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How to Host a Jane's Walk

Interested in Hosting a Jane's Walk?

We are inviting you to lead a Jane’s Walk! Anyone can be a walk leader, because everyone is an expert on the places they live, work, and play.

Jane’s Walks are free to attend and are hosted by volunteers. Organizations and groups can host walks, as well as individuals.

Interested in hosting a walk this year? This year will be over two weekends: Friday, April 26 - Sunday, April 28 for Essex County tours and Friday, May 3 - Sunday, May 5th for Windsor tours. 

Timeline for Jane’s Walk:
 
  • Saturday, February 3: Attend the Jane’s Walk Drop-In Info Session from 1-3PM at Windsor Public Library - John Muir Branch (363 Mill St, Windsor).
     

  • Submit a proposal by February 16, 2024: https://forms.gle/C8DbkJ2kR7j2DiqSA. The proposal is a general pitch for your walk: location, theme, and host information. Once received, we will reach out to you about planning details.
     

  • Once we receive your proposal, we will work with you to determine details about the walk (length, starting/ending, accessibility, bad weather contingency plans). The deadline for full walk detailed submission is in March.
     

  • We will work together to develop and promote your walk from March to April.
     

  • The schedule will go live mid-March.
     

  • Festival time: Friday, April 26 - Sunday, April 28 for Essex County tours and Friday, May 3 - Sunday, May 5th for Windsor tours. 

Selecting a Topic and Neighbourhood:
 

Let passion guide you! A topic comes alive when you, the host, care about it. It could be from a personal family history, a professional interest, a research project, a community or cultural connection, or where you currently live/work/gather. 
 

Set the stage for your topic. The neighbourhood you pick will be the visual backdrop for the story you are telling.  If you’re interested in the history of a particular group of people, is there a specific place where they have historically lived or gathered? If it’s about a particular era or type of architecture, is there a neighbourhood with multiple examples of that style? 

It’s important to select a location that is safely walkable. If you’re in an urban area, ensure that there are sidewalks along the route so people won’t be walking through traffic. City walks can be quite loud, so think about side streets and areas along the route for a more quiet experience.

Planning Your Route:
 

Once you’ve selected your topic and neighbourhood, the next step is to plan your route. 

Jane's Walks are one hour in length (total) and the routes must loop to where they started.

1 km takes about 15 minutes to walk, so ensure that your route is short enough to give you time to stop and talk. For example, if your route is 1.5 km, you will have 40 minutes to talk, divided by the amount of stops you want to take along the route.
 

Jane’s Walks begin and end in the same place


Since many attendees enjoy attending several walks, this ensures that we can schedule walks closely together. Walks are scheduled by neighbourhood and times will be assigned based on geography. This will help people attend multiple walks without having to rush far away to attend the next.
 

Think about starting/ending your walk at a place where participants can gather afterwards (like a cafe or a park) to connect. You never know what kinds of new ideas, initiatives, and relationships will emerge on a Jane’s Walk! 

Consider accessibility.


Everyone experiences space differently, so think broadly and empathetically about how others (people walking slowly, using a wheelchair, pushing a stroller) might feel along your route and try to find ways to accommodate different needs wherever possible. 
 

Be mindful of terrain, curbs, staircases, gates, and other barriers that could hinder someone’s ease of movement. Think about whether there are portions of your walk with dim lighting, underpasses, strong odors, excessively loud noises, traffic, or large crowds.

Research Your Walk:
 

There are many ways to research! Windsor Public Library, Essex County Library, and Leddy Library all have rich local resources. Speak to those who live in the neighbourhood and ask them for their stories. We can help connect you with resources as well.
 

Think About Your Audience:


Don’t overestimate the knowledge of your audience, but don’t underestimate their intelligence. Create a walk that is open and welcoming to folks with all experience levels in your topic. Consider how you will speak. Avoid jargon and brainstorm ways of speaking and asking questions that will engage a wide range of participants.
 

Think about the subject matter and who will most enjoy it. Is it appropriate for all ages? Will kids understand the topic? Is the subject matter very serious and more suited for an adult audience? 

Through the description on the website of your walk, we can give attendees a good idea of what they can expect and they can plan accordingly. 

 

Walk Your Walk:

Look, listen, smell, feel, and observe. Think about how your topic can come alive along the walking route. As you are walking, take photos of interesting stops and take a photo/note to help you remember as you continue planning your walk.
 

Bring a friend along and walk your route in advance. See if they notice anything you haven't and take note of the questions they ask. Is your presentation clear and does it flow well? 
 

Tell The Story:
 

On your walk, what story are you telling? Think about each stop along the way as a chapter in a book. Pick stops that help you visually tell the story. 


What do you want your audience to take away from your walk? Do you have a ‘call to action’? How do you want them to think about your topic/neighbourhood in a different way? 


Think About Ways To Make It Special:

There are ways to bring a walk to life. Some walks incorporate quiz questions (with small prizes), guest appearances, costumes, and more. Feel free to think outside of the box and have fun. These aren’t requirements, but they are small ways to make the walk more unique.

 

Once your walk is confirmed: promote your walk and the festival!
 

Invite your friends, family, and community. We will help promote all the walks in your city, but you should help get the word out, too.

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New for 2024: Dangerous Weather Planning + Backup Presentation
 

For the safety of all hosts and participants, we're thinking proactively about extreme weather (thunderstorms, high winds, and heavy rain).  We are working to secure Bad Weather locations where attendees can safely gather to enjoy presentations inside.
 

We are asking hosts to prepare a backup version of their walks that can be presented as a verbal presentation or PowerPoint presentation. This can be very simple like taking photos of the stops you intend to take and putting it in a presentation. It can be more involved (historic photos, etc) if you wish. 


Tips for the Day

 

Be prepared.
 

Make sure you have good walking shoes, drinking water, and anything else you might need. Jane’s Walks happen rain or shine except in cases of serious weather, so check the forecast and prepare accordingly.
 

Don’t do all the talking.
 

Resist the temptation to talk the whole time. Ask people for their own stories and perspectives. Sometimes it can take a little while for a crowd to warm up, so think about ways to help break the ice. Hold the silence after you ask a question for a good long while. Without fail, somebody will speak up to fill the silence!
 

Find a way to be heard.
 

If you can get hold of a megaphone or microphone, great! If you can’t, there are lots of ways to help make sure people can be heard. Standing on a bench and projecting over the crowd, moving onto a quieter side street, and encouraging people to move in close can often be just as good as a megaphone.
 

Let it go!
 

Anything goes on a Jane’s Walk. Expect things to go a little sideways. Last minute changes, emerging contingencies, and serendipities are all common. Embrace spontaneity. Perhaps the weather isn’t great. It’s ok! You’ll have a very different but equally fascinating experience of walking the city in the rain as in the sunshine. Perhaps the conversation goes in a different direction than you planned. It’s ok! See where the discussion takes you and, if necessary, gently reroute it.

 


Advice from previous Jane’s Walk Hosts:

 

  • “Structure is crucial. Each stopping point should serve like a chapter in a book. It helps, when talking about history, to create a linear narrative. This keeps people interested. With each step, they move forward in time.”
     

  • “Speak loudly, move often”
     

  • “Be prepared, do your homework, manage the time, get help”
     

  • “Put  points in cue cards.”
     

  • “So much information to share that we had to pull out the most important pieces.”
     

  • “Be off book because sometimes things don't go in the order you think they will”
     

  • “Folks love free things. I think that having a quiz portion with a give away was a fun way to engage with folks.”
     

  • “Linger longer at our stops along the tour to share more info and allow people to savor the space.”
     


 

City Organizer Contact:

Sarah Morris
Info@WindsorJanesWalk.ca
Sign up to host a walk: https://forms.gle/C8DbkJ2kR7j2DiqSA

More information: Facebook.com/JanesWalkYQG

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