Ways to Observe & Connect with Jane Jacobs and Your Community

From movie releases to Girl Scout Patches to Jane Jacobs Walks, here are some brilliant opportunities to connect with Jane Jacobs and the Boston community.

This week, we are lucky to revisit an award-winning title in the Godine office—Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of the Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Written by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch, this book tells the story of Jane Jacobs and her fight for the American city during “an era when the ‘urban renewal’ movement and its bulldozers were most aggressive.”

Genius of Common Sense

Now, five years after the publication of Genius of Common Sense, Altimeter Films is releasing Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a documentary centered around Jane Jacob’s life and her 1960 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. 

Using Jacobs’ activism, Citizen Jane “sets out to examine the city of today through the lens of one of its greatest champions.” This new look at Jane Jacobs’ life is sure to be an engaging look at a still relevant issue.

Opening today, April 21st, the film is available both on-demand and in theatrical showings. Tickets are available for tonight’s screenings in New York, as well as upcoming events in other cities. For show times and more information, please visit the Altimeter Films website.

All rights to Altimeter Films.

However, this isn’t the only exciting news for fans of Genius of Common Sense. Recently, The Center for the Living City has partnered with a Jane Jacobs Fellow to bring “new role models and new narratives to help [girls and young women] navigate through inequalities and push for creative expression” through the works of Wangaari Mathai, Malala Yousafzai, and who other than Jane Jacobs herself.

One aspect of this partnership is engaging with the Girls Scouts of America, who ran a successful pilot project centered around Genius of Common Sense in the spring of 2016.

Following their pilot, Girl Scouts of America has implemented the Observe! Patch Program, with the main goal of “developing civically engaged voices of young women that lead to local and global action in the places they care about.”

The first step in this Patch Program, labeled “Discover” invites girl scouts of all ages to interact with Genius of Common Sense through reading the full or partial text, consulting the City Builder Book Club Reading Guide, and discussing what it means to use your own “genius of common sense!”

All rights to Jane Jacobs Walk & the Center for the Living City.

Later, in the “Take Action” stage, girl scouts are encouraged to lead their own Jane Jacobs Walks.

Started in Toronto in 2007, Jane Jacobs Walks aim to honor Jacobs’ legacy through community engagement, now bringing “the power of observation to a diversity of neighborhoods in cities throughout the world.”

Luckily for those in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville are two such cities.

The Dense Layers of History in “Old Cambridge” will take place on May 6th, starting 10:30am. Participants should meet at the Out of Town News kiosk outside the Harvard Square T Station. This Jane Jacobs Walk is organized by Genius of Common Sense author Glenna Lang, so be sure not to miss this celebration of the 101st anniversary of Jane Jacobs’ birth!

The next weekend, on May 13th, the Somerville Jane Jacobs Walk, “A Metamorphosis of Industrial Buildings Along the Rails” will run from 9:30am to 11:30am, starting at Conway Park in Somerville.

For more information about the walks, please click here to visit the Jane Jacobs Walks website.