To embody urban activist Jane Jacobs’ legacy by organizing free, resident-led neighborhood explorations and building community connections through
observation and dialogue,
education and storytelling, and
collectively reimagining and changing the places in which Milwaukeeans live, work, and play.
We envision a Milwaukee that has, to borrow from Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, “the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, [it is] created by everybody.”
In 2018, we led off the month of May with a grand kick-off celebration at the home at Milwaukee Turners, then explored the city with 36 walks, bikes, and paddles. From Westlawn Gardens in the north to Lincoln Avenue in the south, from Hawthorn Glen in the west to Milwaukee's East Side, more than 900 registrants, including eight business improvement districts participated.
Join us in May 2019 as Jane's Walk MKE helps change the way we not only explore and see the city but also the way we tell its story.
The Milwaukee Turners have played a central role in Milwaukee’s political and social landscape for over 160 years. The Turners remain dedicated more than ever to fostering the health of body and mind through a vast array of diverse programs in physical education, public forums, music and art events. The organization’s principle-driven mission has provided physical education standards, social justice and political reform for the Milwaukee community since the society’s beginnings in the late 1840′s.
Like the Turners, whose founder prepared youth for resistance to Napoleonic domination, and later for other anti-democratic forms of government, our namesake Jane Jacobs fought for the liberty of ordinary citizens to build the cities in which they live, work, and play. In the 1960s, her main Napoleon was New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, who championed top-down neighborhood clearing and highway building. In 1962, she chaired the Joint Committee to Stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway to oppose Moses' plans to build a highway through Manhattan's Washington Square Park and West Village. Her weapon of choice against the establishment was “the wisdom of empirical observation and community intuition” (Project for Public Spaces).
Jacobs “championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail, that now seem like common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists . . . Jacobs helped derail the car-centred approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work, and play” (JanesWalk.org).