Jane Jacobs Walk: Unveiling Hidden Gems Of Tampa's Nebraska Avenue

This Cinco de Mayo, why not do things a little differently by celebrating the local businesses of Tampa's very own Nebraska Avenue?

A local grassroots youth-centered engagement project, Inspire Your Environment (IYE), is hosting a two-hour guided walk in collaboration with Salt Lake City-based Jane Jacobs Walk.

Over the course of May 5th and 6th, walks will be hosted in 28 cities throughout the United States, teaching local residents of urban theorist Jane Jacobs' vision of the importance of community input while encouraging mixed-use, mixed-income, density-rich, interconnected, walkable communities; Tampa Bay's own event will focus on shedding light on the often overlooked Nebraska Avenue.

"The beauty of Nebraska Avenue is what lies beneath its exterior,'' says Gifty Adjoa Akofio-Sowah of IYE, who will be hosting Tampa's walk. "I drove through Nebraska Avenue on my regular commute nearly each day and soon became amazed at the spaces. I had to do a double take.''

Akofio-Sowah says, although Nebraska Avenue's reputation has become quite tarnished over the years, local businesses such as Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe; Eco-Oaks Apartments; Who Cares? We Care Wellness Center; and the Eden Project, a local nonprofit focusing on growing, preparing and serving local food; have recently given the area a new life and "nice polish.''

Wondering if residents knew of these local establishments, Akofio-Sowah thought hosting a guided walk would be a good way to shed light on the neighborhood and spread word about some of Nebraska Avenue's hidden gems.

"What the area will transform into in the future is limitless and one of the most exciting parts is that each resident can get involved in a transformation that is literally starting from the ground up,'' she says. "This is an event for people who are passionate about their community or who want to become passionate about what's going on locally!''

Connecting People To Communities

Akofio-Sowah will host the the nearly 2-mile walk in Tampa from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 5th, beginning at Who Cares? We Care at 3202 N. Nebraska Ave., ending at the original Taco Bus location at 913 E. Hillsborough Ave. The event is accessible and welcoming to bicycles, wheelchairs, children and seniors.

Additional Jane Jacobs Walks will be hosted by local community activists like Akofio-Sowah in 28 cities scattered throughout the United States from New York City to Iowa City to Los Angeles.

"Tampa has a hidden treasure under the surface of the city's familiar backdrop,'' Akofio-Sowah says. “The goal of this event is to engage the residents of Tampa to really observe and partake in the dynamism of their urban surroundings and connect them with the people behind these establishments. What they contribute to Nebrska Avenue is quite unique.”

According to Akofio-Sowah, the new, unexpected nature of Nebraska Avenue is creating a sustainable future for Tampa. During the event, an emphasis will be placed on getting Tampa Bay residents to understand how community reinforcement makes local communities and neighborhoods thrive in the long run.

"Knowledge gives a person [and their community] strength,'' she says.

For more information on the Nebraska Avenue Jane Jacobs Walk, visit IYE's website. RVSPs are appreciated via the Facebook event page.

Alexis Quinn Chamberlain, a Florida native and freelance writer, can often be found eating at The Bricks, walking around her Egypt Lake-Leto neighborhood and daydreaming with her boyfriend and Chihuahua at Curtis Hixon Park. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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