Jane & Laurayne’s Walk

Explore Downtown Bridgeport

Join us for Jane & Cesar’s Way, an event where the unique story of how we see, interact with, and feel about our city will be explored on film, on foot, and in music. Register on Eventbrite for any and all of the event activities.

We have held “Jane’s Walks Bridgeport” for the last six years – building on the international Jane’s Walk event inspired by the urban activist Jane Jacobs, whose focus on human-centered and community-led neighborhood development has made a lasting imprint on how cities are planned and built. We have expanded the concept and renamed the event in honor of our own “local Jane Jacobs”: Cesar Batalla (more about him below).

The day of activities starts off at 11:30 a.m. at the Bridgeport DSSD office (938 Broad Street). From there we take a walking tour of the neighborhood, exploring Jane Jacob’s approach to community-led, human-centered design; highlighting Cesar Batalla’s connection to and impact on individual places in our neighborhood; and featuring the evolving uses of the historic buildings in our Downtown and the purposes they have served over time. Expert guides will take you through an exploration of colorful Downtown Bridgeport, its history, and unique places.

At 1:30 p.m. the walking tour will end at the Bijou Theatre where we will premiere the Jane & Cesar’s Way film, followed by a panel discussion with the film’s creators and stars. The film and panel discussion will dive deeply in to Cesar Batalla’s life and impact in Bridgeport.

At 3:00 p.m., we will hop across the street to listen to live music, connect with neighbors, and contribute to thoughtful conversations about creative, community-driven city building.

We will embed in all of the activities a challenge to the participant to ask and answer these guiding questions:

  1. How do you feel about this place?
  2. What makes it special or unique to you? Meaningful? Important?
  3. What is quintessentially Bridgeport about this place?
  4. What other kinds of third places are needed in the downtown?

About Cesar Batalla: Cesar Batalla’s three decades of activism and energy touched the lives of thousands, from which he emerged as a significant figure in the political, ethnic, and community life of Bridgeport. The Batalla family arrived in Bridgeport in the early 1950s from Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, when Cesar was a child. Batalla later graduated from Bassick High School and went on to the University of Bridgeport. After service in the army during the Vietnam War, he worked briefly at City Trust before joining the Southern Connecticut Gas Company, where he would become community relations director. It was when low-income Latinos picketed the gas company over a new requirement for service deposits that Batalla’s social awareness was awakened. Cesar talked to people in the picket lines and began learning about their problems. From then on, he never stopped learning about social concerns — and acting on them. During his lifetime, he worked with many social organizations, took key roles in lawsuits that charged discrimination toward minorities in the city’s Fire and Police departments, as well as segregation in public schools. Roughly a decade after his death, one of Bridgeport’s elementary schools was named in 2007 after this icon to honor his legacy. Learn more about Cesar Batalla here.

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Thank you to all of our partners in creating this celebration of Downtown Bridgeport, Cesar Batalla, community-driven city building, and creating connections between neighbors: American View Productions, Art Simplicated, Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders, Bridgeport Generation Now, City Lights Gallery, Edwin Rivera Quartet, Greater Bridgeport Latino Network, and the Kuchma Corporation.

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To learn more about Jane, Cesar, and community-driven city building, check out these great watches and reads:

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Our Jane & Cesar’s Way video tour project was made possible with generous support from the Connecticut Humanities Fund, supported by funding from the State of Connecticut and the National Endowment for the Humanities.