How well do you know your own city? And how happy are you with the neighbourhood you live in? Maybe there is a connection between knowing the place you live in and liking it.
Zagreb Honestly and Secret Zagreb invite you for a walk to explore your city and meet like-minded people!
Imagine discovering backstreets and hidden trails that are just around the corner but you never had time to poke your nose there. How about learning the history of streets you walk every single day? When we need to go from point A to point B, we usually decide on the most efficient path, and we stick to it. Why? Because it’s comfortable. Knowing something like the back of our hand speeds our journey and let’s us switch to autopilot. But here’s the downside of reaching that point B in the most efficient way – we stop noticing the journey.
When you’re not present to the journey, your feelings of closeness with the place start fading away.
This happens with any kind of relationship – and it can happen to the relationship you have with your city. People usually judge their neighbourhood in terms of how pretty it is. If the facades are touched up, if it’s green enough, if it has chic cafes, if exciting artistic project are popping up down the road. But all this is less important than how well you know the place you live in. And once you start learning the stories about the history and people of your neighbourhood, your closeness will be rekindled.
So in theory, every neighbourhood is pretty. And you can be happy wherever you live.
I challenge you to walk
The nicest way to learn about your city is to walk. And I don’t mean walking from point A to point B because you’ve ditched public transport. Take some time in the day and roam the streets you usually skip. Avoid your efficient shortcuts and sniff around pretending you’re looking for a hidden treasure. You’ll see your familiar space with a new set of eyes.
Better yet, go on a walk with someone who knows the history of your neighbourhood. Official history is interesting but the most intriguing are stories and hearsays floating around. The other day, for example, I walked up to Rokov perivoj and found out why there is no water in the fountain by the Elegy sculpture. A local told me the supply from the nearby pump was cut off because a recent construction work used too much of it – allegedly. Sweet ‘gossips’ like these will tell you how people use their space and why.
Are you ready to fall in love with your city?
There is an international movement that celebrates city walking. It is called Jane’s Walk, after an urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs whose writings championed a community-based approach to city building.
Jacob’s famous book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of most city-dwellers. She, instead, saw cities as dynamic ecosystems which change over time and according to how they are used. Throughout her life, Jacobs criticised ‘slum clearing’ and ‘high-rise housing’ projects that proved detrimental to local economy and people’s sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods.
Every year in May Jane’s Walk movement celebrates the city as a community. It encourages people to have a say on how their neighbourhoods develop by learning more about the places they live, work and play. Echoing Jacob’s own words, the movement promotes walking as the best way to do that:
No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities … or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.” – Jane Jacobs: Downtown is for People, 1957.
Jane’s Walk has grown into a wonderful global festival. In 2014 it took place over 6 continents, 25 countries, 134 cities, and in the form of over 1000 walks.
Zagreb joins Jane’s Walk – global walking festival
Zagreb Honestly has already started a series of city walks. I wrote the Walking Manifesto to inspire you to go out there and walk through places you live at or travel too. Imagine my happiness when I started hearing from other passionate city walkers. I am thrilled that Zagreb already has several communities devoted to exploring their neighbourhoods.
We are all joining Jane’s Walk festival this May!
Do you still need convincing?
This walk is perfect for you if you are:
- An expats living in Zagreb
- A traveller visiting Zagreb
- Curious to know more about your city
- Interested in meaningful conversations about the history of Zagreb
- Eager to connect to like-minded people
Find more information about our walk on Jane’s Walk official page or contact me if you have any questions. We look forward to meeting and walking with you.