Virtual Reading Group: Jane Jacobs' Cities

Jane Jacobs packed a lot of information in her masterwork on how cities work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Our 'virtual walk' leader is working with AdamSmithWorks and Econlib to host a virtual reading group to discuss what Death and Life can teach us about how the physical design and the social structure of a city can influence economic outcomes for the people who live there. Much like a great city, vibrant discussion requires people of all different backgrounds and specialties. We hope you'll bring your perspective!

Join us for three hour-long sessions of participant-led discussion of the economics lessons (and more!) that we can learn from Jacobs's classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

The Reading Group will meet on Monday afternoons in May for one hour on each of three dates:

Monday, May 11, 3:30 - 4:30 pm to discuss chapter 1 (Introduction) and chapter 22 (The kind of problem a city is).

Monday, May 18, 3:30 - 4:30 pm to discuss chapter 2 (The uses of sidewalks: safety), chapter 7 (The generators of diversity), and chapter 11 (The need for concentration).

Monday, May 25, 3:30 - 4:30 pm to discuss chapter 12 (Some myths about diversity), chapter 10 (The need for aged buildings), and chapter 19 (The visual order: its limitations and possibilities).

Participants are encouraged to attend all three sessions but are also welcome to only attend on weeks when they're available.

You can register for the Reading Group at the group's Facebook page.


About the walk leader

Janet Bufton came to Ottawa from Windsor, Ontario, in 2011.  Shortly afterward, she became interested in the work of Jane Jacobs, reading all of her books and roping several Jane Jacobs scholars into joining her in the endeavour.  Since then she’s organized an academic conference on Jacobs’ works, encouraged students to read Jacobs’ work, and delivered a public talk on misperceptions about Jacobs’ work.  She lives in the Southern Ottawa neighbourhood of Greenboro with her husband, daughter, and gecko.

Janet believes that Jane Jacobs offers some important tools for understanding the economic life of cities and towns, and how vibrant and diverse communities form the heart of economic and cultural problem-solving.

Janet works as a program coordinator for the educational charity The Institute for Liberal Studies and as an educational consultant for AdamSmithWorks.

AdamSmithWorks is dedicated to education about and discussion of the life and work of the 18th-century Scottish moral philosopher, Adam Smith. The Library of Economics and Liberty (Econlib) is dedicated to advancing the study of economics, markets, and liberty. Both sites offer a combination of resources for students, teachers, researchers, and aficionados of economic thought from Adam Smith to (you guessed it!) Jane Jacobs. AdamSmithWorks and Econlib are projects of the Indianapolis-based educational foundation Liberty Fund.


Janet Bufton

Cover of Jane Jacobs' book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Modern Library Edition, 1993) Jane Jacobs in front of her home on Albany Ave. in Toronto. Jane Jacobs