Monday, June 15, 2009

Second Meeting-Tuesday


Next meeting times:

Face to Face: Tuesday, 10:30am, Backstory Cafe
Computer to Computer: Tuesday 8:30 (Chicago Time). Nef requested 30 minutes later, so she can get home from work. East Coasters, I hope this is not too late.

The first meeting on Jane Jacobs began by looking at one of the criteria she sites that promotes healthy neighborhoods:

"First, there must be a clear demarcation between public and private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other the way they typically do in suburban settings or in projects." Page 35 Vintage Press

From this many examples of positive city setting emerged. Over all, there was surprising agreement towards Ms. Jacobs theories. Essentially, we all wanted more of what she espouses, mixed use and a greater small individually owned businesses in our walking path that fostered pedestrian traffic at all times. Safe streets? Yes. More economic diversity? Yes. Sidewalks as places in their own right? Yes.

Her ideas are so simple and so clearly stated, it is really stunning they are not followed. She is empirical in her quest. What works, really works in the world around us and what can we learn from that? Her writing is a wonderful tour guide for walking the city.

The next section moves to broader topics than the city sidewalk.

Happy reading.



tara said...

yesterday I moved into a community that I think would be Jane Jacob's version of dystopia... I'm suspending judgement for now and looking at it as a phenomenal opportunity to observe both space and community action on that space. I measured the (seemingly) narrow sidewalks with my feet, but have not yet converted that to inches.

Today I read for about an hour on a bench near a corner. It didn't seem to be used much, but I haven't been here long enough to be sure. A few cars, a school bus, some work vehicles and two individual pedestrians passed me; none said hello, though I tried to catch all their eyes and even waved to a few. A landscaper did give me a "hey, what's up?" nod, but that was it.
I watched a curious interaction between a spider and a bee caught in its web; the bee eventually escaped, but not without injury.

Finally, I grew up in the suburbs of NJ, a couple of miles from the beach. I think the boardwalk of my childhood served much of the same function as the city sidewalk. Many eyes of varying familiarity were present. Much life and activity occurred. It certainly, "teem[ed] with life and adventure." (p. 85, vintage ed.)
Various people used the boardwalk from early morning to late evening. Different groups were present based on the weather (storms that repelled visitors attracted surfers and storm watchers). I would literally ride my bike two or three miles to walk the boards alone or with friends rather than take a walk in my subdivision (which somehow felt awkward and exposed). The area is very different today, with mom and pop snack/souvenier shacks and Skip's 30 hole miniature golf course replace with Dunkin Donuts, 7-11, and mid-to-upscale restaurants. The 'penny arcade' has been razed; in its place now stand a few McMansions with ocean views.
A few blocks from the beach, my grandfather held court with passersby from his porch. He had raised his family in Newark, very much a 'city sidewalk' community back in the 1930s through 1950s.

Lots to think about....hope to read others' thoughts here too.

tara said...

New York Times has an article on city life in Cairo, Egypt that sounds remarkably like Jane Jacob's Hudson Street circa 1960 - and for reasons that do seem to support her theory.

Thought y'all might enjoy taking a look.