Font Size

Robert Fulford: When you take your next walk, think of Jane Jacobs

When Jane Jacobs died the city sponsored yearly walks in her name. Others as well:

When Jane Jacobs walked it served a purpose. It was how she did research for her books.

Unlike many academic authors who would send their students out to do the legwork Jane did her own legwork.

Nor did she set out with an idea of what she was going to write.

She let the world round her reveal itself.

Coming home from a city planning meeting with her son James I said to him, “The reason people have a problem understanding your mother’s books is because she wrote them from the perspective of the dirt poor, the absolutely powerless.”

“Yes!” said Jim adding, “We were dirt poor when she wrote THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.”

In fact, she was really about standing up.

Many who walk walk away from standing up.

Jane spent her entire life standing up.

She was an inspiration to me.

I first met her and her family in September 1968. She had while walking around the city seen a street flyer I had posted for a presentation of the 1923 film of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME with Lon Chaney.

She and her family came back regularly after that until that venue, which I had named THE PUBLIC ENEMY, was shut down by the city for zoning violations.

When I started my program at Rochdale College she was a regular. After Rochdale she was a regular at my series at THE PALMERSTON LIBRARY and at INNIS COLLEGE.

A young student told me I should not tell people that Jane Jacobs said the best part of what I offer is what I have to say.

Surf the web. You’ll find a lot of folks saying I went there for a movie and I had to listen to him talk.

Jane listened to those talks they complain about.




Lately they also say much worse things as a result of a street poster campaign designed to bring violence down upon myself and others.

Toronto alternative-theatre founder stands up to bullying threats

Today I am beaten down.

I am poured out.

Part of this is a bout with food poisoning or something.

But the larger part is that the wear of standing up alone while so many have walked by has taken its toll.

Jane Jacobs lauded me for standing up against the city when the city (all cities) tried to outlaw street postering.

She saw street postering as as the newspaper of the street. I like street postering because that is how Jane Jacobs and so many more came into my life.

Today commercial street poster services routinely ignore this city’s well thought out and eminently fair bylaws. In fact the people who poster as a business are a bigger threat to free speech than the city ever was because no one is doing anything about them.

People who should be standing up are walking away.

The attacks on myself persist.

My sister says to me, “Reggie, you should leave that city. You are 73. You don’t need the stress.”

I love doing what I do. I love the people I meet through what I do but now I’m tired.

I am sick unto death as the saying goes.

Jane taught me to always stand up for the powerless.

I have.

But right now I am the powerless.

Jane’s last book was titled DARK AGE AHEAD.

She was right.

Right now I have to raise funds for a lawyer. Walk over to THE CINEFORUM, 463 Bathurst, Toronto.

It’s been described as everything she wrote about.

I can feel her presence here.

It may not be here much longer. The forces of darkness are closing in around it. I’m not being overly dramatic. That just the facts.

I have to raise thousands. Because I am on OAS I make too much to qualify for Legal Aid.

I’m not the only one. In its effort to cut costs and save money the government has done what it has always done. It is saving money at the expense of the poor.

Those who want to can send donations to Reg Hartt,  463 Bathurst, Toronto, M5T 2S9.

But I’d like it better if you walked over and saw the place and the man she loved.

–Reg Hartt 2019–1–16.

Jane Jacobs’ last book is a warning ignored about the mass dumbing down we now find ourselves mired in.




« »