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What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs

by Stephen A Goldsmith and Lynne Elizabeth New Village Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 353 pages
AU$59.99 NZ$63.47
Product Status: Available in Approx 9 days
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A timely revisitation of renowned urbanist-activist Jane Jacobs' lifework, What We See invites thirty pundits and practitioners across fields to refresh Jacobs' economic, social and urban planning theories for the present day. Combining personal and professional observations with meditations on Jacobs' insights, essayists bring their diverse experience to bear to sketch the blueprints for the living city. The book models itself after Jacobs' collaborative approach to city and community building, asking community members and niche specialists to share their knowledge with a broader community, to work together toward a common goal of building the 21st-century city. The resulting collection of original essays expounds and expands Jacobs' ideas on the qualities of a vibrant, robust urban area. It offers the generalist, the activist, and the urban planner practical examples of the benefits of planning that encourages community participation, pedestrianism, diversity, environmental responsibility, and self-sufficiency. Bob Sirman, director of the Canada Council for the Arts, describes how built form should be an embodiment of a community narrative. Daniel Kemmis, former Mayor of Missoula, shares an imagined dialog with Jacobs, discussing the delicate interconnection between cities and their surrounding rural areas. And Roberta Brandes Gratz?urban critic, author, and former head of Public Policy of the New York State Preservation League?asserts the importance of architectural preservation to environmentally sound urban planning practices. What We See asks us all to join the conversation about next steps for shaping socially just, environmentally friendly, and economically prosperous urban communities.


Foreword: Michael Sorkin, JaneGÇÖs SpectaclesAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Stephen Goldsmith & Lynne Elizabeth, Eyes Wide OpenSection 1: Vitality of the Neighborhood 1.1 Deanne Taylor, Between Utopias1.2 Ray Suarez, Jane Jacobs and the GÇ£Battle for the Streetn++?1.3 Sanford Ikeda, The Mirage of the Efficient City1.4 Nabeel Hamdi, The Intelligence of Informality1.5 Nan Ellin, The Tao of Urbanism: Integrating Observation with ActionSection 2: The Virtues of Seeing2.1 Arlene Goldbard, Nine Ways of Looking at Ourselves (Looking at Cities)2.2 Mindy Thompson Fullilove, The Logic of Small Pieces: A Story in Three Ballets2.3 Alexie M. Torres-Fleming, Of Things Seen and Unseen2.4 Rob Cowan, The Fine Arts of Seeing: Professions, Places, Arts, and Urban DesignSection 3: Cities, Villages, Streets3.1 Daniel Kemmis, Cities and the Wealth of Places3.2 Elizabeth Macdonald and Allan Jacobs, Queen Street3.3 Kenneth Greenberg, The Interconnectedness of Things3.4 David Crombie, Jane Jacobs: The Toronto Experience 3.5 Matias Sendoa Echanove & Rahul Srivastava, The Village InsideSection 4: The Organized Complexity of Planning 4.1 James Stockard, The Obligation to Listen, Learn and TeachGÇöPatiently 4.2 Robert Sirman, Built Form and the Metaphor of Storytelling4.3 Chester Hartman, Steps Toward a Just Metropolis4.4 Peter Zlonicky, Illuminating Germany: Observations on Urban Planning Policies in the Light of Jane Jacobs4.5 Jaime Lerner, Reviving CitiesSection 5: Design for Nature, Design for People5.1 Janine Benyus, Recognizing What Works: A Conscious Emulation of LifeGÇÖs Genius5.2 Hillary Brown, GÇ£Codevelopmentn++? as a Principle for Next Generation Infrastructure5.3 Richard Register, Jane Jacobs Basics5.4 Roberta Brandes Gratz, Jane Jacobs: Environmental Preservationist5.5 Jan Gehl, For You Jane5.6 Janette Sadik-Khan, Think of a City and What Comes to Mind? Its Streets5.7 Clare Cooper Marcus, The Needs of Children in Contemporary CitiesSection 6: Economic Instincts6.1 Saskia Sassen, When Places Have Deep Economic Histories6.2 Susan Witt, The Grace of Import Replacement6.3 Pierre Desrochers & Samuli Lepp+ñl+ñ, Rethinking GÇ£Jacobs Spillovers,n++? or How Diverse Cities Actually Make Individuals More Creative and Economically Successful6.4 Ron Shiffman, Beyond Green Jobs: Seeking a New Paradigm Epilogue: Mary Rowe, JaneGÇÖs Cup of Tea Study GuideContributorsIndex

Advance Praise for What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs:GÇ£I had never understood quite so clearly the effective power of Jane Jacobs' writing… That if you take the time to look, to really observe, then you see what is happening and with the clarity of that vision you can act to save neighborhoods.n++? 'Nancy Milford, scholar, lecturer, and author of Zelda and Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay GÇ£Just in its title, What We See telegraphs the most important point Jane Jacobs ever made'don't go into a city environment with preset notions of how things are supposed to work; instead, enter the space with as open a mind as you can muster and seek to observe how things actually work. What We See is a report … to tell Jane what we learned and how it has changed our cities and our lives.n++? 'Keith Bartholomew, Assistant Professor, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Utah, and coauthor, Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change Reviews for What We See"Some people set the pace for the future of advancing thought. What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs is a collection of essays dedicated to the thoughts and ideas of Jane Jacobs who through her work set much of the foundation for modern city planning, the idea of turning a city into a more perfect place to work and live. With ideas on encouraging prosperity, working with people, the right level of complexity, and more, What We See is a must for anyone wants to understand the forwarding thoughts surrounding city planning."'Midwest Book Review"What We See reaches beyond the platitudes about Jacobs' work. It features stories of her ideals played out in specific places and spaces by the people she has inspired and those who share an affinity with the spirit (and not just the letter) of her work... Jacobs has, deservedly, become the "patron saint" of progressive planning--anointed, revered, almost untouchable. Celebratory and reflective, What We See revels in Jacobs' godlike status while trying to bring a sense of realness to an intellectual alongside Jacobs' works, this book points towards a contextualization and deeper understanding of her legacy, in planning and fields beyond."'Anusha Venkataraman, Progressive Planning"The stories contained within the pages of What We See allow us to not only examine how our cities and neighborhoods are developing and changing, but the actions of the authors provide the reader with the inspiration to begin to make a difference in their own neighborhood, city, region and life. I would challenge anyone to read this book and not feel the burning desire to initiate positive change within their own neighborhood, community or city."'Michael Ouchakof, enVisionGreen"I encourage anyone who is interested in our cities and economies, how they work and how they can be vibrant and flourishing to read this book. I regret that I couldn't choose from the essays which illustrations or quotes or insights to highlight in a single review, there is just too much quality."'Hazel Ashton, Village Connections"The idea for What We See originated with the Jacobs-oriented Center for the Living City as a celebration honoring Jacobs, but the book took on a different form under Elizabeth's guidance. "I thought Jane would not have wanted a book about her," Elizabeth says, noting that two histories centering on her and a biography have recently been published. GÇ£Instead, we invited people from diverse fields to write their own ideas about how things work and describe the systems they see operating now and into the future.""'Suzanne Mantell, Publisher's Weekly"Fascinating though these projects are, What We See cannot be breezed through. At times, the collection is weighed down with policy. Some readers might find the prose too dependent on jargon. And most of the essays assume the reader's familiarity with Jacobs's books and biography. Still, if What We See requires, at times, a professional's duty-bound doggedness, it rewards the general reader's generosity. The best selections inspire a kind of covetousness, as they present projects or politics you might want for your own city, for your own family to use and enjoy."'Allyn West, Cite Magazine "It is a new, entrepreneurial, 21st-century outlook. Indeed, the true message of What We See is that we have a fresh generation of urban thought leaders who have learned from Jane Jacobs, but are intelligent, passionate, and innovative enough to develop their own ideas, messages, and strategies for action."'Greg Heller, Urban Direction"With that in mind, the book is an important one because while the ideas of Jane Jacobs have appeal for many people, in the end they are largely discarded in the interest of practicality and control. But as Sanford Ikeda reminds us in What We See, the city has no purpose or end in itself. Great cities enable the better part of its inhabitants to be free to pursue their own diverse interests with the maximum likelihood of success."'Eric Miller, The New Colonist"The ultimate strength of gathering and showcasing such a diverse collection of writings is that everyone is bound to find a number of essays that resonate with them, and at least one that inspires them."'Lisa Brideau, re:place Magazine"The essays in What We See remind us that cities are inefficient, but in a good, necessary way, that they exist to allow inhabitants to pursue a wide range of dreams and goals, that they are complex and can be seemingly poised on the edge of chaos between the yin and yang of "I" the individual and "We" the body of citizens."'April Streeter, Treehugger
Stephen A. Goldsmith is an urban planner, artist, and scholar, whose wide-ranging projects find their grounding in the wisdom of Jane Jacobs.

Lynne Elizabeth is founder and director of New Village Press. She is the past president of Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), a public-benefit educational organization founded in 1981 that works for peace, environmental protection, social justice, and development of healthy communities.