Jane’s Walk ATL Goes Virtual for 2020

Jane's Walk ATL logo with white capital letters against black background. Freedom Park Conservancy in smaller white text.

This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public safety guidelines, Jane’s Walk ATL has been re-imagined as a virtual experience. In partnership with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), Freedom Park Conservancy (FPC) has organized this virtual tour experience using the ECDS open source web-based platform OpenTour Builder, which allows FPC to host multiple tours on the same site. The first of the Jane’s Walk virtual tours created by FPC focuses on increasing awareness of African American History in Candler Park, Atlanta; researching this history with others, including descendant families; and placing interpretive legacy markers at key African American sites in the neighborhood. In addition to the “Candler Park Biracial History Project” tour, FPC also encourages people to submit their own Jane’s Walk tours.

Jane’s Walk ATL is part of a larger movement of “free, citizen-led walking conversations inspired by Jane Jacobs. It encourages people to share stories about their neighbourhoods, discover unseen aspects of their communities, and use walking as a way to connect with their neighbours.” The Jane’s Walk website explains that Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was a “was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a community-based approach to city building.” As the Atlanta city organizer, Freedom Park Conservancy recently announced the first virtual Jane’s Walk virtual tour of 2020. As the project’s OpenTour site states, the mission of the Candler Park Biracial History Project is to support community-based education and restorative justice work in the Early Edgewood-Candler Park neighborhood: “In today’s Candler Park, we are working together to reclaim the little-remembered African American history of the neighborhood. Centered in respect, fellowship and education, the History Project’s community partners stand together with research, personal narratives, and cultural programs to bring this inclusive information into public awareness.”

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As the Freedom Park Conservancy website states, OpenTour presents “a unique opportunity for Atlantans to create their own city tours aimed at connecting with their fellow neighbors and exploring the unique stories that define our amazing city.”  These digital tours—including FPC’s 2019 Dwelling OpenTour (read more about this tour in our OpenTour Builder launch blog post)—are available to the public and FPC will be adding new virtual tours throughout 2020 in continued partnership with ECDS.

The OpenTour app runs easily on mobile devices, using native Google map directions and maps, and has also recently been optimized for desktop use. ECDS launched our new OpenTour Emory multi-site last year, and each OpenTour site allows one to build multiple digital tours. (To read a longer resource feature on OpenTour, visit our blog post from August 2020.) ECDS also partners with Georgia Humanities to provide support to non-profit organizations through the Digital Tour Initiative; we recently announced Fall 2020 grant application information on our blog.

This year FPC encourages people to submit a tour idea for the Jane’s Walk virtual experience. Tours can include historical sites, natural environments, restaurants, public art, and/or other local landmarks that “help frame the story of our beloved Atlanta communities through citizen-led vision.” All tours should be created with personal and public safety in mind, geared toward individuals or small groups of less than 10 people, and take into account evolving social distancing guidelines related to COVID-19. Click here to submit your tour idea and FPC will contact you with next steps. For more information contact: info [at] freedompark [dot] org