Must-read blogging: Jane Jacobs 101

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Jane Jacobs is one of my heroes, my city planning guru. If there's one book I wish every city official would read, it's her Death and Life of Great American Cities.

There's an excellent introduction to Jane Jacobs' life and work over on 2Blowhards. It not only gives you the basic bio, but it puts her life in the context of the post-war, government-driven, in-the-name-of-progress madness that destroyed so much of our nation's urban fabric. Reading this article will help you understand why so many "revitalization" attempts not only failed but actually made things worse.

If you're a Tulsa voter, and more importantly if you're a candidate or a reporter or a leader in Step Up Tulsa! or a participant in Leadership Tulsa or on the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber or in the leadership of the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition, if you have the notion that all urban critics are cranky naysayers, you need to read this, preferably with an open mind. Even if you can't manage an open mind, read it anyway. It still might help.

Hat tip to David Sucher's City Comforts Blog.

TRACKBACK: Forrest Christian at Requisite Reading links to a post from his archive, about the application of Jacobs' urban observations to the office environment, and the importance of relationships with "weak ties" to innovation.


susan said:

Interesting! I grew up a few blocks from Philbrook Art Museum. We had neighborhood games, most of the mothers were stay at home moms "keeping the neighborhood vital" and the parents in this neighborhood all middle to upper class still went to our elementary school PTA and school functions. One neighbor became a Governor of Oklahoma and was that ever interesting to watch as a child with all the different political people coming to their house for months for meetings. Sure, I rode in parades for our neighbor and on his floats. Teens and friends of his children supported him as a neighbor, our friend, not because he was democrat or republican but because he was always friendly, always bought our girl scout or fundraising items, supported our school, his wife was active in our neighborhood carpools -- no school buses needed back then -- we had mothers around if the weather was bad. If the weather was nice it was perfectly fine to walk safely home a half mile or more because most of the neighbors along the way all knew us and if anything went wrong they knew who to call.

As the government as seen fit to become more involved, take more and more from our paychecks and the cost for college education has gone up dramatically along with the price of American automobiles and other things people enjoy, mothers have gone back to work. Staying home and being the teacher and a devoted wife or husband, community helper has vanished for many homes. Sit down meals -- many homes eat at different times and parents don't even take the time to see how the child's day or homework lesson or school day went.

This election for Tulsa's next Mayor we have candidates that are wealthy and candidates that are not wealthy. Some had to earn their way through college and others had it completely paid for by their relatives or parents.

There have been many people since Governor Henry and Mayor LaFortune took office that lived on unemployment because the loss of their good job was no fault of their own. We need a lot more progress in getting higher paying jobs back for the educated workers that lost their jobs during this time. We need to bring in good businesses with ethical general managers, presidents, and CEO's that won't lie, cheat, conflicts of interest that will make Tulsa thrive once again.

The candidates need to be specific and explain how they think they can do a better job if they are elected as our next Mayor of Tulsa.

manasclerk Author Profile Page said:

Heywood Sanders and Char Miller introduced me to Jane Jacobs during my stint at Trinity and her work influenced my thinking to no end. Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting article in the New Yorker on making your office a village that references her influence. (Search my site for it; sorry, too lazy to find a link.)

There are some major criticisms of her work from a sociological angle that are worth reading, but for the life of me I can't recall what they are. Very different from the hyper-modernists you normally read.

Of course, one of the major problems was that people weren't buying Jane Jacobs's vision of humanly living; Americans wanted to live in the suburbs. Which led us to not being able to let your kids play out on the front lawn any more.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 7, 2006 11:17 PM.

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