“When Jane Farrow is present, good things happen. Her warmth, energy, insight and respect for people mean that she can tell it like it is, in her signature radio-honed voice, and get people off their rear ends to do good work – all while generating an atmosphere of enthusiasm and mutual support.” – Spacing Magazine, Dec. 2013
Jane is a convenor of people and communities in a variety of contexts – CBC radio host, best-selling author, lecturer, dynamic moderator and facilitator, conference organizer and tour guide. “I get people engaged, with their minds, their hearts, their communities. We bridge traditional divides and in narrowing social and cultural distance, a space for productive, empowering work is created. ”
Jane has worked on multi-stakeholder planning studies and consultations of local and regional significance with The City of Toronto, Metrolinx, Swerhun Facilitation, Public Work, Steer Davies Gleave and the Planning Partnership. In 2014 she lead the public consultation for the revitalization of Ramsden Park on behalf of PMA Landscape Architects. She was also a team member for the public consultation and piloting of a new pedestrian wayfinding system in the city’s downtown core.
Jane has excelled at helping people devise collaborative ways forward through complex, high profile issues, emphasizing ‘urban literacy’, accountability and transparency. Her commitment to openness and clear communication derives from 15 years of experience as a CBC journalist and writer. “A lot of the polarization we see in our city, our communities, derives from a lack of good, clear information. When people have the same data and analysis to work with, the gap in mutual respect and understanding often narrows considerably.”
Spacing Magazine named Jane one of the 10 People We Love in their 10 Year Anniversary Issue (December 2013), noting her ability to bring people together for positive deliberation and action. “In five years, she took Jane’s Walk from a slightly eccentric idea – let’s do free walks in honour of Jane Jacobs! – to an international phenomenon with walks taking place in 75 countries. And in Toronto the walks’ city of origin, she made sure the walks didn’t just stay some cozy downtown pastime. Instead, she extended them to all parts of the city and all kinds of people, making the walks a means of expression for suburbs, for youth, for immigrants, for queer culture – creating a dialogue between all of the elements of Toronto’s cultural kaleidoscope. What’s more, she connected the community network developed by Jane’s Walk to the academic world in order to dig deep into residents’ walking experience int he suburbs and share the results.”
Working under the direction and guidance of Professor Paul Hess of the University of Toronto’s Department of Geography and Planning, Jane co-wrote North America’s first studies of the walkability of inner-suburban high rise neighbourhoods. This research explores segments of Toronto’s most densely populated but geographically isolated neighbourhoods and points to simple and inexpensive solutions for improving connectivity and accessibility. Alongside this research, the authors developed a research model and resource toolkit that can be used by communities and individual to assess their own neighbourhoods. The walkabilty reports and toolkit are available at the Jane’s Walk website (janeswalk.net/walkability).
Jane’s communication and bridge-building skills were put to good use working as the Executive Assistant to Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. “I was there for one of the most intense times in this city’s history,” says Jane. “As a centrist councillor, McMahon has been critical to effective coalition building on a range of issues from bake ovens in parks to the municipal budget in 2012. I was honoured to play a part in cobbling together citizens, city staff and politicians for an epic budget vote that reasserted our civic programming and priorities.”