Walking in the Motor City: Live Love Detroit Jane’s Walk

Post by Joe Rashid,  ioby Detroit Action Strategist

Detroit is known as the Motor City; here the car is king. With the city spread out in 139 square miles of single family homes, walking and public transportation are sometime   seen as an afterthought. Freeways divide the city, making  distinct physical and social borders between neighborhoods that can be difficult to overcome. In recent years, however, many Detroiters   have begun to  push for   walkability and functional mass transit. There is an increasing demand for both as access to goods and services at times are few and far between.

To Madhavi Reddy, walking and functioning transit just make sense as key elements to creating a healthy community. Four years ago, Madhavi moved   to Detroit from Toronto, where she had been working   to build cooperatives, organize immigrant communities and lead Jane’s Walks. In Toronto there are hundreds of these citizen-organized, citizen-led neighborhood  walking tours   each year on the first weekend in May. Madhavi partnered with her neighbors Mark Loeb and Vickie Elmer to bring Jane’s Walks to Detroit in 2012. Since then, they’ve grown the program into  Live Love Detroit Jane’s Walk , a city-wide event taking place annually  on the same weekend as walks in Toronto, New York, and dozens of other cities across the US and Canada.


Jane’s Walks  celebrate the life and work of  Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and   native New Yorker who famously worked with her neighbors to stop Robert Moses’s freeway system from dividing Manhattan. Walking was one of her most powerful organizing tools: She was able to change sentiments by simply taking people on walking tours of neighborhoods, to get them to see the value of a walkable space, observe the streetlife,  and hear stories from neighbors   along the way.

In Detroit, where walking can sometimes seem like a forgotten art, these Jane’s Walks around the city are doing something very powerful: they’re helping   Detroiters imagine   how neighborhoods can once again be walkable centers. Walks will be led by residents, community organizers, youth, and neighbors all over the city. These  events  are meant to showcase a side to Detroit that is often missing from the dominant narrative surrounding the city.They’re   a great way to meet neighbors, and experience a new part of the city  or to  see your own neighborhood   through a different lens.

There are as many stories about each neighborhood as there are people, and hearing directly  from the  citizen leaders of the walks is  one of   the most valuable things anyone can do to gain perspective.


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The Jane’s Walk weekend in Detroit  has grown from one walk four years ago to   eleven walks this year happening all over the city. Because of all this success, this is  the   first year the event has grown large  enough that it needs logistical and promotional support. With the recent launch of ioby Detroit, the timing was right for Madhavi and her fellow organizers to launch   an ioby campaign to raise money – just over $1,000 – and  awareness about the walks.

For a citizen-planned, citizen-led series of events meant to celebrate neighborhoods, we think  ioby is  a perfect match, and we’re proud to support Live Love Detroit Jane’s Walk.  We hope you will support this  great project too!