Thursday, April 19, 2018

Weekend of Jane Jacobs studies the life and work of the great American city activist

"In our American cities, we need all kinds of diversity"

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 12:28 PM

  • Provided
Design Division, the City of Charleston's in-house design studio, presents four days of events to celebrate the life of Jane Jacobs, an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist who influenced urban studies. Held May 3- 6, the event serves to, in the words of Design Division, "elevate community dialogue on urban design issues in the city," with a film screening, book club, and two community walks.

click to enlarge Jacobs' "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" is standard reading for aspiring urbanists - PUBLIC DOMAIN
  • Public Domain
  • Jacobs' "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" is standard reading for aspiring urbanists
Design Division says, "Jane Jacobs's harsh criticism of 1960's city planning practice launched a renewed appreciation of how places in cities actually work." According to Project for Public Spaces, Jacobs "relied on her observations and common sense to show why certain places work, and what can be done to improve those that do not." Jacobs touted the importance of viewing cities as ecosystems, of mixed-use development, of higher density, and of local economies.

To say that Charleston has an urban planning problem would be an understatement (please see: cars, cars, and more cars). Hell, this year's month-long art festival/community event, Awakening: Motion, co-produced by Enough Pie and Charleston Moves, is dedicated to the championing of public transportation and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares.

Design Division wants to address the city's urban issues (although solving them is another conversation entirely) with a May 3 screening of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a new documentary from Matt Tyrnauer; a May 4 book club centered around Jacobs' book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and moderated by two local government planners, Katie McKain and Eric Pohlman; and two Jane's Walks, citizen-led walking conversations inspired by Jane Jacobs.

On Sat. May 5 at 10 a.m. head to the Charleston Civic Design Center, 85 Calhoun St., for a walk led by one of the Design Center's volunteers, which travels through Charleston streets and ends up back at the Design Center.

On Sun. May 6 at 4 p.m., in collaboration with Enough Pie and Charleston Moves' Awakening: Motion, head to the Saint Julian Devine Center for a walk to the Eastside Community Development Corporation on America Street, focusing on the "unique character and walkability of Charleston's Eastside neighborhood." City staff and neighborhood leaders will be involved in this conversation.

See the full line-up of events and learn more about the city Design Division at

Cover photo credit: Library of Congress

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