Have you spent too many nights up awake thinking about how Toronto can better activate it’s public spaces? Are your family and friends tired of you asking them to debate the merits of the 15” city or the new LRT project? If you are looking for a place that has kindred spirits who are just as invested in all things urban planning/city building as you are, then you have come to the right place! Urban Thinkers is a book club where we come together to read up on the latest developments in transportation, urban design, social policy and much more with the goal of expanding our knowledge of urban development in the company of good friends and a hot cup of coffee. Students and professionals actively working in the sector are encouraged to come, but anyone with an interest in learning more about this field is welcome ! We will meet once a month to discuss our latest read while taking in Toronto’s cafés and parks along the way.
This month (November 2023) we will be reading Why Public Space Matters by Setha Low. This book delves into the benefits of public spaces including their ability to foster social connections, enhance creative thinking, build community, and provide space to contest the status quo. Low additionally delves into why our public spaces are currently at risk, and identifies ways we can work to both protect and scale the growth of our public spaces.
For this session, please come prepared to discuss the following chapters (~105 pages):
Chapter 2: What is a Public Space?
Chapter 3: What If Jones Beach Was Not Public? Social Justice and Belonging on Long Island, New York
Chapter 7: Green Guerillas, Seed Bombs, and Granite Gardens: Environmental Sustainability and Public Space in Paris and New York City
Chapter 10: How to Study Public Space: The Toolkit for the Ethnographic Stud of Space (TESS) in Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, New York City and Other Strategies
As always, if there is a chapter that you would like to read beyond those listed, please feel free to do so and we can discuss your thoughts during the session.
Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!
In addition, please find below a list of books that are being considered for future meetings to give you a taste of what’s on the horizon for our reading list. We are always looking for new suggestions as well, so feel free to leave a comment virtually or during our upcoming session.
◦ Ethics for the City: Building and Dwelling by Richard Sennett
◦ Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect by Robert J. Sampson
◦ Sharing Cities: A Case for Truly Smart and Sustainable Cities by Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman
◦ Changing Places: The science and art of new urban planning by John Macdonald, Charles Branas and Robert Stokes