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Sep. 20, 2021 | Monday
Local News
Community hosts Jane's Walk in Chautauqua
Jo-Ann Fraser and Dawn Orr walk down the streets of Chautauqua which is set to host the first Jane's Walk Niagara. (Niagara Now/Jessica Maxwell)

Two Chautauqua neighbours have come together to organize the first annual Jane’s Walk Niagara, a community-led event focused on education and connecting neighbours.

Jo Anne Fraser and Dawn Orr decided to organize the Jane’s Walk, modelled after annual walks held in communities around the world, in honour of urban writer and activist Jane Jacobs.

The walk will take place on Thursday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. starting at Ryerson Park, rain or shine, with speakers on subjects that help residents understand the area in new ways.

Historian Rick Meloen will focus on the history of Chautauqua and Kyra Simone, an environmental scientist and Lake Report environmental columnist, will discuss citizen science and some of the native wildlife.

Ecologist Adam Martin will explain the biodiversity of Chautauqua’s urban forest, while Brian and Marilyn Crow, owners of the Howland House on Wilberforce Avenue, will talk about the home, which is one of the three original Victorian houses left in Chautauqua.

“We have a great cast of characters,” Orr said.

Jane’s Walk aims to help people share stories about their neighbourhoods, use walking to connect with their neighbours and learn more about the community they live in.

“We both love Chautauqua and it has such a rich history, so it's a perfect little pocket to do the walk,” Orr said.

Fraser said she first heard about the event three years ago after a friend in Toronto went on a Jane’s Walk.

“She told me a little bit about it, and she'd done walks for years around her neighbourhood, but there were certain things (in the area) that she had no idea they had any kind of historical background. She said it was fun,” Fraser said.

“I thought it would be really fun in Niagara, in a way of really building community. There is a substantive community here, but we just wanted to bring people together.”

Jane’s Walk festivals are hosted in hundreds of cities around the world, normally in May each year. The organizers decided that it would be best to wait until later in the year to host the first walk in NOTL.

“When COVID hit, we couldn't do anything. And now moving forward, with COVID-19 hopefully behind us, we thought this fall would be a good opportunity,” Fraser said.

Having community members connect during the walk and be a part of the conversation is the main objective, Orr said.

“As you move through, it's a chance to meet people. To ask, 'Where do you live?' and everybody kind of has a story around here,” Orr said.

More details about the free event can be found on the Jane's Walk Niagara Facebook page and people are asked to register through the event link to obtain their free ticket.

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