Past Reading Groups

Our 2016 reading groups

Urban Studies from a Left Perspective

In recent years, left or “progressive” urban politics has become increasingly fragmented and incoherent in major cities in Canada and the US. To an even greater extent than at the national level, there has been little agreement about what even constitutes a left approach. Is a left politics democratic or technocratic? Are heritage preservation and anti-development movements our allies or adversaries? Is civic governance representative or participatory in character? Is gentrification and inevitable or addressable force?

Jacobs Florida Valverde Katznelson

To grapple with these issues, we are reading four very different books together: Jane Jacobs’ 1961 classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a once-heretical but now-canonical text referenced in support of all positions in present-day civic governance and design debates, Richard Florida’s Cities and the Creative Class, the interpretation of Jacob’s legacy most commonly supported by “progressive” city governments like those of Vancouver and New York, Mariana Valverde’s Everyday Law on the Street, which offers a rebuttal to both and Ira Katznelson’s often-overlooked seminal text on civic governance and democracy from the early 1980s, City Trenches.

Here are some photos of our discussions in Surrey:

And in Vancouver: