Free, public workshops March 3, March 7

Your neighborhood has a story; learn how to tell it

Enderly Park neighbors during their 2014 Jane's Walk event. Photo: Selena Skorman

Every neighborhood has a story, but often the people who live there don't know what they are or where to find them.

Does it have a special landmark that ought to be preserved? What about an interesting history? Maybe it has environmental treasures or distinctive architectural features.

Materials from workshops available online. Click here to download speakers' presentations.

At two March workshops, Charlotte residents can get help learning how to find out those answers. At free, public workshops March 3 and March 7, experts will show residents how to become savvy neighborhood sleuths and discover more about the places where they live.

The workshops are:

  • Tuesday, March 3, 6 to 8 p.m., at Midwood International and Cultural Center, 1817 Central Ave., Charlotte.
  • Saturday, March 7, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte.
  • Both workshops are free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required but it is requested that residents pre-register by emailing Lisa Shepard at leshepar@uncc.edu, or phoning 704-687-1205.

Speakers’ topics will include how to use the bounty of resources available at the public library, how to learn about environmental assets in a neighborhood, as well as how to navigate Charlotte-Mecklenburg's online Quality of Life Dashboard, which details demographic data about neighborhoods throughout Mecklenburg County.

PlanCharlotte.org is sponsoring the workshops, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the City of Charlotte.

"There are neighborhoods with fantastic stories," says Stewart Gray, a planner with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and one of the speakers. "If you have a strong neighborhood group, that is a wonderful place to start. It is not hard to get something started, particularly in this day of the Internet."

Other speakers include:

  • Rebecca Hefner, community research manager with the City of Charlotte, who will help residents uncover the social, economic and geographical information in the Quality of Life Dashboard.
  • Tom Cole of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Main Library uptown, which houses print and electronic historical information on Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the state of North Carolina.
  • Chris Matthews, manager of the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation division responsible for protecting nature preserves and natural areas, who will discuss how residents can find out about the trees, plants, creeks and other natural assets in their neighborhoods.
  • Stewart Gray of the landmarks commission will talk about identifying and preserving historic landmarks.

Workshop organizers hope participants will be inspired to organize or take part in neighborhood walks as part of Charlotte's 2015 Jane's Walk Weekend, May 1-3. The walks can be organized or led by anyone, and are free and open to the public. This will be the fourth year PlanCharlotte.org has helped organize or encourage Jane’s Walks in Charlotte.

Read about Jane’s Walks

For more information about Jane Jacobs walks around the world:  janeswalk.org and janejacobswalk.org

The walks honor urban journalist, author and community organizer Jane Jacobs, who urged residents to observe their cities. They’re part of an international effort to get people outdoors to explore and celebrate their neighborhoods. Jacobs’ 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which attacked 1950s, and 1960s city planning and urban renewal, is considered one of the most influential books about cities and city planning.

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County residents are encouraged to organize walking or biking tours through their neighborhoods. No expertise is required, just an interest in connecting with neighbors to enjoy the unique qualities of a neighborhood.

Four walks are already planned for Charlotte's Jane's Walk Weekend, and more are expected:

  • A Myers Park neighborhood history walk, sponsored with the Charlotte Museum of History.
  • An East Charlotte Munching Tour with Levine Museum of the New South historian Tom Hanchett. (This popular walk is limited to 15 participants.)
  • A walk along Irwin Creek in Revolution Park.
  • A group bike ride through Plaza Midwood.

The Jane’s Walk weekend is sponsored and organized by PlanCharlotte.org, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, JanesWalk.org, the Charlotte Museum of History and the Levine Museum of the New South.

The first walks were organized three years ago by PlanCharlotte.org, an online publication of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, and grew last year to include six neighborhoods.

Residents interested in organizing a walk can sign up on their own at janeswalk.org/charlotte, or they may contact Lisa Shepard at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, leshepar@uncc.edu, or call 704-687-1205.