People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities

book jacket people habitat nice photos of charming town sitesPeople Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities by F. Kaid Benfield (2014)

One thing that none of the pushers for multi-family dwellings ever address involves NEIGHBORS. Single-family dwellings are desirable over anything else — not because people have no interest in environmental impact — but because dealing with other people can be a nightmare. Thin walls are not funny in reality. ¬†Even single homes can have issues: Good fences make good neighbors!

Unless some law or soundproofing regulations or roving enforcers with martial arts skills are part of every multi-family dwelling, the problems of conflicts between people will still drive people who can afford it to buy single-family homes. Plus they are going to want big lots so there is distance between them and still noisy neighbors.

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The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs

book jacketThe Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs (2000) [author 1916-2006]

The book jacket flap praises this book as a modern urban classic. The book “is written in the form of a Platonic dialogue” which I hate.

“The conversation over coffee among five contemporary New Yorkers. . . discuss[es]: Does economic life obey the same rules as those governing the system in nature? For example, can the way fields and forests maximize their intakes and uses of sunlight teach us something about how economics expend wealth and jobs and can do this in environmental beneficial ways?”

Wikipedia has a good article on her writings and activism.

The book is difficult to read despite what reviewers say. The drifty conversation model makes it difficult to follow a theme. The multiple personalities that express various points of view are difficult to grasp as entire characters. A novel would build some backstory so the points of view would have something on which to anchor their views.

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