Jaime Lerner is enamoured with cities. I was first introduced to this kindred spirit back in 1996 through a book called Hope: Human and wild by Bill McKibben. In wide-eyed wonder, I learned about how this Mayor of Curitiba (Brazil) inspired his city to DO BETTER. He introduced public transport and an ingenious waste recycling system to stimulate social equity. Since then, I’ve heard him speak and he is infectious: an urban cheerleader of humane and sustainable cities.
Last year, he wrote a book Urban Acupuncture: Celebrating pinpricks of change that enrich life. Here, he presents a medley of ‘pinpricks’ for metaphorical urban ailments (e.g., cultural identity, urban voids, economic opportunities). This book definitely deserves some thumbing and dog-eared pages. Here are 5 anecdotes to get you started.
- “The notion of restoring the vital signs of an ailing spot with a simple healing touch has everything to do with revitalising not only that specific place but also the entire area that surrounds it.” (p.1). Through this book, Lerner invites us to find our own ways of healing the city, one action at a time.
- “Do nothing! Urgently. ” (p.21). Sometimes the best solution is to stop. Stop building roads. Stop advocating parking requirements. Stop and smell the roses.
- “What is important is the correct vision, and a competent set-up of a ‘corresponsibility equation’ What’s needed is a scenario, or an idea, a desirable concept. And all of the people –or most- will help bring it to fruition. It’s precisely at that moment of execution that a people’s self-esteem helps move a city forward” (p. 70). Co-responsibility: to create change, you need buy-in from the ones with whom the change affects.
- “The car is our ‘mechanical mother in law” We have to maintain good relations with her, but we can’t let her dominate our lives. We have to know how to coexist with the automobile without becoming its slave.” (p. 64). Amen.
- “… since we rarely pay much mind to what we don’t know, how can we hope to generate respect for a city we don’t understand?” (p. 59). Turn off you phone. Go outside and explore. Get lost. Ask for directions. Discover the things about your area that brightens your day. Pinpoint the things that scare you. Become a resident and not a tourist.
Photo of Federation Square, Melbourne by Vivian Romero