Jane Jacobs in North End Winnipeg


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2021 (558 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Those interested in urban planning may have recognized that many of my ideas have come from one of my true inspirations, Jane Jacobs.

Jacobs was a writer and activist best known for her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, about diverse, fine-grained cities made for and by ordinary people. One of her most famous quotes encapsulates what I believe every neighbourhood should strive for:

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Photo by Steve Snyder Members of the Seven Oaks Residents’ Association at a recent meeting.

She is credited with coining terms such as “eyes on the street” and “the sidewalk ballet” when talking about interactions amongst people in the community. What she is really talking about here isn’t just life on the street, but about social capital.

Social capital is interactions that occur which create connections between people within a neighbourhood. Things such as shared identity, understanding, trust, co-operation, and reciprocity all connect neighbours and create a foundation for mutual trust, shared efforts, and resilience in times of trouble.

As the president of the Seven Oaks Residents’ Association, I’ve tried to be a part of this.

Neighbourhood associations bring people together to foster trust, and allow us to tackle issues that are important to us. Whether it’s replanting boulevard trees, fighting blighted and vacant buildings, doing a community cleanup, or organizing a neighbourhood trick-or-treat map of houses giving away candy — these things all build social capital and make the neighbourhood a better place to live.

But we need to do so much more.

Another one of Jane’s big ideas is the ‘citizen as scientist’ What this means is that the people best equipped to understand and tackle the issues in a complex urban place like Winnipeg are the ordinary, everyday people. The “interested citizens,” as she calls them in her book.

Without the assumptions that come with professional training, everyday people can come together and build greatness. They have lived experience; something far more valuable than book learning when it comes to building love for your neighbourhood.

The Seven Oaks Residents’ Association has a diverse and dedicated board of residents and is always looking for ideas. We want to hear from other interested citizens, like you.

If you read The Times, you are likely an interested citizen, and I’m sure you have ideas or concerns about your neighbourhood. Please each out to me at our association’s email address —

Steve Snyder

Steve Snyder
Luxton / Seven Oaks community correspondent

Steve Snyder is a community correspondent for the Seven Oaks and Luxton neighbourhoods and chair of the Seven Oaks Residents’ Association

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