher to be a “special guest” on a Jane’s Walk within our neighbourhood . Paula asked me because I became obsessed with pollution and health from a lead smelter (Canada Metals). It took almost the entire community of South Riverdale to get involved, to get the children’s blood tested, pollution control devices installed, contaminated soil replaced, and houses and schools cleaned. But then when this was all done, the company wanted to expand.  So don’t get me started. I’ll start ranting about the company not paying for the clean up. They finally closed and the film industry is on the site.

Enough said. Join a Jane’s Walk.  Not everybody is as lead obsessed as me. So check out the others. You may prefer skateboarding in the financial district.