If you’re reading this in a café within walking distance of work and home, and there’s a park or greenbelt area nearby, you can count yourself lucky: You live in a well-designed city. In Toward the Livable City, Emilie Buchwald gathers together 16 contributors, whose essays and art entice us toward the antidote to suburban sprawl — sustainable, vital, high-density cities. Buchwald, co-founder of a small press that publishes books about city planning, says the book is her way to "get people to care about place without hitting them over the head."
Contributor Jane Holtz Kay describes what
makes a city such as Boston "wear well": the casual, congenial
mingling of a wildly diverse set of residents, the one-of-a-kind
restaurants and shops, the ease of hopping a bus or subway. In a
celebration of urban gardens, Kristin Brennan shows how growing
vegetables transformed a Boston neighborhood, reclaimed polluted
land, and taught kids that carrots can taste better than potato
chips. And Ken Avidor’s pointed cartoons use characters like
Anger Man, a wasteful consumer, and Roadkill Bill, a frequently
run-over rodent, to provoke both laughter and embarrassment at our
car-based society. Looking abroad, Jay Walljasper examines what
makes European cities so vibrant and livable: Most people walk or
bike rather than drive, and wealthy suburbs share the cost of
inner-city social programs.
Instead of lecturing us,
these writers gently nudge us from car-dependent sprawl toward
compact neighborhoods where kids can play kickball and grown-ups
can stroll to the store. And James Kunstler lends some urgency to
this transformation: Predicting the end of cheap energy and the
beginning of climate change, he notes that we’d all better
"prepare to be good neighbors," no matter where we live. For more
information, see http://www.worldashome.org/livablecity/index.html.
Toward the Livable
City, Emilie Buchwald, editor
pages, softcover, $18.95. Milkweed Editions, 2003.
A city we can live with
You can buy this book and help High Country News, too.
BookSense.com is an on-line family of independent booksellers in communities near you. When you use the link below to buy a book through BookSense.com, you'll not only support local booksellers, you'll also help us: Five-and-a-half percent of each purchase goes to High Country News.