Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs has helped us see how revitalization is an ecological process that is as diverse as the rainforest and has the possibility of creating new work from what has been discarded. In the September 2000 Good Work News, the article “Why Sharing in Common is Like Forest Ecology” describes the relevance of Jacob’s theories at The Working Centre.

“Jacobs uses the example of a desert or a forest. Each could exist where the other had been. Deserts are barren because the sunlight has only sand and rocks to filter through. “The passage of energy is swift, simple and vanishing, leaving no evidence of the passage.”

“A forest ecosystem is completely different. It grows and expands because of the sun’s energy flowing through diverse and roundabout ways through zillions of organisms. “Once sunlight is captured in the conduit, it’s not only converted but repeatedly reconverted, combined and recombined, cycled and recycled, as energy/matter is passed from organism to organism.” A forest teems with species while a desert is comparatively barren. But if the same forest is clear-cut and the soil allowed to bake, soon you will have a desert.

“Biology’s recent understanding of this phenomenon of multiple recombinations of energy passage has much to offer for understanding the way communities grow. Creative ideas are best supported by an environment where other diverse, decentralized activities are taking place. Energy needs to be co-operatively and not so co-operatively passed back and forth through numerous interdependent links. Over the years, The Working Centre has developed a small supporting web of initiatives that support people in important ways by providing access to tools, projects and other supports.”

Jane Butzner Jacobs (born 1916) was a writer, activist, and city aficionado. She was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and moved to Toronto Ontario in 1968 where she lived until she passed away in April 2006. Jacobs spent her life since studying the nature of cities and urban life, and has published several influential works including "Death and Life of Great American Cities" (1961) and "Systems of Survival" (1992). Jacobs' philosophies centre on the idea that modern city planning is counterproductive to economic prosperity and is detrimental to the way in which people live in urban areas.


Jane Jacobs: Writing On The Web
The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs
Vital Cities: An Interview With Jane Jacobs

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