Documentary: Citizen Jane - Battle For the City
"She believed a city is not its buildings; it's its people. It's its streets, parks and public spaces. And she stood up for that."
The documentary 'Citizen Jane, Battle for the City' brilliantly unpicks the complex, man-made ecosystem that is the city, referencing the boom in urban development post WWII alongside the present and future centres. It hangs on the story of American activist and writer, Jane Jacobs, who was vocal in being sceptical of the focus on financial growth and imposed structures associated with the success of future cities.
"New York was a place where you don't have to be big and important and rich or have a great plot of land or a great development scheme to do something. And maybe even do something new and interesting. A place with scope for all kinds of people.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 the Great American City
Acknowledging that cities are made up of buildings and infrastructure, but also relationships, spaces, behaviours, habits and stories, the documentary highlights Jacobs' belief in the absolute need to develop cities alongside the fabric of what already exists amongst the people who live there. As one of the pioneering experts in city organisation, her thoughts still resonate clearly with the way we can see cities growing in 2017. So, so worth a watch.
'It is so easy to blame the decay of cities on traffic, or immigrants, or the shims of the middle class. The decay of cities goes much deeper; it goes right down to what we think we want and to our ignorance about how cities work. ' - Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of the Great American City