Celebrating Women – Jane Jacobs, urbanist and activist.

October is International Women’s Month. I am going to try to feature one woman per day – someone who has impacted my life, my thinking and my path. Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) has influenced my thinking about cities for many years. She was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a community-based approach to city building. Have you heard of Jane’s Walk? People around the world are sharing information and history about cities and neighbourhoods through Jane Walks. Check out: http://janeswalk.org/about/about-jane-jacobs/. 
“Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centered approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006. – https://centerforthelivingcity.org/janejacobs#info
I have a love for cities. I am grateful that my family (kids, life partner) love to travel as much as I do. I find it incredibly interesting to see how different countries worldwide invest in their cities and neighbourhoods. We rarely stay in hotels, and in fact, some of our favourite visits have been in hostels or shared homes. And It is why we open our home to international visitors (and students). The pandemic, while it has been very hard, has given us a chance to explore our own city more (always running).  A favourite talk (I’ve shown my students a few times) is from Kent Larson, who looks at how cities are changing and reinforces the idea that cities are ultimately about people. As noted in Ted, “Humanity’s future is the future of cities.
Before I sign off, I do need to share TVO’s Life Sized City at https://www.tvo.org/programs/the-life-sized-city
In a couple of weeks, Hamilton, Ontario (my city) will be featured (and guess who might appear in the episode?).  Note, the above picture is not Hamilton. 🙂