What We See Blog
In an interview with Dave Hill of theguardian.com, contributing author to What We See, Jan Gehl discusses London—it’s streets, cycling, and notion of creating cities for people:
But, despite his impatience with London's uneven progress, Gehl's preference in all areas of his field is for purposeful incremental change. The term "urban renewal" has become synonymous with top-downgrand projets that destroy more than they create and end up being more trouble than they are worth to all but the few who profit from them. Gehl says his company has been involved a several projects to change poorly-designed and maintained housing estates for the better, preferring to replace only some of the dwellings rather than sweep the whole lot away, and concentrating on humanising and re-ordering open areas to correct what he describes as "the modernist mistake" by turning these into "spaces for people to enjoy, rather than voids."
A brief video from the National Building Museum included with this article features Gehl as he attempts to answer the question: What makes a city intelligent? He provides a compelling answer and concludes with a mention of Jane Jacobs—reiterating her approach to community building:
"Jane Jacobs embraced her words and said, “Hey guys if we let these planners and these traffic engineers as they had started we would have made all the great American cities dead instead of them being alive”'
Read the full article here.
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Last night - in conjunction with the presentation of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal - the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) hosted their annual Jane Jacobs Forum at The Times Center, New York. A panel of leading women in the fields of architecture and planning, landscape architecture, development, community development, business and the arts, discussed the topic of Women as City Builders.
Invited to bring What We See, publisher New Village Press was honored to hear MAS President, Vin Cipolla, use the theme of the book as a launch for his introductory remarks. Contributing author, Roberta Brandes Gratz and co-editor, Lynne Elizabeth were delighted to chat with event attendees and even sign a few books!
New Village Press, publisher of What We See was invited by The Municipal Arts Society of New York and The Rockefeller Foundation to attend the presentation of the Jane Jacobs Medal 2013 Awards Ceremony, honoring Bette Midler for Lifetime Leadership and Ian Marvy for New Ideas and Activism.
Since founding the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in 1995, award-winning actress and singer, Bette Midler has been a passionate and influential advocate for the city’s most forgotten spaces; parks and community gardens in underserved neighborhoods. NYRP has revitalized neglected parks in upper Manhattan; restored storm-ravaged parks in Queens and Brooklyn; and transformed a derelict stretch of shoreline into Sherman Creek Park, a waterfront gem featuring the first boathouse on the Harlem River in over 100 years. Midler led the charge to save 114 community gardens from development, and NYRP continues to maintain and program 52 of them, with concentrations in East Harlem, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. Together with Mayor Bloomberg, Midler launched the MillionTreesNYC initiative, which is now slated to reach its ambitious goal to full two years ahead of schedule.
By nurturing a new generation of young leaders through the operation of a socially-responsible urban farming enterprise, Ian Marvy co-founded Added Value in 2001, with the aim of building Brooklyn’s Red Hook into a more sustainable neighborhood. Partnering with neighbours, civil society, City, State and Federal governments to transform acres of unused land into vibrant urban farms. These farms serve as community centers where thousands of men and women, young and old, learn and grow together. They are inspiring platforms that promote community development, economic activity and environmental sustainability.
Under Marvy’s leadership, Added Value has demonstrated that urban agriculture is a powerful catalyst to activate public space and motivate youth to positively engage with their community. They have pioneered innovative programs that support food access for low income communities, educational initiatives for public school students and agricultural projects benefiting urban and rural New Yorkers. Marvy is an Echoing Green Fellow, a Petra Social Justice Fellow, a Union Square Awardee, and the National Resource Defense Council/Earth Day Environmental Activist of the Year. He is the creator of the Five Borough Farm report and frequently consults on new projects, for funders, and government on urban agricultural projects.
Congratulations to two What We See authors, Chester Hartman and Ron Shiffman for receiving the 2013 Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award and the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership, respectively.
Mr. Hartman, contributor to What We See, received the Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award from the National Low Income Housing Colalition for his lifetime of scholarship and formative influence on urban and housing policy. Mr. Hartman, who is now PRRAC’s Director of Research, was the organization’s first executive director, from 1990-2003, and helped build the organization into an important source for civil rights policy and research. He is also an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s Department of Sociology, where he is a member of SEIU Local 500, and the Coalition of Academic Labor, which he helped organize and create.
Ron Shiffman, contributor to What We See and the lead editor for Beyond Zuccotti Park, was awarded the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership last week, after the awards ceremony was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. For more than fifty years, Mr. Shiffman has been working to promote community-based activism. His work to rebuild Bedford-Stuyvesant through economic development programs inspired the creation of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, which he, along with Dr. George Raymond, founded in 1964. The center continues to empower low- and moderate-income communities in New York to plan for and realize their futures. In recent years, Mr. Shiffman has advised Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, an organization that incorporates voices from the Brooklyn community in planning and development.
We at New Village Press are honored to have Mr. Hartman and Mr. Shiffman as authors and friends. Please visit this site for the full media release on Mr. Hartman and here for Mr. Shiffman’s reception speech.
Mary Rowe, vice president of the Municipal Art Society of New York and contributor to What We See, and Kate Ascher, author of The Works and The Heights, recently organized the Jane Jacobs Revisited: A Bellagio Conference. The conference gathered twenty participants across city-building disciplines to mark the 50th anniversary of Jane Jacobs’s seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and took place at the Bellagio Center at Villa Serbellino, a center for learning and discussion operated by the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy. On the agenda was to discuss the city principles Jane Jacobs promulgated in her book and address their applicability in the global cities of today.
Michelle Young of Untapped Cities reported that "the programming included 3 minute Pecha Kuccha presentations on examples today that represented Jacobs’ principles and over four days of group discussion in different configurations of participants." Furthermore, Mary Rowe told her, “It’s a Jane Jacobs world now,” and that Jacobs “was an early identifier of complexity, a supporter of organic design and diversities of all kinds, and believed everything was relational–nothing has a single cause. She had an extreme resistance to big, universal, grand one size fits all efforts from the public or private sector and believed physical, economic and ethical processes needed to interact to create the process of the city. Today there is a growing sense of what sustainable, organic, livable cities should be but there is a need to discuss the obstacles to that occurring.”
The Bellagio Framework, as put forth by the participants of Jane Jacobs Revisited is as follows:
The purpose of the city is to provide sustainable environments that allow all people to live, work, and achieve their aspirations in an environment that supports self-determination and promotes that common good.
1. Build a city of choices, an urban archipelago that offers diversity and fosters innovation.
2. Make places that promote socioeconomic mixing, openness, and cultural exchange.
3. Actively integrate nature and the city in shared spaces that bring people joy.
4. Ensure environmental health and human security.
5. Encourage compact land use with diverse physical grain, matching density, infrastructure and local conditions.
Special thanks to filmmaker Don Downey and the perseverance of Mary Rowe and Kate Ascher for allowing this video from Jane Jacobs Revisited to be shared.
Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin has announced that Ronald Shiffman will receive the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership for his extensive commitment to community development. Ron Shiffman is a contributing author to the book What We See.
For more than fifty years, Mr. Shiffman has been working to promote community-based activism. His work to rebuild Bedford-Stuyvesant through economic development programs inspired the creation of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, which he, along with Dr. George Raymond, founded in 1964. The center continues to empower low- and moderate-income communities in New York to plan for and realize their futures. In recent years, Mr. Shiffman has advised Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, an organization that incorporates voices from the Brooklyn community in planning and development.
The announcement of this award parallels the recent publication of Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation for Public Space (New Village Press, October 2, 2012) for which Ron Shiffman is the lead editor. The book Beyond Zuccotti Park was conceived in response to the forced clearance of Occupy activities from public plazas throughout the country and examines the importance of public space as a critical civic forum for citizen expression. Forty contributing authors offer original essays about public space, including where and how people can congregate publicly today and whose voices are heard. The book is part of a larger national initiative also led by Ron Shiffman—Democracy, Equity, and Public Space. Mr. Shiffman will present Beyond Zuccotti Park October 19 at the 2012 MAS (Municipal Art Society) Summit for New York City.
As we approach a change of seasons, we hope that you continue to walk your city and explore new urban places. There are many events occurring in-between now and the festival weekend in May. Subscribe to the e-newsletter to keep up to date!
Learn about walks from around the world with the new Jane's Walk Blog! It starts us in Toronto, Canada in the historical Ashbridge neighborhood, with great pictures and information. For those in the Toronto area, Jane's Walk is partnering with the 4th annual free Riverside WALKfest, October 20, 2012. It should be a blast, with walks for all interests and ages!
Jane's Walk School Edition, established 2008, continues to engage students in urban planning, local history, and community-building. This fall, two schools met in downtown Toronto for an exchange and an afternoon of neighbourhood storytelling.
It's not too early to start thinking about Jane's Walk 2013. It will be happening May 4 and 5, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
What We See contributors Janette Sadik-Khan, Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Saskia Sassen, Ron Shiffman, Michael Sorkin, and Lynne Elizabeth will be featured in New Village Press's newest book Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space.
Beyond Zuccotti Park, to be released on September 11, 2012, examines the importance of public space as a community forum for citizen expression. Actions against Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have spotlighted US Constitutional rights to freedom of assembly. The book puts issues of democracy and civic engagement into the center of built environment dialogue by addressing where and how people can congregate publicly today, whose voices are heard, and the factors that limit the participation of minorities. It also gives fresh attention to the planning, design, and programming of public space.
Beyond Zuccotti Park was conceived in response to the forced clearance of Occupy activities from public plazas throughout the country. Its distinguished editors are advocates of participatory civic process: Ron Shiffman, FAICP, Hon. AIA, Director Emeritus, Pratt Center for Community Development and Professor, Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment; Rick Bell, Executive Director, American Institute of Architects, New York; Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, ACSA Distinguished Professor, School of Architecture, City College of New York, CUNY; Lynne Elizabeth, Director, New Village Press; Anastassia Fisyak, Urban Planning Fellow, Pratt Center for Community Development; and Anusha Venkataraman, Assistant Director, El Puente Green Light District. Beyond Zuccotti Park’s foreword was penned by Michael Kimmelman, chief architecture critic of the New York Times and Pulitzer Prize finalist.
The AIANY Center for Architecture will hold multiple events in celebration of Beyond Zuccotti Park:
- Exhibit Opening– September 6 (runs through 9/22) – Beyond Zuccotti Park: Exhibition as Occupation
- Book Launch– September 10 – presenters: Peter Marcuse, professor emeritus of Urban Planning at Columbia University, Sadra Shahab, Iranian urban planner and civil rights activist, and Nikki Stern, political, social, and cultural commentator
- Public Workshops– September 16 – commemorating the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
“This book, like Zuccotti [Park] itself, is a site of vigorous conversation, hard thinking, and bold proposals.”
—Mike Wallace, coauthor of Pulitzer Prize-winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and a contributor to What We See, is a gifted and innovative city planner with the heart of an advocate. She has gained international acclaim for her successful work in promoting cycling, expanding rapid-transit bussing, and making streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists than at any other time in the past century.
Beginning with Sustainable Streets, DOT’s first strategic plan published in 2008, Ms. Sadik-Khan has implemented a series of innovative projects: the creation of Broadway Boulevard, new Select Bus Service Routes in the Bronx and Manhattan, the installation of eighteen plazas, the addition of over 250 miles of on-street bike lanes, car-free summer streets, weekend pedestrian walks, and a new Street Design Manual requiring higher quality street designs for New York City.
For her extraordinary efforts at improving traffic flow, fostering sustainable transportation, and increasing New Yorkers’ access to open public spaces, Janette Sadik-Khan was awarded the 2011 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism by the Rockefeller Foundation. The 2011 Jane Jacobs Medal is awarded to those who build upon the work — and the spirit — of Jane Jacobs to revitalize urban communities for the people who live in them. Ms. Sadik-Khan will be donating her $50,000 award to the New York City DOT’s Safe Streets Fund.