i told my friend elizabeth that i would mail her a book. i have not mailed the book yet because i'm having trouble letting go of it. it's one of my absolute favorites - Jane Jacob's Economy of Cities. I went to the bookstore yesterday though and got them to order me a copy, so it, in theory, should be easier to part with.
thinking about mailing the book, though, it felt irresponsible to send it off without adding a word or note about what about the book makes it so incredibly good.
Jane Jacobs is one of those rare writers that I absolutely admire. That I want to emulate. She's a smart visionary who's observant and well spoken. She's not afraid to speculate or craft alternate theories for reality that are grounded very much in acute, acurate observations of the world we live in. Her writing reveals how much attention she pays to the world. It's rare to find an author who's so just flat out observant and curious about the reasons why things work the way they do.
I love Jane because her writing is feminist just by the nature of her being. Reading Jane is to step into the observant world of a woman; she sees things differently than men because her position in life is not that of a man. Her work is stronger because of her viewpoint. She writes like a woman: clearly, richly, observantly, clairvoyantly.
I think Houston is a great place to be and be reading Jane Jacobs. Houston, in my not unbiased opinion, is one of the most vibrantly exciting metropolises in the United States right now. It's got growth and verve and the right amount of rooty space and lack of media coverage that really lets weird, quirky, projects and experiments grow into life. I'm excited for Houston; I'm envious in some small way that you are there and are deeply embedded into the community that I left behind.
I'm sending you Jane because I want to see her come alive in Houston, through you and maybe through the people that you know. She's right about how cities work, about how communities grow, about what makes a fun and vibrant economy. It's my hope for Houston that it can be all of these things (more so than it already is!)
That's a lot of hope to put on you; to put on a yellow-jacketed book. I hope you're forgive my audacity at hoping to make you into a vessel. There are much broader and grander things in your life than this small book. If it is useful, please disregard my grand ambitions and know only that I truly, deeply believe that this book is worthwhile, that it is right; that its lens for looking at the world are truly transformative. Because if she is right about how cities form, and how technology disrupts then we, as people, can make better decisions about how to stay prosperous, how to be a booming and generous economy.
On second thought, maybe this book doesn't need an intro.
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this has been copied without permission from the appendix of the 2011 edition of The Question of Separatism. It was conducted with Jane in ...