Can Diversity Unite People?

In our reading, “Jane Jacobs and the Theory of Placemaking in Debates of Sustainable Urbanism,” author Adhya supports Jane Jacobs’s philosophy on placemaking over the common learned practice of community developers. Jacob’s writings are often criticized due to her lack of formal education, however, Adhya believes this is what makes her claims so valuable. She said, “her observations are grounded in common sense and human experience.” Without preconceived ideas of how to structure a city, Jacobs was able to look at the city planning with an unbiased, creative mind. 

Jacobs was considered the first to address the importance of diversity in community planning. Jacobs believes it is important, Adhya explains, “for planners to learn to acknowledge and work with emotions within the long-term project of intercultural co-existence.” It is not enough to think about the wants of the economically and politically powerful when planning an urban space but to also take into account the values, actions, and everyday use in urban environments. 

This weekend I had gone to the block party on Corso Garibaldi and was pleasantly surprised by how the space transformed to fit the desires of diverse groups with different interests. When I went, there was a DJ playing Italian reggae music. Although I should not have been surprised, I never thought that Italians listened to this genre, let alone celebrated to it! Groups of people passed by the DJ or stayed for a few minutes before leaving and continuing with their nights, but slowly throughout the night more people stopped and joined the party. Whether they were dancing or listening, people were out on the streets together connected through the block party. Performers and musicians (and even a man selling books) were there all night, one after another, bringing bigger crowds to join in the activities. By including diverse options throughout the night, new people were attracted to the street spending their Friday nights with strangers out in the community. For these reasons, I believe that this event is a great example of Jane Jacobs’s philosophy of using an anthropogenic focus in placemaking.

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