and author Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) turned a half-century of
thinking within the field of urban planning on its head. There
are few if any other thinkers in Canada today so original
in their ideas, so influential in their legacy, and so vindicated
by subsequent trends.
June 2nd, 2004 over 650 people gathered at First United Church
in Waterloo, Ontario to hear Jane Jacobs speak.
The event was organized by Wordsworth Books,
an independent book store in Waterloo. Jane Jacobs was interviewed
onstage by the KW Record’s Terry Pender about her book,
Dark Age Ahead, and Tamarack was delighted to be
able to capture this event on tape.
Jane Jacobs's previous books include The
Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) which
redefined urban studies and economic policy, The Economy
of Cities (1968), The Question of Separatism
(1980), Cities and the Wealth of Nations (1984),
and Systems of Survival (1993). Since 1968 she lived
and worked in Toronto.
This workshop offers a few clips from Jacobs's
interview in Waterloo as well as reviews of Dark Age Ahead.
know this workshop merely scratches the surface of Jacobs's
ideas and work, but we hope it provides a good launching pad
for further learning. We hope you enjoy!
"Visionary thinker Jane Jacobs uses
her authoritative work on urban life and economies to show
us how we can protect and strengthen our culture and communities.
In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs identifies
five pillars of our culture that we depend on but which are
in serious decline: community and family; higher education;
the effective practice of science; taxation and government;
and self-policing by learned professions. The decay of these
pillars, Jacobs contends, is behind such ills as environmental
crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor;
their continued degradation could lead us into a new Dark
Age, a period of cultural collapse in which all that keeps
a society alive and vibrant is forgotten.
|Family & Community - Jacobs discusses
the inter-connectedness of family and community.
|Encountering each other
- It's impossible, says Jacobs, to have community if people
do not encounter each other.
|Addressing the decline
- The Dark Age can be stemmed with small, deliberate steps.
this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Jacobs draws
on her vast frame of reference -- from fifteenth-century Chinese
shipbuilding to zoning regulations in Brampton, Ontario --
and in highly readable, invigorating prose offers proposals
that could arrest the cycles of decay and turn them into beneficent
ones. Wise, worldly, full of real-life examples and accessible
concepts, this book is an essential read for perilous times."
House of Canada)
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The May 2004 issue of the Literary Review
of Canada featured three reviews of Dark Age Ahead.
In recognition of the breadth of Jacobs's ideas, the reviewers
included an architect and urban planner to consider Jacobs's
work on cities, an economist to ponder the merits of her arguments
on economic systems, and an ethicist to examine Jacobs's approach
to society as a whole.
of Cities - Ken Greenberg is an architect and
urban designer currently involved in the renewal of
Toronto's Regent Park housing project.
In this essay, Greenberg argues that Jacobs's motivation
is to "unmask unhelpful dogma, to debunk myths
and to show that there are other modes of thought."
Jacobs, he says, "convincingly demonstrated that
there were sophisticated processes at work in the city
as a perpetually unfinished, intensely interactive web
Rules the Day - Economist Mark Lovewell is
director of Ryerson University's humanities-based Arts
and Contemporary Studies program and co-publisher of
the Literary Review of Canada.
In considering Jacobs's writing on the nature of economic
systems, Lovewell accuses her of "typically overlook[ing]
the posible advantages of large firms, consolidated
markets and standardization."
for a Toxic Age - Michael Valpy writes on religion
and ethics for The Globe & Mail. Dark Age Ahead, writes Valpy, shows us "an
observant Jane Jacobs who has left abstract theory to
return to the experiences of real people, and a prophetic
Jane Jacobs whose finger-wagging outside the tents of
the corporate and government elite has become very agitated
|Ideas that Matter - In conjunction with the LRC, Ideas that Matter
recently hosted an event to promote discourse on Dark
Age Ahead. They also sponsor the annual Jane Jacobs
Award. More information is available at their website.
to view website.
Thinking on its Head - Jane Jacobs - Helen
Walsh's article on Jacobs for Engage!
With thanks to the authors and the Literary
Review of Canada for permission to post these articles.
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