What We See Blog
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.
Roberta Brandes Gratz, What We See contributing author, has an excellent new piece in the Huffington Post—Stockholm Leads the Way. In the article she writes about Stockholm, first recipient of the "Green Capital" award in Europe. The city has managed to boost its economy while promoting a sense of ecology that promises to be permanent and sustainable. Gratz gives specific examples and makes the project seem achievable.
We look forward to more projects like the Green Capital award, and even more, to more communities "greening" themselves without the need for recognition.
Similar to Jane’s Walk in providing opportunities for people to experience and explore what a real livable and walkable urban neighborhood can feel like, comes Sunday Streets San Francisco, a safe, fun, car-free open space created to allow people to get out and get active in the community!
On a selected Sunday of each month between March and October, the City of San Francisco closes off designated neighborhood streets to cars and opens them to pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, and activities. Known as Sunday Streets, the event encourages health, community, and fun by creating a large and open public space in which one may safely enjoy the streets and explore new neighborhoods. Not only does Sunday Streets offer free and fun physical activity space, but it also provides open space in neighborhoods that lack such space currently. The safe and open public space made available to pedestrians and bicyclists also benefits local businesses and generates increased community awareness.
Introduced in 2008 by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the program began with two events that connected Chinatown to the Bayview with a 4.5 miles route from Portsmouth Square in Chinatown along the Embarcadero to the Bayview Opera House. Sunday Streets has since grown each year in popularity and even became an official City program in 2010. The 2011 Season has been extended into new neighborhoods and includes a more diverse program that emphasizes the unique character of each neighborhood and highlights overlooked community attractions and institutions. Returning popular activities include free bike rentals and bike safety courses offered by local bike rental companies and organizations, a mobile roller disco with free skate rentals, and activities coordinated by the YMCA of San Francisco for children and families. Participants can also enjoy group activities such as tai chi, yoga, aerobics, and much more along the route.
“A quality city is not one that has great roads but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle.”
- Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia from 1998 until 2001
The Sunday Streets San Francisco event serves to demonstrate how even big cities can provide healthy and environmentally friendly activities for their residents and was inspired by similar events in cities throughout the world from New York City to Tokyo to Kiev. The idea for Sunday Streets originated from a program known as Ciclovía in Bogota, Columbia (website is in Spanish). Ciclovía, a Spanish term meaning “bike path,” is a weekly event held every Sunday and holiday in Bogotá to promote free and healthy community oriented activities, including dance and yoga lessons in the local parks. Founded in 1976, the event has grown to cover an estimated 70 percent of the 20 neighborhoods - over 70 miles of specifically chosen routes to connect neighborhoods! Every week more than 1.5 million people - nearly 20 percent of the city’s population - walk, bike, or skate to other neighborhoods, visit friends, and take their children to experience different neighborhood parks and attractions.
Sunday Streets San Francisco is free and open to all! Upcoming 2011 event dates and neighborhood locations include: the Bayview (June 12), the Great Highway (July 10), the Civic Center/Tenderloin (August 14), the Western Addition (September 11), and the Mission (October 23). The events last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For information on New York City’s initiatives to create sustainable streets please refer to Janette Sadik-Khan’s article entitled, “Think of a City and What Comes to Mind? Its Streets,” in What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs. As the Commissioner of the New York City Transportation Department, Sadik-Khan launched the Department of Transportation (DOT) report on “World Class Streets: Remaking New York City’s Public Realm” in 2008 and has sought to invest in New York City’s public transit, bicycling, and walking infrastructure, and bring a more pedestrian-focused agenda to the streets. New York City’s “Summer Streets,” New York’s own version of Sunday Streets San Francisco, began in 2008 and is a project of DOT under Commissioner Sadik-Khan. For further discussion and reflection on Janette Sadik-Khan’s plan to remake New York City streets to show more concern for people rather than cars please see Jan Gehl’s article entitled, “For You Jane,” also in What We See.
Here are two exciting ways we can participate in honoring Jane Jacobs in 2011:
The first is the annual Jane’s Walk on May 7 and 8, 2011. Jane’s Walk is a free neighborhood walking tour conducted in cities in the US, Canada, and now internationally that brings communities together to celebrate and discover each other and their surroundings. It coincides with Jane's birthday on the first weekend of May, and thousands participate each year to explore their own urban landscapes, from housing projects to richly historic areas to secret gardens. Walks are led by individuals or by groups—find out how to host a Jane’s Walk in your city.
Second, the Queen Jane Jacobs conference in Hamburg, Germany at the HafenCity University Hamburg on May 12 and 13, 2011 . This two-day academic event, sponsored by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, will be a discussion of Jacobs' work and influence. The conference is being held to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Death and Life of American Cities. Participants include several leading scholars from around the world. The conference organizers have recently sent out a call for papers on topics such as new approaches to urban renewal and rehabilitation, biographical background on Jane Jacobs, shifting paradigms toward conservation, and Jacobs’ influence on economic theory and urban economics.
For its third year in a row, re:place Magazine has drawn up a list of their favorite books pertaining to urban and architectural issues—this year, the list included What We See among the top titles. re:place is a non-profit organization devoted to fostering diverse and open discussion for the expanding public interest in urban development and renewal, especially in the Greater Vancouver area. Books chosen for the Top Ten are both new titles published in 2010 and older titles they believe deserve to be rediscovered by urban enthusiasts.
Reviewer Lisa Brideau writes, “Jane Jacobs is an iconic figure in the field of urban planning and to those generally interested in city-related issues. This makes creating a book with her name emblazoned so boldly on the cover extremely courageous and sets readers up for some mighty high expectations. Yet this is the challenge editors Lynne Elizabeth and Stephen Goldsmith set out to face with their most recent book."
Read the entire review here.