Urban Journalism Institute


Celebrating Jane Jacobs

©Jane Jacobs Walk. Philippines: WE MOVE: Davao Chinatown Historic Food Crawl

Cities are living organisms, intricate and constantly evolving. Every street, building, and corner tells its own story. Jane Jacobs, the renowned American-Canadian journalist, urbanist, and social activist, understood the importance of appreciating and comprehending urban life from a local perspective. Her legacy endures through the Jane Jacobs Walks, community events that invite exploration, dialogue, and appreciation of the richness often overlooked in our cities.

Jane Jacobs’s Walks are not just city strolls but manifestations of people’s connection with their urban environment. Held worldwide, starting on the first weekend of May, coinciding with Jacobs’ birthday, these events aim to revive the activist’s vision of people-centric cities, where local communities actively shape their surroundings. Led by local volunteers, these walks share anecdotes and insights about neighbourhoods, promoting participation and understanding of the challenges and opportunities cities face.

Last year, one of the many Jane Jacobs Walks took place in Davao, Philippines. Davao, with around 1.8 million inhabitants, is the largest city in Mindanao, the third-most populous city in the Philippines, and the second metropolitan area. It is known for its cultural diversity, agricultural industry, and welcoming atmosphere. Among its various neighbourhoods, the walk that highlighted the essence of Jane Jacobs Walks was the tour through the Chinatown district, the only one in Mindanao and the largest in the Philippines, spanning approximately 44 hectares.

As a melting pot of cultures, Davao hosts a bustling Chinatown reflecting the city’s historical richness and diversity—a place to explore cultural traditions woven into the community’s fabric. It was the mayor Rodrigo Duterte, later the first President of the Philippines from Mindanao, who issued an executive order declaring portions of Filipino-Chinese residences and businesses were concentrated in the city’s Chinatown. 

Participants in Davao’s Jane Jacobs Walk had the opportunity to dive into residents’ history, discovering the Chinese influence on local cuisine, the architecture of historic buildings, and how the community has evolved.

Starting at Davao Famous Restaurant and concluding at Shaxian County Snacks, the Davao Jane Jacobs Walk underscored the importance of recognising cultural diversity, intertwining gastronomy, and urban elements as invaluable assets for city development.

These walks provide opportunities to rediscover and appreciate urban life and empower local communities to be active agents in shaping their environment. Through direct interaction with people, participants better understand social and economic dynamics, fostering enriching dialogue on preserving and strengthening cities’ cultural identity amid growth and globalisation.

By participating in a Jane Jacobs Walk, cities can foster connections among residents and create a shared sense of belonging. These walks offer a unique platform for community leaders, urban planners, and citizens to collaborate in building more sustainable, inclusive, and human urban spaces.

We invite cities worldwide to join this global movement by participating in and organising their own Jane Jacobs Walks in May 2024!

To join or register for a Jane Jacobs Walk in your city, visit the official website and follow the easy steps to organise an event.

© Phyrrhus Cunanan
Cofounded by the European Union This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of UCLG and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.