Jane Jacobs’ advice about city planning, urban development, and regional economics is timeless and just as relevant as when she wrote it. For this zine, I wondered what would a 2019 equivalent of Jane Jacobs write about? And what might she look like?
Aside from her famed anti-highway actions, Jacobs was a woman who got arrested for anti-war protests and was concerned about the disinvestment in black neighborhoods Her politics were undeniably radical – as much in 1961 when “Death and Life” was published and in 2004 when she wrote her final book, “A Dark Age Ahead.” Thus, the zine envisions a new Jane Jacobs as an activist fit for the dark age we are now in.
This list of ABCs keeps growing and evolving. Have an idea? Contact me!
Allyship: A commitment to the lives and struggles of those other than you.
Attainable Housing: Affordability is often subjective and ill-defined.
Anti-Racism: Being “not racist” is not enough in changing the status quo.
ABCD – Asset Based Community Development: A methodology to help flip the script on seeing and planning in under-resourced areas.
Austerity: Cutting resources to balance budgets. Proven to make things worse, and a politics that says there’s no money even when cities are flush with money.
Black Lives Matter: A movement uplifting Black, Latinx, and minority peoples’ right to lead lives free from everyday violence, brutality, and racism.
Climate Change: A fact that human activity is putting at risk the very viability of the planet being able to sustain life.
Creative Class: A methodology by Richard Florida that championed a new “class” of wealthy, young, childless professionals as cities’ saviors. Now seen as flawed, linked to exacerbating inequality, and somewhat disowned by Florida himself.
Double Poverty: When someone poor lives among other poor people. This fact makes escaping poverty nearly impossible.
Disneyfication: A side-effect of globalization and city branding that replaces cities’ & places’ character & variety with a palatable sameness.
Embeddedness: The way each of us is positioned in interlocking systems such as home, school, neighborhood, and culture.
Environmental Gentrification: As climate change intensifies, demand will increase for places protected from flooding, water scarcity, fires, etc.
Experiencing Homelessness: Seeing being homeless as not an identity but a phase.
Equity: A mindset that posits the equality of all people as a baseline.
Exclusion: How society pushes people to the fringes of society.
Fractal City: A way of seeing cities as ever-complex systems that rejects simplistic “rich vs. poor” or “black vs. white” dichotomies.
Gentrification: A poorly-understood and actually rare phenomenon that is blamed for cities’ growing inequalities. A method of social class displacement.
Hope versus Fear: Two drivers of human activity. Which one a person chooses has vast ramifications for one’s participation in city life.
Intersectionality: People’s lives don’t ever neatly fit single, separate issues.
Identity Politics: The forced politicization of sociocultural categories. Often bandied about as a pejorative by those whose identities aren’t under attack.
Justice: Can be many things, but broadly fits in categories such as:
• Social: Broadly refers to equalizing relations between a person and society.
• Spatial: Acknowledges that resources are unfairly spread out in urban space.
• Economic: Relies on economics as a way to advance social equality.
• Gender: Helping women (cis & trans) thrive in a male-centric society.
• Reproductive: Birth control & abortion access to help women achieve parity
• Restorative: Tackles broken & racist policing and justice systems.
• Mobility: Improving access to opportunity by bettering mobility options.
Kind: Another term for “politically correct.” It does not cost anything for one to be kind, but often means a world of difference.
Liveability: A measure of how well a place is working for those who live there.
Living Street: Urban spaces designed for socializing and human interaction.
McMansion: The gawdy, cheaply-built but expensive, massive homes common in suburbs globally – in the US mandated by rigid zoning.
Missing Middle: Responds to how cities only build luxury or subsidized housing.
NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard): Naysayer politics rejecting all ideas driven by the risk of opening neighborhoods to others, namely minorities.
Nonmalefiscence: A medical term for the ethical aspiration of doing no harm.
Othering: How people get reduced to caricatures to fit notions of “us vs them.”
Over-policing: A source of vast harm and anguish for minorities, but an expected default by whites. Posits that police violence is a system of maintenance designed to hinder minorities from achieving equity in our society.
Over-resourced: We don’t talk enough about why it is some have so much.
Performative Progressiveness: Often, progressive values are merely an act.
Placebuilding: Rejects the practice of “placemaking” as prescriptive and a tool of displacement. Instead seeks to build on the existing vs. making something new.
Poverty Tax: The costs poor people incur to get by that other classes don’t (ie: banks’ low balance fees). One of countless ways society reinforces poverty.
Poverty as violence: Seeing poverty as arbitrary and enforced by society, rather than a personal or moral failing.
Privelege: The ability for one to exist without needing to be political.
Public Responsibility: The position that each of us must be answerable to even strangers. Also a measure of mental health: more = healthier people.
Queer: An all-encompassing term for those who are not straight.
Race: A social construct. There is only one race – the human one.
Racism: An ever-present and all-encompassing system and structure that sorts people based on the color of their skin.
Racialized Minority: Recognizes that society prescribes one their status as a minority, forcibly positioning them as “other” in all aspects of their lives.
Relatedness: The human capacity to connect with individuals and community.
Reparations: A call to compensate black folks for slavery and injustices that
have enriched some at their expense.
Superman Design: Tendency to design urban space as if from the air. Pretty renderings don’t always translate into usable designs.
SJW (Social Justice Warrior): A term twisted into a pejorative by those fighting AGAINST a more equal, just, and kind society.
Transgender: Persons whose gender expression varies from their assigned sex and some of cities’ most vulnerable residents. See also: Still Human.
Third Place: Somewhere that is neither home nor work. Best where spending is not expected. A rarity in a capitalist society and a lack of which is troubling.
Urban Transect: A fractal model to help define and design urban spaces.
Urban Renewal: The still-alive system of systemic destruction and displacement.
Vancouverism: Apparently a term for urban planning done right.
Wedge Issue: An artificial way to divide people by exploiting ignorance and difference. See: gay & trans rights, gun control, abortion, immigration.
Welcoming City: A policy that makes life for undocumented people more tolerable, but still doesn’t protect them from the terrorism of deportation.
White Supremacy: A vile world-view that posits everyone who is not a straight, white man as barely human. Supremacists’ ultimate goal is to purify society from “the other” by annihilating gays, Jews, and non-whites. More commonly, this describes how society is designed to benefit whites and harm all others.
Xenophobia: A fear of others that’d be laughable if not for the way its used today to terrorize immigrants by White Supremacism-friendly policy-makers.
YIMBY: A rejection of the dog-whistle racism and classicism of NIMBYism – that must be kept from being co-opted by developers.
Zoning: Land use law that is, by default, exclusionary but inclusionary by choice.