Join me Friday for a Jane Jacobs Evening: A Walk, Talk, and Screening of a New Film "Citizen Jane"

[Jacobs in Toronto in the 1970s.]
It's no exaggeration to say that this blog, and my entire personality, would not exist without Jane Jacobs. My interest in sidewalks came directly out of picking up her masterpiece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and digesting it thoroughly. I read it more than once, and it's been enlightening every time.

Not only was her book the right book at the right time for American urbanism, it was the right book at the right time for me personally. I'd just moved back to Saint Paul from living (and walking everywhere) in New York City. Jacobs' analysis has aged well in many ways, and it's a real eye opener for someone who has never though critically about urban design before.

Anyway, I've read the rest of Jacobs' curious books, and re-read Death and Life many times since, assigning it in just about every one of my classes. That's why I'm thrilled to participate in Preserve Minneapolis' event tomorrow celebrating Jacobs life and work, and a new film in her honor.

I haven't yet seen the film and, though I'm always skeptical about panegyric biopics, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Hosted by Preserve Minneapolis, we'll be walking from Buzza lofts along the Greenway in Uptown over to the Lagoon theater, and than having a brief discussion after the film about Jacobs' work and legacy.
[Jacobs at the Whitehorse Tavern in New York City. Fun fact: when James Howard Kunstler interviewed her, she annoyed him because she just wanted to drink beer instead of talk.]

Here's a description of the film:

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City is coming to Minneapolis and Preserve Minneapolis is ready!

Join us on Friday May 12 to celebrate Jane Jacobs and the release of this important film. We will begin the evening with socializing at Buzza Lofts of Uptown, discussing the key tenets of Jane's philosophy. We'll then take part in a Jane's Walk -- a citizen-led exploration with a focus on collective story-sharing and observation to explore the unique culture of the neighborhood. 

The Walk will bring us to Lagoon Cinema just in time to catch the film premiere. Tickets for the film $10 and $7 for those over age 65.

So who was Jane Jacobs?

In 1960 Jane's book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds, with its exploration of the consequences of modern planners’ and architects’ reconfiguration of cities. 

Jacobs was also an activist, who was involved in many fights in mid-century New York, to stop “master builder” Robert Moses from running roughshod over the city. This film retraces the battles for the city as personified by Jacobs and Moses, as urbanization moves to the very front of the global agenda. 

Many of the clues for formulating solutions to the dizzying array of urban issues can be found in Jacobs’s prescient text, and a close second look at her thinking and writing about cities is very much in order. This film sets out to examine the city of today though the lens of one of its greatest champions.

See you then!

[See also: In Defense of the Pedal Pub (and Jacobs' homage to late-night street bagpipers), Dinkytown and the Need for Old Buildings (on Jacobs, preservation, and organic urban space), RIP Jane Jacobs (after she died in '06), Development v. Destruction, and Principles of Sidewalkery: Density (on the need for density).]


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