I am Arnold Love from Toronto, the recent host city of the 2015 Para- and Pan American Games. Toronto also hosted the first Accessibility Innovation Showcase to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the 10th Anniversary of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
My evaluation interests include both sports and accessibility, so I want to share with you a powerful and enjoyable way of increasing evaluation use, called Jane’s Walk. It was a pivotal feature of the Para- and Pan Am Games and the Accessibility Showcase.
Jane’s Walk is named after Jane Jacobs, noted researcher and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs championed the use of direct observation through “eyes on the street” and direct engagement to understand the “messy and complex systems” that comprise the urban landscape and to mobilize findings into action.
Rad Resource: Jane’s Walk is an informal walking tour. Check out the Jane’s Walk website to find out how walks “get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and connect with neighbors.”
Hot Tip: Several walks take place at the same time, each on a different theme. Local volunteers organize them based on their interests and expertise. For example, one walk during the Accessibility Innovation Showcase explored ideas to make busy intersections and entry to stores more accessible.
Hot Tip: Invite people of different ages and backgrounds to participate. The informal nature of Jane’s Walk encourages each person to voice their perspectives based on unique experience and insights. This energizes the conversations.
Hot Tip: Evaluators need diverse yet balanced views of the discussion topics. Facilitate this by finding two people with different viewpoints to co-lead each walk.
Hot Tip: Taking notes shuts down the trust and free exchange of ideas that are the hallmark of the Jane’s Walk. Instead, tweet your notes to yourself and encourage the other walkers to tweet their comments and ideas or share on social media.
Rad Resource: Adding an incentive can greatly increase use of the findings coming from the Jane’s Walk methodology. Check out how Jane’s Walk partnered with Evergreen CityWorks to offer micro-grants to implement the best ideas (http://janeswalk.org/canada/toronto/grants) with little money, but big results.
Rad Resource: Change Jane’s Walk into a game by geocaching. Hide small items (toys, badges, stories) in locations that fit a specific evaluation theme, such as a coffee shop with an accessible ramp. Then log the coordinates and cache description on http://www.geocaching.com. Use the app to find the cache. Its fun!
Evaluation 2015 Challenge: Organize a few Jane’s Walks for AEA 2015. A great opportunity to experience the methodology first hand and get to know Chicago and other AEA members better.
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