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Through the Lens of Urban Ecology


The Center's purpose is to expand the understanding of the complexity of contemporary urban life and through it, promote increased civic engagement among people who care deeply for their communities.

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Through the Lens of Urban Ecology


The Center's purpose is to expand the understanding of the complexity of contemporary urban life and through it, promote increased civic engagement among people who care deeply for their communities.

Through the lens of urban ecology

The Center's purpose is to expand the understanding of the complexity of contemporary urban life and through it, promote increased civic engagement among people who care deeply for their communities.

The Center provides portals for community engagement through the lens of urban ecology to further the understanding of the interconnected human and ecological systems in our communities. 

Urban ecology is the study of the ways that human and ecological systems evolve together in urban and urbanizing regions. Through the comprehensive understanding of the ecology of cities, people can make more informed decisions about the future of places they care about. This urban ecological framework fosters collaborative, holistic and ground-up approaches to city building. Our multi-disciplinary approach to community engagement is applied through educational programs, collaborative projects, fellowships, on-line portals, workshops and publications. 

The Center also creates opportunities for at-risk, underrepresented, and curious individuals to understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens, assisting them in finding avenues for community action. A specific example of this work is a project funded by the Ford Foundation encouraging girls and young women around the globe to observe their neighborhoods, create a response to opportunities and problems they recognize and through these efforts, amplify their voices as engaged citizens. 

Cities are living organisms where dynamic systems metabolize every element. Opening doors where youth can discover these invisible flows makes opportunities for culture change visible. Teaching youth with dynamic, hands-on lessons about the intricate systems of cities empowers them to grasp a city’s essence. This understanding expands the ways they can participate in shaping, repairing and preserving the places they care about. To make a difference we have to know and love our cities.  

To further the understanding and complexity of urban life, the Center is creating a new program that seeks to strengthen the vocabulary, knowledge and skills of journalists who write about cities. This project addresses a shortfall in journalism and provides citizens and policymakers with the knowledge needed to accurately inform the ways people can preserve and transform their communities.

 

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Celebrate Jane Jacobs 100th


Celebrate Jane Jacobs 100th


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Jane Jacobs Observe! Patch


Developing voices + skills through the power of observation, communication + action.

Jane Jacobs Observe! Patch


Developing voices + skills through the power of observation, communication + action.

jane jacobs fellowship: observe! Patch

overview

The Center for the Living City, with support from the Ford Foundation, has selected an energetic, creative and committed Fellow, Kat Nix, to advance a meaningful project for girls and young women throughout the world.

One of the main goals of this Jane Jacobs Fellowship is to develop civically engaged voices of young women that lead to local and global action in the places they care about. The girls and young women will participate in a community-based patch program, learn about cities and develop skills that will amplify their voices as they engage in place-based, creative action. 

Women and girls are deeply affected by misogynistic behaviors and attitudes prevalent in societies around the globe. The impacts are often internalized, creating barriers that diminish and even silence their voices. Urgent problems facing communities, including the impacts of climate change, rapid urbanization, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, food deserts and other deficiencies are also opportunities for creative responses from the change-makers of the future. Inspired by the broad impacts of women like Jane Jacobs, Wangari Maathai, and recently, Malala Yousafzai, girls and young women have both new role models and new narratives to help them navigate through inequalities and push for creative expression. This program will provide skills and tools that both inform action and support their developing voices. 

Girl Scouts of Utah troop #496 lead a group of girls on a Jane Jacobs Walk. Spring 2016 Salt Lake City, UT. 

Girl Scouts of Utah troop #496 lead a group of girls on a Jane Jacobs Walk. Spring 2016 Salt Lake City, UT. 

The selected Jane Jacobs Fellow will work with the Center for the Living City and is seeking to engage the Girl Scouts of the USA, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and other worldwide organizations to identify, create and disseminate resources to implement the Observe! patch globally.

This fellowship will build upon a successful pilot project with the Girl Scouts of Utah during spring of 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The project focused on Jacobs’ groundbreaking work about the importance of observation. Beginning with the reading of Glenna Lang’s book, Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of the Death and Life of Great American Citiesthe girls came to understand the importance of Jacobs’ voice in our evolving understanding of cities. Lang’s book both describes Jacobs’ young life in Scranton, Pa., where she was herself a Girl Scout, and opens a window on Jacobs’ bold voice as she worked to understand the ways cities work.

Once the girls and young women understand how Jacobs developed her powerful observational skills to create new knowledge about cities, they will create individual Jane Jacobs Walks that introduce one another to their unique communities. These elements might include, but are not limited to, those which may cause concern or joy, inform a sense of history, address problems of housing, mobility, food justice, access to education and sanitation, or a host of other problems witnessed through their observational skills. They are invited to propose ways to preserve, celebrate, heal or transform an area they discover. In each case, their discoveries open pathways for creative action and a working vocabulary of the ecology of cities.

KATHERINE NIX, JANE JACOBS FELLOW- OBSERVE! PATCH

kat@centerforthelivingcity.org

Kat Nix graduated from the University of Utah in May of 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Urban Ecology and a minor in Multidisciplinary Design. For the last four years, she has worked with at-risk Latinx youth in the Salt Lake Valley through the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. She loves working with youth and ispassionate about creating equal opportunities for marginalized populations. She deeply believes creative placemaking, social and environmental diversity, unencumbered play and observation are key to vibrant communities. Kat is excited to be working with the Center of the Living City to help young womxn and girls around the globe to claim their voices and create meaningful change in their communities.

 

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Citizen Jane: Battle For The City


Coming soon to a community near you | 2017

Citizen Jane: Battle For The City


Coming soon to a community near you | 2017

 
Opening in theaters April 21st Directed by: Matt Tyrnauer Chronicle of activist Jane Jacobs' battle with developers who threatened to demolish NYC's most historic neighborhoods and a lesson in the power of the average person to push back.

This is a story about our global urban future, in which nearly three-fourths of the world’s population will live in cities by the end of this century. It’s also a story about America’s recent urban past, in which bureaucratic, “top down” approaches to building cities have dramatically clashed with grassroots, “bottom up” approaches. Around the world today, among rising powers such as China and India, new mega-cities are being built “top down,” with little or no input from those who inhabit them, or from the communities who have been displaced to make way for their construction. By bringing back to life the struggles and battles over urban planning in the 20th century United States, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City shows that anti-democratic approaches to city planning and building are fundamentally unsustainable; a grassroots, “bottom up” approach is imperative to the social, economic, and ecological success of tomorrow’s global cities. 

In the words of American urbanist Jane Jacobs:

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The film highlights Jane Jacobs’ magisterial 1961 treatise The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she single-handedly undercuts her era’s orthodox model of city planning, exemplified by the massive Urban Renewal projects of New York’s “Master Builder,” Robert Moses. Jacobs and Moses figure centrally in our story as archetypes of the “bottom up” and the “top down,” respectively. They also figure as two larger-than-life personalities: Jacobs—a journalist with provincial origins, no formal training in city planning, and scarce institutional authority seems at first glance to share little in common with Robert Moses, a high prince of government and urban theory fully ensconced in New York’s halls of power and privilege. Yet both reveal themselves to be master tacticians who, in the middle of the 20th century, became locked in an epic struggle over the fate of the city. In three suspenseful acts, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City gives audiences a front row seat to this battle, and shows how two opposing visions of urban greatness continue to ripple across the world stage, with unexpectedly high stakes.

 

ADDITIONAL CREDITS

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Juliet Page, Pierre Lagrange, Bernard Lagrange

CINEMATOGRAPHER

Chris Dapkins

DIRECTOR

Matt Tyrnauer

PRODUCER

Robert Hammond, Matt Tyrnauer, Corey Reeser, Jessica Van Garsse

CONNECT

Website | @janejacobsdoc | Facebook

 
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Jane Jacobs Walk


Walk | Observe | Connect

Jane Jacobs Walk


Walk | Observe | Connect

 
 

Jane Jacobs Walk is a program of the Center for the Living City. We celebrate her life and legacy by inviting people to organize walks in their communities throughout the year.

Jane Jacobs Walk in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo Credit: Camila Selva Cabral

Jane Jacobs was a community organizer who helped save her neighborhoods from destruction by the hands outside interests.  She invited everyone to see how cities actually work through experience, to go out and see what makes a neighborhood thrive, or to see what makes a neighborhood struggle.  And she opposed those who insisted on the same solutions to fix the unique challenges in cities.

We honor Jane Jacobs by helping people leave the isolation of their homes to come together to experience areas of their city outside of the automobile. The purpose of Jane Jacobs Walk is to engage people in walking, observing, and connecting with their communities. We invite people to make a difference because a Jane Jacobs Walk enables members of a community to discover and respond to the complexities of their city  and environment through personal and shared observation.

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Center Exhibitions


Center Exhibitions


Learning from Disaster: New Orleans After Katrina

Three months after Hurricane Katrina undermined the lives and places of people in New Orleans, the Center for the Living City organized a team of students from Purchase College to go to New Orleans and learn from the disaster.  While in New Orleans, students participated in stripping homes and preparing them for reconstruction. Using the power of observation informed through the work of Jane Jacobs, volunteers from the Center led students in a process where exploration, information and knowledge gained led to an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York titled, Learning from Disaster: New Orleans After Katrina. An important component of this exhibition was comparing and contrasting the experience of students whose lives were changed by the World Trade Center disaster.

About Learning From Disaster