It seemed fitting to take a stroll throughout the Warehouse District of Peace River, which served so many communities – people – in the Peace Country North during the Warehouse District’s and Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday. Staff of your Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, along with members of the Heritage Places Committee, hosted the stroll on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, April 10.
The stroll began with a gathering at Athabasca Hall (built 1936) and a tour, by Lorne Mann, owner of the former Crown Building, under his renovation direction. Following a tour of the building by its passionate renovating owner, the group continued on its way – not exactly following in Jane Jacobs’ footsteps, but nevertheless, observing the essence of her encouragement – to look and listen – observe, absorb, appreciate our surroundings – value them – be willing to change when community and people will benefit, but willing to not, when the sense of community would diminish.
Yes, she advocated for not only smelling the roses, but, also taking time to see the roses’ surroundings – environment – the bees – other insects – the effect of the wind stirring the petals – their affect on you – the community – and so much more.
Jane is quoted: No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk. That’s what the April 10 stroll/walk/conversation/sharing memories/gathering did.
She refers to cities, but we in rural communities, would do well to take note. Her credentials are immense – one only needs to research them to appreciate this multi-awarded American-born Canadian resident woman’s accomplishments pertaining to community – people comprising that community – people and their need to be part of a viable, comfortable place to live for generations.
“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance – not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is replete with new improvisation.” – Jane Jacobs, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities"